Labour roundup: Keir’s anti-HS2 tweets, council coalition collapses, and conference awaits

Tom Belger
ACC Liverpool, which hosts Labour’s annual party conference for 2023. Photo: ACC Liverpool

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Labour conference is just around the corner, and the LabourList team are busy prepping an unmissable array of events – from panels on new polling, housing, health and workers’ rights to a rally in a Cuban bar and our famous karaoke and DJ night. In true LabourList fashion, we’re excited to host speakers from across the party, from Wes Streeting and Alison McGovern to Mick Lynch and Zarah Sultana.

We’re also prepping our editorial coverage, and we want to hear what you want to read, whether you’re going or not. The top comments by senior figures or experts at panels? The motions voted on or passed? Advice on what to see or do? Amusing, revealing anecdotes or overheard conversations?

Send us your thoughts in advance at [email protected], and when you’re at conference, send us any anecdotes, news, rumours or feedback on how conference is going for you to shape our coverage or share in the following day’s email (on record or not…). And finally if you know of any motions your Constituency Labour Party, union or society is submitting too, or your campaign group is promoting, then let us know as well.

In actual conference news today, big firms like Goldman Sachs, Vodafone and Barclays are apparently “literally busting the door”, with Reeves “one of the most in-demand women in the UK right now” (Bloomberg).

Starmer’s anti-HS2 petition ‘some time ago’

Another day, another HS2 will-they-won’t-they dance for politicians red and blue. A 2015 tweet by Keir Starmer about handing in his anti-HS2 petition has resurfaced, prompting awkward questions this morning for Labour’s broadcast sofa-master general, Jon Ashworth. He told Kay Burley it was “some time ago now”. Luckily it’s housing minister Rachel Maclean raising more eyebrows in her broadcast round, as she said there was no HS2 announcement planned and government is “focused on delivering HS2″. So who told the BBC yesterday a “definitive decision on HS2 could be made as soon as this week”?

Meanwhile ex-PM Gordon Brown’s the latest political heavyweight to join the cacophony of voices who want HS2 to go full steam ahead (couldn’t resist), saying it’s “very sad we can’t get an agreement on basic infrastructure” (LBC). Greater Manchester and Manchester city council leaders Andy Burnham and Bev Craig have also written a joint letter to Rishi Sunak, calling the lack of a chance to feed in their views “deeply disrespectful” to their region.

Don’t judge Labour by how much it spends

The suggestion Labour is grappling with a hope-or-reassurance dilemma is a “completely false way to look at it”, says Jonathan Reynolds in an in-depth interview with The New Statesman.

Transformational change relies on stable bond markets, a stable currency and spending plans seen as “credible”, he said, adding: “I don’t think Labour governments should be judged by how much they spend.” For instance, the green prosperity plan’s success should be seen less via how much is spent but “how much we are getting out of it”.

The shadow cabinet’s also “absolutely joined up” between industrial strategy and said green plans, while there is no “tension” between different portfolio holders, or between jobs and net zero.

In other Labour news…

PREPARE FOR GOVERNMENT: Some smart journalists have been combing Labour staffers’ LinkedIns (you have been warned), and found the party’s recruited more than a dozen ex-civil servants in the past 18 months to “bolster its preparations for government” (The Guardian)

BUSSING IT: “For the first time in almost 40 years, private operators will have no say over routes, fares, frequencies, timetables and overall standards, giving power back to the paying public.” Read how Burnham is spearheading a quiet revolution in Greater Manchester as the authority takes control of bus routes (Manchester Evening News)

COALITION COLLAPSE: Labour councillors have quit the coalition ruling Oxfordshire after a critical report on services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and one councillor’s even left the party.  (BBC, Oxford Mail)

NEW EQUAL PAY ROW: Another Labour-run city council, Sheffield, faces a wave of equal pay claims led by Labour affiliate union the GMB, as female cleaners, carers and teaching assistants claim they are missing out on up to £11,000 a year. The council’s deputy leader said it had used an agreed job review process with unions since 2010, and encouraged staff to raise concerns. Meanwhile Birmingha council  faces a protest today over potential asset sell-offs.  (ITV, Birmingham Trades Council)

AMERICAN DREAM: Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership has paved the way for tighter links with US Democrats ahead of next year’s crunch elections in Britain and America, according to a must-read deep dive into what Labour is learning and should be learning from across the pond (The Mirror)

BROWN IN TOWN: Levy fossil fuel nations to fund climate change adaptation, and don’t scrap inheritance tax or the triple lock, says former PM (LBC)

BOJO’S BILLS: Fresh from a Truss blitz, Labour’s now opening fire the man who made Sunak – demanding Boris Johnson pay back his six-figure legal fees for the Partygate inquiry (The Guardian

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