If the strategy was to recover the old mill, coal and steel towns, it would seem this hasn’t worked. But there was a 3% swing to Labour on Thursday albeit in Blair’s middle England, not where Starmer and his strategists would have hoped. If the road to No 10, is through the old mill, coal and steel towns, Labour will have to do something else.

Corbyn’s leadership was made by a spontaneous movement, it was not a plot by 60 year old Bennite retreads. The eruption requires to be understood which Starmer’s people seem incapable of; the communications and strategy are poor, and Mandelson too engrained in 25 year old fights that makes Labour members and voters the enemy.

I am glad I waited to talk about this as it’s a story that unrolled over three days. Thursday night was dominated by Labour’s loss of Hartlepool and Durham County Council and rumours of an upset in London as the Tory GLA seats were declared and Labour held Harrow & Brent underperformed in delivering votes to Sadiq Kahn.

Over Friday, the picture became clearer, there was a great victory in Wales, we took the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor positions and held councils such as Preston, although we lost the West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor (again). There were some great victories in Oxfordshire and one notable defeat in Oxford City. Labour won the elections in Liverpool and in the evening, it became clear that Sadiq Kahn would win in London, with the result being declared just before midnight. Phil Burton Cartledge comments, possibly too early, in this article on the lessons to be learned on strategy , where he concludes,

What are the chances of this being a teachable moment for Labour? With the likes of Steve Reed and Peter Mandelson blaming “the party” as opposed to the leader or the strategy, the odds aren’t looking good. Six years on from Labour’s evisceration in Scotland, no analysis has been ventured by them, no lessons learned. 2017’s uptick in Labour’s fortunes – an election that must be buried at all costs, nothing to be seen here. And 2019: an awful result to be sure, but no consideration of how the party still clung on to over 10 million votes. Only a trend as stupid, factional and myopic as Labour’s right could look at their organisation’s recent electoral performances and conclude there is nothing useful there to learn about. These people are simply not serious.

Phil BC

He then wrote an article on Starmer’s poor reaction, entitled “On Keir Starmer’s Stupidity” about firstly claiming to take responsibility and then attempting and failing to fire Angela Rayner as “Party Chair” and finishing by giving her even more titles, and more responsibility. He also damagingly changed the story and buried Friday’s better news.   

However, on Sunday, Labour, in Bristol, despite or maybe because of, holding the Mayor, Labour lost control of the council to a Green surge.

I’d love to be able to argue that we did badly where candidates were imposed but it’s not compelling. There are well known stories about the Hartelpool which was lost and Liverpool selections which was held, and less well know stories about the West of England Mayor selection which Labour won. The West Midlands Mayoral selection was also unsatisfactory where an ex-Birmingahm MP was unable to turn out Labour’s Brummie vote. Both Liverpool and Bristol campaigns will have been disrupted by Evans’ suspensions. The disruption to Bristol’s campaigning will have been exacerbated by the managed selection process, one result of which is reported in the Bristol Post and where local commentators tell me the imposed candidates lost. The Bristol result seems to have been partly because of a loss of the youth and student vote; this will not have been helped by Starmer’s antipathy to the drowning of the Colston statue as part of Black Lives Matter protests and his comments on its policing. But is also a symptom of Starmer’s deliberate destruction of Corbyn’s coalition.

At the centre of the lessons to be learned is how to put together a coalition that can win. This is a question beyond that of geography. Phil’s writings are full of analysis about the changing nature of work, the aging and the political criticality of outright home ownership, the alienation of final salary pension recipients from the youth and even their children and the historic loyalty of Britain’s black and asian communities and these issues’ impact on British politics. He also argues that age is the primary bifurcation of politics today as Thatcher’s voters fulfil their homeowning dream and either look to survive and/or pull the ladder up behind them. He also argues that capital needs social liberalism as immaterial work becomes dominant in our economy. His arguments are probably most easily accessible in his article, “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” .

We need to recognise the failure of policy promises, although it would be nice to have had some, to overcome authenticity, values and stories and that policy must be socialised amongst the electorate. One way that Labour does that is to debate policy on conference and in its CLPs so supressing the policy debate and declaring a Day 0 for policy are equally not helpful given his 10 pledges and the promises

There’s some great stuff Paul Mason, who tweets on strategy and ignorance (of Labour’s legacy leadership) ,  and Clive Lewis, on Centrism and triangulation. Labour needs to do more than wait for its turn and there’s more from Phil BC on immaterial labour i.e. the factor of production and its impact on representational politics and on Pasokisation. “On Hartelpool” by James Butler, covers many of these themes too.

Scylla & Charybdis

The meaning of class is changing and the way to do progressive politics is too.

Bristol is the Scylla, while Hartlepool is Charybdis. Labour should have learned that voters always have somewhere else to go and as Labour reinvents triangulation and trims towards the Tories, we lose the young and liberal supporters; people that vote for us and actually work.

On May 6th, election day 2021
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3 thoughts on “On May 6th, election day 2021

  • 12th May 2021 at 4:43 pm

    The SNP failed to win a majority in the Scottish Assembly, they were one seat short but will work with the Greens to pursue an independence agenda. Labour lost two seats and came third.

    The Oxford results are not dramatic, but Chipping Norton, Cameron’s home village went red; there have been some people building an effective Labour Party there for several years. While in Oxford, Labour held onto control, but lost several seats to the Greens incluidng Luke Akehurst’s

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