Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Meagher’

Does the emergence of May, Corbyn and Farron spell the end of the traditional political career?

16/10/2016, 10:38:02 PM

by Kevin Meagher

What were the betting odds a couple of years ago on Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron leading our three major UK political parties? As an accumulator, it must have been in the 500-1 region?

Okay, on her own, Theresa May would have been a decent outside stab for the Tories and Tim Farron had been on manoeuvres for a while, angling for the Lib Dem leadership while his more senior colleagues served in the coalition government, but Jeremy Corbyn?

The emergence of May/Farron/Corbyn seems so random because prior to the 2015 general election the firmament in all three main parties was brimming with political talent. There were plenty of rising stars and key lieutenants who seemed more plausible figures.

Although Theresa May quietly got on with the job of being a steely home secretary, it was George Osborne who dominated Cameron’s government, the obvious heir apparent to his friend and ally, David Cameron, with Boris Johnson offering a credible alternative choice. The smart money was one of them succeeding Cameron.

Equally, although Tim Farron had been assiduously courting the Lib Dems’ activists, his non-service in government meant it was just as likely someone who had been blooded in office like David Laws or Danny Alexander would have succeeded Nick Clegg.

While there were a veritable constellation of stars in the Labour universe.

The point is that all three parties had more obvious candidates waiting (im)patiently. There was an order of succession, a pecking order. Buggins’ turn, even.


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Labour MPs have just blown their best chance to oust Corbyn

25/09/2016, 02:57:50 PM

by Kevin Meagher

John McDonnell was right. ‘As plotters’ Labour MPs are ‘fucking useless.’

There was one decent attempt at challenging Jeremy Corbyn during this parliament and they have just blown it.

He needed to be exposed as a total electoral liability – both personally and in terms of the direction he has set for the party, repositioning Labour on the frozen wastelands of the hard left.

His lack of campaigning zeal during the EU referendum was supposed to be his Achilles Heel and pave the way for a successful challenge.

What a misjudgement.

The charge didn’t stick and the rows in the Conservative party have blotted out memories of what Corbyn did or didn’t do during the referendum.

This plot was doomed from the moment Hilary Benn was caught orchestrating dissent in the shadow cabinet and fired. Realising he had been rumbled, he should have quit first.

Then came the petulant ‘drip, drip’ resignations from his frontbench. This was designed to shame Corbyn into quitting. Fat chance. The tactic just left the electorate with the unmistakable impression Labour MPs are as immature as their leader.

Instead, those frontbenchers who passionately disagreed with Corbyn’s leadership should have acted with some dignity and resigned en masse. At the very least, it would have been more honourable.

The PLP’s subsequent vote of no confidence in his leadership – 172-40 – was not quite conclusive enough.


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When does the autopsy on the Remain campaign begin?

21/09/2016, 08:06:07 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Three months after the Remain campaign crashed to defeat, there is ne’er a squeak in British politics about what went wrong.

This is strange. Surely an autopsy on a losing campaign is entirely logical and much needed?

Where did the high hopes and expectations of Remainers come unstuck? When was the moment the voting public decided they wanted to jump the other way?

There’s lots of analysis about the effects of Brexit (with the Fabians weighing in just this week), but nothing about the campaign itself.

Perhaps the absence of any hint of organised reflection and public analysis is explained by the reaction of many hard-core Remainers.

They refuse to come out of the jungle and accept the war is over. Denialism is rampant.

They want to play on after the allotted 90 minutes. To continue boxing for a 13th round. Any excuse to avoid the glaring conclusion: they lost.

‘Ah but Leave promised to spend £350 million more on the NHS, that’s why they won.’

Their lies were better than our lies.

‘There should be a second referendum’.

Best out of three?


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Dispatches and Panorama were dreadful for Labour. Does anyone care?

19/09/2016, 10:25:04 PM

by Kevin Meagher

What will an average voter make of the Labour after watching tonight’s Dispatches on Channel Four or Panorama on BBC1, chronicling the party’s descent into internecine student-level factionalism and sloganizing?

That’s a question – perhaps the question everyone involved in democratic politics. need to constantly ask themselves: ‘What does the electorate think of you?’

Tonight’s programmes were an embarrassment for the Labour party.

The exact mirror opposite of a party political broadcast.

