Archive for the 'Labour leadership' Category

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From loser to leader – and beyond

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

After Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning general election vindication, he must now show real leadership by reaching out to all parts of the Labour party, argues Joff Wild

So, Jeremy Corbyn will be able to take a holiday in August. After spending the last two summers fighting Labour leadership elections, this year he can head off for a fortnight at a socialist poetry workshop in the sun safe in the knowledge that he stands triumphant and unassailable as leader of the party.

True, Corbyn has just led Labour to its third successive general election defeat, but whatever moderate naysayers might wish he has undoubtedly proved us wrong. His past record of associating with apologists for terrorism would be exposed and the electorate would recoil, we said; well, it was and his ratings went up. His economic policies would not stand up to scrutiny, we claimed; but Tory Garden Tax and income tax scares cut no ice. His Brexit stance would put off Remainers and Leavers alike, we warned; nope, voters on both sides had little problem with it. He would crack under the relentless pressure of a long campaign, we predicted; actually, unlike Mrs May, he gave every impression of having a really good time.

But it was not just that. During the election campaign, Corbyn showed that you can pitch policies from the left and get a hearing; while, crucially, he also demonstrated that you do not have to live in fear of the right wing press. Previous Labour leaders have focus-grouped policies to death, stage-managed their every appearance and carefully measured each word in order to avoid unhelpful coverage in the Mail, the Sun and the Express, but Corbyn just carried on regardless. He knew that the negative headlines and the character assassinations would happen whatever he did, so he did not bother kow-towing. There are, he understood, other ways to get to the people you want to address. How Ed Miliband must wish he had pursued the same strategy in 2015.

And there’s more. Although no detailed studies of the election will emerge for the while, when they do they are likely to show that Corbyn energised younger voters to turn out in a way that they have not done for many years. More importantly, though, he also grabbed a large proportion – if not a majority – of all working age voters. The Tories are reliant, more than ever, on the elderly to keep them ahead. Then there is Scotland, where Labour started to win again. After a long decline, the party’s vote increased and it gained seats, while becoming competitive in a number of others. That could be huge for future general elections. At least some of the credit for the revival must go to Kezia Dugdale and her Scottish Labour team, but there is no doubt that Corbyn was a powerful factor, too.

In short, Corbyn played a blinder. Against all expectations and despite a polling deficit of 20 points at the start of the campaign, Labour gained millions of supporters, its vote share went up and so did its number of MPs. Depriving the Tories of a majority has probably killed off the ridiculous threat to destroy the UK economy and the living standards of millions of people by walking away from the EU without a Brexit deal; while within months it is likely that the current prime minister will have departed the scene. By contrast, there will be no Labour leadership contest now until Corbyn decides to stand down.

But, here’s the rub: despite all of the above, Labour did lose. Mrs May’s mind-numbingly poor campaign and her utter mediocrity notwithstanding, the Tories won more votes than Labour and many more seats. If Labour ever wants to be in government again, it is vital the party does not forget this – especially as its next opponent is highly unlikely to be Mrs May.

Corbyn has demonstrated that being opposed to austerity is nothing to be afraid of. What is less certain, though, is whether Labour’s economic package was seen as sufficiently credible by enough voters in enough marginal constituencies. John McDonnell – who will undoubtedly remain the shadow chancellor – would be well advised to ponder on whether the state acting as a guarantor of high quality service provision at a reasonable price, rather than mass nationalisation, is the way forward for the Labour party in the 21st century.

For all her manifold faults, Mrs May has opened the way to having a sensible discussion about funding social care for the elderly – Labour should seize the opportunity. A return to Andy Burnham’s 2010 policy proposals, killed off by the Lansley/Osborne/Cameron Death Tax slur, is a possible way forward. A more enlightened approach to Corporation tax than a straight, across the board rise might also be worth a look; along with a rethink about where education spending priorities should lie. Labour must stand for redistribution and this can be radical in nature, but to get to a majority more voters have to be convinced that the sums add up and money will not just be frittered away.

As we have seen to such tragic effect, in a rapidly changing, highly connected world, threats can emerge from anywhere. Voters rightly want to be certain that their government will keep them as safe as possible. Corbyn’s past did not hurt him, but Labour still trails the Tories by a large margin on security and defence. Until that changes, the party will find it very hard to form a government. This is an area that definitely needs more thought and much greater work. It would also help greatly if Labour could embrace patriotism. It is not a bad or embarrassing thing; most people of all political persuasions are naturally patriotic about their country.

