Posts Tagged ‘SNP’

The Tories are within 4 points of Scottish Labour. What a time to try to “outflank the SNP from the left”

04/02/2016, 05:03:37 PM

by Rob Marchant

Uncut has not spoken much about Scotland recently but, as the gaze of Britain’s political machine turns briefly northwards, as it does every four years, that will change.

It is right that it will, and this time it should not be brief. This is not just because the Holyrood elections are almost upon us. It is because Labour’s short-to-medium-term success, and perhaps its very survival, depends on a Scottish turnaround.

Why? Let’s just look at the basic electoral arithmetic. As Lewis Baston pointed out in an outstanding analysis at LabourList, because of its wipeout in Scotland, Labour needs a bigger swing than it had in the 1997 general election to win in 2020.

That is, a bigger swing even than its best-ever post-war result.

It would be a tall order for a party even at the height of its popularity and which had not for the last five years neglected swing seats in the South East which it had won in 1997 and needed to win again.

And this was all chasing the frankly imbecilic notion that it could squeeze into power on the back of a leftish “progressive majority”, consisting of discontented Lib Dem and Green voters turning towards Labour.

Now consider a party which, on top of that, has its most unpopular leader since records began.

It is not merely a tall order. It is impossible. It is difficult to overestimate the extent to which Labour’s comfortable hegemony in Scotland has provided Labour’s electoral safety net during its postwar opposition years. We are now living a historical anomaly for Labour.

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If Jeremy Corbyn wants to do some lasting good, he should take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book

14/12/2015, 12:18:08 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour Uncut editor Atul Hatwal recently wrote an excellent blog about how Trump has shifted the Overton window of US politics with his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

First came the condemnation.

But now politicians such as Ted Cruz and influential commentators such as Piers Morgan and Rupert Murdoch are already triangulating.

“Yes, Trump has probably gone too far but Obama needs to do more on Muslims. A lot more,” so their argument goes. They triangulate. The sweet spot of political discourse (unless you are Nick Clegg).

The debate is then reframed and policy is made in a different political context, which over time translates into a different nation. That’s what outriders like Trump do.

There are lessons for the UK.

There were outriders in the last parliament. The SNP did it with Scottish independence, Ukip did it with an EU exit and Ed Miliband did it with his focus on inequality.

The SNP have got devo-max, Ukip have a Eurosceptic government & EU renegotiation while Ed Miliband has George Osborne stealing many of his ideas.

Let’s be clear: they are all losers. But they moved debate and that is a form of success.

Jeremy Corbyn is a loser too. He will never be prime minister. He will never come close to be prime minister.

But he can go down in UK history – like the SNP, Ukip and Ed Miliband – as a loser who shifted the debate.

He should take a leaf out of the Trump playbook and pick a position way outside the mainstream that will shock the nation and jolt politicians into occupying the space he leaves behind.

He must be specific. And I have a suggestion for him: be the anti-Trump. Cobryn could and should issue the following statement:

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Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2, 3…

11/05/2015, 07:00:37 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Of course, it would be pretty difficult to pen a piece entitled: ’10 reasons it’s not as bad as it seems for Labour,’ but as the dust settles on last Thursday’s calamitous result, there is cause for optimism – cautious optimism – that the task of rebuilding Labour’s position is not as hopeless as many assume.

  1. Policy isn’t a mess

First off, the party’s positioning in terms of its policy offer is actually pretty good. The manifesto was not “the longest suicide note in history” as 1983’s version was famously described. Sure, there’s work to do in dialling-down some of the rhetoric that has made it so easy to characterise the party as anti-business, but Jon Cruddas, Miliband’s policy supremo, must have had an eye on the long term because there is a lot here to salvage (apart from that wretched headstone).

By way of illustration, there was no real moment during the campaign where a Labour policy unravelled under scrutiny, or different shadow ministers found themselves saying different things. That’s what commonly used to happen in the 1980s.

And for those pointing out that, electorally, Labour is now 100 seats behind the Tories, just as it was in 1987, consider that, back then, the party was committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament. Ed Miliband was promising to renew Trident. There is no massive internecine struggle in prospect in order to get policy in the right place.

  1. SNP and UKIP insurgencies will fade

Nicola Sturgeon and the unresigned Nigel Farage, now have it all to prove. Both parties haven’t so much evolved as exploded out of the test tube.

Both have benefitted from charismatic leaders exploiting their (relative) outsiderness and a (temporary) decline in the fortunes of the mainstream parties.

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Let’s face it – Thursday night was painful

11/05/2015, 08:28:06 AM

by Joe Anderson

In the last few weeks we have seen some of the strengths of our movement.  Hundreds of activists in every seat across the country – full of the energy and passion of our people fighting for our values.

But their efforts unfortunately weren’t enough to convince the electorate to overlook our weaknesses over the last few years; confused communications and policies which never offered hope against the onslaught of Tory cuts.  Our people and the institutions they depend on were suffering and we weren’t sure whether a Labour Government would save us.

