Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


Labour’s last-ditch bid to stop its Remain backing voters switching to the LDs and the Greens

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Maybe the problem’s that its seen a pro-Brexit party

Over the weekend, there has been a flurry of apparently panicky messages coming out of the Labour Party to try to stop the seepage of support to the unequivocally pro-remain parties of the Lib Dems and the Greens. The above Tweet is the latest example.

This is all in response to the latest Euros polling where the yellows and to a certain extent the Green have been advancing and picking up, apparently, a large slab of Labour remainers. One big poll has the LDs in top slot above Labour and the Brexit party in London.

Clearly there’s a big concern in Corbyn’s team about finishing up in third place in the Euro elections with the Lib Dems and, of course, the Brexit party on top. One or two polls are now pointing to this.

There’s little doubt that a key part of the LDs strategy for Thursday’s election has throughout been to portray Labour as a pro-Brexit party which has been an easy point to make. Hardly any material goes out from the yellows without this being highlighted.

The messaging in response from Corbyn’s team is really hard to follow. Trying to frame Thursday’s vote as a battle between Labour and Farage and the hard right is quite a hard one to make to those party supporters who see it as a battle for and against Brexit.

Until now Labour’s ambivalence has worked but the signs are that it might not carry it past Thursday.

It is generally said that the final two or three days before an election are absolutely key. Most voters don’t focus on the intricacies of a battle until almost the last moment and decisions, like tactical voting, are made quite late.

Mike Smithson


Out of excuses. Jeremy Corbyn, serial loser

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

The Conservatives got hammered in last week’s local elections, that much is unarguable. Worse from their viewpoint, contrary to the assertions of some there was little evidence of a voter strike or of angry Leavers spoiling their ballot papers, but instead on a normal local election turnout the Conservatives were turned out. It was a pummelling.

What is particularly interesting is who took those seats. All the profits were taken by minor parties: the Lib Dems, independents and Greens. The Lib Dems have been flat on the canvass since their years of coalition with the Conservatives and the Greens have been suffering in the shadow of a Labour leadership that has adopted similar policies, yet in the week that Norwich City won the championship, another set of yellow and greens were also flying high.  

With the greatest respect to both political parties, unlike Norwich City neither seems to have been doing much to capture the zeitgeist. Perhaps the Lib Dems benefited from the focus on Brexit. Perhaps the Greens benefited from the extinction rebellion. Or perhaps both benefited from voters not wanting to vote Labour.

For Labour’s performance was dismal in the context of a deeply unpopular government being hammered in an election. Labour lost 84 councillors net and control of 6 councils net. If the Conservatives were losing over 1,300 seats, surely a Labour party on course for power should be picking up their fair share, arguably the lion’s share?

The Labour leadership’s flunkeys came up with positives. But this is not a new story.  We have now seen a full cycle of local elections for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.  

Cumulatively, they have made net losses of 15 councils and 405 councillors. In the same period the Lib Dems made net gains of 15 councils and 783 councillors. In only one year under his leadership (2018) did Labour make a marginal net gain of councillors and in no year did they make a net gain of councils.

Any fair assessment would conclude that Jeremy Corbyn is doing worse in local elections than Ed Miliband.

This is not just true of local elections. In the Holyrood elections of 2016, Labour fell to third behind the Conservatives. In the Welsh elections in the same year, Labour also fell back. In election after election, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has gone backwards. In opposition, Labour should be expecting to make steady progress. There comes a point at which the only reasonable conclusion is that the common link is the common problem.

When you examine all the waffle and distraction tactics put forward by his apologists, the common underlying theme of almost all of them is a simple one, that somehow the only elections that matter are general elections (and somehow despite the near-constant retrograde movement of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn that these results show that Labour is poised to do well in the next one). But this is not true. Local elections do matter.

The way in which local councils administer their local area makes a huge practical difference to the daily concerns of the public. The Scottish Parliament elections and the Welsh Assembly elections matter even more. Why do Labour not care about them? Why, despite the collapse of their main opponents, do they have no compelling message for the public in relation to them?

