UNCUT: Revealed: New polling shows most swing voters believe their household finances will be better under a Labour government than the Tories

02/10/2021, 09:18:28 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The full analysis of these polling figures is in a new book “Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power” released this week. Click here to download it. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election

Exclusive polling conducted for Labour Uncut by Yonder (the new name for Populus) has revealed that a majority of swing voters believe their household finances will be worse under a Conservative government compared to a Labour government.

Traditionally, the Conservatives have won the electoral war of the wallet with voters tending to believe their personal finances will be better off under the Tories than Labour, even when Labour is in the ascendant.

However, this latest polling shows that there’s an 11% majority, 46% to 35% among prospective Labour switchers that disagreed with the statement “I think my household will be better off under the Conservatives than Labour”

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UNCUT: Johnson and Frost’s attitude to the Northern Ireland Protocol repeats the Tories’ worst habits in relation to Ireland

01/10/2021, 09:02:41 PM

by Matthew O’Toole

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power” released this week. Click here to download it. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election

If Boris Johnson actually cared it wouldn’t be so bad. His and his government’s wilful disavowal of a treaty they signed (and trumpeted in an election campaign), their intermittent gaslighting of people and businesses in Northern Ireland – if any of it was based on sincere conviction it would be easier to stomach. The empowering of extremists representing glorified crime gangs, the naked refusal to acknowledge the plain facts of international trade.

Political actors in Northern Ireland of all shades don’t just distrust the Johnson Government and its approach to the Protocol, they – we – are disoriented by it. Since everyone has been lied to, there is now next to no reserve of trust from which UK ministers can draw as Brexit makes relationships sharper and more difficult. So, what should happen now? Part of the answer lies in remembering the lessons of the past: the importance of delivering on commitments made in good faith and avoiding the crude assertion of British sovereignty in Northern Ireland as if it were the same as Suffolk.

Conservative indifference to the consequences for the island of Ireland of English political choices is nothing new. Whatever Northern Ireland’s future constitutional arrangements, defending pluralist institutions and British-Irish relations from thuggish Tory nationalism will require an active and engaged Labour Party. That should start with delivery of the complex and imperfect commitments in the EU withdrawal agreement.

One hundred years ago, the Westminster political class was bored of Ireland. The subject had dominated Parliamentary debate on a recurring basis for at least four decades. From the perspectives of both those Liberals – and Labour – who had supported successive attempts at Home Rule, and the Tories who had opposed them, first in relation to all of Ireland and latterly for the province of Ulster, the complicated denouement of 1920 and 1921 signalled time to move on from the Irish question.

First, the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 provided for the exclusion of six northern counties from any form of self-governing proto-independent state. Then after months more of fighting between republicans and the British state, by the end of 1921 a treaty providing a ‘Free State’ with dominion status in the other 26 counties was agreed between Lloyd George’s Government and Sinn Fein, which subsequently split but with the treaty itself surviving.

As Charles Townshend’s new book on partition points out, by 1921 many MPs were exasperated at the oxygen consumed by the ‘Irish question’ – and the demands of unionism very much included in that category. Then, as now, there was a striking disinclination to view said Irish question as one in which English politics and English power were implicated, or to put it more directly: one for which English politicians were in large part responsible. For better or worse, Irish issues were to be marginal in British politics (notwithstanding the fact that part of Ireland remained in the UK) for the next half century. In that sense, one of the key aims of Lloyd George’s Government – to stop talking about Ireland – was overwhelmingly delivered.

What does any of this have to do with 2021, and the question of how the UK Government – and British politics in general – approaches the implementation of another treaty, the EU withdrawal agreement and specifically the Protocol on Northern Ireland? It is to demonstrate that nothing happens in the British-Irish relationship outside the historical burden of that relationship; and that relationship is marked by asymmetry of both power and knowledge. Where London possesses the greater power – and not only over the jurisdiction where it is the sovereign power – Ireland (by which I mean the island and both historic ‘traditions’) possesses the greater memory and knowledge, of both historical fact and grievance.

