Labour hold!

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
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Cowardice

Cowardice

Just a quick note, a comment on ‘desperate from Hartlepool’, and a longer comment from the Irish Times on Britain, the EU, and the creation of compulsive narratives.

Starmer’s rejection of rejoining, is a slap in the face for those members and voters who want to do so, and that number is growing. Starmer’s strategy would seem to be based on that of an Ostrich and following Corbyn’s, “what unites Hull and Hackney is social justice, we shall not be divided by Brexit” whcih worked so well. This issue cannot be avoided and the post brexit trade deal is poor. It’s killing SME importers and exporters and is exacerbating tensions in Northern Ireland and fuelling racism in Britian. Starmer’s positioning reminds me of some of the games I have played where one positions your party according to one metric, usually tax to ‘win’ the game; it’s also a return to focus group led policy making.

You can’t make Brexit work without engaging with the failings of the current situation and policy. In my mind this requires reentry to the customs union and single market.

The Irish Times article is a damning indictment of Labour’s silence in the knowledge that, that silence concedes space to poor policy and xenophobia and its hard to turn an oil tanker round, once the big lie is established, its opponents will always be on the backfoot.

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay …

Starmer, a new chapter?

Starmer, a new chapter?

Late last week, Kier Starmer made what was billed as the first of his major policy speeches. You can see it here, and read it here. (I have only read it.) Some people’s reactions seem instant, and I am not sure how well thought out they are. I am OK with the economics of "Recovery Bonds". This article I look at what James Meadway & Phil BC have to say, on the economics and what it means for strategy. I add that failing to mention or criticise Brexit continues the mistake of only permitting the Tories to talk about the growing disaster, you’d think we’d learned the message over deficit fetishism, we can’t let the Tories set the narrative unchallenged. Silence on climate change is also very disappointing. I conclude, So on economics, strategy and justice, it’s all a bit meh, but also dangerous for Labour. If Starmer, his consiglieri and acolytes misjudge the Tories and/or our core decides that the compromises with Blue Labour are too much and if Brexit's costs gets worse as more of the exit deadlines pass, his collusion with Brexit and errors of psephological judgement will also cost him and Labour dear. ...

On Corbyn’s whip

On Corbyn’s whip

On Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which Starmer has withdrawn, somehow, certainly in breach of the standing orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Momentum have drafted a letter to Starmer, Angela Rayner and the CLP Reps calling for the whip to be restored which you can send too. I have sent it although I amended the letter to make it clear that I believe it, and the original suspension to be in breach of the party’s rules, in breach of the EHRC recommendations and in breach human rights law, and the whip withdrawl is an act of double jeopardy. I also pointed out that in my experience, some of his supporters are now leaving as they consider the act unfair and unreasonable.

I consider it to be at least one of capricious, perverse, irrational and/or arbitrary.  …

10 Point Plans for Labour

10 Point Plans for Labour

In running for election as Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer published a 10 point plan, which I have noted & mirrored on this web site. A couple of months later, Richard Burgon, writing in Tribune produced his own 10 point plan as a focus for left unity within the Labour Party. I produce them below/overleaf in a table of titles. Provided we 'don't try and read the tea leaves in the order, there's not a lot of difference! For those of us who didn't vote for him, this should give us hope that Labour's opposition and manifesto will be worthwhile, but those that voted for him because of his 10 pledges need to be articulate in reminding him of them. ... ...

Down the plug’ole

Down the plug’ole

I had a look at the 2020 Leadership election and the 2016 results. There was a 4% drop, about 20,000 less, in people voting in 2020, from 2016 and yet, Rebecca Long Bailey, the standard bearer of the Left, got just short of 178,000 less votes than Corbyn. In a static electorate, the Left went backwards, by a lot!

This does not auger well for the next set of NEC elections. The rump left, which includes Momentum must begin to talk and listen to those who changed their minds and build unity within the Party around Starmer’s 10 pledges. …

Starmer’s Cabinet and more Brexit failures

Gabriel Pogrund is re-circulating the rumour that Starmer will appoint Rachel Reeves as Shadow Chancellor. My first instinct is that this would be a poor start for a man who claims to want to unify the party, since her record is as a central thinker for those opposing Labour’s turn to the left.

Anyway I have googled her, and she is another ex-Bank of England employee with an impressive education in economics, unless we take the view that it’s academic economist’s lack of heterodoxy that is one of the key causes of the 2008 crash. Obviously this would come lower down the list of causes than the greed of the ultra-rich and the structural contradictions in late twentieth century capitalism. For more see below or oveleaf … …

Labour’s New Brexit

Labour’s New Brexit

Today, Labour Conference debated the International Report of the National Policy Forum and a statement on Brexit from the National Executive Committee. I believe the NEC statement was issued to delegates only, on the morning of the debate, which while not unusual is unacceptable. A campaigning comrade, Sacha Ismail posted the words to his Facebook timeline, and I have posted them below. Kier Starmer summed up the debate, and I have posted a video of his speech, which I then comment on. It was a weak speech, which disguises the weakening of Labour’s policy and moves it towards a pro-Brexit position. …