The Queen’s Speech was “nothing more than fool’s gold”, Jeremy Corbyn concluded in his response. With pomp and ceremony, the Prime Minister seized the opportunity to deliver a party political broadcast via the monarch – but didn’t even do that very well. It is reassuring to know, as we do now, that the Tory plan for the general election campaign is to weakly promote policies such as tougher sentences while reiterating that freedom of movement will end. There was little substance, which meant the only pledge Labour really attacked was that of compulsory voter ID: Corbyn has described it as “clearly discriminatory” against ethnic minorities and the working class. The manifesto preview was a bit of a dull mish-mash overall, perhaps due to tensions between free marketeer ministers and strategists wanting to attract Labour Leavers.
By contrast, Labour frontbenchers conveyed a clear and consistent message at a rally in Westminster last night: you cannot trust Boris Johnson, and we’re going to create real change. Each speaker talked about Labour’s green new deal (the previously preferred ‘green industrial revolution’ framing seems to have been dropped). John McDonnell’s speech was most newsworthy, as he rejected rumours of his office plotting against Jeremy Corbyn. “This is the season for that kind of story. We just have to tell the media out there: they will never divide us,” the Shadow Chancellor told the rally. In what may be interpreted as a further bid to reassure his pro-Corbyn audience, he later said: “I get asked by the media whether I have Tory friends. No, I bloody well don’t have any Tory friends… And then they ask me to apologise to Esther McVey. Don’t even go there.”
Rally contributors Laura Pidcock, Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler may be willing an election to come soon, but the increasing feeling among Labour MPs is that they’d rather have a referendum first. This has been a popular view since the start of September, and it is gaining traction including among shadow cabinet members. It remains unclear quite how this would be achieved, however, as it either assumes that a public vote can be attached to a Johnson deal or that a government of ‘national unity’ can be formed and then hold together long enough to oversee a referendum. Neither of those routes appear at all likely. But there is a rebellion brewing, which could be highly embarrassing for the party. If a substantial number of Labour MPs vote against a snap election, even after an October no deal has been taken off the table, what does that tell the public about the urgent need to get the Tories out?
Things are no quieter among the grassroots. Labour members with parliamentary selections taking place in their seats are angry following the release of some longlists. Drawn up by national executive committee (NEC) panels, they appear to have excluded local favourites in Ealing North, Liverpool West Derby and Poplar and Limehouse. This is not a complaint being made only by Corbynsceptics, but one heard across factions – the exclusion of #EL4JC’s Lewis Cox has particularly disappointed the Labour left in Ealing. Read the full story here. Similar stories are set to emerge as other NEC longlists come out, so keep an eye on LabourList for more. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.