The Labour Party’s new media star charms us all at Supper Club
(Friday 16 June 2017)
Sean Woodcock and Barry Gardiner MP
Last week, the Banbury and Bicester Labour Party Supper Club hosted Barry Gardiner, who is MP for Brent North, and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. Labour’s parliamentary candidate, Councillor Sean Woodcock, welcomed him to Banbury. Our Fund Raiser Mary Evans Young said “I booked Barry in September of 2016, and was worried that he would be too busy after the General Election to come to us, but he told me, “I made that commitment, I’m not going to let you down.”
Before we got going at the supper club Barry went round all the tables introducing himself to members and guests, which was very much appreciated.
During his speech he said, “When Tories are back in government we will harry them, table different amendments, and seek to undo that unwilling coalition within the Tory party.”
Barry has gained prominence from his many television appearances during the recent General Election campaign. The New Statesman said recently, ‘His fiery media interviews have made him the unlikely star of Labour’s campaign” and quoted Barry as saying, “I am absolutely cool with the media being tough. But if they’re gonna get tough with me, then they shouldn’t expect me to just roll over and have my tummy tickled.”
Reflections on the General Election result
He said this was a most extraordinary election, in which the party emerging with the most seats feels it has lost and the party with fewer seats feels they have won.
When asked the reasons for the surge in the Labour vote, he said, “It was the arrogance of the Tories and their assumptions that they could walk straight back into Downing Street and that the electorate had nowhere to go except to vote for ‘me’ (Theresa May). None of us like being taken for granted.
But the turning point was our manifesto – in my 41 years as a Labour member I have never seen one like it. And it was Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning. In my constituency of Brent North, which is a mixed community with people on low incomes and half of my constituents are immigrants or refugees, people are coming up to me saying they are praying for Jeremy to be Prime Minister. They trust his integrity; they trust him and they believe he will deliver on his promises.
Barry said, “Whenever Labour MP’s were interviewed on television they were strongly challenged over the manifesto, but because we had costed every single promise we were able to defend them.”
“A good example” he said, “is free tuition fees, which Labour has costed at £13.2 billion per annum. We want young people to have a good start in life but the U.K.’s low corporation tax means that multinational companies are sitting on huge cash piles and paying out dividends to shareholders, with no investment in apprentiships or training. We know and understand that if we don’t support disaffected young people we are storing up problems for the future.
“The British economy and jobs are our top priority”
On Brexit he said, “As a party we didn’t support Brexit but accept the result. Brexit was all about political objectives – to be out of the European Court of Human Rights, to regain our sovereignty and to control immigration – we are now paying the price of these political objectives.
The EU’s four freedoms go – the free movement of goods, capital, services and labour, but equally so do the benefits. Right-wing Tories want deregulation; we want environmental protections, social protections and workers’ protections.
We must complete Brexit negotiations before the 2 years are up otherwise we will be ejected from EU. Because the EU wants to stay united they can’t give us a better deal outside than we had inside, so we have to minimise economic damage. The British economy and jobs are our top priority, not based on a first principal of controlling immigration, and we want a reformed relationship with EU. But everything else is secondary to capturing most of the benefits we have now.
The tone has to change in our negotiations with Europe and the Labour Party will communicate to the country, a positive agenda to grow our economy and boost jobs for all.”
Sean Woodcock said, “Barry was one of the stars of the election campaign for Labour and it was great to have him here to rally us for any potential future election.
He made it clear that the Tories are on the back foot having been shown as arrogant and out-of-touch. Banbury & Bicester Labour are ready for the next encounter.”