Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

Corbyn’s comments on the IRA are being scandalously overplayed – but he needs to get this behind him

22/05/2017, 10:19:40 PM

by Kevin Meagher

What on earth does Jeremy Corbyn think he’s doing? Claiming Sinn Fein showed ‘courage in abundance’ and that Martin McGuinness made an ‘essential and historic contribution’ to peace in Northern Ireland? Does he not understand how that goes down with voters?

Of course Corbyn paid neither compliment. Tony Blair made the first remark and Theresa May the second. The very same people Corbyn is vilified for speaking to when it was unfashionable to do so are exactly the same people lauded by statesman today. C’est la vie.

Corbyn’s interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday, in which she repeatedly asked him to condemn the IRA’s bombing campaign, was glib and tried to create a hierarchy of victims. Were those killed by loyalists less important? Or those killed by British Forces? By singling out the IRA’s killings,Sky News appears to think so.

As the New Statesman’s Jonn Elledge has already pointed out, Corbyn did answered Ridge’s question perfectly reasonably (‘I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA’).

Indeed, it was all the more remiss to raise it as last week saw the 43rd anniversary of bombings inDublin and Monaghan which killed 33 people in the Irish Republic – the troubles’ single biggest loss of life. Loyalists admitted the attacks, but the suspicion remains that British state assets colluded with them.

All of which is to say this is complex stuff. Yet given Ridge has just a quarter of the audience of ITV’sPeston on Sunday show, a degree of media hyperbole on these issues is probably inevitable. (Especially when ‘event moments’ from an otherwise run-of-the-mill interview play well on catch-up media).

Of course, it’s fairly disastrous retail politics for the Labour leader to become embroiled in semantic rows about whether his disavowal of the IRA was fulsome enough midway through a general election campaign.

Yet it’s clear this attack line was always coming. The busy bees in the Conservative Research Department and their friends in the right-wing media were always going to see to that.

However, there’s a sense that the public has already priced-in what it thinks of Corbyn and his associations with radical politics and I’d be surprised if this latest hullabaloo has a significant effect on the polls.

With their big personality attack on Corbyn launched we await to see if it has the desired effect. If not, what else have the Tories got left to throw at Jezza?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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New poll analysis: Watson, Skinner and Flint facing defeat. Cooper, Miliband, Reeves and Rayner on the edge

20/05/2017, 11:11:11 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Labour is facing a parliamentary wipeout on June 8th. The defeat will be greater than 1983 with the leading figures such as Tom Watson, Dennis Skinner and Caroline Flint facing defeat while many others, including Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner, are teetering on the brink.

Currently Labour is set to lose just over 90 seats but a relatively small deterioration of the party’s position on the ground could see dozens more fall.

These are the findings of new analysis by Uncut based on the views of dozens of Labour candidates, party officials and activists following the past three weeks of intensive canvassing.

In this time, thousands of Labour members and supporters have knocked on tens of thousands of doors in constituencies across the country. While social media is a place where hackneyed tropes about a “great reception on the #Labourdoorstep,” are trotted out, in reality Labour’s army of canvassers has been gathering huge amounts of intelligence and feeding it back through the party’s operation.

Uncut has focused on two questions in conversations with Labour campaigners to understand the situation on the ground:

  1. What is the scale of switching from Ukip to the Tories? This issue has been highlighted widely in the media and is evident in the Tories rising poll rating and Ukip’s symmetrical slump.
  2. What is the drop-off in 2015 Labour vote? Every area is reporting the Corbyn effect on the door with Labour voters refusing to back the party, but this hasn’t been clearly captured in the public polling.

For both questions, the estimated shift has been quantified at a regional level based on feedback from campaigners and applied to the 2015 vote share for each constituency in that region. In line with feedback from across the country, the Lib Dems and Greens are assumed to be on track to repeat their 2015 performance.

The results are not pretty.

While the national polls suggest Labour’s vote is holding up, potentially even advancing on 2015, in the constituencies that matter, something very different seems to be happening.

A net loss of 91 seats would be devastating.

The two factor model on which these findings are based for England and Wales is rudimentary and mechanical (agricultural even). But then, so is what is happening to the Labour party.

The combination of Ukip voters turning to the Tories with Jeremy Corbyn’s impact on 2015 Labour voters has created a perfect storm.

Scotland is an anomaly. North of the border an entirely different election is being conducted. One where the defining issue is the union and if Labour can position itself as a vehicle for unionists, there are grounds for optimism that some small but significant gains can be achieved.

The situation is very bleak (the detailed seat by seat breakdown is below) but there is still action that Labour can take to limit the damage.

