Posts Tagged ‘deselection’

Progress has been a force for good and the party needs it

03/07/2017, 10:15:14 PM

by Rob Marchant

Ten days ago it was announced that Progress, the centre-left pressure group within the Labour party, would cease to be funded by its patron for over a decade, Lord Sainsbury.

Progress has always been the part of the party most in tune with the British public, rather than Labour members or supporters, and has been unafraid to challenge Labour to engage with new voters, rather than preach to the converted.

It has therefore, as one might imagine, had a somewhat tough time since the party’s return to opposition and its gradual move to the left since that point. During the Miliband era, it continued to push quietly but firmly towards the centre, providing a useful ballast creeping “hullo clouds, hullo sky” impossiblism of the party’s then leadership.

However, even during that era, it was under attack: Miliband’s appeasement of the increasingly militant Unite union required the organisation in 2012 to take measures to defend itself against those, like Unite’s leader Len McCluskey, who accused it of “manipulations” and who would happily see it severed from the party body politic.

Eventually, even Miliband stood up to Len McCluskey after the Falkirk selection debacle; but by mis-specifying the solution, he lost. Unite saw its chance, in Miliband’s adoption of a US-style primary to select its leader, to push the party in its direction. The result was the election of an outside candidate which the PLP did not want and a resulting influx of new, Corbyn-supporting members who have by now displaced many of the old-timers.

The resulting onset of the Corbyn years saw, rightly, an even more robust defence of centrist politics from Progress, presumably on the grounds that, faced with a hard-left leadership, attack was the best form of defence.

(more…)

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Government doubles down on boundary review proposals. Labour’s problems just got worse

11/02/2016, 02:13:42 PM

by Greig Baker

Sometimes when my 4yr old gets told off, she misbehaves even more – thinking that if she’s in trouble already, she might as well go the whole hog. The government has taken the same approach in its boundary review for Parliamentary constituencies. The Cabinet Office’s newly published details show the government is not looking to compromise. Instead, it is upping the ante, in the hope that while many of its own backbenchers will be unhappy, the reforms are an even bigger problem for Labour – and one that, perversely, the Labour leadership might be quite happy to have.

The politics to the boundary changes is threefold…

First, the government is sticking with a maximum 5% variance in constituency size, above or below the average, which means a greater number of seats will change. This makes it more likely Cameron will stay on for as long as possible, so that he takes the flack for the reforms and leaves his successor to smooth ruffled Tory feathers. It’s also the reason Corbyn might welcome the review, as it lets his team get cracking with deselecting more of those pesky, voter-friendly, centrist Labour MPs.

Second, and vitally, the reforms will be based on the number of voters actually on the electoral register – not the local population. This is a major disadvantage for Labour and will be one of the government’s sweeteners for angry Conservative MPs.

And the third factor is probably the one the ‘essay crisis’ Prime Minister has paid least attention to – the government admits the boundary reforms will unbalance the cross-community representation in Westminster currently offered by Northern Irish MPs. Without knowing exactly what the new Northern Irish constituencies will look like, the government could be risking its relationship with unionists here, which is no small beer given the precarious nature of a Parliamentary majority that only just scrapes into double figures.

In the next 24 months we’ll find out whether these proposals are workable, or if the government has just consigned itself to the naughty step.

Greig Baker is Chief Executive at The GUIDE Consultancy

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Will Corbyn show Danczuk mercy?

01/01/2016, 01:18:39 PM

There has been a phoney war going on in the Labour party for a few months now.

Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly stresses that he has no hidden agenda when it comes to the deselection of MPs on the right of the party.

To put it bluntly, no-one on the right of the party believes him for a minute.

Leopards do not change their spots, goes the theory, and the hard left is as obsessed about sectarianism and party control as it ever was.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell attended a meeting of the Momentum group last month where the deselection of Chuka Umunna was openly discussed.

Meanwhile, the clumsy briefing about a New Year shadow cabinet reshuffle, with the demotion or sacking of Corbyn’s critics, notably the widely-liked and respected Hilary Benn, has done little to assuage centrists that the leadership isn’t coming after them.

An act of magnanimity towards Danczuk, one of his most vocal foes, would be a visible manifestation that Corbyn actually means what he says about tolerating differences of opinion.

Needless to say, though, some leadership acolytes can’t disguise their jubilation at Danczuk’s predicament. Enter Ken Livingstone:

“I just find it so bizarre because he [Danczuk] put himself at the centre of the investigation into sex abuse of young girls and so on in his area, to have fallen into this, I find it hard to believe. I can’t say too much because I’m on Labour’s NEC and might have to take the final decision about whether he’s allowed to resume his party membership or whether we expel him.

“I don’t see how you can be sexually attracted to somebody that young, there’s something really disturbing [about it].”

Is he acting as an outrider for Corbyn? If so, the leadership should be careful about prurience being the reason for sacking one of their MPs.

Having threatened to stand against Corbyn as a stalking horse in the event of poor elections results in May’s Scottish, Welsh, London and local elections, Danczuk now finds himself at the mercy of his leader.

The smart move by Corbyn would be to admonish him for his recklessness and quietly drop the suspension and readmit him. He has broken no law and if sending a few racy tweets to a fellow consenting adult is now a capital offence in Labour politics, there will be plenty more MPs following Danczuk out of the exit door.

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