The Labour Together election review showcases everything that’s wrong with the Milibandite approach to politics

by Atul Hatwal

Since it was announced, the Labour Together review has had a strangely unifying impact on the party: voices from across the ideological spectrum, hard left through to the old right, have panned it. Earlier this week on Tuesday, Lisa Nandy, one of the people leading the review, was on the Today programme, giving the opposite of a ringing endorsement,

“I have to be honest though, I didn’t know anything about this review until two days ago.

And if the lesson is drawn from this election is, a review can be drawn up in a meeting room in Westminster without any reference to the two parts of the Labour movement – our councillor base and trade union base, that were probably the reason we didn’t have a worse result, I just don’t think that people are drawing the right lessons at all.

We need to be out in places like Ashfield, listening to people like the ex-miner I met yesterday, not sitting in meeting rooms in Westminster trying to debate this out amongst ourselves with the help of a few think-tanks.

I just think the approach is wrong.”

The reason the review has brought together so many disparate strands of the Labour movement in eye-rolling frustration is twofold.

Problem number one: The review dodges the tough questions.

To inform the review’s analysis is a survey. An OK idea. Less OK is the manner in which it completely ignores the obvious. Options for Labour’s terrible showing are offered but these focus on campaign organisation and individual policies. In all of the possible reasons that Labour did badly, nowhere is any mention of the leader and his vote-repelling impact on the doorstep. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the public’s incredulity at the wish-list manifesto and its role in dissuading the the electorate that Labour was a serious choice for government.

Needless to say, the term “anti-Semitism” does not appear anywhere in the survey.

As with all these types of party commissions, there’s an onus on doing some original research. Hence the survey and interviews with defeated candidates. But in the terms of reference, there seems to be no acknowledgement of the vaults of existing quantitative and qualitative analysis. There’s so much that it is near pointless doing the sort of partial effort proposed by Labour Together.

Here’s a single chart from YouGov that pretty much nails why Labour lost so badly. Note: this is just looking at 2017 voters who deserted us. Lest we forget, 2017 was yet another election that Labour lost.

The difficulty is that an honest assessment requires these issues to be directly confronted. That means no dodging difficult questions, no ignoring inconvenient analysis and most of all a clear view of what was right and what was wrong. Which leads us to the second big issue with the review.

Problem number two: Labour Together’s desire for internal party unity trumps the primacy of the truth.

The 2019 result was a catastrophe, Labour lost millions of votes and dozens of seats. It was a result predicted by many within the party, largely those in groupings opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. But what prospect of the review recognising who was right and who was wrong.

The critique of Corbyn’s hard left as being soft on racism, unbelievable on economics, weak on national security and led by the last person most voters want as PM, is both a factional view and one evidently shared by the British public.

Sometimes, one faction is right and another is wrong.

It’s no coincidence that Ed Miliband is the figurehead for the review and many of it’s leading figures are so closely tied to his term as leader. Ed Miliband’s tenure represented a break from the previous years of Kinnock, Smith, Blair and Brown in that it privileged the desire for comity across soft and hard left, over the requirements of the British people for Labour to govern.

Unless the hard left and elements of the soft left are going to admit that they were completely wrong, the imperative for cross-factional consensus will result in a soft/hard left fudge with a quiet glossing over of the manifold warnings of doom that came variously from Labour’s old right, Blairites, Brownites, and the internationalist soft left.

The reality is that there’s precious little need for over analysis or extensive new research. This was an election result forecast in the polls and borne out in the votes of the public. The reasons are known, Labour’s negatives well understood. The only outstanding question is for the party’s leadership election. Are four defeats in nine years enough for Labour’s members to prioritise what’s needed by British voters over their ideological comfort?