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UNCUT: Don’t expect buyer’s remorse – it is going to take hard slog to rebuild the Red Wall

29/09/2021, 08:54:35 AM

by Jo Platt

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power” released yesterday. Click here to download it. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election

People in Leigh call their neighbours in Wigan ‘pie eaters’. It is not a comment on their culinary habits; it refers to the 1926 general strike where Wigan miners were said to have gone back to work sooner than those in Leigh. It is hardly surprising, then, that the parliamentary seat was solidly Labour from 1922 onwards. (And Liberal before that, with the Manchester Guardian owner, CP Scott, once representing the town.)

That was, of course, until November 2019. I was the unfortunate losing candidate – after first being elected in 2017 – as Labour was mown down, not only in dozens of so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats, but in the traditional coal and steel seats that today have Conservative MPs.

Coal and steel seats

For Leigh, read Bassetlaw, Blyth Valley, Bolsover, Redcar, Rother Valley or Penistone and Stocksbridge. These are places where Labour is in the local DNA, but they all fell to the Tories, many for the first time in decades, if not the first time ever. In fact, if it was not for the Brexit party splitting the Conservative vote, things would have been much worse and we would have lost dozens more seats, with even places like Barnsley – the epicentre of the Miner’s Strike – in danger of turning blue. (The absence of the Brexit party helps to explain why we lost the Hartlepool by-election in May.) All of which is an around about way of saying that we should count our blessings. The hole we find ourselves in as a party could have been even deeper.

Horrific campaign

Let me return to the 2019 campaign. Our experience on the doorstep was just awful. In fact, horrific is the word I would use. It was a hot reception – and, also, an icy one. Hot in that everyone seemed angry. Read the rest of this entry »

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UNCUT: Labour leadership’s achievements overshadowed by its tin ear

28/09/2021, 10:46:10 PM

by Rob Marchant

Labour, despite what you might think after the last few days, is back on the road to recovery. The consolidation of the leadership’s upper hand over the rump Corbynites has been sure-footed. It has won key votes on an independent complaints process to finish the job on anti-Semitism, as well as rule changes to make it very hard for any repeat performance of the Corbyn years, where a tiny tail of hard-lefties flooded the party with entryists, in order to wag the Labour party dog. Yes, it didn’t manage to get to fully reverting leadership elections to the electoral college but that was, frankly, the icing on the cake.

There is, of course, a but.

Labour’s problem so far this week is that no-one has really noticed all that good stuff, because of its abysmal management of its media spotlight since Saturday, where a catalogue of unforced errors has left it reeling.

First came Angela Rayner’s “scum” diatribe against the Tories, in a fringe meeting on Saturday night. If our Deputy Leader genuinely thinks that kind of language will have helped woo floating voters, then we should be asking very serious questions about her judgement.

Then our normally-sensible leader, the lawyerly former barrister and DPP, managed to wobble and bluster like a rookie country lawyer when questioned by Andrew Marr on Sunday morning about whether it is ok to say, as Rosie Duffield MP did, that only women have a cervix.

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UNCUT: Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power – Free download

28/09/2021, 09:37:17 PM

Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power sets out what’s needed to win the next election. Drawing together contributions from elected representatives, former senior Labour officials and expert commentators, it looks at the barriers to voters’ backing Labour, what the Party can do in opposition to break these down and the type of policy platform that will attract the switchers needed to put Keir Starmer in Downing Street. Click the link below to download your free copy

Labour’s Reset – The Path Back to Power

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UNCUT: We need to have an honest conversation with the public about social care

28/09/2021, 10:07:45 AM

By Joanne Harding

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power” which is being released today. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

‘If you neglect physical infrastructure, you get roads full of potholes and buckling bridges, which prevent your economy functioning properly. The same is true if you fail to invest in social infrastructure.’ These  were the words Liz Kendall used as she addressed a conference of directors of social care back in April this year. I think we can all agree that social care has been neglected by successive governments for years. The question is what could and should Labour do to truly address what I believe to be one of the most difficult policy challenges of our times. One of the fundamental issues with social care is that people do not really understand what it is. It is incredibly difficult to define as it ranges from supporting a person to wash and eat, to administering medication, to safeguarding, protection of liberty and to end-of-life care. It is inextricably linked with health by virtue of some of the elements of personal care, yet it is so much more than health.

