Posts Tagged ‘Atul Hatwal’

Liz Kendall 1. Yvette Cooper 2. Andy Burnham 3

22/08/2015, 12:58:45 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The ballot has finally arrived so it’s time to vote. Time to back the candidate who is right about what Labour must to do to regain power; to give a second preference to the candidate who could yet save Labour from self-immolation and register a third preference for a candidate not called Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Kendall is my first preference. She has displayed guts and determination in her campaign. She’s right about the big issues and of all the candidates is the one who grasps the magnitude of Labour’s challenge in winning back public trust on the economy.

The personal abuse and level of misogyny that she’s faced is ludicrous and her response has revealed the type of steel Labour needs in its leaders.

Despite the trolls and the torrent of hate, she’s managed to secure endorsements from council leaders, trade unionists and the best and brightest of Labour’s new generation of MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and Emma Reynolds.

Liz Kendall and her platform are the future of the Labour party. It’s just a shame that her campaign hasn’t harnessed this as effectively as it might.

Too often, the message communicated to Labour members has been that they’re wrong and have to accept they are wrong.

Whatever the bald facts of a situation, simply telling voters’ that they’re mistaken is always a losing strategy.

Just as Labour’s economic message cannot continue to be based on telling the public they were wrong at the 2010 and 2015 election about the party’s spending record a decade ago, so an aspiring Labour leader cannot just be the bearer of bad tidings to the membership.

In 1994, the Blair leadership campaign was built around bridging the divide between the membership and the electorate, not telling them to jump it.

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Ignore Twitter. Forget the polls. Corbyn’s not going to win

17/08/2015, 05:18:43 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Jeremy Corbyn will not win the Labour leadership. No matter how real the fevered hallucinations currently seem on this acid trip of a leadership contest, they aren’t real.

Predictions of a Corbyn triumph are based on two assumptions: that the polls are right and Labour’s new recruits have been drawn in because of him and his agenda.

Both are wrong.

The polls and campaign canvass returns overstate his support in the same way that Labour’s support was over-estimated in general election polls and the party’s new mass membership is not a seething hotbed of radical ideologues.

The coda for pollsters from the general election was that simply asking people for their voting preference didn’t give answers which reflected actual voting intention.

Mark Textor, Lynton Crosby’s business partner and the man who conducted the Tories’ internal polling, recently held forth on why his polls were right when so many others were so wrong.

He made two points of note.

First, voters frequently use opinion polls as an outlet for protest.

In an online world of one-click opinion, sticking two fingers up at the Tories by backing Labour in a poll was simple, cost free and gratifying. Less easy to actually vote Labour when most did not trust the party on the economy and it was led by someone who few believed to be prime ministerial.

Second, voters’ make their choice on the basis of the outcome they want to avoid as well as the party they support.

While waverers might have been prepared to consider the idea of a Labour government, even with reservations on leadership and the economy, the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition, with Ed Miliband run ragged and dragged even further left on spending by Nicola Sturgeon, tipped the balance. So they voted tactically to prevent what they most feared – even if this meant holding their nose and voting Tory.

These insights are directly relevant to Labour’s leadership race.

After a crushing, demoralising general election defeat for the party, what better way for frustrated members and supporters to flick the bird at the leadership than to tell pollsters and canvassers they are backing Corbyn?

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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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The Tories need to be introduced into Labour’s leadership race

18/06/2015, 10:52:14 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Labour’s leadership race needs to become a lot less comradely. Last night’s debate was a pedestrian trot through the expected.

There was little direct challenge with even less to enlighten members on how these candidates would bear up when facing the Tory meat-grinder.

This has to change.

Gordon Brown serenely glided through his selection without having once been put under the type of pressure the Tories subsequently exerted on him every day.

While his disastrous leadership was little surprise to several of those who had worked with him at close quarters in government, for the rest of the Labour party his inability to deal with sustained political attack was a nightmarish revelation.

Ed Miliband triumphed without once having been robustly challenged on his innate lack of electability or an economic platform that totally ignored the judgement of the British people at the 2010 election.

Yet again, the Labour party was largely unprepared for what the Tories did to him.

This time, the membership need to see the leadership contenders run through their paces in a live-fire environment.

US primaries vet their aspirants in a way British parties’ leadership elections rarely do. Obama was a far better candidate for having faced Hillary and her 3am call ad.

The Tories need to be introduced into Labour’s leadership election.

What would they do to these candidates?