One of the salutary lessons of the 2015 election was the futile manner in which Labour diverted significant resources to seats where there was barely a glimmer of hope of victory. If the effort and organisation that went into the quixotic hope of defeating Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam had been directed a few miles away towards protecting Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood, he might still be an MP.

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Corbyn was right to give the ITV leaders debate a miss

18/05/2017, 10:41:42 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Half an hour into ITV’s leaders’ debate and we were bogged down on Europe.

Will it ever end? The efficient but entirely bland Julie Etchingham was treating us to a rerun of the Brexit campaign, minus Conservative and Labour voices.

Theresa and Jeremy had better things to do, but the rest of the band had come back for the reunion. There they all were – Leanne Wood from Plaid, Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP, Caroline Lucas from the Greens and UKIP’s Paul Nuttall.

He was by far the best briefed when it came to locking swords over Brexit and bossed the exchanges. It probably helped he was the only one speaking for majority opinion in the country.

Tim Farron didn’t have a good night. Staring down the barrel of the camera at every opportunity, his small dark eyes were like raisins. With his golden complexion and sandy hair he looked like a pain au chocolat.

‘I have a long term economic plan,’ he intoned. ‘Stay in the single market’. A clap line with no clapping.  Had he not read the memo? Swivel-eyed ‘48 percentism’ is killing his party on the doorstep.

There was a brief rally with Caroline Lucas as she tried to skewer him about the Lib Dems’ support for Andrew Lansley’s NHS reform act. I say ‘skewer’ advisedly. It had all the penetrative efficacy of a piece of wet kitchen roll.

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Two rays of hope for Labour in the electoral post-apocalypse

18/05/2017, 03:29:26 PM

by Rob Marchant

Even for these unusual times, we might note that this is a highly unusual election.

First, it is a snap election, the first in over four decades. Labour is even more woefully unprepared than it would have been in 2020.

Second, it has local elections in the middle of the short campaign, for which there is no recent precedent (in 2001, when the general election was in June, the locals were too). It gives a highly unusual pre-poll to the general election.

Third, it has had the critical-for-Europe-and-the-world, French election in the middle of the short campaign as well. We’ll come on to that.

A recap of the glaringly obvious: It is difficult to see those local election results as anything but disastrous. Vote-share down to an appalling 27%. Governing party up rather than down in mid-term. In Scotland, SNP seats swinging away from them going to the Tories, not Labour.

The general election prognosis, then: the Tory lead likely to be between 12% and whatever that lead is currently polling (currently around 18%), as I have argued here. Around 16% gap would be a conservative estimate, which would give a Tory majority of 100. But taking YouGov’s regional polls – which one would expect to be more accurate – and extrapolating using the Electoral Calculus predictor, you can see the possibility of it being well over 200 seats.

If all this were not enough, Corbyn this week selected Stalin apologist, Andrew Murray, from the Stop the War Coalition, to lead Labour’s campaign. Imagine the reaction if the Tories appointed joined up a Nazi apologist from the BNP and then appointed them campaign chief. As one Labour insider commented to HuffPo’s Paul Waugh, Murray is to Corbyn as Steve Bannon is to Trump. An unapologetic extremist.

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A coherent centrist response to Brexit means resisting economic nationalism – in all its forms

17/05/2017, 10:14:43 PM

by Mark Stockwell

One of the many, many issues faced by Labour’s moderate wing at the moment is that they are – perfectly understandably – so preoccupied with the short-term problem of saving their seats in June, and the medium-term one of how to oust Jeremy Corbyn and his ilk afterwards, that the longer-term challenge of putting together a viable centre-left platform is going largely unaddressed.

Those who favour trying to resuscitate a seemingly moribund party have directed longing glances across the Atlantic to Justin Trudeau’s Canada. Those who are coming to the painful conclusion that a breakaway may be necessary – with a view to triggering a full-on realignment – are casting admiring looks across the Channel to the newly-inaugurated French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his fledgling ‘la République en Marche’ movement.

But more immediate concerns have left little time or energy for thinking through what political centrists will need to do to provide an effective opposition – and, all in good time, an alternative government – to an emboldened Theresa May with a large majority at her back.

The Prime Minister is essentially campaigning for a free hand to negotiate Brexit, in the hope that increased parliamentary numbers will strengthen her negotiating hand, not just with the EU but also with potential internal critics.

