Archive for the 'Labour' Category

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Corbyn and his party’s biggest challenge is making headway amongst his own age group – the oldies

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

With the youngsters LAB’s just fine: pity they’re less likely to vote

Watching the TV news it’s clear that Corbyn Mark 2 hasn’t quite had the impact that his team would have liked. There’s a terrible lack of consistency and no real clear plan about what the message was going to be.

A problem is that the audience for TV news bulletins tend to be the very people that Corbyn and LAB are most struggling with – the oldies. Today’s less than impactful events are just going to reinforce attitudes rather than change the narrative.

The ICM data above shows the huge age split in views of Labour with very good numbers coming from the young.

I’ve long regarded one quality as being the most important one in resonating with voters and that is the appearance of competence. Corbyn and team have yet to exude that.

Mike Smithson




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Why I’ve backed Diane Abbott to be next Labour leader

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

I can’t quite believe I placed this bet

Two of my underlying assumptions about politics in this country are 1) Jeremy Corbyn will be Labour leader at the next general election and 2) Were a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party to lose a general election (especially if it is a comprehensive defeat) Labour will return to political sanity and appoint someone more centrist and electable, but what if those assumptions are wrong, cui bono?

I’ve decided it is Diane Abbott. Were Corbyn to stand down before the general election he’ll want to try and and hand over to someone who espouses the kind of politics and policies he does, so that benefits Diane Abbott, (to achieve this Corbyn will need to change the nomination process, so a candidate needs far fewer nominations than now.) Abbott is his long standing friend over several decades, political soulmate, and ally, which would be an advantage for her. She also has some other talents and advantages listed below.

  • She’s a polished television performer, honed after appearing on This Week alongside Andrew Neil, who I consider to be the finest political interviewer at the moment. Corbyn is a poor media performer, see this as an example of Corbyn’s poor handling of the media, Abbott will be an improvement on Corbyn.
  • She’s an educated lady, she read History under Professor Simon Schama at the finest university in the world, The University of Cambridge. I don’t think Corbyn has the nous or intellectual self confidence to deal with things outside his comfort zone, Ms Abbott has those qualities in abundance, regardless of whether you agree with her policies or not.
  • Unlike Jeremy Corbyn she will have experience of shadowing front bench roles were she to become leader, which is one of the reasons I think Jeremy Corbyn struggles in Parliament, he had no front bench experience prior to becoming leader, which I believe is unprecedented in recent times.
  • She doesn’t appear to have the more controversial back stories and comments that Jeremy Corbyn (and John McDonnell) have with organisations such as Sinn Fein,the IRA, and Hamas that should be so destabilising for Labour during a general election campaign.

The other assumption I mentioned above was that after a defeat/shellacking at a general election Labour would return to political sanity, but what if they don’t and decide to go someone with a similar political outlook to Corbyn. Again that benefits Diane Abbott.

As an opinion pollster, speaking exclusively in an entirely personal capacity and in no way representative of his employer put it about Corbynites ‘these days anybody who doesn’t get visibly aroused by the sound of an Enver Hoxha speech is a Blairite,’ whilst that view remains in the ascendancy amongst the Labour membership someone on the left of the Labour party will appeal to them as Leader, not a centrist nor someone on the right wing of Labour. The fact that Diane Abbott might be Labour’s first female leader and the first BAME leader of a major party might also appeal to the Labour electorate.

Less than 24 hours ago I placed some bets between 99/1 and 119/1 on Diane Abbott as next Labour leader, at the time of writing this thread, late on Saturday night, the bests odds on Diane Abbott being next Labour leader were 66/1 with Paddy Power, which implies a sub 1.5% chance of Diane Abbott being next Labour leader, I think the chances are higher, that’s why I’ve staked money on it.

Hat-tip to PBer RochdalePioneers for providing the inspiration for this bet and thread.

TSE


PS – In alternate universe Diane Abbott is Labour leader, in 2010 Jeremy Corbyn, not Diane Abbott, was the far left Labour candidate in the Labour leadership contest and received 7.42% of the vote, whilst in 2015 Diane Abbott was the far left Labour leadership candidate nominated to widen the debate in the leadership contest, and won.




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Labour: The party that’s too weak to win but too strong to die

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

More good news for Theresa in Fabian society report

The first working day of 2017 opens with a gloomy report on Labour’s prospects from the Fabian Society covered in the Guardian.

The overall conclusion is that the party could drop to fewer than 150 MPs, driven by difficulties articulating a BREXIT policy, the ongoing Scottish disaster and Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity. Labour, it declares, has virtually no chance of an outright majority. Based on current polling and performance in by-elections that must be right. The Guardian goes on:

“.The Fabians’ report identifies a coherent response to Brexit as one of the main obstacles facing Labour. Using YouGov data, it calculates that the party has lost a net 400,000 votes since the last election among pro-leave electors, and 100,000 among those who backed remain, making its backing more strongly pro-remain than before.

This poses a “Brexit dilemma”, the study says, pointing out that Labour needs to somehow appeal more to leave voters without alienating existing supporters who opposed Brexit.

