Labour holds Batley & Spen. Was it good luck, or did something important and positive happen?

The first thing I want to say is that from the reports I have, Kim was an excellent candidate and the fact she was a local important. I am also told that she is good on the doorstep. I think this is important, more important than some would like, I got push back from voters in Lewisham East who didn’t want what they saw as carpet baggers standing.

If it was luck, it was luck the Party made, it seems that the election day ground operation was awesome showing Labour at its best when we pull together. Some make much of Shabana Mahmood’s appointment as national campaign chair, and with such a slim margin everything helps.

There was no Green Party candidate and the Lib Dem voted halved, but where did the 6,500 votes that went to the Heavy Woollen District Independents, a local successor to UKIP, go. It looks like not to Galloway, most of whose votes come from areas that have traditionally voted Labour and are represented by Labour Councillors on the Council and these areas have a relatively high numbers of Muslim voters. Mike Phipps, looks at the campaign and the role of the politics of the middle east and Kashmir on the election. But after this, and after the 6th May, where some softness in the Tory vote in the South was shown, and Chesham & Amersham, we can ask has Boris actually lost his mojo?

Some, it seems are rightly being expelled for supporting Galloway; I agree with this, every campaign he runs leads to bad politics and his result was disappointingly high. Galloway is no longer of the Left despite running as the Worker’s Party. Galloway is and was well funded, Novara Media reports he had 10 full timers and was ‘lent’ three office spaces. He has very publicly supported the Tories & Nigel Farage at the last General Election.

Galloway’s votes will have been shored up by the fact that the Labour leadership is leaden on the issues of islamophobia and peace and justice in the middle east and Galloway just pours petrol on this.  However, this was helped, by the official labour source who spoke to Dan Hodges in the Mail and accused Labour’s Muslim votes of going to Galloway because of Starmer’s line on anti-semitism in the Party. If this was a Labour Party member, they should be sanctioned under the rules, but there’s a high chance it was an MP.

Labour returning to the New Labour colours of purple, once used by UKIP left Galloway free to use Labour’s Red & Yellow colours. Is this a mistake? Some suggest that Ledbetter campaigned on local issues and this was a deliberate tactic to combat the anti-democracy of the populists. It doesn’t work for me.

It’s clear to me that the Labour Party is shit at negative campaigning. We’d best stop it.  The Boris/Modi leaflet was a crass mistake which will come to bite us in the arse in large parts of the country, just as putting a picture of Farage on the final leaflet in the Euro elections was a mistake.

What lessons should we learn from this?

Lesson No. 1, candidate quality counts! Al;though we are still trapped between running a good MP, or running a good campaigner; people that can do both are rare.

John Macdonnell has five lessons for Starmer: show some anger and some outrage, PMQ’s & Parliament are not enough, offer some hope and vision inc. a promise for a national care service, put climate change at top of the agenda, and make the Policy Review a real democratic exercise.  He also proposes concrete steps to unite the Party and end the war on the Left. Personally, I am not sure the pandemic is done and we need to talk about track and trace and financial support for isolation and decent sick pay. The Mirror also says, the result has bought Starmer time, but he needs to use it wisely.

Some of what I say is quite hopeful, there are lessons to learn, and if Johnson’s shtick has passed its sell by date, then this is good news but I will leave the last word to Phil BC, who is less optimistic who says,

It’s fair to say the leadership did everything wrong, and showed they’d learned nothing since Hartlepool and Chesham and Amersham. Kim might have been a personable candidate with bags of energy, but politically speaking she’s weak to the point of being homeopathic. So watered down were her responses to Israel/Palestine and pay rises for NHS workers that she’ll be right at home in Starmerism, which in its best moments affects to do nice things and at its worst pitches to the right of the Tories. And if Keir Starmer was unwilling to take lessons from elections lost, he’s not about to have an epiphany now Labour has won something.

Phil BC – averypublicsociologist.blogspot.com
Labour hold!
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