I don't support the Tea Party

The sole socially conservative viewpoint I share with Sarah Palin is that I am pro-life.

Over the course of the summer I felt forced to make a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over three blogs the New Statesman had run
concerning me. The main part of that complaint was upheld recently as a breach of Clause 1 of the Editor's Code; accuracy. This right of reply
blog was my remedy under the ruling.

In the series of blogs, the NS suggested that I supported the Tea Party and was a social conservative. Neither was true but the NS kept repeating it. In blog after blog. Three of these were published by the time I felt I had no option than to go to the PCC with the interview transcript.

Otherwise, my name would be associated with the Tea Party and with things I simply don't believe.

Here are links to the three blogs: the titles say it all:

- Rise of Sarah Palin's Mama Grizzlies: Exclusive: Why Nadine Dorries and
Louise Bagshawe love Palin power

- Cameron, the Tea Party and a little backbench problem

- Palin is coming to London

Apparently I "identified closely with Sarah Palin's socially conservative agenda", I "love Palin power" "not all Tories lament the rise of the American right" (and I was one of those who didn't), I had "revealed [my] admiration for ...the troupe of Mama Grizzlies in the Tea
Party", I "didn't share [David Cameron's] distaste" for the US culture wars on abortion, and I had described Sarah Palin as "a remarkable
figure", (the quote "It broke my heart when she melted down politically" being somehow omitted from that last description).

The fact was, upon being asked the question "Do you take inspiration from the Tea Party?" the interview transcript shows that my next words
were "No, not at all." I described the movement as a "hodge podge" mix of fiscal conservatism and candidates who were "off their rockers"
(again, a direct quote).

The sole socially conservative viewpoint I share with Sarah Palin is that I am pro-life, but unlike her, I'm also against the death penalty, for gun control, for generous immigration policies, for gay marriage, and indeed socially liberal on a wide range of issues. Contrary to the "backbench problem" blog I made the point in my transcript that the culture wars in America were an awful thing we didn't want or need over here, and free votes on issues like abortion made it apolitical. I also said "it wouldn't even be in my mind" to attempt to ban abortion, as I knew that would have no support with the public.

I am still a bit bewildered why, when providing a transcript that clearly said "No, not at all" when asked if I took inspiration from the
Tea Party, the NS refused to correct the record. Looking back on my correspondence with the PCC, I actually said that I did not want a
magazine correction printed nor did I want to embarrass the magazine.

The NS offered a "right of reply" blog but refused to run any correction or admit that they had been in any way misleading about my views.
Clearly then, I was forced into having the PCC adjudicate, because this "right of reply" would merely be my word against the magazine's had the
PCC not ruled that they did breach Article One of the Editors' Code, and were misleading about what I said.

The PCC ruling states: "Her critical comments on Sarah Palin's political career, for example, had not been adequately outlined, and nor had the
magazine suggested, as the complainant did in the interview - that she did not endorse all Sarah Palin's choices (and did not take inspiration
from the Tea Party).

It was also clear that the claim about her identification with the social conservatism attributed to Sarah Palin only related to one issue:
the complainant's pro-life position. The broad assertion that she identified "closely with Palin's socially conservative agenda" was, therefore, misleading, as it could imply agreement over a range of views.

On balance, the Commission considered that readers may well have been misled by the summary of the complainant's views as provided by the blog postings. This represented a breach of Clause 1 of the Code.

That decision makes this right of reply blog meaningful, as a voluntary correction would also have done in its place. Without either, it would
just have been the word of a disgruntled "Mama Grizzly" -- and I didn't want to be seen as a bear with a sore head!

I remain a great admirer of the NS and I'm grateful to the NS and the PCC for the opportunity of this blog and to be able to move on. Tea anyone?


For the full PCC ruling see: PCC rules that New Statesman offers sufficient remedy to breach of Editors' Code on blogs about Louise Mensch MP

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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