For Barking’s nominally Labour MP Margaret Hodge, anything her current party leader does is by definition wrong. With her and Jeremy Corbyn, it’s personal. Worse, as the Guardian told last year, she “has signalled that Labour MPs critical of Jeremy Corbyn are digging in for a long struggle against his leadership as she suggested that the antisemitism row would only end if he stood aside”. In other words, it’s not about anti-Semitism.
Because if the row about anti-Semitism would end with Jezza not being leader … that’s in Oh What A Giveaway territory. And to prove that she is determined to find fault with anything and everything coming from the leadership, Ms Hodge has now taken grave exception to her own party’s policies, to many members’ clear disgust.
Here’s what she had to say about Labour’s priorities. “I want to lay the party that brings honesty into our politics. What we’ve got, if we do have anything, is a whole range of unrealistic promises, whether it’s on reversing all the cuts of the last decade, whether it’s on promising that we’ll do away with tuition fees, those are promises that will not be fulfilled”. They won’t? Hurrah for Universal Credit, eh? Do go on.
“And that unrealism, those sorts of bribes, actually in my view, in an era of scepticism, simply against policies or politics is not the way to win election”. There you have it: in Hodge world, you’re only going to get elected by shrugging your shoulders and leaving all the homeless out on the streets, leaving Universal Credit in place, leaving the NHS in an increasingly parlous state, and yes, leaving millions of poor people to their fate.
Moreover, some at least of what she calls “bribes” were what she stood on two years ago in the run-up to that year’s General Election. Small wonder that the condemnation of her remarks was instantaneous, typical being “Can anyone, in all honesty, tell me why the hell Margaret Hodge is in the labour party? Sitting on her £70+k a year plus expenses and having the audacity to say reversing austerity is somehow a bribe? She's not the one dying on the street struggling to feed her children”. Quite. And there was more.
Matt Turner of Evolve Politics was also unimpressed with the senior back bencher. “Margaret Hodge describing the reversal of austerity as a 'bribe' is awful. Clearly doesn't believe in the 'political choice, not an economic necessity' narrative - probably harking back to the days we had Chris Leslie as Shadow Chancellor. Pathetic”.
And on went the pushback: “Margaret Hodge has left labour. Right? Surely she can't say her own party are trying to bribe the electorate with unrealistic policies AND still be in the Labour party?” One Tweeter, noting the offer of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson on opening his Tory leadership campaign, added “Margaret Hodge this is what a bribe looks like. Will you criticise this, too?”
Offering the comfortably-off a tax cut - now that IS a bribe. Offering the impoverished, the homeless, the disabled, the downtrodden a little dignity - THAT is a political choice.
It’s worrying that Margaret Hodge cannot, it seems, tell the difference. Not a good look.
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