Posts Tagged ‘General Election’

Expectations for Labour are high. Policy is the way for Jeremy Corbyn to meet them

28/06/2017, 10:36:47 PM

by Andy Howell

So, the deal with the DUP is well and truly in place. Tonight its MPs dutifully trooped through the lobbies with the Tories, blocking a Labour amendment to scrap the public sector pay cap. The deal buys May and Tories time although just how much will remain to be seen. It seems designed to last for two years by which point Tory optimists hope that a decent Brexit deal has been finalised. However, as always, political events do not aways go to plan and it is quite possible that this government will not last to the end of the negotiation period.

Corbyn is right to continue to make the case that Labour is ready to form a government at any time. At Glastonbury it is reported that he told organiser Michael Eavis that he could be Prime Minister within six months. This is not just a fanciful boast. The conference season will be a major test for May. If she continues to make the wrong choices, continues to appear wooden and inhumane and — critically — continues to be a subject for ridicule then the end could be quick.

In such a climate Labour’s biggest problem may well be the temptation to sit back and rely on its current campaign strategy and manifesto. At the moment both strategy and manifesto look to be effective but time always changes the context in which both must sit. The more that Corbyn is seen as a credible Prime Minister, indeed as the likely next Prime Minister, the bigger the challenge he faces in fleshing out the manifesto and in beginning to address detail.

Take one of the issues that devastated the Tory campaign plan, social care. The electorate was spooked by the Tory manifesto programme and singularly unimpressed by a series of subsequent U-Turns. Everyone in this country knows we face major challenges in this area. If we are not yet thinking personally about our own social care we will have parents and grandparents who, today, face the future with a great deal of uncertainty and fear. As we get closer to becoming a Party of government it will not bee enough for us to simply talk about more cash, we will have to spell out how and where we will make our investments. It might be acceptable — in a political campaign — to simply call for a new Social Care Service but it is clear that we might form the next government the health and social care sectors will look for more detail and will expect to be able to enter into a real dialogue with the opposition about the future.

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A progressive alliance makes sense for by-elections, not the general election

06/12/2016, 06:05:01 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The Richmond by-election on November 30th was a welcome victory despite the poor Labour showing. In Richmond I would have voted Lib Dem, to defeat a Tory-UKIP backed candidate. Tim Farron claimed the Lib Dems are back, but there are a string of Liberal by election victories back to Orpington (1962) which proved false. Richmond does however put support for the Compass advocated progressive alliance strategy back on the agenda. Labour ignores this at its peril though beyond by-elections the strategy is questionable.

Richmond demonstrates that Brexit now dominates UK politics. Given that Richmond was heavily for Remain, and the allegedly independent Zac Goldsmith was Brexit, he was headed for a fall.

However there are seats in which the electorate are heavily pro Brexit, and there UKIP may do well. Labour is vulnerable, UKIP being second in 41 Labour seats. It is as possible that a UKIP surge can happen in Labour heartlands, and also in Tory seats where a hard Brexit appeal may grow as the failure of May to deliver has an impact. The longer the negotiations take the more political culture will be poisoned.

Labour failed to have by-election strategy in Richmond, linked to its lack of clarity over Brexit.

Corbyn’s strategy of not opposing Brexit but calling for scrutiny of a deal is too close to Blairite triangulation for comfort. Owen Smith’s call for a second referendum is principled, but the challenge of a second referendum would be considerable. However it is less risky than an election which could devastate Labour for years to come.

While May is unlikely to call a general election immediately, a parliamentary blocking approach can trigger an election rather than a second referendum. If this were to happen the Progressive Alliance needs to be scrutinised. As a by-election tactic it is relevant. But a general election is a different matter.
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Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s Donald Trump. The Republicans are showing us what not to do with a disastrous leader

09/06/2016, 11:06:20 PM

by Samuel Dale

Every Republican in the United States is being asked a very simple question that must be answered: will you vote for Donald Trump as president?

There are four approaches. First, total support as we have seen from Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Secondly, qualified support as shown by Paul Ryan, John McCain and others who are holding their nose and voting for Trump out of party loyalty.

Thirdly, abstention and neutrality as backed by both former President Bushes, Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham and others. Finally, outright rejection which is not currently a popular view but is backed by Colin Powell and other Republican mavericks.

These are the four choices that Labour members will face in 2020 when they are asked the same question: will you vote for Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister?

The Republican mess is a useful guide for how Labour members can handle the Corbyn nightmare in 2020 and how not to handle it.

1. Total support

Christie, Rubio and Carson look like the shameless job-hungry careerists that they are. They spent months claiming Trump was totally unfit to be President – not in the normal primary knockabout but seriously unfit to hold office.

There will be Labour total supporters come 2020 who fear for their role in the party if they show disloyalty to Corbyn such is his grassroots support.

