Posts Tagged ‘Lib Dems’

Whatever happened to the good old election poster?

03/06/2017, 02:32:56 PM

by Lucy Ashton

Once upon a time our streets would have been ablaze with colourful orange triangles, lurid yellow and red squares and true blue garden stakes. But now, while people are quick to add a twibbon to their twitter profile or a flag to their Facebook picture, the humble election poster has fallen out of fashion.

When I was a kid in the 1980s, I used to help out in election campaigns and we would order posters by the boxful. They were probably one of the biggest election expenses and people very often wanted two or three for their garden, bedroom window and car as they proudly declared their allegiance.

By the 1990s, I was working as a journalist and posters were still popular. I remember writing photo stories where whole streets were decked out in one colour, or married couples had rival stakes in the garden.

Even a few years ago, I could name streets in Sheffield where you could find a swathe of Labour posters in a row or a clutch of Lib Dem triangles.

And then, quite suddenly, election posters seemed to fall out of fashion. It seems normal to lambast friends on Facebook over Brexit and for complete strangers to hurl abuse on Twitter, but admit how you’re voting in an election? That’s a step too far.

People have mixed feelings about them.

Conservative supporter Mike Love stopped putting up posters after a spate of vandalism. “I displayed a Tory poster in my garden in 1987 and someone set fire to it. I’ve tended not to display them since.”

Chris Shaw, a floating voter, says he did once display a Green Party parish council one. But would he display one now? “No way. I’ve traditionally been a shy Tory. I’m considering switching from May but would be embarrassed by a Labour poster.”

For Linda Lefevre, it wouldn’t be a proper election without a few posters. She said: “I display one on our front window as it’s traditional and adds excitement. I hope it will encourage neighbours to get involved and vote.”

Linda does need to impress a certain neighbour though: “We live opposite Ed Miliband, who also has a poster, as do our two next door neighbours.”

I remember my dad strategically placing one of our election poster by the back wall so it looked as though it was in our neighbour’s garden. Scott Barton – who took the photo with this blog – spotted this house in Sheffield. “This was the same back garden so I guess they’ll have to agree to disagree,” he said.

So if the poster has fallen by the wayside, along with loud hailers on cars and giant rosettes, elections will seem that bit more drab compared to the colourful campaigns of the past.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former regional newspaper Political Editor

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Why doesn’t Corbyn just go and join the Tories?

31/05/2017, 02:26:04 PM

by George Kendall

Jeremy Corbyn’s astonishing victory in the Labour leadership contest of 2015 was in reaction to the then Labour leadership’s decision to abstain on some parts of the Tory welfare bill. At the time, Corbyn said: “Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake”.

On being elected leader, Corbyn was remorseless in continuing his attacks on welfare cuts.

In autumn 2015, Corbyn’s ally, the Shadow Chancellor, committed to reversing the tax credit cuts in full. He tweeted: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits. If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will”.

Even as recently as Monday of this week, in his interview with Jeremy Paxman, Corbyn said: “I am fighting this election on something very important, that is the levels of poverty in our society, the levels of children that are not supported properly in our society. I’m fighting this election on social justice”. (7.15 mins in)

These are stirring words. But are they actually true?

Earlier in the interview, after considerable pressure from Paxman, he said that benefits wouldn’t be frozen for three years (3.33 mins in here). According to the respected independent think-tank, the IFS, this would require an additional £3.3bn per year, yet any funding to pay for this is missing from his costed manifesto.

Even more striking is that his explicit commitment in the Paxman interview, to ensure that “children are properly supported in our society” isn’t matched by his manifesto, which fails to reverse child tax credit cuts, a change that would have required £4.8bn per year. In addition, his manifesto only allocates £2 billion of the £3 billion per year that would be needed to reverse cuts to universal credit.

In combination, these cuts will take £9.1 billion per year from the lowest paid in our society.

Instead, he and his team have chosen to allocate most funds to initiatives which will be particularly attractive to middle-class voters.

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It sounds counter-intuitive, but better for Labour’s survival to lose seats to the Tories than the Lib Dems or Ukip

09/05/2017, 10:26:26 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The future seems bleak for Labour. Catastrophic local election results, Mayoral losses in heartlands like the Tees Valley and West Midlands and a general election wipeout in prospect. It’s hard to think how things could be worse.

