Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


Mr. Corbyn is playing a dangerous game with the majority of LAB voters who want to remain

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017


He’s got away with it so far but that could end abruptly

One of the extraordinary features about the current febrile political situation is that Corbyn is taking a totally different line on Brexit from the vast majority of Labour voters. His ambivalence survived the GE2017 campaign because, frankly, no one believed his party stood an earthly and it didn’t receive the critical attention Team TMay had to deal with.

Now LAB is leading in the polls (2% up in today’s YouGov) and the leader is coming under greater scrutiny.

The latest YouGov Brexit polling tracker is above and shows the party splits and highlights the vast gap between the rhetoric from the LAB leadership and those who actually support the party.

There’s a good article from Hugo Rifkind in the Times (£) this morning about the widespread misconceptions about Corbyn. This is what he notes on Brexit.

“…..Another misconception, albeit one that may have somewhat hit the skids this weekend past, is the idea that Corbyn, at heart, is sad that we are leaving the European Union. “So what,” his Remainer supporters shrug, “if he voted to leave the common market (1975), voted against the single market (1986), opposed Maastricht (1992), opposed Lisbon (2007), and campaigned for Remain (last year) with all the keen enthusiasm of a chap with vicious haemorrhoids having his annual prostate check-up? He’s still one of us!”

This misconception survived even his sacking of three shadow ministers for backing a pro-single market amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which led Nigel Farage, of all people, to declare “he’s almost a proper chap”. Billy Bragg, the folk singer, immediately declared that Corbyn must be playing a cunning “long game”, with a plan to soften Brexit once the Tories had self-destructed over it. Hey, it’s a theory. This weekend, the Labour leader told the BBC that his party would leave the single market so as to end “wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe”. Is this the great antidote to Tory Brexit? Is it the politics that the crowds of Glastonbury gathered to cheer? Doubtless, some will be frenetically triangulating, right now, to find a way to insist that it was…”

The LAB leader has got away with it so far but I get a sense that the pro-Corbyn media narrative is starting to fade and when that happens things can change very quickly. His explanation on on what appeared to be a campaign promise on student fees looked feeble.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Jeremy Corbyn is Britain’s most popular politician – but there’s a catch LISTEN

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi discuss exclusive polling from Opinium that looks at how popular a series of frontline British politicians are.

The poll asked a nationally representative sample of UK adults to rate the following politicians on a scale of 0 to 10 on the basis of how favourable they were to them:

  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Sadiq Khan
  • Yvette Cooper
  • Keir Starmer
  • Emily Thornberry
  • Diane Abbott
  • Ed Miliband
  • Theresa May
  • Boris Johnson
  • David Davis
  • Phillip Hammond
  • Ruth Davidson
  • Michael Gove
  • Amber Rudd
  • Vince Cable
  • Nicola Sturgeon
  • Arlene Foster

Jeremy Corbyn was the winner – but there’s a catch. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Keiran and Leo also discuss Tony Blair’s recent Brexit intervention and ask whether he is a help or a hindrance to his cause. You can listen to the show below:

Follow this week’s guests:




Tony Blair: Must we love him or loathe him? Don Brind says No

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tony Blair was at his brilliant best in his Sky interview with Sophy Ridge who introduced him as someone people either love or loathe. Blair demonstrated his supreme ability to present evidence and argument in an accessible and compelling way. I didn’t need convincing that Brexit is a looming disaster but it was a joy to hear the case made so impressively.

The big question, though, is whether anyone now listens to Tony Blair? What does he need to do better to influence the debate on Brexit about which he clearly cares so deeply.

In so far as these labels are helpful I think of myself as a Kinnockite. I always bridle at the “Tony Blair won three landslide victories” mantra. This is not to say that Blair wasn’t a skilled leader and a gifted communicator — just that his inheritance from Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Margaret Beckett was a handsome one.

No party was ever in better shape than the Labour party when Tony Blair took over the leadership of the Labour party in 1994. If that was acknowledged by Blair and the Blairites they would boost not diminish his influence.

The 1997 triumph was a long time in the making and involved many people – among them Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Mo Mowlam, Harriett Harman, Clare Short, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, David Blunkett, Robin Cook and Jack Straw – to name but a few.

There was also one other indispensible ingredient –  a Tory leader who had nose-dived in the polls. It was equally important to Labour’s better than expected result in June.

