Posts Tagged ‘local elections’

Labour’s dreadful local election performance is the clearest possible public verdict on Corbyn

03/05/2019, 07:41:02 AM

by Rob Marchant

Facing the most incompetent, divided, rudderless and risible Tory government in living memory, Labour has somehow managed to go backwards in the local elections.

It’s unprecedented and entirely a judgement on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

This isn’t a bolt from the blue, Labour’s slide has been entirely predictable and, unchecked, catastrophe beckons at the next general election.

Fast-forward to 2022, the projected next general election: Jeremy Corbyn, safe in his position as leader, has been leader of the Labour Party for seven years.

With regard to tenure, that will put him as the seventh longest-serving leader in the party’s century-long history. MacDonald, Attlee, Gaitskell, Wilson, Kinnock, Blair and Corbyn. That is the peer group: all party leaders for more than one term.

While some might reasonably quibble about MacDonald, the first six are undoubtedly heavyweight, historical names. And party leaders with that kind of tenure are, clearly, the ones with the best chance of shaping their party in their image.

Jeremy Corbyn already has.

In three-and-a-half years – he is currently at the rough midway-point of those seven years – he has reduced his party to one riddled with, and about to be formally investigated for, anti-Semitism; and provided a nonsensically equivocal position on Brexit, as a result shoring up what many have reasonably come to think of as the worst government in history.


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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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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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In praise of…local councillors

03/05/2012, 07:00:24 AM

by Peter Watt

It’s a big test today for all of the parties.  London and Glasgow will be watched particularly closely but so will the results from Derby, Plymouth, Southampton, Harlow, Norwich and, well you get the point!  Will Labour get more than 700 gains?  Will the Tories lose more than 300?

Will the Liberal Democrats go into meltdown?  Clever people will talk about the impact of the ‘omnishambles’ of the News International scandal and the budget on the Tory vote.

There will be a debate about whether there is evidence that Ed Miliband is convincing voters that he is more than David’s brother and is edging towards Downing Street.  The results will all be scrutinised and analysed for their national significance.  But to be honest this inevitable focus on the national is a shame because it masks the individual battles and hard work of thousands and thousands of local candidates across the Country.

I once stood for election to Poole borough council.  I came within 54 votes of winning what had been a safe Tory ward.  But to be honest with hindsight I am glad I didn’t win!  Being a councillor is just too much like hard work for my liking!  In fact at a time when politics is held in such low regard, local government is a beacon of hope.

Local councillors are the unsung heroes of the political world.  They are often part-time holding down a job as well as carrying out their council work.  Yes they get allowances, but they are hardly paid a fortune.  And for their allowances they are incredibly good value.  The endless lists of committees and panels, school governors and board meetings, the residents’ panels, full council meetings and group meetings.  This merry-go-round of public service is often interminably boring but really quite important and frankly someone has attend!


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Friday News Review

06/05/2011, 05:40:58 AM

The start of a long road back

Labour took control of Sheffield early this morning, gaining nine seats from the Lib Dems on leader Nick Clegg’s home turf. In a further blow for the party, Carl Minns leader of Hull council, lost his seat to Labour. The result capped a disastrous night for the Lib Dems. The party was also predicting it “could lose everything” in Liverpool, which has traditionally been a stronghold. In Hull, the party lost ten seats to Labour, with former council leader Mr Minns among the casualties. Labour now has a clear majority in the city. Sheffield, where Mr Clegg has his parliamentary seat, had been governed by the Lib Dems without an absolute majority. The party’s former council leader Paul Scriven insisted that the results were merely a “short-term setback” for the party, and said it should not change direction in response to its drubbing in the polls. Mr Scriven said Lib Dems had to “keep our nerve, keep our backbone and keep bringing fairness to Government and sort out this financial mess”. He told the BBC: “We are in this for the long term, because if not we let the country down.” As the counts were declared in Sheffield, former Labour minister David Blunkett said Cleggmania had become “Clegg pneumonia.” – Yorkshire Post

Liberal Democrat group leader Carl Minns faces being unemployed this morning, having paid the price for cuts which left hundreds of council workers out of a job. In a press conference, Mr Minns admitted his Liberal Democrat party was facing defeat in Hull and losing control of the council. He also conceded that he was facing losing his own seat in Kings Park although the result has yet to be confirmed. He said: “It is clear that the Liberal Democrats are not going to have a good night tonight.” – Hull Daily Mail

