Archive for July, 2024

Starmer crushed the Labour Left. That is why he won.

09/07/2024, 10:50:39 PM

by Sam Dale

You may think it would provoke a moment of introspection. A shred of humility, perhaps? Maybe, even, a half-hearted congratulations to the new prime minister.

But no. The far-left, who left Labour on the brink of extinction just five years ago, are doing their most ungracious best to dismiss the most astonishing electoral turnaround in British history.

Jeremy Corbyn won in Islington North. A few independent wins. The Greens are second in a few dozen seats to Labour. Something about vote share. And just you wait for next time in….. 2029!

It’s always next time, isn’t it?

Such are the scraps the Left are left to feed off in the wake of Starmer’s swaggering, all conquering win.

So, let us stop and take a moment to savour this delicious victory.

In December 2019, just four and a half years ago, Trots and Marxists were running the Labour party.

Inevitably and predictably, it was handed its worst general election result in 100 years with 191 seats.

Keir Starmer took over a party on its knees. He had to be Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair rolled into one.

He made two big, necessary changes.

Firstly, he has crushed the Labour Left. Corbyn was booted out, Owen Jones left the party and a series of candidates ruthlessly dismissed.

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A pretty good Cabinet, with caveats

08/07/2024, 09:39:35 PM

by Rob Marchant

A Labour government. Let’s first just take a moment to savour those words.

Having sat in the Strangers Gallery just over a year ago and somewhat despaired as to the overall quality of the front bench, it looks to me that Starmer seems to have made a pretty good fist of delivering his first Cabinet.

The four Great Offices of State are unchanged from their Shadow incarnation: Starmer, Reeves, Lammy and Cooper. Reeves was brought in as a welcome safe pair of hands, with genuinely relevant career experience, to the Shadow Chancellor role after Anneliese Dodds’s unremarkable year in it, and has been well received since then. Cooper is a seasoned and respected politician, with Cabinet experience and five years of Home Affairs exposure chairing the Select Committee. Lammy we’ll come back to.

At the next level, Reynolds, Kendall, Healey, Phillipson, Kyle are all solid appointments. And Rayner’s appointment to Levelling Up, Housing and Communities seems to play to her strengths and interests. As expected, previous Cabinet experience has been pulled in wherever possible, to shore up a top table of many faces new to government; Hilary Benn has been brought back into the fold from committee-chairing, and a pleasant surprise has been the immediate deployment of “New Labour old lags” Douglas Alexander and Jacqui Smith as Ministers of State, alongside Ed Miliband, Pat McFadden and Yvette Cooper as full Cabinet members.

The less-good news: after a whole weekend of dithering, Anneliese Dodds has been given the Women and Equalities portfolio, despite having managed to anger numerous pro-women campaigners, including J K Rowling, with her clearly Stonewall-influenced views on gender recognition and conversion therapy, and will now be attending Cabinet, although not as a Secretary of State. One wonders whether no-one else wanted it, as a poison chalice; either way – in light of the new Prime Minister’s recently being forced into uncomfortable declarations regarding women’s toilets, contradicting Bridget Phillipson’s own the previous week – it is a tone-deaf appointment.

Meanwhile, women’s affairs being subsumed into Phillipson’s Education portfolio, breaking a manifesto promise that it would have its own department, presents less than ideal optics to women’s organisations on their importance to the new government. Monday’s Twitter has been aflame with the burns of disappointed women on Starmer and Dodds, and not without good reason.

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Nigel Farage and Reform were the Cleggmania of the 2024 campaign

06/07/2024, 09:11:57 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Earthquake? What earthquake. Nigel Farage might be talking up the result Reform secured but the facts tell a different story.

In 2015, Nigel Farage’s Ukip secured 3.9 million votes, 13% of the total and 1 MP. In 2024, Nigel Farage’s Reform won 4.1 million votes, 14% of the total and 5 MPs.

Yes, 2024 was an improvement over 2015 for Farage and his party’s vote was better distributed but remember who they, and all of the other parties, were running against: a tired, divided government in its 14th year that had presided over a parliamentary session where, for the first time, the country was worse off at the end compared to the start. Nothing works, public services are on their knees and even Nigel Farage has said that this version of Brexit has been a disaster.

The real question to be asked is why didn’t they do much better?

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Northern Ireland’s results might have longer-term ramifications for the province and the UK

03/07/2024, 09:38:48 AM

by Kevin Meagher

We’ve heard about the Red Wall, the Blue Wall, Scotland and Wales throughout this election campaign, but not so much about Northern Ireland.

Easy to overlook perhaps, but there are 18 parliamentary seats up for grabs and on three occasions over the past 45 years unionists have held the balance of power at Westminster.

Granted, with a Labour landslide incoming we probably don’t need to worry too much about the prospect of Keir Starmer being propped-up by the DUP (although there was a strong possibility of that happening if the numbers had been slightly better for Gordon Brown in 2010).

Still, there are a few interesting twists and turns to watch out for and the result might well have big ramifications for the new government further down the road.

First, there’s the DUP.

Northern Ireland’s preeminent unionist party goes into the election holding eight seats in the House of Commons (one ahead of Sinn Fein). But it’s a record that’s unlikely to be matched this time around.

The latest poll has them 10 points down on their 2019 share of the vote. There is also the elephant in the room in the shape of their former leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who is facing 18 charges in relation to historical sexual offences.

The party’s interim leader, Gavin Robinson, is the current MP for East Belfast. He faces a stiff challenge from Alliance. Their candidate, Naomi Long, formerly held the seat beating the DUP’s then-leader, Peter Robinson, back in 2010. Is history going to repeat itself?

Like the Tories, the DUP faces a challenger to their right splitting their vote in the shape of Traditional Unionist Voice. An undiluted, full-fat Paisleyite rump that makes the DUP sound like the Liberal Democrats. They are part of an alliance with Reform UK, (although Nigel Farage has personally endorsed the DUP’s Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson).

But the DUP’s real threat comes from the resurgent Ulster Unionists and Alliance.  Both parties may take seats from the DUP. A worst-case scenario has them losing half their current tally.

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