John Major had been living on borrowed time ever since Black Wednesday in September 1992. Britain’s departure from the European Exchange Rate mechanism exposed Tory economic mismanagement –as Brexit is now exposing how weak and shaky the economy is after seven years of George Osborne and Philip Hammond.

One of the failings of Jeremy Corbyn and his close allies is their unwillingness to defend and celebrate the achievements of the Blair-Brown government. By the same token I believe Blair would do himself a favour if he engaged more seriously with current Labour policy under Corbyn.

Take austerity, where Blair appears to have bought into the Tory caricature of Labour’s programme being all about nationalisation and unfettered public spending. As I argued here  there is a strong economic case for ending the public sector pay cap as part of a drive to get the economy growing.

Austerity is also under challenge on a European level. It’s significant that the new French President Emmanuel Macron is putting German driven austerity under the spotlight.

He said Germany benefits from the woes of other euro countries and warns that the Eurozone cannot survive on such foundations. Monetary union must be rebuilt in a radically-different way. “It doesn’t work because it has brought about divergences. Those that are already indebted have become more indebted: and those that are competitive have become more competitive,”

Blair and Corbyn should be cheering Macron forward.

In his Sky interview Blair lauded the Germans for their industrial strategy. He can be forgiven for not having heard of Labour’s industrial strategy, which deals with many of the issues he is concerned about. One of the failures of the Labour election campaign was that this thoughtful document was launched on the day of the BBC Question Time leader programmes — and so was guaranteed virtually no coverage.

Blair should also reconsider Corbyn’s signature of policy scrapping university tuition fees. His Downing Street head of policy Andrew Adonis,  who was responsible for the introduction of higher fees in 2004 now says “tuition fees at their current level are politically dead,” and should be scrapped.

And for an excellent “warts and all” analysis of Labour’s manifesto the Huff Post article Richard Angell the director of Progress is highly recommended.

“There was much in it that I, and every progressive in Britain, would like to see achieved under a future Labour government, says Angell. “This manifesto will be the blueprint for a future winning Labour manifesto, in the same way, as Stephen Bush at the New Statesman has pointed out, much of the contents of the 1983 manifesto were reiterated in the 1997 successor and then implemented by Tony Blair’s government. I look forward to this happening; I just hope there are not 14 years in the intervening period.”

I would like to see Blair playing an influential role in the debate on Brexit. The danger for him is that he appears muttering “plague on both your houses” from the lofty perch of his global institute  and from television studios. What he needs to do is to engage with the dilemmas and choices the leader of the Opposition. He’s done the job. He knows how hard it is.

Don Brind


Jeremy Corbyn is becoming a very confident and assured politician

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

A few days Theresa May asked the other political parties for the their help and ideas, the tweet above is Jeremy Corbyn’s response. I think that’s the response of a man who quite unexpectedly received nearly 13 million votes and 40% of the vote a month ago.

One of my criticisms of Corbyn in the past is that outside of his comfort zone he wasn’t all that confident or persuasive, but he’s clearly learning and adapting although facing a weakened Prime Minister helps.

The worry for the Tories will be that by reaching out to Corbyn, Mrs May is in danger of legitimising Corbyn and negating any future Tory attacks on Corbyn and Labour. A few weeks ago the Tories were portraying Corbyn as an extremist terrorist sympathiser who would turn the United Kingdom into Venezuela, now the Tories are asking him to come up with policies and ideas that the government will try and implement.

This whole episode does confirm that Theresa May is in office but not in power, all thanks to that needless election she called.



The Tories are on the run over the public sector pay cap. So why is Don Brind frustrated by Labour’s campaign?

Monday, July 10th, 2017

There was no doubting the passion and conviction that Jeremy Corbyn brought to the Commons as he challenged the Prime Minister  over the pay cap which, he said, “causes real shortages in nursing, teaching and many other professions, as well as real hardship.” He added, “this pay cap is recklessly exploiting the good will of public servants.”

Many Tories agree, including Dr Dan Poulter MP, who is a practising doctor.  He says claims of a huge extra cost ignore the soaring bill for paying agencies to plug the gaps left by shortages of permanent staff. He fears that doctors, nurses and other staff are “properly rewarded”, they will flee the NHS in growing numbers.

So Jeremy Corbyn is winning the argument but what worries me he is deploying only part of the case for scrapping the cap. Apart from the observation that “The low-pay epidemic is a threat to our economic stability,” the Corbyn challenge to Theresa was essentially a moral one, an assertion that what the Tories was doing was unfair.