In such a landscape, the report stresses the need for Labour to accept the impossibility of outright victory in the next election and prepare instead for an era of “quasi-federal, multi-party politics”, where it relies on the assistance of other parties…”

My main caveat is that we are in such a period of uncertainty that we really have no idea what the world is be like. How is BREXIT going to be viewed once the extraction process begins and we get a clearer idea what is involved. How will global politics evolve in the Trump era? How is Europe going to look after this year’s big elections in several major countries?

Mike Smithson




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Can Labour really sleepwalk another 3 and a half years into disaster?

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

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Their position continues to get worse, gradually

Lincolnshire has a habit of producing earthquakes. One in 1185 was powerful enough to badly damage Lincoln Cathedral. A more recent example, centred near Market Rasen at about 1am on 27 Feb 2008, was strong enough to wake people across large parts of the North and Midlands. To go by the reporting, the Sleaford & North Hykeham by-election didn’t generate similar tremors. The reporting is wrong; politics’ tectonic plates continue to move.

The reason why the reporters have it wrong is simple enough: there was no great drama to the election result. The Conservatives held a safe seat with a comfortable margin. No euphoric insurgents; no distraught losers. After the close call of Witney and the loss of Richmond Park to the Lib Dems, there’d be no third Tories in Trouble story. Quite the reverse.

And it’s in that reverse that the true scale of how extraordinary the result was can be seen. It was the smallest loss of vote share in any Con defence while in government since 1991. More, it was the largest Con share of the vote in a by-election during a Tory government since 1982 and the largest majority and largest percentage lead in those circumstances since 1971. This wasn’t just a hold, it was an absolute monster.

At the same time, Labour dropped back from second to fourth, losing 7% in the process (a net swing of 2.2% from Lab to Con). In fact, it was the sixth consecutive by-election where Labour has lost vote share when the Conservatives have been defending. In five of the six, Labour started in second place.

To compound the bad news for the Red team yesterday, YouGov published a poll for The Times which gave the Conservatives a 17% lead and Labour a share of just 25%. By any objective reckoning, those are appalling figures for Labour. To be recording them with the Tories 19 months into their term in government, divided and appearing a little rudderless on Brexit, is nothing short of catastrophic. Not since 1983 has Labour scored so poorly in opposition (and those came either side of a landslide defeat, not in mid-term).

Yet it’s the nature of slow decline that we rapidly accept and normalise each occasion when the boundaries are pushed that little bit further. If it feels bad for Labour, it’s only that bit more so than it was last month. After all, Labour recorded three 26’s in September/October; what’s another 1%? That could simply be sampling or methodology couldn’t it?

It could, and to some extent sampling probably is a part of it. The extremes in any polling sequence may well be outliers and are highly likely to have some sampling error. Even so, now that one 25 has been published, the next one – should there be a next one – won’t be quite as shocking, and the next one will be less likely to be an outlier if there is still an overall downward trend. Psychologically, there are only so many times you can hear ‘another bad poll’ before they all start to sound the same.

That’s an attitude Labour can’t afford to develop. If it does, then apart from the shock of the loss of real elections – a by-election defeat, local election losses in May – there won’t be any action taken to remedy the problem and the party will continue to sleepwalk towards the cliff-edge while wishing for a Tory collapse (which isn’t entirely impossible given the strains of the Brexit debate and process but which would, nonetheless, disguise Labour’s failings). Without action, there’s little chance of recovery.

Then there’s the other side of the pincer. UKIP didn’t have a great Sleaford by-election considering the size of the Leave vote and the extent to which the Lib Dems’ attention was on Richmond Park. That, however, might simply be more evidence to Paul Nuttall as to why UKIP should primarily target the working class wavering- or ex-Labour Leave voters ahead of Tories. Nuttall himself is clearly lining himself up for the expected Leigh by-election next year. If UKIP can make serious inroads into Labour’s 34% lead over them there (or even win – a swing on the scale that they managed in nearby Heywood & Middleton in 2014 would deliver the seat), that might well determine UKIP’s strategic targeting decisions for 2020 in favour of Red over Blue. The Tories would be well-advised to soft-pedal that election, should it come.

Which returns us to the question, what will Labour do about it? It’s not inevitable that they’ll follow their Scottish colleagues into disaster. They themselves remain best-placed to do something about it in the 3½ years before May 2020. After the experience of this summer though, can they summon the willpower and the support that’ll be needed to provide leadership, a challenge to the Tories and a coherent and attractive policy platform? If they can, someone will be worthy of the prize that awaits at the end.

David Herdson





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YouGov adds to Labour woes with the worst poll since 2009

Friday, December 9th, 2016

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Half of GE2015 LAB voters now abandoned the party

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And barely a third of GE2015 LAB voters rate Corbyn as best PM

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Given that it is barely three months since Corbyn was re-elected with a huge majority it is hard to see what the party can do. They are stuck with a leader who appears to repel voters and with him in place there appears no obvious way back.

This is a story that will just go on with lucky Theresa the main beneficiary.

Labour is now seeing itself being squeezed by the revitalised LDs going for the 48.11% remainers and UKIP under its new leadership seeking to appeal to 51.89% Brexiters.

