Exclusive: Women Labour helpers knocked to ground by Tories

John Prescott team attacked in Poplar; man led away in handcuffs.

I have just been told that two female Labour volunteers accompanying John Prescott were knocked to the ground during a scuffle in Poplar after they were attacked by two men wearing John Prescott masks. They were later allegedly revealed to be Tory council candidates, one of whom is allegedly a Martin Coxall.

From a Labour source:

Two men barged the crowd around John Prescott in Poplar on his walkabout and hit one of our female volunteers and knocked her to the ground, and barged another female volunteer, knocking her to the ground. Their masks were pulled off and they are Tory council candidates. One of the men is Martin Coxall, who was taken away in handcuffs by the police.

From John Prescott on Twitter:

Tory council candidate in Poplar Martin Coxall attacked two women in scuffle trying to get me. Expect this from BNP not Tories.

UPDATE: Labour's local candidate for Poplar and Limehouse, Jim Fitzpatrick, has said: ''This was appalling and disgraceful behaviour by two of David Cameron's Conservative candidates who acted like hooligans. This kind of behaviour has no place in British politics, and I will be writing to David Cameron to ask him to take appropriate action.''

UPDATE: From the Guardian:

4.00pm: Campaigning seems to have taken a nasty turn in Poplar, east London where two female Labour volunteers were attacked by two men in a Prescott mask and knocked to the ground, according to the New Statesman.

The two men were apparently Tory council candidates. Read the whole thing [on this blog].

UPDATE: Tessa Jowell, the minister for the London, said:

David Cameron and Eric Pickles must make a public apology for the totally unacceptable behaviour of one of his Conservative candidates. Martin Coxall's thuggish actions terrified innocent onlookers and injured two women.

This kind of behaviour has no place in the democratic process. This kind of violent behaviour is not what we expect from a Conservative Party that aspires to government. David Cameron must take action and ensure that Martin Coxall does not stand under the Conservative banner at this election.

UPDATE: Now with video, courtesy of Go Fourth.

 

 

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.