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Still want the job Rachel?

By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

In his blog Jim asks if Rachael Reeves still wants the job of Chancellor after Jeremy Hunt has stolen her policies and left a legacy of tax increases and spending cuts.

It was shameless electioneering, but the Chancellor has done his best to minimise the reasons for people voting labour at the General Election.

Sir Keir Starmer can still tap into the powerful argument that it is a time for a change, and that will probably get enough people to grudgingly support him to form a government. But any idea that Labour will make much difference to people’s lives, at least in the short term, is for the birds.

The shameless, or crafty, Jeremy Hunt has nullified the few measures that Rachel Reeves has been prepared to sanction like non dom status and the windfall tax on energy companies. Hunt is even attempting to start Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting big idea to modernise the NHS.I’m surprised he didn’t go after private school’s VAT relief. He has also “salted the earth” for an incoming Labour government by sanctioning tax cuts that will have to be paid for by big spending cuts or raised taxes as soon as next year.

The Shadow Chancellor immediately promised to scour the Budget to find money to keep to pledges like full primary school meals. Well, good luck with that Rachel, as your colleague Liam Byrne once foolishly said “there ain’t no money left”.

The fact is that because of Brexit, the pandemic, the Ukraine war, and Liz Truss’ madness the Tories are leaving a toxic legacy for Labour to pick up. The early years of a Starmer government will be characterised by an unglamourous attempt to pick up the pieces and try to find a way to economic growth. Voters may give them a year but then disillusion will set in, with the left and the unions angrily criticising the lack of radicalism.

Only by attempting to rebuild our partnership with Europe, will this spiral into economic introspection and decline be changed

TIN EARS OVER ROCHDALE

It wasn’t just Asian voters that elected George Galloway last week. A number of white voters were eager to tell reporters that it was time for something different. If his past track record is anything to go by Galloway will certainly be different. The good folk of Rochdale, like those in Tower Hamlets and Bradford in the past, will rarely see him. His efforts to get A and E restored will fall on deaf ears as he will neither have the ear of ministers or the opposition.

I have become aware that the scale of Labour’s blunder in rushing the contest was more serious than has so far been reported.

I understand very senior figures in North West politics pleaded with Labour HQ in London to delay the poll until the same time as the local elections in May. People who know the patch said a vote now would be all about Gaza whereas on May 2 people would have other issues on their mind like the mayoral and council elections.

The point was also made to me that Muslim Labour candidates are being put under huge pressure over Gaza and more time should have been given to finding out what effect this might have had on Azhar Ali’s policy positions.

London did not listen and there is concern that there is too much central control over candidate selection. My sources say it is essential that the Rochdale Labour Party now be given full freedom to choose someone who they feel can win the seat back, and any attempt at central interference could lead to Galloway retaining the constituency.

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The Blackpool South by election will be the eleventh in this parliament caused by Tory MPs being thrown out for sleaze or walking off the job. Jim reports on this sad saga. He also reflects on fifty years of local council shakeups and the birth of Piccadilly Radio!

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