Gray has got to go… will go…

SNP leader Alex Salmond promised a referendum on Scottish independence as early results indicated an historic night for his party. Huge inroads have been made into Labour’s central belt strongholds, with John Mason taking the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, James Dornan taking the Cathcart seat and Sandra White winning in Glasgow Kelvin. There were also SNP gains in Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse, East Kilbride and Clydesdale. The SNP also snatched Edinburgh Pentlands from the Conservatives – with former Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie losing his seat – and Edinburgh Southern from the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, Labour leader Iain Gray managed to hold his East Lothian seat – but by just 151 votes. He said that the collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who have already lost deposits, may have benefited the SNP. The final winners and losers are not expected to be confirmed until later in the afternoon. Voters are electing 129 MSPs, 73 for constituencies and a further 56 on regional lists. – STV

Alex Salmond was last night on course for a second term as First Minister as voters across Scotland turned away in large numbers from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  Former Labour minister Andy Kerr became the first major scalp of the Holyrood election, losing to the SNP’s Linda Fabiani in the East Kilbride constituency. Mr Kerr, who was Labour’s finance spokesman in the last. Elsewhere, there were widespread signs of a collapse in the Lib Dem vote, with Tavish Scott’s party losing their deposit in the first seat of the night to be declared in Rutherglen, where the SNP vote surged by 16 per cent. The broad picture looks set to deliver an SNP victory and a return to Bute House for Alex Salmond with an increased mandate. If his re-election is confirmed today, Mr Salmond is expected to press ahead with his preferred plan to run a second SNP minority government for the next five years. Early indications last night suggested clearly that he will be in a far stronger position than over the past four years, when he held a one-seat majority over Labour. Labour sources were last night indicating they expected the SNP to beat them in several previously secure seats, and that their rivals could have a double-digit lead in seats by the time all the results came in. The last opinion poll of the campaign, published last night, suggested the SNP had double the support of Labour, and was in sight of a majority on its own.  – the Scotsman

Encouraging signs in Wales

Labour fears it may “fall short” of gaining an overall majority in the Assembly elections. The party has led the opinion polls since The Senedd went into recess last month – and was recently tipped to go into government alone following yesterday’s vote. Party sources say they expect some gains and an improvement on the 26 seats it held in the last assembly – but Labour insiders admit they may not be able to surpass the “magic figure” of 31 needed to claim an overall majority. First Minister Carwyn Jones, who attended the count in Bridgend, has downplayed those suggestions – saying the result is still too early to call. – Western Mail

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Thursday News Review

05/05/2011, 06:54:33 AM

Super Thursday

Voters across the UK are set to go to the polls in a series of national and local elections as well as a referendum to decide the way MPs are elected. Elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly will be held as will polls in 279 English councils. The public will also be asked if they want to keep the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections or switch to the alternative vote. Polls open at 0700 BST closing at 2200. In addition, local authority elections are being held in Northern Ireland while there is a UK parliamentary by-election in the constituency of Leicester South. Contests are also taking place to elect mayors in Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Torbay and Bedford. The BBC weather forecast suggests that most of the UK will remain dry on Thursday with above average temperatures, but that there is a chance of rain in Northern Ireland. – BBC News

D-Day for AV

Today is the day we collectively say there is a better way, there is a fairer alternative to miserable ConDem austerity. Labour is the only political party with the interests of low- and middle-income families at its heart. It is the only political party which recognises the value of public services to ordinary families. We recommend a vote for Labour and, buoyed by winning hundreds of seats, we hope leader Ed Miliband will take the fight to the Conservative-led coalition. And a Yes vote in the nationwide referendum on how we elect MPs would say No to David Cameron. A Yes would shackle the Conservatives, the fairer Alternative Vote system making it less likely the Tories could ever rule alone. That is a prize well worth seizing. We understand the temptation to vote No to give turncoat Mr Clegg a deserved kicking. But this is a once-in-a-generation chance to adopt a better electoral system. Vote Labour and vote Yes for fairer votes. – Daily Mirror

The Referendum on whether Britain should switch to the fiendishly-complicated Alternative Vote electoral system has been a truly depressing affair. The campaign was slow to begin, decidedly lacklustre and — in recent weeks — poisoned by the lies, cynicism and personal insults of the desperate Yes camp. The result has been widespread public apathy. The crucial final few days have been utterly dominated by the Royal Wedding and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Turnout is expected to be pathetically low. The Daily Mail is urging all its readers to vote tomorrow – and vote NO to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s AV proposal But make no mistake: the outcome of the referendum could not be more vital for the future of this country. That is why the Mail urges all our readers to vote tomorrow, whatever their misgivings about the campaign — and vote No. – Daily Mail

