What happened?

What happened?

So what happened? Where does it leave me and my allies? I have been doing a lot of reading much of which I have bookmarked on my diigo feed, tagged GE2019. I wanted to write something deep, insightful and original, but others got there first. The result has two highlights, the loss of seats in the East Midands, North East, East Coast, primarily leave seats, primarily seats that have voted Labour forever but secondly an overall loss of votes to “Remain” parties. Labour’s so-called Lexiters were quick out the gate blaming Labour’s promise for a second referendum as the core cause of the loss of these seats. Reality requires a deeper look; it also requires the recognition that some of those seats will have been lost because remain supporting labour voters chose to vote elsewhere. Would the result have been better or worse if we had not promised the second referendum? How many of these seats did we lose by less than the Green/LibDem vote? How many of the seats in the Leave voting majorities that we held, might we have lost if remain supporters had been less committed to us? It could have been worse! For a more detailed insight I need to wait for the Electoral Commission spreadsheet.

Labour had been losing presumably Remain support since May 2019 when the NEC decided to campaign in the European elections on, an “I don’t know what” position. It’s the problem with the leadership position, it was clearly anti-Tory deal but too many surrounding the Leadership either wanted to leave on any undefined terms and were not prepared to offer a “final say” choice to the people who issued the mandate. In the European elections, Labour lost four times more votes to remain parties than to the Lexit parties a vote share we never recovered. The chart below shows Labour’s loss of poll share over the year.

 

Labour’s move to where they were, was too slow and too grudging; its opponents legitimised voting Tory by making the issue existential. It certainly doesn’t make the idea of an eection rather than a referendum look too smart and Labour’s Lexiters need to say what terms of departure were acceptable or unacceptable. (We now need to address the aftermath of agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement’s citizenship clauses which we must oppose.)

The facts suggest it wasn’t just Brexit that caused these losses. DataPraxis published their analysis in a report called Tory Landslide, Progressives split and present evidence that the key causes were Jeremy Corbyn, although this can be difficult to unwind from Brexit, that this time the manifesto didn’t cut through, there remain those for whom Brexit was the key issue and these sit on both sides of the remain/leave debate. Labour fell into the trap that “soft brexit” satisfied neither side of a split society. Corbyn and Labour were no longer the insurgent.

It should be noted, often around the other two issues, that Tory remainers stayed with the Tories despite the extreme terms of departure being offered by the Tories.

The loss of the Leaver’s loyalty has been a long time coming and is documented by Phil Burton Cartledge, in his blog article “The working class politics of Brexit“, and by much of Paul Mason’s writings, but most recently in “AFTER CORBYNISM, WHERE NEXT FOR LABOUR?“. The working class fantasised of by the Labour Party no longer exists, and much of what it’s become is no longer loyal to Labour, nor can be won via an economic offering. In 2017, the manifesto was key in winning votes to Labour; this time it was not believed. Too much was added as an afterthought, if rectifying WASPI injustice, free railway travel and free broadband were so important, why weren’t they in the initial launch. For too many, it became seen to be unaffordable, the message against anti-austerity was lost as were other crucial parts of the promise although Mason argues, much of the “traditional working class” are no longer listening to these i.e. economic promises.

These three factors suggest to me that 2017 was the anomaly.

Another factor to be considered was Labour’s organisation and campaigning. The seat prioritisation was plainly wrong, polling data was ignored, the data in many of these seats/constituencies was dreadful because they hadn’t been worked and their membership as a proportion of vote is also low; Labour’s famed ½ million members didn’t and don’t reach to these places. We have been losing members since 2017 yet ignoring this. We must recognise that one of the reasons that people are leaving and those that stay have stopped listening to the “Left” is because the Left’s political culture is so unattractive.

In summary,

  1. The second referendum promise did not lose this election for Labour; without it, we’d have done worse in the North as well as in the Cities.
  2. The collapse of Labour’s votes has been decades in the making; 2017 was the anomaly.
  3. Labour lost more votes to remain parties than they did to the Tories
  4. The manifesto’s vote winning power was dissipated by late promises and failed to cut through; it was a disincentive this time.
  5. Corbyn lost us votes, much of it due to his personal history and some of it a failure to take sides on the Brexit debate.
 …

May to Corbyn: ping pong

I got my blog on Corbyn’s letter to May out just in time, she replied yesterday as I was writing it. Opinion be divided as to what she says, the Guardian commented and published a copy of the letter which I have mirrored on this site and below/overleaf.

