Posts Tagged ‘Andy Burnham’

Corbynism has already claimed its first major victim: Andy Burnham

12/08/2015, 11:11:09 AM

by Frazer Loveman

It all looked to be so easy didn’t it? After the non-entry of Dan Jarvis and the non-start of Chuka Umunna’s campaign, only Yvette Cooper seemed to stand between Andy Burnham and the leadership of the Labour party. Burnham was probably the more well-known of the two, a politician who oozed humility and understanding.

People knew him for his admirable opposition to NHS re-structuring under Messers Lansley and Hunt and for his work in the Hillsborough campaign. He was also the best positioned to win. Cooper was likely to lose some support to Liz Kendall on the right of the party whilst Burnham had positioned himself to have clear run at the left of the party, whilst still being able to exist on the soft-left. He may have been something of continuity Miliband, but he was slightly more human than Miliband, and also probably more pragmatic.

The forced entry of Jeremy Corbyn into the race, however, has changed all that. Suddenly the leftist bloc vote that Burnham had been presuming would just fall into his camp had an alternative, but no worry, Burnham would still be in a strong position once he picked up Corbyn’s second preferences. However, Corbyn has turned out to be more than just an ‘alternative’ he’s morphed into a bizzare Marxist messiah. With members pledging themselves to the church of Corbyn to the extent that polling by YouGov now shows him to be the clear favourite in the contest, the other three candidates are now in the last chance saloon in terms of stopping the Corbyn tide.

Kendall has responded to Corbyn by doubling down on her position that Labour needs to be a fiscally responsible party in order to win elections, out of all the candidates she is the one who has done the most to challenge Corbyn head-on, and this has led to her being favourite to finish plum last. Cooper had been far more pragmatic. Though she has said that she wouldn’t serve under Corbyn she has been more civil in dismissing him, partly as her camp believed that she could still beat Corbyn on second preferences. Though in recent days even she has been forced into pointing out the flaws in Corbyn’s campaign; accusing him of trying to drag Labour back to the 1970s.

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Jeremy Corbyn, George McGovern and winning by default

31/07/2015, 06:37:03 PM

by David Butler

A party is selecting a new leader and is using, for the first time, an open selection process. The early front-runners from the moderate wing of the party, who have dominated the party in the previous decades, have faltered and disappointed. Others, young and dynamic politicians, have refused to run for personal and political reasons. Instead, the insurgent, an outsider candidate from the left of the party is gaining momentum. He is backed by a wave of younger activists who are disappointed by the party’s previous period in government with its compromises and controversial war and are idealistic for a new settlement. As the campaign progressed, the moderates try to rally around a candidate, any candidate, to stop the insurgent left. However, it is too late. The insurgent suddenly finds himself party leader.

The year is 1972 and George McGovern has just become the Democratic nominee for President.

On his way to the nomination, McGovern defeated the combined talents of three leading party moderates, Senator Edmund Muskie, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. George J. Mitchell, a Muskie staffer and later Muskie’s successor as Senator, reflected afterwards that “Muskie’s appeal was to reason, to legislative accomplishment, to sort of general policies in the best interest of the country. The primary electorate was interested in emotion, passion, strong views on every issue, and the general election candidate who tries to navigate a nomination process by not being clear on very hot button issues finds it difficult in the nominating process”.

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Irascible Liz needs to learn from mellow Jez

31/07/2015, 10:54:24 AM

by Kevin Meagher

If I was Liz Kendall, cast as the uber-pragmatist in this Labour leadership contest and with a difficult message of “wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee” to sell to the party’s suspicious grassroots, I would look across the ideological divide at Jeremy Corbyn and emulate how he’s running his campaign.

Not by suddenly adopting a policy on Bolivian miners, but by observing the quiet and courteous manner with which he pitches unfettered socialism to a bruised party that wants to believe, but in its heart of hearts knows that some accommodations with the electorate are inevitable.

That’s the centre of gravity of the Labour membership. This is a party that wants to know its politics still means something and aren’t going to be endlessly triangulate away by, as it sees them, careerist politicians. However, purists aside, the party also knows that politics is the art of the possible. So members are there to be courted. To be convinced. To have their would-be leaders calmly explain how Labour moves forward from the mess it’s in, while remaining true to its heritage and values.

All of which is to observe that Liz Kendall’s campaign is so utterly tin-eared and so wide of the mark, that it seems to be taking place in a parallel universe. Whereas Corbyn is sweet reason, Kendall’s camp seems intent on adopting the traditional tactic of the hard left: simplistic homilising at 100 decibels.

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Should Blairites stay or split if Corbyn wins?

30/07/2015, 10:21:33 AM

by Samuel Dale

Jeremy Corbyn is now the bookies’ favourite to win the Labour leadership contest. A couple of dodgy polls puts him miles clear and Corbyn-mania has gripped the nation.

