Posts Tagged ‘Labour leadership election 2020’

Don’t believe the doubters – Labour can win in 2024

06/02/2020, 10:38:42 PM

by Tim Carter

The fact that the Tories came away victors from the general election in December shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, the majority was bigger than most expected, my prediction was 37-45 but maybe that was because I have an in-built Labour bias and at times tend to see my glass half full even when it is almost empty!

But politics is always about numbers and with 365 Tory MPs sitting across from 202 Labour MPs the numbers look daunting, leading most sane commentators to decide that the next Labour government is at least two general elections away. But they might be, and probably are, wrong – here’s why.

Back in 2005 the Conservatives had just suffered third general election defeat and their 198 (up from 166) MPs sat looking across at 355 Labour MPs. The talk was that for the Tories the game was over and opposition was now their natural role, they were now the ‘nasty party’ with the Lib Dems on 62 the talk was of ‘two party politics’ coming to an end. The Tories were, we were told, a busted flush.

Howard resigned as leader and a leadership contest was triggered, David Davis was the continuity Howard candidate and in the first round of the contest he was leading Cameron. Following Ken Clarke’s elimination and after the departure of Liam Fox in the next round, the members got to choose between Cameron and Davis – the clear choice offered was change or more of the same and the membership chose change.

Cameron set out on a on a path of reform and detoxification – sound familiar, well it should do because this is where Labour is after three election defeats and the decision members and eventually MPs have to make, is the same.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Keir Starmer is Labour’s last best hope

28/01/2020, 11:13:25 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Bookmakers have Keir Starmer as the 7/19 favourite to be the next Labour leader – a 73% probability. In a party whose membership was swollen by Jeremy Corbyn, and which was largely loyal to him, Starmer did not enter the race as Corbyn’s presumed heir apparent. With early personal branding, Rebecca Long-Bailey carried this torch.

“No surrender, a 4-day week, and a 3-day bender,” proclaimed her supporters. Dancing on the political graves of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Zarah Sultana derided “40 years of Thatcherism” in her maiden speech in the Commons. Long-Bailey said “no surrender” by having Sultana speak at her campaign launch a few days later. It takes the same defiance to think a 4-day week a sensible policy commitment from Labour – from the perspective of hard-pressed workers, it challenged free broadband as the most otherworldly of Labour’s 2019 pledges.

You’d need a 3-day bender for this continuity Corbynism to make sense. After which, the breweries will be nationalised, and the beer will be free. Or, at least, Labour might commit for it to be so. But incredible commitments from opposition change little. They might get some in opposition more drunk, but the real effect is to help keep the Tories in government in perpetuity.

Such folly should, therefore, be debarred by rule 3 of our rule book (“promote the election of Labour Party representatives at all levels of the democratic process”). But the extent to which the membership has an appetite for continuity Corbynism remains unclear. If that appetite remains unsatiated, it will carry Long-Bailey, now benefitting from the formidable endorsement of Unite, to the leadership.

We cannot consistently criticise both Long-Bailey for making insufficient accommodation with the electorate and Starmer for being too accommodating of the membership. Yet there are those who see Starmer’s campaign launch video as overly tailored to traditional Labour themes. This would be a valid criticism if this were a general election and he were seeking to convince the general public. Starmer is calibrating his message to his audience – precisely what the uncompromising Corbyn was criticised for not doing and the “no surrender” mindset threatens to maintain.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

When we were giants

22/01/2020, 10:27:35 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The year is 1976. Harold Wilson has just resigned as prime minister and Labour leader. The race is on to replace him. Step forward the strongest field of candidates to ever seek the leadership.

A veritable ‘who’s who’ of Labour greats. Serious, heavyweight figures from every section of the party.

James Callaghan, currently foreign secretary, but also a former home secretary and chancellor. The eventual winner, he is still the only person to have occupied the four great offices of state.

