Jeremy Corbyn no mention – Brexit no mention – And that’s in Labour leaflets!

Being of the left but an opponent of Labour I thought I’d have a look at the leaflets they’ve put out in the Sefton Central Constituency. The striking thing is that in the ones I’ve seen there’s virtually no mention of Jeremy Corbyn or indeed Brexit.

When political parties all but ignore their own leaders in leaflets you can bet that they’re thinking that mentioning them will be a negative influence on voters. And I should know my party had Nick Clegg as its leader some years ago! So we can read into this that Jeremy Corbyn is not felt to be of assistance and he may well be perceived by Labour locally as being a drag on people being willing to vote them in the Sefton Central constituency.

And what about Brexit, the subject that Labour really don’t like taking about because they’re split all over the place regarding it. They’ve had more policy shifts, nudges and winks over it than I’ve had hot dinners so talking about it is also clearly seen to be drag on their vote. Say they’re Remain and their Brexiteer supporters get upset and head off to Mr Farage, say they’re Leave and their Remainers get upset and head off to the Lib Dems. Quite a dilemma, best to keep Mum and try to pretend that Leavers think they’re a Leave party and Remainers think they’re a Remain party! If they get into government they’ll decided which way to face then, if they don’t then they’ll keep running with the hare and hounds, or in Jeremy’s case staying ‘neutral’.

The interesting point here is that the Labour candiadte in Sefton Central was a member of Corbyn’s Sadow Cabinet in the last Parliament so you’d think they’d fully behind Jez and be promoting his Brexit nuetrality.

Lib Dem Parliamentary candidates announced for Bootle and Sefton Central

Rebecca Hanson (Bootle), Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson & Keith Crawdron (Sefton Central) are ready to take on Jeremy Corbyn’s MP’s in Bootle (Peter Dowd) and Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) constituencies when the starting gun is fired for the soon to happen General Election.

Thinking back about the SDP & the parallels with the TIG

My good friend and fellow blogger Phil Holden has recently been pondering on the issue of the new Independent Group in the HofC and in doing so reflecting on the rise and fall of the SDP. His posting is accessible via this link:-

phlhldn.blogspot.com/2019/02/so-chuka-chucked-it-in-for-what.html

One particular part of Phil’s posting stood out for me and it is this:-

‘The SDP foundered in part on whether it should be a party of the left, taking on Labour in a fight to the death, as David Owen wanted, or a centre-party that cosied up to the Liberals, as Roy Jenkins wanted. Jenkins of course won that one.’

As someone who had only joined the old Liberal Party on New Years Day 1980* I was very new to politics when the SDP came along soon after and then I was swept along in the tide that was the famous Crosby by-election**. Heady days indeed but my perspective is just a little different to Phil’s.

Firstly, I think it is fair to say that we Liberals looked upon David Own as a stubborn difficult person with rather right-wing views (who seemed obsessed with NATO for some odd reason) but that the other 3 of the Gang of 4 were to the left of him and far more in tune with Liberal values. Liberals have always been at their best when they espouse radical and left of centre views. Attempts to look moderate or centrist will always fail in my book.

So I saw Owen, Rodgers, Williams and Jenkins from the other end of the telescope to Phil, indeed in my view Owen was probably a big factor in the failure of the SDP along with our appallingly warped electoral system of course. We Libs often referred to Owen as ‘Dr Death’, probably because we feared he would kill us off along with the SDP. In truth he nearly did but we survived and prospered until we tried to commit ritual suicide in the Clegg era on a worryingly moderate platform with one infamous and devastating political U-turn – Tuition Fees.

That there was no love lost between the Liberals and Owen to me is a given and it will be interesting to see whether anyone from the IG starts to fill Owen’s boots again – I hope they don’t but fear they might. And I say that because in my experience many in the Labour Party hold views that are well to the right of us Liberals.

