Archive for the 'Labour' Category

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

A Labour view as the campaign draws to a close

Monday, June 5th, 2017

The prospect of a landslide’s now being averted

I was an eye witness to the last terror attack in London on March 24th. As walked into New Palace Yard at Westminster on that afternoon I heard one of the shots that killed Khalid Masood and saw him and his victim PC Keith Archer laying on the cobbles, before I was ushered indoors by security staff.
.
The following day in the Commons I was impressed at the way both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn rose to the occasion the following day. Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition captured a mood of national determination not to be cowed by terrorism.

Fast forward to Sunday June 4th and here’s the Prime Minister, having allegedly suspended the Tory election campaign using the privilege of the Downing Street podium for what in part felt like a campaign speech about future measures to tackle terrorism.

The conclusion I draw is that she is rattled. She was getting her retaliation in first against the inevitable questions about the 20,000 cut in police numbers on her watch in the Home Office. Compared to that day in March Theresa May is a diminished figure.

As Mike Smithson tweeted For the first since she became Prime Minister  YouGov have come up with a negative rating for her. He observed that her Doing Well score dropped 7% to 42% while the Doing Badly climbed 7% to 49%.

Meanwhile, says PB’s supremo, Corbyn has enjoyed “one the most extraordinary turnarounds in leader ratings that I have ever seen.” Doing Badly has dropped 14% to 44% while Doing well is up 12% at 42%. The “dementia tax” debacle has raised questions the Prime Minister’s fitness for the job of negotiating Brexit, according to a quarter of pundits I quoted in last week’s post  , Phil Collins and Rachel Sylvester of the Times, The FT’s Janan Ganesh and the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson.

And Corbyn sought to exploit those doubts about May temperament and skills by emphasising that Brexit negotiations are a team sport. He gathered together Labour’s Brexit team together at an election rally in Essex . Alongside the leader were Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer, (who got an endorsement from the Independent the best person to negotiate Brexit), Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner – who has emerged as one of the stars of the Labour campaign.

Corbyn said: “ On June 19, Labour will be ready: ready to negotiate a Brexit for the many and not for the few … ready to deliver a deal that gives British businesses and society a chance to thrive”. In my humble opinion, as they say, that Labour Team is more than a match for the bluster and wishful thinking of their Tory counterparts May, Davis, Fox and Johnson.

Much as I’d like to see it, however, I’m not expecting Starmer et al to be on the plane to Brussels. The polls still point to a May majority but maybe one short of the landslide she hoped for.

May’s desire for a landslide had nothing to do with Brexit and everything to do with being able to crush Tory dissidents. They forced her to back down over the national insurance increase for the self employed, they oppose grammar schools, they are queasy about school cuts and they oppose her hard Brexit approach.

There is now a realistic chance of averting the landslide and making it possible for brave Tories to combine with Labour and others at Westminster to pull the country back from the damage of a hard Brexit.

Don Brind



h1

It’s the economy, stupid. And Team Corbyn aren’t stupid.

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Don Brind on final phase of the LAB campaign

It may all end in tears but for now the diverse team of Corbyn fans and old media sweats who make the Leader of the Opposition comms team can pride themselves on helping the party and their leader to narrow the yawning gap in the polls since Theresa May called the snap election the best part of a month ago.

Because they are smart I expect them to make a decisive switch to highlight economy and business in the last ten days of the campaign. And they have plenty of ammunition to fire.

British families will be getting poorer over the next few years as incomes fail to keep pace with inflation.  Only Greeks, Italians and Austrians have a bleaker outlook according to the OECD.  At the same time the NHS will be in a state of unending crisis caused by underfunding and schools will be cutting teachers and increasing class sizes because of budget cuts. Nothing in the Tory manifesto offers to changes that.

These key facts give the lie to Conservative claims to have created a “strong economy”. The claim is pure fiction. The reality is that after seven years with the Tories in charge the British economy is weak and shaky.

According to OBR forecasts we are in the middle of a catastrophic decade for earnings says Torsten Bell Director of the Resolution Foundation and formerly Ed Miliband’s policy chief. It’s the worst squeeze in over two centuries.   “History teaches us two things, says Bell. “First, that Prime Ministers do not normally choose elections at times like this, and second that when an election happens anyway, the incumbent government gets a kicking rather than the increased majority the current polls imply.”

Against that back drop of Tory failure I expect Labour to highlight how the plans to get the economy growing through investment in infrastructure and skills is the way to create prosperity and security for British families.