But they could.

There are three ways to lose: on points, knocked-out and retired from the ring.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, the last of those three options has been a real possibility. A defeat so total and damaging that it will be lethal to Labour’s chances of ever returning to power.

A beating of this scale would involve the long term fracturing of Labour’s coalition of voters with a mushrooming of Ukip representatives in the North and Midlands and losses to the Lib Dems in parts of London, the South West and university towns

This is the road to retirement.

Both of these parties thrive as vehicles of protest against the status quo, whether the metropolitan elite or establishment elite or both.

Labour campaigners have years of experience of how difficult it is to dig out Lib Dems once they have taken root locally. A combination of effective organisation and the ability to always promise that grass is greener, made them political knotweed (that’s not a criticism).

It’s no coincidence that Lib Dems were only removed from places like Bermondsey and Southwark, islands of orange in Labour territory, after the Lib Dems threw their lot in with the Tories, entered government and had to defend government policies.

Ukip’s strategy has been explicitly based on the traditional Lib Dem approach and after the Lib Dem’s 2015 electoral experience, Tim Farron has taken them back to basics in their local campaigns.

If Labour’s collapse in the local and Mayoral elections had been synonymous with Ukip and Lib Dem gains, it would have been a portent of an extinction level political event on June 8th.

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Labour’s pro-Brexit front bench is more of a problem than Corbyn

10/04/2017, 10:22:54 PM

by Trevor Fisher

For any blog site commenting on current developments, the latest headlines define the agenda. The opening days of April provided many, but if the Livingstone saga is ignored as driven by one person’s private attempt to stay in the headlines, there are two underlying themes that make Labour’s future increasingly grim. The first is the Party leadership abandoning Party policy to appease right wing interests, and the second is the short sighted belief that the battle for Party dominance is what defines party politics. Both major factions, Old Left and Modernised New Labour are paddling these canoes with no sense that the public is moving elsewhere. The first of these two problems is now coming to a head.

The major political issue of our time is Brexit, and the dominant forces in the PLP have abandoned defence of the EU for acceptance of the hard right agenda on splitting from Europe. The party policy passed by the 2016 conference, still  holds that while it “noted” the TUC decision to accept the majority vote, it would reserve its position including not triggering Article 50 and stated that “The final settlement should therefore be subject to approval, through parliament and potentially through a general election or referendum”, which remains feasible, most crucially through another referendum.

But the PLP leadership, from Corbyn to Mandleson, abandoned this with classic short term thinking. The principled reasons for defending Europe were abandoned once the vote came in, but it was not only Corbyn who demanded total obedience to Brexit.  Miliband’s speech to the Open Labour conference was that a soft Brexit was acceptable and Labour would get this, with no reference to the actual results of this policy. As I have already argued, there is no soft Brexit and to accept the Tory agenda as Corbyn did by putting a three line whip on Article 50 was folly. However  the electoral argument is currently top priority. The Corbynistas still claim that they can win the next election, arguing it will take two years to turn the party round.

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Labour’s options? Different degrees of losing

07/12/2016, 09:18:55 PM

by Rob Marchant

It was always going to be important to wait until the dust settled around Labour’s second leadership election to see what was going to happen next. Now, settled it has and things are a little clearer, but only a little. What remains still looks like a panorama tremendously unhelpful to Labour moderates.

First, we might review the external changes that have happened since September. As the Independent observed yesterday, of Britain, the US, France, Italy and Germany there remains only one leader from just a few months ago, and neither is Merkel safe. Populist right-wingers have either won or are waiting at the gates everywhere. There are still all the signs of a tidal wave of political realignment across the Western world, and it would be reasonable to assume that Labour needs to either decide how to position itself or risk being swept away

Bizarrely, this is good news for Corbyn: it shows that the appetite for easy answers among the public has not diminished, and among the relatively tiny selectorate which has kept him in post, too, there seems little chance of minds changing before 2020.

The final piece of the puzzle is the information we now have about Brexit. A recent survey showed that Britons currently feel more strongly about their Remain or Leave positions than they do about political parties. This means that Labour’s positioning on Brexit is now crucial to its survival: the fudge that it lived with through the referendum campaign is no longer tenable.

So, what are these options?