And surely it is time for those loyal to the Labour leadership to start asking themselves why Labour are not doing better against a hopeless government. Might it not be that Tony Robinson has a point after all: its leadership are complete shit?

Alastair Meeks


So Team Corbyn decide to take a massive gamble and IGNORE LAB voters

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

And this two days before the local elections

Mike Smithson


What could really drive LAB voters away is Corbyn ignoring the vast majority of them on Brexit

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Does he commit to a “confirmatory referendum” or not?

Next week’s Labours ruling national executive committee will be faced with demands to include a clear commitment to a confirmatory public vote on Brexit in its European election manifesto. This is something that has not appeared in draft leaflets that have been circulated within the party and have aroused fury.

Ever since June 24th 2016 Corbyn and his team have managed to deftly avoid pressure from the anti-Brexiteers and have stuck to their pro-brexit position. This is it in spite of the fact that all the polling over the last 3 years has shown that this his approach is not in line with what most Labour voters want.

Until now the Corbyn team has managed to deftly avoid the issue but with the looming European elections requiring the sign off of the party’s position then next week is going to be critical. Does he go with it or not?.

The ITV political editor, Robert Peston, has been tweeting l about Labour MPs and and others within the party signing letters to the ruling NEC calling for an unambiguous commitment to such a vote. Peston described the decision facing the party on Tuesday as “momentous”.

This is probably as big a potential split on Europe that the party has faced since the early days of Harold Wilson’s Premiership in 1974. Wilson got round his difficulties then by holding the first referendum on his re-negotiated terms .

The UK had entered what was then the EEC without any referendum simply on the basis of the decisions of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Problem for Corbyn next week is that weasel words are not going to suffice. It needs to be one way or the other. If he chooses to stick with his position then I’m sure that the Greens, CUK and the Lib Dems will be delighted to pick up alienated LAB voters.

Mike Smithson


The British Trump – the similarities between the President and the Leader of the Opposition

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

On the eve of the 2016 US Presidential election Charlie Falconer, in Italy giving a tour d’horizon of politics to a group of distinguished lawyers, said he thought that Trump would win – it felt a lot like Brexit. He was resigned to it. And right. Farage wasted no time in getting himself photographed with Trump boasting about his special relationship with him. Yet, 3 years on, arguably it is another British politician who has a better claim to be the British Trump: our PM In-All-But-Name (© Alastair Campbell) – Jeremy Corbyn.

Surely not? Hard to imagine a PM Corbyn rushing to Washington to pay homage, let alone holding hands with Donald. Even harder to imagine Trump welcoming Corbyn’s election. One is a spectacularly vulgar capitalist; the other a proud socialist. But look past the obvious differences and some similarities are striking.

A disruptive agenda. Abroad.

Both seek to disrupt, to upend the existing political settlement, both domestic and international. Trump may not have been the first US President to start the slow process of US disengagement from Europe but he has been the most brutal in expressing his contempt for Europe, its institutions, NATO and other post-war bodies. He does not accept the wider post WW2 settlement nor the US’s role in it.

Nor does Corbyn: for many years he thought the UK should withdraw from NATO. He has bemoaned the loss of the Soviet Union because it acted as a counterweight to the US’s dominance. Under a Corbyn premiership UK foreign policy is likely to shift radically from its automatic anchoring within the Western alliance and in support of the US (which, unlike every previous post-war UK PM, he does not consider to be a force for good and stability).

Both of them take a dim view of foreign intervention. Trump seeks to retreat to US borders viewing US armed forces as little more than mercenaries who should be paid more handsomely than now for protecting ungrateful Europeans.

Corbyn has been against every UK armed intervention since WW2, including protecting Kosovan Muslims from Serbian aggression. Projection of UK military power beyond the UK’s borders is unlikely ever to trouble a Corbyn Cabinet. Ironically, it is Israel which interests both men, though with diametrically opposed approaches, and Russia, seen by both as a misunderstood and often unjustly maligned friend or, at least, not the bogeyman it is usually portrayed as.