However, it does not have the same branding as the National Health Service (NHS) that we all recognise and hold dear to us as a beacon of all that is good. Politicians talk about health and social care, yet they continue to leave it out in the cold when it comes to policy and funding conversations. This lack of focus on social care is reflected in public attitudes – in polling conducted by Yonder for Labour Uncut, when respondents were presented with a list of 11 different policy and just 6% of voters picked social care as the highest priority.

It does not attract the same attention as a hero workforce and life-saving and ground-breaking treatments do. Nevertheless, make no mistake about it, social care encompasses every single one of these things and more.

Labour therefore has a role to play in changing the narrative among its members and the wider public. Maybe then, we can have a more honest conversation about the areas I feel we need to tackle if we are to reform and transform social care.

Funding reform

This will surely be considered the most contentious and difficult element of our policy work. If we truly want a publicly funded social care system in England, we need to establish how we are going to pay for it. Projected  growth on spending for social care is simply not in line with predicted growth pressures, which are rising at 3.7% annually in real terms. More than 1 million people aged 65 or over will require varying degrees of social care support by 2035; this is up from 783,000 individuals in 2015. As people live longer and advances in medicine and assistive technology support people to live with chronic and long-term health issues, greater strain will be put on an already creaking system.

We know we cannot simply stand still as we will have a predicted gap of £3.5 billion to fill by 2025 to maintain our existing standards of care, which are frankly failing too many people. Age UK reports that 1.5 million people living in the UK have an unmet care need and if current trends continue, this could grow to 2.1 million. Furthermore , the government have offered  short-term bungs over the years to paper over the cracks. Relying on a council tax precept and business rates cannot possibly be a sustainable funding model for an infrastructure that is so vital to a healthy society. It also creates inequity in local authorities that will be living with greater health inequalities and higher levels of poverty. Current provisions are  truly a postcode lottery.

Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons last week has done nothing to reassure those of us who live and breathe social care that reform is coming anytime soon. The  majority of the income generated by a regressive national insurance rise will not really go towards funding social care. For three years, all of the money will go towards easing the NHS backlog; in fact, only £5.4 billion of the £36 billion will head in the direction of social care. Councils may well be forced to raise council tax yet again in order to meet demand. Social care is in crisis right here, right now. The Tory Party’s talk of funding and reform are actually just warm words.

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UNCUT: Labour’s post-war greats, Attlee and Bevin, defined progressive patriotism. The party needs that spirit now

27/09/2021, 04:12:42 PM

by Mike Gapes

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” which Uncut will be launching at Labour conference . The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

In the eleven years since Labour was last in government, the UK and the world have seen a significant shift towards nationalist, inward looking policies.  There has been weakening of global multilateral institutions.  UK influence in the world and our “soft power” has been reduced principally by the self-harm of a hard Brexit and the acrimonious wrangling about the Northern Ireland Protocol.  But far more significant for the future of the world have been changes brought about by developments in the United States, as it moves erratically away from a global interventionist role; and by the continuing economic, and military rise of the Chinese Party/State with its authoritarian model and “Belt and Road” imperialism; by the turmoil in the Arab and Muslim world; the massive impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic, particularly in largely unvaccinated Latin America and Africa; and the accelerating and destructive impact of global warming.

Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin played a decisive role in creating the institutions of the modern era including the United Nations, with a permanent UK seat on the Security Council, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO. Those international institutions and others like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, established after the Second World War, are now under severe challenge.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union thirty years ago and the ending of the Warsaw Pact, the Atlantic Alliance was successfully transformed from a Cold War defence institution into a political entity, now recognised as a regional security organisation by the United Nations. NATO enlarged to include the former GDR, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro. Many other countries worldwide including EU members Sweden, Finland, Austria, Malta and the Irish Republic have partnership arrangements with NATO.

