Posts Tagged ‘Polly Toynbee’

Three reasons for Labour moderates to stay and be confident the fever will eventually break

14/01/2016, 07:44:33 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Optimism has been in short supply for Labour moderates. Ed Miliband, general election disaster and now Jeremy Corbyn. What a time.

But in the gloom of Labour’s long winter, all is not lost.

It will take patience. Years, maybe. But as George RR Martin might not say, summer is coming. Perhaps at the same pace as Martin’s next novel, but nevertheless, come it will.

Here are three reasons to be confident that these hard times will pass.

1. The soft left will switch

A common thread in the interviews and analysis of Labour’s massive influx of new members and supporters is that while the overwhelming majority supported Corbyn, they are not from the hard left.

Over the past three months I’ve spoken to CLP officers from over 30 constituencies on the make-up of the new membership and the response of Jane Middleton, chair of Bath CLP, in the Guardian’s recent survey of 100 CLPs exemplified what I’ve been hearing,

“They are mainly Corbyn supporters, some of them enthusiastic Corbyn supporters, who joined specifically because of him…A number of them had left during the Blair years and the Iraq war. What they are not is members of the far left. These people are in no way like the radicals of the 70s and 80s.”

This is the soft left. The Labour party is currently softer and lefter than it’s ever been.

The soft left view at the leadership election can be characterised as apathy at Yvette’s establishment, Brownite grind; an allergic reaction to Liz’s late-Blair confrontation and scepticism at Andy’s reprise of Ed Miliband’s muddled equivocation.

In the absence of an alternative, Labour’s largest grouping opted for the only choice before them not to have demonstrably failed in the past twenty years – Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left dreaming.

The trouble with dreams is that they rarely come true and sometimes turn into nightmares.


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How does Labour secure a majority in 2015? Find out on Monday February 3rd

30/01/2014, 12:45:01 PM

As the polls narrow and Labour nerves begin to jangle, it’s the question many are thinking: how does the party secure a majority in 2015? What seemed comfortable 13 months ago, when the poll lead was regularly in double digits, is now in the balance.

Fortunately, for those of a nervous disposition who do not simply want to wonder in silence, the good people at Progress have organised a series of events where answers can be provided. Uncut will be taking part in the next one

6-7.30pm, Monday 3 February 2014

Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons

Atul Hatwal Editor, Labour Uncut
Peter Kellner President, YouGov
Marcus Roberts Deputy general secretary, the Fabian Society
Polly Toynbee Columnist, the Guardian
Chair: Siobhain McDonagh MP Member, education select committee

If you can make it, come along. If not, follow it (and the other events) on twitter at #labmaj.

As a teaser for the debate, over the coming days, we will be publishing a series of short pieces that look at the key issues for Labour to win majority in 2015, where the party is and what needs to be done. So look out for them and we’ll see you on Monday.


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The Toynbee tendency is Labour’s greatest weakness

15/01/2013, 07:35:20 AM

by David Talbot

Thank goodness for the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee. From her dalliance with the SDP in the 1980s to her less than ambiguous flirtation with the Liberal Democrats during the last parliament, Toynbee, clearly, has an astute eye for the British political scene. Many approach the Guardian’s flagship commentator in an almost ritual sense, as if her musings are inscribed in tablet, and come away with faith renewed in the teachings of Toynbee. In general, I do something quite close to the opposite – no more so than her remarks to the Fabians conference at the weekend.

Labour, Toynbee told the assembled throng, would have “to try quite hard to lose the next election.” Alarmingly, this is a widely held belief in the Labour party. The argument, closely echoing Toynbee’s, goes that if Cameron couldn’t win a general election against a disintegrating Labour party and a visibly exhausted, not to mention reviled, Labour prime minister – then how can he possibly win come 2015? Just about every Labour strategist warns of complacency when complacent is exactly what they have become.

It is tempting to assume that impassioned and increasingly aggressive attacks on the Conservatives are all that are needed to secure victory at the next election. After all, moral indignation is what the Labour party does. But outrage is not an electoral strategy. Emotionally and politically it may make sense to oppose each and every cut the Conservatives propose but, to repeat ad nauseam, the public are simply ahead of the Labour party when it comes to the cuts and their provenance.

To win in 2015 we need to persuade the millions of people who did not, who could not, vote for us that we are a credible party of government. The party simply cannot assume the electorate will vote Labour simply because we are not the government. Nor should the scale of the task before Labour be in any way diluted; the 2010 election was an annihilation. Labour suffered its second heaviest defeat since 1918 and was wiped out in the south, south east and east of England. But, predominantly due to the eccentricities of a defunct first past the post system, Labour retained a credible number of seats, enough almost to put us within distant of the Conservatives. Dodging a bullet is not the same as a good result, and it’s about time many within Labour woke up to that fact.


