Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

This was Corbyn’s campaign. He led from the front. He deserves the credit

16/06/2017, 05:37:19 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The 2017 election rewrote the rules, and though the opinion polls did well in tracking the Corbyn rise and the stagnant Tory vote, the experts largely missed the increasing popularity of Corbyn though by the time Paul Mason wrote in the FT on June 3rd that “the UK is not a left wing country, but it is a fair one that has had enough of austerity” – he captured something of the shifts taking place, and the shifts are not all to Labour. Working class areas were particularly vulnerable and there is a need to analyse almost on a seat by seat basis – especially with small majorities like the Labour gain in Crewe by 48, and holding on to Newcastle Under  Lyme by 30 and Dudley North by 23. In Stoke Central, where Labour was in a minority, the UKIP vote collapsed but Labour increased, no doubt a result of the by-election where at the peak three months ago 500 Labour canvassers were out. Unlike Stoke South, which the Tories gained. Local campaigns played an important part, especially in Wales.

Nevertheless though May had achieved her target of hoovering up the UKIP vote most of us – me included – once the campaign started failed to understand the Corbyn phenomenon. By the last week of the campaign it was clear that a hung parliament was possible and I wrote this on 4th June, though Labour did not achieve largest party status. But it gained votes and support. The question we all have to answer is why. Starting with Corbyn’s remarkable personal success.

The ability of Jeremy Corbyn to appeal to a popular audience was clear from the start of his leadership campaign in 2015 and no one has begun to understand it, though the attraction has more to do with personality than policies, though the manifesto was supremely important. But Corbyn first. Though telephone canvassers reported that voters were turned off by Corbyn, the crowds at his rallies were and are impressive and as Jackie Lukes reported from Hull, this visibly gave Corbyn confidence and improved his credibility.

Not I think in reaction to what he was saying. At Stoke in September I could not hear his speech as the public address was abysmal – and when he spoke at a Libertines concert just before the Manchester bombings, reports say the crowd cheered so you could not hear him speak. It was not important – but the lack of impact of the tabloid smear campaign linking him with terrorists had something to do with his personal image, like Mandela after Robbins Island he was simply a grandfather figure.

He also played the immediate issues very well, so an apology is due for thinking he was wrong to accept the Brexit vote and to vote for Article 50. These moves defused Brexit and May should have realised this was not going to be a crucial issue in a general election, which will  always be about many issues. While I still think Labour was wrong to vote for the election, that is what the Fixed Term Parliament Act forces the opposition parties to do as rejecting the challenge invites the charge of cowardice, but that was not a charge that could be levelled against Labour. The avoidance of Brexit was tactically sound, but strategically stores up a battle yet to be fought.

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The problem with the Labour Left…

06/03/2017, 11:03:48 PM

In the second of a pair of short essays on the state of the party, Kevin Meagher casts a critical eye over the state of the Labour Left.

When did unpopularity and electoral failure become synonymous with the Left? On the face of it, seeking to level-up the world for those who get a rough deal should commend left-wing solutions to millions – tens of millions – of voters who, well, get a rough deal.

So why does it never turn out that way? Why is Labour languishing at 24 per cent in the polls? Why is Jeremy Corbyn less popular than the Black Death? Or Leicester City’s board?

The Labour Leader’s relaunch, much talked about at the start of the year, came to a juddering halt in the cold, wintry lanes of Copeland last week. A Labour seat, made up of workers in a heavily-unionised industry, left Jeremy Corbyn high and dry.

Of course, it was the nuclear industry, so it didn’t help that he’s implacably opposed to how so many of the voters there make a living.

Ah, but what about Stoke? Labour held on there.

Fair enough, Labour is still capable of holding some of its safest seats. But what Stoke showed is that White working-class voters in ‘drive past’ towns are loyal in their bones and will not readily abandon Labour, despite the endless provocations from the liberal-left that they are all ignorant, Brexit-voting racists.

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Cameron’s resignation spells trouble for May

13/09/2016, 09:50:58 PM

by David Ward

It’s fair to say May hasn’t been tested so far.

With Labour trapped in a spiral of decline part demographic, part self inflicted, her real threat comes from her own benches.

She has an unenviable in-tray. Brexit, a large deficit with an economy stuck in first gear, growing unease with establishment parties, and growing pressure to make a real difference on housebuilding.

Readers of Uncut may well feel some of these are of the Conservative party’s own making. Nevertheless, her challenge is to deal with them while keeping a wafer thin majority intact.

Of course, as Echo and the Bunnymen advised us, nothing ever lasts forever. And you can usually tell what will bring a Prime Minister down before it happens. From David Cameron’s fondness for a gamble to Thatcher’s unshakeable belief in her own ideas.

Cameron’s resignation yesterday is a neat example of one of May’s looming problems. Her hasty clearout of the Cameroons and their ideas. Having made enemies amongst the left of her party, May must curry favour with the right, whose darlings include Liam Fox and David Davis.

Yet this only opens up arguments with former ‘modernisers’.

