Boris Johnson’s disastrous time in office has spluttered to an ignominious conclusion. Many of those now deploring his record sided with Johnson when it really mattered because they wanted to block a left-wing government that could transform British society.
by Daniel Finn
Part 2 - Two Lords A-Leaping
Ian Austin and John Woodcock were both elected as MPs for Labour-held seats (Dudley North, 2005, and Barrow & Furness, 2010, respectively) but refused to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of their party after 2015. Media coverage frequently depicted them as courageous dissidents, although their main political concern appeared to be support for Middle Eastern states responsible for gross violations of human rights, including Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Woodcock backed the Saudi invasion of Yemen and denounced Corbyn’s call for a freeze on arms sales to the Saudi war machine.
Both MPs resigned from the Labour Party after the 2017 general election, having only held on to their seats by a tiny margin thanks to the big increase in support for Labour. In the run-up to the 2019 election, they established an opaquely funded campaigning group called Mainstream UK whose sole purpose was to denounce their former party, as Independent reporter Jon Stone observed:
Despite the non-partisan branding and mission statement under which it solicits cash donations, the group’s entire advertising output is in actual fact targeted at the opposition Labour Party — the bulk of it on issues like taxation and public ownership. Mainstream UK appears to have little organic support and is only “liked” 94 times on Facebook, but its posts have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people because it has spent thousands of pounds promoting them as adverts.
Both men urged voters to support Boris Johnson, and they received life peerages from his government shortly after the election. Since becoming a lord, Austin has kept himself busy denouncing everyone who criticizes Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, from Amnesty International to Ben & Jerry’s. A tweet last year, suggesting that the ice cream company would now be selling “Hamas Terror Misu” in Gaza, gave us all a taste of Austin’s political worldview.