The last two years have seen Labour in a state of almost permanent civil war. A ceasefire was declared six weeks ago and look what happened. After showing all of us what a great campaigner he is, Jeremy Corbyn must now turn his hand to real leadership – something that he has struggled with up to now. Since he took charge, policy creation has been ad hoc, often contradictory and almost totally opaque – generally confined to a small group of close Corbyn advisers, many of whom hail from the Marxist left and have no strong affection for the wider Labour family. This needs to change.

There are many excellent MPs in all parts of the Labour party and they should now be used. If the leader can find it in himself to open up the policy-making process, to reach out to the soft left and moderates and to put together a shadow front bench of all the talents – one that includes not only the likes of McDonnell, Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, Angela Rayner and Jon Ashworth, but also figures such as Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis, Ed Miliband and Stella Creasy – then Labour will very quickly begin to look like a government-in-waiting.

For their part, Corbyn’s critics in the Parliamentary Labour party and the wider movement must now accept that the left has won the civil war and that he is here to stay. Jeremy Corbyn has definitively earned the right to set the party’s policy direction and to be its face to the world. With Theresa May emasculated and the Tories in seeming turmoil as the uncertainty of Brexit approaches, the UK needs a strong opposition. By reaching out to his opponents and showing magnanimity in victory, Jeremy Corbyn can give the country what it craves, so paving the way for Labour to assume power whenever the next general election is called. If he fails to do so, we may just find that 8th June 2017 marks the high point of Labour’s appeal to the electorate.   

Joff Wild

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




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The 2017 LAB leadership contest starts on June 9th whether Corbyn quits then or not

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Yvette Cooper could be the only contender & win without an election

The first phase of Labour’s 2017 leadership contest ended on Thursday afternoon when nominations closed for the June 9th General Election. Those like John Rentoul who have analysed the list of candidates for seats that LAB could possibly hold onto say that there will not be enough Corbyn supporting MPs elected in the general election for them to make a nomination according to Labour’s rules.

The hard left’s plan to change the rules to reduce the threshold at the September conference in order to make it easier for them to get somebody on the ballot have been thwarted by Mrs May’s calling a general election in June.

If Corbyn on June 9th decides not to quit after his likely massive general election defeat then he is not going to be able to hang on until the Party Conference for the rule change. It is hard to see in these circumstances him not facing an immediate challenge and the chances are that this time, in the aftermath of an appalling defeat, he’d lose.

In an excellent analysis last month the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush wrote of the head of steam that has built up behind Yvette Cooper. There’s a growing consensus that this time Labour has to choose a woman and Cooper herself made a strong impression amongst the PLP with some excellent Commons performances.

According to Bush there might not even be a contested election:

At present, no other candidate is even getting close to Cooper’s levels of support in the PLP. If there is a heavy defeat on 8 June, I wouldn’t be shocked if the parliamentary Labour party gives the leadership to Yvette Cooper by acclamation, just as they did with Gordon Brown

The best price you can get in Cooper is 9/2.

Mike Smithson




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Ladbrokes make Yvette Cooper 3/1 favourite to succeed Corbyn following a flurry of bets on her

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

But is Jez going to go quietly after the Tory landslide?

There has been a trend on the Labour leadership betting markets in the last couple of days which has seen Yvette Cooper establish herself as the firm favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn. She’s had some fairly confident performances and was the one person who really shook TMay at PMQs before the Parliament was dissolved.

I’m not rushing into back however although U believe she will be by a long way the best leader of the Labour Party. Women have a history of performing poorly in these contests and also having to cope with appalling sexist attacks on social media.

Even though the inevitable CON landslide June 8th is going to change the political environment it is hard to see Labour’s selectorate changing its view and do anything that is not supportive of JC and whoever he nominates to follow him

Their thinking is that it is better to be ideologically pure but an election loser than choose anybody with a slightly better chance of becoming PM.

Next permanent leader of the Labour Party

Yvette Cooper 3/1
Keir Starmer 6/1
Clive Lewis 8/1
David Miliband 8/1
Dan Jarvis 12/1
Lisa Nandy 12/1
Rebecca Long-Bailey 12/1
Chuka Umunna 16/1
Angela Rayner 20/1
Emily Thornberry 20/1
25/1 bar

Mike Smithson




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Corbyn to quit or not to quit on June 9th, that is the question

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

O, I die, Horatio;
The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit:
I cannot live to hear the news from England;
But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. The rest is silence.  – Hamlet Act V, Scene II

William Hill have a market up on whether Jeremy Corbyn will announce his resignation before 11pm on June 9th. Whilst it might sound like the epitome of hubris and arrogance to assume that a Tory majority is nailed on, it isn’t hubristic and arrogant when you remember the Labour leader is Jeremy Corbyn, a man who is setting all sorts of polling records for the wrong reasons.