This is the road to disaster. Members and MPs should think about the long-term future of Britain and how to install a centre-left government. Blindly backing Corbyn will taint supporters and the party for decades to comes, just as it will for some Republicans. Differences must be made clear.

2. Qualified support

This is perhaps the worst approach of all. Paul Ryan set out a seemingly sensible idea of being a critical friend of Trump, calling him out where needed and pushing his own conservative agenda.

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Labour’s got a problem in the South Wales valleys

07/06/2016, 10:22:16 PM

by Leighton Andrews

The success of Labour’s overall campaign in Wales on 5 May should not blind us to the challenges underneath. We may have retained 29 seats, losing only one, and maintained our position as by far the largest party in Wales, but overall, our Wales-wide vote fell by nearly 8 percent compared with 2011 – but was also lower than any national election since 1918.

Our national campaign worked brilliantly against the Tories, who had taken seats from us in the UK general election the year before. Against Plaid, not at all. The situation in the valleys is particularly troubling, and became obvious in 3 valleys seats in particular in 2016 – the Rhondda, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent. I am grateful to my colleagues Alun Davies AM and Hefin David AM, and to Peter Hain, for our discussions of the common factors.

These seats throw out clear warnings for Labour in the valleys, and there are wider lessons which need to be learned by the party. The swing against Labour in Blaenau Gwent was higher than the swing against Labour in the Rhondda. In Caerphilly, the Plaid vote was concentrated in the south of the constituency, UKIP was strong all over – but the split opposition saved the seat. Meanwhile, to the West, in Neath, Labour lost a significant proportion of votes to UKIP.

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For too many working and middle class voters, Labour doesn’t value aspiration. This needs to change.

30/12/2013, 12:57:12 PM

by Renie Anjeh

Various theories are doing the rounds at the moment about why Labour is not performing as well as it should.  On the left of the party, they bemoan the fact that Labour is not nearly as leftwing as they think it should be.  On the right of the party, there is much concern about the party’s lack of credibility on the economy.   The left-wing Labour Representation Committee would argue that nationalising everything from the energy companies to children’s Christmas presents will deliver a crucial victory in 2015.  Progress would think otherwise (and rightly so).  But I still think that we have not asked a very important question.  Are we really standing up for all working class and middle class people?

During the Mayoral election in 2012, I canvassed a middle aged couple in Ilford who were less than pleased when they saw my ‘vote Labour’ sticker.  They worked hard all their lives and played by the rules but they didn’t think that we were on their side.  They felt that the odds were stacked against them and that we had no answers.  To them, we were completely out of touch with their aspirations and their concerns.

Unfortunately, people like the couple in Ilford have become objects of incomprehension at best, or derision at worst, for too many in our movement.  The idea that we should give them as much focus to as we give to the bedroom tax, is an anathema to some on the Left.

Part of the reason why Labour lost power is that we were seen to be a party exclusively for special interest groups such as public sector workers, single parents, immigrants and benefit claimants not a party for the generality of working class and middle class people.

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Phil Woolas sets the record straight to his CLP

22/09/2010, 03:53:09 PM

Phil Woolas

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Was David Miliband marauding before the gun was fired?

24/08/2010, 05:26:20 PM

THERE was an intriguing little tale in last week’s Independent diary. It’s a story that has been doing the rounds for a while. The question was whether or not David Miliband was running a “shadow” leadership campaign during the general election, when everyone else’s noses were firmly pressed against the grindstone.

The Indy reckons it has proof that Miliband Major was buttering up Labour members in safe seats rather than knuckling down to campaign in nearby marginals. The paper seems to have a copy of his campaign itinerary from 25 April that shows the then foreign secretary touring Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton South East and Manchester Withington, meeting “members and supporters” rather than actual voters.

Miliband’s people say the story is “absolute rubbish” claiming that the itinerary “was put together by the Labour party for David to follow, which he did.” Which is slightly strange. Why would the party put one of the best known faces in the government into safe seats rather than marginal ones? Senior members of the cabinet don’t get told where they must go. Most are willing to go with the flow, but some make demands that would make J-Lo blush. (more…)

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Welsh Labour’s quiet victory

22/08/2010, 11:00:36 AM

Welsh Labour entered the 2010 General Election with common expectation it would get a kicking. With 29 out of 40 seats in Wales held by Labour there was clearly only one place to go, and that was down. However, as the campaign wore on more and more Labour sources made it clear to me it wouldn’t be as bad as was being suggested. And they were right. Despite multiple vulnerabilities, Labour in Wales held on to 26 seats. Even more amazingly, Labour did it in Wales on 36% of the vote – a full 1.5% down on the calamity of the 1983 election result. 

One of the major things that saved Labour was the inability of the Conservatives to take medium range targets in Wales. Thus Labour held urban targets like Newport West and Bridgend with more comfort than had been speculated. There was certainly a swing against Labour, but the party machine was in much better fettle than it had been for several years. In the local elections of 2008 and the Euro election of 2009 Labour’s collapse was sharper in Wales than in other parts of the UK. That was not true in 2010 – Welsh Labour did leagues better than its English counterpart. 