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Labour has a leadership vacancy but no takers

15/07/2016, 06:53:13 PM

by Robin Thorpe

The Labour party is always at its best when it is seen as a modernising force; a movement that has the capability to tangibly improve the lives of people across the UK. This was true for Prime Ministers Atlee, Wilson and Blair. This is perhaps why the current crop of Labour MPs sees Corbyn, a representative of a historical aspect of Labour, as the problem rather than the solution. But the complete lack of any ideas from the challengers, let alone principles, means that any coup was doomed to fail before it had begun.

The launch of Angela Eagle’s leadership challenge typified the earnest but empty hand-wringing that is all the vast majority of the PLP seemingly have to offer the country. The speech was full of platitudes and expressions of dismay over Corbyn’s lack of leadership, but utterly devoid of any vision for a brighter future or strategy of how to achieve this. Her argument is that she is better than Jeremy because Jeremy failed.

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Corbyn has accomplished this to some extent with the Labour membership and the leaders of the trade unions. He clearly hasn’t with the PLP and opinion polls suggest that he has failed to influence the wider electorate. Angela Eagle has set out her challenge for the leadership by offering a more cohesive party. But leadership is not about better management; it is about providing direction. Defining what an organisation is about and where it will take its stakeholders.

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Labour: Stop meeting. Start leading. Or others will

05/07/2016, 10:06:50 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“There are decades where nothing happens,” according to Lenin, “and there are weeks where decades happen.”

We are living weeks of decades. At least the Great British public are. In contrast, Labour, with its Leninist conclave nominally at our helm, are having some meetings.

Meetings about meetings. Paranoid bunker meetings. Rousing, Kinnock-fuelled PLP meetings. Nice that Neil’s still got it in him. But just a meeting.

But some meetings don’t happen. Like between our leader and deputy. Portland Communications, newly rumbled and keen to appear even-handed but doubtless driven by dastardly capitalist motive to showcase a client, have given them both brain reading technology.

This means that they are constantly meeting, even when they are not meeting, but never, decade after decade, saying anything relevant to a population crawling into a new, disconcerting era.

Change so bewildering that a politician who struggles to guarantee the status of EU nationals in the UK, against a backdrop of intimidation to such people, starts to appear the least bad PM option. Better than the “political psychopath” who did as much as anyone to induce this Brexit catastrophe. Preferable to the new Iron Lady – who, as the Remain frontrunner is intensely scrutinised, might win to satiate the Tory thirst for a Leaver.

No matter who the next PM is, they have no mandate for the terms upon which the UK leaves the EU. The Leave campaign – on a false prospectus that no one is held to account for – won a Brexit mandate.

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Britain must do better than a choice of Johnson or Corbyn for PM

26/06/2016, 09:58:49 PM

by George Kendall

Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. Is that an acceptable choice for Prime Minister?

Boris Johnson is a man who his former employers sacked as a liar, who has sold Brexit on the basis of a series of lies, yet he is the odds on favorite to lead the Tory party, and appears set to call a new General Election in the autumn.

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed he did all he could to avoid Brexit, but half his shadow cabinet appear to think otherwise and are resigning. One Labour campaign source claims the head of the Labour In campaign, Alan Johnson, asked for a meeting with Corbyn in April and was told the only available date would be July, after the Referendum.

Neither Johnson nor Corbyn are fit to be Prime Minister.

The country is in an unprecedented political, constitutional, economic and existential crisis. It may well break up.

The First Minister of Scotland is preparing for a second referendum to leave the Union, and Northern Ireland may do so as well. During the campaign, voters were assured this would not happen.

Those campaigning to Leave have now splintered into two camps, one for retaining trade agreements with our largest market, the other for ending them. Their campaign was based on a series of promises that they are both now disowning.

It would be a travesty if there were no viable candidate for Prime Minister who represented the values of the 48% who voted to Remain in the EU.

Once it becomes clear what leaving would involve, and if, as seems likely, the major promises made by Leave turn out to be false, it may be that the British people will want a further chance to express their view on this. If so, we should give them that opportunity.

If those who want a tolerant, outward looking and honest government are unable to prevent Johnson and Corbyn from being the leaders of Labour and the Conservatives this autumn, they need a viable alternative. What that choice is, depends on many things, but most of all, it depends on who is willing to put country before party.

Once we know the result of the Conservative leadership election, there may be an immediate general election, so we cannot afford to wait. If the 48% are to have the voice they deserve, we need to start organising now.

George Kendall is convener of the Social Democrat Group – a Liberal Democrat organisation to develop the social democrat tradition of the Liberal Democrats, and to build links with social democrats in the Labour party

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Corbyn’s incompetence almost makes you feel sorry for the hard left

01/04/2016, 06:29:15 PM

by Samuel Dale

Last month, George Osborne delivered one of the most shambolic budgets in years.

Just days before he announced it, he pulled a massive u-turn on his headline policy by scrapping long held plans to reform pensions tax relief.

He didn’t want to risk the ire of Tory MPs during the EU referendum campaign.

