Corbyn's ‘croissant socialism’ criticised as three Labour peers give maiden speeches
A former Parliamentary Labour Party chairman has hit out at allies of Jeremy Corbyn who “sit around in their £1 million mansions, eating their croissants at breakfast and seeking to lay the foundations for a socialist revolution”.
Dave Watts (pictured) was making his maiden speech in the House of Lords on Monday night when he criticised the Labour leader for jettisoning Michael Dugher and Kevan Jones in the "unnecessary" recent reshuffle.
The former MP for St Helens North had piped up as peers were debating the trade union bill.
In the same debate, two other newly-ennobled Labour peers – Spencer Livermore and Dawn Primarolo - also gave their maiden speeches.
Watts began with an assault on the government and "17th-century employers, such as Mike Ashley in Sports Direct, who seems to treat his employees like a character out of a Charles Dickens novel". He then turned on his own side:
"I say to my own party leadership that last week was disastrous for us. When we should have been concentrating on holding the Government to account for the floods and for this Bill, we involved ourselves in an unnecessary reshuffle. We lost two of our best communicators, Michael Dugher and Kevan Jones.
"My advice to my own party leadership is that they should take less notice of the London-centric, hard-left political class who sit around in their £1 million mansions, eating their croissants at breakfast and seeking to lay the foundations for a socialist revolution.
"It is not the job of the Parliamentary Labour Party to sit around developing ultra-left-wing policies that make it feel good; it is its job and responsibility to come forward with policies that will help us to win the next general election.
"For those who do not want to take on that task, can I suggest that they join a society in which they can enjoy sitting around having a philosophical debate about the meaning of socialism? Working people need a practical Labour Party and trade union movement that will address their practical, day-to-day issues."
Livermore, who was an aide to Gordon Brown and then served as Labour’s 2015 general election campaign director, spoke about the importance of aspiration in increasing social mobility and recalled a careers teacher who had a big influence on him.
“In Britain today, a boy born into a middle-class family is 15 times more likely to be middle-class himself than a boy born into a working-class family. I know that to be true. When I was 16, a careers teacher came to visit my school. Seeing each of us in turn, she sat me down in the classroom and asked what my next steps might be. I said that after my A-levels I wanted to go on to university to study economics. “Oh no,” came her reply, “university isn’t for pupils from this school”.
"I express gratitude today not only to my family for their support and encouragement but to that careers teacher too; I found her to be a powerful source of motivation as I sought to prove her wrong. I was very proud to go on from school to university, but I remain angry that I was the only one in my school year to have done so.
"Our country cannot afford to limit opportunities, shrink horizons, and waste talent like that.”
Primarolo, the former Treasury minister and Commons deputy Speaker, said:
"For the last 30 years, I have represented the good people of Bristol South, first as a councillor for Windmill Hill and then as the MP for Bristol South. My constituents, or those who were my constituents, are fair-minded, straight-talking, resilient, resourceful people who have modest aims: a decent job with fair wages, security for their families, the opportunity through education to improve their lives, and decent healthcare.
"They believe that these aspirations should not just be the preserve of those at the top of the tree but should be on offer to everyone: an economy where rewards are fairly shared.
"It is of particular interest to me, therefore, that the Government are seeking to change the law governing trade unions. It is worrying that, whether intentional or not, the effect of the Government’s measures will be to weaken the rights and ability of already vulnerable workers to defend themselves from predatory and exploitative employers."