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Showing posts from 2015

Why the confrontation with Corbyn can't wait

With every passing month, Jeremy Corbyn’s position at the top of the Labour Party is becoming further entrenched. His minders promise a purge of dissenters early in 2016 and they propose ‘consultations’ on policy which will not just be restricted to long-standing members, but will also involve anyone who has paid a few quid and signed up on a whim to support Corbyn’s far-left platform. 
Many of these newbies follow their leader with a religious fervour and are impervious to rational argument. They openly dismiss the concrete polling evidence that shows JC’s elevation to be an unmitigated disaster. I even had a discussion with one fan recently in which he seriously argued I should ignore the polls and look instead at how quickly Corbyn merchandise was selling online.
There are many Labour moderates who caution against precipitous action. Why mount a coup d’état which is more than likely to fail?  Wouldn’t it be better to bide our time and let the Corbynistas see the error of their w…

Corbyn... the nuclear option

Amid the turmoil in the Labour Party, it seems rather appropriate that this year’s John Lewis Christmas commercial features a confused old man who lives on another planet. If you’ve seen the ad, you’ll know that the gentleman in question is rather out of touch with what’s happening on Earth, although he still hopes to retain some kind of connection with the people who inhabit the place.
On the TV, there’s a happy ending. For Jeremy Corbyn, there most certainly won’t be. The issue is not so much what happens to the MP for Islington North and his sidekick, Chairman Mao. They are destined for political oblivion – perhaps sooner than many people originally imagined. The real question is whether they will manage to destroy the Labour Party in the meantime.
There will undoubtedly be some kind of attempt at a coup in 2016. Some MPs are already opening calling for Corbyn’s resignation just two months after he was elected, so the pressure is only going to become more and more intense. But there’…

Perhaps we should give disunity a go?

All the calls for unity after Corbyn’s election victory are completely understandable. It is a truism that divided parties can’t win elections.  The trouble is that united parties with the wrong policies and the wrong leader can’t win elections either.
Unity under Corbyn is a complete charade, particularly within the Parliamentary Labour Party. While the Labour church is notoriously broad, it’s difficult to imagine Presbyterian elders being particularly happy when told the new members of the congregation have chosen to follow the Pope. Pull together, they’re told. We’re all Christians, after all.
Here’s a controversial thought. Might it be that disunity and division are exactly what Labour needs right now?
Let’s cast our minds back to the early 1980s. The left, with its figurehead of Tony Benn, was in the ascendancy in the Labour Party. A conference in January 1981 endorsed the policies of withdrawal from the European Economic Community and unilateral nuclear disarmament. By the end …

Seven Corbyn Myths Exploded

As Labour approaches a landmark in its 100-year history with the prospect of veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn winning the forthcoming leadership election, it's time to examine and explode some of the myths that have grown up around his campaign. 
MYTH ONE: CORBYN REPRESENTS SOMETHING NEW To anyone under 30, it must probably seem as if Corbyn is saying something new and radical. After all, his particular brand of leftist rhetoric died a death with Labour’s fourth consecutive election defeat in 1992.  If you’re from the ‘millennial’ generation, it may seem as if Corbyn has emerged from nowhere in puff of smoke, a little like the anti-austerity movement Podemos in Spain. But those of us involved actively in British politics back in the 1980s can confirm that Corbyn was saying all the same things back then. He’s a 45rpm vinyl single, stuck in a groove.  As John Rentoul elegantly put it in a recent article, the Islington North MP has been ‘consistent to a fault in his career’, which is…

The summer Labour lost its marbles

This is officially a summer of madness. It may well be remembered as the period in which the Labour Party buried any chance of even remaining a credible opposition, let alone a future party of government.
After the defeat in May, there was an opportunity for some real soul-searching. Instead, we were plunged straight into a leadership contest. To the delight of many, Chuka Umunna – the highly credible MP for Streatham – announced he would stand. Within three days, however, he’d withdrawn from the race, citing undue levels of media intrusion on his family.
This was the moment the madness first set in. The obvious candidate was gone and we were left with a field few can genuinely claim to find very inspiring.
Andy Burnham, the dapper former Health Secretary, who plays on his Liverpudlian roots rather than his education at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, seems to swing left and right according to the prevailing wind.
His most revealing admission during the campaign came during a speec…

Five quick lessons Labour needs to learn

After the catastrophic defeat in the 2015 General Election, Labour will inevitably go through a long period of soul searching. Here are my first five thoughts on the lessons the Party needs to learn:
We’ve heard for many years from organisers and some academics about the importance of the so-called ‘ground war’. According to their argument, it's flooding areas with activists that wins elections. Unfortunately, if the ‘air war’ is badly conducted, your ground offensive is unlikely to succeed. Labour failed to win key seats in which it had a strong presence. 
In the jargon of political pundits, Labour needs a ‘narrative’. The Tories had one about the supposed success of their economic plan and how this would be put at risk by an alliance of Miliband and Sturgeon. Labour’s weak response was to say it had a ‘better plan’. They were framing the Labour message in the light of the Tory one.

Shed no tears for the Liberal Democrats

Yesterday, a rather desperate canvasser came knocking on my door in the outskirts of London. My Labour poster had obviously not done enough to deter this beleaguered emissary of the former Business Secretary, Vince Cable. In fact, it seems that showing my colours may actually have acted as something of a magnet to the Lib Dems. Just a day or two before, I’d had a leaflet spinning the rather unlikely story that The Daily Mirror was advising me to vote for Cable. I’d also had a letter from the Cabinet Minister telling me how much he understood my desire to get rid of the Tories.
Today, Labour and Green supporters in this leafy suburban constituency may be wondering if they did the right thing. They’ll see that Dr Tania Matthias – a GP in the NHS, who must surely need treatment for the cognitive dissonance associated with supporting the Conservatives – has swept Dr Cable aside.
As we pick up the pieces the morning after the night before, it’s quite natural to ask whether we perhaps should …

The semantics of electioneering

Living in what the Tories consider to be a marginal constituency is a bit of a nightmare. I am bombarded with propaganda from their candidate Tania Mathias, who insists on using her title 'Dr' in all communications - probably because her rival, Vince Cable, has a PhD in economics. (I'll hang on to the leaflet, just in case I'm ever forced to change my family GP and need to draw up a list of local practices to avoid.)

The rhetoric is now becoming more and more strident. Let's just dissect this wonderful paragraph which sits under a picture of the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg.

"This year's General Election is not like last time - polls are showing the Lib Dems are set to lose many of their seats, which means this time you can't vote Lib Dem in Twickenham and expect to get David Cameron as Prime Minister. You'll risk getting the chaos of Ed Miliband propped up by the SNP - with Alex Salmond calling the shots."

Forget for a moment that Miliband has c…

Can anything save us from this constitutional car crash?

The latest predictions from The Guardian for the outcome of the UK general election will occupy the dreams of political scientists and the nightmares of politicians. The figures speak of a constitutional crisis. A stalemate in which a most unlikely coalition would need to be formed in order to produce a majority government.
If these numbers were reflected in the poll on May 7th, the only mathematically plausible option is for Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats to forge a three-way alliance.
The disgraced former minister Chris Huhne rightly points out that the fixed-term parliaments may tend to favour coalition rather than minority government. But that presupposes there really is a workable coalition. I see this ScotLibLab pact as being something that might possibly be agreed on paper out of desperation, but which would be inherently unstable from hour one. Trident, tuition fees, the history of recent animosity. It’s a recipe for absolute chaos.
Of course, it’s the SNP who have put…