In recent years the  standard operating procedure is for the party leader of Labour or the Tories that doesn’t win the general election resigns as party Leader, however I feel Corbyn will break this recent precedent. For the following reasons.

  1. One of the things we’ve learned about Corbyn a leader, no matter how bad the polling, no matter how bad the local council election results, no matter the record breaking by election loss in Copeland, he’s quite impervious to the criticism. He genuinely believes in his project to transform for Labour and the country, and won’t let something like a general election defeat get in the way of that.
  2. Corbyn can argue, with some justification, because of Theresa May’s nefariousness in becoming another liar politician and calling an early election in stark contrast to her promises not to do so, he would be justified in being allowed to stay on as leader after a general election defeat. Corbynism is a five year project, you really can’t judge him after fewer than two years of him being leader.

Earlier on this week it was reported that ‘Staff at Labour’s headquarters could go on to strike if Jeremy Corbyn tries to cling on as party leader if he suffers a major defeat on June 8. Sources told The Times workers fear the hapless leftie will refuse to step down even if Theresa May romps to victory next month.’

On that basis I’m taking the 5/6 on him not announcing his resignation before 11pm on June 9th. He’s one stubborn bugger, he kept calm and carried on even after 172 of his 232 MPs declared no confidence in his leadership. Corbyn, I expect, won’t be channelling his inner Hamlet from Act V, Scene II and go quietly after the mother of all electoral shellackings.

Although the way Mrs May is blowing huge Tory leads in this campaign so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if William Hill introduce very shortly a similar market on whether she’ll announce her resignation before 11pm on June 9th as the Tory party will prove once again it is an absolute monarchy moderated by regicide if she fails to win (a majority) against Corbyn.

TSE



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Yvette Cooper moves into favourite slot as Corbyn’s successor

Friday, April 21st, 2017

But being the most capable within LAB not always an advantage especially if you are a woman

At PMQs on Wednesday there was no doubt about the best intervention from the opposition benches. It was from Yvette Cooper the former cabinet minister and contender in the leadership election after Labour’s defeat in 2015.

Her point, questioning the reasons for the election, was strong and Mrs May made heavy weather in her response as she is prone to do. It was this intervention that caused a surge in interest in Cooper’s prospects and now she is the betting favourite.

I rate her highly and do not hide the fact that I am very much an Yvette Cooper fan. Yet in the 2015 leadership race she was beaten into 3rd place by Andy Burnham.

But I’m not tempted to bet on her because one thing we know about Labour it that it will not make rational choices and women can often struggle.

Also we might be wrong to assume that Jeremy Corbyn will do the decent thing sometime on June 9th and announce that he’s quitting the job after Labour’s likely election defeat. He could go on and on because of the lack of an effective mechanism to depose a failing leader.

In any case her odds are not long enough given the many uncertainties ahead. There are also many other things to bet on at the moment.

Mike Smithson




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Support for Corbyn is weakening among Labour members. Don’t assume a Corbynite replaces him.

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Corbyn is safe for now argues Keiran Pedley but with his popularity among Labour members falling and Brexit on the horizon he is unlikely to lead Labour into a General Election.

Those of you watching Peston yesterday will know that YouGov has a new poll of Labour members out courtesy of Ian Warren of Election Data. 1,096 Labour members were interviewed last week (27 Feb – 3 Mar) and here are some of the key numbers.

The first notable data finding was the one shared by Allegra Stratton on Peston yesterday, which showed Corbyn’s approval rating among Labour members taking a significant hit. The majority of members (54%) still approve of Corbyn’s leadership but this is down 18 points from February last year and more than one in three now disapprove (23% strongly).

Unsurprisingly, there is a sharp divide in opinion between pre Corbyn members (62% disapprove) and those joining since Corbyn became leader (68% approve). However, it is notable that Corbyn draws strong support from Labour women (61% approve), younger members (56% of 18-39s approve) and perhaps controversially, Labour Leave voters (71% approve). However, I note with interest that opinion in London in split (44% approve and 45% disapprove) and his strongest regional support comes from the Midlands / Wales (61%) which is likely netted together due to low sample size.

So some interesting data showing Corbyn’s support taking a hit and also where it comes from but what does it mean for Corbyn’s future as leader?

