[The following is a response to a letter promoted by known anti Corbyn activists in the Labour Party.]
Open letter supporting Jeremy Corbyn's Article 50 position
There is an open letter doing the rounds on social media. It is supported by some grassroots Labour activists, campaigners, supporters and voters.
It calls on Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, to change his current position on Article 50.
This is how it begins and at this point it could be from this group also:
"We are all Labour Party members. We are from all corners of the UK, and have a range of backgrounds and ages. Some of us have been members for decades, and some of us have only recently joined. Some of us are frequent activists, and some of us have little time to be actively involved but support wherever we can. In short, we are the grassroots that you have always been keen to represent."
We start to go our separate ways with the next paragraph. Though of course we agree when they say:
"The membership of the Labour Party is not, and has never been, pro-Brexit. The party has a long history of supporting membership of the European Union. We had an official policy of supporting and campaigning for Remain during the referendum campaign."
Sadly we disagree from here.
This is our open letter:
This week two MPs resigned their positions citing Article 50 and Jeremy Corbyn's stance. There was no need for them to act in such a manner and at this time. The Labour Party are fighting two by elections scheduled for February 23 and both constituencies support BRexit.
Imagine the impact Labour Party BRexit divisions will have on these elections.
It was heartening to see Harriet Harman on a Sunday politics show say that she agrees with the party leader's stance even though she voted to remain in the EU and represents a BRemain constituency. It was equally heartening to hear my MP Alan Johnson make a similar statement Thursday.
Neither are Corbyn supporters but they respect democracy.
We may or may not like BRexit but we cannot simply throw a tantrum and disrespect democracy when it suits.
The Labour4EU account is tweeting to various journalists in the mainstream media and their story has already been published in the Guardian.
It is supported by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw who tweeted Saturday:
"Thanks to Exeter's Emma Brennan for initiating & all @UKLabour members for supporting this great #Article50 letter."
It looks increasingly likely that the group's actions are more about causing Labour Party divisions than Article 50. The main player is not a Corbyn supporter.
However Article 50 is a given. The Tory Party remains deeply divided over Brexit but too many people in the Labour Party are allowing the Tories a free ride on this issue.
Mrs May and her Tory government and party should be taking the heat right now. Instead a small group of self serving Labour Party Remainers are happily pushing bad press Labour's way.
We must let the Labour Party leader lead and trust in his team.
Jeremy Corbyn January 28, 2017:
"Labour campaigned in last year's referendum to remain in the European Union — and nearly two-thirds of Labour voters voted to remain.
As we all know, the result was a vote to leave.
We are not a party for the 48% or the 52%, but for everyone. We have an important role to play in bringing the country together and getting the best possible deal from Brexit.
Labour respects the will of the British people. But we do not respect the will of a Tory government that is threatening to relegate Britain to a bargain basement tax haven.
That's why we will vote to trigger Article 50 in the European Union Withdrawal Bill — but also will use every means at our disposal to make sure jobs, living standards, workers' rights and environmental protections are protected in the negotiations that follow.
So Labour has tabled a series of amendments to the Bill to ensure there is meaningful parliamentary scrutiny at every stage and a vote on the final deal.
We have also tabled an amendment to build in the broad principles we need to get the best outcome for our country — including tariff-free access to the single market and an anti-tax haven amendment to make sure the Prime Minister does not use Brexit as an excuse to duck out of tackling tax avoidance and evasion.
And we will support amendments to ensure the Tories don't yet again attack people's rights at work.
This is a difficult moment for our party. We campaigned to remain, but we have to accept the democratic result.
We will be reaching out to our friends and allies in the European socialist and progressive parties to help secure an agreement that strengthens cooperation and solidarity across Europe.
We must remember that what unites us is far stronger than what divides us: our commitment to defend our NHS, to campaign against the Tories' cuts to schools and social care — and our determination to build a country in which no one and no community is left behind.
We will vote for Article 50, but we will not be giving the Tories a blank cheque on their damaging agenda for Brexit — or any of their other failures.
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party"
Those people behind the Open Letter against Brexit are anti Corbyn, have been from day one, and continue to be - particularly with reference to Ben Bradshaw and Jonathan Proctor
It is worth noting the people behind the open letter are encouraging email addresses are added perhaps for later use.
Please sign our open letter here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/15We9eCI26_NlQRMKzbm7gvYU6w5TWJLedKveptKIMrY
Op-Ed: Has the Labour Party Chicken Coup part two kicked off?
Many Labour Party members, voters and supporters have spotted a few signs since a little before Christmas.
First Jamie Reed MP for Copeland quit for a plum job; next Tristram Hunt quit Stoke Central for an even plummier job, one that would match his plummy accent; this week Tony Blair gleefully arrived in Brussels to chew the fat with his jolly pals in the EU bureaucracy; Thursday a Shadow Minister, Tulip Siddiq, quit her role and tootled off to the backbenches; Friday Ms Siddiq has been joined by Jo Stevens the Shadow Secretary for Wales.