NATO remains vital for peace and security in Europe. After the Trump shock, new US President Joe Biden claimed that “America is back’. His words provided reassurance but Biden’s betrayal of the women of Afghanistan has caused consternation amongst US allies worldwide.  Frontline NATO countries like Poland and the Baltic States face increasing cyber threats and aggressive behaviour by Putin’s Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere. It is no longer just France which questions whether Europe can depend upon the United States indefinitely for extended deterrence of Russian aggression.

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UNCUT: British moral strategic leadership: Previewing Rachel Reeves speech to Labour Conference 2021

26/09/2021, 10:35:22 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Economics is about storytelling as much as numbers. If the story persuades, the numbers do too. There is artistry to the dismal science.

Rachel Reeves knows the numbers. A former Bank of England economist, she knows how the economy works. A political realist, she knows what seats will sustain a Labour government.

The Labour sums need to add up. In a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” that Uncut will be launching at Labour conference this week, we make a proposal for how Labour can finance a new set of spending commitments.

But the Shadow Chancellor’s conference speech is not an occasion for a forensic articulation of staying in the black. It is a time to tell the country a new story about itself.

This story might feature improved childcare, better homes, and a new relationship with business – potential building blocks of a Labour proposition that are articulated in the new Uncut book.

We do not pretend that all the ingredients that Reeves needs are in our book. There are two further that she might add: her own moral clarity and memorable phrases. Both of which Gordon Brown excelled in.

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Brown coined this resonate couplet from opposition.

The white heat of technology. With this phrase, Keir Starmer’s favourite Labour leader told a new national story from opposition.

Even if the levers of real change are exclusive to government, the language of politics can be shaped from opposition. But now our politics is dominated by government phrases: Levelling Up, Global Britain, Build Back Better.

Levelling Up. The intension and symbolism matter more politically than the outcomes. It is not about hard metrics like the Gini coefficient, it is about showing that the Tories care about the North and the Midlands, with this sentiment often embodied in shiny, new buildings.

Global Britain. In policy terms, even more vapid than Levelling Up. In political terms, it is about backing Britain. Who can be opposed to that?

Build Back Better. I think I heard Ed Miliband say this prior to it being a slogan of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Before it could really become Labour language, it was the title of the government’s growth plan. When the Tories aren’t shaping the language of politics, they are expropriating potential Labour terminology.

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UNCUT: Want Labour to be a ‘safe space for Jews’? Here are the three steps Labour must take

26/09/2021, 08:52:00 AM

by Emma Picken and Euan Philipps

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” which Uncut will be launching at Labour conference . The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

On October 29th, 2020, something took place that would have seemed inconceivable had it been 10 years earlier: the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that the Labour Party had breached equalities law and had acted illegally in its treatment of Jews[1].

This outcome was in part due to the vicious culture that had been imported during the Corbyn years. More importantly, however, the party was already ripe for infestation with a culture that contained both antisemitic individuals and ideas. It had little or no defence against either.

The following piece will not rehash how appalling Jeremy Corbyn’s behaviour is or the depths of antisemitism  found within his fellow travellers. No one has plumbed these depths more than Labour Against Antisemitism  (LAAS), as our 20,000-page submission to the EHRC attests. Nor will we go over how Labour got itself into the position of being led by an antisemite; this has already been extensively and eloquently covered by David Hirsh in Contemporary Left Antisemitism , Dave Rich in The Left’s Jewish Problem, Alan Johnson and many others[2].

Rather, we will discuss the main areas Labour needs to address in the immediate present in order to make the party an environment where antisemitism  is no longer tolerated; how Labour can sincerely atone for the damage done to the Jewish community and its vocal allies; and how Labour can turn the ‘safe space for Jews’ soundbite into a truly secure environment for its Jewish members.

There are three elements that must all be put in place to finally rid the Labour Party of antisemitism .

The first is tackling antizionist antisemitism .

Following our extensive reporting of antisemitism , our observation in LAAS is that contemporary antisemitic discourse centres around those claiming only to be ‘antizionist’. However, antizionism is at the heart of the issue – and, in our experience, is without fail antisemitic. Thus, without tackling antizionist antisemitism , ‘tearing antisemitism  out by its roots’ is frankly doomed to failure. While internally within the Jewish community there will always be a small minority with antizionist views, the vast majority identify as Zionist, with 93% saying Israel plays a central part in their identity. Antizionist antisemitism  harms them deeply and multiple ways[3].

