Archive for the 'Labour leadership' Category

h1

It was a big CON to LAB Remain voter swing that cost the Tories their majority

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

It’s possible that LAB could’ve fared better with a unequivocal Remainer as head

More serious analysis of the extraordinary GE2017 result is now coming out and is reflected in the Tweets above from leading political scientist Rob Ford of Manchester University who works closely with Prof John Curtice.

The big expectation throughout the campaign was that the Tories would benefit from Leave supporters and the collapse of UKIP. As it turned out that proved to be insignificant. What is striking is that amongst Remain voters the CON vote went down by 5 points while the LAB vote went up by 13.

This, of course, all happened in spite of the GE17 policy of Corbyn’s Labour which was in many ways pro-Brexit. Yet that was not how it was perceived and did not seem to inhibit a big swing amongst Remain voters to the red team.

The main data that’s available on this at the moment is featured in the Ford tweets. But the big message should be very worrying for Theresa May and her party. Many of the 16.1m Remain voters were Tories and the party cannot assume that they will continue to back the party. In many ways it is quite extraordinary that they were ready to use their votes to back Labour.

We’ll never know this, of course, but I wonder how many Remain backing Tories were put off from switching by Mr. Corbyn.

Mike Smithson




h1

Following her Boris paternity test joke Emily Thornberry becomes favourite to succeed Corbyn

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

She might be the one facing TMay at the next election

In the last few days there’s been a move to Emily Thornberry in the LAB leadership betting where she’s now favourite almost across the board.

This all started with the suggestion a few weeks that she had the backing of UNITE’s Len McCluskey to succeed Corbyn whenever that happens.

She then got a superb reception at last week’s Labour conference in Brighton (watch the video) particularly with her Brexit paternity joke about Boris. In a party that has never looked on female leadership contenders favourably Thornberry looks very established.

What is striking watching the clip is the totally different atmosphere that there was in Brighton compared with the Tories in Manchester.

Of course there is no vacancy but the fact that there is a capable McCluskey approved alternative in the wings puts her in a strong position. McCluskey has also indicated that Labour’s next leader should be a woman. Corbyn will be 73 in 2022 when the next general election will take place if this parliament runs its full course. My guess is that if there’s no earlier election he will have stood down before them.

Thornberry is the regular stand-in for Corbyn at PMQs and has put up some good performances. If she was leader now TMay would struggle even more at PMQs.

Mike Smithson




h1

Labour joy and Tory gloom

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Don Brind reflects on the conference season

A few weeks ago I was helping a front bencher prepare for a TV appearance and we guessed that one of the questions might be “Do you agree with Laura Pidcock?” She is the newbie MP who declared she wouldn’t hang out with Tory women because she regards them as “enemy”.

The more emollient reply we came up with was: “There are some Tories I like. I just don’t want them running the country.”

For me a perfect example of this approach is former MP and whip, Michael Brown who I lunched with recently. He is great company but the Tory government he was part of – John Major’s – made a bit of a hash of ruling Britain.

With the help of some great talent spotting by veteran lobby correspondent Colin Brown, the ex-MP reinvented himself as the Independent’s parliamentary sketch writer. He still dines in Tory circles – with among others David Davis and Patrick McLoughlin– but he sounds like a journalist.

“I told the party chairman, the longer Theresa May hangs on in Downing Street the bigger Jeremy Corbyn’s majority will be.”

“Jeremy Corbyn will save the Tory party. Young people need to find out that Labour governments always make a mess of things.”

This familiar Tory belief that they are better than Labour at running the economy doesn’t square with the facts — as the public finance expert Professor Richard Murphy of City University, has shown.

Labour government’s are more prudent than Tory governments — Tories have been the biggest borrowers since the war  and that picture holds good if you run the numbers from 1979.

The Big Lie in British politics is the one peddled by George Osborne, with support from Nick Clegg, that the Labour government – rather than American banks — caused the crash of 2007/8. Equally mendacious is the Tory claim to have created a “strong and stable” economy. The claim rests solely only on the jobs numbers, which were subjected to a searching analysis  by Alastair Meeks of this parish a couple of weeks ago.

A genuinely strong economy would be producing rising livings standards and be capable of properly funding vital public services including health and education. That is manifestly not true after seven years under a Tory Chancellor.

The economy is shaky because there are fundamental weaknesses which the Conservatives have neglected including the productivity gap of around 30% with key competitors, a failure to invest enough in infrastructure and skills where the jobs of the future come from, a persistent deficit of around £100 billion a year in trade with the rest of the world and dangerously high household debt.

The question of how a Labour government will deal with the dismal inheritance from the Tories lurked behind the rapture of fans of Jeremy Corbyn in Brighton. They understandably took the chance to celebrate after standing by their man against sceptics like me.

The mood was extraordinary. I’ve seen nothing quite like it before and I’ve been conference-going since 1972.

Despite the buzz my judgement is that Corbyn’s “government in waiting” is not ready yet. I am, however, more sanguine than some other Corbyn sceptics inside and outside the party. I offer three bits of evidence for believing the party is moving in the right direction.
Firstly, I believe that Labour is developing an industrial strategy that will deal with both the opportunities and threats created by the digital revolution. An interesting meeting organised by Labour Business and Fujitsu was addressed by two of the smartest people on Corbyn’s front bench, Chi Onwurah and Liam Byrne. They are people to watch.

