No ‘progressive alliance’ in Paterson seat as Labour refuses to give up fight

Sienna Rodgers
Oswestry, Shropshire. © Steve Heap/
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Dominic Raab is under fire again for his mishandling of the Kabul evacuation. The former Foreign Secretary, recently demoted to Justice Secretary but also given the title of Deputy Prime Minister, was on holiday when the Taliban takeover took place. When it emerged that he had not bothered to make a crucial call to help evacuate translators because he was unavailable, Labour called for his resignation. Now the testimony of a whistleblower has claimed there was far more chaos in the Foreign Office than previously imagined: from a junior desk officer being left in charge of life and death decisions to Raab delaying evacuation referrals while demanding ‘better formatted’ evidence. “He should be ashamed of himself,” Emily Thornberry said of Raab this morning. Again, she has called on him to “consider his position”.

The North Shropshire by-election prompted by the resignation of Owen Paterson will be held next week. It is thought to be narrower than the Old Bexley and Sidcup contest, which saw the Tory vote share cut down from 64.5% to 51.5% and Labour’s share increase from 23.5% to 31%. But which party should anti-Tory voters be backing in the rural constituency? The Guardian has recommended the Lib Dems on the basis that dissatisfied Conservatives would take refuge with them. But Labour campaigners who point out their party has placed second in the seat at the last three elections are not happy. That the Lib Dem candidate has had to repeatedly apologise during the campaign for various ill-advised comments appears to support their case.

The local Labour campaign is not quietly giving way to their fellow opposition party: internal polling has been released that shows the Tories have a seven-point lead on 40%, Labour is the runner-up on 33% and Lib Dems are in third place on 11%. It rivals the Lib Dem internal polling that found them in second place and Labour a distant third. Also on LabourList, new shadow cabinet members are making their debuts at the despatch box this week, and yesterday was the turn of Wes Streeting. The new Shadow Health Secretary highlighted the rule-breaking Downing Street Christmas parties story. Bridget Phillipson, also in a new role at education, said in response to the awful Arthur Labinjo-Hughes case that the Tories had “tolerated failing children’s services”. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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