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A progressive alliance makes sense for by-elections, not the general election

06/12/2016, 06:05:01 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The Richmond by-election on November 30th was a welcome victory despite the poor Labour showing. In Richmond I would have voted Lib Dem, to defeat a Tory-UKIP backed candidate. Tim Farron claimed the Lib Dems are back, but there are a string of Liberal by election victories back to Orpington (1962) which proved false. Richmond does however put support for the Compass advocated progressive alliance strategy back on the agenda. Labour ignores this at its peril though beyond by-elections the strategy is questionable.

Richmond demonstrates that Brexit now dominates UK politics. Given that Richmond was heavily for Remain, and the allegedly independent Zac Goldsmith was Brexit, he was headed for a fall.

However there are seats in which the electorate are heavily pro Brexit, and there UKIP may do well. Labour is vulnerable, UKIP being second in 41 Labour seats. It is as possible that a UKIP surge can happen in Labour heartlands, and also in Tory seats where a hard Brexit appeal may grow as the failure of May to deliver has an impact. The longer the negotiations take the more political culture will be poisoned.

Labour failed to have by-election strategy in Richmond, linked to its lack of clarity over Brexit.

Corbyn’s strategy of not opposing Brexit but calling for scrutiny of a deal is too close to Blairite triangulation for comfort. Owen Smith’s call for a second referendum is principled, but the challenge of a second referendum would be considerable. However it is less risky than an election which could devastate Labour for years to come.

While May is unlikely to call a general election immediately, a parliamentary blocking approach can trigger an election rather than a second referendum. If this were to happen the Progressive Alliance needs to be scrutinised. As a by-election tactic it is relevant. But a general election is a different matter.
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Labour must be more than technocrats. The challenge is to lift Britain out of its moral depression

17/07/2015, 03:37:48 PM

by Gordon Lynch

A common observation about the Labour leadership contest this summer is that the candidates, for all their relative strengths, have not yet succeeded in providing a compelling vision of our country’s future and the role of the Labour party within it.

Where this wider debate has begun to open up it has been primarily in terms of differing positions towards deficit reduction and austerity. But whilst Labour’s ability to provide a credible economic plan for Britain’s future is undoubtedly the threshold that must be met for it to be taken seriously by the electorate, it is not sufficient to provide a powerful vision of our collective future. Nor does a focus on the failings of Labour’s last general election campaign provide a sufficient analysis of the depth of electoral disillusionment with progressive politics at the moment.

The roots of this disillusionment do not lie simply in the public blaming Labour for the current financial deficit. It lies in a moral depression which began before the financial one.

Since the relative euphoria of Labour’s electoral success in 1997, there have been three significant moral traumas in which public confidence in progressive politics has been deeply damaged. The first was the decision of Tony Blair’s government, with strong Conservative support, to engage in the 2003 Iraq War against unprecedented popular opposition. The party that had won in 1997 by articulating the public’s moral aspirations betrayed this six years later when it embarked on a war that was so deeply at odds with the ethical foreign policy that it initially espoused. The fact that the 2003 war set in motion a chain of events that has now led to the horrors of the rise of ISIS only perpetuates a residual sense of despair at such a fundamental failure of Britain’s political institutions to respect the moral convictions of its people.

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Five questions for general election week 2015

04/05/2015, 03:13:28 PM

by Jonathan Todd

I can barely remember before we were looking beyond 7 May 2015 and soon this fateful date will be pasted. Five questions for this precipice:

Will a “Sheffield rally moment” happen?

George Osborne quickly jumped on #EdStone to declare it a “Sheffield rally moment”. It wasn’t. But Osborne seizes on any chance to blur Ed Miliband with Neil Kinnock, now, sadly, cast in stone as the embodiment of unfitness to govern. It is not just Miliband, however, at risk of “Sheffield rally moment”. David Cameron, shouting “up the hammers” as he fights for his career/country, has dropped clangers.

It is extra time in the cup final. The teams are exhausted. A piece of magic could break the deadlock. Or a horrible mistake. Which now seems much more likely than magic.

Can the Tories make it to 290 MPs?

290 Tory MPs is held out by experts – for example, Professor Tim Bale speaking at the RSA recently – as a golden number. Meet this threshold and routes to Conservative-led government remain open, fall short and they rapidly close.

