This is not the most encouraging time for the left, to put it lightly. UK Labour is preparing for significant losses at the upcoming local elections in May, with every scenario set out by a leaked internal document predicting that Labour will lose control of Plymouth, Harlow, Amber Valley and West Lancashire. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory, and polling shows that young Israelis are much more likely to be right-wing and oppose a two-state solution than their older counterparts.
Labour left members who were keenly following the US Democratic primaries will also be disappointed with the results of Super Tuesday – or Super Thursday, as comeback kid Joe Biden likes to call it. At the moment, it looks like the November election could be between two men who are rarely coherent in speech and have both faced allegations of inappropriate conduct with women. Of course, as a moderate Democrat, Biden does not endorse Medicare for All but instead favours a public health insurance option that bestows the gift of ‘choice’ to Americans.
On that stark reminder of the need to defend our beloved NHS, we turn to the coronavirus outbreak that has given the UK government a rude awakening. The TUC, GMB, Lisa Nandy and others have done excellent work highlighting the urgent issue of nearly two million workers not being eligible for sick pay. This situation forces those people – including 34% of those on zero-hour contracts, 10% of women in work, and a whopping 62% of workers aged 16-24, according to the TUC – to ‘choose’ between self-isolation and no pay. Despite the blatant injustice for those concerned and potential to harm others, there is no sign so far of the government preparing to introduce emergency legislation as called for by Labour.
Following Prime Minister’s Questions at midday, Labour will also call attention to the inadequate government response to flooding in the UK. The party will put forward an opposition day motion that demands an independent review to look at funding, defences and prevention and ensure that lessons are learnt. The second motion will be on health inequalities, as explored by Jon Ashworth on LabourList last week. And later tonight, the two leadership candidates who have not yet been grilled by Andrew Neil – Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer – will be put to the test. How will they fare? We’ll find out from 7pm tonight.
- Deputy leadership candidate Dawn Butler on Politics Live (11.15am)
- PMQs (12pm)
- Labour Women’s Network leadership hustings (6.15pm)
- Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer on The Andrew Neil Show (7pm)