Labour have also to decide shortly who to send along to the BBC TV  debate on Wednesday where Theresa May ’s stand-in will be Home Secretary Amber Rudd. For me there is no contest about who should stand at the Labour podium in the 7-way debate. It should be Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary who has been spearheading Labour campaign against school budget cuts. She is a gutsy performer who will be well able to expose the shaky economy and what she calls the “weak and wobbly” Prime Minister.

It’s not just Labour who think May has failed to live up to her self-styled “strong and stable” leadership. The “dementia tax” debacle has raised questions the Prime Minister’s fitness for the job of negotiating Brexit, according to a quartet of pundits whose columns will have made for unpleasant reading in CCHQ — Phil Collins and Rachel Sylvester of the Times, The FT’s Janan Ganesh  and the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson .

Collins says her replies on social care were “ weak and untruthful and Mrs May was exposed as not being quite the woman advertised. She has been rumbled as not very good and there is no turning back from that.

Sylvester “the debacle reveals the shortcomings of the prime minister’s controlling and occasionally paranoid approach to power .. it does not bode well difficult Brexit negotiations that will require flexibility and empathy as well as determination.”

Ganesh “The complex work of EU exit starts in June … the question is no longer what this government stands for but whether it is any good. Or at least whether it is good enough, given the work ahead.”

Nelson “Her shambolic U-turn over the so-called ‘dementia tax’ has given everyone cause to doubt whether she is as ‘strong and stable’ as she says she is. In fact, she can look indecisive and a bit dozy.”

Nelson’s article is headlined “Could Theresa May blow this election? The answer is probably not according to the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush.He reckons the Tory’s falling poll lead is believable – but May still has her “purple fire wall” — the 2015 Ukip voters who switched to the Tories in this year’s local elections.

May is undoubtedly having a bad campaign but unless the ex-Kippers desert her, Labour supporters can expect that watching the TV exit poll on June 8th is likely to be every bit as painful as it was in 2015.

Don Brind



h1

A Labour view of the party’s looming electoral disaster

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Don Brind looks at landslides past

I have a soft spot for Lib Dem peer Dick Taverne even though I cut my teeth as a Labour Party press officer trying to end his political career.

His letter to the Guardian this week struck a chord. “Mrs May is riding high, apparently heading for a general election triumph, idolised by the tabloids for defying those beastly Europeans who seek to do Britain down. Today’s winners often end up as tomorrow’s losers,”

Taverne has always been a strong Europhile and fell out with his local party in 1973 when he supported the Tories in voting for entry to the Common Market. His resignation to fight a by election saw me drafted in by Transport House.

I failed to stop him romping to victory in the by election but my contribution to his demise was the suggestion to local party chairman Leo Beckett that they would do better with a woman candidate. I recommended a Transport House colleague Margaret Jackson who went on to defeat Taverne in the second of the 1974 General Elections. Margaret married Leo and as Mrs Beckett ascended briefly to the leadership of the party and Briatin’s first woman Foreign Secretary.

Taverne descended into relative obscurity and waited until 1996 to get his peerage. We are all now on the same side of the Europe argument. I was very taken by his four examples of Prime Ministers whose triumphs turned sour.

• “In 1902 Salisbury delivered a Tory landslide with the Liberal opposition deeply divided in the aftermath of the Boer war. Four years later saw an all-time record anti-Conservative landslide.

• “Chamberlain was a hero when he came back from appeasing Hitler in 1938 and proclaimed “Peace for our time”. The few dissidents led by Churchill were denounced as warmongers. Then Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia.

• “In 1956 Eden launched the Suez war with strong nationalist support. It proved a disaster and soon his reputation lay in tatters.

• “In 2003 the invasion of Iraq led to a widespread outbreak of patriotic fervour – but destroyed public trust in one of Britain’s most successful and popular recent prime ministers.”

Another cautionary example is offered by my old journalist mate Denis McShane, former Labour MP and minister for Europe writing in Prospect  He dubs Theresa May’s philosophy “Rectory Toryism” which he argues looks like a return to the 1960s, “when state control of society and economy was at its apogee.” It was also the era of Harold Wilson who led Labour to a landslide in 1966.

McShane suggest this election “ may turn out to be curiously similar to that of 1966, in which Harold Wilson obtained a large majority. Worryingly for Theresa May, his government only lasted four years and Wilson lost the next election, after becoming not the master of events, but their prisoner.”

Neither Taverne nor McShane mention 1992 but to me there are echoes of John Major’s short-lived triumph. As Tim Montgomerie observed on Conservative Home some years ago,  “John Major presented the party unashamedly as the low tax party. The Tory campaign relentlessly attacked Labour … Major picked a combative party chairman. Chris Patten (who) fought against Labour with rottweiler determination.” Remind you of anyone? Lynton Crosby?

