Owen Smith sacked from Labour party frontbench

Smith went against party policy by calling for a referendum over the final Brexit deal

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Smith, has been sacked by Jeremy Corbyn after advocating a public referendum over the final Brexit deal.

Smith, who challenged Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, wrote an article in the Guardian urging his party to reopen the question of whether Brexit was the right thing for Britain.

Continue reading...

Corbyn criticised after backing artist behind antisemitic mural

Labour leader has been accused of failing to crack down on cases of antisemitism in recent months

Jeremy Corbyn was embroiled in a fresh antisemitism row on Friday after conceding he was wrong to support a graffiti artist whose “offensive” work was scrubbed off a wall in London’s East End.

In a Facebook post in 2012, Corbyn offered his backing to Los Angeles-based street artist Mear One, whose mural, featuring several known antisemitic tropes, was due to be removed after complaints.

Continue reading...

We’re taking on Cambridge Analytica in a legal fight for data rights | Ravi Naik

It can’t be left to regulators. Now that Silicon Valley’s myth of apolitical tech is in tatters, we must all be vigilant

The movement for data rights has hit a landmark moment. In early 2017, I was instructed by a number of individuals who were concerned about the way their data was being used. They feared their personal data had been compiled and amalgamated into profiles based some on their most personal beliefs – their political opinions. Those profiles were processed by the notorious Cambridge Analytica, and seemingly by its parent company, SCL. We have now filed a claim in the British courts on behalf of a US citizen, David Carroll, to seek full disclosure of the data held by Cambridge Analytica and SCL. This will be the first case against these companies and will shed further light on what they were doing.

Our clients are seeking to understand the extent of the data held about them without their knowledge or consent, and to know whether that data was subsequently manipulated, and if so, in what way and for what purpose. They also hope to discover the breadth of information needed to make sophisticated predictions about political beliefs – a revelation that will be of wide interest, not just to our clients.

Continue reading...

Dan Jarvis wins vote to run as Sheffield mayor, but can’t also be an MP

Labour MP faces choice after NEC rules he must quit parliament to run as city region mayor

The Labour MP Dan Jarvis has won a vote to become the party’s candidate for the new role of Sheffield city region mayor, but has yet to decide whether he will step down from parliament to seek election to the role.

The Barnsley Central MP won 58% of the members’ ballot against the other candidate, Ben Curran, a councillor and cabinet member on Sheffield city council.

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on Brexit and Russia: a fatal flaw | Editorial

EU solidarity with the UK against Moscow is welcome, but the prime minister still hasn’t resolved contradictions at the heart of her policy

Theresa May is fond of observing that Britain will not be leaving Europe when it leaves the European Union, which could be a statement of geographical banality or strategic significance. The prime minister’s point, elucidated in a speech at the Mansion House last November, is that the UK sees itself as part of a community of democracies, aligned in their attachment to a world order based on internationally recognised rules.

Mrs May argued then that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved itself hostile to those rules, seeking to undermine the institutions that uphold them. She argued too that the UK and the EU were on the same side, despite Brexit. So Mrs May will have been heartened by the statement of unambiguous solidarity from the European council in response to the nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury. EU leaders have endorsed the British view that the Russian state is highly likely to be the culprit. The EU’s ambassador to Moscow is to be withdrawn, signalling agreement with Mrs May that the Kremlin looks hostile to the whole of the EU. This is an easier argument to win with some members than others. Baltic states, who feel their independence threatened by Mr Putin’s neo-Soviet statecraft, are natural allies. Others are more cautious.

Continue reading...

The passport farce shows Brexit is really an Ealing comedy | Stefan Stern

Outrage over foreigners making the new British passports would be funny – if only there was a happy ending in sight

Not everything that happens in life is symbolic of something bigger. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But it’s worth reflecting briefly before the week is over on the diplomatic, economic, political and legal nonsense of what, for a few hours longer, we can still call passportgate. (Has it become a ‘gate’? I do hope so.)

This week’s outrage was provoked by the news that the contract to produce the new, bluey-black, blackish-blue, 50-shades-of-blue passports had been awarded to a Franco-Dutch company called Gemalto, at the expense of the British De La Rue. Some jobs in Gateshead may have been put at risk by this decision, although De La Rue has dozens of international clients and many other contracts to serve. Indeed, up to 70 jobs could be created by Gemalto at its UK sites.

Continue reading...

Is there still time to save the Open University from slow strangulation? | Steven Rose

Plans to cut staff and courses threaten the OU’s specific mission of making tertiary education open to all

The report that the Open University plans to axe more than a third of its courses and slash its teaching staff makes grim reading for anyone who cares about the consequences for its original mission of making tertiary education open to all. Of course, the cuts must be set in the context of what has been happening to higher education as a whole, but there is clearly a danger that the OU’s unique contribution to public education over the half-century since it was created will be lost.

Related: Open University plans major cuts to number of staff and courses

Continue reading...