Here was Labour showing the electorate on prime time evening television why it isn’t fit to run the country.

Riven, incompetent and in the hands of either well-meaning fools or vicious entryists.

The only scintilla of dignity and poignancy on display was Neil Kinnock ruing that, at 74, he probably won’t live to see another Labour government in his lifetime, such is the state of the party.

Over in the Corbyn dreamscape, it was probably chalked up as a success because the word ‘socialism’ was mentioned on the telly.

Normal people aren’t bothered about how Labour chooses its shadow cabinet, or whether Momentum is packing the annual general meetings of constituency Labour parties.

But they do wonder why Labour seems to bang on about nothing else these days.

Neither are they bothered about socialism or any other ‘ism’.  Or discussions thereof.

They are not looking for a walk-on part in the people’s uprising.

And they’re certainly not bothered which nutty far-left sects a constituency Labour party official in Brighton is or is not a member of and whether they contravene Labour’s official policy on membership of nutty far-left sects.

They just want to hear people in Labour politics address their concerns realistically.

To come up with workable proposals to improve their lives.

Not a wish list of uncosted, impossible promises.

Or an invitation to the ramparts.

I was left with that uncomfortable, squirming feeling that you have when you watch The Office.

David Brent’s complete lack of self-awareness or understanding of how others perceive him translates perfectly to the modern Labour party.

At this rate, Jeremy Corbyn is going to emulate Brent’s infamous ‘There’s good news and bad news…’ speech.

The bad news will be Labour is trounced in 2020.

The good news is it will be eight million votes for socialism.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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The left’s failure to embrace school standards has opened the door to grammars’ return

19/09/2016, 05:21:05 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The debate about grammar schools should have been over and done with a generation ago.

After all, it was a system that locked-in the most appalling social inequality.

If you passed your 11-Plus exam, you went to grammar school, with an effective guarantee of a professional career and life membership of the middle class.

If you failed it – because you were poorly on the day of your exam, or dyslexic, or for any other reason – you went to Secondary Modern school, where you would learn to ‘do something with your hands.’

A broadly-based education was not for the likes of you. Like the Epsilons in Huxley’s Brave New World, you were bred for drudgery.

It was a wicked system that divided families and communities, perpetuating ridiculous assumptions about intelligence and by extension, the worth, of tens of millions of people over decades.

By disregarding the talents of so many, so early and so utterly, it fuelled strife in industrial relations that bedevilled post-war Britain.


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One way or another, UKIP is parking its tanks on Labour’s lawn

17/09/2016, 09:56:28 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Will UKIP survive? It’s a fair question as the kippers gather in Bournemouth for their annual conference and anoint Diane James as their new leader, to the chinking, no doubt, of large gin and tonics in the hotel bars.

The feuding in the party about who should succeed Farage – the political equivalent of a Jeremy Kyle paternity test special – had seemed terminal, but, for now, appears to be in remission.

Space, then, for the largely untested Ms James to set out what her party is for, given we have now voted to quit the EU, UKIP’s ostensible purpose.

Undoubtedly, they have come a long way in the last few years. For so long a collection EU-obsessives, English nationalist romantics and weirdos who wrote to the letters page of the Daily Telegraph complaining about the change in meaning of the word ‘gay,’ they are now a force in British politics.

As Farage pointed out in his valedictory leader’s speech, they alighted on immigration as an issue in 2011, adopted it as their cause célèbre and never looked back.

It certainly helped scoop up many of the four million votes they received at the last general election as well as providing the magic bullet that made Euro-obsessery a retail issue for millions of voters in the referendum.

Even with their central purpose achieved and Nigel Farage sloping off the main stage, the party can still claim to speak for 15-20 per cent of the electorate pretty consistently and still has a major impact on our political debate, (with Theresa May pinching the idea to bring back grammar schools from them).


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Hillary Clinton’s damaged goods. It was madness for the Democrats to choose her

16/09/2016, 10:27:26 AM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s safe to say the Clintons have cast a long shadow over the Labour party.

A generation of political professionals have imbibed the campaigning techniques that propelled Bill to the presidency in 1992 and 1996, with two ambitious young Labour frontbenchers sent over to learn from the master at close quarters.

The lessons Tony Blair and Gordon Brown brought back with them have pretty much shaped everything Labour has done since. Rapid rebuttal. ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ Triangulation. New Labour was born in that war room in Little Rock.

