Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP at the centre of a furious and protracted row over alleged antisemitism within the party, has been slammed after a video emerged of her claiming that her own party’s manifesto pledges to scrap tuition fees and reverse the last decade of Tory cuts – policies which she stood on in the 2017 General Election and which helped to increase her majority by over 8,000 votes – are wrong.
Speaking in May at the annual conference of the right-wing Blairite Labour Party faction, Progress, Hodge was recorded claiming that her party had made a “whole range of unrealistic promises“, before going on to label Labour’s manifesto policies to scrap tuition fees and reverse Tory cuts as “bribes” to the electorate:
“Finally, finally, I want a Labour Party that brings honesty into our politics.
“What we’ve got, if we do have anything, is a whole range of unrealistic promises. Whether it’s on reversing all the cuts of the last decades, whether it’s on promising that we’ll do away with tuition fees, those are promises that will not be fulfilled.
“And that unrealism, those sort of bribes actually in my view – in an era of scepticism simply against policies and politics – is not a way to win an election.”
You can watch Hodge’s astounding comments below:
Margaret Hodge says that tuition fees and reversing austerity are ‘bribes’ to the electorate. I’m certainly glad we’re not going back to the Labour party of austerity and illegal war. pic.twitter.com/cbIXfTERfW
— simulacra 🇻🇪🕊️ (@simulacrax) 9 June 2019
Given how popular Labour’s manifesto proved to be with both party members and the electorate the 2017 General Election, Hodge’s statement slamming two of its most popular policies has come in for serious criticism from Labour party members and supporters.
Margaret Hodge describing the reversal of austerity as a 'bribe' is awful. Clearly doesn't believe in the 'political choice, not an economic necessity' narrative – probably harking back to the days we had Chris Leslie as Shadow Chancellor. Pathetic.
— Matt Turner (@MattTurner4L) June 10, 2019
Labour is an anti-austerity party.
Margaret Hodge is a pro-austerity MP.
The two don't go together. Time for Barking CLP to work for the good of the party and have her replaced.#HodgeMustGo
— Matt Thomas #JC4PM (@Trickyjabs) June 10, 2019
Reversing austerity isn't a bribe.
It's called being humane @margarethodge.
And why shouldn't University education be more accessible to everyone and not cripple them with life long debt?
Do tell. https://t.co/BeE0qh1wJw
— Alex Tiffin (@RespectIsVital) June 10, 2019
Millionairess Margaret Hodge showing her caring side again.
Someone tell her she's in the wrong party.. https://t.co/TC0jEBWm9g
— Wolfie. (@Tpopularfront) June 10, 2019
Some of us scrape together the pittance needed to be a Labour member. We do it out of pride. We do it because we want a Corbyn-led Labour Government.
Then we see wealthy establishment figures like Margaret Hodge doing everything she can to stop us.
Inaction isn’t an option.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) June 11, 2019
If Margaret Hodge moves any further right, she'll be branding old age pensions a bribe to the elderly
— David Osland (@David__Osland) June 11, 2019
At the very peak of their popularity in 1997, a full 21,698 voters in Margaret Hodge’s Barking constituency voted for her as their Labour MP to represent them – giving the party a massive vote share of 65.8%.
However, the only time these figures have been beaten was in 2017 under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – where a massive 32,319 people voted for Labour, giving her an even bigger vote share of 67.8%.
At General Elections, only a very tiny number of people vote based on the personality of the candidates, with the vast majority voting simply for the party and the policies they represent – and Labour’s hugely popular 2017 manifesto proved to be the deciding factor in denying the Tories a crucial Parliamentary majority.
Politics has moved on leaps and bounds since Hodge’s right-wing, pro-privatisation policies were the norm, with even many Conservative Party MPs now admitting that their own cuts have gone too far and that they should be reversed
The fact that a sitting Labour MP is clearly further to the right of many Conservative Party MPs is truly ridiculous – and serves as an eerie reminder that, under Tony Blair’s leadership, Labour really were attempting to outflank the Tories to the right in many areas, most notably by intentionally demonising minorities such as benefit claimants and immigrants.
Scrapping tuition fees and reversing Tory austerity aren’t “unrealistic” in the slightest – they are easily affordable, common sense policies which have the backing of the vast majority of the British public.
People with Magaret Hodge’s right-wing policies don’t belong anywhere near the Labour Party anymore, and given the make-up of Labour’s hugely progressive membership, they aren’t going to be welcomed back any time soon.
If Hodge truly believes Labour’s policies are going in the wrong direction, perhaps she should consider joining a party that her pro-austerity beliefs more closely align with: the Tories.