Posts Tagged ‘Tories’

Smug self-satisfaction blinds Corbyn’s Labour to the reasons the last election was lost

19/09/2017, 10:44:02 PM

by David Talbot

As the Conservative party trudges towards Manchester and its party conference this year, fresh with Boris Johnson’s timely four thousand word intervention, you would be forgiven for thinking the conventional wisdom of politics has been suspended. The Conservatives, wrought with angst and anger over the general election, are pouring over why its seemingly insurmountable political prestige crumbled over seven tumultuous weeks. The Labour party, meanwhile, is becalmed in glorious general election defeat. Its third, in a row. A better than expected defeat, but a defeat nonetheless. Not that this fact has seemingly been acknowledged by the body politic of Jeremy Corbyn and his fervent supporters.

For the Conservatives the post-election fog is only just lifting, but the gloom remains. The Times reported at the weekend that Sir Eric Pickles and Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, are set to release their report on why the Tories lost their majority on the first day of the party’s conference. The scale of its findings have levelled criticism at the traditional boogeyman and woman of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, but it is also highly critical of the party’s data operation. Jim Messina, no doubt hired at ludicrous expense, devised a target seat operation that saw May visit 43 ‘marginal’ constituencies. The party went on to win just 5.

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The real story of the Commons Brexit vote was the leadership’s disingenuous positioning

18/09/2017, 10:27:22 PM

by Rob Marchant

“Dennis Skinner…votes with Tories” ran the headline. But the truth is that Dennis Skinner actually voted for what he believes in: that Britain is better-off outside the EU. He only did what Jeremy Corbyn had already done hundreds of times (about five hundred, reportedly): vote with the Tories against his own party. As did six of his backbench colleagues (interestingly, Caroline Flint MP, who abstained, seemed to get more grief on social media than Skinner, who voted for the motion. We leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to why that might be).

Corbyn’s calculation, in contrast, was based on what it usually is: what he could get away with. Does anyone seriously believe that he has changed his opinion on the EU after over three decades opposing it as an MP?

Of course not. The calculation was that he could not get away – either with the public or his own party – with asking the PLP to support the Tories in a hard Brexit, so he allowed Keir Starmer to lead the charge and got out of the way.

And so we ended with the bizarre spectacle of two long-time, hard-left colleagues on opposite sides of the fence: one because he actually believed the same of the Tories, for once; and one because he also believed the same as the Tories, but couldn’t say so.

There was a helpful, complicating factor: that the Tories had come close to overreaching themselves, in insisting on giving themselves a muscular authority over governmental decisions which went so far as to pretty much break the principle of separation of powers between legislature and executive.

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The state of Labour: Post-anger, pre-recrimination

08/05/2017, 07:12:10 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Anger towards Jeremy Corbyn – and the blind alley into which he has led Labour – is probably futile at this point. The party was going to lose this general election whenever it was called. It was inevitable the moment Corbyn became leader 20 long months ago. There is a modicum of relief, perhaps, that the process of rebuilding can now begin in 2017 rather than 2020.

After a gruelling week, the scale of the challenge is now agonisingly clear. Glasgow. Tees Valley. Lancashire. The West Midlands. With its heartlands deserting it, there is nowhere in the country where Labour can’t lose at the moment. Much worse is, of course, to come in a few weeks’ time.

Actually, it feels slightly macabre to speculate about Labour’s short term future. So many decent MPs – servants of their community, country and party – are set to have the ground cut from beneath them.

The immediate issue is what do the party’s campaign managers do about Corbyn himself? His penance, such as it is, is to spend the next five weeks campaigning around the country observing the pretence that he is on course to be our next Prime Minister. But where do they take him where he adds any value to Labour’s campaign?

Just wait for the old soldier to accost him on a walkabout. Or the teenager to come up to him and call him a ‘loser’. Or the Jewish granny who gives him a dressing down for soft-pedalling on anti-Semitism.

No party leader who trails amongst every main demographic group is going to win an election. The voters’ basic, crippling assumption that he is not up to the job is not going to change now. In his heart of hearts Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t believe he is winning either. He knows he is squandering the moment.

But here’s the thing. There is little point railing against Corbyn. Better to accept that he is a victim of circumstance. Others created the opening for him and the hard left to make this extraordinary breakthrough. He never wanted this job. It was, infamously, his ‘turn’ to stand for the Labour leadership, as John McDonnell had done before him in 2007 and Diane Abbott did in 2010.

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Soft Brexit is an illusion. Either Labour opposes or backs a hard Tory Brexit by default

03/04/2017, 09:37:59 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The weekly dance at Westminster of the Parliamentary Labour Party over Brexit reached a new stage in the final week of March with Keir Starmer’s 6 tests of what Labour would accept to back Brexit.  It is not worth discussing them. They will be voted down and unless the Tories can be induced to split, then Labour faces a bleak future where it continually fails to set the agenda while the SNP (north of the border) and the Lib Dems (South of the border) collect the Remain votes.

