Posts Tagged ‘general election 2024’

The purge of hard left candidates will be shocking to many in the party but it shows Starmer’s operation understands the reality of modern politics

30/05/2024, 12:16:09 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The first rule of politics is to learn to count.  Reports of the last minute purge of four hard left candidates suggest that Keir Starmer’s team have fully taken on board Lyndon Johnson’s most important lesson.

Many in the party will be shocked and uncomfortable at the developments. Few would think that Labour splits dominating news coverage, to the exclusion of the central message on the economy, is desirable. But there is a logic to what is being done, beyond spite or pure factionalism. It is a rationale that recognises the limitations of party whipping in an age of social media and one that makes Lyndon Johnson’s rule all the more important.

Boris Johnson won the 2019 election with a majority of 77 but he faced multiple rebellions and was ultimately brought down because his whips could not maintain discipline across the parliamentary party. Clearly he played a leading role in his own demise but twenty or thirty years ago, there’s a reasonable chance he could have survived. What has changed since the 1990s and early 2000s is the size of the bubble in which politics is conducted and the pace at which the news cycle turns.

In a pre-online, pre-social media age, politics was the preserve of the individuals within the physical environs of Westminster, largely the MPs and the lobby journalists. It was a small world, one in which personal relationships, a trading of favours and the odd grabbing of lapels could maintain party discipline. News was slow, there were a limited number of broadcast channels, and the daily papers took twenty-four hours to publish.

But now, it is different.

The bubble has grown and extends from Westminster into the online world of commentators and activists. The news cycle has accelerated beyond all recognition. In the 1990s, when an event occurred, the next day’s reporting would normally be factual on the event and comment pieces would tend to follow 48 to 72 hours later. Today when a newsworthy event occurs, the factual turn of the cycle is complete within minutes and multiple rotations of comment and reaction begin within the hour.

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The SNP’s impending collapse is an opportunity, but also a warning, for Scottish Labour

29/05/2024, 09:30:05 PM

by Rob Marchant

While the Tories writhe in anguish about how large their defeat is likely to be, spare a thought for another party, which might conceivably end up worse.

It’s been difficult to keep track of everything that’s gone wrong for the SNP over the last year or so.

First there was the shock resignation of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and her own arrest. Not to mention that of her husband, who was later re-arrested and charged, on suspicion of embezzlement.

Her successor Humza Yousaf, in power for just over a year, continued to pursue Sturgeon’s tremendous unpopular policy of gender self ID, and was himself forced to resign after the failure of a widely-criticised bill curbing free speech and the subsequent collapse of the coalition with the Scottish Greens.

Now we have John Swinney, who has been in office for a further 21 days, during which he has: used up political capital trying to save a disgraced MSP friend, only to fail in the end; pushed for recognition of a terrorist state, even though his role has no powers whatsoever over foreign affairs; has been unable to say what a woman is; and the icing on the cake was when Rishi Sunak called a general election unexpectedly early, meaning that they now look to receive a terrible drubbing at the polls sooner rather than later.

Indeed, a poll a few days ago, when put through the well-known Electoral Calculus model, predicted it could end up with as few as seven seats; a total wipeout. Oh, and their Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, would lose his seat, although he remains bullish about their prospects, in a “Chemical Ali” kind of a way.

Yousaf was fond of saying that this coming general election should be seen as a plebiscite on Scottish independence – but they’re not saying that any more.

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Sunak is a worse campaigner than Theresa May

26/05/2024, 09:17:41 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Is Rishi Sunak’s general election campaign destined to be remembered as the worst, most calamitous, incompetent, shambolic, hilariously deficient, madcap, badly run and outright dingbat since…well, Theresa May’s in 2017?

In what remains an electoral paradox, she achieved the second highest-ever number of votes for a winning party, but still managed to slide backwards, frittering away the majority she inherited from David Cameron in 2015.

To be fair, she was just a terrible campaigner with a big, lumpy idea – social care reform – that frighted the middle-class.

In comparison, Sunak’s effort, on current form, will go down as a three-dimensional clusterfuck.

I can scarcely believe its only Day 5.

First, we had the wet rat election announcement in Downing Street, with the Prime Minister trying to ignore both the lousy weather and the unsubtle strains of New Labour’s pop anthem, ‘Things Can Only Get Better,’ as he delivered a clumsy, overlong speech.

Then we had the incident with his minders throwing a Sky News team out of his launch while they were still broadcasting.

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Campaign Uncut: Heat on Sue Gray from senior Labour ranks as worries rise of ‘too little politics, too many civil servants’

24/05/2024, 11:59:56 PM

Welcome dear reader to the wrap from day 2 of the campaign:

1. Bubbling under the surface: Heat on Sue Gray from senior Labour ranks as worries rise of ‘too little politics, too many civil servants’

While Rishi Sunak’s campaign flubs continue to dominate the news agenda, behind the curtain in Labour land there is rising worry at the direction Sue Gray is taking LOTO.  Before Wednesday, there was already an undercurrent of concern across the senior ranks of Labour politicians and advisers at her Whitehall-isation of Keir Starmer’s office, with politics subordinated and an increasing focus on hiring ex-civil servants.  The sudden announcement of the election, with the prospect that the LOTO team will be in Number 10 in a matter of weeks, has exacerbated worries.

One senior Labour adviser commented, “She’s trying to be Cabinet Secretary and recreate the machinery of the civil service, but that’s not what a Labour PM needs, there’s already a civil service with a Cabinet Secretary; this Labour leader, who has only been an MP since 2015, needs political counsel”

Another source familiar with the conversations occurring across the shadow cabinet and senior Labour MPs summarised the issue as “too little politics, too many civil servants.”

