Press Watch 4/11/19

Jeremy Corbyn has warned his shadow cabinet that the debate is over on Brexit, as he stamps his authority on the general election campaign, the Guardian reports.

Labour will shift the focus to social justice and the climate emergency.

Speaking after a campaign visit to a social housing development, Corbyn also said he had made a unilateral decision to back Johnson’s plan to trigger a December 12 general election – despite the vocal objections of several colleagues, including from the whips’ office.

Corbyn: ‘I put it to them quite clearly: I said, our objections are now gone. We are now supporting a general election – and everybody gulped. I didn’t alert anybody in advance – it was my decision. On my own. I made that decision.”

The detailed content of Labour’s manifesto will not be taken until the “clause V” meeting of senior Labour decision-makers, expected to take place next weekend. But Corbyn insisted the Brexit policy decided at the party’s conference in Brighton, which saw a remain-supporting motion defeated by trade unions and constituency delegates, must stand. “I don’t see why the clause V meeting would want to change anything, because my whole strategy has been to try and keep the party, the movement and the country together,” he said.

The New Statesman carries an article by senior trade union leaders. They make the same point as Jeremy. “Labour’s policy is scarcely going to maintain credibility if the very shadow Cabinet members who would, in government, be responsible for negotiating a departure deal with the EU announce now that they will campaign for its public rejection. This is the politics of posturing, and not a serious approach to a pressing problem.”

And so say all of us. And about time too. The whole Labour movement needs to exercise iron discipline. There have been far too many of the most senior Labour shadow Cabinet members making a case for Remain which does not reflect the views either of the party or of the Labour electorate. The Labour position is nuanced and capable of uniting the country.

But this will not be an election purely about Brexit in any case.

As Corbyn told the Guardian: “This election is about the future of this country. It’s about the environment. It’s about the cohesion of society. We can’t go on with austerity, poverty, inequality and injustice.”

The Conservatives are counting on the public having an exceedingly short memory, as they announce that Government spending is on course to return to levels last seen in the 1970s.

The Resolution Foundation think tank said spending sprees aimed at ending austerity and increasing public investment were central to the plans of both major parties and would drive spending above the average for the 20 years up to the 2008 financial crash of 37.4% of GDP.

Pledges already made by Chancellor Sajid David will increase the proportion of annual government spending to 41.3% of GDP by 2023, and likely to beyond the 42% average recorded between 1966 and 1984 once extra outlays on the NHS are taken into account.

However, the Tory announcements stretch credibility since they have decimated the services, turbocharged inequality, and driven millions into poverty with their austerity.

In addition, all the tory spending commitments which have been made so far demonstrate that their spending will not be addressed to where the needs are the greatest. Rather they are focused on electoral bribes to be spent in areas which are seen to be advantageous to their narrow party interests.

Meanwhile, The Times runs with a story which attempts to shut down any debate about the NHS during the election.

The paper says that “Doctors” have launched an unprecedented election attack on the Conservatives and Labour, accusing the parties of preparing to tell “outright lies” on the NHS during the campaign.

In a sign of mounting unease, The Times says, within the health service as the general election campaigns begin, hospital chiefs will also join today in condemnation of “unrealistic expectations” and “empty promises”, warning voters to beware.

Scarlet Standard says it’s absolute nonsense to say that both parties cannot be trusted on the NHS. As we noted yesterday the levels of satisfaction with the NHS under the last Labour government were the highest in recent years but have plummeted ever since. The health service cuts are deep and damaging. And if we are to resuscitate the NHS, urgent action needs to be taken by a new government which actually believes in its founding values.

Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.

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