And at home.

Both seek to make a clean break with what they see as the failed policies of their predecessors, the existing consensus and assumptions about globalisation, free markets, free trade. The labels may be different but their domestic approach, although different in key essentials (Trump wants low taxes, Corbyn high ones) is an essentially nostalgic one: for a time of support for home grown industries, skilled jobs for life for the working man, controls over free-wheeling big corporations, a dislike for outsourcing, mobile capital, the gig economy with its precarious labourers, prone to undercutting by foreigners.

There is much to criticise about the current economic settlement – and both are very good at it – but there is something very 1960’s and 1970’s about their solutions.

Their style.

An adoring base. Fans willing to overlook personal peccadillos or unfortunate associations. An ability to talk about what really concerns ordinary people and come up with apparently appealing solutions. A detached relationship with the parties they represent and a contemptuous attitude or indifference to its long-serving representatives. A focus on personal relationships rather than working through established institutions.

Even an old-fashioned approach to campaigning mixed with a very up-to-date use of social media. Trump may have made Twitter his own in a way that Corbyn has not but both seem happiest at rallies, in crowds, whipping up fervour and chanting in a way reminiscent of an older campaigning style. Corbyn may be the less obvious narcissist; yet it often seems as if Labour has become Corbyn’s party rather than he its latest leader.

Us and Them.

Both men have a small trusted group around them, though Trump is far more willing to discard those who displease. But both are unwilling to engage with those beyond their immediate circle; both dislike challenge and criticism and have a tendency to petulance, self-pity and aggressive lashing-out when faced with anything less than simple adoration or agreement.

There is a troubling disregard for the idea of legitimate opposition or for independent institutions, notably a free press. Fake News may have been invented by Trump but it has proved attractive to Corbyn’s outriders.  Both have an uneasy relationship with the truth and are quite willing to be, well, economical with the actualité.  Only the degree of shamelessness varies.

Pandora’s Box.

Nostalgia for a time when economies seemed more ordered and fairer is one thing.  But there is another way in which both men have presided over, maybe even enabled and flirted with, older and less welcoming attitudes, ones which the world had thought buried in the ruins of a defeated Germany or inconceivable following the traumas of the fight for civil rights and Obama’s election.

Trump’s post-Charleston comments, his refusal to disavow support from white supremacists, his willingness to scapegoat immigrants, often quite offensively, have helped revive a nastiness that had lurked in the shadows.

Similarly, a self-styled anti-racist fighter all his life has – somehow – found his party and himself criticised for reviving, spreading and/or turning a blind eye to anti-semitic memes and insults, as happily uttered by white supremacists in Charleston as by socialist anti-racists in Liverpool.

Trump has been very willing to dish out the nastiness himself; Corbyn has left this to others – his questionable comments having been made when he was a political nobody. But both have allowed the previously unsayable, the previously unthinkable to become mainstream in a way which has revived old hatreds, to the despair of many, even as they both claim to want to create a better Britain or a greater America.

If Corbyn looks at all to US politics for inspiration, it will likely be to Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There are few in the UK who see Trump as someone to be emulated or admired. And many who hope that he is a passing phase, a regrettable and unwelcome intrusion into a civilised world. But he is the political outsider who, unexpectedly, won against the odds and may well win again.

His influence may be more far-reaching than his critics assume. His type of politics is no longer inconceivable: Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdogan in Turkey, even Salvini in Italy and Hungary’s Orban have something of the Trump about them. Corbyn may despise everything Trump stands for but, like him, he is a political outsider wanting power so that he can radically reshape society. As he has said: “Change is coming.” It is a sentiment with which Trump would heartily agree.



Both TMay and Corbyn drop to record lows in YouGov’s favourability tracker

Monday, March 25th, 2019

I always feel a sense of ownership with the YouGov favourability ratings for shortly after the referendum, in 2016, I got into a  discussion with the pollster about a line of questioning that I suggested that the firm should do. My desire was favourability ratings on key figures.