Liberals face wipe-out with Labour set to gain in England

The Liberal Democrats are bracing themselves for the loss of up to 600 seats in Thursday’s local elections in England, prompting fears that their activist base across the country could be devastated. The elections for 9,000 seats in 279 English authorities are being seen as the first electoral verdict on the coalition’s spending cuts, with Labourexpecting major gains and senior Lib Dems admitting they face punishment in some areas for the role they have played in the coalition. Richard Kemp, leader of the Lib Dems in the Local GovernmentAssociation, said: “We’re doing well against the Tories, not so well against Labour. We will make losses as any governing party does. We will clearly, undoubtedly lose seats. 300 would be a good day, 600 would be a bad day.” Labour is expected to make major gains across the country, symbolically taking control from the Lib Dems in Sheffield, where Nick Clegg has his constituency. It has also targeted Newcastle upon Tyne and Hull. Tory-held North Warwickshire, Trafford, Dudley and Walsall are believed to be vulnerable to Labour, which has also put efforts into Dover. – the Guardian

Party leader Nick Clegg’s city of Sheffield is Labour’s number one target, with a swing of only four per cent needed to capture the council. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bristol, St Albans and Kingston-upon-Hull are all also vulnerable following the Lib Dems’ recent collapse in the polls. Overall, Liberal Democrat chiefs are preparing to lose at least 400 councillors, and privately fear that as many as 600, a third of those up for election, could be kicked out of town halls around the country. Opinion polls suggest that the Conservatives are also likely to lose hundreds of councillors, but as they start from a far higher base, with more than half of the 9,400 seats being contested, the losses will represent less of a bloodbath. More than 31 million voters are eligible to take part in today’s elections, which cover around half of all the council seats in the country, the biggest round of local elections of the cycle. The last time the same seats were up for election, in 2007, the Tories won 40 per cent, with Labour on a low of 26 per cent and the Lib Dems on 24 per cent. Labour is hoping to win back as many as 1,000 from both of the Coalition parties, with a particular emphasis on taking advantage of Mr Clegg’s current unpopularity to capture key councils. – Daily Telegraph

Mixed picture for Labour in Scotland and Wales

A YouGov poll released yesterday shows Alex Salmond’s party on course for a comfortable victory. This replicated another poll the previous day, but Labour’s deputy Scottish leader Johann Lamont claimed the survey showed almost two million voters had still to make up their minds. “With over half of all voters undecided how they will vote, this poll shows it is all to play for,” she said. “The SNP are arrogantly slapping themselves on the back before a single vote has been cast, but the only poll that matters is polling day and every hour until the polls close Labour will be fighting for every vote. Yesterday’s poll showed Labour would remain on 46 seats while the SNP would gain seven, taking them to 54. It also suggested the Liberal Democrats would drop nine seats to be left with just seven while the Conservatives would lose one seat, leaving them on 16. The poll figures suggest the Green Party would gain three seats, bringing them to five, and there would be one Independent, almost certainly Margo MacDonald – Daily Herald

Whatever chance there might have been of the National Assembly election campaign focusing on Welsh issues was blown away by the result of last year’s General Election. Even before Labour’s defeat last year, some of its senior AMs in vulnerable seats were expressing the view that the arrival of a Tory-led Government at Westminster imposing public sector spending cuts would prove to be their salvation. Things would have been so much different if Gordon Brown had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and himself been in the position of imposing cuts. As it is, the prediction of those Labour AMs last year seems likely to come to pass. Labour supporters, both core and soft, have a traditional enemy in power at Westminster to vote against. The party has been able in Wales to capitalise on the fear of cuts in a nation that has a disproportionately high number of public sector workers. Another astute factor in Labour’s campaign has been its presentation of Carwyn Jones as a national leader – almost, dare it be said, a Welsh nationalist leader. Certainly Plaid Cymru has been left at a disadvantage by Labour’s appropriation of rhetoric formerly its own. Who at a previous election would have expected any party but Plaid to use as its campaign slogan, and as the title of its manifesto, “Standing up for Wales”? – Western Mail

