Mark D’Arcy: Field is not leading a Labour breakaway

Frank Field Image copyright Reuters

Every avalanche, it is said, starts with a single pebble, and in Westminster terms, Frank Field is a pretty hefty pebble.

The chair of the Work and Pensions Committee is one of Parliament’s lone wolves – austere and relentless in a series of policy battles stretching back across the decades.

On the committee corridor at the Palace of Westminster, he is a formidable figure who has savaged the bosses of Carillion and BHS, been a thorn in the side of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, and, if your memory stretches back across the decades, the scourge of the Maxwell brothers.

So is his departure from the Labour whip the beginning of the much predicted split in the party?

Not by design, anyway.

Mr Field’s departure looks very much like a personal decision.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect for Labour is that he has got unhappy MPs (and there are plenty of them) thinking about their own futures.

There are several factors in play.

First, if the government does manage to get its plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 through Parliament – and the final proposed boundaries are expected to be published next week – then something close to a general reselection exercise may follow.

That provides Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters with an opportunity to remove those who don’t support their leader.

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and the party conference will have to approve a set of rules to deal with that eventuality, and the details of those rules, and the level of protection they afford to sitting MPs will be studied very closely by those who fear they are under threat.

If the rules look like the vehicle for a purge, there will be trouble ahead, and some Labour MPs will calculate they have nothing to lose.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn is hoping to draw a line under the anti-Semitism row

There are also wider concerns about a more general revamp of party structures proposed by the former MP and close Corbyn ally Katy Clark, which would entrench the left’s organisational grip.

Then there’s Brexit. Some of Mr Corbyn’s most vocal internal critics are those who believe Labour should now be campaigning for a second referendum.

They will be loath to upset the applecart while there is a chance of getting organised, cohesive Labour backing behind a Commons vote which could achieve that – and they will be looking to the forthcoming party conference to see if party policy will change, perhaps on the back of union votes.

It follows that they may rethink their position if that vote doesn’t materialise and the UK leaves the EU.

On the other side of the coin, the four Labour MPs, Frank Field included, who voted with the government and saved it from defeat in a crucial Brexit vote in the Commons in July, have also taken considerable flak; but there are significant electoral dangers in Labour purging its Brexiteers – remember that the seats Labour lost in 2017 were mostly in Leave-voting areas.

Image copyright Daily Mail
Image caption Mr Corbyn’s critics are at the centre of press speculation

More dangerous and immediate is the anti-Semitism issue which has dogged Labour through the summer.

Crucial votes on Labour’s approach to it take place in the National Executive Committee next week, and then the Parliamentary Labour Party, which might defuse, or detonate the whole issue.

It is hard to understate the level of fury on both sides of this row, which is why it could easily run out of control.

Words have already been spoken which make it hard to imagine the protagonists kissing and making up – but a serious attempt to discipline MPs like Margaret Hodge or Ian Austin, the most vocal critics of Mr Corbyn on this issue, could trigger a walkout by their supporters.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Any new party would have to attract Labour MPs like Chuka Umunna

What is harder to see is how these different strands of dissent could gel into a coherent breakaway.

Take Mr Field. He is not part of any Labour tribe, and he certainly does not fit neatly into the vocal group of Blairite holdouts who are Mr Corbyn’s loudest critics.

For a start, reflecting his Birkenhead constituency, he’s a Brexiteer, so any idea that he’s about to line up with Labour’s hardcore Remainers at some grand launch ceremony for a new party is a non-starter.

And this illustrates a wider point; there are plenty of Labour MPs who don’t like Mr Corbyn, but they don’t necessarily agree on much else.

To work, a new party would have to be more than a lifeboat for shipwrecked careers.

It would need a unifying idea under which a critical mass of activists, as well as MPs, could gather (political parties need infantry as well as generals) and it would certainly need to attract people from beyond the Labour Party.

That would require devising policies which might attract Tory dissidents like Anna Soubry, as well as Labour figures like Chris Leslie or Chuka Umunna.