The media is losing the plot. The Spectator’s Rod Liddle thinks he could become prime minister. The Telegraph’s Mary Riddell says he is the a modern politician not a dinosaur. And the Guardian’s Owen Jones believes he would be just swell.

As Atul Hatwal has written this is the same suspension of reality that gripped the nation prior to Ed Miliband’s defeat in May. It is still highly unlikely Corbyn will win.

But humour me. What if on September 13 we wake up to a party in the hands of a leader as unprepared and unsuited to the job since Michael Foot?

For so-called Blarites – moderates who want to actually win and change Britain – there are only two options. Stand and fight to wrest back control of Labour from the grip of a Marxist cabal heading for electoral oblivion.

Or split and create a new party, perhaps forming an alliance with Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats.

Let’s take them in turn.

First, let’s stay.

Corbyn has no governing experience, he is easily riled, his policies are mad and he has numerous unsavory foreign connections.

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Sorry, that Labour leadership poll is nonsense. Jeremy Corbyn is going to finish fourth

22/07/2015, 05:24:43 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Remember the general election, when most reports on voting intention turned out to be total tosh?

Well, here we go again.

The general election hopelessly wrong-footed most commentators for two reasons: dodgy polls and shouty lefty Twittervists.

The polls created an illusion that Ed Miliband and Labour were a nose in front. Labour’s voluble activist base on Twitter then leapt on every iffy poll and each tweet describing yet another great session on the #Labourdoorstep to amplify and broadcast the narrative that Ed Miliband was about to become prime minister.

Understandably, most journalists looked on and followed the crowd. The pollsters and the Twittervists seemed to be saying the same thing.

A self-reinforcing spiral of delusion took hold that was only broken when the public’s actual votes shattered the Westminster’s conventional wisdom on the evening of May 7th.

Now, it’s happening again in the Labour leadership race.

YouGov have provided the poll and the Twittervists have been hard at work since news of it broke last night (though in truth, this process was already under way, with the equally misleading CLP nominations being used as the metric of choice by Corbyn’s online barmy army).

The problem, as at the general election, is that the polling is misleading.

In the case of the Labour leadership race, the capability of any polling company to accurately sample members is highly questionable.

For online polling, the problem is particularly acute.

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If moderates want to stop Corbyn, they need to back Burnham

22/07/2015, 12:01:47 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The most obvious point about the Yougov poll for The Times showing Jeremy Corbyn leading the Labour leadership race on 43 per cent, is that 57 per cent of members are not backing him. A clear majority of Labour’s members do not support taking the party sharply to the left.

The other obvious point is that Corbyn’s wild card status in this contest, ostensibly to “broaden the debate” has spectacularly revealed just how little the parliamentary party and the professional class around Labour politics actually now understands the grassroots.

Corbyn was seen, to be brutally honest, as lefty ballast. A bit-part player to be politely tolerated while the serious professional politicians got on with it.

So how do party moderates now respond, having made what looks like a gigantic miscalculation?

If these polling figures bear any relation to the actual result, there is no room for complacency.

No-one thought a Granita-style pact was necessary in order to give the centrist, social democratic perspective in the party a clear run in this contest, but this is precisely what is needed.

It’s probably too late and too messy for anyone to drop out at this stage, but the Burnham, Cooper and Kendall camps need to appreciate the risk of a Corbyn victory and maximise the chances of a centrist winning.
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The Conservative view: There’s no doubt, Liz Kendall is the candidate that Tories fear

20/07/2015, 01:22:09 PM

by Matthew Plummer

Life since our epic victory on May 8th has been a bit like recovering from Christmas lunch – having gorged myself on Christmas pudding, goose (of course) and canvassing I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm for things like charades, EVEL and reform of the Human Rights Act. But I was jolted out of the obligatory post-election / Queen’s Speech snooze when my local MP Sadiq Khan livened things up by nominating Jeremy Corbyn for your leadership contest.

Corbyn’s opposition to PFI and the Iraq War always struck me as principled and decent, but politically he makes Ed Miliband look like pure box-office. So when the midday deadline for nominations passed tribalism duly kicked in: I downloaded my ‘Corbyn for Leader’ twibbon (apparently that’s how you lefties do things) and began to tweet excitedly about Brother Jeremy. Although being really honest I can’t say I had any intention of parting with the £3 needed to become a registered supporter of the Labour Party – #JezWeCan and your open primary didn’t seem like my business.

And your leadership options aren’t exactly inspiring. Andy Burnham was in charge of the nation’s purse strings when the public finances started to run out of control and – uncomfortably for him – he failed to act decisively over the Mid-Staffs abuse scandal when he was Secretary of State for Health. His schtick is scaremongering about Tory privatisation of the NHS. Good luck with that: we are pro-market because we believe that is the way to drive up care standards, which is perhaps why Burnham himself oversaw the privatisation of Hinchinbrooke Hospital.