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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16 Responses to “The Labour Together election review showcases everything that’s wrong with the Milibandite approach to politics”

  1. John P Reid says:

    After labour lost the 1987 election Neil Kinnock quite rightly in my View laid the grounds for New Labour by aiming for Middle class votes, some of this was based on the Fact many Working Class people had bought their Council homes voted Conservative as they thought they were middle class but based on their Job and Income statistics would consider them Working Class and Partly Neil Kinnock knew that White Collar public sector pension Workers, Teachers NHS Staff, Council Staff has Voted For the SDP in the 1980’s having Voted labour in the 1970’s not necessarily as Labour spent more on Local government , Hospitals or Education, but for their own benefit as Labour always delivered better Public sector pensions, it was this going for Middle Class votes with the idea the Working Class has nowhere else to go that Delivered Blair 3 election Victories, this Peaked in the 2006 Council elections and 2008 Mayor elections where either the Working class stayed at Home or Voted for the BNP and labour Got 300
    More votes in Middle Class wards Upminster snd Cranham than the Harold Area
    Labour nationally tied Working Class and Middle class Votes in the 2010 election before Finally the Tories for the first time getting more working Class votes than Middle Class ones in 2019 and labour getting 2% more middle class than , Working class voted in 2019
    Blue labour first launched after the 2010 election defeat and I was Sceptical at the time the 2012 mayoral election was still based on targeting of commuters at outer London train lines
    It was the Ukip election victories in the 2014 London Mayoral that finally made me realise we needed to get back working Class votes
    Not that the Working class are A group with a homogenous opinion of theres pride in Doing A days work, patriotism, Community and An Area based view on ones Routs are formed on A civic location of liking after our neighbours
    But the outer part of London are good examples of Demographic changes , wotking class flight and class cleansing as Areas traditionally Labour Up North have fallen to the Conservatives
    Gloria De Piero ,Like Caroline Flint from poor Working class backgrounds have noticed this and thrown their weight behind Lisa Nandy
    The Identity political left from
    London ,being an example of how hierarchy of victimhood saw unions of the Greater London assembly handing out donations

    Moving pensioners out of London so Essex councils paid their old folks homes

  2. Alf says:

    Labour Together is a limited company registered at Companies House. Kipper-lite Lisa Nandy is a director – as is Trevor Chinn, one of Tory-lite Tom Watson’s main wealthy donors.

    It’s a cover for one of those billionnaire-funded Blair cult things. An undermining operation. Ed should never have allowed himself to be taken in.

  3. Anne says:

    I agree with this article – also I would say the graph demonstrates the reasons why Labour lost so disastrously in the election. Unless this is understood – then the problems will persist.
    The problem was the gradual takeover of the Labour Party by the hard left – excluding talented moderate people. Momentum did have a part to play in this – it divided the party. Anyone who disagreed with Corbyn was excluded.
    The road back (if this can be achieved) is going to be ready hard – to win back the trust of the people. The leadership contest is the first step – then working towards a broad church approach.

  4. Manny Kent says:

    That the Review is led by someone who as leader polled fewer votes than Jeremy Corbyn in either of Corbyn’s elections tells you all you need to know.

    People forget that even after such a crushing defeat Corbyn still polled more votes than Miliband in 2015, Brown in 2010 (1.5 million more) and Blair in 2005 and did so without the sort of support Blair and Brown could hope for in their home country of Scotland. There is a strong argument that the rot began under Blair and Brown who between them lost the party 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010 and Corbyn is as much suffering from the underlying problems they bequeathed the party (including the infamous Clause IV moment and their obsessive Europhilia resulting in the Lisbon Treaty) as he is his own and his teams short term failings

    Furthermore, they also have to realise that Brexit and their election victory has largely reunified the Right and the chasm that divided the Conservatives throughout the 90’s and Noughties no longer exists. They are no longer the pushover they used to be and having delivered the Holy Grail of Brexit will be hard to defeat unless they somehow cause complete economic failure.

    The point being if Labour do not view this in the proper context (including the collapse of the Labour vote in Scotland under Miliband) then there are another two million more votes that could easily be lost. Sure Corbyn is passed his sell by date but the problems that face the party are far deeper and more systemic than that.