She has also repeatedly made it clear, however, that she is looking to take both her party and the country in a different direction. Brexit is only a part of this story: a necessary but not sufficient condition for what amounts to a rethink of the Conservatives’ view of the role of the state in the economy. The May team’s conversion to the cause of a cap on domestic fuel bills is a recent, high-profile example of this, and recent pronouncements on ‘workers’ rights’ are also part-and-parcel of this repositioning, but the change in approach goes much deeper. It amounts to a rejection of the laissez-faire approach that has characterised Conservative industrial policy for 30 years and more (with the exception of Lord Heseltine, now paradoxically estranged from the higher echelons of the party).

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Three quick thoughts on the Labour manifesto leak

11/05/2017, 03:33:23 PM

by Kevin Meagher

1. The butler did it…Or perhaps he didn’t

So who leaked it? Who benefits from Labour’s policy commitments spilling out over the evening news bulletins in one big, tangled heap? No-one, is the answer. It’s unlikely too many of Jeremy Corbyn’s internal opponents (is ‘enemies’ too strong?) would have been privy to the working draft and just as unlikely they would deliberately sabotage the campaign. The mood on the right of the party is ‘let Corbyn fail on his own terms.’

Did someone in his team think it was a useful tactical ruse? Perhaps to strong arm critics who would prefer a more hard-headed manifesto with fewer uncosted commitments? (The idea being that if they’re in the public domain there can be no rowing back in today’s Clause V meeting of party grandees that agrees the final cut). Again, what we see doesn’t bear that out. The contents are, frankly, much less swivel-eyed than many expected.

Was the document leaked to cover-up something more damaging? Again, that doesn’t ring true. There was nothing going do disastrously wrong yesterday that warranted slapping the proverbial ‘dead cat’ on the table. Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn’s cancelled appearance at a poster launch this morning, gives the clear impression the leadership knew nothing of the leak.

As ever, never overlook bog-standard, garden variety incompetence, either because it’s innate to a surprisingly large number of people working in politics, or, quite possibly, through fatigue. In his book on the 1997 election, ‘The Unfinished Revolution’ the late Philip Gould recounts leaving a set of poster designs in Euston station before catching a train. When the horror of what he’d done dawned on him, a party staffer was hurriedly despatched to retrieve them. Luckily, they were still where he’d left them.  Sometimes in politics you’re lucky and your mistakes aren’t realised. And sometimes you’re not.

2. Whisper it, it’s not that mad
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The real defeat for Corbyn and Farron was when Theresa May suckered them into voting for an early election

08/05/2017, 11:37:41 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The June 8th election will set a new low for political manipulation in British politics. It is run only for the short term advantage of the Conservative party being a classic cut and run while you are ahead move which the Fixed Term Parliament Act was designed to prevent from happening. Historically May scored her biggest victory over the Lib Dems and Labour when they failed to defend the Act. The Tory gamble came off, as neither party had the political courage to call Theresa May’s bluff and vote against the election. The failures of Tim Corbyn and Jeremy Farron will be lasting.

This is the stolen election and a historical turning point. Unless Theresa May had stitched up the vote on the Early Election bill, unlikely as Tim and Jeremy are not going to do a deal openly with the Tories, she was gambling when she called the election, calculating she could get away with it despite the Fixed Term Parliament bill requiring 5 years before a general election – and promising the date would be May 2020.

Theresa May lulled the other parties into planning long term, and they were  caught out by the loophole in the Act which allowed an early election – if two thirds of MPs voted for an early election Bill, which needed 434 M Ps voting for it to pass. As the Tories did not have a two thirds majority only if Labour voted for the bill could this happen. Labour voted for the Bill, thus triggering an election which could only help the Tories. All the problems which were gathering around the Tory party notably election fraud allegations, the economy and major policy areas including prisons, May’s former job as Home Secretary making her responsible, were removed at a stroke.

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The state of Labour: Post-anger, pre-recrimination

08/05/2017, 07:12:10 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Anger towards Jeremy Corbyn – and the blind alley into which he has led Labour – is probably futile at this point. The party was going to lose this general election whenever it was called. It was inevitable the moment Corbyn became leader 20 long months ago. There is a modicum of relief, perhaps, that the process of rebuilding can now begin in 2017 rather than 2020.

After a gruelling week, the scale of the challenge is now agonisingly clear. Glasgow. Tees Valley. Lancashire. The West Midlands. With its heartlands deserting it, there is nowhere in the country where Labour can’t lose at the moment. Much worse is, of course, to come in a few weeks’ time.

Actually, it feels slightly macabre to speculate about Labour’s short term future. So many decent MPs – servants of their community, country and party – are set to have the ground cut from beneath them.

The immediate issue is what do the party’s campaign managers do about Corbyn himself? His penance, such as it is, is to spend the next five weeks campaigning around the country observing the pretence that he is on course to be our next Prime Minister. But where do they take him where he adds any value to Labour’s campaign?

