Posts Tagged ‘election’

With her opponents scattered, will Theresa May now call a snap election?

03/08/2016, 04:50:11 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Has British politics ever been more unpredictable, or, frankly, ever been this loopy?

The UKIP national executive committee’s decision to keep Steven Woolfe off the leadership ballot now plunges UKIP into a dark pit of recrimination.

It’s getting crowded down there, with Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith slugging it out for the soul of the Labour party.

And with the Liberal Democrats still recovering from the wounds they suffered as part of the coalition government, the Opposition in British politics has never looked weaker.

Of course, there is only one winner.

Theresa May now utterly dominates British politics.

To be sure, it’s not an outcome she has not had to work for, finding herself the fortunate beneficiary of a sequence of events no-one could have plausibly predicted just a few weeks ago.

Brexit, Cameron’s departure and Labour’s ongoing feud have provided her with an embarrassment of riches, even if she has to pick up the tricky issue of Britain’s exit from the EU.

She is unassailable in her own party, having been smart enough not to get her stilettos dirty during the referendum campaign, while her reputation for cautious competence chimes with the mood of the public that now wants an adult in charge of the country.

But there is still the hard politics to consider and never before can the temptation to call a snap general election have weighed more heavily.

In one swift, brutal move, Theresa May could wipe out her opponents and win her own mandate for the changes she seeks to make.

No longer the caretaker, picking up the pieces from Cameron’s messy political implosion, she could single-handedly reshape the political landscape, guaranteeing a decade of Conservative hegemony.

Who can stop her? Tim Farron has made no impact, Jeremy Corbyn has the worst polling figures in history and UKIP looks like to split off into factions.

Perhaps she will wait for post-Brexit nerves to stop jangling after this summer of political madness, but by the autumn Theresa May will have to confront the open goal before her and decide whether or not to seize a historic victory.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Left-wing populism is not the answer for Labour

07/05/2014, 10:51:28 AM

by Renie Anjeh

Energy price freeze, scrapping the bedroom tax, rent controls, 50p tax rate – all part of Labour’s offer to the British people next year.  No more Old Labour, definitely no more New Labour – it’s all about Radical Labour.

The party is beginning to set out its popular, and increasingly populist, stall for the British electorate in the run up to the election next year.  Those who are arguing for Labour to ‘shrink the offer’, are losing the internal debate in the party – the radicals have come out on top.  It’s unsurprising that there are those who want the party to go even further by promising to renationalise the railways, introduce a graduate tax, abolish zero-hour contracts and borrow more to pay for spending commitments.  However, this strategy could hinder, rather than help, the Labour party.

Look at the Tories in Opposition. In 2001 and 2005, both William Hague and Michael Howard championed rightwing populism.  Hague – a fervent Eurosceptic – campaigned against the prospect of Britain joining the euro, saying that there were ‘twelve days to keep the pound’.  Although his policy on the euro was undoubtedly very popular, Hague lost the election and became the first Tory leader not to become Prime Minister.

Howard, having given up on his early attempts to modernise the Conservative party, campaigned on tougher controls on immigration, a tough stance on crime, more stringent discipline in schools and lower taxes.  These policies were also very popular with the public but he lost the 2005 election.

This was partly because the Tories were simply not trusted with public services, they looked uncomfortable with modern Britain and people felt that some of its policies reinforced the ‘nasty party’ label.

Labour’s critical weaknesses are on the economy, welfare and leadership and if the party fails to address these issues then, like the Tories in 2001 and 2005, it could end up in opposition for another five years.

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Labour history uncut: The day the Labour party nearly died

06/09/2013, 05:03:24 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

Parliament dissolved on October 7th 1931 in preparation for an election on the 27th.

It was hard to believe the national government had been formed just six weeks earlier. At that time, Ramsay Macdonald had promised his shocked Labour colleagues that there would be no coupons or pacts when the election came.

Now he slowly opened up his card to reveal… “Bluff.”

The national government resolved to stand as a single unit. Expelled from the Labour party, Macdonald, Philip Snowden, Jimmy Thomas and the other Labour defectors readied themselves for a contest where they would fight the colleagues they had once worked so hard to support.

Ramsay Macdonald’s spoke softly and carried a big stick – for beating off angry Labour voters

Alongside them were the other members of the polyglot coalition. This national government had determined to go into the election asking for a “doctor’s mandate,” a request to be given a free hand to deal with the nation’s ills as they saw fit.

As a pitch, there were some obvious flaws.

The first was that the one significant prescription this national government had offered during the currency crisis, to try to stay on the gold standard at all costs, had proved catastrophically wrong.

But worse, now the gold standard had been abandoned, on the question of the economy, the three squabbling parties could not agree on the nation’s illness, let alone the cure.

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Labour’s change curve

28/09/2011, 03:30:53 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Originally conceived by psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969, the change curve was formulated as a way to understand how people cope with catastrophic loss or terminal illness.

