Labour leadership: Stormin’ Corbyn winning the new battle of Berkhamsted

BERKHAMSTED CASTLE pPc Credit:geograph-org-uk

Pic Credit:geograph-org-uk

Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire is not known as a centre of left wing radicalism. It has had only two revolutionary moments in its 1000 year history . They were the capitulation of the English to William the Conqueror in 1066 at Berkhamsted Castle and the Battle of Berkhamsted Common in 1866.

The latter was a remarkable story, A wealthy MP, Augustus Smith, was furious that a local landowner had enclosed common land above the town. So rather than just protest he took direct action. As a book, The Short History of Berkhamsted reveals he hired ” a miniature army of Cockney” toughs” and Irish labourers and charted a special train to convey them from Euston to Tring at the dead of night.”

These 120 men armed with crowbars tore down the iron railings overnight and the next day a newspaper reported ” “In carriages, gigs, dogcarts and on foot, gentry, shopkeepers, husbandmen, women and children at once tested the reality of what they saw by strolling over and squatting on the Common and taking away morsels of gorse to prove, as they said) the place was their own again.”

An Act of Parliament later guaranteed the freedom of the Common and Lord Brownlow who had tried to enclose it gave up.

Fast forward to 2015 and another extraordinary revolution seems to be taking place in the town if not the country..At a barbecue organised by the Berkhamsted and Tring branch of South West Herts Labour Party, members are talking about voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn Mp, popular with Berkhamsted Labour members

Jeremy Corbyn Mp, popular with   Berkhamsted Labour members

Now Jeremy has not had to bring in Cockney ” toughies” or Irish labourers to prove his point ( though they are many still in his Islington North constituency) but merely appear at local hustings with either other candidates or their representatives.

Both new members of the party and long-standing members are saying they are fed up with Labour apologising for what it stands for and don’t know what the other candidates for the leadership want to do. One lumped Andy Burnham,Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall into the same mould. She described them as vanilla – bland and tasteless with no ideological view of society.

They contrasted this with Corbyn who at least knows what he believes, doesn’t apologise for being a member of the Labour Party and would take the fight to the Tories and revamp the organisation. I saw no sign of entryism ( which the Sunday Times suggests) here among the new members – after all Chorleywood was never a bastion of the Militant Tendency even in its heyday. And John Mann MP is ridiculed for wanting to halt the election.

Angela Eagle Benefiting  from Yvette Cooper's pro women campaign.. Pic credit: The Guardian

Angela Eagle Benefiting from Yvette Cooper’s pro women campaign.. Pic credit: The Guardian

This doesn’t mean that the people  who are going to vote for Corbyn agree with every single policy he stands for – but they seem to want something different from the present, in their words, uninspired rivals. The only pause for thought is whether this will split the party – but the history of the SDP suggests otherwise. And Yvette Cooper’s point about Labour being a club for the boys has made some impact  but not in the way she wants..It has caused people to think of voting for Angela Eagle as deputy to  gender balance their vote for Corbyn. I shall still plump for Tom Watson.

I sense rather like in the run up to the general election in Scotland that something big is happening and is becoming unstoppable. Already neighbouring Hemel Hempstead constituency party has decided to endorse Corbyn and it looked like that grassroots Labour members have suddenly decided they are fed up with the status quo and wants something different..

The impact if Corbyn wins will be game changing. Defeated Labour candidates in some areas are taking the opposite view as this article in The Guardian shows. They see that Labour didn’t take into account the views of working class voters hating scroungers and more immigration. I hear this too from the working class carers who assist my disabled wife. But don’t they realise what these voters want is NO immigration ( Britain is full that’s why public services are bad, they tell me) .They want a ban on foreigners holding British jobs and the ABOLITION of benefits for scroungers. Are Will Straw and Jessica Asato going to stand on a Labour platform banning anybody from abroad working in Britain and the abolition of large swathes of welfare to get their vote? I would be surprised – it would make an interesting article in Left Foot Forward.

Would Will Straw really campaign to stop foreigners getting British jobs to get working class votes?

Would Will Straw really campaign to stop foreigners getting British jobs to get working class votes?

No, Labour has to decide where it stands on all this and then campaign and educate people that it is cuts in public services not more immigrants that is causing a lot of the problem. That is why I am still deciding whether I should take the plunge and back Corbyn or stick with either Cooper or Burnham.

26 thoughts on “Labour leadership: Stormin’ Corbyn winning the new battle of Berkhamsted

  1. What is David Gauke’s and your local Conservative activists’ opinion of the Labour Party leadership election, as far as you know? – and to the General Election result (“1983” or “1992”?)?


  2. Coming soon: Tring devolved power could lead to change of lollipop woman
    Cat still stuck up tree: we ask a spokesman what his cousin thinks
    Scout jumble sale still to go ahead despite change of venue




  4. oh and carers allowance needs to be stopped from being taken off income support etc. income support is there to keep the carer. not to help look after the cared for. carers allowance is there to help look after the latter not supplement the income of the carer.


  5. The right wing of the Labour Party is pointing in the wrong direction. They think we have to beat the Tories and so bend the knee to Tory views to win over Tory voters. We don’t. We have to beat apathy, ignorance and indifference. Corbyn, quite simply, is the only one offering hope that things can be better, and prepared to take on the powerful interests that largely control this country. The parallels with the SNP surge are striking. An awful lot of people are very fed up, to say the least, with the way things are. They want change, not bread and circuses.


  6. But if Corbyn wants to show that he can actually be trusted with power any more than any other candidate from whatever wing of the Labour Party, he’s still got to explain to all these people looking to him as the Party’s hope of salvation why he and almost every other politician in Islington has spent the past twenty years pretending that there was no cover-up of responsibility for the Islington children’s homes scandal? Why are you of all people silent on the subject, David?


    • I must admit I have not looked into this – I was certainly aware that Margaret Hodge, who I noticed has since belatedly apologised, did not look properly at this and seemed to have accepted her officials views. I will the link to speak for itself.


      • Oh, for heaven’s sake, David, you’re an investigative journalist investigating the child sexual abuse cover-up scandal. Are you really telling me you’ve swallowed the Hodge and Corbyn line? Have you really not questioned why Hodge is constantly being challenged and why Corbyn is now being asked awkward questions? Have you never got round to reading Liz Davies’s open letter to Margaret Hodge – ?


      • No I haven’t swallowed the Hodge and Corbyn line. What I was trying to say is that I haven’t had time to do investigations in every place I know. I have investigated Richmond, touched on Kincora, am looking at Staffordshire, North Wales, Leicestershire, Hampshire and Central London. I haven’t looked closely at Islington, Lambeth,Hackney, Hampstead, Morden, other parts of the West Midlands, Gloucestershire, Suffolk,Norfolk and Essex but am aware of cases there. I’d be totally exhausted if I tried to all these at the same time!


      • Fair enough, David, I can understand you’re carrying a pretty heavy workload, but surely Margaret Hodge and her Islington baggage, including the responses to her unsatisfactory apologies, must have been quite prominent on the journalists’ horizon since the time of the row over her appointment as Minister for Children. It would exhaust you to try and know about every area’s cover-ups in detail, but surely Exaro can afford to provide you with bringing-up-to-speed briefings on the significant areas of interest that are liable to impinge on your own investigations, some of which you’ve listed? Fell free to use this comment to remind them how important it is for you to have an all-round view of the jigsaw.


      • I can see your point. I have noticed the Hodge story and Corbyn story re this issue has been aired in msm. Normally I try and cover stories that have not been aired at all or get information going far beyond what is already known, are you saying there is so much more to this? Both Hodge and Corbyn have been accused in msm of a cover up.


  7. About time Lab our leadership showed some socialist principles when did a front bencher last support the workers in an industrial dispute,The election was lost not by being too left wing but by not being left wing enough,Cameron is about to stuff the Lords with more cronies what does Harman say….Nothing, More power to Corbyn,light blue Labour has had its day.


  8. The reason for Hodge’s “mishandling” of the whistleblowers’ reports of terrible things happening to children under her care has never been properly explained, despite the furore when she was appointed Minister for Children. Hence Liz Davies’s open letter at her website – Important questions remain unanswered and ignored by the mainstream media.

    Similarly councillors and officers at the time and in the years since until 2014 ignored demands to publish the damning conclusions of the White Report produced during the leadership of Derek Sawyer and Sawyer’s terms of reference still ensure that the names of those responsible for criminal malpractice in Islington’s childcare homes are not publicly available.

    Jeremy Corbyn limply explained that the council had investigated the allegations, as if satisfied with an outcome that allowed numerous senior staff to leave the council’s employment subject to congenial terms that included commendations that enabled them to take up important child-care positions elsewhere. The mainstream media have not investigated the career progress of Hodge’s and Sawyer’s proteges.

    And amid all the discussion of police failures in the past where has the mainstream media scrutinised the council’s obstructionist actions and inaction that prevented police investigations from investigating the connections between Islington childcare staff and alleged paedophile networks that facilitated the hosting of Islington children in establishments in Sussex, Jersey, Suffolk and elsewhere?