It left a massive hole in the budget that was quickly filled with large cuts to disability benefits. A shocking cut that would have affected thousands of the most vulnerable people in Britain.

Just hours later he U-turned on the disability cuts too.

Then Iain Duncan Smith resigned as DWP secretary blasting government cuts and Osborne personally.

The disability cuts u-turn has left a giant hole in the budget. The Red Book does not add up for the first time in living memory.

Only Gordon Brown’s 10p income tax disaster comes close and that shambles scarred him forever.

Unbelievable budget incompetence comes as the Tories are involved in vicious splits over Europe with minister pitted against minister. Cameron v Boris. And every MP attacking everyone else.

In the midst of this chaos, Tata Steel announced they are planning to close their UK steel plants with as many as 40,000 jobs at risk.

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If the mood changes, Labour need to shape up quickly

01/03/2016, 08:38:32 PM

by David Ward

As Eminem asked us, “Look If you had one shot. Or one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment. Would you capture it. Or just let it slip?”

Recent weeks have seen a palpable change in mood to that of last May. Front pages have been filled news of market crashes, while financial commentators debate if a new recession is on the way. Meanwhile the Prime Minister and most of his cabinet are at risk of winning a referendum but losing the support of large sections of their party, as well as the right wing press.

Granted, there is no guarantee of an economic downturn or of the Conservative party tearing each other apart over Europe. Nevertheless, any self-respecting political party should be thinking about how significant events could help remove their opponents from office.

Sadly, evidence of the current leadership’s capability in this regard seems lacking. The most remarkable thing about the current Labour party is the lack of any ability to capitalise on events or stories.

Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than Prime Minister’s Questions. Nick Tyrone compared Cameron on Corbyn’s first outing at PMQs to an opening batsman. Tamely patting back gentle half volleys in case there was some trap waiting. By now he’s worked out there is no trap. Corbyn’s buffet bowling courtesy of Rosie or Jim is dispatched to the boundary with almost humiliating ease.

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Never let a good crisis go to waste. Labour’s sensible centrist MPs should seize their opportunity

01/03/2016, 05:31:46 PM

by Greig Baker

They say a recession is the best time to set up in business, because if you can make it then, you know you’re onto a good thing. Smart Labour MPs should look at Jeremy Corbyn’s political downturn in the same way. It might not feel like it, but if you are a sensible centrist MP with ambitions for the top job, you now have three things in your favour…

First, you don’t have a choice. If you or someone like you doesn’t come up with a plan to make Labour electable again and soon, you face either being rejected by the voters, deselected by your party, or a decade or more of a backbench job with less power and more acrimony than you’d get as a local Councillor. You can make a successful pitch for what you believe in, or join the political dole queue.

Second, in times of crisis, merit wins through. MPs with verve are ten-a-penny in three figure majority Governments. But, like the successful entrepreneur who beats a bad market, it takes special skill and dedication to create political success out of a downhearted shambles. Even better for you (and as much as it pains me to say this given that I used to work for them), the Conservatives are divided, unloved and performing poorly – so there’s plenty to get your teeth into.

And third, if your bid to bring Labour back into the black is going to succeed, you will need to fashion the party in your image. This means forging alliances with people you like, value, respect and trust, and who will be around for long enough to help you achieve real change – so the prospect of working with a genuinely capable executive team beckons.

From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like Labour’s political contraction is already well underway. However, the right moves by the right people could stop the “recession” becoming a “depression” – in every sense of the word.

Greig Baker is Chief Executive of The GUIDE Consultancy

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Remain will win easily. Boris will be irrelevant and immigration will barely register in voters’ choice

23/02/2016, 12:47:38 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last year, in the aftermath of the general election it looked like Westminster had learnt that the economy and leadership are central to determining the public’s voting intention at the big electoral tests.

Now we have an EU referendum looming and there’s been a bout of collective amnesia.

Yes, I know this is not a general election but the same formula of economy and leadership is relevant for largely the same reasons as last year.

Immigration is the issue that many Brexiteers think will tip the balance their way. But just as Ukip found last year, they’re misreading the polls.

There is a very familiar gap between the number who view immigration as the most important issue facing the country and those who view it as important to their household’s well-being.

At the general election, 51% thought immigration was the key issue facing Britain but only 21% believed it mattered most to their lives.

Unsurprisingly, immigration was not a major factor in the contest.

In the last poll to ask the relevant questions, by YouGov, from last September – following a summer of daily coverage of refugees travelling to Europe – the number citing immigration as the most important national issue was the highest on record at 71%. But the number who thought it most important for their family was 24% – a gap of 47%.

Think about that for a moment.

Even after a summer of non-stop reporting of fleeing refugees entering Europe, lurid stories from the Calais “jungle” and hyperbolic headlines, the proportion thinking that immigration mattered most for their lives rose by just 3% from 21% at the election to 24% at the start of September.

In comparison, in the same poll, the number saying the economy was the most important issue for their household was 40%. That’s 16% ahead of immigration.

In every single poll conducted by YouGov in the five and half years that they’ve been asking these questions, this gap has never been less than 16%.

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