Labour must not let the Brexiters turn the EU referendum into a right-wing coup

New Statesman The clear and unequivocal view of the Labour Party is that, whatever its shortcomings, we must vote to Remain in the European Union. No major UK party is as united on the issue as ours. Ninety four per cent of the Parliamentary Party support Remain, and we have been campaigning week in, week out in our constituencies for continued British membership. Moreover, 83 per cent of Labour members support Remain (only 10 per cent want Britain to Leave). No other major national party can boast such a united front. Yet as was reported last week, Labour voters are "uniformly uncertain" about whether our party is campaigning to Remain in the EU. Our supporters seem to be saying that they either don’t know what Labour MPs think about the EU, or, those who know that we are for Remain believe that our "heart isn’t in it". Continue reading

Brexit and Churchill's Three 'Majestic Circles'

Demos Before becoming the part-time Mayor of London, Boris Johnson fancied himself as something of a historian. In his biography of Winston Churchill, he observed that, “To some extent, all politicians are gamblers with events. They try to anticipate what will happen, to put themselves on the right side of history.” One can’t help but picture Johnson, the Blonde Opportunist, pondering whether Remain or Leave would best serve the cause in which he most fervently believes – himself. And, seen through that lens, he concluded that backing Brexit would be his fast-track ticket to Number 10. For Boris, the ‘right side of history’ ends with him in Downing Street; the national interest comes a distant second. Continue reading

Owning The Future

Progress Online In their far-sighted article for Juncture on the coming decade and the future of the left, Gavin Kelly and Nick Pearce offer a comprehensive and compelling analysis of the underlying forces that will shape British politics for the remainder of this decade, and beyond. At the heart of their piece is the argument that any political party that fails to ‘intuit the future’ will inevitably be ‘eaten by the past’ – a warning that we in the Labour party would be well advised to heed. According to Kelly and Pearce politics is being reshaped by a set of interrelated demographic, economic and cultural shifts, and they highlight some of the most significant aspects of each. Continue reading

Brexit Would Be A Betrayal Of The Moral, Political And Economic Principles That Have Underpinned Our Post-War Journey From Imperial Power To Global Partner

Prospect Nation states have been grappling with the forces of globalisation for thousands of years, and the United Kingdom is no exception. Ever since the Romans landed on our shores we have been an integral part of the international community, buffeted by the winds of commerce, military conflict and geo-politics. With the passing of the centuries we gradually came to master the mutually reinforcing arts of warfare and empire-building, a process that ultimately gave rise to a period of global hegemony. But the defining feature of the UK's role in the world since 1945 has been our evolution from imperial power to global partner. And we should celebrate this transformation because it has without doubt been morally, politically and economically the right path to have taken. This journey has certainly been underpinned by a sense of guilt - the terrible legacies of the slave trade, the scramble for Africa and the carving up of the Middle East have provided successive governments since 1945 with a moral compass that helped them to navigate their way through to the modern era. Continue reading

Boris Johnson: Man of steel

The Times Just over a month ago Boris Johnson discovered that he’s a Brexiteer. And only a few weeks later he’s come out as a Man of Steel. Two damascene conversions in one month. Could it be a record? Building on his well-established track record as a passionate defender of working people, Boris has cast himself as the saviour of British steelworkers, bravely doing battle on their behalf against the evil European Union. Ah yes, Boris has well and truly found the nearest telephone box, stepped inside, and re-emerged as a Man of Steel. It would all be quite amusing, if it wasn’t so serious. Continue reading

Boris is playing politics with steel workers' lives, says Port Talbot MP

Sun Tory bungler Boris Johnson has suddenly discovered he cares about British steel. Just as last month he suddenly discovered he was in favour of leaving the EU. This man’s opportunism knows no bounds. Boris was in Wales today, but he didn’t come to Port Talbot – I’d guess the closest the Blonde Opportunist has ever even come to my constituency is a Ken Clarke style drive-by. Continue reading

Steel's not a sunset industry - it's the lynchpin of our economy

New Statesman The British government has been in a state of denial about the steel crisis, ever since David Cameron moved into Downing Street. They have time and time again failed to act. The steelworks at Port Talbot is the beating heart of my constituency, and in my year in Parliament I have seen a government that has a record of warm words accompanied by absolutely no delivery. It has been a litany of failure. In stark contrast to the government, the workforce in Port Talbot has always delivered. They have broken production records, and they make the finest steel that money can buy. And this bias towards quality, consistency and added value that we see in Port Talbot is reflected across the entire British steel industry: our steel produces a trade surplus, its investment in R&D, training of employees and productivity are all higher than the norm in the British economy. It therefore has an impact on the wider economy not only through the supply chain of connected industries, but also in terms of skills, employment and demand. Continue reading

As MP for Port Talbot, I believe Brexit would be disastrous for British steel

Guardian On Tuesday Tata Steel announced its intention to sell the entire Strip Products division of its UK steel business, including the Port Talbot works in my Aberavon constituency. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Tata Steel announcement, on both local and national levels. Locally, the Port Talbot plant is the beating heart of the community and economy, and nationally steel is a vital foundation industry: it is fundamental to the cars that we drive, the homes in which we live, the offices in which we work, and the bridges that we cross. Just under 11,000 men and women are directly employed by Tata Steel Strip Products division, and once you take supply chains into account that number rises to around 40,000 jobs. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that the decisions that were taken in Mumbai this week were amongst the most important business decisions in our postwar history. Continue reading

Steel 2020

Labour List As we opened our papers this morning or scrolled though the news on our phones we will have been greeted with the latest updates on the civil war taking place within the Conservative Party, made a little more juicy thanks to a certain someone who is most notable for his blonde ambition, along with more about the horror show of another notably coiffured populist from across the Atlantic. In stark contrast to all of that gossip and punditry, something real is happening this week in my constituency. This is the week that the impact of the January announcement of 750 job losses at the Port Talbot steelworks becomes tangible. In a series of meetings this week the men and women who have given years of service to the works will find out if they are amongst those being laid off. Continue reading

Britain in Europe, Europe in Britain: the new patriotism in action

Labour Movement For Europe Labour must not allow the EU referendum to be about deciding whether or not Polish plumbers or Latvian taxi drivers are allowed to claim tax credits. Rather, we must ensure that we make this a referendum about what sort of country we want to live in, and what sort of nation we want the United Kingdom to be. This referendum must be about what it means to be British in the 21st century. And the choice will be clear and stark: are we as a people going to confirm that we are open, confident and happy to embrace and shape the world as it is, or are we going to turn in on ourselves, pull up the drawbridge and sail off into the mid-Atlantic? It is, of course, essential that the ‘Yes’ campaign wins the EU referendum, but the manner of our victory is at least as important as the result. The pro-EU camp must learn the lesson of the Scottish referendum campaign, which in the end delivered a pretty convincing win, but which somehow failed to fire the imagination. Continue reading