Archive for the 'Labour' Category

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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



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The LD demand for a 2nd EURef could have similar potency as being totally opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Friday, November 18th, 2016

YouGov: LDs could edge in front of LAB if it was only party with such a promise

We all remember how in late 2002 and 2003 that the IDS-led Tories gave their backing to Blair’s invasion of Iraq. The Charles Kennedy-led LDs were the only national party to oppose and this stance stance helped them to their best ever performance at GE2005.

We’ve now got a similar situation with BREXIT. May’s Tories have totally dished the idea and Labour’s position, like all things these Corbyn/McDonnell days, is ambivalent. The LDs are saying that there should be a second referendum when the actual terms are agreed.

This, it might be recalled, was the Boris Johnson position in February when he finally came out and chose to back LEAVE.

In some new polling published overnight YouGov has tested the proposition in the form set out in the chart above and the results should provide encouragement to Farron’s party.

Amongst 2016 REMAIN voters the split was
CON 24
LAB 23
LD 42
UKIP 1

This is all hypothetical, of course, and there are a host of objections you can make to such findings.

In the big battle for Richmond Park, a week on Thursday, the LDs are going very strong on BREXIT in an area where this idea should go down well. Whether it will be enough to shift the incumbent MP with a big majority I do not know.

Mike Smithson




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ComRes Indy/SMirror poll finds sharp rise in the economic trust lead for May/Hamond over Corbyn/McDonnell

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

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In March the LAB pair were a net 16% behind CON leadeship – that’s now 33%

Ahead of the Autumn statement, May & Hammond are seen as much more trusted on the than both Corbyn & McDonnell and Cameron & Osborne.

    The brutal fact is that the twice elected leader hasn’t got an earthly with numbers like these. The vast influx of new members into the party since GE2015 have made the main opposition party unelectable

As is repeated so often an opposition leader and party cannot be behind on both personal ratings and the economy.

Ahead of Hammond’s first autumn statement more than half of sample say that the government should delay major spending decisions until after the UK has agreed the terms of leaving the European Union, while three in ten think the government should go ahead with these decisions (53% v 30%).

A majority say that the government should prioritise increasing public spending over the next few years rather than cutting it (53% v 23%).

There are gloomy view about the world with Trump as president.

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Mike Smithson




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Labour’s “cunning plan” for the Richmond Park by-election

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

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Don Brind says its to inflict misery on Zac by helping him get re-elected

“The man’s a disgrace. His office is just along the corridor from mine and I never see him. He obviously doesn’t want to be an MP.

The thoughts of a veteran MP provide the perfect justification for Labour fighting the Richmond Park by-election despite the call from an interesting trio of young MPs for Labour to stay out of Zac Goldsmith’s “vanity project”  Shadow Business Clive Lewis, shadow Treasury minister Jonathan Reynolds, and backbencher Lisa Nandy argue in Labour List the Tory could be unseated is Labour stay don’t contest the west London seat.

Theresa May has sought to neutralise Goldsmith’s protest against the Heathrow decision by not putting up a Tory candidate and the Labour trio argue “the fight will come down to a two way contest between him and the Liberal Democrats, whose vote will be split with the Greens and Labour, “If there is any chance of kicking Goldsmith out of Parliament, the vote against him must not be split. That’s why we think Labour should consider not standing a candidate in this by-election.”

There is a special contempt for Goldsmith within Labour ranks following his nasty and divisive campaign against Sadiq Khan for the London Mayoralty. As the New Statesman’s George Eaton memorably observed “There’s one thing worse than losing, it’s losing with dishonour.”
But for Goldsmith now the one thing worse than losing is winning – but with a dramatically reduced majority. He would denied to freedom his fellow old Etonian David Cameron has achieved for himself by quitting Witney. He would be a lame duck MP, the modern equivalent of Peter Griffiths, who won Smethwick for the Tories with a racist campaign in 1964. He was branded by Harold Wilson as “a parliamentary leper.”

The idea of a “progressive alliance” with Liberal Democrats and Greens favoured by Lewis, Nandy and Reynolds is, for the moment at least, a minority cause within Labour. The Liberal Democrats are scorned for their role in Coalition with the Tories and it’s noted that some leading Greens backed the green-tinged Goldsmith for Mayor.


    The problem for Goldsmith, of course, is that his stance on Heathrow is matched by Lib Dem opponent Sarah Olney but her anti Brexit views are much closer to the almost three in four local voters who backed Remain.

So Labour’s “cunning plan”  is for her to lose but not by much. And it looks like a reasonable bet Expect to see Lewis, Nandy and Reynolds given top billing in her election material.

The famous Baldrick line was deployed by Jeremy Corbyn used at Prime Minister’s questions — Theresa May’s cunning plan, he said was to have no plan. As May observed Baldrick was played by Labour supporter Tony Robinson who supported Owen Smith for the leadership. Robinson tweeted he is still a Labour member. “Haven’t left, active member for 40 yrs. But if David Davis needs any help with Brexit Baldrick stands ready to serve.”

Donald Brind

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