Andy Burnham is in many respects the ideal contender on paper. Experienced, decent and committed.

But he was also chief secretary to the Treasury just before the crash and opposed a full public inquiry for Mid Staffs as secretary of state for health.

This clip from the general election, highlights the continuing political danger from Mid Staffs and his inability to answer the most obvious and basic Tory attack. (more…)

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According to Westminster groupthink, Andy Burnham is favourite for leader. Yet again, it’s wrong

18/05/2015, 06:32:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The Westminster groupthink, which recently had Ed Miliband walking into Downing street, has a new favourite: Andy Burnham.

Labour MPs talking among themselves and to journalists, journalists talking to each other in Westminster bars and on the conveyor belt of rolling news comment slots, then bouncing off MPs and vocal activists on Twitter – this is the echo chamber that got the result of the general election so badly wrong and has now reconvened to similar effect for the Labour leadership race.

Andy Burnham certainly has support in the PLP, almost half by some accounts, and an active briefing operation shaping journalists’ perceptions. If the leadership election was to be decided among MPs, journalists and Twittervists, he justifiably would be a runaway favourite.

But party members are also involved. Over 220,000 of them. And they do not even vaguely resemble any of the participants in the Westminster groupthink bubble.

Instead, Labour’s members are like the general public.

According to internal party estimates, over 95% do not attend a single party meeting in a year, deliver a leaflet or knock a door. They are not consumed with the minutiae of politics or deeply tribal.

They’ve just made a choice to join Labour, as many people join clubs and societies without any sense that this membership defines their life.

Under Labour’s new leadership election rules, it’s one member one vote. With a membership that reflects the public, the same priorities which so recently decided the general election will similarly shape this race.

Economic competence and the preference for prime minister will be the key criteria against which contenders are to be judged and on both counts Andy Burnham’s candidature is critically flawed.

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Chuka the unready

15/05/2015, 01:49:34 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In politics, you’re either on the way up or headed down. Chuka, unfortunately, is headed down.

After the shock at his withdrawal and the sympathy at what politicians have to put up with in terms of intrusion, one view will linger: he has suspect judgement.

And that will blight him for the rest of his career.

If there is a scandal about to break, of sufficient scale to force him out of the running, the question will be why he ran at all?

If there is no scandal, then in a way, it will be worse. To have jumped in, and then out, within days hardly suggests decisive leadership.

Chuka has a point about the difference between expecting and experiencing greater scrutiny, but the job he was running for was not some minor office, ultimately it was to be the prime minister of Britain. It’s right that there should be scrutiny and lots of it.

Chuka’s team are briefing that he might seek the leadership again one day, but this is fanciful. Despite his many skills and his ability as a communicator, questions over his judgement will hang silently unanswered, over all that he does from now on.

Many things are forgivable in politics. Bad judgement is not one of them.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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The Labour party is responsible for this defeat. It’s our fault. Nobody else’s

10/05/2015, 10:57:47 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Labour lost the election for the same reason that parties always lose elections – mistrust on the economy and leadership.

Defeat turned to utter disaster though following a grossly inept campaign.

As parliament was dissolved at the end of March, for the start of the short campaign, it was clear that Labour was going to lose. Just as it was clear at the start of the year and has been so for a number of years.

For the entirety of the past five years, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls trailed David Cameron and George Osborne in terms of who the public trusted to best manage the economy. At the start of April the deficit was 25%.

Econ lead

And for the entirety of the past five years, Ed Miliband also trailed David Cameron on the public’s preference for prime minister. In April, the average deficit was 15%.

PM lead

Two numbers. 25% and 15%. These are the reasons that Labour was going to lose to the Tories, no matter what type of campaign the party ran.

These are also the reasons that Labour was always going to lose to the SNP in Scotland.

The SNP pitch was only possible because Labour was evidently weak and Nicola Sturgeon could portray her party as the best route to stopping the Tories.

If Labour had been comfortably ahead in England and held the confidence of Scottish voters on the economy and leadership, this would not have been possible.

In the cacophony of polls, statistics and data journalism, this is the signal. All else is noise.

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If Labour has a path to power tomorrow, it must only take it if a stable majority is possible

07/05/2015, 12:59:56 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The worst day in government is better than the best in opposition, or so the aphorism goes.

It’s true.

As Aussie cricketers (who know a thing or two about winning) say, you’ve got to back yourself otherwise what’s the point in playing the game?

