Posts Tagged ‘Liz Kendall’

There is a way back for Labour

28/09/2016, 08:55:35 PM

by Greig Baker

Jeremy Corbyn’s politics were writ large in his conference speech. He called for unity, while he brandished a “new era”. He hoped for “economic success”, while promising more taxes, spending and borrowing. And he called the boundary reforms “nothing more than a cynical attempt to gerrymander the next election”, where they could be Labour’s last hope.

Is Labour in a hideous mess? Yes. Is Corbyn ascendant? Yes. Is it time to give up? No. Sensible people in the Labour party need to do three things: embrace boundary changes; take the argument to Corbyn; and pick a champion.

Bear with me – here’s my thinking on each one:

First, boundary changes. One of the few things that currently unites Labour is its consensus on opposing the reforms. This is wrong-headed and says more about the party’s own malaise than the iniquities of the system. Alarm bells should ring everywhere when politicians support a boundary review “in principle” but oppose it in practise. The longer reform is postponed, the more painful it will be – like any infection, rotten boroughs won’t get easier to heal over time.

You know Labour is down on its luck when it complains about “the right wing press”, just like you know the Tories are in trouble when they moan about “BBC bias”. In the same way, the opposition to boundary reform smacks of reaching for an excuse ahead of the next General Election, instead of doing the hard work to make an attractive offer to the voting public. Losers complain about the rules. Winners focus on the job at hand.

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Labour’s right must find a new clarity of mission

26/09/2015, 03:35:02 PM

by David Butler

Saturday September 12th was perhaps the worst internal defeat ever suffered by the Labour right. The scale of Corbyn’s victory was as vast as it was stunning. To recover, the Labour right must rediscover a clarity of mission and craft a new story to tell the party and the country.

This defeat was worse than Michael Foot’s victory in 1980 and the internal setbacks of the late 70s and early 80s.  Foot was picked by a divided and fearful PLP. A minority of ideologically uncompromising activists drove the Bennite surge. Corbyn’s victory was, by contrast, a popular one; the Party’s members, supporters and affiliates dealt the blow.

Like the Liberals in 1906, this may be a victory from which the left of the party never recovers. Yet Corbyn’s failure, if that occurs, will not be sufficient to win back the hearts and minds of the party faithful.

Phil Collins argued that internal regeneration has three parts: intellectual, organisational, and personal. Intellectual renewal precedes the latter two. This involves not just reflecting upon ideology but also the strategic context that Labour operates within. Critically, it is also about finding a new clarity of mission.

The leadership election had a clear message: dry arguments about process, policy and electability are not enough to win. Too much time spent on these and too little time on developing a vision cursed the three moderate candidates in the race. The candidates of the right, unfairly or otherwise, came across as hollow.

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Burnham can’t win, but his supporters could stop Corbyn if enough back Cooper

07/09/2015, 10:27:58 PM

by Kenny Stevenson

There has been some buzz over Yvette Cooper’s popularity spike since taking her principled and courageous stand on Europe’s refugee crisis. The bookies have slashed her odds to make her second favourite to become Labour’s new leader on Saturday. But can she conceivably overtake Jeremy Corbyn?

First things first: don’t trust the bookies. Stephen Bush has correctly pointed out they aim to maximise profit, not predict outcomes. When punters took Corbyn’s original price of 100/1, his odds began to drop. It was not until after YouGov’s membership polls that he became the odds-on favourite. So while the contest is still Corbyn’s to lose, his price is as much a reflection of bookies’ damage limitation as it is his popularity.

Similarly for Cooper, speculation over a last-minute surge – and, presumably, more people betting on her – has seen her price reduced from 10/1 to 4/1. But unlike Corbyn’s price change, there have been no membership polls to inform the bookies. Cooper’s price drop is based on hearsay. With no new polls, we should assume no significant movement in voting intentions. Corbyn is still on course to win.

So how can Cooper win? Let’s indulge in some conjecture. If we look at voting intentions reported in the last YouGov poll, the first preference breakdown is as follows:

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Liz Kendall 1. Yvette Cooper 2. Andy Burnham 3

22/08/2015, 12:58:45 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The ballot has finally arrived so it’s time to vote. Time to back the candidate who is right about what Labour must to do to regain power; to give a second preference to the candidate who could yet save Labour from self-immolation and register a third preference for a candidate not called Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Kendall is my first preference. She has displayed guts and determination in her campaign. She’s right about the big issues and of all the candidates is the one who grasps the magnitude of Labour’s challenge in winning back public trust on the economy.

The personal abuse and level of misogyny that she’s faced is ludicrous and her response has revealed the type of steel Labour needs in its leaders.