One finding that understandably got people a bit excited yesterday was the one above that asked whether or not Jeremy Corbyn should fight the next General Election as Labour leader. For the first time, less than half of Labour members say that he should (44%).  Another question (below) asked Labour members whether they would vote Corbyn again in a hypothetical leadership contest and it showed as many members saying they definitely wouldn’t as definitely would.

These figures will lead some to speculate that Corbyn’s days are numbered but I am not that excited by them. Whilst it is significant that Corbyn’s support has taken a hit there has been no great shift in the number that think he should stand down now (up just one point). What we seem to be seeing is a wavering in support rather than a consolidation against him. I suggest that this nuance is actually quite important.

Any move against Corbyn now would probably harden support again in favour of him. I would expect, for example, that a significant number of the 11% above that say they ‘probably wouldn’t vote for him but might’ would actually do so if he were challenged again. That would take Corbyn’s support to 63% which is pretty much in line with what he got versus Owen Smith last year.

This idea is only reinforced when we look at some hypothetical polling on different candidates. As part of the poll, YouGov asked respondents who they would consider voting for and who they would likely end up voting for with or without Corbyn on the ballot. A long list was put forward but I have chosen to focus on the frontrunners for simplicity. Before we delve too deeply into the numbers, I should acknowledge that this sort of poll question is difficult to interpret. It doesn’t reflect the reality of what a Labour leadership contest would look like but it does give us some sense of the viability of different candidates among Labour members.

So what to make of these results? The first thing to say is that if Corbyn is on the ballot he probably wins again right now for the reasons I mention above. Interestingly though, there does seem to be a pattern emerging of his ‘core’ support among Labour members being around 35-40%. 36% would definitely vote for him and 38% choose him in the above poll. However, the second thing to say is that if he isn’t on the ballot then things are wide open. Corbyn supporters don’t just go to McDonnell or someone else. We see this clearly if we look at the results with Corbyn not on the ballot but cut by levels of support for Corbyn. This helps us understand what a post Corbyn world might look like.

Two things strike me from these numbers. The first is that if we add up the ‘Corbyn candidates’ and ‘non Corbyn candidates’ (crude and subjective I know) the membership is pretty evenly split although the ‘swings’ lean towards ‘Corbyn candidates’. Perhaps the Labour membership is more committed to Jeremy Corbyn the man than ‘Corbynism’ itself? The second is how Clive Lewis, often touted as a successor, doesn’t really have a base in the membership. The ‘swing’ vote likes him a bit but committed supporters and opponents of Corbyn not so much. Factor in his lack of an obvious parliamentary base and you question how viable he really is. Emily Thornberry seems better placed to inherit the Corbyn mantle assuming McDonnell doesn’t stand whilst Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper and Keir Starmer all look like viable candidates from the party’s right. Cooper probably wouldn’t run again but her support in the PLP means you cannot discount her.

Don’t assume a Corbynite takes over. Brexit could be ‘Corbyn’s Iraq’

Looking at these numbers overall, Corbyn’s popularity among Labour members has clearly taken a hit but it is also clear that challenging him now would only reinforce his leadership. Whether that will still be true a year from now is less clear. As Brexit gathers pace we might expect his popularity to diminish further. Elsewhere in the poll, we find that 66% think Brexit is the most important issue facing the country, 53% think he has handled it badly so far and 68% of members would back a second referendum on EU membership. If Corbyn’s popularity falls further by next year and a genuine pro-European alternative candidate emerges then he could well be in trouble.

Of course the key questions are ‘who is that alternative’ and ‘in what circumstances does Corbyn go?’ Those are the million dollar questions and we cannot ‘know’ the answers. Nevertheless, my hunch is he won’t lead Labour into 2020 (members increasingly don’t expect him to) and Brexit will open the door for alternative leaders to emerge. Personally, I am still watching Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy but don’t be surprised if at some point in the future we see Chuka Umunna face Emily Thornberry in a leadership contest and Umunna wins. In reality though, Labour’s future will belong to whoever has the guts to seize it. With this weekend’s poll, we can begin to see how that future might not involve Jeremy Corbyn as leader or Corbynism at all.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley tweets about polling and public opinion at @keiranpedley and presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast. Listen to the latest episode on Copeland, Stoke and what makes a good Prime Minister below.




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POLL ALERT: Labour has a ‘Corbyn problem’ and it’s not going away

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Two-thirds of voters think he’s the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election

A new Polling Matters / Opinium survey, taken before the Copeland and Stoke by-elections, shows that voters think Corbyn is the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election, with those considering voting Labour more likely to do so if he is replaced. Keiran Pedley explains.