Look no further than Blaenau Gwent to prove this point. In 2005 Labour lost its once safest seat in a bloody and brutal scrap with People’s Voice, formed when the late Peter Law broke with the Labour Party over all women shortlists. In the 2006 by-election cause by Peter’s death and in the Assembly election of 2007 Labour was soundly beaten; while in 2008 it lost control of the local authority for the first time ever. This year the rot wasn’t just stopped, it was reversed in stunning fashion. Incumbent People’s Voice MP Dai Davies got under 20% of the vote and Blaenau Gwent – the seat once held by Michael Foot and Nye Bevan – returned to Labour with a 10,000+ majority for Nick Smith MP and a bloody nose for his opponent. Last week People’s Voice announced it was being disbanded. Game, set and match to the red quarter. 

Blaenau Gwent may have been the most stunning illustration of Labour effectiveness, but it was also mirrored in holding the Liberal Democrats in bay in Swansea West and Newport East, keeping the Conservatives out of the Vale of Clwyd and Delyn, and stopping Plaid Cymru in their tracks in Llanelli and Aberconwy.  

Why did this happen? I’d suggest three factors played a role. One was Peter Hain. His persistent message of saving Wales from the Tories may have grated with the other parties, but it obviously worked with the electors from Gower to Cardiff West to Clwyd South. He repeated the mantra as a constant and his message was simple and, quite simply, plausible to the electorate.  

Secondly, Labour had used the previous six months to overhaul its operation and deploy its resources – and by damn they are more scarce than in the past – to best effect. A new communications team made a real impact. Assembly Members and MPs worked together more effectively than in the past, too, and there almost a sense of popular resistance to the trends the polls were showing. At its best the Welsh Labour machine is a tank regiment and, though the machinery has shown significant rust and decay, in the heat of battle it is still the mightiest political army in Wales. In May Welsh Labour found the form that in 2001 allowed it to lose 200,000 votes across Wales but shed no seats. 

The third reason? Labour is the luckiest party in Wales. End of. 

Daran Hill is an independent political consultant who runs Positif Politics. He is a Trustee of the Bevan Foundation and a co-editor of www.waleshome.org, the leading Welsh political website.

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Julia Gillard has got what it takes to win, writes Sue Regan

19/07/2010, 05:40:40 PM

The Australian federal election campaign is already proving to be a hard fought contest. Australian elections tend to be volatile and unpredictable and it is far from certain who will come out on top on 21st August. But it does look increasingly promising that the current Labor government could be returned to power – a prospect highly unlikely less than a month ago. So what’s changed? Two bold moves have pushed Labor’s poll ratings from the doldrums to an election winning (just) lead.

The first move was a change of leader. On 24th June, Kevin Rudd, the then Prime Minister resigned in the knowledge that he had fatally lost the support of the parliamentary Labor party, the Labor caucus. Julia Gillard, the then deputy prime minister, stepped up and became Australia’s first female prime minister. It was the first time the Labor caucus had removed a leader in their first term as prime minister. The move was rapid, certainly ruthless and many would say premature. Polling released the day after the coup suggest Rudd could have won the coming election. But most commentators agree that the poll lead now enjoyed by Labor is the result of the Gillard-factor.

Julia Gillard (born in Wales and citing Nye Bevan as one of her political heroes) commands wide public support. Tony Abbot (most famously known for his choice of swimwear) is the leader of the opposition (a coalition between the Liberals and the smaller National Party) and consistently lags in double figures behind Gillard in ‘preferred prime minister’ polling. 

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Ignore the bookies, the Australian election will be a close run thing says Tom Cameron

19/07/2010, 05:36:36 PM

For the first time ever an Australian Prime Minister who’s not a bloke has taken the charming five minute drive from Parliament House to the Canberra residence of the Governor General and advised the Queen’s representative of a Federal election date.  That in itself is a terrific thing. 

Interestingly, for the first time since 1993 neither of the two main party leaders – Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott – have previously faced the people in their bid to become the nation’s leader.  It’s also unprecedented that a Prime Minister has challenged and successfully deposed their first term colleague as party leader and sought their own mandate from the people only a few weeks after such a coup. 

And this coming contest will be only the second August election in Australia’s history, the last being back in the 1940s.  So there are quite a few rarities on offer in this 2010 Federal election, but not nearly so many predictabilities. 

If there is one tried and tested way to smartly pick Australian election results at the start of the campaign, it would be to check the bookies odds.  Rarely if ever do the punters end up getting it wrong.  So it is some surprise to concentrate one’s attention Down Under now and find not just a swiftly changed political landscape of the post-Rudd type, but an election scene that the book makers believe Labour will dominate. 

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