But now the Clintons have had their day. Bill was a good domestic president, focusing ‘like a laser beam’ on the economy; balancing the budget, creating jobs and presiding over a decade of prosperity.

But he is also venal and morally-corroded. A Vietnam draft-dodger who, while Governor of Arkansas, notoriously sent a mentally-disabled man to his death, just so he didn’t look weak on the death penalty, (the issue that hobbled Michel Dukakis’s 1988 tilt at the White House).

Never mind that impeachment business.

Despite his many good works as president, a trail of slime followed the Clintons throughout their time in the White House. As people, Bill and Hillary make Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards look like Tom and Barbara from The Good Life.


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Emily Thornberry’s gaffe-laden Sky interview was down to incompetence, not sexism

11/09/2016, 05:56:47 PM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s not particularly hard, being Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Clearly you don’t actually run anything and all you have to do is echo what the government of the day is saying in relation to international events, affecting a suitably grave intonation.

Perhaps you urge a bit of restraint here, a bit more dialogue there, but, in the main, you take a bi-partisan approach.

When he was the Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell turned this into an art form, quoting back to broadcasters the received opinions he has read in broadsheet newspapers’ editorials that morning.

And that’s a big part of the job; skimming through the foreign pages, keeping tabs on the Foreign Office’s website and, if you’re really diligent, reading the Economist and Foreign Affairs.

By osmosis, you will pick up who’s who and what’s what.

Judging by her horrendous, comet-ploughing-into-Planet-Earth interview with Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News yesterday, Emily Thornberry certainly doesn’t know her ‘who’s who’.

When asked the name of the French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Ms Thornberry went off, in the vernacular, “on one”.


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Ed Balls was a useless shadow chancellor

02/09/2016, 10:50:09 PM

by Kevin Meagher

‘You are only a man’ servants used to whisper in the ears of Roman generals to stop them believing their own hype on their triumphant return from battle.

It’s a pity no-one ever performed a similar service for Ed Balls.

The former shadow chancellor, who was unceremoniously ejected by the people of Morley and Outwood at the last election, is rematerializing into British politics, with a new book out about his life in politics and some unsolicited advice for the party.

The extracts show Balls for what he is: a clever and effective politician in many ways. Unfortunately for him, his curse is hubris.

His period as shadow chancellor under Ed Miliband was an unmitigated disaster for Labour.

Routinely 20 points behind Cameron and Osborne throughout the last parliament on questions of economic competence and trust, it was clear three years out from the election that the party was stone-cold dead on the economy.

His associations with the dog-days of Gordon Brown’s government meant Balls – so long his factotum at the Treasury – was an insane choice for the role.

He was a constant, corporeal reminder of Labour’s previous mistakes, which the party in government did so little to contextualise when it had the chance.

But he coveted the job when Alan Johnson, Miliband’s original shadow chancellor, quit. Pride got the better of him and he simply wasn’t slick enough to shake off previous form to win a second hearing.

At no point did he manage to alter the terms of political debate.

Labour spent too much and regulated too little. They didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining. They maxed out the credit card. They have no long-term economic plan. The blows rained down on Labour’s reputation and Ed Balls was not equal to the task of rebutting them.


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Labour needs to learn to accept the public’s mandate

30/08/2016, 09:27:26 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Is it really a surprise that Theresa May intends to press on and trigger Article 50 and begin our negotiated withdrawal from the EU without a vote in Parliament?

After all, June’s referendum was conclusive.

A clear majority of Britons chose to quit the EU. 52 per cent to 48 per cent. 17.4 million votes to 16.1 million. And at 72 per cent, the turnout was higher than the 66 per cent that voted in last year’s general election.

The debate was had. The issues were discussed to death. Both sides made their case. They were well-matched. The Remain campaign lost. Game over.

What comes next is axiomatic, surely? Article 50 is triggered, we negotiate the terms of our exit and future working relationship with the EU and we get on with it.

That’s what the public chose to do. It’s what they commanded ministers to implement on their behalf and the political class to accept.

Yet Owen Smith is standing for the Labour leadership on a platform of offering a second referendum, while Tottenham MP, David Lammy, called Theresa May’s plan to press ahead with Article 50 a ‘stitch-up’.


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