In resigning Ms Siddiq said she wanted to fully represent her constituents who voted by a majority to leave the EU. Of course not all Labour voters supported the LabourIN campaign and some wanted out. But Ms Siddiq obviously just wants to represent a selected number of constituents.
Friday Ms Stevens:
In her letter to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Stevens said she was “a passionate European” who had voted to remain, as had a significant majority of her city and constituency of Cardiff.
As a Labour Party member, supporter and voter you have to laugh or you would cry.
Much of 2015 was wasted in the Labour Party as an unsuccessful and so called "chicken coup" rolled on and on.
A series of organised and orchestrated resignations took their toll.
Well-paid MPs let down voters and supporters big-time and it looks like they intend to do the same in 2016.
Some will cite the announcement that a three-line whip will be in place for parliamentary voting on Article 50.
Most of those people will be the ones who verbally attacked Jeremy Corbyn for being weak; they want him to act tough but when he does they run away like cry babies.
BRexit is a Tory mess and it makes no sense for supposedly Labour Party MPs to help the party implode; that is unless they have their own agenda or agendas.
The Labour Party are fighting to hold Copeland and Stoke Central in the two up-coming by-elections scheduled for February 23. Both Labour candidates are not Corbyn supporters but he will take the blame if they lose. Both constituencies are huge BRexit supporting areas so little in this makes sense.
Perhaps plotters have decided it is worth losing those seats to oust Corbyn? Both seats may be lost under planned boundary changes anyway and so could be viewed as worth sacrificing.
So two down who will be next?
With people like Owen Smith, Dan Jarvis, Chuka Umunna and Stephen Kinnock occupying those backbenches and refusing to join a shadow cabinet we could soon be back to square one!
Former PM David Cameron is the new President of Alzheimer's UK.
Making the announcement on their website this is what the organisation says:
The Rt Hon David Cameron, President of Alzheimer’s Research UK
Thursday Mr Cameron called on PM Theresa May to increase spending on research into the condition saying it should not be as far behind stroke and cancer research as it is.
You have to laugh or else you would cry.
David Cameron and his sidekick Chancellor 'Slasher' George Osborne cut so much to the bone especially in the NHS.
The pair of them mismanaged the economy making poorer and middle income families pay for an economic crisis which began in the USA.
Throughout the pair's slashing years an allegedly necessary period of painful austerity to help reduce the country's deficit was pushed through.
It was all just another Tory lie.
The deficit grew and grew and continues to grow.
As the financial axe was put to work cash giveaways to those who did not need more money ran alongside.
If any research is dangerously underfunded David Cameron needs to take a long hard and honest look in the mirror.
In May 2015 Cameron highlighted dementia putting it in the spotlight but failing to supply the necessary funding.
Perhaps David Cameron fears dementia on a personal level or has family links to the condition or is about to make money out of his new role?
But his apointment as President of the Alzheimer's society has caused some anger and rightly so.
David Cameron should be kept as far away from anything related to healthcare and the NHS in the UK as possible.
Our healthcare and its funding is not safe in that man's hands.
Op-Ed: Italy is going through a tough time.
Three days ago a series of earthquakes resulted in an avalanche that buried the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola Italy along with around 30 people, guests and staff. Saturday a coach carrying Hungarian students, aged between 14 and 18, their teachers and some family members came off the road near the city of Verona and burst into flames; 16 people have died and around 40 are reported injured. The coach reportedly crashed into a bridge pillar on the motorway near Verona at about 11pm on Friday.
If there is any good news it is that since Friday survivors have been pulled from the buried hotel.
After two-days and surviving in freezing cold conditions the death toll was expected to be high.
But the Telegraph reported Saturday morning "Four children and a woman were pulled out alive on Friday, and another four adults were extracted overnight as rescuers continued their frantic search for survivors of the disaster."
One young boy rescued Friday said "we were playing billiards" when the avalanche struck.
Saturday morning the death toll rose to five and about 15 people are still recorded as missing.
The Hotel still features on Booking.com but currently with a red note which reads "We’re sorry, but this property isn’t taking reservations on our site right now. Don’t worry, you can find tons of other nearby properties right here !"
On January 19 BBC News reported rescuers had found no signs of life at the hotel. The hotel is located in a secluded area which is part of its appeal to guests. The location however has added problems to the rescue. Text messages got through to rescuers though and one hotel guest escaped having gone to get something from his car, but his wife and children were trapped inside.
More as available
Op-ed: Tuesday President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea, formerly Bradley, Manning meaning she will be released from prison in May 2017.
Bradley Manning case background
Manning was and maybe still is viewed by some as an arch enemy of the USA and a traitor but for others he or rather now she is a hero who deserves thanks rather than imprisonment or death.