  5. ExLabour says:

    Corbyn will hang around long enough to ensure one of his disciples will be elected and another 5 years wasted.

    carry on listening to the keyboard warrior nobs on social media and Labour is doomed for decades. Because some over exuberant sixth form Corbynista cheerleader says it is doesn’t make it so.

    Here’s a thought …what about a centre left party who represents the country as a whole? We are not all billionaires or use food banks and we are generally aspirational for ourselves and our kids. We are OK with fair taxes, and paying for stuff we use, but we don’t like freebies for All including the feckless and work shy including paying them (and everyone) a weekly income.

    Embrace the work ethic, family values, aspirations, fair tax, prioritise those who contribute and you never know, it just might work !

  6. Tafia says:

    The thing about Atul is in all the years I have followed this page one thing I have learned is that Atul is consistently wrong, draws the wrong conclusions and uses superficial information which he either deliberately misrepresents or genuinely doesn’t understand.

    He’s correct that this review is pointless, but the reasons he gives for that are rubbish.

    NEW YEARS QUIZ, answer next week.
    Which leadership candidate’s department said of Rochdale grooming victims that it was a ‘lifestyle choice’.

    (I’ve got plenty of questions about other leadership candidates to follow)

  7. John p Reid says:

    Likes 2008 London labour ignoring havering 2012 was even worse in Bromley and Bexley hesth Kent south London where they weighed the Tory votes

    The left in the 80’s saw Maggie thatcher as the bogey man, the left love to have a enemy to oppose who they feel is evil, so its virtue signaling to show labour are the good guys,
    And under Cameron with the libdems that didn’t happen, they may get that if Boris Johnson tears up the equality laws in a second term and there no victim, Olympics if he does then the tories are rejected after labour opposing it in 2029 then

    It may finally shock labour into realizing the party is so out of touch with the public

  8. Joun p Reid says:

    Alf ,labour together are kipper lite? Do you ukip still exist ? I’d thst all the ckrbyn cult have got? To call people like Tom watson Blairite Tories like

    Trevor Chin, wasn’t it tom watson who brought Blair corn, make your mind up on Kipper life, Ukip were Brexiters Blair was the biggest remainer

    Manny Kent, for a start labour lost 4.8million votes from 87-2010 with 3.8milluin if them had died, but then Kinnock and blair increased labours bote by 5.2milluon votes between 1983-1997, the 83 manifesto being one Corbyn endorses
    And labour lost 5.6 million votes between 1955-1983

    in 2005 and 2010 there were 40 million on the electoral register in 2019 there was 48 so that’s a increase of 20% if you increase the 9.6m votes in 2005 or the 8.68m votes of 2010 by a population increase of 20% on the electoral register
    thats 11.5 votes labour got in 2005 they’d have got or 10.35 in 2020
    Both more than labour last week

    Well said ex labour

    Tafia- was it Jess Philips?

  9. John P Reic says:

    This shows that Lisa Nandy while being close to Ed Miliband rather than blairite David, can support the sims of labour together while criticism the tenor of the investigation
    I mean asking Anna turkey parachutes into Redcar as a remainer, Dan day all she likes it was Corbyn was too much of the metropolitan elite

    When her anti Brexit views were as just as much

  10. Tafia says:

    If you want to know one of the reason’s Labour lost and the disconnect that is blatantly obvious between the wewrking class north of Watford and the metro-centric London-looking Labour Party MPs and elite, listen to Orwell’s ‘Road To Wigan Pier’. Although written in the 1930’s, the core problems are exactly the same today as is the disconnect. And the petits-bourgoisie and bourgoisie make the same mistakes today as they did then – that they think they know what’s best for ordinary workers – NO THEY DO NOT. The ordinary workers know what is best for them and how to best live their lives and no-one else and as a result back then, the same as now, the workers voted Tory and the middle classes voted Labour, causing Labour to become a party of the middle class and not the workers, and to adopt the attituude that they know best and as a result attempt to herd and control the workers. For exinstance, there is not, never has been and never will be an MP who knows what is best for me. Or best for my neighbours etc etc. Only I know what is best for me.