Less than six months after amassing a record 14 million votes Major saw his government implode on Black Wednesday, never to recover.

The obvious point about Taverne McShane and myself is that we all fear the worst – we believe the polls and expect Team Theresa to get their landslide.

That said, I am hoping London may buck the trend. Having done some door knocking at the weekend I am cautiously sanguine about the prospects for the re-election of the charismatic Rosena Allin Khan in Tooting. And according to a friend of the redoubtable Joan Ryan Labour in Enfield North have been buoyed by a recent council by election. Labour matched the Tories in increasing their votes by around 13 per cent as the Green and UKIP voters collapsed.

Green switchers may be less easy to detect than UKIP switchers but they could be important. In 2015 there were a group of seats where the shift of a small number of Green voters would have deprived the Tories of a gain: (Tory majority in bold) Gower 27 1161; Derby N 41 1618; Croydon C 165 1454; Bury N 378 1141; Morley&Outwood 422 1264; Plymouth S&D 523 3401; Brighton Kempton 690 3187; Weaver Vale 806 1183; Telford 730 930

If Labour are to spring any surprises on June 8th they will probably come from this list.

Don Brind



h1

Emily Thornberry lures Sir Michael Fallon into possibly the greatest ambush since the battle of Lake Trasimene

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Note: This video contains language NSFW from Emily Thornberry that maybe offend more delicate PBers.

This morning Sir Michael Fallon managed to achieve something that I thought was very unlikely, he managed to come off worse in a discussion about defence/security with a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, The Telegraph report

Emily Thornberry has accused Sir Michael Fallon of talking “bollocks” after he claimed she wanted to renegotiate the future of the Falkland Islands.

The pair clashed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show as the Defence Secretary said the shadow foreign secretary had left the door open to a Labour government negotiating with Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands.

Sir Michael also said that Jeremy Corbyn had shown “quite open support for the IRA” as he hit back after being accused by Ms Thorberry of having visited Syria to “celebrate” the re-election of Bashar al-Assad in the 2000s.

To make the Tories look bad and hypocritical on security and defence the day The Sunday Times ran an article which said ‘Jeremy Corbyn was arrested in 1986 taking part in a protest by IRA sympathisers to “show solidarity” with accused terrorists including the Brighton bomber’ is one hell of an achievement by Emily Thornberry, I’m not sure many others in the shadow cabinet could have managed it, it is remarkable what Labour can achieve with a bit of research and a credible messenger, something the Corbynistas should remember.

It should be remembered Sir Michael Fallon isn’t some naïve popinjay, he’s the man who at the last general election managed to deliver an effective message that Ed Miliband was a risk to national security because ‘Ed Miliband will stab UK in the back just as he did to his brother David.’ Whilst this an undoubtedly a great victory for Emily Thornberry, like the battle of Lake Trasimene the winning side won the battle but not the war.

Bet365 have Emily Thornberry at 28/1 to be next Labour leader, if you’re not already on her on at higher odds, this might make a decent trading bet, because I suspect if Labour are well and truly shellacked next month, the nominations threshold will reduce in absolute numbers, and Corbyn might well stand down and back someone who is loyal to him, Emily Thornberry might just be that candidate. Labour members might also be keen on electing their first female leader whilst the Tories are on their second female Prime Minister.

TSE




h1

Backing Labour to win the popular vote on June 8th

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

A 5% return in less than four weeks?

William Hill have a market up on who will win the popular vote without the Tories. With the SNP standing in only Scotland, then finishing second  in the popular vote is impossible unless turnout somehow craters in the rest of the United Kindgom, so that’s not an option. UKIP winning this bet is very unlikely given they are standing 254 fewer candidates than Labour and in some polls are down to 3%. Others such as the Greens, Plaid, or the other parties are also very unlikely given the lack of candidates they have standing.

If you think the Lib Dems think are going to win this bet you might find better value in the constituency markets, but given the  state of the national polling, where in some Labour are polling four times the Lib Dems share, and Tim Farron’s lacklustre performances, epitomised by the farrago over gay sex being a sin, I’m not keen on backing the Lib Dems winning here.

You might be able to find better odds by backing Labour in safe seats, for example Leeds East where Labour has a majority of 12,533,  is a 1/9 return were Labour to win it on June 8th. But then in the past week it has been said the Tories have been targeting Leeds East, which is Labour’s 77th safest seat.