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We need to address our poverty of language

19/06/2012, 07:00:03 AM

by Peter Goddard

So Ian Duncan Smith busy is developing proposals for new measures for child poverty, to include various social and lifestyle measures.

That sounds sensible enough, but there are some on the left who were quick to disagree. Polly Toynbee was one of them. On the eve of Duncan Smith’s announcement she was doggedly insisting that “the only way to measure a nation’s poverty over time,” she states, “is to count how many fall below the norm, and how far. This international measure counts anyone on less than 60% of a country’s median income.”

As Neil O’Brien points out, though, this “effectively conflates poverty and inequality.”

Needless to say, equality and measures thereof are of vital importance, and much valuable research indicates that equality is a vital national good. But equality is not poverty.

The dictionary (OK, defines ‘poverty’ as “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.”

According to O’Brien’s research, most people share this understanding, “(70pc) think it still means not having enough to eat, or a place to live.”

In fact, almost nobody outside the political classes, when asked to define poverty, will ever use the words ‘median income’.

By confusing relative poverty with absolute poverty, Toynbee and her ilk enable some stirring invective. But it also creates some curious paradoxes.

It is, for example, perfectly feasible for everyone in an economy to improve their income and become visibly better off but, through an increase in inequality, this to result in more people falling poverty.

So by using this measure you can become materially better off whilst simultaneously plunging into poverty.  Most would agree this seems counter-intuitive at best, manipulative spin at worst.


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Break out the nose pegs and vote for Livingstone

18/04/2012, 03:12:48 PM

by David Talbot

You would be forgiven for thinking that the only segment of the United Kingdom that is to vote this May is London. But on May 3rd elections will take place in 180 councils across the country, with 5000 seats up for grabs. Over the Easter break I duly volunteered to distribute leaflets in my home CLP back in rural Warwickshire. Amidst the endless open countryside, hamlets and villages I could not have been more removed from the hectic London political scene.

Until, that is, I stopped in the hamlet of Ardens Grafton and frequented the sole shop. A picture of Ken Livingstone weeping greeted me as I picked up the front page of the Guardian. Much has been said about the authenticity, or not, of the performance since. But with accompanying prose underneath the picture spilling over to page two, and a double-page spread adjoining pages seven and eight, it confirmed, if nothing else, just quite how London-centric our media is. It also focused the mind on the London mayoral election ahead – and what those with serious doubts about Livingstone should do come that Thursday in early May.

I am seemingly in a large rump of Labour voters who do not view Ken Livingstone favourably. YouGov put the figure at 31%, ComRes 17%. In a tight election these numbers are more than enough to secure significant defeat for the Labour candidate.

The charge sheet against Ken Livingstone has been heavily trailed in recent weeks. Commentators ranging from Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, Philip Collins in the Times, Nick Cohen in the Observer and, more troublingly, the Jewish Chronicle have voiced serious concerns about our candidate. Coupled with the usual antagonists; Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph is his usual obsessed self, and the Evening Standard, who have effortlessly slipped back to where they left off in 2008; vast swathes of the media, and ordinary Labour members, are, to put it politely, at best lukewarm about Livingstone.

Ken Livingstone is the problem of this campaign. To pretend otherwise is to, wilfully, miss the point. At a time when Labour has opened up the biggest lead over the Tories since the aftermath of the general election, Livingstone is trailing the London Labour vote by 6%, whilst Boris Johnson is outperforming the Tories in the capital by 10%.


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Half a minute Harris

16/03/2011, 03:00:57 PM

Episode 3: How’s that working out for you Polly?

You can catch up with previous episodes here:

Episode 1: Welcome, Uncut readers, to the mind of Tom Harris

Episode 2: Should we abstain on the welfare reform bill?

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Dan Hodges warns Labour against the new pluralism

01/07/2010, 02:46:44 PM

A couple of days ago I received a breathless missive from  my old comrades at compass. “Treasury Spending Review – Take Action”, it  boomed. “The public service cuts, benefit freezes and raising indirect taxes announced in the budget will increase inequality”, before adding helpfully, “but there is an alternative”. With  mounting excitement I scrolled down to learn more of this  bold fight back against the Lib/Con assault on the poor, the dispossessed and  the vulnerable.

Nothing. No thunderous denunciation. No elegant polemic eviscerating the injustice. Just a standard template inviting me to contribute to a treasury consultation.

There I was preparing to rage against the machine. Instead, I’d  run slap bang into the new pluralism. (more…)

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