The allegations against Manning date back to 2009 and 2010 when he was working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. The data available to him was arguably top-secret but rather than jeopardising troops as claimed by some in the USA his revelations showed that some in the US military were abusing their power. [see footage at the end of this report]
A careless disregard for life was shown in one video as US military personnel in a chopper let lose a barrage of bullets on civilians in Iraq, after wrongly identifying a target.
The public outcry that followed had to have some positive effects on operations in foreign lands.
It also led to questions about the radicalisation of Muslims by western military through such destructive acts of violence.
The Baltimore Sun reporting on Manning's time in court in 2013 said:
"An Army prosecutor told a military judge Monday that Pfc. Bradley Manning drew on his military training to harvest hundreds of thousands of classified documents from military computers and dump them on the Internet, where he knew their release would endanger fellow U.S. soldiers. An attorney for Manning described the 25-year-old soldier as naive but well-intentioned, and said he released the materials because "he was hoping to make the world a better place. The long-awaited court-martial of the one time Marylander, who is at the center of the largest security breach in U.S. history, began at Fort Meade on Monday with opening statements from both sides."
According to a report in the Guardian in 2013 terrorists were using downloaded information from Manning to wage their terrible war on the west:
"In the course of pre-trial hearings, military prosecutors have outlined the basic skeleton of their case against Manning. They will seek to show that Osama bin Laden personally instructed an aide to download elements of WikiLeaks, including the Afghan war logs, on to digital storage devices so that he could read them. The court will hear – either in person at a secret session of the trial, or in an affidavit – from an anonymous witness called only "John Doe", who is believed to be one of the 22 US Navy Seals who killed Bin Laden in a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011."
However the above proves little unless you believe that all members of the military always act honestly at all times and are never corrupt.
As we all know they are not.
Nonetheless if Bin Laden did use such information he will have also used reports and information gleaned from the Internet via sources such as Fox News, BBC News and CNN. Are the prosecutors suggesting a clampdown on Internet freedoms and the freedom of the press we wondered.
Manning was abused and humiliated during his incarceration leading up to and during the trial.
In August 2013 the long awaited verdict and sentence in the military trial of Manning was over.
Manning was handed a 35-year jail term. Whilst some in the media, and probably Bradley's family, appeared thankful that the sentence was no longer who could know if it would turn into a life sentence.
This young man in theory could have been in jail until he was in his sixties.
But the prosecution in the case had wanted a 60-year sentence.
Call me Chelsea
The day after he was sentenced there were reports that Manning had issued a letter thanking his supporters and stating that he wanted to begin hormone therapy and live out the rest of his life as a woman.
Much was made of Bradley's personality and sexuality issues during his military trial, especially during the trials latter stages. His "dirty washing" was aired in public for all to chew over and take a sneaky giggle at.
Supporters of Manning began petitioning President Barack Obama in the hope of a pardon for the young former soldier and finally this week the outgoing President has come through for Chelsea.
Outgoing Presidents in the USA have the power to free some prisoners and Tuesday President Obama commuted Manning's sentence. But Manning and Julian Assange are linked by WikiLeaks.
Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012, had pledged he would allow himself to be extradited if Obama freed Manning and Wednesday it looks like he will keep his word.
"The anti-secrecy website tweeted: "If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (Department of Justice) case." Mr Assange's lawyer, Melinda Taylor, went further last night, suggesting the 45-year-old Australian intends to make good on his pledge. WikiLeaks tweeted: "Assange lawyer @themtchair on Assange-Manning extradition 'deal': "Everything that he has said he's standing by."
However when Donald Trump becomes President of the USA Friday it will put a new spin on Assange and Wikileaks.
Perhaps Assange thinks he will be home free now?
We are living in strange and uncertain times.
Former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw looks set to be sued over a rendition case which dates back to 2004 in Libya.
Straw faces allegations of abduction and torture brought by Abdul-Hakim Belhaj a so-called former Libyan dissident.
Straw is accused as he was responsible for MI6 at that time; MI6 helped the US kidnap Belhaj in Bangkok in 2004 in order to return him and his wife to Tripoli.
BBC News reports Tuesday "Mr Belhaj, a leading opponent of then Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, says he was abducted - along with his pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar - as he attempted to fly to London to claim UK asylum. After being returned to Libya, he spent six years in jail, while his wife was released shortly before giving birth. Mr Belhaj, who was once regarded by Western intelligence services as a terrorism suspect, alleges he was tortured by his Libyan jailers and questioned by British intelligence officers during his detention."
Tuesday the Supreme Court in the UK backed a Court of Appeal ruling allowing him to sue.
Mr Belhaj, 50, reportedly is determined to sue "unless he receives an apology and a token £1 in damages."
For him now it is all about an apology.
In 2012 we wrote the following about Mr Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his quest for justice:
Op-ed: DID UK GOVERNMENT APPROVE ABDEL HAKIM BELHAJ'S RENDITION?
The story of this man highlights how a person can be deemed a terrorist and rebranded a freedom fighter to suit.