And such a party would also require leaders, and here there’s another problem – if the 1980s SDP is the model, the possible MP defectors include plenty of Bill Rogers types, but no Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams or David Owen – big, recognisable popular figures.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The SDP’s gang of four: Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen

My guess is the biggest threat to Labour unity is that the case of Mr Field raises the temperature and the pot starts to boil; that deselection threats escalate and that more and more MPs consider their positions.

Close Corbyn ally Chris Williamson spent the summer pushing for local parties with MPs who are leadership opponents to deselect their incumbents and choose someone more congenial.

Until now, many MPs uncomfortable with the Corbyn leadership have bided their time, but if they sense a real threat to their personal positions – and if the party that nurtured them seems to be changing out of recognition – then the bets may be off.

Political parties are held together by more than ideology – for their members they can be a family tradition and a way of life, providing friendships and social life.

Those links are hard to break, but there is a sense that for many Labour MPs and members, they are fraying.

And across the party divide, the Conservatives, who are developing reselection rumbles and talk of purges of their own, are watching with a combination of opportunism and fear.



Jose Mourinho: Man Utd boss says he is ‘one of greatest managers in the world’

I am one of the greatest managers in the world – Mourinho

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says he will be “one of the greatest managers in the world” even if he does not win the Premier League at the club.

United have lost two of their first three league games, their worst start to a season since 1992-93.

Defending his record, the 55-year-old quoted a German philosopher and said he was “the only manager to win in Italy, Spain and England”.

He also called second place last season “one of my greatest achievements”.

“I am the manager of the one of the greatest clubs in the world but I’m also one of the greatest managers in the world,” said Mourinho.

Asked if he would still be a great manager if he did not win the title with United – who have won the English top flight 20 times, including 13 Premier Leagues – the Portuguese replied: “Of course.

“Did you never spend time reading the philosopher Hegel? He said: ‘The truth is in the whole. It’s always in the whole that you find the truth.’

“Do you ask the same question to the manager that finished third in Premier League last season or the manager that finished fourth or fifth?”

When Mourinho was told Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp faced similar questions last season, Mourinho responded: “Because he never won anything in international [competition], for example.

“That’s his problem, I tell you what I think, how I feel. And I answer the question.”

‘Respect! Respect! Respect!’ – Mourinho walks out of news conference

Mourinho’s latest comments come after a news conference during which he demanded “respect” from journalists following Monday’s 3-0 home loss to Tottenham – the heaviest home defeat of his career.

He pointed out that the three Premier League titles he had won previously with Chelsea were more than the rest of the division’s managers combined.

Before his team’s trip to Burnley on Sunday (16:00 BST kick-off), the Portuguese added: “I had great success last season and that’s probably what you don’t want to admit.

“Two seasons ago we had a fantastic season because we won the Europa League. We won it because it was our level. We are the last team in England to win a European competition.

“I have won eight titles. I’m the only manager to win in Italy, Spain and England.

“Not small titles, proper titles, and my second place last season was one of my greatest achievements in football.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was asked on Friday whether he was surprised at the pressure Mourinho is currently under, he said: “It’s our job unfortunately. Our job depends on results.

“When we win we are good, when we don’t we are not good – it is simple like that.”

Luke Shaw scored his first senior goal against Leicester City earlier this month.

We are very, very happy with Shaw

Mourinho also praised defender Luke Shaw – a player he has criticised in the past – who was called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for September’s fixtures against Spain and Switzerland.

“It’s a big week for him that hangs on a very important match with Burnley,” Mourinho said of the 23-year-old left-back.

“He’s played three very good matches and that’s not easy to do when your team loses two of them. He had that balance and consistency, especially against Brighton in a bad team performance.

“If next week his manager decides to give him minutes against Spain or Switzerland that would be very good for him. At the minute, that’s a result of the hard work he and the coaches have done.

“A proper player is a player of consistency. He’s mentally and physically stronger and tactically he has a better understanding.

“We are very, very happy with him. To the national team after three Premier League matches is extraordinary for him.”