Just wait for the old soldier to accost him on a walkabout. Or the teenager to come up to him and call him a ‘loser’. Or the Jewish granny who gives him a dressing down for soft-pedalling on anti-Semitism.

No party leader who trails amongst every main demographic group is going to win an election. The voters’ basic, crippling assumption that he is not up to the job is not going to change now. In his heart of hearts Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t believe he is winning either. He knows he is squandering the moment.

But here’s the thing. There is little point railing against Corbyn. Better to accept that he is a victim of circumstance. Others created the opening for him and the hard left to make this extraordinary breakthrough. He never wanted this job. It was, infamously, his ‘turn’ to stand for the Labour leadership, as John McDonnell had done before him in 2007 and Diane Abbott did in 2010.

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Why Diane’s bungling matters

03/05/2017, 01:37:42 PM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s often said, usually pejoratively, that Tony Blair and New Labour represented the ‘professionalisation’ of Labour politics.

An obsession with presentation. Style over substance. Spin.

What a contrast, then, to today’s unprofessional Labour party.

Diane Abbott’s interview yesterday with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, as she announced Labour’s pledge to recruit 10,000 extra police officers, was invariably described as a ‘car crash’.

Actually, it was more like a plane slamming into a mountain. The scale of calamity was of an altogether greater magnitude.

Pieces of smouldering fuselage were scattered across television and radio studios. Diane’s reputation as a ‘serious’ politician was utterly incinerated.

She clearly had no idea how the policing pledge was to be funded, initially suggesting it would cost £300,000. The actual figure is apparently £300 million. 1000 times her original estimate.

Of course, Jeremy Corbyn was ‘not embarrassed in the slightest’ by her blundering.

He should be.

Corbyn can do himself a lot of favours by running a basically competent, functioning election campaign.

I’ve mentioned before that his easy manner contrasts well with the stage-managed hysterics of Theresa May’s campaign.

The obvious caveat is that he is going to lose; but it’s the manner and scale of the defeat that’s in his hands.

Bluntly, he can lose badly or he can lose catastrophically.

The only card he has to play is to confound the low expectations voters, the media and his own colleagues have of him.

That requires using every opportunity, straining every sinew, to at least offer a semblance of coherence.

Alas, that’s too much for Diane.

She is an experienced broadcaster but she is used to spouting her opinion on television and radio.

It requires a higher level of skill and preparation to defend the party line, something she is simply not used to doing.

Did she think she could bluster past the entirely predictable line of questioning about how she was going to pay for 10,000 extra coppers? Is she really that inept?

I guess so.

The upshot is that she has made Jeremy Corbyn’s life a lot harder.

So catastrophic it is then?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Danczuk’s treatment makes it open season on Labour candidates’ private lives

02/05/2017, 11:28:37 AM

So Simon Danczuk is to be barred from standing in the general election and deprived of defending his Rochdale seat that he first won form the Lib Dems in 2010.

A high price to pay for being an honest critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s various shortcomings and for his ubiquity in the pages of our tabloid newspapers.

Yesterday, he faced a three-member star chamber of the National Executive Committee to answer allegations that he was involved in sexting a 17 year-old girl back in 2015.

Danczuk made no excuse for his actions. He explained to the NEC that he was going through a hard time in his personal life (for which he subsequently received counselling) and had simply made a foolish mistake.

Without rehashing details, there was no allegation of illegality and most fair-minded observers would regard it as a closed, private matter.

Labour’s NEC operates to higher moral standards, it seems.

They deemed his actions to be so deplorable that he must forfeit his political career.

But in their bid to punish a critic and (they imagine) free up a Labour seat for a Corbyn acolyte, the leadership has just made a catastrophic error.

What will the NEC now do if it is revealed a Labour MP or candidate is, say, having an extra-marital affair? Or has a cocaine habit? Or uses rent boys?

By punishing Danczuk they have just set a precedent that the sexual peccadillos of other candidates are enough to have them dumped, inadvertently announcing open season on Labour MPs’ private lives.

Gleeful researchers in Conservative Central Office will be able to weaponise tittle tattle about Labour MPs to detract attention from the ongoing police investigation into their 2015 election expenses.

Right-wing tabloids, perhaps wary of exposing MPs following the Leveson inquiry, will feel justified in bringing tales of Labour MPs’ human frailties to light.

Corbyn has just done exactly what John Major did during his ill-fated “back to basics” campaign in the early 1990s. He has invited the media to hold other Labour candidates to the same standard as Danczuk.

Many will be found wanting.

Westminster is a gossipy place and there are plenty of Labour MPs who should be panicking right about now.

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