John Street’s Diary

Written By: John Street
Published: June 19, 2017 Last modified: June 19, 2017

Street fighting man
No-one can now question Jeremy Corbyn’s stamina. The 68-year-old has met and addressed over a hundred thousand people at campaign events. While Theresa May’s campaign was defined by her hiding from the public – refusing to debate and holding closed events for selected members – Labour’s campaign reached out to the many. Since Mrs May kick-started the campaign on April 18, he took part in more than 100 campaign rallies and events across the country.

Salt of the earth
While the Conservatives’ campaign was bankrolled by a small group of billionaires, bankers, and business tycoons, Labour’s was powered by small donations from working people. The party received £5 million in individual donations, with an average donation of £20 – double what was raised in the whole of January to May in 2015. On Thursday 1 June, Labour broke the record for the most money raised online in one day by any UK political party:  £470,000, with an average donation of £19.

Sympathy for the devil
Twitter went into overdrive as it sank in that Theresa May’s election gamble had backfired. Corbyn ally and former BBC reporter Paul Mason tweeted: “If this exit poll is right it’s Boris-o-clock.” Former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman: “Theresa May/feet of clay! Downing Street removal vans for her.” Sports presenter Gary Lineker: “Theresa May has won own goal of the season.” Comedian Dom Jolly: “Theresa May just blew it big time – serves her right for arrogance, cowardice and incompetence.” Dr Who writer Mark Gatiss: “Somewhere Cameron is laughing his f***ing arse off.”

Can’t you hear me knocking
Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall, after 1,214 miles and 50 days on the election trail, reported: “We could feel the electoral plates of this election shift as the weeks bore on. When we started, in the South Wales valley town of Merthyr Tydfil, the first place to elect a Labour MP, the anti-Labour feeling was visceral. Jeremy Corbyn was considered weak, useless even; many traditional Labour voters told me they felt disenfranchised and that Theresa May appealed. “Even stronger than Maggie” was a common refrain. Slowly, that began to change. The numbers who waxed lyrical about Mrs May shrank, the numbers who expressed surprised enthusiasm for Mr Corbyn grew. In particular, I could see the core Labour vote in places like Birmingham and the North East solidify and rally behind him. It seems that the share price of Mrs May, going into the election, was too high among the public. Despite being Prime Minister for nine months, her flaws were virtually unknown outside Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn’s by contrast were almost universally acknowledged. As the campaign wore on, you could feel voters becoming gradually warmed and pleasantly surprised by Mr Corbyn’s performance and increasingly concerned about Mrs May’s. Consequently, my conversations with voters seemed quite different at the end of the campaign to how they were at the beginning.”

You got the silver
Yet more top executives, who received at least £1 million in their remuneration package last year have featured in the Labour Research Department’s monitoring table. The lucky 25 are executives of companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 350 index and they received £66.64 million in total last year – an average package of £2.67 million. The City features in the top two spots. In April 2016, Peter Harrison took over as chief executive of asset management group Schroders. His package last year was worth £6.29m, or £121,020 a week. Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange since 2009, enjoyed  £5.71m, £109,830 a week. André Lacroix, chief executive of product testing firm Intertek, takes third spot with £5.42m, or £104,270 a week. Matthew Price, chief financial officer of price comparison website Moneysupermarket, tops the list of increases with a 70.7% hike to £1.39m a year, or £26,810 a week. The increase came on the back of a long-term bonus of more than £650,000 paid last year against none received in 2015 – his first full year in the job. Stephen Young, chief executive of specialist engineering group Meggitt, is second with a 43.4% increase, taking him to £1.93m a year, £37,150 a week. His short and long-term bonuses came to £872,000 in 2016 against £312,000 in 2015. Robin Watson, chief executive of energy services firm John Wood, is the third executive to receive an increase of more than 40%. Watson was promoted to the top job from 1 January 2016 so the 41.4% increase in his package to £1.18m or £22,670 a week reflects his rise up the ranks.

Torn and frayed
Henry Hill of ConservativeHome blogged, with classic understatement: “Mayism has no bench: the only people who really seem to know what it is, assuming anybody does, are the Prime Minister and her two lieutenants, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy. Without a pool of sympathetic journalists and think tanks they had no way to stress test ideas before putting them straight into the Conservative manifesto – where some of them played very badly indeed.”

Shake your hips
Watching a porn film featuring elderly participants as part of a More4 documentary, 79-year-old John Prescott said: “Bloody hell! It’s a new version of praying. Not everyone can do that because the knees are going, aren’t they?”

Play with fire
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, blogged: “The USA – the world’s biggest economy and second largest emitter – has ditched commitments to take action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Brexit has consumed the last year of British politics, led to the general election and will be the dominant issue for years to come. But, as Mr Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has shown, there are other crucial matters at stake which are being worryingly overshadowed. Not only will the process of leaving and redefining our relationship with the EU consume our political discourse for the foreseeable future, it will also clog up the machineries of government. Yet climate change doesn’t give a damn about Brexit. Its impacts get worse every year, destroying homes and livelihoods here in the UK and fuelling starvation and refugee crises across the globe. Attempts to tackle the causes of climate change risk being derailed by governments, including Mr Trump’s, refusing to make the changes necessary to meet the Paris Agreement. To have a hope of keeping the world below 1.5 degrees of warming – the temperature below which humanity has the best chance of minimising dangerous impacts of climate change – drastic action must be taken before 2020. Currently, we’re just not doing enough.”

Heart of stone
Regular Tribune contributor Paul Salveson writes from Lancashire: “The Salvation Army-run foodbank in Preston is facing closure unless it gets more contributions. The organisers say they have experienced a 20-fold rise in demand in less than six years. Now if that isn’t a reason to question whether the Tories really are governing on behalf of everyone, or just the affluent few, I don’t know what is. This hasn’t just ‘happened’ – it’s the direct result of the policies of the government which has forced people to resort to foodbanks. The Salvation Army, not known for its Trotskyist approach, puts the increase down to changes in benefit rules which have forced people into poverty.”

About John Street

John Street is Tribune’s diary columnist.