While Ed Miliband’s speech at Open Labour was sad, possibly even sadder was Tom Watson’s weekly bulletin (1st April but not alas an April Fool’s joke)  in which he claimed “Labour won’t support a final deal which does not pass all these tests”, referring to Keir Starmer’s 6 tests earlier in the week. The PLP has lost every vote where it has voted against the Tory Brexit plans, and this will continue. Theresa May’s game plan is a hard Brexit to win the UKIP voter and destroy Labour in its northern seats, and it is formidable. However the belief that there is a soft Brexit – and not a clear choice to oppose Brexit, without playing a game that would split the party and the Northern MPs who are terrified for their seats – is no response for Labour.

Watson’s blog calls on May to honour her “strong commitments”  – she is doing so: she promised to deliver a an uncompromising Brexit –  and the relevant section ends “She needs to stand up to those in her party whose vision of Britain’s future is very different from that of most of the people who voted to leave the EU. And she needs to deliver a deal which meets her commitments. Labour’s tests and the aspirations of all British people, whether they voted Leave or Remain”. This is ungrammatical, fantasy politics.  There is no evidence Hard Brexit is not what Leavers voted for, though this can change, but arguing that the Leave and Remain voters have the same aspirations is to reinvent reality.

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Labour’s on its knees and the left’s interminable marches against austerity are part of the problem

25/06/2015, 04:30:04 PM

by David Talbot

After a second successive heavy electoral defeat, Labour finds itself in the familiar phase of conducting a leadership election. In 2010, after thirteen years of a Labour government, and the ill-fated reign of Gordon Brown, there was a widely-held sentiment that a new leader would breathe life into a visibly tired and, in parts of the country, reviled party.

It was a job of regrouping, reuniting and then combatting the unheralded coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. There was a high hope, even expectation, that a return to power after five years was all but inevitable. After all, who didn’t despise the Tories and their sell-out collaborators, the Liberal Democrats?

This was an election that Labour could have won but ultimately chose not to. The litany of excuses is already being offered up early by a clearly stupefied left. The fight to define election defeat is well under way.

It is, of course, the fault of everyone but the left.

Stunned, it has returned to its ideological redoubt. What was its first major contribution to the post-election British political landscape? To march, of course. And so they did, hundreds of thousands, or tens of thousands, depending on whom you believed, marching against austerity. Just as they had done, multiple times, to no obvious affect, since 2010.

It was a return to the purity of their comfort zone; to rail against the Tories and their cuts. One could almost feel their collective relief that Labour had lost the election and they could thus continue the struggle. The left, clearly, has learnt little over the course of two devastating election defeats.

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The Tories need to be introduced into Labour’s leadership race

18/06/2015, 10:52:14 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Labour’s leadership race needs to become a lot less comradely. Last night’s debate was a pedestrian trot through the expected.

There was little direct challenge with even less to enlighten members on how these candidates would bear up when facing the Tory meat-grinder.

This has to change.

Gordon Brown serenely glided through his selection without having once been put under the type of pressure the Tories subsequently exerted on him every day.

While his disastrous leadership was little surprise to several of those who had worked with him at close quarters in government, for the rest of the Labour party his inability to deal with sustained political attack was a nightmarish revelation.

Ed Miliband triumphed without once having been robustly challenged on his innate lack of electability or an economic platform that totally ignored the judgement of the British people at the 2010 election.

Yet again, the Labour party was largely unprepared for what the Tories did to him.

This time, the membership need to see the leadership contenders run through their paces in a live-fire environment.

US primaries vet their aspirants in a way British parties’ leadership elections rarely do. Obama was a far better candidate for having faced Hillary and her 3am call ad.

The Tories need to be introduced into Labour’s leadership election.

What would they do to these candidates?

Andy Burnham is in many respects the ideal contender on paper. Experienced, decent and committed.

But he was also chief secretary to the Treasury just before the crash and opposed a full public inquiry for Mid Staffs as secretary of state for health.

This clip from the general election, highlights the continuing political danger from Mid Staffs and his inability to answer the most obvious and basic Tory attack. (more…)

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While Labour is wrapped up with its leadership race, the Tories are moving onto the centre ground

29/05/2015, 04:58:28 PM

by Samuel Dale

The tragedy of Ed Miliband is that he shrewdly identified many of the key problems facing Britain today with his responsible capitalism agenda and focus on inequality.

This analysis allowed him to set the political weather at times because he could capture the public mood on booming energy prices or tax avoidance.

But his progress came to a shuddering halt when he outlined his crude solutions. Freezing energy prices and controlling rents were a fundamental misunderstanding of how markets and business works.

He alienated friendly business that would have supported changes and the voters did not believe him. So he failed.

And now to the real tragedy. The victorious Conservative party is stealing his analysis and coming up with their own solutions.

Centrist Tory projects and groupings such as the Good Right and Renewal are seeking to tackle the excesses of private companies and a wealthy elite. A responsible capitalism.