My two predictions for this election will render UNS redundant, and the definition of a safe Labour seat will be radically redefined after June the 8th, so that’s why I’m backing this William Hill bet rather than going down the individual constituency markets, but I will understand if others go for the opposite approach to me, or why they will swerve this bet entirely, as this effectively a bet on Jeremy Corbyn not being as dire as some fear he might be.

TSE



h1

The tide is high. How many Labour MPs will be holding on after 8 June?

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Everyone seems to agree: Labour are in for a pummelling at the upcoming general election.  The opinion polls, the local election results and the anonymous comments from politicians of all parties on the campaign trail all point in the same direction. Even the newspaper pundits, constantly looking for a new angle, are unanimously predicting a Conservative landslide.  Few, however, have tried to put numbers on the eventual outcome.

This fool is going to rush in.  I’ve been looking at the Labour defence and trying to work out what will be left after the general election.  Settle down; this is complicated.

Polling consistently shows that the Conservatives are doing especially well among Leave voters, gaining a much greater swing among them than among Remain voters.  You can argue which is cause and which is effect but for our purposes it doesn’t matter.  Wherever you find more Leave voters we can expect to find more swing to the Conservatives.

So we shouldn’t try to interpret the polls through uniform national swing without first considering how Leaveworthy the current Labour seats are.  Chris Hanretty has produced estimates of Leave percentages in each constituency and while these are not going to be perfect, they should be near enough for present purposes.

Any dividing line is going to be arbitrary.  A seat that divided for Leave 51:49 is unlikely to behave very differently from a seat that just came up short 49:51.  So initially I divided the Labour seats into three groups: those that were clearly Remain (which I defined as under 46%); those that were fairly evenly divided (which I defined as between 46% and 54%); and those that were clearly Leave (which I defined as over 54%).  You can argue with my definitions and no doubt some will.

And immediately we see a major problem for Labour.  130 of their seats won at the last election were clearly won by Leave.  We can expect the Conservatives to do better than usual in these.

But there’s a more subtle problem. 33 of the 63 Labour seats that were clearly won by Remain form part of the 100 safest Labour seats, while a further 11 are among the 25 most marginal Labour seats.  Very few seats clearly won by Remain are in the zone where Remain voters’ resistance to Conservative charms is likely to make a difference.

I then looked at the seats that were at one extreme or another.  And just seven of the 32 Labour seats where Leave scored under 35% of the vote fall outside the 25 most marginal Labour seats and the 100 safest Labour seats.  Four of those seven seats have the Lib Dems or the Greens in second place.  As chance would have it, the type of seat where Labour is best placed to hold off the Conservatives looks as though it isn’t going to be that relevant in this election.

At the other extreme, there are 75 Labour seats where Leave won more than 60% of the vote (yes, that’s asymmetric with the “extreme Remain” banding).  That’s more than all the Labour seats where Leave scored under 46%.  20 of the seats in the 51st to 100th most vulnerable Labour seats are in this category.  Another 10 seats in this category are in the 101st to the 125th most vulnerable Labour seats.

Anecdote, the tenth wave of the British Election Study (as analysed by Chris Hanretty) and ICM subsamples all suggest that the Conservatives are doing particularly well in Labour-held seats.  The distribution of the Labour Leave-leaning and Remain-leaving seats might well explain that.

What does that mean in terms of seat losses?  First, we need to work out what the likely swing from Labour to the Conservatives is likely to be and then adjust.  Working on the basis that often the polling at the beginning of the election campaign is what the final result ends up as, I’m assuming a swing of roughly 7.5%.

Then we need to decide how this will differ in different bands of seats.  I’m working on the basis that the swing will be 4% lower in extreme Remain seats, 2% lower in less extreme but clearly Remain seats, 2% higher in clearly Leave seats and 3.5% higher in extreme Leave seats.  This would result in 79 seat losses to the Conservatives.  On this model, Labour would hold Exeter and lose Don Valley. Allowing for other losses to the Lib Dems and other parties, this would leave Labour with just under 150 seats. 

Of course, this is all pretty arbitrary, with assumptions galore.  The polling might be a lot tighter (if the swing is only 5%, Labour would end up with somewhere around the 170 mark).  Or Labour might collapse much further (if the swing is 10%, Labour would end up with somewhere around 130).  I may have radically underestimated or overestimated the swing differential in different types of seats.  But I expect the result to be in this ballpark.

I note that Bet 365 offers odds of 9/4 on Labour getting 126 to 150 seats and 5/2 on them getting 151 to 175 seats, implying they will get in this band roughly 60% of the time.  I think the chances are more like 85%.  Or if you want to back just a single band, Betfair Sportsbook’s and Paddy Power’s 7/4 on 120-159 seats looks generous to me.  I’m on.