Digested week: a rhino, a rotten kipper and a ‘national humiliation’

This week saw the tragic death of Sudan the rhino, as the Brexit shambles rumbled on

One of the best family holidays we ever had was on a game reserve in South Africa about 10 years ago. Back then it was normally tricky to get the kids out of bed much before 11, but there were no moans about getting up at six every morning to go on an escorted drive to watch the animals. There was something so magical about being in the presence of such natural beauty. The highlight was coming across three rhinos among a clump of trees. Our jeep crept up to within about 20 metres and we all sat in silence for the best part of an hour, overcome with wonder. So the death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, felt more personal than it otherwise might have done. The loss of something precious. I asked the zoologist and author of the totally fabulous book The Unexpected Truth about Animals, Lucy Cooke, whether we should try to save the species through IVF. She said no. Humans should take personal and political responsibility for their own destruction and that our efforts would be better spent trying to save existing species rather than encouraging the belief science was so advanced that there need be no consequences to our actions. I think I agree.

Continue reading...

Post-Brexit passport maker scored best for cybersecurity – No 10

Downing Street stresses Gemalto would save £120m over five years in bid to deflect criticism

The overseas company that will manufacture the UK’s post-Brexit blue passports scored top marks for cybersecurity during the tendering process, Downing Street has said as it tries to deflect continued criticism of the decision.

Some Conservative MPs reacted with anger to the news that the Franco–Dutch firm Gemalto had won the contract for the passports, with the UK company De La Rue losing out.

Continue reading...

Labour condemns Tories for racially charged attack on Sadiq Khan

Local election leaflet, which warns of increased influence by London mayor in Havering, described as a return to dog-whistle politics

Labour has accused the Conservatives of adopting racially charged “dog-whistle” politics after a local election leaflet warned that the influence of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, could mean suburbs becoming increasingly “inner city”, with the union flag removed from public buildings.

The flyer, produced by Conservatives in Havering, on the eastern edge of Greater London, warns that if Labour win in May’s local polls, it would result in “Havering resembling boroughs like Hackney, Newham, Camden and Barking, rather than traditional parts of Essex”.

Continue reading...

More cash will force the NHS to address tougher questions than money | Richard Vize

Hopes are rising for a solution to the funding crisis, but investment must be used to reshape the health service not perpetuate inefficiency

Indications that the government is edging towards a radical, long-term funding settlement for the NHS – as pressure grows from its backbenchers to get a grip on the problem – are raising hopes of a solution to the funding crisis. But more cash will force the health service to address even tougher questions than money.

With NHS trusts running an underlying deficit in the region of £3.7bn, there is a serious risk that the acute sector will rapidly soak up any new cash while primary, mental health and community services will again be left fighting over the scraps.

Continue reading...

‘We have been hijacked’: fishermen feel used over Brexit

As the reality of leaving the EU takes shape, UK fishermen are bleak about their industry’s future

On a clear day, the fishermen who dreamed of Brexit can still glimpse their imagined future on the horizon. Just six miles out at sea from ports such as Selsey, in Sussex, they track the progress of larger European vessels whose preferential rights to fish in British waters have long been a source of envy.

“It’s sickening to see them from here while we are tied up,” says Tony Delahunty, who finally sold his family boat two weeks ago after 43 years scratching a living along the south coast. His son has gone into landscape gardening, and hopes of keeping others in the industry with the promise of change are receding fast.

Continue reading...

Should Labour back a second Brexit referendum? Our readers debate

Labour’s Owen Smith is pushing for a public vote on the final Brexit deal, but our readers are unsure how this would work in practice

As the EU and the UK agree on a transition agreement, Labour’s Owen Smith has called for the party to take a more explicitly anti-Brexit stance.

Writing in the Guardian, Smith, who stood as party leader against Corbyn in 2016, said that “the country has a vote on whether to accept the terms, and true costs of that choice, once they are clear.”

Continue reading...

Does Britain have the pride to reject May’s tail-between-the-legs Brexit? | Hugo Dixon

The prime minister’s attempt to cushion the blow only reveals how damaging Brexit will be. It’s up to remainers to call it out

Theresa May is hoping to declare victory at today’s European council summit because she will secure a “transition” deal. In fact, it is a miserable step on the way to a Brexit that damages our pride, power and prosperity.

Just consider for a minute why we need this transition at all. Without it, our economy would fall off a cliff next year. We would also lose access to valuable tools to fight crime and terrorism including membership of Europol and use of the European arrest warrant. If it’s so important to hang on to these things for another 21 months, one may well ask why it’s such a good idea to quit the EU at all.

Continue reading...

EU approval of Brexit blueprint comes with Irish border warning

Leaders agree vision for future trade deal but say UK must provide solution for Ireland

EU agreement on the terms of a transition period and its vision of a “wide-ranging and ambitious” free trade deal with the UK has come with a warning that nothing will be sealed until Downing Street provides a solution for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The leaders of 27 member states endorsed a seven-page blueprint for a future deal with the UK at a summit in Brussels on Friday morning. It includes zero tariffs on goods, reciprocal access to fishing waters and cooperation in defence and foreign affairs.

Continue reading...

The 3 lessons Jeremy Corbyn’s movement can teach US progressives | Adam Klug and Emma Rees

It’s going to take everyone to transform the Democrats into a true party of the people. This is how we did it with Labour …

An existential question confronts US progressives: how to win again in the age of Trump. It seems daunting, pitfalls haunting every possible move. But there is a path to revitalising your movements and, ultimately, power.

