The Uncuts: 2017 political awards (part I)

Politician of the year – Jeremy Corbyn

2017 was the year when everyone lost. The Tories lost their majority, Labour lost the election, the SNP lost a third of their Westminster seats and the Lib Dems, well, 60% of Lib Dem general election candidates lost their deposit.

Yet despite this litany of defeat, one politician had a very good 2017: Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour might have fallen short in June, but it was nothing like the wipeout predicted by the polls, pundits (not least at Uncut) and Labour’s own candidates.

At the 2017 general election Jeremy Corbyn was able to tap into seams of Labour support among the young and non-voters that have been beyond the reach of the party for over a decade, if not longer.

Expectations, however, are a tricky taskmaster.

Having wildly exceeded the bar for success in 2017 – let’s not forget, even Len McCluskey was talking about 200 seats as a decent performance – the political world now expects much, much more of Labour’s leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has done his bit to help fuel these expectations, predicting he’d be prime minister by Christmas when at Glastonbury in June, and more recently, in his Grazia interview, forecasting that he’ll “probably” be prime minister next year.

When expectations rise like this, either there needs to be demonstrable progress – for example, establishing a commanding poll lead over the Tories – or the media narrative will turn to why Labour is under-performing.

The local elections in May, which are being fought in metropolitan areas, will likely give Labour a boost but at some point Labour is going to have to win big votes in the House of Commons and bring the government down.

If not, those expectations, which contributed so much to Jeremy Corbyn’s happy 2017, will be a lot less benign in 2018.

Early-bird shameless leadership bid – Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry wins for realising that the anti-Semitism currently infecting parts of the party membership was poisonous to opinion-formers, as well as many party members. Visiting Israel and the West Bank, she staked out her position as clearly differentiated from that of Corbyn himself, who refuses to visit Israel, despite numerous invitations.

Ah, if only it were the result of a deeply-held belief, rather than political expedience. We need only go back a few years to 2007 to find the now Shadow Foreign Secretary speaking at an anti-Israel rally with all the bigots of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) crowd.

No, she’s polished up her act a great deal since those days; not to mention cultivating the party’s most important single backer, one Len McCluskey of Unite. A journey indeed from tweeting herself out of a job in 2014, by way of a patronising photo of a White Van Man’s house.

Question is, can she keep a lid on her flexible principles, and that contempt, if she ever makes it to leader?

Pragmatist of the year – Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner gets on with things: whether it is pregnancy at 16, taking on a shadow cabinet job when many were walking away from them, refusing to be pigeonholed as being of the left or the right.

Rayner is certainly not the first Labour politician to be elected to parliament with an evocative backstory. But she is one of few to have rapidly combined this with competent handling of a shadow cabinet brief and the filling-out of a personal credo that privileges the early-years.

David Cameron served as Shadow Education Secretary before becoming party leader. We do not rule out Rayner completing the same journey. Like him, she is a pragmatist. Which, to us, is a compliment.

The Mother Theresa award for altruism in British politics – The NUM (Northumberland area)

The NUM (Northumberland area) scoops the award for its unstinting kindness and generosity to former boss, Ian Lavery. They have taken the their duty of care as his former employer, to dizzying new heights.

It was confirmed this October that the lucky Lavery received £165,000 from the NUM (Northumberland Area) union, whose funds come largely from compensation payments for sick miners. Part was a mortgage which was written off, and part a “redundancy” payment. Odd redundancy, really, in that Lavery actually resigned, to take his parliamentary seat. But this was the tip of the iceberg: it’s not even counting the approximately £800,000 he received in total compensation while General Secretary out of approximately £1.6m paid out to the miners. Of which now nothing remains (you can read more details in our piece from February, here).

It’s good to know that there are selfless people out there, who will always put the needs of others above their own.

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9 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2017 political awards (part I)”

  1. John Wall says:

    At the risk of sounding like a stuck gramophone record, the only way to have an election – because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – is for the government to lose a vote of confidence or with two-thirds in favour. Does anybody think Conservatives are going to vote for that or the DUP are going to do anything that could put Corbyn into No. 10?

  2. Dave Roberts says:

    Exactly John Wall. In all of the euphoria important realities like The Fixed Term Parliaments Act seem to be overlooked. Whatever happens the Unionists will always back the Tories as they aren’t likely to want to see a lifelong supporter of the IRA in Downing Street.

    The Tories will soldier through, Brexit will happen in whatever form, the economy will continue to grow, we will allow in whatever skilled labour we need and in five years time this will all be forgotten.

  3. John Wall says:

    Cheers @Dave Roberts !

  4. Vern says:

    Dave Roberts final paragraph echo my own thoughts perfectly. Thanks.

  5. Politician of the year – Jeremy Corbyn

    There must be some of the editors at Uncut speaking through gritted teeth at this. Is this really Rob Marchant’s view also? How about Atul?

  6. John P Reid says:

    Didn’t the NUM give Scargill a nice coincil home he bought off the council despite not being socialist labours policy, that was nice

    As for Corbyn wait till the deselections take place, or current labour Councillors lose their seats

    Wes Streeting massively increased his majority despite Corbyn,not because of it

  7. Ilforder says:

    You’re not right aboth Streeting. Yes, he campaigned on anti-Corbyn ticket. But even an active campaign like his only reaches so many people, and affects far fewer. Labour won well in Ilford because it has a changing, young, educated and ethnic population of exactly the type that has been swinging toward Labour, and also a big switch from owner-occupiers to landlord-tenants. Whereas the number of pensioners (and especially Jewish pensioners) has declined dramatically, with demographic change and white flight. Corbyn’s campaign went down OK locally – indeed many of Streeting’s council colleagues are Corbynites – and, insofar as people notice such things, people could see that Streeting is energetic and has already built himself a profile. It is closer to the truth to say that he won despite his anti-Corbyn shtick.

  8. buttley says:

    “Wes Streeting massively increased his majority despite Corbyn,not because of it”

    despite the data saying the opposite.

  9. John P Reid says:

    Buttley, what you on about, that personal increasein Streeting vote was due to his criticism, of Corbyn

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