The Uncuts: 2019 political awards (part I)

Politician of the year: Boris Johnson

In this supposed period of Labour reflection, many would concede that Boris Johnson faced a weak opponent in Jeremy Corbyn. And that Corbyn was foolish, given the leverage afforded to him by Johnson’s lack of a Commons majority, to allow Johnson a general election at the time and on the terms that he desired.

But you can only beat what is in front of you and Johnson did this comprehensively. With Mandelsonian message discipline (get Brexit done) and a Blair-like pitch for the centre. “We were elected as New Labour and we will govern as New Labour,” said Blair in 1997. Substitute One Nation Tories for New Labour and you have the key ingredient of Johnson’s acceptance speech.

This is easy to mock. But what was Labour’s slogan in 2019? And what was our pitch to mainstream Britain?

Perhaps we should see these things as less New Labour and more essential requirements of any political success, which Johnson much more effectively provided than Corbyn.

Johnson has no time to rest on his laurels: a Catalonia-type standoff with Scotland is pending; a trade deal with the EU, on the timescale that he insists upon, will require compromises that he has not yet acknowledged. But he now enjoys a majority large enough to make Mark Francois as marginal as Corbyn was in the Blair years.

Johnson is deadly serious, like a contemporary Disraeli, about using this new authority to sufficiently deliver for the north and the Midlands that the new blue wall keeps him in power for a decade. It is time, finally, for Labour to stop underestimating him and start – without descending to clichés about London coffee bars and northern towns – taking the steps to stop him.

“Sharp Elbows” award for earliest use of a personal logo in a leadership election

This special award, in leadership election season, marks out Rebecca Long-Bailey for her committed start to campaigning to be party leader, even long before the 2019 general election was lost.

Normally it would be customary to at least defer openly campaigning for the leadership until the leader had stepped down, however it was clear to the judges that Long-Bailey was going above and beyond the call of duty in commissioning a personal logo and using it in her campaigning at least as early as October.

Notably, other than Corbyn himself, it is pretty much the first time that any MP has been sufficiently lacking in self-awareness as to believe that personal branding for an MP was even appropriate in the first place.

Well done, Ms Long-Bailey, for having the courage to stand out from the crowd! Just because Seumas Milne is writing your comms, doesn’t mean you can’t still plough your own furrow!

Brass neck: Ian Lavery

As you will remember, former Northumberland miners’ leader Lavery managed to secure £160,000 in payoff of his mortgage, not to mention having plundered almost all the £1.6m paid out in compensation to the sick miners in his former union membership of ten (that’s ten, you read correctly). He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Sadly, the toothless Certification Officer, the union watchdog, failed to take the investigation further (although it did not, as Lavery claims, clear him). Somewhat limply, for example, it did not investigate further his being made “redundant” when he became an MP and therefore left the job voluntarily, or the Australian fact-finding trip on union expenses. It remains to be seen whether some future investigation might not find him guilty of considerably worse.

The shameless carpet-bagger was then promoted to Party Chair in 2017, in the face of outcry from the media and many party members. But it is within the last few days he has truly come into his own as, in the wake of the party’s worst defeat since 1935, for which he is formally accountable as political elections chief, he is now reported to be considering standing for Leader.

Despite tough competition in this category, the cumulative effect was, the judges felt, a truly monumental lack of self-awareness, of a magnitude scarcely reached by modern politicians.

Moreover, rarely must newspaper headline-writers have rubbed their hand in such glee, at the prospect of being able to fill the next three months with a daily barrage of grift-related mockery against Lavery, thus making a travesty of the whole leadership contest. In fact, in the unlikely event that he were to win the leadership, of course, that onslaught would then continue unabated for the next five years or until he resigned, whichever came first.

Well done, Mr Lavery, an award richly deserved. We will not see the like of your brass neck again.

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3 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2019 political awards (part I)”

  1. Alf says:

    If we’d got rid of Corbyn, and replaced him with a Tory-lite leader, we’d have won back Scotland and swept back to power. The electorate were looking for a wonkish Blairite leader who looked like a displaced HR director. No doubt about it.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Alfs, mantra ,no matter how many times I’m told
    That evetine who’s not 100% loyal to ckrbyn and whatever policy he has that day is a blairite
    Like that blairite Ed Miliband who didn’t 5 years saying he wasn’t a blairite

  3. Tafia says:

    Johnson knows that you can only win an election in the UK by being every slight left of centre economically (minimum wage NHS etc), and right of centre socially (tough on crime, defence, immigration etc).

    (by ‘centre’ I mean the centre of UK political spectrum which is firmly in the tory envelope now and where the polity of England normally is)

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