Despite the trolls and the torrent of hate, she’s managed to secure endorsements from council leaders, trade unionists and the best and brightest of Labour’s new generation of MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and Emma Reynolds.

Liz Kendall and her platform are the future of the Labour party. It’s just a shame that her campaign hasn’t harnessed this as effectively as it might.

Too often, the message communicated to Labour members has been that they’re wrong and have to accept they are wrong.

Whatever the bald facts of a situation, simply telling voters’ that they’re mistaken is always a losing strategy.

Just as Labour’s economic message cannot continue to be based on telling the public they were wrong at the 2010 and 2015 election about the party’s spending record a decade ago, so an aspiring Labour leader cannot just be the bearer of bad tidings to the membership.

In 1994, the Blair leadership campaign was built around bridging the divide between the membership and the electorate, not telling them to jump it.

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Cooper vs Corbyn is our Healey vs Benn

17/08/2015, 10:24:42 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Yvette Cooper versus Jeremy Corbyn is our generation’s Denis Healey against Tony Benn. In September 1981, it wasn’t just the deputy leadership at stake. The party’s future was too, as it is now.

If Benn had won, more Labour MPs, councillors and activists would have joined the SDP, who’d have usurped Labour as the second largest party. If Corbyn wins, he’ll struggle to find enough MPs to serve as his shadow ministers, which isn’t the position of a party on the verge of government.

MPs only demur from advancement, bringing with it PLP disunity that they invariably seek to avoid, when genuine differences exist.

Corbyn says attacks upon him are unedifying “personal attacks”. But the differences that Labour MPs have are not personal. They are not about his sartorial style. Even if it’s a stretch to see this as screaming “prime minister”. The differences are political.

“He has shown,” Ivan Lewis writes, “very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in anti-semitic rhetoric.” “I know,” Liz Kendall notes, “there are many people who have concerns about where Jeremy Corbyn has stood in the past on” Northern Ireland. Not personal, political.

When Anne Applebaum describes Corbyn as “one of many on the European far-left as well as the far-right who appears to have swallowed wholesale Russia’s lie that war in Ukraine has been created by NATO,” and when David Aaronovitch reminds us that for Corbyn, “it is always, always, always the West’s fault,” these are not personal criticisms. They are political concerns shared by many Labour MPs, who see in Corbyn’s foreign policy what Healey once saw in Benn’s: “deserting all of our allies at once and then preaching them a sermon”.

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Corbynism has already claimed its first major victim: Andy Burnham

12/08/2015, 11:11:09 AM

by Frazer Loveman

It all looked to be so easy didn’t it? After the non-entry of Dan Jarvis and the non-start of Chuka Umunna’s campaign, only Yvette Cooper seemed to stand between Andy Burnham and the leadership of the Labour party. Burnham was probably the more well-known of the two, a politician who oozed humility and understanding.

People knew him for his admirable opposition to NHS re-structuring under Messers Lansley and Hunt and for his work in the Hillsborough campaign. He was also the best positioned to win. Cooper was likely to lose some support to Liz Kendall on the right of the party whilst Burnham had positioned himself to have clear run at the left of the party, whilst still being able to exist on the soft-left. He may have been something of continuity Miliband, but he was slightly more human than Miliband, and also probably more pragmatic.

The forced entry of Jeremy Corbyn into the race, however, has changed all that. Suddenly the leftist bloc vote that Burnham had been presuming would just fall into his camp had an alternative, but no worry, Burnham would still be in a strong position once he picked up Corbyn’s second preferences. However, Corbyn has turned out to be more than just an ‘alternative’ he’s morphed into a bizzare Marxist messiah. With members pledging themselves to the church of Corbyn to the extent that polling by YouGov now shows him to be the clear favourite in the contest, the other three candidates are now in the last chance saloon in terms of stopping the Corbyn tide.

Kendall has responded to Corbyn by doubling down on her position that Labour needs to be a fiscally responsible party in order to win elections, out of all the candidates she is the one who has done the most to challenge Corbyn head-on, and this has led to her being favourite to finish plum last. Cooper had been far more pragmatic. Though she has said that she wouldn’t serve under Corbyn she has been more civil in dismissing him, partly as her camp believed that she could still beat Corbyn on second preferences. Though in recent days even she has been forced into pointing out the flaws in Corbyn’s campaign; accusing him of trying to drag Labour back to the 1970s.

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Jeremy Corbyn, George McGovern and winning by default

31/07/2015, 06:37:03 PM

by David Butler

A party is selecting a new leader and is using, for the first time, an open selection process. The early front-runners from the moderate wing of the party, who have dominated the party in the previous decades, have faltered and disappointed. Others, young and dynamic politicians, have refused to run for personal and political reasons. Instead, the insurgent, an outsider candidate from the left of the party is gaining momentum. He is backed by a wave of younger activists who are disappointed by the party’s previous period in government with its compromises and controversial war and are idealistic for a new settlement. As the campaign progressed, the moderates try to rally around a candidate, any candidate, to stop the insurgent left. However, it is too late. The insurgent suddenly finds himself party leader.

