Despite much campaigning on the part of Barry Gardiner, Labour's proposed 'fire and rehire bill' has been blocked by the Tories. The unscrupulous practice of sacking employees and rehiring them on worse pay was rightly condemned across the House, but the government declared that legislation would not necessarily prevent it. That is odd reasoning coming from a government that has legislated incessantly since 2019 with an iron fist.
Gardiner was upbeat despite the defeat and said that the campaign would continue. On Thursday he tweeted a photo of himself with a large group of colleagues outside the Commons. There was a good mix of Labour MPs present, with frontbenchers and moderates mingling alongside members of the hard left (see below).
The photo clearly does not show the full scale of Barry's gathering, with faces to the left and right partially cropped. On the far right of the photograph you can clearly see Liam Byrne, the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and failed West Midlands mayoral candidate. Someone is holding a placard next to him, but they have been cropped out altogether.
In earlier photographs, including the one below posted by Janet Daby (Lewisham East), Byrne is seen standing next to none other than convicted criminal Claudia Webbe (circled in red). Liam does not seem to be fazed by her presence.
It appears that Barry was also keen to crop out Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South & Penarth) - circled in yellow. There is good reason for this, also. Prior to the photo shoot Doughty was reprimanded by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after he tried several times to procure class C drugs from a constituent. Despite the criminal act - for which he has apologised - Doughty has escaped justice and remains a member of Starmer's front bench.
The same cannot be said for Webbe, who had the party whip removed last year after she was charged with harassment.
Daby's photograph may have included both Webbe and Doughty, but it still does not show the group in full. On the far right you can just about make out Rupa Huq (Ealing Central & Acton) standing on Webbe's left, although she is mostly cropped out. In the following photo shared by Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) we get a different angle and again Huq is partially cropped out, but now we get a big clue as to why.
We can now see Dave Lammy standing behind Webbe, also unfazed by her presence. We can also just about make out the familiar grey hair and black-rimmed spectacles of a former Labour leader, standing behind Huq. It couldn't be, could it?
Thanks to another photograph obtained by The Spectator, it is confirmed that the man being deliberately cropped out of all of the photographs is the still suspended Jeremy Corbyn (see below).
Note also that the current party leader is now part of the proceedings. Yes, that's right, Keir Starmer is apparently happy to pose for photographs alongside the convicted Webbe!
To be fair to Sir Squeaky, he did crop her out of the photo he tweeted (see below).
In this final image note the total absence of Gardiner, whose place at the front and centre is taken by Starmer. It's almost as if Gardiner took umbrage at Starmer's presence and did a disappearing act. Dawn Butler, Afzal Khan and Emily Thornberry have also disappeared, while hard left MPs Olivia Blake and Kim Johnson remain. Very interesting...