Cor­byn to re­store 70s-style union pow­ers

It’s rich for politi­cians to claim they are putting the coun­try first when they of­ten haven’t in the past

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Harry Yorke and Anna Mikhailova

JEREMY COR­BYN an­nounced plans to make it eas­ier for strike ac­tion as busi­nesses last night ac­cused him of “turn­ing back the clock” to the Seven­ties.

In a move that could open the flood­gates to wide­spread in­dus­trial ac­tion, the Labour leader yes­ter­day vowed to sweep aside anti-trade union laws and trans­fer power from the “born-to-rule es­tab­lish­ment” to the work­ers.

Ad­dress­ing the Trades Union Congress an­nual con­fer­ence in Brighton, Mr Cor­byn said he would re­verse the “de­lib­er­ate, decades-long trans­fer of power away from work­ing peo­ple”.

If Labour wins power, a min­istry of em­ploy­ment rights would be cre­ated along­side an agency to pros­e­cute firms that failed to up­hold em­ployee rights and “re­in­state un­fairly dis­missed work­ers”.

Len Mccluskey, the Unite leader, ac­cused the To­ries of wag­ing “class war against the poor”. Turn­ing the words of Boris John­son’s hero Win­ston Churchill against him, Mr Mccluskey said: “We know your game, your wish to be Churchilli­an, rather than the Wreck-it Ralph that you are. We will fight you in our hos­pi­tals, we will fight you in our fac­to­ries, we will fight you in our com­mu­ni­ties. Pick your beach, Prime Min­is­ter. We’ll never sur­ren­der.”

Mr Cor­byn re­it­er­ated Labour’s plan to re­peal the Trade Union Act, which made strikes il­le­gal un­less half the union mem­bers par­tic­i­pated in a bal­lot. He told the con­fer­ence: “We will put power in the hands of work­ers.”

The CBI last night warned Labour that the pro­pos­als would “turn back the clock decades”.

Of all the pa­thetic ex­cuses the so-called “Rebel Al­liance” have used to jus­tify their at­tempts to frus­trate Brexit in Par­lia­ment, the most odi­ous must be the claim that they are some­how act­ing in the na­tional in­ter­est. Time and time again, when Re­mainer MPS come up with some new stunt to block the demo­cratic will of the ma­jor­ity of Bri­tons, they claim they are putting the in­ter­ests of the na­tion above their own po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions.

Set­ting aside the sheer ar­ro­gance of those who be­lieve they know bet­ter than vot­ers, you only have to ex­am­ine how these self-pro­claimed saviours of democ­racy have con­ducted them­selves in a dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal con­text to see that their ac­tions amount to noth­ing more than rank hypocrisy.

The most ob­vi­ous of­fender is Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, who has de­voted his en­tire po­lit­i­cal ca­reer to as­so­ci­at­ing with and sup­port­ing

regimes and or­gan­i­sa­tions that are de­clared enemies of the British state. Start­ing with the IRA dur­ing the Trou­bles in the 1970s, Mr Cor­byn has been an avowed apol­o­gist for Is­lamist ter­ror groups such as Hamas and Hizbol­lah, while at the same time de­fend­ing the in­ter­ests of rogue regimes in Iran, Syria, Rus­sia and Venezuela. His en­thu­si­asm for the re­pres­sive rule of the ay­a­tol­lahs led him to work as a pun­dit for Iran’s state-con­trolled Press TV chan­nel, which reg­u­larly broad­cast anti-british pro­pa­ganda un­til its li­cence was re­voked by Of­com in 2012.

The re­cent high point of Mr Cor­byn’s un­pa­tri­otic an­tics was his re­fusal, in the wake of last year’s Sal­is­bury poi­son­ing, to ac­knowl­edge the Gov­ern­ment’s in­sis­tence, based on cred­i­ble ev­i­dence pro­vided by the se­cu­rity ser­vices, that the at­tack was car­ried out by a team of as­sas­sins from Rus­sia’s GRU in­tel­li­gence agency. The Labour leader still pre­ferred to give the Krem­lin the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

Nor is Mr Cor­byn the only high­pro­file fig­ure within the Re­mainer ranks whose talk of act­ing in the na­tional in­ter­est amounts to lit­tle more than cant. SNP leader Ian Black­ford, who spent the early hours of yes­ter­day in­dulging in a ren­di­tion of

Flower of Scot­land in the Com­mons cham­ber, is another mem­ber of the op­po­si­tion whose real agenda has noth­ing to do with pro­mot­ing the na­tional in­ter­est – his main ob­jec­tive is the break-up of the United King­dom.

Then there is the group of 21 rebel Tory MPS, who claim that their de­ci­sion to side with Mr Cor­byn on pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that will pre­vent a no-deal Brexit meant they had to put the in­ter­ests of the coun­try above party loy­alty. If only this sen­ti­ment had in­formed their con­duct at other stages of their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers.

Take Philip Ham­mond, whose deep per­sonal an­tipa­thy to­wards Boris John­son has re­sulted in the former chan­cel­lor’s ex­pul­sion from the party he has served for 40 years. Prior to last week’s par­lia­men­tary de­noue­ment, in which he voted with Mr Cor­byn against the John­son Gov­ern­ment, Mr Ham­mond sought to jus­tify his treach­ery by claim­ing he was putting coun­try above po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tion.

There will be many in the Armed Forces who re­gret he did not demon­strate the same level of com­mit­ment to the na­tion’s well-be­ing dur­ing his unim­pres­sive stint as de­fence sec­re­tary. His en­thu­si­asm for cut­ting de­fence ex­pen­di­ture is one of the main rea­sons our mil­i­tary is ill-equipped to con­front for­eign foes.

As the brains be­hind the Cameron gov­ern­ment’s spend­ing re­view, Sir Oliver Letwin, another arch con­spir­a­tor in the cam­paign to un­der­mine Mr John­son, must also share some of the blame for the pre­cip­i­tate de­cline of our mil­i­tary strength. He was firmly of the view that, starved of the mil­i­tary re­sources re­quired to wage war, Bri­tain could avoid in­volve­ment in fu­ture con­flicts.

Then there is Rory Ste­wart, another high-pro­file cheerleade­r of the Re­mainer cause who is keen to demon­strate that his sense of pa­tri­o­tism over­rides his Tory loy­al­ties. This is in stark con­trast to the same Mr Ste­wart who, dur­ing his time in Afghanista­n, un­der­mined British mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the Tal­iban with his de­featist in­sis­tence that the ter­ror­ists could never be beaten.

If the aim, though, of this re­bel­lious ca­bal of cross-party Re­main­ers is to safe­guard the na­tion’s long-term in­ter­ests, they are do­ing a lousy job. They may draw sat­is­fac­tion that they have made life deeply un­com­fort­able for the Prime Min­is­ter, but they have, in the process, suc­ceeded in turn­ing the coun­try into an in­ter­na­tional laugh­ing stock.

And to make mat­ters worse, while they have vol­ubly demon­strated what they are against, none of them seems to have a clue about how to break the im­passe.

This is clearly ev­i­dent from the in­tel­lec­tual in­co­her­ence ex­pressed by Emily Thorn­berry, who in­sists that, if Labour were to win power, it would hold a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum dur­ing which it would cam­paign against any Brexit agree­ment it ne­go­ti­ated with the Eu­ro­pean Union.

The Re­main­ers may claim their in­ten­tion is to pro­tect Bri­tain’s in­ter­ests. The bru­tal truth is that they are mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to find a so­lu­tion to the Brexit cri­sis.

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