The year is 1972 and George McGovern has just become the Democratic nominee for President.

On his way to the nomination, McGovern defeated the combined talents of three leading party moderates, Senator Edmund Muskie, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. George J. Mitchell, a Muskie staffer and later Muskie’s successor as Senator, reflected afterwards that “Muskie’s appeal was to reason, to legislative accomplishment, to sort of general policies in the best interest of the country. The primary electorate was interested in emotion, passion, strong views on every issue, and the general election candidate who tries to navigate a nomination process by not being clear on very hot button issues finds it difficult in the nominating process”.

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Irascible Liz needs to learn from mellow Jez

31/07/2015, 10:54:24 AM

by Kevin Meagher

If I was Liz Kendall, cast as the uber-pragmatist in this Labour leadership contest and with a difficult message of “wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee” to sell to the party’s suspicious grassroots, I would look across the ideological divide at Jeremy Corbyn and emulate how he’s running his campaign.

Not by suddenly adopting a policy on Bolivian miners, but by observing the quiet and courteous manner with which he pitches unfettered socialism to a bruised party that wants to believe, but in its heart of hearts knows that some accommodations with the electorate are inevitable.

That’s the centre of gravity of the Labour membership. This is a party that wants to know its politics still means something and aren’t going to be endlessly triangulate away by, as it sees them, careerist politicians. However, purists aside, the party also knows that politics is the art of the possible. So members are there to be courted. To be convinced. To have their would-be leaders calmly explain how Labour moves forward from the mess it’s in, while remaining true to its heritage and values.

All of which is to observe that Liz Kendall’s campaign is so utterly tin-eared and so wide of the mark, that it seems to be taking place in a parallel universe. Whereas Corbyn is sweet reason, Kendall’s camp seems intent on adopting the traditional tactic of the hard left: simplistic homilising at 100 decibels.

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Should Blairites stay or split if Corbyn wins?

30/07/2015, 10:21:33 AM

by Samuel Dale

Jeremy Corbyn is now the bookies’ favourite to win the Labour leadership contest. A couple of dodgy polls puts him miles clear and Corbyn-mania has gripped the nation.

The media is losing the plot. The Spectator’s Rod Liddle thinks he could become prime minister. The Telegraph’s Mary Riddell says he is the a modern politician not a dinosaur. And the Guardian’s Owen Jones believes he would be just swell.

As Atul Hatwal has written this is the same suspension of reality that gripped the nation prior to Ed Miliband’s defeat in May. It is still highly unlikely Corbyn will win.

But humour me. What if on September 13 we wake up to a party in the hands of a leader as unprepared and unsuited to the job since Michael Foot?

For so-called Blarites – moderates who want to actually win and change Britain – there are only two options. Stand and fight to wrest back control of Labour from the grip of a Marxist cabal heading for electoral oblivion.

Or split and create a new party, perhaps forming an alliance with Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats.

Let’s take them in turn.

First, let’s stay.

Corbyn has no governing experience, he is easily riled, his policies are mad and he has numerous unsavory foreign connections.

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Ten hard truths for Labour

23/07/2015, 05:28:13 PM

Following Tristram Hunt’s call for “a summer of hard truths” Labour Uncut is running a short series laying them out. After that bombshell poll, here are some about the party itself from Rob Marchant.

1. The Labour Party has not merely just lost an election after five years of drift; it has been getting worse since. It has now fallen deep into an existential crisis of purpose, with a large portion of its membership worryingly in denial about what the British public will actually vote for.

2. The current leadership election is symptomatic of that crisis. Like in the early 80s with Healey and Benn, many in the party are no longer expecting to get the best candidate, merely looking to avoid a disastrous one.

3. For those who believe Liz Kendall was over-egging the pudding in saying that Labour has “no God-given right to exist”, and that it has earned a permanent place in the British Top Two of political parties, some reading about the Liberal Party in the 1920s is required.

4. A Corbyn win would immediately present such an existential threat to the party. In short, the situation is far worse than the leftward drift that led to the Foot years, because (a) the country has moved right since then and hence less sympathetic, (b) Foot was a principled man who did not apologise for fanatics and (c) we hadn’t just been wiped out in our Scottish heartlands just before he was elected.

5. Labour needs to wake up and realise that Unite already represents an existential threat to it and does not have the party’s best interests at heart. It will at some point destroy itself through its increasing irrelevance to both Labour and its own members, but it could well take Labour down with it. It must not be allowed to.

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