In the latest of a series of surveys for the Polling Matters podcast, Opinium asked three questions of a nationally representative sample of 2,019 UK adults. The survey asked if people would consider voting Labour, if Jeremy Corbyn was the right person to lead Labour into a General Election and what impact replacing him might have on their likelihood to vote Labour.

The results make clear that voters have made their minds up about Jeremy Corbyn and it isn’t good news for Labour if he plans on leading them into the next General Election.

Our first question asked whether people would consider voting Labour and the results were filtered by likely voters. Political parties will often ask questions like this in their private polling as they seek to understand how they can appeal to voters beyond those currently committed to supporting them. This question serves two purposes in our analysis. Firstly, it gives us an indication of what Labour’s ‘floor’ might be and secondly it enables us to cut our subsequent questions not just by Labour voters but by degrees of support too. (Incidentally, I appreciate the idea that Labour’s ‘floor’ is 25% will be subject to debate but it feels credible. However, that’s for another day).

Our second question asked whether a range of party leaders were the right people to lead their respective parties into a General Election. Before we get into the analysis a few housekeeping things here. The above numbers are a slight variation on a tweet I posted a few days ago related to the same question. That tweet related to the total sample of 2,019 whereas the above focuses on voters only. There is little significant difference in the numbers but I am focusing on voters only here for consistency in this post.

Returning to the numbers themselves they are clearly dreadful for Labour. Two-thirds of likely voters say that Jeremy Corbyn is the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election. The numbers for Theresa May are almost the opposite with 61% saying that she is the right person (including some 91% of Conservative voters). Perhaps most worrying for Labour on Corbyn’s numbers is that only 9% of voters indicate that they ‘don’t know’. This suggests, unlike for Paul Nuttall and Tim Farron, that voters have made their mind up about Corbyn and they are not impressed.

So these numbers are pretty dire overall but it’s when we cut them further that things get interesting. Here is the same question broken out by Labour voters overall, those definitely voting Labour and those considering doing so regardless of their current voting intention.

These numbers neatly summarise Labour’s problem. Those committed to voting Labour are broadly supportive of Corbyn (though hardly universally so) whereas those that would otherwise consider voting Labour think he is the wrong man for the job. These numbers suggest that Corbyn is a drag on the Labour ticket and that Labour will struggle to grow its voter base from where it is with Corbyn at the helm. Meanwhile, those that would consider voting Labour think that Theresa May is the right person to lead the Conservatives into a General Election by 58% to 35%.

Our final question asks voters to consider the potential impact of Corbyn being replaced on their likelihood to vote Labour. This is never an exact science and should very much be treated as a hypothetical. We shouldn’t start trying to extrapolate what sort of poll boost Labour might get by replacing Corbyn. Several variables would be at play there, not least who actually replaces him.

Nevertheless, there are two important lessons we can learn here. One is that 55% of voters say that Corbyn being replaced would make no difference to whether or not they would vote Labour. To an extent this shows how much trouble Labour is in and backs up Corbyn supporters that say Labour’s problems are bigger than one man. However, the key lesson here is the second one.  Those that would consider voting Labour say that Corbyn being placed would make them more likely to vote Labour by approximately a 3:1 margin. 43% say it would make them more likely and just 37% say no difference. This suggests that there is a body of centre-left opinion in the UK that would look again at Labour under new leadership. It is possibly this finding, more than any other in this post, that Labour supporters should consider most carefully of all when thinking about the party’s future.

Conclusion: Corbyn isn’t Labour’s only problem, but he is a problem

In post Brexit Britain Labour’s problems are bigger than simply who leads the party. It needs to hold together an increasingly fractured electoral coalition whilst dramatically increasing its current levels of support, all versus a popular incumbent Prime Minister. However, following the loss of Copeland last Thursday, it is clear that the party is going in the wrong direction. It is losing support rather than gaining it. Labour is going backwards.

The above numbers clearly show that Jeremy Corbyn is part of the problem. Two-thirds of voters think he is the wrong man to lead Labour into a General Election. Whilst support for Corbyn among committed Labour voters is reasonable (if hardly spectacular) it is clear that he is a liability among those that need to be won over. ‘Labour considerers’ think he is the wrong person for the job and indicate that they would be more likely to vote Labour if he was replaced by quite a margin. The solution is obvious. Labour needs new leadership. Whether it will get it (and when) is anybody’s guess.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley.


