Councillor Tin Ears dishonours Jo Cox… and Labour’s Brexit no show…

WHEN the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency, usual hostilities were suspended out of respect, and it seemed for a while as if her death might affect the vote in the EU referendum.

Sadly, for some of us at least, the vote didn’t go the way Jo would have wanted. And sadly times two, political hostilities were soon resumed – to the extent that a Tory councillor in Bradford has now caused a row by saying that his party shouldn’t have agreed to giving Labour a “free pass” in the Batley & Spen by-election.

Now I didn’t know that Bradford had Tories, but that was to reckon without councillor Simon Cooke, who took to Twitter to say: “My Party should be contesting the Batley & Spen by-election. Absolutely no justification for giving Labour a free pass.”

No justification apart from the much-loved predecessor having been murdered while going about her duties.

I know nothing about Mr Cooke, and found little elucidation in his Twitter handle, which states: “Conservative, urbanist, mushroom fan and scourge of the nannying fussbucket. Leader of the Conservatives on Bradford Council. Foppish Yoon apparently.”

This self-portrait doesn’t say anything about him having tin for ears, or about him having had an empathy bypass. Might I suggest he puts his head in that ‘nannying fussbucket’ and pipes down.

Politicians don’t often act with consensual good sense, but in this instance the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats joined together in an act of sound union. No party other than Labour can win the by-election, surely. So stepping back was the proper way to act – and does no harm to either party. Rather the opposite, until councillor Cooke opened his mouth.

The by-election will see Labour candidate Tracy Brabin looking for support from Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters. This is because far-right candidates will stand, and Ms Brabin is hoping for a strong win on October 20.

Jo Cox has been honoured during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, which is fitting. Less fitting is the complete absence of any formal debate on Brexit. The reasons for the Brexit no-show are tied up with the way conference topics are chosen. Labour picks eight topics for discussion, with four being chosen by the trade unions and four being picked by constituency Labour parties.

Nothing wrong with any of the selected topics. It is just that officially ignoring the biggest political shock-event in a generation just seems wilfully inattentive. A little like the captain of the Titanic decreeing that there will be no discussions of icebergs on his watch.

But we have learned that fracking will be banned – well, I say ‘will’ but only if Captain Corbyn successfully navigates his way to an election win.

Personally I am all for banning fracking, but the GMB union is aghast at the proposal, describing it as “nonsense” and “madness”. So expect more tension there, as the GMB is the third biggest donor to Labour.

I watched some of the conference coverage on Channel 4 News and marvelled at the way so many Labour supporters seem convinced that Jeremy Corbyn will become prime minister one day. Perhaps it is something in the sea air that blows into Liverpool.

The Labour leader is certainly popular with his crew as he walks around that deck, but that won’t make those icebergs disappear.

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