The first ones ran here as the PB/YouGov Favourability Ratings when TMay had a net plus 12 while Corbyn was a net minus 25. This is calculated by subtracting the “unfavourable” responses from the “favourable” ones.

Of all the leader rating formats I regard favourability as the best. Ipsos-MORI have satisfaction ratings which has the problem that opponents of a party could well be satisfied with their leader if they perceived him/her as poor.

We ran these in conjunction with the pollster several times until YouGov adopted it as one of their regular trackers.

An interesting feature the current May/Corbyn comparison is a gender divide when TMay is the subject. Men give TMay a net negative of minus 50 while women have her as minus 28. With Corbyn there is nothing like as big a difference.

Amongst GE2017 LAB voters just 42% have a favourable view of Corbyn with 52% an unfavourable one. TMay still has a small net positive, plus 6%, with those who voted for the party last time.

Mike Smithson


Even though TMay slumped to her worst ever Ipsos-MORI PM ratings & Corbyn has the second worst Opposition leader rating

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Never have the views of both CON & LAB leaders been so poor

Just out today is the latest Ipsos-MORI political monitor whicht has the Tories taking a lead of 4% over labour. Last time the two main parties were level pegging.

Also, as ever, included are the firm’s  leader satisfaction number a polling series that is now into its forty-third year. For the Corbyn and TMay the ratings are dreadful. The former has the second worst Opposition leader numbers on record only slightly better than last month which were the worst.

TMay’s ratings were the worst she’s experienced since becoming PM although she has a “lead” over the LAB leader in the sense there his net negatives are 16  points worse than hers.

We’ve never had a time like this when the leaders of the two main parties are simultaneously recording record lows. TMay has had Brexit while Corbyn continues to be hit by the anti-semitism rows which simply won’t go away.

In one sense the Tories are in a better position in that TMay has said she won’t fight the next general election as leader. Corbyn’s still there.

Mike Smithson


What might the Tories learn from Labour

Friday, March 8th, 2019

The Tories might well look at Labour’s current travails over anti-Semitism and sigh with relief. “At least we’re not as bad as that.” They would be wise not to be so complacent.

Anti-Semitism is not  confined to Corbyn’s Labour or to the Left in general. The attacks on Soros by some Tory-leaning papers, even Mrs May’s “citizens of nowhere” speech, echoed some pretty standard tropes about rootless disloyal cosmopolitan people somehow undermining good old native British culture.  And there have been enough people within the Tories willing to use and spread offensive and hateful imagery and statements about Muslims, Jews and foreigners in general to show that they are not immune.

Baroness Warsi can be criticised for some of the views she has expressed (about Prevent, about Sara Khan and the Commission for Countering Extremism) but her complaints about how some in the Tory party view Muslims raise worrying questions, questions which need addressing seriously.

The most important lesson to learn from Labour’s problems is that the sooner you stamp down hard on problems, the easier it is to root them out. Early effective action makes it easier to create the right culture – a culture which is unwelcoming to those who wish to discriminate against “others” and who spread or use hateful words, imagery, insults, whether this is because they believe them or because they think them useful in some greater cause.

There are three more important lessons to be learned:-

  1. It is not enough to make speeches about clamping down on such abuse. This must be accompanied by actions, at all levels of the party from the top down, and not just when the press is looking but on a sustained basis. Those who care about such matters will notice if action is taken just for show.
  2. Establish the scale of the problem. Properly. Organisations hate doing this – it’s washing your dirty linen in public, it can be demoralising for those who don’t behave badly, it feels as if you’re giving ammunition to your opponents. But unless you know the extent of the problems you face, you cannot seriously put in place the measures needed. What’s more, it looks as if you’re trying to cover things up. So when you do try and deal with an issue, you run the risk of not being believed. Better to be open when the issues are small and resolvable than be forced into an inquiry under pressure when your credit is already low. And better this than be investigated by outside bodies, when you have lost control. The Tories would be wise to take advice – and be seen to be doing so – from the Equalities Commission on best practice.
  3. Have a robust, thorough, independent investigative and disciplinary process, staffed by people who know what they are doing and who understand how to spot and avoid an actual or potential conflict of interest. This is not that hard, if the will is there. Not doing so or just doing the bare minimum will cause endless grief; the damage to reputation will hugely outweigh the costs and be very long-lasting. It is the falsest of false economies.