But if Labour does find itself in a position to shape the next government, it needs to do so in the right way.

It needs to be clear-eyed about its priorities.

First and foremost, should be stopping the Tories implementing their plans.

If David Cameron remains prime minister and delivers on even one tenth of his barmy promises for spending cuts and unfunded tax cuts he will undo much of the generational improvement to public services achieved by the last Labour government.

Second, should be to form a stable, enduring government.

There is a difference between the two priorities and the first takes precedence over the second.

Nothing would be a greater guarantor of years of opposition than a brief, calamitous interlude in government. A short-lived, fractious Labour administration that falls would ultimately deliver a full-blooded Conservative government with all of the damage that entails.

If Labour has a path to government tomorrow, Ed Miliband needs to test whether he can construct an enduring government. If not, he’ll need to make a difficult choice.

In a scenario where the parliamentary arithmetic means Labour could form a government, the first call Ed Miliband makes should be to the leader of the Lib Dems, even if that’s Nick Clegg. It means setting aside partisan rancour in favour of forging a stable coalition.

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Nationalist thugs in Scotland will boost Scottish Labour’s vote

04/05/2015, 04:38:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Today, Jim Murphy showed why he is a strong leader. Unlike either David Cameron or Ed Miliband, he took his campaign to the streets to meet ordinary voters. It was the type of bold, smart politics that this election has lacked.

It was bold because rather than hiding away behind a lectern, at a ticketed event, protected by a ring of security, Jim Murphy had the courage to stand up and make his case at Glasgow’s St Enoch Square.

He knew that nationalist thugs would be there to shout him down. They always are. That they would try to deny his right to free speech and disrupt a peaceful political gathering.

But still he did it. Because democracy matters and speaking to voters, real people not the adoring activists bussed in for most political rallies, is the lifeblood of politics.

The intimidation and abuse that Jim Murphy experienced were a vivid demonstration of the dark side of Scottish nationalism.

And this is why it was smart, as well as brave, politics.

Media reports of this type of confrontation are more persuasive than any speech by a Scottish Labour politician on the dangers of an unchecked nationalist Raj in Scotland.

Not just for wavering Labour voters, but Tories and Lib Dems too, it shows how freedom of speech, the right to express a pro-union argument or even just a non-nationalist case, is under threat.

To resist the SNP surge, Labour needs the support of Tory and Lib Dem voters. In most Scottish seats, the Tories and Lib Dems don’t stand a chance. The choice is simple: Labour or the SNP. The pictures on today’s news make a powerful case for these voters to lend their votes to Labour to turn back the nationalist tide.

In the final days of this campaign, if Scottish Labour can clearly define itself as the pro-union party, the party that speaks for the 55% who rejected independence in the referendum last year, it can hang on to a swathe of Scottish seats that pollsters have written off.

Seats that the party desperately needs if Ed Miliband is to have any hope of making it into Downing street.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic

02/05/2015, 06:28:36 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut has learned the real reason for Ed Miliband’s sudden night-time visit to Russell Brand’s Shoreditch home: panic caused by the early tallies of postal ballots being fed back to party HQ, from marginals around the country.

Labour is behind and urgently needs to reach out to new voter groups. Russell Brand was a means to that end.

Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.

Although the parties are legally not allowed to tally votes at these events, they all do and the constituency teams then dutifully pass their field intelligence back to HQ.

These are not opinion polls results or canvass returns but actual votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, from across Britain. Numbers have been flowing from each marginal to party strategists to give the most accurate picture of the current state of play.

Labour insiders familiar with the latest figures have told Uncut that the picture for Labour in marginal seats, where it is fighting the Tories, is almost uniformly grim.

Seats that canvass returns had suggested were strong prospects for gains are much more finely balanced and those that were close are swinging heavily to the Tories.

The tartan scare is working with the fear of McLabour shifting large numbers of wavering Lib Dems and Ukippers into the Tory column.

National opinion polls and Lord Ashcroft’s last swathe of constituency polling have seemed to indicate a shift towards the Tories recently, but Labour insiders say the effect on the ground in marginals is much bigger than picked up in polls so far.

Labour has already squeezed the Greens as much as possible for votes, and is coming up short. Despite a superior get-out-the-vote operation primed and ready for next Thursday, Labour cannot bridge the gap by organisation alone.

With just a few days to go until the election, Labour desperately needs new voters.

This is why Ed Miliband suddenly changed his plans and went to Russell Brand’s home to be interviewed.

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