What was missing was the positive argument that pay rises for public sector workers make sound economic sense; that what’s good for public servants is good for the country as a whole.

This matters for two reasons. Firstly, Labour’s approach is easily caricatured as not being interested in workers outside the public sector, as Shadow Justice secretary Richard Burgon found when he appeared on BBC Question Time. He was harangued by a small businessman for “living in a bubble”.

Secondly, it means that Labour are missing an opportunity to deal with a long standing problem – the persistent polling leads that the Tories enjoy on economic competence.

Labour List reported last week that Labour have moved into the lead in the polls and Jeremy Corbyn’s personal score had jumped  “But May and Hammond as a team are still more trusted on the economy than Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.” The deficit is around a third of what it was at the end of last year – but the party still have some way to go to establish economic credibility.

Labour need a two-pronged attack . First of all, The current Tory disarray offers the chance to show that the Conservative claim to have created a “strong economy” ia Big Lie. The reality is that after seven years with the Tories at the helm the British economy is weak and shaky.

In a strong economy living standards rise and there are high skilled well paid jobs. Today, living standards are falling and too many are in low paid and insecure work that makes it hard for families to make ends meet. In a strong economy the NHS and education get the funds needed to cover rising costs. In this shaky economy the NHS and schools are being squeezed.

The economy is shaky because there are fundamental weaknesses which the Conservatives have failed to fix. Top of the list is the productivity gap – we lag the Germans and American by 30% in what is produced by the average worker. And new figures the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show UK productivity is back below the level it was pre-crash. We’re heading for an entire decade of stalled growth.

On top of that we don’t pay our way in the world. We have a persistent deficit of around £100 billion a year with more money flowing out than we earn from our trade. Thirdly, the Bank of England is worried about the level of household debt.

During the election around a hundred economists wrote to the Guardian supporting Labour plans to strengthen and develop the economy and ensure that its benefits are more fairly shared and sustainable, as well as being fiscally responsible and based on sound estimations.”

One of the signatories Ann Pettifor argues that a modest 3% pay rise for five million workers is easily affordable, especially since around 40% of the money would eventually find its way back to the Treasury from the workers themselves and from the enterprises where they spend their extra cash.

Kam Gill of the TUC says suppressing public sector pay has already pulled £1.8bn of spending power out of the economy and this is driving the consumer debt bubble. “Allowing wages to fall in relation to the cost of living is becoming fiscally irresponsible.”

What Tory austerity has proved is that you can’t cut your way to prosperity. You have to build it through investment in infrastructure and skills which are where the jobs of the future come from. Not only is inequality the root of many social evils it is also the enemy of innovation and economic advance. Rising inequality has caused economic instability and hampered growth.

Scrapping the pay cap is both socially just and economically sound. Over to you Jeremy

Don Brind


Corbyn is a survivor: back him to last until 2019 at least

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

The election has transformed expectations and confidence within Labour

With so much focus on whether Theresa May will survive – or perhaps more accurately, for how long – it’s an opportune time to have a look at the same bet on the other side. After all, the value is often there to be had when people aren’t paying enough attention.

And value there must be for the simple reason that the Corbyn Exit Date market has perhaps the single worst bet I’ve ever seen on British politics. He is 5/1 to leave this year with Ladbrokes, and 8/1 with Paddy Power for each of the third and fourth quarters of this year. Treat these odds as if you could catch ebola from them.

There are three ways that leaders go. They might be forced out, they might choose to go of their own accord, or health issues might intervene. These departure paths overlap of course but they’re still a useful model.

Corbyn will not be forced out. He could not be prised from office when Labour was behind in the polls by double-digits; he certainly won’t go now that they’re comfortably ahead. Indeed, for all the grumbling (and there’s been much less of it since the election), there won’t be any attempt to oust him in the near future: his stock has soared with party members and, for that matter, with MPs. The willingness of former critics to get back on board is not solely down to left-wing pressure locally. Indeed, that is likely to be a relatively minor factor. Far more important is that Corbyn far exceeded expectations, which has caused many to reappraise him in a rather more glowing light.

Nor is there any meaningful chance of him stepping down of his own accord, now that he finally appears to have found his feet. Having clung on for dear life when his position was far beyond tenable in any normal circumstance, why would he go when all is rosy and when the project is far from finished?