Nearly three years ago, British progressives faced similar challenges. In May 2015, the Labour party lost – and lost badly – an election it really should have won. The establishment narrative was that Labour’s mild resistance to soaring inequality and insecurity led to electoral oblivion. The party, so we were told, had to accept austerity, corporate control and anti-migrant and anti-social security rhetoric to confront those very evils.

The conditions in the US are ripe for a wholesale revival of the Democrats as a true party of the people

Continue reading...

Politics Live – readers’ edition: Friday 23 March

A forum where readers can discuss today’s politics and share links to breaking news and to the most interesting politics stories, blogs and tweets on the web

I’m not writing my usual blog today but here, as an alternative, is the Politics Live readers’ edition. It is a place for you to discuss today’s politics, and to share links to breaking news and to the most interesting stories and blogs on the web.

Feel free to express your views robustly, but please treat others with respect and don’t resort to abuse. Guardian comment pages are supposed to be a haven from the Twitter/social media rant-orama, not an extension of it.

Related: Owen Smith calls for public poll on final Brexit deal

Related: EU recalls ambassador from Russia as leaders back May over Salisbury

Related: Officers likely to have passed personal files to blacklisters, says Met

Related: Theresa May refuses to intervene over man's £54,000 NHS cancer bill

Related: Toby Young clings on to taxpayer-funded free schools role

Eight council by-elections tonight, a good number of which at risk of changing hands.

Three Conservative defences, two Labour, two free-for-all and one UKIP. @andrewteale's previews: https://t.co/P7KDXumstq

Worksop South East (Bassetlaw) result:

LAB: 77.3% (+21.1)
CON: 15.2% (+15.2)
LDEM: 7.5% (+7.5)

Labour HOLD.

No UKIP (-25.2), Grn (-10.3) and Ind (-8.3) as prev.

Labour GAIN Leek West (Staffordshire Moorlands) from Conservative.

Leek West (Staffordshire Moorlands) result:

LAB: 42.9% (+23.6)
CON: 32.6% (+0.6)
LDEM: 19.2% (+8.7)
IND: 5.4% (+5.4)

Labour GAIN from Conservative.

No Local Indy Group (-14.0), Grn (-11.1) and Ind(s) (-13.2) as prev.

Bunbury (Cheshire East) result:

CON: 53.3% (-16.9)
LDEM: 27.5% (+27.5)
LAB: 14.3% (-3.4)
GRN: 4.8% (-7.2)

Conservative HOLD.

Conservative GAIN Ridgeway (Chiltern) from Independent.

Told it's now a draw between Labour and the Tories in Ockendon (Thurrock). Coin toss?

Now told Tories won coin toss.

Conservative GAIN Ockendon (Thurrock) from UKIP.

Ockendon (Thurrock) result:

CON: 36.2% (+7.8)
LAB: 36.2% (+11.2)
TI: 27.6% (+27.6)

Conservative GAIN from UKIP.

Result determined by drawing of straws/coin toss.

No UKIP (-46.5) as prev.
TI: Thurrock Independents.

Liberal Democrat GAIN Central & Walton (Aylesbury Vale) from Conservative.

Central & Walton (Aylesbury Valey) result:

LDEM: 40.9% (+18.1)
CON: 31.5% (-1.1)
LAB: 19.8% (+0.9)
GRN: 4.5% (-4.0)
IND: 3.3% (+3.3)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative.

No UKIP (-17.2) as prev.

Continue reading...

Tory councillors are tied to the idea that the market knows best | David Walker

In Northamptonshire, Tories lost control of budgets, but neither main party truly understands local government

Max Caller, the independent inspector of Northamptonshire county council, has told the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, that the council is a dead parrot. It has, in the immortal lines of the Monty Python sketch, ceased to be. Instead, in 2020, arise north northants and west northants.

Never mind the geographical oddity (why not east and west or north and south?); never mind the lack of socioeconomic logic in the proposal or the lack of community identification with the new designation. Caller, who is a citizen completely above suspicion with a tremendous track record in local government, hasn’t told Javid the whole truth.

Continue reading...

Owen Smith calls for public poll on final Brexit deal

Former Labour leader contender, in Guardian interview, reopens split in party’s ranks

Owen Smith has broken ranks with Jeremy Corbyn to reopen the question of whether Brexit is “the right choice for the country” – and urge Labour to offer the public a referendum on the final deal.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary, who challenged Corbyn for his party’s leadership in 2016, was brought onto the Labour frontbench after last year’s general election.

Continue reading...

Gordon Brown calls for police inquiry into Sunday Times story

Former PM says violations took place regarding story from 2000 about his purchase of a flat

Gordon Brown has called on the police to launch a criminal investigation after a private investigator employed by the Sunday Times for 15 years said he had gained access to his bank and mortgage accounts by deception.

The former prime minister claimed that “25 to 40 violations of the law” took place in pursuit of a story relating to his purchase of a flat that was published in early 2000 under the editorship of John Witherow, who now edits the Times.

Continue reading...