At the heart of a heartless government

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Labour’s humble address motion – that old Keir Starmer trick used during the Brexit parliamentary chaos years – was successful in forcing the government to release documents relating to the Westferry Printworks scandal. The text messages and emails subsequently disclosed are evidence of a pally relationship, and also an insight into how Tories think: paying a community infrastructure levy that will help improve the local area is to “give the Marxists loads of doe for nothing!” according to media mogul and Conservative donor Richard Desmond.

Most importantly, the published communications offer evidence that Robert Jenrick rushed through overturning the Planning Inspectorate’s decision (described, with disappointment, as “very thoroughly argued and evidenced”) in order to help Desmond avoid the community charge of between £30m and £50m. We’re talking about Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest areas of the country, with the highest rate of child poverty in the UK at 43%. The Secretary of State for Communities didn’t want a billionaire developer to pay a charge to that community.

Local mayor John Biggs has said he is “astonishingly angry” and called for Jenrick to resign. The Prime Minister has vowed to stick by him, however, and ministers are defending him on the airwaves. It is unclear just how badly you have to publicly mess up before deserving the sack under Boris Johnson’s leadership. The heartless attitude that dominates the running of our country, on the other hand, is clearer than ever.

In internal Labour news, Progress and Labour First have now formally launched new organisation ‘Labour to Win’. They describe it as a “coalition of mainstream Labour activists” that is striving to “make Keir Starmer’s leadership a success”. On the other end of the factional spectrum, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have joined a group of Labour MPs and party activists calling for the Starmer leadership to back a Green New Deal – including a path to net zero by 2030.

I will be in conversation tonight with Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Labour’s sole Scottish MP. As ever, if you have any suggestions for questions, please feel free to email them and I’ll include as many as possible I can during the interview. Join us for the live broadcast on LabourList from 6pm. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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