Celebrity Big Brother: 11,000 complaints over ‘punching’ episode

Ryan Thomas Image copyright PA

More than 11,000 complaints have been made to media watchdog Ofcom about the Celebrity Big Brother “punching” episode.

In Thursday’s episode, Ryan Thomas was given a warning for “punching” fellow housemate Roxanne Pallett.

The former Corrie star said there was “no anger or malice” in what happened after Roxanne complained to the show’s producers about his behaviour.

Big Brother bosses issued him with a formal warning for physical contact.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Roxanne said the incident made her feel “uncomfortable”

Ofcom said it had received 11,215 complaints about the episode, adding: “We are assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate.”

Both Roxanne and Ryan are currently housemates in the latest series of the Channel 5 reality TV show.

Pallett made her name as Jo Sugden in ITV soap Emmerdale while Ryan found fame playing Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street from 2000 to 2016.

During last night’s show Ryan was seen approaching Roxanne in the kitchen before appearing to use his fist to make contact with her body.

She said: “Ouch that hurt, I was going to wash your clothes but I might shrink them now.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The actress made her name playing Jo Sugden in ITV soap Emmerdale

After returning to the bedroom, the Emmerdale star added: “Just been beaten up by Corrie’s Jason Grimshaw. Big Brother that hurt.”

Roxanne then entered the house’s diary room where she demanded to speak to producers.

“Something that’s just happened made me feel really uncomfortable,” she said.

“I’m in shock, I went from upset to angry. A boy has punched me repeatedly, unprovoked and deliberately punched me. Like a boxer punches a bag.”

A producer of the show told her they took the incident very seriously and would be reviewing the footage.

“I can’t believe you’re letting somebody stay that has done that, it’s not okay,” Roxanne replied.

In another visit to the the diary room, the 35-year-old refused to sleep in the same room as Ryan and was allowed to sleep in a spare room.

“I am now suffering and I am now having to alter my experience because someone was violent. Now I am going to get nominated for being unsociable,” she said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ryan Thomas starred in Coronation Street for 16 years

Big Brother bosses then called Ryan to the diary room where they pointed out that while “almost play fighting” he “punched Roxanne in the ribs”.

He was reminded of the show’s rules and given a formal warning for his behaviour.

“We both know and Roxanne knows there was no malice, hurt or anger in anything I did during this time. I am sorry and I understand,” he said.

Ofcom received 11,215 complaints about the episode. A spokesperson for the watchdog said it is assessing the complaints before deciding whether to investigate.

The incident sparked a big debate on social media.

Some argued Ryan was being playful and Roxanne was overreacting.

Ryan’s brother, Scott Thomas, accused Roxanne of trying to damage his “brother’s reputation over what was blatantly some harmless play fighting”.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “Be a drama queen all you want but don’t try and ruin someone in the process.”

Some even said Roxanne was “making a mockery” of domestic abuse.

But others argued that dismissing her claims was why some domestic abuse victims were not believed.

Newsbeat contacted Channel 5 but the broadcaster has refused to comment.

The current series of the show has already been marred by controversy.

More than 1,000 people complained to the media watchdog, Ofcom, after contestant Rodrigo Alves used the N-word in a conversation with another housemate.

He was removed from the house two days later for what producers described as “a further incident”.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here.



Loughborough ‘sexsomniac’ jailed for raping woman

Karl Gammon Loughborough rape Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Karl Gammon admitted having sex with the woman, but claimed he could not remember it and was asleep when it happened

A man who claimed he had sex with a woman while he was asleep has been jailed for five years for rape.

Karl Gammon had met the victim and her friend at a bar in Loughborough in March 2016 before attacking her.

The 24-year-old, of Albert Street in Loughborough, told a trial he suffered from “sexsomnia”, a form of non-insane automatism that meant he had sex with her without his knowledge or memory.

He was found guilty on 8 August after a trial at Leicester Crown Court.

East Midlands Live: Latest updates

Gammon, who was sentenced on Friday, has also been placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Leicestershire Police said DNA evidence proved he had had sex with the woman.

Det Sgt Tom Brenton, who led Leicestershire Police’s investigation into the case, said the victim was still “living with the trauma” of the attack more than two years later.