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Sunday News Review

01/05/2011, 06:56:33 AM

Their last push

he importance and seriousness of Thursday’s AV referendum have been obscured by scratchy, bad-tempered debate. But the edginess of the campaign tells us something: there is a lot at stake, politically. A change could have major consequences. AV recognises that we now live in a world of multi-party politics and makes it easier for voters to express a wider range of choices. It will encourage prospective MPs to reach out beyond a narrow party base for wider support in the form of second preferences. Coalition is not a necessary consequence of AV, but it is more likely that parties will have to work together in government. AV undoubtedly poses a threat to the old tribal politics and to the Conservatives in particular, who have been best able to exploit it to advantage. The forces of reaction have been impressively marshalled on the battlefield. Not a single Conservative parliamentarian has broken ranks in an uncompromising defence of the status quo. The country’s right-wing newspapers – both the Murdoch and non-Murdoch titles – have swallowed their dislike of the coalition’s liberal compromises, and of each other, to line up solidly behind the No campaign. – Vince Cable, the Independent

You cannot build a fair society on an unfair politics. Britain consistently votes as a centre-left country and yet the Conservatives have dominated our politics for two-thirds of the time since 1900. On only two occasions in that long century – 1900 and 1931 – have the Tories won a majority of the votes. Instead, they have divided and ruled. No wonder David Cameron says the current system “has served us well”. For those who weren’t well served by the Tory 20th century, fair votes matter. They matter for the millions of voters who suffered the worst excesses of the Thatcher government, despite more than 54% repeatedly voting against her. They matter for the millions of progressive voters, supporters of the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens among others, who want to be able to express their support for the party of their choice without feeling that they are wasting their vote or letting the Tories in. And they matter for the millions who do not bother to vote because safe seats mean they have no chance for a change. – the Guardian

He uses an article in The Sunday Telegraph to deliver his most passionate denunciation yet of the Alternative Vote (AV) method being backed by Nick Clegg and the vast majority of Lib Dems in Thursday’s referendum. The Prime Minister highlights the sacrifices of “generations of campaigners” who “fought and died” to establish the principle of equality at the polls in Britain – “one person, one vote,” as in the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system. He describes AV as “hopelessly unclear, unfair, indecisive” and accuses its supporters of backing a voting system which leaves “half-dead governments living on life support”. – the Telegraph

Possible outcomes

There is one party leader who can look forward with confidence to Thursday’s elections and referendum. Is David Cameron the man with reasons to be cheerful? The Conservatives may lose council seats, but they will probably not do so badly that reverses can’t be shrugged off as the level of bruising to a government that must be expected when the economy is fragile and taxes are being hiked and spending slashed in the name of dealing with the deficit. Truth to tell, Mr Cameron has not been losing any sleep over the fate of Tory councillors. He has much more at stake in the referendum. First past the post has generally been good for the Tories by inflating minority support in the country into majorities at Westminster. It gave most of the 20th century to the Conservatives. – Andrew Rawnsley, the Guardian

Labour will be the big winner with Ed Miliband’s party set to record its biggest share of the vote in council polls for around a decade. The Liberal Democrats could lose around 600 seats in Thursday’s poll – a third of all those currently held by Nick Clegg’s party which are being contested. A loss on this scale – together with a failure to win the referendum on changing to the Alternative Vote (AV) system, also being held on Thursday – could be enough to prompt behind-the-scene discussions about how long Mr Clegg can continue at the party’s helm. He has already faced criticism from some activists over a U-turn on big increases in university tuition fees and support for Government spending cuts. Chris Huhne, the Climate Change Secretary, is suspected by fellow ministers of being “on manoeuvres” as a possible alternative leader. – the Telegraph

Cameron somehow beats Becker

He is more at home exchanging verbal volleys with Labour MPs in the House of Commons but David Cameron proved he’s a bit of a dab hand with a racquet too. The Prime Minister took on tennis legend Boris Becker in a charity football match this weekend – and came out on top. The Tory leader seemed to have bags of energy despite a day of celebration at Buckingham Palace yesterday when him and wife Samantha Cameron attended the Royal Wedding before hosting their own wedding day celebrating in Downing Street. Living the dream of many keen amateurs, he donned shorts and t-shirts and stepped on court at his Chequers residents with the former Wimbledon champion. The event in Buckinghamshire came about after an auction in aid of the Kirsty Club, fronted by brave Kirsty Howard, who was born with a rare heart condition. Caroline Wynn and Sharon Kettle bid £8,250 to take part in a game with Becker and Mr Cameron. The money will help the Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury, Manchester. – Daily Mail

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