Next, Roy Jenkins, home secretary and another former chancellor. He would go on to become the President of the European Commission and eventually split off to form the SDP.

Denis Healey, current chancellor and former defence secretary. A future deputy leader, he would lend vital credibility to the party’s fightback through the long, fruitless years of the 1980s.

Then there was Anthony Crosland. A reforming education secretary who pioneered comprehensive schooling, (after the NHS and benefits system, the greatest Labour achievement in office). While his book, ‘The Future of Socialism’ became the bible of moderate reformers in the post-war era.

From the left of the party came Michael Foot. Employment secretary at the time and a renowned orator and journalist. (He became deputy leader under Callaghan and later succeeded him as leader).

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

‘Aspirational socialism.’ Again.

20/01/2020, 09:55:39 PM

The big mistake political campaigners often make when they come up with slogans for their candidates is hubris.

They assume that the pithy little phrase they have dreamt up to encapsulate their candidate’s credo is an original. A gem they have found in the rough which they will polish until it shines.

To her detractors, she’s the ‘continuity Corbyn’ candidate, but it seems Rebecca Long-Bailey might be drawing inspiration from more mainstream Labour figures.

On Saturday, during the leadership hustings in Liverpool, she referred to her beliefs as “aspirational socialism.”

It’s a neat little line, combining, as it does, the ‘S’ word, which pleases the grassroots, with something vague and modern sounding. Who could be against people having aspirations? Rather than levelling down – the traditional criticism of left-wing politicians – it implies levelling-up. ‘You can still do well, but we just want more people to do well.’

Well, for someone deeply committed to Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution, Long-Bailey clearly practices what she preaches when it comes to recycling.

‘Aspirational socialism’ was used by Andy Burnham in his 2010 leadership campaign. The one where he came fourth in a field of five.

Perhaps, though, there’s an older vintage?

Here’s Long-Bailey’s predecessor as MP for Salford, Hazel Blears, back in 2010: “New Labour is about aspiration and ambition, which is absolutely how I come to be doing what I do, because my parents were ambitious and aspirational for me.”

Continuity Corbyn or Version 3.0 New Labour?

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Johnson has made undeliverable promises to win from Sedgefield to Sittingbourne. This is what Labour needs to focus on, not his latest culture war dead cat

05/01/2020, 09:57:49 AM

by David Ward

If there’s one thing we’ve seen with the Johnson government so far, it’s that they aren’t going to be content with gentle managerial government. Like a five year old with a remote controlled car, he wants to move fast and break things.

To cut through in the next five years, the new Labour leadership is going to need a hugely disciplined operation focused on how we will make a positive, and credible, difference to people’s lives.

It’s clear that the Johnson government has a tall order in restoring growth to areas in long term global decline. We’ve been talking about HS2 since God was a boy, so forgive my scepticism about it happening in the next five years.

So to keep their voting coalition of leafy shires and newly won northern and midlands towns together the Conservatives will want to be on the front foot on other issues. One thing that unites these groups of voters is socially conservative instincts.

Much ink has already been spilled about the patriotic values of former Labour heartlands. But the seam for Conservatives to mine goes much deeper than that. In August 2019 Yougov produced some interesting research on the surprising views held by people who describe themselves as left or right wing. It found 72% of those who want redistribution of wealth also believe the criminal justice system is too soft. 66% who support Trade Unions want more restrictions on immigration. While 60% of those who support renationalising the railways also want to reintroduce capital punishment.

Of course Labour should always be the party of progress and progressive values, but we have to be mindful of bringing a majority along with us. Just as the party has in the past. In the 1960s Roy Jenkins gave tacit support to backbench bills to legalise abortion, decriminalise homosexuality and abolish the death penalty. Tony Blair’s government scrapped Section 28 and banned fox hunting, but combined those with Anti Social Behaviour Orders and a points based immigration system.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Let’s be clear from the start: Labour’s next leader is never going to be PM

03/01/2020, 05:58:17 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Sorry to start the New Year with an Eeyorish warning, but it needs saying from the outset. Labour has zero chance – absolutely no hope whatsoever – of winning the next election in 2024 or thereabouts. The glass is definitely half empty – with a crack in the bottom. Short of an almighty calamity – bigger in magnitude to Brexit – Boris Johnson is going nowhere for the next few years.