“Gammon’s victim has shown tremendous courage throughout the judicial process,” he said.

“Not only did Gammon prey on his victim when she was vulnerable, he claimed not to have knowledge of the rape when questioned by officers and as such she was forced to relive her ordeal in court.”

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected].



Burnley 1-1 Olympiakos (2-4 on agg)

Four of the last five English sides to take part in Europa League qualification have failed to reach the main stage of the tournament (also West Ham in 16/17 & 15/16, and Southampton in 15/16)

Burnley failed to make it to the Europa League group stage after wasting a string of chances in their play-off round second leg against Olympiakos at Turf Moor.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg in Greece, Sam Vokes spurned two great goalscoring opportunities before hitting the post, while Ashley Barnes and 18-year-old Dwight McNeil also went close.

The Clarets were punished when Daniel Podence fired into the roof of the net after a counter-attack before substitute Matej Vydra scrambled an equaliser.

However, Burnley lost on 4-2 on aggregate and, after securing a return to European football for the first time in 51 years, are out after just 36 days and six games.

Clarets pay for first leg defeat

Burnley will be kicking themselves they will not be joining Arsenal, Chelsea, Rangers and Celtic in Friday’s group stage draw.

It was a case of so close yet so far as they created enough chances to turn the tie on its head inside the opening 45 minutes, but for the third time in nine games this season they failed to score.

After the full-time whistle, Dyche applauded home fans who had encouraged their team throughout the tie, while Olympiakos’ players celebrated in front of their small band of travelling supporters.

Burnley dominated from start to finish but it was not to be.

Vokes was unfortunate to see his delightful curling attempt rebound off a post early in the second half having earlier missed two golden opportunities.

He headed agonisingly wide after a super cross from the impressive McNeil, making his first competitive start, before putting a header from point-blank range over the bar.

Barnes saw a deflected first-time shot roll wide while McNeil, who was brought up in Manchester United’s youth academy, forced a one-handed save from Andreas Gianniotis.

Olympiakos used their vast European experience to progress, Podence’s away goal seven minutes from time making it 4-1 on aggregate to end Burnley’s realistic hopes of going through.

Czech Republic forward Vydra did manage to mark his first appearance since signing from Derby with a goal after a scramble inside the Olympiakos penalty area.

However, the goal came too late to prove significant.

Dyche’s side had overcome Aberdeen and Istanbul Basaksehir to reach the play-off round but their European adventure is over and Burnley are left to focus on the Premier League, where they are yet to win and host Manchester United (16:00 BST) on Sunday.

Why McNeil impressed – the stats

  • Dwight McNeil created more chances than other Burnley player against Olympiakos (four), on what was his first senior start aged 18 years and 281 days.
  • Excluding own goals, seven different players have already found the net for Burnley in all competitions this season (10 goals). The 40 goals they scored in 2017-18 were spread across just 11 players.
  • Olympiakos have now successfully qualified for the main tournament on each of their last two attempts (also 16-17), failing only in 2010-11.
  • Olympiakos midfielder Kostas Fortounis was directly involved in all four of Olympiakos’ goals over the two legs, scoring twice and assisting once in Greece, before setting up Daniel Podence’s opener at Turf Moor.



Errant swan captured on M5

An errant swan had a lucky escape earlier after wandering on to the M5.

Police were called by worried motorists at about 08:30 BST after the bird was seen on the hard shoulder between junctions 30 and 31.

Officers were joined by staff from Highways England and they managed to get the swan into the back of a police car.

It was taken to a nearby canal and released safely.



High suicide risk for ‘men in construction’

The suicide rate among low-skilled male labourers is three times higher than the national average for men, according to figures by the ONS.



Theresa May shows off dance moves in Kenya

Theresa May danced with a group of scouts during a visit to the UN offices in Nairobi, Kenya.



Why a plane is dropping trout into a lake from above

A mountain lake is being re-stocked with trout from the air by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.



McCain and Biden’s long friendship

The Arizona senator and the former vice-president shared a decades-long friendship.