  11. anon says:

    @Tafia – a great find.

    I find myself returning to the great writers of yesteryear – Orwell especially ( thanks for the YouTube link – a source that I would never have even considered as a means of reacquainting myself with the wonderful reading of my youth )

    I have tried to track down an Orwell passage that has stuck in my mind for many years – juxtaposing the miners with “buttons” down their backs to the – I’m pretty sure of the description – “pansy poets” of the disconnected circles described in the YouTube link.

    Then and now, the pieces come together – in my city graffiti is fashionable and the city’s arts director earns almost as much as our Prime Minister; whilst we have ‘tent cities’ popping up all over the place.
    The cunning thing that our local Labour council does is to try and do away with these scenarios: the subways and bus station that harboured these obscenities to the virtuous eye were filled in or redeveloped – the irony being that they are more visible now than they ever were before.

    As for the demonisation of the old – well, we’ve gone from nationalism to populism, and from populism to nativism – and now onto Gammon.

    The Labour Party has, regrettably, been at the forefront of this agenda: the party has bitten the hand that once created and fed it.

    Here’s an ex-political secretary to Tony Blair, John McTernan:

    “…politics is always about the numbers. The truth is that the white working class are not Labour’s base any more. Their anger about migration is real, but as Mr Goodwin and Mr Ford point out, the Labour supporters most likely to defect to Ukip are older, unskilled workers who left formal education at 15. This group has been rapidly shrinking. They are no longer numerically, or spiritually, the Labour party’s base.”

    Labour have reaped what they have sown.

    BTW – it is an age thing: once my demographic shuffles off its mortal coil Labour can inherit its place at the top – but at what cost to its soul ?

  12. Tafia says:

    John P Reid Tafia- was it Jess Philips?

    No, it was Kier Starmer. CPS position back in 2008 when he became DPP was that the victims were actually to blame for their own ‘lifestyle choices’ as opposed to being victims of large, organised, overwhelmingly muslim predators of Pakistani descent working in cohesive large groups, carrying out mass-child rape with the full knowledge of the local Police forces, the local Social Services and the local (overwhelmingly) Labour parties who were – and still are, too cowardly to publicly condemn the causes of this less it leads to breakdowns of social cohesion.

    Up in the northern towns that were affected this it is still a major major issue at ground level and people are still absolutely furious with the powers that be for refusing to tackle this head on and start finger pointing where finger pointing needs to be done (echos what I was saying about ‘Wigan Pier’ – don’t tell us you know better, do what we want you to do or you are of any use to us) and somehow passing the blame onto the children involved. Some of the towns up here are now on their third and even fourth cycle of these rape gangs and people are still livid and rightly so.

  13. Tafia says:

    This is an interesting article from Germany about why Labour lost – highlighting the fact that in Wales – which is run by Labour, and in local authorities such as Vauxhall (again run by Labour ) regional Labour administrations are busy actively supporting and enacting policies that were the exact opposite of what the Party were saying nationally at the General Election.

    Just press google translate to get it in English – and again, shades of Wigan Pier.!5647515/

  14. John P Reid says:

    Apart from the embarrassing the election result was a attack on the wotking class despite more working class people voting Tory than labour

    Rebecca long baileys gone all blue labour in this , shame she doesn’t mean it and Lisa nandy does

  15. peter carabine says:

    The Labour Party is over, ended as an opposition force. The fact that it gets its worst result for 85 years, arguably the worst ever in its 120 yr history and loses upto 60 working-class seats many places never Tory in that time – and then allows this lowest-rated leader in its history to hang around as its leader for even more months shows the utter dysfunctionality of this former important progressive party. Corbynites are traitors to the working class who literally hate them and will keep it powerless for a decade or more.

    The weak MPs on that first day said OK to stay after our worst GE in a century. No other party in a Western Democracy has done that. You stay Jeremy and fix for it another Corbynite to come in. What happened to the good old Labour Party? Its moderates have even given up.

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