Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Ian Lavery should not be Labour’s Elections Coordinator. Or anything coordinator, with his toxic past

17/02/2017, 02:00:50 PM

by Rob Marchant

Since Jeremy Corybn’s rise to prominence, there has been a seemingly never-ending succession of skeletons pulled out of the closets of senior Corbynites, to the delight of Tory press officers everywhere.

There was the relationships of Corbyn himself with Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and with Hamas terrorists; John McDonnell’s outspoken pro-IRA stance; the support of a motion supporting denial of the Kosovo genocide by both; the suspension and reinstatement of MP Naz Shah over anti-Semitic remarks; the suspension of Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker over the same; the well-known Stalin apologism of Corbynites Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray; and so on. Doubtless the Tories are currently holding fire on a number of the more juicy ones, keeping their powder dry for 2020.

But the connecting thread between all these embarrassments has been clear: no matter how senseless or unsavoury, they have all been essentially connected, in the minds of the perpetrators at least, to political positions.

For example, the connections with anti-Semites are always justified on the grounds that the people in question are merely anti-Israel (of course!) The IRA connection? Because they were romantic freedom-fighters, naturally, who happened to kill people. And the Stalin connection because, well, Communism wasn’t all bad, was it? However dire the story, there was always some kind of contorted political justification which allowed the people involved to continue to look at themselves in the mirror the following morning.

In contrast, this was clearly not the case with Ian Lavery. Lavery is Corbyn’s new Elections Coordinator and the man in charge of every set of elections, we presume, from now until Labour is inevitably decimated in 2020.

Until now he has been in relatively low-profile roles, such as Shadow Minister for Trade Unions and Civil Society, and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office. No, with Lavery the story was not political: it was about his questionable behaviour on a matter of simple personal ethics.


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10 hard truths for Labour moderates

21/07/2016, 10:01:33 PM

by Samuel Dale

Last summer, Labour Uncut ran a series about telling ten hard truths for the Labour party after an epic election defeat in May 2015.

Those were the days. Remember Andy Burnham giving his opening leadership speech at Ernst & Young and talking about attracting business support? Or Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper fighting over who could say aspiration the most times in a speech?

For a few heady days in May, we were all Blairites. An incredible 12 months in Labour politics has passed and it is time to tell 10 hard truths to Labour moderates about our role in the party.

1. Jeremy Corbyn won because Labour members backed him. Corbyn currently appears to have the overwhelming support of Labour members, not to mention affiliated and registered supporters. In fact, he is one of the most popular leaders the party has ever had among its membership. The only realistic route to removing Corbyn is persuading these members that there is a better alternative. Telling them they are clowns or morons (as I have done many times) is self-indulgent and clearly unpersuasive.

2. Momentum have out-organised the Labour right. Last summer, the Corbyn campaign signed up 88,449 registered supporters paying £3 each to vote for him. That was a huge effort of organization and political skill. Without those registered supporters then the vote would have gone into a second round and anything could have happened. This year’s election has been an even bigger effort with an estimated 150,000 registered supporters signed up in the last 48 hours. Some will be moderates for Saving Labour but it seems likely that most will be Corbynistas. (more…)

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Remain will win easily. Boris will be irrelevant and immigration will barely register in voters’ choice

23/02/2016, 12:47:38 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last year, in the aftermath of the general election it looked like Westminster had learnt that the economy and leadership are central to determining the public’s voting intention at the big electoral tests.

Now we have an EU referendum looming and there’s been a bout of collective amnesia.

Yes, I know this is not a general election but the same formula of economy and leadership is relevant for largely the same reasons as last year.

Immigration is the issue that many Brexiteers think will tip the balance their way. But just as Ukip found last year, they’re misreading the polls.

There is a very familiar gap between the number who view immigration as the most important issue facing the country and those who view it as important to their household’s well-being.

At the general election, 51% thought immigration was the key issue facing Britain but only 21% believed it mattered most to their lives.

Unsurprisingly, immigration was not a major factor in the contest.

In the last poll to ask the relevant questions, by YouGov, from last September – following a summer of daily coverage of refugees travelling to Europe – the number citing immigration as the most important national issue was the highest on record at 71%. But the number who thought it most important for their family was 24% – a gap of 47%.

Think about that for a moment.

Even after a summer of non-stop reporting of fleeing refugees entering Europe, lurid stories from the Calais “jungle” and hyperbolic headlines, the proportion thinking that immigration mattered most for their lives rose by just 3% from 21% at the election to 24% at the start of September.

In comparison, in the same poll, the number saying the economy was the most important issue for their household was 40%. That’s 16% ahead of immigration.

In every single poll conducted by YouGov in the five and half years that they’ve been asking these questions, this gap has never been less than 16%.


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The story from the local elections isn’t that Ukip is popular. It’s that Labour is not.

23/05/2014, 11:11:18 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Last night Labour was busily managing expectations that 150 gains in the local elections would have constituted a good result. Naturally, the final haul is likely to significantly exceed that number, but it is quite extraordinary that a total as low as 150 gains was even vaguely plausible.

The last time most of these council seats were contested was on the same day as the general election, when Labour slumped to its second worst post-war result.

Inevitably the focus for much of the media has been Ukip but the obsession with Farage and his out-sized personality misses the most salient political point: Ukip only exist because Labour is not the vehicle for popular protest.

When Labour previously made the transition from opposition to government, it brought together a voter coalition that extended from the left all the way into parts of the centre right. The breadth of this coalition and its sheer reach wasn’t based on ideology or policy but emotion.

