BROWN GETS ‘VOTE’ AHEAD OF COR­BYN

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - GAVIN COR­DON Press As­so­ci­a­tion news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

T WICE as many vot­ers be­lieve Labour was a more “de­cent” party un­der Gor­don Brown than it is un­der Jeremy Cor­byn, ac­cord­ing to a new opin­ion poll.

The sur­vey by ComRes for Jewish News found 48% con­sid­ered the party was more de­cent when Mr Brown was leader as against 24% who thought it was un­der Mr Cor­byn.

Fol­low­ing a sum­mer dom­i­nated by al­le­ga­tions of anti-Semitism within the Labour ranks, 50% said the party was not do­ing enough to deal with the is­sue, com­pared with just 19% who thought it was.

Al­most a third, 31%, thought Labour now de­served the ti­tle “the nasty party” – al­most as many as the 34% who be­lieved it be­longed to the Con­ser­va­tives, for whom it was orig­i­nally coined.

ComRes in­ter­viewed 2,002 British adults on­line be­tween Septem­ber 19 and 20.

It comes as party mem­bers gath­ered in Liver­pool to­day for the an­nual Labour con­fer­ence.

Ahead of the gath­er­ing, a Labour front­bencher has trig­gered a row by prais­ing the Mil­i­tant-dom­i­nated coun­cil which ran the city in the 1980s.

Dawn But­ler hailed the ex­am­ple of left­wing for­mer coun­cil­lors who set an il­le­gal bud­get in 1985 in protest at cuts to cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Her com­ments were crit­i­cised by se­nior peers and fel­low MPs in a fur­ther in­di­ca­tion of the di­vi­sions within the Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party.

Ms But­ler said: “We are in Liver­pool where over 30 years ago the coun­cil stood up to Thatcher and said, bet­ter to break the law than break the poor.”

Her com­ments at Labour’s women’s con­fer­ence re­vived mem­o­ries of the party’s bat­tles of the 1980s, when then leader Neil Kin­nock de­nounced “the grotesque chaos of a Labour coun­cil – a Labour coun­cil – hir­ing taxis to scut­tle round a city hand­ing out re­dun­dancy no­tices to its own work­ers”.

His in­ter­ven­tion was a key mo­ment in the drive to break the far-left Mil­i­tant group’s hold over parts of the party, which ended with the ex­pul­sion of fig­ures in­clud­ing Liver­pool coun­cil’s deputy leader Derek Hat­ton.

Shadow equal­i­ties min­is­ter Ms But­ler’s com­ments were crit­i­cised by fel­low Labour front­bencher Baroness Thorn­ton.

She said she was “sur­prised” Ms But­ler praised a coun­cil that “is­sued re­dun­dancy no­tices to their own pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees, and failed to pro­tect ser­vices too”.

Fel­low Lords front­bencher Lord Kennedy retweeted Lady Thorn­ton, adding: “Well said.”

Ms But­ler’s re­marks were “far from what we should be stand­ing for as a party”, one Labour MP told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion.

A Labour spokesman said: “The point Dawn was mak­ing was that like the Thatcher gov­ern­ment of the 1980s, this Tory Gov­ern­ment, has pri­ori­tised tax cuts for the rich while cut­ting ser­vices like women’s refuges that save lives and keep women safe.”

Ms But­ler’s com­ments came on the eve of Labour’s main au­tumn gath­er­ing where there is set to be a fresh row over Brexit.

Shadow chan­cel­lor John McDon­nell in­di­cated Labour would re­sist grass­roots pres­sure to com­mit to a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, warn­ing of the risk that a re-run vote could stoke far-right pop­ulism and xeno­pho­bia.

The shadow chan­cel­lor also sug­gested the rail in­dus­try could be re­na­tion­alised within five years un­der a Labour gov­ern­ment.

He told BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme it would be “pos­si­ble” to bring all fran­chises back un­der pub­lic con­trol dur­ing a sin­gle term in of­fice, amid re­ports he is plan­ning a Pub­lic Own­er­ship Unit within the Trea­sury to deal with re­na­tion­al­i­sa­tions.

But at The World Trans­formed pol­i­tics and arts fes­ti­val, run­ning in par­al­lel with the Labour con­fer­ence, Mr McDon­nell warned “the es­tab­lish­ment” would at­tempt to re­sist the party’s “rad­i­cal” poli­cies.

Pres­sure on Labour to change course over Brexit will see ac­tivists take to the streets of Liver­pool for a march and rally de­mand­ing a so-called Peo­ple’s Vote.

More than 100 con­stituency par­ties and trade union branches have sub­mit­ted bids for the ref­er­en­dum is­sue to be put to a vote in Liver­pool.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn has re­sisted such calls, pre­fer­ring to press for a gen­eral elec­tion if – as many MPs ex­pect – Theresa May is un­able to get a Brexit deal through Par­lia­ment.

And Mr McDon­nell sig­nalled the party’s po­si­tion in that event would be un­changed from last year’s snap elec­tion.

“We would be in the same sit­u­a­tion there, where we would be say­ing we’re ac­cept­ing that orig­i­nal vote, this is the sort of deal that we want,” he told The Guardian.

“The de­bate around the next man­i­festo will go on, but I re­ally worry about an­other ref­er­en­dum.

“I’m des­per­ately try­ing to avoid any rise of xeno­pho­bia that hap­pened last time around, I’m des­per­ately try­ing to avoid giv­ing any op­por­tu­nity to Ukip or the far-right. I think there’s the real risk of that.

“We’re not rul­ing out a peo­ple’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think peo­ple need to take that into ac­count.”

But for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary David Miliband told To­day: “It’s an ab­so­lute dere­lic­tion of duty in my view for the Labour Party lead­er­ship not to em­brace the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple that since the Brexit that peo­ple were sold two years ago is not avail­able, it’s es­sen­tial that the Brexit deal the Prime Min­is­ter does is put to peo­ple.”

PETER BYRNE

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn is greeted on stage by the shadow min­is­ter for women and equal­i­ties, Dawn But­ler MP, at Labour’s Na­tional Women’s Con­fer­ence in Liver­pool yes­ter­day

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