Digital is already pervasive across most industries and services and the impact on the future employment market will be huge. I was, therefore, encouraged that Corbyn and his Shadow Health Education Secretary cast their “cradle to the grave” national education service as a part of economic policy – vital to reskilling workers as new jobs are developed.

My third reason for optimism was a line in John McDonnell’s speech.

“And, yes, in 1997, after 18 years of Thatcherism, when whole industries and communities across our country had been destroyed by the Tories and our public services were on their knees, it was the Blair/Brown Government that recognised and delivered the scale of public investment that a 21st century society needed.

“We should never forget that we are part of that great Labour tradition and we should be so proud of it.”

Wow. Praise for New Labour from a Corbynista.

What I take from this is that McDonnell is rightly desperate to become Chancellor and to realise that ambition he’s willing to take lessons from wherever they come.

Don Brind



h1

McCluskey’s comments on Corbyn’s successor help move Emily Thornberry to 2nd favourite

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

The Unite boss’s backing could be crucial

While all the focus has been on the Tory leadership there’s been a shake up in the Next LAB leader market after a report from Paul Waugh at HuffPost. He wrote:

“Emily Thornberry is being backed by Unite boss Len McCluskey to become Labour’s first woman leader, HuffPost UK can reveal.

The general secretary of the UK’s biggest trade union has told friends that he thinks Thornberry is a unifying figure who can carry on Jeremy Corbyn’s work when he eventually decides to step aside.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary already stands in for Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Question Time and has built up a fanbase within the rank and file membership for her loyal defence of the leader over the past year.”

Certainly her PMQ appearances have been impressive and there is a growing view within the Labour movement that the next leader should be a woman.

Emily attracted a lot of publicity during the 2014 Rochester by election when she Tweeted a picture of a house with a white van outside and 3 Flags of St George draping from a window. Her comment “Image from Rochester” was deemed to be elitist. The outcome was that she quit as shadow Attorney General.

The big issue with Labour leadership betting is that we have no idea when there will be a vacancy. Corbyn has looked as though he has been enjoying himself since the general election and looks set, possibly, to continue in the role until the next general election. In that time a lot can happen and someone who looks promising now might not be in such a position when the battle actually commences.

For me as a punter this has become a nightmare market having shared the assumption that the general election result would be so bad for Labour that Corbyn would resign or forced out in the immediate aftermath. My money has been on Yvette Cooper at what looks like ridiculously tight odds now.

A big question over Thornbury is weather McCluskey will have as much influence when the contest takes place.

Mike Smithson




h1

It is a mistake to assume that LAB leave voters feel as strongly about Brexit as CON ones

Monday, August 28th, 2017

If it comes to the crunch LAB leavers see jobs as more important

With Labour apparently shifting its position on Brexit a notch or two there’s been a lot of interest about what Labour voters think particularly those who supported Leave at the referendum.

There is not that much polling about where we can see specifically how LAB Leavers view an issue compared with CON ones and those of other parties. One of surveys that had this split and is publicly available is from YouGov last month and is featured in the chart. Those who had voted for Leave were asked if they or one of their family losing their was a price worth paying for leaving the EU.

As can be seen by 47% to 31% CON leave voters told the pollster that this was a price worth paying. LAB voters, meanwhile, split 52% to 23% that it was not a price worth paying. This was the precise question wording:-

“Regardless of whether you think such an occurrence is likely, would you consider Brexit causing you or members of your family to lose their job to be a price worth paying for bringing Britain out of the European Union?”

The CON voter figure is quite striking. That getting on for half feel so strongly about leaving the EU that they are prepared to countenance they or members of their family losing their jobs says a lot about their strength of feeling.

All this is important because in the weeks ahead TMay’s government is going to face the huge challenge of getting the “Great” Repeal Act through the Commons and the Lords and will require very skilled party management. Labour appears to be preparing the ground for a tough parliamentary battle.

Mike Smithson




h1

Corbyn’s the one that’s most out of line with his party on Brexit

Monday, August 7th, 2017


YouGov Aug 1 2017 poll

The contradiction can’t continue

While all the focus has been on the leadership machinations within the Conservative Party Labour is getting a free ride at the moment.

One things that Theresa May has got right is that her position is very much in line with the party support base as the the latest YouGov BREXIT tracker shows.

Corbyn’s view on the biggest issue of all is not shared by his voters or, as recent polling has shown, the party’s membership.

Once the post GE2017 red team celebrations have calmed this is going to become increasingly apparent. The coming parliamentary session is going to be dominated by the negotiations and the repeal repeal that there will come a time surely where Corbyn’s ambivalence will become a big issue.

    Just because Corbyn has got away with being out of line so far doesn’t mean it will continue.

In the election campaign Labour was never subject to proper scrutiny because the widespread assumption was that the party was irrelevant. The Tories were going to be returned with a big majority.

As the BES polling showed opposition to Brexit was a big driver of the Labour vote.

PaddyPower have a market on which of May and Corbyn will quit first. The former is 1/12 while Corbyn is 6/1. He could be the value bet.

Mike Smithson




h1

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




h1

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