As for health, that is always a potential concern. Leading a major political party is a demanding role and Corbyn is 68. However, he looks in good health and his leadership style is such that he is better than most at keeping the job from becoming all-encompassing. The breathing space that the Labour gains at the election have given him should also have reduced his stress levels.

Put simply, we are reduced to Black Swan events in this market for this year. If I had the money, I’d be quite happy to lay the event at up to 50/1, never mind 5/1. I wouldn’t want to be buying until the price reached well into three figures.

All of which means that with an overround of 7.3%, there must be value elsewhere. Where?

Not in 2018, at 5/2. A lot can happen in a year, particularly in British politics at the moment. All the same, the difficulties of Brexit, an economy on the downturn, uncertain fiscal policy and an untrusting party will make life particularly hard for Theresa May through to at least 2019 – if she stays that long. If she does, Corbyn is unlikely to face anything like the pressure that he did during May’s first nine months in office. His Brexit stance will be a difficult issue for a lot of members but for most it won’t be a red line. In any case, there may not be many big Brexit votes this year or next to bring the divide into sharp relief. Labour will be able to hit and run on specific topics as they see fit. Even if May does go and is replaced by someone with better political antennae and communication skills, that’s not going to affect the fundamentals.

Which leaves 4/1 for 2019 and 11/8 for 2020 or later. Both of these offer value, although tying money up for two and a half years at not much better than evens won’t be attractive to many. There is a case to be made for 2019. Brexit is likely to be complete by then, if only in the form of a transitional deal. There could well be a new Tory leader or even a general election. Corbyn will be 70 by then and an underperformance might be viewed more harshly than now. Labour might also have passed the McDonnell Amendment by then, enabling Corbyn to try to hand over the baton to a protégé.

But there’s also a good case for 2020 or beyond, which is essentially the extension of why it won’t be this year: staying in office is the default option and unless he is pushed out or chooses to jump then he stays – and pushing him out will be very hard.

If I was being boring, I’d back both 2019 and 2020. The slightly more adventurous option, and probably the better value, would be to go for 2019 alone.

David Herdson


Whilst Mrs May is performing very badly, we should also remember and praise Corbyn’s contribution

Friday, July 7th, 2017


Ditching Mrs May won’t be the panacea for the Tories some Tories think it will be.

Last night stories emerged that Theresa May is a ‘lame horse’, furious Tory ministers warn, amid claims they could resign to force her out, but I’m coming to the conclusion that whilst Mrs May is a pox on the Tory party, ditching her won’t necessarily improve the Tory party in the polls, though it would stop the haemorrhaging.

The chart above sums up the current political mood, but whilst Mrs May has received a lot of opprobrium for her calamitous decision to hold an early election and her performance during said campaign, I don’t think Corbyn is getting enough credit for his performance over recent months, the Tories need to understand why Corbyn has become so popular given his backstory, after all 46% is Labour’s highest ever share with YouGov.

Last summer I said we shouldn’t underestimate Corbyn as nobody has become rich by underestimating Jeremy Corbyn, Corbyn has probably a comeback to rival Lazarus, one wonders just how far Labour would go if the Parliamentary Labour Party backed Corbyn wholeheartedly?



Labour hubris equals Tory hope

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Socialism is on the march and about to seize power in the UK, so many on the Labour left believe. This, argues Joff Wild, should give the Tories hope

Socialism is on the march and about to seize power in the UK, so many on the Labour left believe. This

If I were a Tory I would be loving that faint smell of Labour hubris in the morning. As I contemplated the wreckage of the general election, that grubby-looking deal with the DUP and a shambolic Brexit strategy, I would be consoling myself with the thought that the Labour left may be in the process of coming to many of the wrong conclusions about why the party did did so unexpectedly well on 8th June. It could just be, I’d be saying to myself, that Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues are setting themselves up for a big fail when the government finally gives up the ghost and is forced to go to the country once more.

To begin, how should we define big fail? Well, from where Labour is now, and with the Tories in the state that they are in, at a minimum Labour should win most seats in the Commons when the next election does take place. But really it should be looking at an overall majority. After all, the electoral map has now been transformed – a swing of just 2% will gain Labour an extra 38 seats; make it 3.5% and that rises to over 60. Not doing at least the former of these would be a major setback for Mr Corbyn and his team.

Back in May, I honestly thought I would never see another Labour government in my lifetime, now the prospect is so close you can almost touch it. But, let’s not forget, the extra seats still have to be won, while those gained earlier in the month all have to be retained.