Mike Smithson




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Labour’s Migration dilemma

Monday, November 28th, 2016

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Don Brind looks at the challenges

Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary is always worth listening to these days, not necessarily because of the quality of her analysis, but because she tells us what her leader thinks.

So when she warns against a move to the right on immigration so that Labour becomes “Ukip-lite” she is undoubtedly reflecting the view of Jeremy Corbyn.

In her interview with Guardian political editors Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart  the Shadow Home secretary undoubtedly reflects concern within Labour and beyond about the nasty post-referendum atmosphere “We have to acknowledge how frightened some people are about this type of debate on immigration, because they do not know where it ends,” Her multicultural London constituency, she said had seen sharp rise in hate attacks, targeting long-settled, non-white people who were not from European countries.

There will be plenty who endorse her view that Labour’s goal should be to keep part of the single market and that means telling  voters the only way to achieve that is to accept continued freedom of movement…..it is absolutely fair to say that on doorsteps colleagues are finding people complaining about immigration, but it is simply not the case that immigration has driven down wages, or that immigration has created the insecurity or instability they perceive,”

But if the Abbott Corbyn aim is to close down debate on immigration policy within the party it’s unlikely to be successful.

“The elephant in the room is the issue of immigration. The Labour Party is not in tune with many of our voters,” the widely admired chair of the Labour Movement for Europe Giampi Alhadeff told the LME’s annual meeting at the weekend.
He said: “Immigration has enriched us, both culturally and economically, yet the pace of change in some parts of the country has been de-stabilising…. The problem is not freedom of movement, but the way it is implemented and the way that we have failed to use the safeguards that could be available to us.”

The former Brussels based trade union official said Labour need a credible immigration policy based on strengthened workers’ rights “so that non UK workers cannot be used to undercut wages.”

The LME chair’s approach is similar to that of the Shadow Business secretary Clive Lewis who said Labour would champion British businesses’ desire to stay on the single market but there was a quid pro quo – “you have to give workers more job security; better terms and conditions; recognise trade unions. It will have an impact on the number of people coming to this country, if you make it more difficult for employers to bring people in, to undercut people.”

At the heart of Labour’s dilemma is that the fact that while a majority of Labour’s 2015 voters backed Remain a majority of Labour MPs represent areas where there was a Leave majority.

A good example is Tameside which voted 3-2 for Leaving. One of the local MPs is Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary. Like Lewis she is an enthusiastic supporters of Jeremy Corbyn but she “We have to have controls on immigration, that’s quite clear,” she told BBC News. “We have got to make sure that our economic situation is good for everybody because immigration is a good thing for us, but what undermines [that] is when people feel that it is unvetted and that we are not able to deal with the issues and the concerns that people have around that.”

It is easy to depict Labour as in a muddle when compared to Theresa May’s simple assertion that the referendum result was all about curbing immigration.

It reality the public mood is much more nuanced as Professor Rob Ford explained in an excellent edition of BBC Radio Four’s More or Less  which drew on a British Future / ICM survey  It supports the view that there are many who want immigration controlled – but not if they can be shown it will make them worse off.

Labour has to talk about immigration in order to get a hearing from pro-Leave voters but if that’s all the party talks about it will fail. The key is to come up with a convincing economic and business agenda that is about creating shared prosperity.
The point is made strongly by a Sunderland MP Bridget Phillipson. Her city, which is home to Nissan in the UK voted by more than 60% for Leave. Writing in the New Statesman  she has no doubt that “Immigration into Britain has boosted our economy year after year and thus raised the standard of living for people in this country.”
But she argues that for potential Labour voters, those who thought of backing the party then shied away, what mattered most was “having decent messages for people on middle incomes” and “being trusted to run the economy”.

Don Brind



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The biggest cheer shadow chancellor McDonnell got was when he declared “…in conclusion”

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Britain needs an opposition far better than Labour is providing

It’s been a day dominated by Philip Hammond’s first big event as Chancellor, the autumn statement. The big political points were the increasing size of the projected deficit and the likely impact of BREXIT.

At the budget in the spring the former is that the first response comes from the leader of the opposition. At the autumn statement, which is now being abolished, it’s slightly different with the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, being the first to respond. This is a tricky one because he has little time to analyse and reflect and then he is on his feet.

He was heard in almost silence by his own MPs. The Telegraph declared “John McDonnell reacted to the Autumn Statement like he was hungover. Thank God it’s being abolished”.

In fact the only assertion from McDonnell that got any response was when he said “..inconclusion”,

The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman hit the nail on the head with this:-

“..Labour has become rather irrelevant, particularly in a Commons context. Its position in the polls is the main reason ministers don’t fear probing from shadow ministers so much, but the lack of seriousness with which Corbyn and McDonnell treat parliament in general has also diminished the party’s scrutinising force. This force is then further diminished by the lack of seriousness with which most Labour MPs treat their party’s leadership: moderate backbenchers have been focusing on their own scrutiny strategy rather than on trying to help McDonnell with his…”

It is hard to see anything changing until there’s a new leadership and that’s not likely to happen this side of the general election.

Lucky Theresa May.

Mike Smithson




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These, I’m told, are part of Labour’s new message

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016