The Guardian documents her refusal to countenance a customs union and everything else falls from there on in. She is seen by the BBC as encouraging further talks on the backstop i.e. let’s go back to my plan which parliament has already rejected and waste some more time.

The open letters and the lack of agreement makes it seem like two seals fighting, by which I mean the amount of noise.

I am however surprised at her warm words around the Common European Arrest Warrant, she must know that its corollory is the CJEU & the Charter of Fundamental Rights. … …

The most left wing person that can win

I am reading Alex Nunn’s “The Candidate” and as exciting as the race for MPs nominations, and the struggle for supporting nominations in the CLPs and Unions are, one turning point is seen as the vote of the Tories Welfare Reform Bill. One thing missing from the narrative so far is how huge the task of winning in 2020 seemed to be; Labour had seemingly gone backwards and the task seemed insurmountable. I was reminded then and again in reading the book of an anonymous quote from a senior labour politician who said in 2010, that the Labour Party ” … will elect the most left wing person they think can win”. It was just in 2015, there wasn’t much confidence that any of them could do so! …

We have a choice

We have a choice

The events of the weekend have led me to the conclusion that my review of the manifestos as they relate to the internet and civil liberties were too factual and too dry. Over the weekend, three islamist terrorists attacked London with a white van and knives. It is now believed that at least one of them has been radicalised by Al-Muhajiroun a banned group and had been, yet again, notified to the security services and police. I suspect we’ll learn more over the next couple of days. This was a week after an attack in Manchester on a concert. Overnight the political parties agreed to suspend the campaign for the following day, but one of the parties broke that agreement. I look at the responses of May and Corbyn, linking to their speeches and analyse the meaning of the promise to deny the terrorists a safe space on the internet, to increase prison sentences together with the impact of the cuts to the police and intelligence service staff numbers.  …

Osterley

A day out in Brentford and Isleworth campaigning for a Labour Victory; this is the second most marginal Labour seat in London. Fab company, the team came from all over London.

I met my first voter who loved Corbyn but was abstaining because he couldn’t stand the local Labour candidate’s anti-brexit position.

A comrade came across someone who claimed to be a life long Labour voter who was leaving us because we plan to repeal the Tories inheritance tax give-aways. They have set the start point to  £850,000 up from £325,000. This makes a difference in London and plays to my argument that tax bills deter not only those that will pay them, but those that hope to do so too. We tried the triple lock and dementia tax, maybe should have tried the abolition of tuition fees. (I wonder if this is the sort of stuff that the Tories are putting out through their Facebook advertising campaign, now if there was only a crowd sourced rapid rebuttal site that I could post this to.) …

Campaigning

A quick trip around the Lewisham Deptford constituency canvassing for the Labour Party. A couple of accusations about getting Brexit wrong, i.e. the nuance in Labour’s front bench position upsets i.e. pisses off London remainers. Labour’s candidate for re-election, Vicky Foxcroft , voted against the Article 50 notice bill, twice! It makes life easier for people like me; I am glad I don’t live in Vauxhall.

I am surprised at the large number of EU citizens I meet who cannot vote in the general election. Mistakes were made; it’s wrong that people who’ve been here for more than 5 years, in employment, paying tax can’t vote in the general election; nor in the referendum.

One issue came up which I had missed and not expected. The Tories have abolished the council tax support for those on the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Councils have had to develop ways of making up the shortfall, by either cutting (discretionary) services or levying council tax on ESA claimants. There are other laws that stop councils levying the council tax on the wealthier residents, if they have them…. It’s another Tory cut ensuring that Labour councils and the Party take the blame.

I’ll finish by stating that there were a few who say they’ve left Labour because of Corbyn. It’s sometimes hard to determine if this is actually about Brexit, or about other aspects of his politics, but I met one person from Northern Ireland who can’t support him over his record on that subject. Someone else did the talking, but I think these conversations have to start with whether they support the Good Friday agreement or not. From my point of view, the anti-corbynism on the doorstep is less frequent, if more vitriolic,  an occurrence then those who couldn’t support Ed Miliband because they didn’t like the way he ate a bacon sandwich, or something!. Labour supporters who repeat these damaging slurs need to remember the way that Ed was attacked as not being up to it and let’s not forget the attacks on Kinnock either.

A final note, Vicky is well known, although some still ask where Joan’s gone! …