As I wrote on here just after the election, Jeremy Corbyn deserves huge credit for what Labour achieved earlier this month. It is doubtful that any other leader could have delivered the result the party secured. He galvanised young voters, ignored the right wing press and focused on delivering a positive message aimed squarely at those who feel left behind and ignored. Like the Tories, many Labour moderates thought that Corbyn would be horribly exposed during a six weeks electoral campaign. But he wasn’t; instead it was Theresa May whose standing collapsed.

However, Labour did not win. Despite May’s meltdown and running what is generally considered to be the worst campaign in living memory, the Tories won dozens more seats, hundreds of thousands more votes and a higher vote share than Labour. They are in government; Labour is not. For that to change, more people have to be persuaded to vote for the party than last time; a lot of seats that are currently blue have to turn red. That will not happen unless the Labour leadership and its cheerleaders come to understand that although Corbyn and the manifesto were a significant part of the reason why the party’s vote surged, they were not the only one.

First off, the Tories ran an abysmal campaign. In a two party, first-past-the-post system, if you do not like option number one, your only choice is option number two or not voting at all. And while we now know that more young people voted this year, we also know that fewer older people did. Labour cannot rely on that happening again. There’ll be no Dementia Tax in the next Tory manifesto.

Then there is Europe. My own constituency – Warwick & Leamington – turned Tory in 2010 and went even further blue in 2015. Then it voted Remain in 2016 and returned to Labour in 2017. It could be that voters here have now embraced red-blooded socialism and decided that, as per the Labour manifesto, the UK should leave the single market; or it might just be that a lot of them were voting against what they considered to be the destructive Tory line on Brexit. I don’t know which it is (though I have my suspicions), but as Warwick & Leamington was not the only Remain area that saw a big swing to Labour, it should surely be something for the party to give a great deal of thought to.

This takes me back to the hubris. For instead of delving deep into the electoral data to work out exactly what happened on election day and why, all the indications are that the Labour left has

decided that for victory to be secured next time it merely requires one more heave; that 12.8 million votes are now in the bag, and that many others are on the verge of taking the plunge. The idea that moderates may have voted Labour, that those who merely did not like the May campaign did so or that convinced Remainers joined them seems to have been dismissed. Instead, a Labour vote on 8th June is being regarded by the Labour left as an unequivocal endorsement of socialism.

You can see this viewpoint in Corbyn’s failure not only to reach out to moderates and those from the soft left when he announced his new shadow cabinet, but also in his decision not to expand the wider shadow front bench because doing so would inevitably involve calling on members of the parliamentary Labour party closer to the centre. Then there is the re-emergence of stories about firing Labour general secretary Iain McNichol and purging the staff at Labour HQ because they are not perceived as Corbynite enough; while it is unmistakeable in the articles, speeches and Tweets of left-wing commentators close to the Labour leadership. On Saturday, for example, Paul Mason was advising Labour moderates in Progress to go and form their own party; in Monday’s Guardian Owen Jones wrote that the election showed “that socialism can convince both middle-class and working-class voters alike”.

It is beyond dispute that the left is now in charge of Labour and that all decisions about party policy and strategy will be made from the left for the foreseeable future. The upshot of that is that Labour should no longer be seen as a coalition; instead, it is unashamedly left-wing. That is fair enough: Corbyn and his supporters have won that right. But with the leader they want, a party united behind him, the Tories in turmoil and the economic storm clouds gathering, there can be no excuses for failure. It’s time to deliver.

So, to return to the opening line of this piece: if I were a Conservative, I would not be in despair or sorting out my assets to keep them from John McDonnell’s grasp just yet. Instead, I would be asking myself whether places like Leamington and Warwick, Peterborough and Lincoln, Canterbury and Ipswich have irrevocably decided to pledge their allegiances to the red flag, and whether others such as Hastings, Hendon and Milton Keynes really are about to join them.

Having done that, I might just permit myself a smile. Surely, I’d conclude, if the Tories ran a better campaign next time, with a more engaging, confident leader and some positive policies that appeal to voters in the centre, they might just have half a chance. After all, they will be facing a party that gives every impression of having convinced itself that at the next election the British are set do something they have never before done in peacetime: turn dramatically to the left.

Joff Wild posts on Political Betting as SouthamObserver. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpaJW

Joff Wild