What must be done?

Firstly, the party must sever all ties with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). It is astonishing that a group so evidently steeped in antisemitism  is welcome within any antiracist movement; all the more so that this group is afforded so much influence within Labour policy on Israel that two out of the three leadership candidates in the last leadership elections backed the PSC pledges[4]. One of the candidates, Lisa Nandy, is now shadow Foreign Secretary[5].

There is extensive evidence of the extreme antisemitism  within the PSC[6], which stands opposed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism  that Labour has adopted in full.

The unions, too, have not been aligned to such overt racism since the London dockers famously came out in support of Enoch Powell. The affiliation to the PSC of every single large union within Labour must be ended without delay. It is deeply ironic that Frances O’Grady feels bound to discuss ways in which the unions need to face up to their racist past, while ignoring the flourishing racism of today[7].

Secondly, Labour must firmly close its doors to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), whose banner of ‘social justice’ serves to disguise a darker aim: the eradication of Israel. BDS initiatives remove agency from Jewish business, students and academics in the diaspora. These have no impact on Israeli governmental policies, however they are a conduit for some of the most vicious antisemitic intimidation seen since the 1930s.

No right-minded Labour member would admit to supporting BDS if the above points were included in its discussion on racism, and especially not if the movement ever reached its goal – so why is this tolerated? Why is this antizionist antisemitism  treated differently to other kinds of racism? In our view, the party should not treat adherents to BDS any differently to any other racist.

What many miss is the fact that BDS is both bigoted and discriminatory. It holds Israel to standards not required by any other democratically elected sovereign state. It’s clarion call of ‘to the River and the sea’ is the call for the destruction of Israel – the claiming of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea; the state of Israel. In fact, the logo on posters and T-shirts for the BDS and it’s sister organisation, The Palestine solidarity committee, clearly shows the entirety of Israel as being claimed for a Palestinian state. No two state solution or shared ownership, just the eradication of Israel.  The Labour Party must find a better way to legitimately support the cause of the Palestinian people without calling for the destruction of Israel and the alienation of the majority of Anglo Jewry.

The second element that the Labour Party needs to deal with is the appearance of its MPs and their tacit endorsement of antisemitism  at Israel/Palestine demonstrations.

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GRASSROOTS: Jack Lesgrin’s week: Time for pledges not pamphlets Keir

25/09/2021, 10:05:21 PM

by Jack Lesgrin

Time for pledges not pamphlets Keir

This week Labour leader Keir Starmer published a 14,000 word essay. My immediate thought was that this risks getting us into ‘longest suicide note in history’ territory (after the labour manifesto of 1983 was so described by a Gerald Kaufman). Maybe he should have spent a bit more time inspecting plans for internal party reform than writing this opus.

Do Sir K’s PR advisors not think through the optics of such news? Perhaps the strategy is to set expectations so low that a grateful public will be relieved when instead of having to read 14,000 words they hear a few soundbites on the news?

Or is it an authenticity strategy: it worked for Jeremy Corbyn after all. I recall much hyperbole from MPs I know, as well as normally sensible activists, coming back from Corbyn rallies satiated with the industrial strength Kool-Aid dispensed both by cults and political leaders who tell their supporters what they want to hear, no matter how magical.

But the essay story projects the kind of authenticity that reinforces negative stereotypes of scholarly intellectual debate among and for socialists.

If the rise of Mr B Johnson has taught us anything, it is that the next election will not be won or lost on the intellectual coherence of an exceedingly long Master’s thesis.

Perhaps one or two other lessons might be learnt, and rapidly, if we are to have any hope of winning the next election. The first is that people want to hear what labour will actually do about any given issue. Not why the Tories are wicked, but how Labour would do things better. It’s a simple concept that is often lost by oppositions.

Then they want to hear an optimistic vision, set out in a clearly understandable narrative that tells a credible story about why voting labour is better for them and for the whole country, underpinned with policies that validate this.

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