And just to be nostalgic, my abiding memory of the Crosby By-election was a public meeting in Deyes High School, organised by the SDP/Liberal Alliance. It was packed out and standing room only. Obviously, Shirley was there as the soon to be winning candidate, along with Roy Jenkins and Joe Grimond the former Liberal leader who had saved his party from the political wilderness in the 1960s. Being in the same hall as these 3 was wonderful to a fresh-faced political lad like me. Ah memories……

And talking of SDP/Liberal Alliance memories, whilst I’m at it, here’s another story told to me by my very good friend Roy Connell. One day during the heady days of the Alliance he was asked in to drive Roy Jenkins and BBC reporter Kate Adie on an open-top tour of parts of Liverpool. It seems that at one point he had to pull up sharply and Jenkins and Adie were thrown around a bit. Roy can still hear ringing in his ears the words ‘steady driver’ from Jenkins.

* I had read the 3 main party manifestos for the 1979 General Election and concluded I was a Liberal.

** I lived (and still do) in that constituency (now named Sefton Central) and got to know Shirley Williams well. She is indeed a lovely person and the fact that she became a life-long friend of Anthony Hill the already selected Liberal candidate for the seat (who stepped down for her to be the Alliance candidate) says a lot about how well the SDP and Liberals got on in our part of the world back in the early 1980s and indeed many of my friends in the present Lib Dem Party are former SDP activists.

So where does Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson stand over Brexit?

My letter to the Champion newspaper following it publishing a photo taken by the MP in the ‘No’ lobby of fellow MP’s voting against Teresa May’s appalling Brexit Deal:-

*****

Dear Sir,

I notice that MP Bill Esterson photoed fellow MP’s in the ‘No’ lobby during the defeat of PM May’s Brexit Deal.

So whilst we know that Mr. Esterson does not like May’s Deal what Brexit solution does he like? I ask because to date I have contacted his office 5 times in recent weeks asking him to let me know where he stands over Brexit. Sadly, I have received no response at all.

Is it too much to ask your MP for their view on a matter and to expect a reply?

Yours sincerely

Tony Robertson

Stop Press – I think I am now up to 9 contacts – 6 by e-mail, 3 by Twitter. Could be wrong though, I’m losing count.

The letter was published in the Champion Newspaper on 13th February

Brexit and Sefton Central Labour Party

I hear that Formby Labour members voted for a 2nd Referendum recently. Not sure how comfortable or indeed uncomfortable that will make Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson.

I also understand that at a meeting in Aintree on 15th February that the Constituency Labour Party will be debating a similar motion.

I’ve been trying to find out what the MP’s views on Brexit are but 5 e-mails to his office have so far not brought back any answers.

I’m guessing that as the MP is a Shadow Minister in Corbyn’s team that he will be compelled to take his lead from his leader and we all know that Corbyn is a committed Brexiteer.

It will therefore be interesting to see what the CLP does. Does it follow the lead of its Formby members and call for a Peoples Vote thereby potentially putting its own MP in an embarrassing position or does it play it safe and back a Corbyn Brexit?

I imagine that such issues are live across the CLP’s throughout the UK with Labour being so split over Brexit. Having a Brexit leadership in the House of Commons but a membership which is vastly Remain by conviction must be a tough if not impossible square to circle.

When the Lib Dems started calling for a 2nd Referendum on the final deal, with an option to Remain, now quite some time ago, it then looked like the campaign would be just a Liberal one. How things change with many prominent Labour, Green and SNP members and MP’s joining what is now a genuine cross-party movement. Why even some prominent Tories are backing a Peoples Vote.

However, when the matter was recently debated on Sefton Council Labour & Tory councillors were firmly against backing a Peoples Vote/2nd Referendum. My posting from November 2018 refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/16/old-political-chums-band-together-on-sefton-council-to-block-peoples-vote-on-brexit/

Brexit is the biggest political issue of our times and it is tearing our two big political parties apart, so when push comes to shove which side of the fence will the Sefton Central Labour MP be on?

1st Class rail travel – Why did my MP decline to comment?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/revealed-merseyside-mps-claiming-expenses-11325866

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

‘Bill Esterson declined the opportunity to comment’ says the Echo. I wonder why? Bill’s not exactly known for being shy about appearing in the press.