Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Reed MP’

Uncut predictions for 2017: Labour to hold Copeland if it goes local

03/01/2017, 10:14:15 PM

It takes six hours to drive from London to the West Cumbrian seat of Copeland. About the same time it takes to fly from Heathrow to Rome. And back.

After eleven years of tortuous commuting, Labour’s Jamie Reed is calling it a day, announcing his retirement from Parliament before Christmas.

Distance matters in this by-election.

Copeland is a long way from Westminster, physically and culturally. This almost exclusively White, working class and heavily unionised seat has been loyal to Labour for generations.

It is competitive, yes, with Reed winning in 2015 by just 2,564 votes over the Tories, but it’s still a realistic prospect for the party.

Despite talk of the Tories grabbing it, it remains Labour’s to lose.

And the party still has some advantages to exploit.

Good organisation and grassroots support matters in by-elections held in wet winter months.

It seems unlikely the by-election will be held over for five months until May’s county council elections, so that means each party trudging the highways and byways of Copeland (and there are rather a lot of them) in the cold wet evenings of January and February, with voters loathe to open the door.

It also means street stalls are a wash-put and bussing up activists is costly, with few enough volunteers willing to make the epic journey.

The weekly Whitehaven News will only report so many key campaigner visits, so despatching half the Cabinet up there to accrue little or no media coverage becomes a pointless task.

Everyone will struggle with their ground game.

What matters, then, is having existing relationships with the voters and it is here where Labour has some cards to play.

If the party picks a decent local candidate (preferably someone working at nearby Sellafield, the biggest employer in the area) and runs a relentlessly local campaign utilising its existing voter contact, it has a good chance of holding the seat.

It’s easier for Labour to build on its existing support than it is for the Tories and Ukip to make inroads in the time available.

As a Cumbrian MP himself, Tim Farron will probably judge Copeland a bridge too far for the Liberal Democrats (who came a distant fourth in 2015). A weak Lib Dem effort would help shore up Labour’s vote.

So call the by-election early and make the other parties feel the disadvantages of distance, weather and terrain.

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The big week uncut: what next?

03/10/2010, 02:00:39 PM

As Dan Hodges noted in Friday’s column (below), Labour reached the end of a long road in Manchester. If anyone needed closure on the New Labour project, we had it last week.

It was a journey which had begun where it ended: at Labour party conference.

Neil Kinnock’s 1985 speech in Brighton marked the start of a fight back which took 12 years to come to fruition and 13 more to end in failure.

Neil was the father of New Labour, but he was never part of it. With the passion that he showed in that brave and beautiful speech, he knew that we needed it. But he wished we didn’t. He would have preferred it the old way. By the end, he even knew that what we needed wasn’t him. (Just as he knew that it wasn’t John Smith either). But he could only be himself.

That is why he is so attached to Ed, who isn’t New Labour either. Ed was a contented but never ideologically committed member of the outer circle. He often notes that he wasn’t factional. This was helped by his not being political either.

There is nothing new or unusual here. Blair and Brown, for instance, were fellow travellers in Peter Hain’s Tribune group during the 1980s. It was a necessary accommodation with the prevailing orthodoxy.

Nor is it a weak position. It was Stalin who issued the Blairite dictum that “theory guides practice, but practice is the criterion of ideological truth”. And, whatever he was, Stalin was not weak.

Ed Miliband’s ruthlessness is beyond question. If he has a lack which comes to seem weak, it will be consistency, not cruelty.

Many whom one would call New Labour or old right very actively campaigned for Ed Miliband. And it is those influential individuals, not the facile nebula that is the term ‘the unions’, who are mainly responsible for Ed Miliband’s victory.

Which term (responsible) is apt in two senses: both cause and obligation.

So it is to them, as much as to Ed himself – and to his brother staked out in Primrose Hill-les-Deux-Eglises – that we pose the week’s overwhelming question: after New Labour, after permanent revolution and endless victory, what next?

Jonathan Todd warns of Osborne’s traps on the economy

David Prescott on David Miliband’s big speech

Kevin Meagher looks at the new leader’s in tray

Siôn Simon sketches Ed Miliband’s big speech

Peter Watt says the last thing we need is a membership drive

Jamie Reed MP looks beyond London for the shadow cabinet

Dan Hodges responds to Labour’s extraordinary week in Manchester

Sunder Katwala on Labour’s top baron: BAME voting in the leadership election

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