Former Number 10 head of strategy Steve Hilton’s new book More Human could almost have been written by Ed Miliband in its calls for radical change. He criticises big supermarkets, banks and other “private sector bureaucracies” for the way they treat customers, workers and suppliers.

Cameron clearly buys into these ideas too after reclaiming the One Nation mantle on May 8. He has also, significantly, appointed Robert Halfon as deputy chairman.

Halfon is one of the most interesting Conservative MPs with calls for the party to attract trade unionists alongside successful campaigns to cut fuel duty and the way companies treat customers. He has even flirted with renaming the Tories the Workers Party.

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In Croydon, we beat the Tories AND Ukip. Here’s how

28/05/2014, 01:33:46 PM

by Sarah Jones 

Last week, hard work and better tactics led the Labour party to election victory in Croydon.  And we can do the same again in 2015.

The Conservative campaign in Croydon was flawed for three reasons.

First, they had no message – treating the electorate with so little respect they didn’t even produce a manifesto.  Their focus instead was to run a negative and personal campaign, falsely claiming Labour would put up council tax by 27%. The voters didn’t buy it.

Second, they didn’t listen to local people.  We had talked to people across Croydon who had told us their priorities were cleaning up Croydon, tackling crime, and building more schools.  If the Conservatives had had those conversations, maybe they would have known what people’s priorities were. Instead they had nothing to say.

Finally, their tactics were all wrong.  They focused their attentions on a Labour ward, where they made small but not significant gains. They missed the real battle ground completely, despite us tweeting where we were there every day.  We were able to mobilise more people to get out and vote.  We ran a better campaign.

Those are the reasons why they lost. Looking at the Tory response, I think there’s a danger for them that they will keep on losing.

They will keep on losing if they convince themselves it is all down to UKIP. Yes UKIP was absolutely a factor, but it’s a worry for all the main parties.  Labour lost votes to UKIP as well.

On the doorstep, people say they are voting UKIP for two reasons.  First, and I get this more than anything else, because they are fed up with all the political parties after the expenses scandal and promises broken.  Second, it’s all about immigration.

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Letter from Wales: Threats to Labour are rumbling in the Welsh Senate

15/02/2014, 12:24:05 PM

by Julian Ruck

Having spent some time attending press briefings and familiarising myself with the general goings on at the Welsh Senate, I am able to draw a number of conclusions, by way of pure observation you understand.

Upon entering this concrete, modernist incubator for the first time, I was immediately struck by the fact that reception staff had little idea of when and where press briefings were taking place – the replies to my questions were, “Sorry, no-one tells us anything.”

My first impression I have to say, was one of objectionable serenity, there was something of the Sinai about the place. Empty and unpopulated. Having bought a cup of coffee, I began to wonder if I had turned up during a holiday recess, until a horde of school children appeared and delivered me from my isolated anticipation.

I watched and listened to a teacher explaining what the, and I quote, “Welsh Parliament” was all about. Echoes of Ignatius ap Loyola here thinks I, you know “Give me the boy….” Anyway, having listened to this fanciful titbit of nationalist propaganda, I eventually found my way to the press briefing room.

The Tories, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, all appeared one after the other to advise journos of what they were up to, and I must say that I was impressed by their general openness and willingness to answer my challenging questions, albeit that most of said questions were off topic.

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The Tories who failed to support Mandela’s “long walk to freedom” were not bad, merely wrong

11/12/2013, 11:24:54 AM

by Rob Marchant

With the thousands of pieces being written around the world about the death of a political giant, this is not about the great man himself – there are plenty of people better-qualified to write that one.

But it’s worth pausing to think about Mandela’s relationship with Labour.

Like many, I grew up in the late 1970s and 1980s constantly hearing about some or other horrific injustice from apartheid South Africa on the 6 o’clock news. We were too young for the Sharpeville massacre or the imprisonment of Mandela himself, but not too young to learn of the death of Steve Biko in police custody. In fact, you had only to listen to switch on Radio One – Peter Gabriel’s “Biko”, Little Steven’s “I Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City” or The Specials’ “Free Nelson Mandela” – to be aware of what was going on.

It’s probably fair to say that one of the things which made me realise that it was Labour, and not the Tories, that would be my party of choice was the fact that the Tories seemed perfectly content with tolerating a regime where black people were not valued the same as white people. In 1985, Margaret Thatcher was rather dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing limited sanctions against the all-white Botha regime, whilst black citizens were still not eligible to vote. Others in her party continued to resist even that token action.

Different reasons appealed to the Tories for why it was best not to upset the applecart with Pretoria. There was, of course, the odd not-very-nice Tory who had business interests to protect, or simply a quasi-identification with the idea of blacks as second-class citizens. But more common were those who had not yet experienced the fall of communism and genuinely thought that “engagement” was the way to gradually improve things; or – a little less forgivably – that we should not interfere in “foreign cultures” which we didn’t understand.

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