We need to work out what the next five years will mean for us. And we should get it right.  This new Tory government will challenge us on a number of fronts. Our narrative on devolution (local and national), benefits and welfare, the need for economic growth which gives people security and countless other policy areas has all been tested.  It doesn’t seem like it now, but we will look back on some of these and be proven right. On others we are clearly out of step with the country.

We need to take our time and ask the right questions.  Do we really understand how the country (all four of them) feels about what Labour has to offer?  Are we offering the right things to both cities and rural areas?  Do we really understand how the wider city regions and counties feel about what we want to offer?

Scotland is a case in point. The SNP haven’t locked us out of government – we lost the keys years ago when the mistakes were made. And despite fumbling around in the dark, we still haven’t found them again.

We have to face the reality that we have a lot of thinking to do.  And we must do it together as one party.

Anyone who blames “new labour” or “compass” or any other grouping, is damaging the party.

We need to come together and forge a new cohesive force for the country, before deciding which person we invite to lead us.  We need voices from every part of the country to be included, not just those from the Westminster Bubble. We need to work out a policy direction which will give hope to every single part of our country.  And we need to take our time doing it.

We have five years.  Let’s get it right.

Joe Anderson is mayor of Liverpool

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How Labour lost the centre ground and how to win it back

08/05/2015, 09:25:36 PM

by Samuel Dale

A debate is about to begin in the Labour party about how we recover from Thursday’s crushing election defeat.

The Miliband experiment has failed. Do we move to the left to retake Scotland? Or do we move back to the centre to win back Tory voters in England and Wales? Or maybe a bit of both?

Let me state my case that Labour needs to move decisively back to the centre if it has any chance of winning a majority again.

On Thursday, centrist voters drastically turned away from Ed Miliband for three reasons.

Firstly, he was perceived as owning a radically anti-business agenda accompanied with blunt price fixing tools.

“Give me Brexit, give me Scoxit, just don’t give me fucking Ed Balls,” said one concerned senior hedge fund executive to me in the run-up to polling day. Another senior figure said Labour treats the City like “terrorists”. These are typical views from business but they shouldn’t be and it’s damaging. Miliband was at war with business.

Just look at the post-election surge in Sterling and rocketing company shares at property firms, energy companies and others to see the real business fears of a Labour government.

Secondly, this coupled with public fears about economic competence. Miliband was viewed as a profligate custodian of public cash that he could never quite tackle head on.

Thirdly, leadership. This is nebulous but Miliband trailed Cameron by double digits in polls long before the SNP came along. He was seen as weak.

The Tories used the threat of an SNP deal to amplify all these fears but they did not create the weaknesses. If the public believed Miliband had the requisite leadership skills and economic competence then the fear of an SNP deal would not have had the same impact. The Tories’ SNP attacks were the symptom not the cause of problems.

So there were business fears; tax and spend concerns and leadership problems.Here’s what happened next.

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If Labour has a path to power tomorrow, it must only take it if a stable majority is possible

07/05/2015, 12:59:56 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The worst day in government is better than the best in opposition, or so the aphorism goes.

It’s true.

As Aussie cricketers (who know a thing or two about winning) say, you’ve got to back yourself otherwise what’s the point in playing the game?

But if Labour does find itself in a position to shape the next government, it needs to do so in the right way.

It needs to be clear-eyed about its priorities.

First and foremost, should be stopping the Tories implementing their plans.

If David Cameron remains prime minister and delivers on even one tenth of his barmy promises for spending cuts and unfunded tax cuts he will undo much of the generational improvement to public services achieved by the last Labour government.

Second, should be to form a stable, enduring government.

There is a difference between the two priorities and the first takes precedence over the second.

Nothing would be a greater guarantor of years of opposition than a brief, calamitous interlude in government. A short-lived, fractious Labour administration that falls would ultimately deliver a full-blooded Conservative government with all of the damage that entails.

If Labour has a path to government tomorrow, Ed Miliband needs to test whether he can construct an enduring government. If not, he’ll need to make a difficult choice.

In a scenario where the parliamentary arithmetic means Labour could form a government, the first call Ed Miliband makes should be to the leader of the Lib Dems, even if that’s Nick Clegg. It means setting aside partisan rancour in favour of forging a stable coalition.

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Five dangers for Labour as the finish line approaches

06/05/2015, 10:10:03 AM

by Rob Marchant

And so the election goes down to the wire.

A shaky start for Labour; then two very good weeks; and now a late push by the Tories takes us to the photo finish. The Tories look better for winning the most seats; but Labour seems to have a better shot at forming a government.

It seems that the slightest gust of wind may decide who forms the next government. But for that very reason, both parties must tread very carefully. Here are a list of five dangers for Labour as the finish line approaches.