Forget the permanent revolution nonsense emanating from Dominic Cummings. Boris’s instinct will be to cut an early deal with the EU on our future trading arrangements and then consolidate his position. He would much rather govern as a benign figure that a malevolent force. He will prove formidable if he does. His victory is already seeing the Tories mobilise their tanks on what remains of Labour’s front lawn, in what may become a strategic realignment of British politics.

Rewriting Treasury rules to favour the North? Check. Inflation-busting increase in the National Living Wage? Check. Renationalising Northern Rail? Check. The new political battleground in British politics cuts across large chunks of what used to be safe Labour territory. The Tories already know this and are wasting no time in preparing their fortifications.

Last month’s result was no fluke. It was a long time coming.

So many of the seats Labour lost in unfashionable towns in the north and midlands were places that underwent 20 years of Thatcherite deindustrialisation, followed by a decade of New Labour pumping money into the public sector, but not replenishing decent jobs in lost industries. This was book-ended by ten more years of Tory austerity. Four decades of misery and disappointment. It just so happens that the timeline corresponds perfectly with our membership of the EU, so, for many, their unhappy experience of politics, which only ever seems to disappoint and frustrate, was taken out in the Brexit referendum.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Rebecca Long-Bailey is not ‘continuity Corbyn.’ She’s just been a good sport

31/12/2019, 08:00:15 AM

by Kevin Meagher

As campaign launches go, it was inauspicious. Rebecca Long-Bailey’s piece in yesterday’s Guardian was her first public attempt to flesh out both an analysis of the party’s disastrous election defeat and to tentatively suggest why she is the person to repair the damage.

How did it go? As I say, inauspicious. There was some stuff about upending ‘the broken political system’ and uniting communities ‘in all their diversity’ through ‘progressive patriotism.’

But she is still ‘considering’ whether to stand for leader. (It might have been wiser, then, for those advising her to set some clearer expectations about her strategy and timeline?)

Hey-ho.

What was interesting, however, amid the bromides about having an ‘honest discussion about why we lost and how we can win,’ is what she didn’t say.

There wasn’t a single reference to Jeremy Corbyn in the piece, less still to him having ‘won the argument,’ if not the actual, you know, election.

There was no attempt to justify the party’s manifesto, widely seen, to misquote Mario Cuomo, as an attempt to ‘govern in poetry’ with a string of unaffordable and outdated commitments.

‘There are many lessons to learn from the defeat,’ she said, ‘but it’s clear we didn’t lose because of our commitments to scrap universal credit, invest in public services or abolish tuition fees.’ (Code for ‘our expensive programme of nationalisation was a disaster?’)

Creditably, there was nothing that sought to gloss over the failings of the election defeat.

What she did say is that Labour cannot ‘blame Brexit alone’ (code, presumably, for ‘yes, Jeremy was an issue on the doorstep’) and the party ‘must recognise that it’s no good having the right solutions if people don’t believe you can deliver them.’ (Translation: ‘No-one believed our grandiose policies could be paid for’).

(One interesting footnote is that she didn’t use the word ‘socialism’ once – a de rigour affectation in Labour politics since the 2010 defeat).

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Courage or supplication. Whither now Labour?

20/12/2019, 08:08:50 AM

by Robert Williams

If you are reading this and Jeremey Corbyn is still leader of the Labour party, then the party has barely started in its collapse.

After Labour’s worst defeat since 1935, in which they lost 60 seats and gained one, seats went Tory that had never previously been anything but Labour since they were created, they lost 2 million votes.