You get where this is going.

Subsequently, it emerged that the change curve accurately described the stages an individual or an organisation go through when they experience profound change. If you’ve been through a big change management programme at work, chances are, this will have played a big role in shaping it.

Defeat at the general election was as big a shock to the system as Labour has ever experienced. Since then, the party has recongnisably gone through the initial stages of the curve. Numbness, denial, fear and anger are all emotions the party has displayed in the past fifteen months.

This week, as Labour has gathered in Liverpool, the curve crystallises a sense I’ve had for a while and explains some of what the party seems to be feeling.

There’s been a curious insouciance about Labour this conference. The rules of political gravity appear to have been somehow suspended.

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Come on candidates, let’s hear what you’ve got

31/07/2010, 03:16:45 PM

For those readers old enough to have attended a concert given by a proper ‘rock band’, you will be familiar with the role of a ‘roadie’. As well as lumping around heavy musical equipment, obtaining narcotics for the band and procuring groupies for the purposes of sexual gratification, their more mundane task is to make sure the band’s guitars are in tune.
 
With not long of the Labour Leadership World Tour to go, some of our prospective lead singers could do with a good roadie. Not to fulfill the more unseemly aspects of their job description you understand; but to fine-tune candidates’ rhetorical stratocasters. Because I don’t know about you, but my ears are starting to hurt a bit.  
 
Can I make a suggestion? Can we just take it as read that all candidates in this leadership contest are motivated by their “values.” That they all want to “reconnect”. That they are all committed to “renewal” and “fairness”. And that they all want to “listen?”

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Friday News Review

02/07/2010, 07:05:49 AM

The candidates

Andy Burnham calls for Labour to be the party of "aspirational socialism"

Andy Burnham today calls for Labour to exhume its socialist roots and become the party of “aspirational socialism”, running on ideas that include the large-scale purchase of private accommodation by councils. He also redoubles his campaign for a 10% inheritance tax on estates to pay retrospectively for care in later life, which is aimed at swing voters in the south.” – The Guardian

“This week, Ed Miliband backed the idea of extending the right to request flexible working to “every worker, not just those caring for families”. This is an idea first proposed in 2007 by Beverley Hughes. Back then, Hughes argued that “everyone has a life outside work, not just parents . . . many people make valuable contributions to their communities in their non-work time”. When you read that quotation now it feels like a “big society” argument, yet the coalition is going in the other direction.” – The New Statesman

“This week Ed Miliband put a revived “21st-century social democracy” at the heart of his own leadership campaign. Miliband has always seen himself as a social democrat, even in the years when the term was almost as unfashionable as socialism in Labour circles, and in this week’s speech he called on his party to “turn the page on New Labour orthodoxy”, with a different kind of economic model based around industrial policy, stronger regulation and the promotion of “responsibility” in the boardroom.” –The Guardian

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The Diane Abbott interview

09/06/2010, 01:05:45 PM

UPDATE: Diane Abbott has secured 33 nominations and will be on the Labour leadership ballot paper.

This was the second in our series of crowdsourced interviews with the leadership contenders.

Diane spoke to us last night at her office in Westminster, where everyone was keenly monitoring her leadership support with hours left until nominations closed.

She was completely unphased by your questions, which included her son’s private education, the demographic of her leadership opponents and how much she is paid by the BBC.

Q. (From Derek) You and John McDonnell both have solid socialist credentials, but isn’t there a danger that in standing you will split the left vote? I don’t really want the wishy washy alternative of the other 4 candidates. What are your thoughts?

A. There always was a tendency to say that if women stood it split the vote. I think that there is the politics that I’m on the left, and have as good a voting record on left wing issues as John McDonnell, but there’s another issue which is about gender.  It’s not so much that I stood against John, but that John stood against me.

Q. John McDonnell’s come out and said that if it means getting a woman on the ballot, he’ll stand down. In that case, do you wish he’d never stood in the first place?

A. I think it would have been easier if he hadn’t stood. If he was committed to gender issues it would have been easier if he hadn’t. Initially, it was very difficult for either of us to gain momentum. If there’d been just one of us standing then that person would have gained momentum much quicker. (more…)

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How the ward was won: Paul Cotterill

09/06/2010, 10:48:36 AM

In the district elections of 2007, a team of just four activists helped to secure a Labour victory within a safe rural Tory seat never before held by Labour. We saw a 44% increase in the Labour vote since the last time the seat was contested in 2003.

It would be easy to be overly triumphant, and to make claims that ‘all local campaigns should be run like this’.  In fact, we followed the general campaigning guidance issued from the Labour party centrally and regionally. But we do believe that other specific lessons might be learned from what we managed to achieve.

First, we had a different approach to the press. The standard Labour campaigning message is that all opportunities to raise the profile of the party, and especially the candidate in the local press should be seized.  In the Bickerstaffe campaign this was not done, and there were no press releases or calls to the press of any kind.

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Tuesday News Review

08/06/2010, 08:27:13 AM

The debate begins

“During the first major hustings event for the candidates vying to succeed Gordon Brown, Mr Burnham went further

The hopefulls debate at the GMB

 than before in distancing himself from the “top-down” approach of Tony Blair and Mr Brown. In a symbolic break with the New Labour years, both Mr Burnham and Ed Miliband suggested they would not have Lord Mandelson in their shadow cabinets.” – The Independent

“The Miliband brothers took different approaches in a grilling by union members at the first hustings of the Labour  leadership contest. David risked anger by rejecting calls for a repeal of industrial action laws. “If we return to being a party that says secondary picketing is back and balloting is out, you can kiss goodbye to another Labour government,” he said. But younger brother Ed promised the GMB-hosted debate in Southport, Merseyside, that if elected leader he will work more closely with unions.” – The Mirror

“The potential left contribution is not just about sharpening the style of Labour’s centre-right, but also enriching the party’s substance. There are issues where – as Dr Seuss could have written – the left is right, and the right wrong.” – The Guardian

“The meeting came after five of the hopefuls made their case to the GMB union at a hustings which saw Mr McDonnell win loud applause by attacking Margaret Thatcher’s cuts in the 1980s. However, some observers thought he blotted his copybook by quipping that he would like to travel back in time to “assassinate” the former Tory premier. He later insisted that this was a joke.” – Press Association

The Candidates

“There’s been a lot of attention on Ed Balls over the past couple of days as nominations for the Labour leadership are about to close and the race proper will begin. The big news from the former was his readiness to criticise Brown, his former mentor, while he had an assured performance in the latter” – Political Betting

“There’s been a lot said about Ed Balls’ Observer piece on immigration. But the most striking thing about it to my mind is that it shows that Balls has made the transition to an opposition mindset.” – The Spectator

“Supporters of Diane Abbott are urging fellow backbencher MP John McDonnell to stand down from the Labour leadership race to give the left a greater chance of having a candidate on the final ballot.” – The Guardian

“If Labour’s hopefuls are ever to make amends, it won’t be by playing to imagined prejudice and falling back on the surly, inward-looking populism of the immigration debate. The bitter truth about the last election is that voting for the people’s party became the luxury of the affluent. Now, with an age of unrest dawning, Labour will never win back the trust of the fearful by whipping up the politics of fear.” – The Telegraph

Cameron fast and loose with the facts

Cameron "disingenuous at best"

“Cameron is quite right to reduce the figures to a scale and proportion which means something to the ordinary taxpayer; but he’s treating us like fools to pretend that this figure of £70bn is some sort of deep, dark secret which the last government was trying to hide.” – The Independent

“Now that the new UK government is bedding in and getting ready to unleash austerity upon us, I thought I’d quickly look back at the last Labour government and tell you something that you won’t want to hear: the last Chancellor Alistair Darling did a very good job.Investment Week

“To somehow claim that he’s opened the books and found things worse than he thought, that’s nonsense. This is a classic case of the new Government blaming the last government in order to pave the way for things the Tories had always wanted to do, this time getting the Liberals to front it up for them.” Alistair Darling, World at One

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The Ed Balls interview

27/05/2010, 12:07:36 PM

Labour Uncut interviewed Ed Balls on Tuesday evening.  We couldn’t ask all the questions you submitted.  There were far too many.  We gave Ed the option of whether or not to answer questions – in this Labour leadership interview – from people who clearly weren’t Labour members or supporters.  He chose to answer, and we’ve included several.

Ed’s is the first of our leadership candidate interviews.  We were impressed by his focus and presence.  It will be great if the rest are as good.

Q. (From Alex R) When the leadership candidates say that they were guilty of ‘not listening’ enough in the last government, how and why were you not listening? What steps would you take to listen sufficiently if you had another opportunity?

A. I think our problems about not listening started much earlier than the last Parliament. I think one of the great frustrations that we had in the election campaign, and in my case the year before, was that many of the things people were upset about, like public housing, the impact of unskilled immigration on terms and conditions, the obstacle of upfront tuition fees for young people going to university – these were issues we’d actually addressed.  We’d put in place controls on immigration; John Healy was leading a big expansion on public housing; we’d got rid of upfront tuition fees.  But the public weren’t hearing at that time what we were saying and it takes time for policy decisions to feed through to the reality of peoples lives.

I think the truth is that the time when we weren’t listening enough was probably during the second term in Government.  My election campaign for the last 18 months has been all about repeated public meetings, listening to people and their issues – and lots of other MPs who were successful in their campaigns did the same thing in this last couple of years.  If we’d been doing that five years earlier we’d have made different and better policy decisions at an earlier stage.

So your politics can’t be about telling communities what you’ve concluded; it’s got to be about asking them, listening to the voices of people who need us on their side and responding.  That’s what I mean by listening. (more…)

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