One: UKIP collapse and last-minute swings to the Tories

While we might, as good left-wingers and non-xenophobes, be delighted to see Nigel Farage apparently getting his comeuppance, we should be careful of what we wish for. Most of the votes which disappear from the UKIP section of the ballot paper reappear as “X”s in the box marked The Conservative Party. That is, UKIP’s collapse is highly dangerous for Labour.

As Lord Ashcroft’s final round of polling in marginal constituencies shows, there is a clear swing back to the Tories, where Labour was far ahead for most of the last year. The pattern is exemplified by Croydon Central: in six months, there has been a ten per cent swing from Labour to Tory, nine of which can be attributed to a collapse in the UKIP vote. Many more cases like that and Labour is in deep trouble.

What can Labour do? Not much. Get out the vote, and cross our fingers.

Two: the SNP

Not before time, Labour has finally started to hit the SNP where it hurts: in the fundamental futility of their message, that another referendum is more important than solving Scotland’s problems. And the thuggishness of some of their supporters, on- and offline.

But they still have the capacity to hurt Labour a lot – in fact, were it not for the SNP’s unexpected surge, Miliband would probably be measuring up the rooms at No. 10 for furniture as we speak.

What can we do? More of the same. We will not do well, but we may avoid a wipeout.

Three: poor judgement calls

Some have argued that Ed Miliband being interviewed by Russell Brand, a comedian noted for previously urging young and impressionable people not to vote, was a good way to tap into his millions of Twitter followers and YouTube viewers, and claim their votes.

It was not. It was no more a good idea than Neil Kinnock appearing in Tracey Ullman’s video of “My Guy” in 1984 (lovingly preserved on YouTube here). It is always a temptation for politicians to try and borrow celebrity glamour, and sometimes it can work. But it must be managed.

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Nationalist thugs in Scotland will boost Scottish Labour’s vote

04/05/2015, 04:38:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Today, Jim Murphy showed why he is a strong leader. Unlike either David Cameron or Ed Miliband, he took his campaign to the streets to meet ordinary voters. It was the type of bold, smart politics that this election has lacked.

It was bold because rather than hiding away behind a lectern, at a ticketed event, protected by a ring of security, Jim Murphy had the courage to stand up and make his case at Glasgow’s St Enoch Square.

He knew that nationalist thugs would be there to shout him down. They always are. That they would try to deny his right to free speech and disrupt a peaceful political gathering.

But still he did it. Because democracy matters and speaking to voters, real people not the adoring activists bussed in for most political rallies, is the lifeblood of politics.

The intimidation and abuse that Jim Murphy experienced were a vivid demonstration of the dark side of Scottish nationalism.

And this is why it was smart, as well as brave, politics.

Media reports of this type of confrontation are more persuasive than any speech by a Scottish Labour politician on the dangers of an unchecked nationalist Raj in Scotland.

Not just for wavering Labour voters, but Tories and Lib Dems too, it shows how freedom of speech, the right to express a pro-union argument or even just a non-nationalist case, is under threat.

To resist the SNP surge, Labour needs the support of Tory and Lib Dem voters. In most Scottish seats, the Tories and Lib Dems don’t stand a chance. The choice is simple: Labour or the SNP. The pictures on today’s news make a powerful case for these voters to lend their votes to Labour to turn back the nationalist tide.

In the final days of this campaign, if Scottish Labour can clearly define itself as the pro-union party, the party that speaks for the 55% who rejected independence in the referendum last year, it can hang on to a swathe of Scottish seats that pollsters have written off.

Seats that the party desperately needs if Ed Miliband is to have any hope of making it into Downing street.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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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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Labour’s Scottish election campaign is a disaster

29/04/2015, 03:00:44 PM

by Calum Wright

Scottish Labour’s campaign has been uninspiring, ill-conceived and unsuccessful. A lead in the opinion polls has been squandered and it seems increasingly likely that the SNP will be re-elected with more MSPs than ever. The recent Scotland on Sunday / YouGov poll has given the SNP a 13% lead over Labour in the constituency vote and a 10% lead in the regional list. With just a week until polls open, Iain Gray is relaunching the Labour campaign. As a Labour party member, this state of affairs is above all frustrating: a campaign which had the potential to show Labour rejuvenated instead indicates that lessons have not been learned. Here I will highlight four main areas in which the campaign has come short: the anti-Tory, then anti-SNP, stance; the absence of distinctiveness; the lack of realism; and the leadership problem.

The recurring motif of most of the Labour campaign thus far has been “now that the Tories are back”. The idea, presumably, was to reawaken latent Scottish fear and hatred of the Conservatives, and insist that only Labour could save Scotland from the cuts. The problem with this strategy is first that the Tories are not the main opponents in these elections, the SNP are. Second, there is no clear evidence to show that the Scottish people believe that Labour rather than the SNP are best placed to “protect” Scotland from the Conservative-Lid Dem coalition.

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