Tensions between Morgan McSweeney and Sue Gray have been widely reported and any potential move by McSweeney out of LOTO into a safe seat, as Uncut reported yesterday, would tip the balance in LOTO further towards Whitehall priorities.

A key point of immediate contention is on who will be Sue Gray’s deputy chief of staff. There is a widespread understanding that this role needs to be a Labour rather than ex-civil service figure, but given the dividing lines between Labour and Whitehall factions, the danger is that the deputy chief of staff becomes the de facto leader of those who favour a more overtly political direction for Keir Starmer’s office.

2. Gaffe of the day: Rishi Sunak, captain of the Titanic

It was closely contested with Sunak’s photo-opp on the plane by the exit sign but positioning the PM as the captain of the Titanic had to be the winner. James McCarthy’s full piece is well worth a read, if only for the use of one of the greatest quotes from The Thick Of It, “Like a clown running across a minefield”

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He’s done what? The top 10 memes on Sunak’s sodden speech

22/05/2024, 11:28:06 PM

It was a banter launch for what will be undoubtedly a banter election. Within minutes of stepping out into Downing Street, Rishi Sunak was soaked, literally by the pouring rain and metaphorically in online ridicule as the internet’s wags seized on the unworldly bizarreness of the launch. Uncut has collated the top 10 that are making Westminster smile. Given Rishi Sunak’s political touch, this is unlikely to be the last top 10 of the campaign.

In reverse order:

10. Rishi as Partridge. Quite uncanny.

9. And we go live to the internal monologue of most Conservative MPs…

8. To be fair, the visuals here are much better than the actual announcement. There’s some sunshine and better composition than the Tory team managed.

7. If “Gullis eating soup with a fork” doesn’t make you smile then all we can say is ‘Sorry Jonathan, one day you’ll look back and laugh’

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Revealed: Labour high command planning for TWO elections – 2024 and 2026 – with ‘the longest and most expensive ever rolling general election campaign’

06/10/2023, 01:27:58 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Labour high command has begun planning for a single general election campaign that does not end with the next general election but continues through to the election after that. The rationale is that while Labour will likely win the next election, the majority will be sufficiently narrow to make a quick-fire return to the polls almost inevitable.

Speaking to multiple sources, Uncut understands that expectations across the shadow cabinet are for a majority between 10 and 40 with a clear understanding that even a majority of 40 would likely be unworkable to deliver the scale of change needed by the country.

Labour won 202 seats in 2019 and to achieve a majority of 40 at the next election would mean winning an extra 158 seats, significantly more than the boost of 146 seats that Tony Blair secured in 1997.

Even if the upper end of expectations was somehow reached with a majority of 40, a rebellion of just 20 Labour MPs could derail government plans. Currently the hard left Socialist Campaign Group has 35 MPs with a swathe of other backbench Labour MPs, most of whom are likely to be in the next parliament, disgruntled with the leadership and already identified as likely serial rebels.

The experience of the Lib Dems in the 2010 coalition which resulted in their near total wipeout at the 2015 election combined with the nature of seats that they are currently targeting – Blue Wall, long term Tory bastions where voters have a historic hostility to Labour – means that the prospect of anything other than a slightly augmented confidence and supply agreement with Ed Davey’s party is remote.

A vulnerable majority would not only place huge constraints on policy but the longer the parliament ran the more Keir Starmer’s authority would be eroded as the political debate increasingly focused on Westminster psychodrama rather than the government’s agenda. The fate of past PMs with narrow majorities such as Theresa May, John Major, Jim Callaghan and Harold Wilson, looms large in the thinking of key figures around the Labour leader. (more…)

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Whatever happens, Keir Starmer has put Labour on track for government

09/05/2022, 09:43:34 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The local elections showed that Keir Starmer has put Labour on a trajectory to form the next government, irrespective of whether a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) prevents him making it to Downing Street.

I offered 5 reasons for Labour optimism at the end of last year. Each has strengthened.

  1. Boris Johnson will never again be the political force that he was in December 2019

The unique circumstances of the 2019 general election will never be repeated. They were unusually favourable to Johnson.

Now he is one of the least popular prime ministers ever and blamed by his party for larger than expected losses in the local elections.

There is little sunlight on Johnson’s horizon. Cost of living crisis. Record NHS waiting lists. Northern Irish unrest bound up with his Brexit deal.

Many leaders suffer midterm challenges and recover. Johnson may be another. But he confronts big problems, which will not create a context as hospitable as December 2019.

  1. The next general election will not be about Brexit

We – as I wrote last December – are tired of Brexit. We do not want to refight old battles. We just want things to work properly.

But things are not working properly. In Northern Ireland. At our borders. With our exports. These problems all follow from Johnson’s Brexit.

If only these were the only failures of 12 years of Tory government. The rot of austerity and endemic poverty goes deep.

We see this all around us: homelessness and food banks; whenever we try to access NHS services; when we work long hours to not meet ever rising bills. These Tory failures hobble our civic life and economic performance.

We cannot sustain the growth needed to pay for the public services that we need. The Tory response is to further weigh us down with taxes. They are, as Rachel Reeves has said, a party of high taxes because they are a party of low growth.

The right approach is to liberate our potential. We are so much better than they have allowed us to believe. We can thrive with proper backing.

The next election won’t be about ‘getting Brexit done’ but getting Britain started. It is a turn the page election. The next Tory page is ‘Brexit opportunities’ and ‘levelling up’.

Labour needs messages and messengers to own the future much more convincingly.

  1. Johnson’s kingdom of sand bequeaths little to the next Tory leader

In the morning of his 1997 defeat, John Major drew warm applause from Tory activists for saying that they could look back with pride on what they had achieved in government. Applause in equivalent circumstances in 2024 will be entirely hollow.

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