The feeling that voters who may not traditionally have been Labour supporters, could safely lend the party their votes, to teach the Tories a lesson. That even if they disagreed with some aspects of policy, they could confidently project their personal hopes and aspirations onto the party’s leaders and supporting Labour meant backing the winner.

The stardust of success is beguiling. It creates an aura of optimism that lowers voter reservations attracts support. Everyone loves a winner.

But this stardust is missing from today’s Labour party. And in the absence of a confident and successful opposition to challenge a tired and uninspiring government, fringe populism flourishes.


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Farage fears UKIP can’t win a ground war

30/04/2014, 03:23:09 PM

by Kevin Meagher

So Nigel Farage has decided to act strategically rather than tactically by not putting himself forward for the Newark by-election.

He knows two things only too well. The first and most obvious is that because he’s so publicly the face of UKIP, he cannot damage his own brand – and by extension the party’s – by standing and losing.

Second, he knows his party’s organisation isn’t yet strong enough to take on the other parties polished by-election operations in a tough fight.

Announcing his decision on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning to accusations he was “frit”, Farage described himself as “a fighter and a warrior but I am determined to pick my battles”.

To continue the military analogies, Farage knows that he’s successful at hit-and-run tactical opportunism and runs a good air war, using his media profile to good effect to rain down rhetorical bombs on the Tories’ crumbling fortifications.

But when it comes to the ground war – where elections are won and lost – Farage’s troops are still raw recruits, while his boots are more used to treading the manicured lawn of College Green than Newark High Street.

UKIP seemed genuinely put out at Labour’s postal vote operation in the Wythenshawe by-election in February, with Farage claiming: “I have been on benders for longer than the opening of the nominations and the start of the postal ballots. This has been a farce.”

If he doesn’t understand how the postal vote system works in elections, then he really isn’t ready for close electoral combat.

But UKIP is learning.  Building membership and organisation, getting tough with errant candidates, learning political tradecraft and raising enough cash to keep the show on the road is the boring bit of politics. But without it, UKIP has no chance of making a breakthrough.

Farage knows this. He is biding his time, hoping that he turns his barmy army into crack shots in time for next year’s general election.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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Shadow cabinet: vote for the Eagle

17/09/2010, 12:26:33 PM

From: EAGLE, Maria
Sent: 16 September 2010 17:55
To: EAGLE, Maria

I believe I have the talons talent to help make Labour soar upwards again. See my two most recent debates:  

I both opened and wound up for the opposition on ConDem proposals to extend anonymity to defendants in rape cases. We all demolished their case and the policy was abandoned following the debate – the first defeat of a proposal in the coalition programme for government.

I wound up in the second reading debate on the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill and got stuck into the Deputy Prime Minister –  one coalition weak link upon whom we should focus our fire.

Lets get stuck into them in Parliament – and everywhere else!

Maria Eagle

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We need to build a party ready to win, argues David Miliband

26/07/2010, 10:00:36 AM

Labour has a responsibility to win again.

John Prescott, who epitomises the permanent campaign, wrote here that the correct response to the anger we feel is to get organised. I could not agree more and agree strongly with the ideas he set out. The Labour leadership election will rightly focus on the policy lessons we need to learn from our defeat – and there are many – but when the debate is over, Labour will have to re-emerge as movement with both the right ideas and organisation to win again.

We should recognise the remarkable lengths that party activists go to. Their hard work saved Labour from catastrophe and meant that we got a 1992 result on a 1983 share of the vote. But despite their commitment, and this hasn’t been said enough in our contest, we lost badly. We won just 12 seats in the Southern regions of England. 4 million Labour voters and 180 Labour seats have been lost since 1997.

The seeds of our defeat were sewn long in ago in the loss of council seats, activists, members and supporters across the country. The leadership of our party invested too little in organisation. We lost the link between the voices and experiences of local members and the policies we campaigned on nationally.

Labour’s new leader will have just over 200 days to get machine and movement ready for the Welsh, Scottish and local elections. If I was that leader I would put us on a war-footing from day one. This coalition seems cosy but I suspect some Liberals are already looking for an escape route. I don’t want us to be caught napping by a surprise election or for us to still be selecting candidates with a few weeks to go before an election. We need good people in place as quickly as possible, especially in those Lib Dem seats which have become competitive again after their decision to join the Tories. The Liberals, for so long the party of relentless opposition campaigning, should now reap what they have sown.


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Nick Palmer on how to mobilise the army of the unaffiliated

25/05/2010, 08:41:07 AM

This is a really good time to be recruiting new members – indeed, people seem to be recruiting themselves. In Broxtowe alone, we’ve had a couple of dozen newcomers who signed up entirely spontaneously after the election. People who left us a while back are putting Iraq behind them, dismayed by the change of government and seeing us as the only anti-Tory game in town.

That’s great – a core of party activists is absolutely essential. But we also need a strategy for involving people who don’t, for whatever reason, want to join. Being a member of a political party is unfashionable, seen by many as rather like joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses: it doesn’t make you a bad person, but many people think it’s not very cool. We can deplore that but we need to recognise it. And it’s not just us – Tory membership has been falling, even in the year up to the election that they expected to win.

I was MP for Broxtowe from 1997 until three weeks ago. Broxtowe, a mixture of towns and villages west of Nottingham, is traditional Tory territory and the demographics are changing against us, with more and more prosperous commuter housing. In 1992, the last close-run General Election, they won it by a 14% (10,000 votes) margin. This year, they won it by just 0.7% (389 votes), with a swing since 2005 of 2.6%, one of the lowest in England. We lost, but seemingly we’ve still been doing something right. (more…)

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