All this against the worst government of any sort in British history, which has been in power for the last nine years, and with Boris Johnson as leader, described thus by the redoubtable Chris Grey “Even if it were not for Brexit, the prospect of a country run by a compulsive liar whose fake bonhomie scarcely conceals a priapic, vicious, moral void would be a woeful one.”.

This was a historic defeat at a time of national crisis, and we are all set to suffer the consequences, which will be dire. There are no upsides of “Brexit certainty” apart from the absolute certainty that we will be worse off and with fewer rights and opportunities.

So we are in deep, deep trouble as a country. We have a new government that will not bring us together but which will make the divisions much, much worse. And we have no functioning opposition worthy of the name.

Corbyn and his team are promising to spend the next three months “reflecting” on the results. That will mean, for a start, Jeremy Corbyn facing Boris Johnson at PMQs for the next three months. Labour MPs – the ones that survived – will have to sit in grim purgatory listening to the man who led them to defeat waffle on about what a nasty country we are, or austerity, or anything, actually, as Johnson swats him away time and time again. How can any of them face that weekly humiliation?
(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour needs to rebuild trust with voters, which means we can’t promise everything to everyone

18/12/2019, 09:11:53 PM

by Tom Clements

As much as I had deep reservations about Corbyn’s ability to win an election, I hadn’t expected us to fall as low as we did on Thursday. After the initial anger started to fade, the stark realisation that we could yet drop further brought a resolute determination. We must do better next time.

But before we can start to think about winning the leadership of the Party, we need to accept some of the blame for allowing the Party to fall into disrepute. It was our failure in 2015 to challenge Corbyn on policy rather than management that allowed Corbynism to blossom in our Party and wilt in the country.

But now we’re here again, we have to grasp this opportunity. We need to work to ensure that a viable, progressive leader emerges victorious in 2020. To elect someone that resonates with the country rather than plays the right notes to the Party. We might not get another chance.

To do that, however, we have to be more than competent managers. And our vision can’t be a return to Blair or Wilson. We can’t just repeat history and expect it to work but we can look for the rhymes.

In 2006, Tony Blair declared that the USP of New Labour was “aspiration and compassion reconciled”. He was successful because he appreciated that to be able to help those at the bottom, you had to support people to do better for themselves and their families. It was this revolutionary combination that allowed Blair to build a coalition that was able to inspire the country.

But not only is that not enough today, it is not right for today.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Trying to out spend Johnson’s Tories won’t work. Labour needs to be smarter

17/12/2019, 10:56:57 AM

by David Ward

So here we are again choosing a new leader. And once again all the different factions of the party are getting ready to fight like cats in a sack about it. I have no doubt it will fall on deaf ears, but my appeal to the party is to put the burning anger with each other to one side for a moment and think about the next election and choose someone right for that task.

Back in 2015 I wished on these pages we would stop re-fighting the 2010 election and recognise that the EU referendum would finish Cameron’s career, change the conversation, and put in place someone such as Johnson.

In 2015 and to a lesser extent in 2017 Corbyn captured the moment with an anti austerity message. It turned out that wasn’t what was needed in 2019. But in 2024 it will be nearly a decade since Corbyn won the leadership, with a government who have been investing in public services and infrastructure outside London.

We need to take Johnson at his word about trying to improve lives in former Labour heartlands. He means it, even if he might not achieve it.

We have already tried in 2019 to out-spend Johnson and it didn’t work. The astronomic figures weren’t seen as credible. The policies were too scattergun with no sense of priority. Too many of them seemed have come straight out of a think tank seminar. Such things are all well and good, but  Local Transformation Funds or a National Energy Agency don’t correlate to people’s everyday lives. The job of the skilled politician is to make ideas sound less Wonk and more Wakefield.

By 2024 with some Conservative investment no doubt making at least some kind of difference, the out-spending approach will be even harder.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon