Fact and Fiction over Jeremy Corbyn’s first by election defeat of the year

Jack Paton

Jack Paton: :Local hero Pic Credit: Cumberland News


Guido Fawkes and the Daily Express couldn’t wait to jump on the fact that the Labour Party lost  the first council by election of the year last Thursday.

After all this was in a Labour ward in flood sodden Carlisle where Jeremy Corbyn turned up to help and talk to flood victims and they firmly  rejected Labour in favour of an Independent. Paul Staines was ecstatic predicting a deluge of losses for Labour next May as the party totally disintegrated under Jeremy Corbyn to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

But both Guido  and the Daily Express are guilty of sloppy journalism because if they had looked  or wanted to look more carefully things were not as they seemed.

Myth No 1 was that  the Labour vote collapsed as Carlisle voters following the reshuffle chaos decided Labour was finished. I bet they had more things to worry about clearing up their flooded homes than following what was going on in the Westminster bubble.

In fact the Labour share of the vote – in a low turnout of 18 per cent- marginally INCREASED – from 33.1 to 33.5 per cent.

The party that lost out more was the third placed Conservative candidate whose share of the vote DECLINED by 5.4 per cent. Funny that was not reported.

Myth No 2 was that the Independent got there by taking votes only from Labour. In fact as the excellent Britain Elects Twitter file pointed out last time it was a four cornered fight with UKIP and the Greens standing. UKIP got 14 per cent of the vote but after their disastrous performances in many council by-elections and  the Oldham West Parliamentary by-election, couldn’t even find someone to stand. So it looks as though this vote switched to the Independent.

The third point ignored by the press- and this is where sloppy journalism really takes the biscuit – is that the winning candidate is a local hero.

He is Jack Paton, a former veteran, and a long time campaigner of the old style ” pavement politics ” type which was pioneered in the past by the Liberal democrats.

As the local paper , the News and Star, reported :

“Mr Paton, who has also worked with cadets in Botcherby and is a well-known figure in the area, becomes the second sitting independent city councillor for the estate, with Robert Betton already representing this neighbourhood.

” Mr Paton recently led the transformation of a dilapidated building into a new base for Army cadets, with the conversion of a former hairdressers on Victoria Road and land behind it.

He has also previously campaigned on issues including buses in the area and on kerbs and pavements that he perceived as dangerous for wheelchair users.”

He has his own Facebook page and tweets as @sixtysjack. His Facebook page is full of congratulations from local residents and his family.

Where Jeremy Corbyn might want to take note is that he is an army veteran and a traditional working class supporter who backs our troops. He is the sort of person who would  have warmed to Kevan Jones, the junior shadow defence minister , who quit this week, and was grossly misrepresented by John McDonnell as a right winger.

In that sense the vote is a warning to Corbyn that Labour is a broad church and needs to decide how it is going to keep on side this type of voter. After all the next PM is 2020 will definitely not be an Independent.



My Blog in 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2012. This modest jump takes the total number of hits to over 167,000 since it was launched three years ago – meaning the number of hits increased by nearly a quarter in a year. As revealed in the full report from WordPress the most heavily read blog was the one disclosing that NHS Direct was facing near oblivion after losing out to GP’s co-operatives and private profit making companies. This has attracted 5400 views – 3560 on one day – just 44 short of  an all time time record for this site.

The second biggest hit was the official inspector’s report disclosing strip searching of women at Gatwick Airport and the humiliation of gay people by border and customs staffs. this attracted 3839 hits and is still regularly getting traffic.

Two of the other big hits are about scandals in the privatisation of the London fire services  and the Whitehall tax scam which  earned me Political Journalist of the Year this year.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude turned out to be the sixth most popular read in 2012 at 2,549 on the tale of how he was always late paying his utility bills and  service charges on his Kennington flat – even though the taxpayer was picking up the tab.

Finally thanks to Twitter, Guido Fawkes,Facebook, the London FBU and Liberal Conspiracy as top referrers to this site. and also to the indefatigable Mrs Angry from Barnet for making the most comments, always noisy and always right!

Click here to see the complete report.

Guido Fawkes/Harry Cole v Tom Watson/Sunny Hundal: The changing blogosphere

Paul Staines – aka Guido Fawkes – poshed up for Leveson inquiry. Pic courtesy: intimes.co.uk

Two and a half years ago when this website was set up  blog hits were at best in hundreds worst in tens.

Now blog hits are best in thousands and worst in hundreds. But last week saw a significant turning point. Not only were they a record number of hits that week -but  more important  it is where they were coming from.

Two of the biggest hits in the past – the post on whether Labour could be go bankrupt because of interest payments to Blair’s donors- and Maude’s Madrassa- the story of Francis Maude’s letting arrangement to Tory special advisers – hit large numbers because they were mentioned on Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) website. I admit the initial success of this ex Guardian hack’s website was boosted by the  free market Tory right.

 Last week the blog revealing  the leaked memo (first and only in full on  http://www.exaronews.com ) from Nick Chapman, chief executive of NHS Direct, admitting they couldn’t get contracts and the excessive strip searching of Afro-Caribbean women  and abusive and appalling treatment of a gay man at  Gatwick Airport were ignored by Guido.

Tom Watson MP in reflective pose.Pic courtesy: The Guardian

Yet because  the NHS Direct memo taken up on Twitter by Sunny Hundal (of Liberal Conspiracy) and Tom Watson MP ( with 25,000+ and 83,000 followers each) the NHS Direct blog – over 5000 and still rising –   is now the first blog beating the Labour Party crisis blog on 4,345. The Gatwick Airport blog -on 2120 was also boosted by appearing on Political Scrapbook and taken up by the Pink Paper and the international gay community.

To me this tells me two things. The right wing’s  dominance of the blogosphere is at an end- it is now a healthy level playing field between the right and left fighting over the political issues of the day.

 Second it raises an interesting thought. If the growth of the blogosphere  fuelled by Twitter and Facebook continues like this over the next two years – are the Leveson# hearings on media control an irrelevance?

The irony is that new formal controls over the official media be in place on a declining industry  while the  expanding blogosphere will become the place where issues are debated. Tom Watson’s followers are almost the equivalent of the number of Independent readers and Guido Fawkes at 75,000 is not far off. I have a far more modest 3142.

I suspect no politician  – Tory, Labour, UKIP or Liberal Democrat – would dare impose controls over the  blogosphere. To do so would risk a Tahrir Square style rising from both Left and Right.