Clive Lewis tries to move on after Seumas Milne autocue ambush

Written by David Singleton on 27 September 2016 in Diary

'There’s no point in picking a scab. Let’s park it.'

How does a senior politician respond to a spin doctor changing their speech on autocue, moments before it is due to be delivered?

PoliticsHome revealed that shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis had reacted by punching a wall in anger when he came off the stage at Labour conference.

Labour’s all-powerful director of communications Seumas Milne is reported to have changed Lewis' speech on the autocue as he waited to deliver it, notifying the MP by post-it note as he sat on the stage waiting to walk to the podium.

The extraordinary last-minute script change laid bare fresh divisions over the party’s policy on Trident, with Milne having taken out a suggestion from Lewis that he “would not seek to change” the party’s existing policy.

A decision not to challenge Labour’s position over Trident is being seen as a concession by the leadership towards the GMB union, which is strongly opposed to any shift in policy.

Lewis has since said he has no intention of trying to reverse Labour’s policy of supporting the renewal of Trident before the next general election, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to nuclear weapons.

He told The Guardian: “I won’t be coming back to conference between now and the next election to try to undo the policy we have on Trident as things stand.”

And he re-iterated the message while speaking at the international policy forum on the sidelines of the Labour conference in Liverpool. According to Politico, he told the gathering:

“There’s no point in picking a scab. Let’s park it. We have our policy, we now just need to move on.”


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