This may not be something that matters to many voters, but it is emblematic of a party’s moral compass, of how it is perceived. Voters’ decisions are made as much for emotional reasons as following a cool rational assessment of parties’ policies. Labour has suffered in part because the allegations of anti-Semitism by its own MPs are at odds with its image of itself as an anti-racist party. It makes it seem – to some, anyway – nasty. It took the Tories a very long time indeed to shed their “nasty party” tag but it will not take long for them to reacquire it. (Some will argue that this has already happened.)

But why should the Tories be bothered by this? There have been no demonstrations outside Parliament or polls showing significant percentages of Muslims wanting to leave or complaints that the Tories are posing an existential threat to Muslim life in this country. Nor has Mrs May invited Tommy Robinson to tea, described him as a friend, gone on foreign trips with members of the Klu Klux Klan. Indeed not. But that is to set the bar very low indeed.

And what about the distinction between not insulting Muslims and criticising Islam? Questioning, criticising, challenging an idea, even a religious idea, is essential in a free society, no matter how uncomfortable that may make its adherents feel. All true – and there are certainly many aspects of Islam, of how a community with a fundamentally credal culture integrates into a secular one, of the realities of how some Muslim or Muslim heritage groups behave – which warrant vigorous criticism and debate.

But that criticism can all too easily be dismissed if it comes from a party which permits vulgar hateful abuse against individual Muslims and seeks, implausibly, to justify this by claiming it as merely criticism of a religion. That too is a lesson to be learned from Labour (which has sought to justify abuse of Jews by claiming that this was just criticism of a foreign country or its government). Such Jesuitical distinctions just compound the offence and the insincerity of the explanation.

So why are the Tories vulnerable to a charge of hatred of or contempt for Muslims (and other minorities)?  Three possibilities:-

  1. The legacy of the Leave campaign, the way May’s government seemed to divide the nation into patriots and outsiders, the Go Home vans, the Windrush debacle make it far too easy for some to think it acceptable to indulge in “othering”of those who look or are different. Even Johnson (in favour of permitting the burqa to be worn) could not resist using childish and bullying language when making his arguments, arguments which might have been listened to with more care had he reined back his insatiable desire for a headline. Depending on how Brexit is – or is not – implemented, it is easy to see how a “stab in the back” complaint against “saboteurs” allegedly owing their loyalty to others could morph into something much more sinister aimed at minorities.
  2. UKIP  may now be a busted flush headed by a leader determined to outdo one of his leadership rivals in anti-Muslim bigotry. But for a party once described by Cameron as full of “fruitcakes, racists and loonies”, it has been remarkably successful at changing Tory policy. Tory membership is low; the Tories are divided, exhausted, effectively leaderless and no longer really know what they are for. These are the conditions which make it vulnerable to determined entryists. It would not take many of them mouthing off about loyalty tests and the rest to create the impression that Tories hate Muslims. Even a Muslim Home Secretary born into a poor family is not sufficient inoculation against the harm that entryists can do.
  3. It is a fair assumption that many Leave voters cared more about non-EU immigration than EU migration. (Why would the Turkey and “Breaking Point” posters have been used had this not been the case?). The irony of the Brexit vote is that it is precisely this sort of immigration which has now increased to its highest level for years. Easy to see how this can create the perfect environment for a backlash against such migrants, many of whom will likely be Muslim.

Dislike of minorities does not need to be a given.  Indeed, it should be something which no decent country or party should indulge in.  But its absence cannot be taken for granted. It is not always parties’ better angels which rule.  The Tories should take no comfort from the beams in Labour’s eyes.  They should concentrate on removing the motes from their own.