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Would Corbyn really lead us back into the political wilderness?

17/07/2015, 11:19:35 AM

by Brian Back

Let me make this clear from the start; I am backing Liz Kendall for the leadership of the Labour Party. I believe that she has the vision, the strength, the passion, conviction and charisma that we require in a leader, if we want to be successful.

When I read that Jeremy Corbyn was ahead in the polls, I was understandably dismayed. However, my dismay came; not at the thought of Corbyn leading the party, but at the thought of how members of the party would react to this news.

I was right to be dismayed, as various explanations of how Corbyn would be a disaster for the party soon surfaced and the predictable spats on social media dutifully followed. This has clearly demonstrated to me, that the biggest danger we face within the party, is not the issue of going too far to the left, right, or centre, but the problem of disunity.

It is division, rather than political position, which should be our primary concern.

All Labour members must remember we are defined much more by what unites us, than what divides us. We all want the same thing- a fairer society; only our methods for achieving this differ.

As long as we are guided by the values and principles we profess to hold- those of fairness, equality and democracy, then any of the candidates should be able to do a decent job of leading the party.

Every one of the candidates has grown and bloomed, because of the demands of the leadership contest and they have all shown themselves to be very worthy of our support.

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What happens when you ask normal voters what they think of the Labour leadership candidates?

16/07/2015, 05:38:05 PM

by Karen Bruce

On Saturday while many Labour members in Yorkshire were at the leadership hustings in Leeds I was with my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle running our local Labour party stall at the Rothwell carnival.

It’s a great opportunity to be seen by hundreds of local people and to chat with them about local issues. This year we decided to ask them two questions. The first was a specific local issue about how to spend £180,000 of ‘Section 106’ money from housing developers that has to be spent on environmental and greenspace projects. The second was to listen to what they thought about the four Labour leadership candidates.

To make it a bit more fun we had buckets with each leadership candidate’s picture on and lots of coloured balls so people could put one in their choice of candidate’s bucket.

We also created a one-page profile on each candidate so people could read and find out a little bit more about them. I’d originally wanted to put a 35 word statement from each candidate saying why Rothwell people should vote for them. I tweeted all four campaigns at 10:25 on Friday morning, but unfortunately only Andy’s campaign replied so we had to create the profiles ourselves.

The first paragraph of the profile was about their personal history – where they came from and what they did before they entered politics. The second paragraph detailed their experience in parliament and government. Both of these were taken from information on each candidate’s website and Wikipedia. The third paragraph was from their websites and was quotes about what they stood for and believed in.

Both of our questions sparked quite a bit of interest. The photos of the candidates on our buckets certainly made people look to see what we were doing. The results were interesting.

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For Labour to win again we need Tory switchers. Only Liz Kendall can reach them

08/07/2015, 09:31:29 AM

by Cameron Beavan-King, Jake Pitt and Sam Foulder-Hughes

For those who spent time on the doorstep relentlessly trying to win voters round, it probably doesn’t need to be said that the 7th of May was a bit of a tough night. In Labour’s key seats, the results were mixed and often random; we failed to win North Warwickshire, which had a Tory majority of 54, whilst Wes Streeting managed to overturn an 8,000 majority in Ilford North. In some seats we even went backwards, notably in Morley and Outwood, but also in our southern strongholds in Southampton and Plymouth which went from red to blue.

Having campaigned in seats in the West Midlands, London and the South East, we know the great challenges that face the party in winning back trust on the economy, reaching out to voters aspirations and more broadly just seeming fit for government. It’s not an issue we seek to, or could, address wholly in one opinion piece, however the direction Labour needs to head in to win in 2020 is clear. Liz Kendall is the candidate who offers by far the best chance of returning to power in five years time.

Most elections in European democracies are still decided by the Bill Clinton rule, that “it’s the economy, stupid” and so the party with the most coherent and positive vision will almost always win. The party campaigned on a variety of important issues, such as abolishing the cruel bedroom tax. However we forgot the silent majority of British people who aren’t in dire poverty but aren’t rich either, who pays their tax and work hard. These are the ‘shy Tories’ we have to bring back in order to build a winning coalition once again like Tony Blair did in in three successive elections.

For many ‘aspiration’ is a political buzz word, but for families it is about reaching their potential and doing best by those who rely on them. It can’t be understated how important is for our party to embrace, with no ifs or buts, the working and middle class families who simply want to get on and do well for themselves. The last Labour government and the coalition relied on centrally run public services to achieve social change far too much, without realising how unaccountable they are to local people.

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