While projected as the party with most seats and votes, they are falling short of this threshold on Peter Kellner’s last election projection. But these figures just about allow the Conservatives to combine with the Liberal Democrats and the DUP to build an effective Commons majority. Falling short of 290, however, particularly if this is accompanied by an absence of Liberal Democrat support, would make Conservative life very hard.

Can Labour build bridges with the Lib Dems?

If Oliver Coppard succeeds in his energetic campaign to remove Nick Clegg from Sheffield Hallam, a discombobulated Liberal Democrat Party will return to Westminster. The Conservatives could not be confident of the support of such a party. Even if Clegg wins, though, peeling the Liberal Democrats away from the Conservatives should remain a Labour goal.

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Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic

02/05/2015, 06:28:36 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut has learned the real reason for Ed Miliband’s sudden night-time visit to Russell Brand’s Shoreditch home: panic caused by the early tallies of postal ballots being fed back to party HQ, from marginals around the country.

Labour is behind and urgently needs to reach out to new voter groups. Russell Brand was a means to that end.

Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.

Although the parties are legally not allowed to tally votes at these events, they all do and the constituency teams then dutifully pass their field intelligence back to HQ.

These are not opinion polls results or canvass returns but actual votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, from across Britain. Numbers have been flowing from each marginal to party strategists to give the most accurate picture of the current state of play.

Labour insiders familiar with the latest figures have told Uncut that the picture for Labour in marginal seats, where it is fighting the Tories, is almost uniformly grim.

Seats that canvass returns had suggested were strong prospects for gains are much more finely balanced and those that were close are swinging heavily to the Tories.

The tartan scare is working with the fear of McLabour shifting large numbers of wavering Lib Dems and Ukippers into the Tory column.

National opinion polls and Lord Ashcroft’s last swathe of constituency polling have seemed to indicate a shift towards the Tories recently, but Labour insiders say the effect on the ground in marginals is much bigger than picked up in polls so far.

Labour has already squeezed the Greens as much as possible for votes, and is coming up short. Despite a superior get-out-the-vote operation primed and ready for next Thursday, Labour cannot bridge the gap by organisation alone.

With just a few days to go until the election, Labour desperately needs new voters.

This is why Ed Miliband suddenly changed his plans and went to Russell Brand’s home to be interviewed.

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Has Nick Clegg really dealt with 38,000 pieces of casework?

01/05/2015, 10:46:54 AM

Amazing guy, that Nick Clegg.

Writing in the Sheffield Star, the multi-tasking Lib Dem Leader and erstwhile Deputy PM says he has still found time as a local MP to deal with “38,000 pieces of casework”.

As any MP’s staffer will attest, that’s quite a claim.

Let’s be generous and suppose what he really means is that he’s dealt with that many cases over the 10 years he’s represented Sheffield Hallam. This works out at 3,800 cases each year.

Disaggregated over 365 days, this averages out at ten cases a day. Every day. For ten years.

Now let’s assume he and his staff don’t work every single day of the year.

Taking away weekends, Bank Holidays, Christmas and annual leave entitlements means there’s about 250 working days left (okay, that’s a bit on the high side, but let’s again be generous to him).

So now the figure climbs to 15 cases a day.

Again, let’s assume he has two caseworkers out of the £129,000 he claimed for his office staffing costs last year. That’s 7.5 cases dealt with by each caseworker, every single working day of the year.

And over the course of an average working day, this means dealing with a case an hour.

But what does ‘dealing’ with a constituents’ case generally involve?

It usually means meeting a troubled/angry/desperate constituent at a local surgery, or spending half a morning dealing with a rambling phone call, or poring over indecipherable handwriting, or wading through a densely-argued email before getting to the nub of the issue.

Then it involves writing on their behalf, often hitting the brick wall of officialdom (or the steel and glass wall of corporate indifference) while seeking a response.

It doesn’t end there. There are usually meetings with officials, site visits and even public meetings to follow.

All of which is to point out that MPs’ casework is often a slow, drawn-out process.

So is it uncharitable to point out that Clegg’s grandiose claim seems somewhat, well, implausible?

If we give him the benefit of the doubt, then it’s clear from their uber-efficiency that his office should have been put in charge of single-handedly rolling-out Universal Credit.

Or, perish the thought, could it be that Clegg’s just a fibber?

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