Alastair Meeks




h1

For LAB the onjective is to avert a Tory landslide – but how

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Don Brind explores the options

For many years Theresa May’s main claim to fame was her bravery in telling the Tories they’re the Nasty Party.

If you doubt that nastiness lives on in Toryland despite the election of the vicar’s daughter look no further than the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. He is the attack dog whistled up by Lynton Crosby to spread a bit of ugliness.

There is no one on the Labour side who specialises in Fallonic thuggery and nor am I suggesting there should be. But defining your opponent is a key part of political campaigning  I suggested to Yvette Cooper she was ideally suited to challenging and exposing Theresa May’s shortcoming.
“As long as you don’t cast me as a Michael Fallon. He’s appalling.”

Cooper is already on the case. She rocked Theresa May with a zinger of a question at the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the Parliament.  She pointed out that the reasons for calling a snap general election were untrue, adding “we can’t believe a word you say.”

The message — You can’t trust Theresa May” is step one in averting a landside.
Although she outscores Jeremy Corbyn in favourability polls, May is no superstar, as her pedestrian performances on Marr and Peston showed. It’s why she’s being kept out of debates and away from contact with real voters.

I have no doubt May is vulnerable to a forensic exposure of her duplicity and her defective moral compass. This is not a job for Corbyn himself or those close to him — not the least because her apparent popularity comes largely from being compared to him.

Understandably Team Corbyn don’t accept at this stage that a landslide is on the cards. They hope that an blizzard of polices will narrow the gap.

Nonetheless, I think they should encourage Cooper and other senior figures such as Hilary Benn and Lord David Blunkett to challenge the Prime Minister’s trustworthiness and the gap between her rhetoric and reality. Let’s call them the Labour Truth Team.

We should not assume that May is unassailable and that voters won’t be worried about her dishonesty shown in calling an election after repeated denials. And there is lots of other evidence Theresa May can’t be trusted and that any promises she makes are there to be broken. I examined the gap between May’s rhetoric and reality in a recent post.

Her slippery morals are likely to come into focus shortly when the Crown Prosecution Service announce what action they are taking over some 30 Tory agents and candidates caught up in the expenses allegations exposed by Channel Four’s Michael Crick.

At Prime Minister’s Questions May signalled she was ready to turn a blind eye to any misdemeanours and endorse them as candidates.  Lib Dem campaigner Mark Pack reckons the CPS decision, which is expected before nominations close is “a once-in-a-century type dramatic event to stop the Conservatives winning.”
The ground war will decide whether there’s a landslide

Nobody will, of course, be able to vote for or against a landslide. Whether it happens will depend on the ground war in the 50 or so Labour seats which on current polling projections could be in play. 
The Labour Truth Team can do vital work in helping the many brilliant hardworking Labour MPs whose seats are in jeopardy. Tory candidates will try to ride on the PM’s coat tails, using her heavily in their campaign material. Exposing her duplicity and dishonesty Labour’s defence of these key seats.

Fears of a Tory Tyranny – the phrase was coined by Jack Dromey, who defending a 5,129 majority in Birmingham Erdington – have prompted a call for electoral pacts with the Greens. 
One of those leading the calls for Labour to stand down is rising star and former shadow cabinet minister Clive Lewis whose fate in Norwich South hangs on attracting Greens and Lib Dems. He had majority of 7,654 over the Tories with the two other “progressive” parties each polling more than 6,500 votes.

In general I am in favour of tactical – or as I prefer to call it intelligent voting – but I am cautious about whether the Greens can deliver.

In 2015 I discovered that Green voters are some of the most bigoted and blinkered people (outside the ranks of Momentum). On doorsteps in Battersea and Croydon I would regularly say — “Vote Green and you’ll get Blue”. This line was vindicated in a group of nine seats the Tories won with tiny majorities. Across those seats there were more than 15,000 Green voters. If a quarter of them had voted Labour David Cameron would have struggled to get his overall majority.

The seats — with the Tory majority in bold — are Gower 27 1161; Derby N 41 1618; Croydon C 165 1454; Bury N 378 1141; Morley&Outwood 422 1264; Plymouth S&D 523 3401; Brighton Kempton 690 3187; Weaver Vale 806 1183; Telford 730 930.

Interestingly, four of the MPs, Gavin Barwell Croydon Central, Oliver Colville Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, David Nuttall Bury North, Graham Evans Weaver Vale are among those reported to be under investigation by the police.

I don’t always agree with Tim Farron but the Lib Dem leader is spot on when he tells voters “a Conservative landslide means they will take you for granted wherever you live.”