Hartlepool by-election, Labour’s anti-protest bill fight and GMB’s Uber victory

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Mike Hill has quit as MP for Hartlepool with immediate effect. He was suspended during Labour conference in 2019 over allegations of sexual harassment from an ex-staffer, which he strongly denies, but the MP was quickly readmitted to the party the next month, despite the allegations not being withdrawn. The final hearing at an employment tribunal is expected in May. The resignation means Labour could be facing a high-profile parliamentary by-election as well as local, mayoral, Scottish, Welsh and other elections on May 6th. Here are LabourList‘s stories on Hill quitting and on the speedy selection timetable.

Labour voted against Priti Patel’s anti-protest bill at its second reading last night, but it passed by a majority of 96 votes. While this was a predictable yet frankly scary result, with no freedom-loving Tories voting against and just a couple abstaining, the labour movement must remember that there is still much further to go in parliament before it receives royal assent. Activists have a lot of campaigning and organising to do in the meantime. Clive Lewis has written for LabourList on the wider context of this bill and the authoritarianism of this government.

There is happier news for Labour members today. The GMB union has won a landmark battle in the fight against the exploitation of gig economy workers: Uber has announced that all 70,000 drivers in Britain will get holiday pay, be automatically enrolled in a pension plan and earn at least the minimum wage. “It’s a shame it took GMB winning four court battles to make them see sense, but we got there in the end and ultimately that’s a big win for our members,” national officer Mick Rix said. There is still more work to be done, however. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, Uber has said the minimum wage will apply only after trip requests are accepted, rather than once drivers have logged on.

Keir Starmer will go head-to-head with Boris Johnson at noon. The Labour leader had to perform a balancing act in response to the integrated review yesterday, emphasising that his party welcomes increased capital spending on defence but also believes that increasing the Trident nuclear warhead stockpile isn’t great. He may not want to pick up on those tricky issues, but HuffPost UK’s scoop revealing Dominic Raab’s views on trade deals with countries that violate human rights standards does give Labour something to talk about on foreign policy. Alternatively, our lockdown anniversary (also my birthday!) is coming up. Starmer could highlight Laura Kuennsberg’s report that the Prime Minister said of Covid early last year: “The best thing would be to ignore it.”

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