    It’s only very recently that Guy Adams in the Mail has published details of the futile approaches that were made by the Islington social work whistleblowers, the investigative reporter Eileen Fairweather and the Islington childcare survivor Demetrious Panton to Jeremy Corbyn, opening up an immense area of possible interest to the mainstream media – That in fact happened after I first drew tried to draw your attention at another Corbyn-related post to Corbyn’s apparent lack of interest in seeing the truth emerge.

    The open letter to Margaret Hidge at Liz Davies’s website makes it very clear that the official explanations and apologies to date have been inadequate. And it is not just Hodge, Corbyn and Sawyer who the mainstream media would find had contributed to the veil of silence if they chose to investigate. There are a whole host of Islington councillors who have gone on to be national figures and who like Corbyn have persisted in turning their backs on the search for truth and justice for the victims of PIE’s infiltration of Islington’s child protection system. But with a few admirable exceptions the MSM are continuing to ignore this festering sore.

    I should make it clear that I am a concerned (/appalled) outsider. I am not a stakeholder in Islington’s past. I do not know any of the parties involved, I have formed my opinions on the basis of my acquaintance with materials in the public domain. You brought Corbyn’s candidature for Labour Party leadership to the attention of your readership. You also promoted the efforts of the social media group backed by Exaro to rubbish the call for a statutory inquiry that was backed by Liz Davies, without giving any explanation why you dismissed her concern. I don’t think you can legitimately steer yourself clear of trying to understand the significance of Islington, and I suggest that you could do a lot worse than start by trying to get up to speed with the help of the thoughtful, knowledgeable and compassionate Dr Davies..


    • Yes OK I take your point re Islington which also ought to be thoroughly investigated by the Goddard Inquiry.
      I do take issue with the fact I never outlined my reasons why I did not want a statutory inquiry. In fact on November 2 I wrote a blogon my site explaining the drawbacks of one – not least because it would exclude survivors from participating. See Child Sex Abuse Inquiry Debacle: Why it is important where we go next
      Posted on November 2, 2014


      • My apologies, David, certainly you did make the case that survivors would not have the same input under a statutory inquiry, which I agree is a major issue. However in giving your unqualified support to the non-statutory argument you simply ignored the problem raised by the other side of how a non-statutory inquiry would cope with the challenge of powerful organisations and agencies denying the inquiry their unreserved co-operation. It was widely hoped that the inquiry would not just allow survivors to tell the truth about the abuse they had endured but would also get to grips with the mechanisms of the cover-up that had denied them the opportunity to have their experiences acknowledged, with the aim of preventing similar future cover-ups. If the most powerful institutions in the country were to be forced to disgorge their secrets, statutory powers appeared essential. You simply took one side against the other as if the supporters of a statutory inquiry were simply denying survivors their right to contribute to the inquiry without adequate reason.


      • I can see there are both sides. But I would have preferred it to have remained a non statutory inquiry with a promise that it could be upgraded if people refused to co-operate as the home secretary originally promised. If that had been combined with a change to the Official Secrets Act allowing special branch and the security services immunity from prosecution if they gave evidence, I think it would still have worked.
        I am on a non statutory inquiry myself at the moment looking into unexplained deaths at Gosport hospital and though I am bound by secrecy about the investigation – I would look at how successful Hillsborough – a non statutory inquiry – was in obtaining information from reluctant parties including South Yorkshire police.
        You are right,btw, that it is difficult to search from some old blogs – I found that myself when I was looking to reply to you. I will have to get help as I am technologically illiterate to get that sorted!


      • I have no relevant expertise but my impression is that the Hillsborough inquiry format was as successful as it was because the number and type of organisations subjected to scrutiny was limited and none of the areas of evidence-gathering could be deemed to be beyond the scope of legitimate general public interest. It was clear that what eventually became IICSA would have to deal with a vastly more intricate and extensive series of cover-ups, including some that would involve otherwise publicly unaccountable agencies. Exaro and the group of survivors whose views you were promoting never seemed prepared to consider the issues thrown up by such a complex situation. I found it difficult to understand how Exaro seemed to be taking sides in the way it did.


  9. By the way, it’s quite difficult locating past posts. Perhaps you could consider adding a “postings by date” component to the sidebar (the sort that shows years and number of posts, then months and numbers, and then the within-month post titles). Thanks


  10. Pingback: Stormin’ Corbyn Winning New Battle of Berkhamstead | Tribune

  11. Pingback: Why Labour’s patronising grandees have driven people to vote for Stormin’ Corbyn | Tribune

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