‘Blair talks tax, tech and junk food – but is he barking up the wrong tree?’

Tom Belger
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Blair and ‘barking up the wrong tree’

To the news though – and it’s Tony Blair who’s making waves today. The ex-leader says he meets Starmer “reasonably frequently”, Labour shouldn’t equate radicalism with “just taxing and spending”, accusations of Labour blandness are “nonsense”, and true radicalism is about “harnessing the technological revolution” (Financial Times).

So far so Blair – but perhaps more intriguingly, he’s backed a junk food tax (The Times). Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting may have once called Blair a “hero”, but he still reached quickly for the fire extinguisher by saying that “public health lobby” pressure to make family shops more expensive is “barking up the wrong tree”. (Times Radio).

Waiting for growth – waiting for Godot?

At TUC Congress, John McDonnell has warned “waiting for growth…can be a bit like waiting for Godot”, in a seeming dig at Labour’s increasingly central stated mission. Meanwhile even welcome Labour tax pledges on non-doms and private schools mark “small change”, the former Shadow Chancellor said. Morgan reports too that he told a fringe event yesterday he’d be “worried” if Labour ditched the triple lock, risking lost votes and pensioner poverty.

Morgan was also at powerful session held last night by Me #TU on combatting sexual harassment in the movement, which BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley warned had not banished an “underlying misogynistic culture”. The event saw testimony about the behaviour of former TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes too. He was dismissed for gross misconduct after a probe into sexual harassment and bullying within the union, though he appealed (and lost) twice.

‘We’re so close – don’t mess it up’ – what Dromey would say

Harriet Harman has just finished addressing Congress as the sororal delegate from Labour. She praised TUC general secretaries past and present, and thanked comrades in the Labour and trade union movement for the tributes that have been paid to her late husband Jack Dromey, which she said meant “more than she could say”. She told Congress that she knew what he’d be saying: “We are so close now – don’t mess it up!”

Also today, unions are voting on fixing economic failures exposed by Wilko’s collapse, plus on lobbying parliament to help save rail ticket offices (upcoming motions here, passed ones here).

In other Labour news…

  • People have been taking the mick of Starmer over his solo album-style photo on the front of Labour’s just-published conference brochure (Indy100)
  • Rachel Reeves has slammed “another dismal day for growth” after GDP shrank by 0.5% in July (Office for National Statistics).
  • Adam Langleben will take charge of Progressive Britain in October, with Nathan Yeowell stepping down to launch a think tank called The Future Governance Forum (Progressive Britain)
  • Starmer told students abolishing tuition fees is “impossible” (The Independent)
  • Tactical voting would add 26 seats to the 414 seats Labour’s currently projected to win, according to Electoral Calculus (The Independent).
  • Dangerous dogs should be rounded up and killed, says Emily Thornberry (The Mirror)
  • Tracy Brabin tells Labour a major transport project ‘must be in your manifesto’ (The Yorkshire Post)
  • Keir Starmer needs to ‘get his arse in gear’, says Billy Bragg (London World)
  • Debbie Abrahams will launch a documentary called The Unequal Pandemic in parliament today (Oldham Times)

Apologies this briefing is late. Let us know if you love or hate the format we’re trying out today though: [email protected].

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