Brexit, Human Rights Day, TUC on anti-racism and new Momentum campaign

Sienna Rodgers
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Talk of Brexit deadlines now is pointless. “Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged,” No 10 said last night. “We understand each other’s positions. They remain far apart,” the EU Commission president tweeted drily. Boris Johnson’s dinner with Ursula von der Leyen did not appear to give rise to any real progress, but simply to a new arbitrary date of Sunday by which time they will have decided whether to keep talking or give up. At this point, it is not really worth paying attention to the interim targets as December 31st is the only one that matters. Perhaps the Prime Minister will opt for no deal to avoid the groans of MPs forced to sit between Christmas and the New Year.

Today, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948 is marked with Human Rights Day. Shadow foreign affairs and international development minister Stephen Doughty has written for LabourList to celebrate the occasion, while also outlining the scale of the human rights challenges facing everyone amid the pandemic. (He mentions the treatment of protesting farmers in India: check out Tan Dhesi’s video from yesterday to see Johnson respond to those concerns with his usual level of awareness.) You could read Doughty’s piece from 7.30pm after popping on BBC Radio 3 to hear Max Richter’s ‘Voices’ performance featuring passages from the document. Just giving you options for a full sensory experience.

The TUC’s new anti-racism task force will meet for the first time today, and its chair Dr Patrick Roach has penned a piece about how the trade union movement is responding to “a new generation of activists” who have “re-energised and heightened the profile of anti-racist campaigning”. He says the task force will both establish the facts, shining a light on radical injustice at work, but also focus on action – ”organising, bargaining and campaigning to secure real change”. It comes as a poll for the TUC finds one in three BME workers have had to self-isolate during Covid, compared to a quarter of white workers, plus BME workers are more concerned about returning to work and fewer report that their employer has done the legally required risk assessment for their workplace.

In the Labour Party, preparations are underway for next year’s conference already. Momentum has announced that it will launch a campaign in the new year for the general secretary to be elected. The role is already highly politicised, they argue, and should be made directly accountable to members. The move is partly a response to the limits being placed by David Evans on motions that can be considered by local parties and to the suspensions taking place across the country. 175 chairs and secretaries wrote to Evans yesterday to say his guidance puts them “in the firing line”. Many members of the Jewish Labour Movement, on the other hand, feel that the motions, which can lead to denial of antisemitism and more, put them in the firing line. The disagreements over how to react to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report continue. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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