ICYMI Listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast below where Keiran interviews Margaret Thatcher’s authorised biographer Charles Moore about her legacy, whether she would have voted for Brexit and how Theresa May compares.



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How Labour fights back; or dies

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

 

Labour probably has one last chance to return to relevancy, writes Joff Wild. Who members choose as the party’s next leader will make or break it.

The death of social democracy in Europe, it turns out, has been greatly exaggerated. A look at opinion polls in three of the continent’s four G8 economies shows that the centre-left is competitive and could be governing by the end of the year.

That the Democrat party in Italy, the SPD in Germany and Emmanuel Macron in France have a genuine shot at power is especially notable because they are not the only option – all three face credible challenges from other parties and candidates further to the left. The same applies to PSOE in Spain, where opinion polls show that it and Podemos combined get the support of around 40% of the electorate (Podemos, currently and marginally the more popular, is now engaged in the kind of blood-letting the far left does better than anyone else, so it will be interesting to see how its polling does over the coming months).

In fact, the one big western European country where the left seems to be performing catastrophically badly is England. Here, the Labour party – unlike elsewhere in Europe, the only game in town – is polling at historically low levels and is stuck with a leader whose levels of unpopularity are unprecedented. The question now being asked by those who want a viable centre left alternative to the Tories is can that situation be reversed; or are we watching the slow death of Labour as a potential party of government?

It’s the leader, stupid

The lesson to be learned from France, Germany and Italy is that a lot of a party’s success depends on its leader. Of course, we know that applies in England – and the UK, more generally – too, but it is a truth that Labour has chosen to ignore since 2010. Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn, even more so, could have been perfectly designed to put off the kind of floating voters in marginal English constituencies whose support a party needs in order to win elections.

If Labour is ever to come back, the next time members are given the chance to vote for a leader – and that looks likely to be next year, if not this – there are some character traits that they should be looking for.

First and foremost, Labour needs a leader who is not uncomfortable with the kind of harmless patriotism that most English people of all political persuasions are happy to indulge in – wincing in the presence of the Union Jack or the Cross of St George is a disastrous look.

Second, let’s have someone who is not from and based in London – Labour should have a Midlands or a Northern accent.

Third, and crucially, a new leader must be able to call on the most talented MPs in the party to fill the shadow front bench. The current Conservative cabinet is not exactly replete with superstars and a Labour team that includes the likes of Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper, Chris Leslie, Caroline Flint, Dan Jarvis, Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, Liz Kendall, Jon Ashworth, Stella Creasey, Stephen Kinnock, Angela Eagle and even Ed Miliband would give it a run for its money. As important, of course, is that the voter-repellent likes of John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Diane Abbott and Corbyn himself would be hidden from view, just as they used to be.

The adage that it is governments which lose elections, rather than oppositions which win them, is an old one; but it has been around for so long because it is largely true. Looking ahead to the next three years, Theresa May and the Tories face a series of very difficult challenges. Up to now, she and they have had a clear run because they have faced no serious scrutiny. A new Labour leader, backed by a credible shadow cabinet, would change that – and probably very quickly.

With a Brexit deal to be done, the prospect of broken referendum promises to come, an unreliable and unpredictable US president installed in the White House, rising prices and further spending cuts on the way, there would be plenty for Labour to get its teeth into. It would be realistic to expect that a competently-led opposition would, at a minimum, be able to deny the Tories an overall majority in 2020. From where Labour is now that would be a significant advance and something on which to build.

Longer term, like all the major parties, Labour faces serious, complex issues around developing a post-Brexit world view which reflects the realities of a globalised economy that will be increasingly automated. Identity, immigration, tax, spending, housing, the NHS and social care, constitutional reform, and our relationship with the rest of the world will all have to come under the spotlight. Difficult questions will have to be asked, the public will have to be listened to, not lectured.

I believe that collectivism, redistribution and solidarity at home and abroad remain principles around which coherent, relevant policy can be built. We are all stronger when we work together to achieve common aims; when the weakest and most vulnerable are fully protected; when there is equality of opportunity for all; when the state stands as the guarantor of best-in-class services and basic living standards. But Labour has to accept that the solutions of the 20th century are not going to work in the 21st. The party will never be relevant while ensconced in its comfort zone.

With the right leader, I am confident that all the huge challenges Labour faces can be met. Whether members choose such a person when given the chance, though, is another question entirely. If they do, a positive future awaits. If they don’t, then the party is probably over.

Joff Wild

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