Archive for the 'Labour' Category


Smith backer, Don Brind is amused to find himself on the same page as arch Corbynista Paul Mason

Monday, October 17th, 2016


Labour needs a leader who can connect with working class voters

“Don’t forget, It was Godfather Two that won the Oscar”. That was the cheering thought offered to a bunch of Saving Labour stalwarts who gathered to reflect on their failure to avert Jeremy Corbyn’s second leadership landslide. The unanimous view was that Labour still needs saving from electoral disaster through a change of leader. The Godfather analogy inspires the hope that the next time will be more successful.

There was innocent amusement that Paul Mason, one of the Labour leader’s loudest cheerleaders, has been outed as Corbyn doubter. He will be appalled to hear that he is set to become a Saving Labour icon on the basis of a secretly videoed conversation released by the Sun He is heard opining that Corbyn was out of touch with working class people – that he has “no cultural references to the way they live.”

Mason and his allies set out to shoot the messenger, denouncing the Sun for invading his privacy. He did not deny that he likes the look of Clive Lewis as a replacement for Corbyn. He joins a growing list of people, including Kieran Pedley, Owen Jones and myself who see the potential of the Shadow Business. As a reserve Army officer, who served in Afghanistan and a former BBC journalist Lewis, secretary doesn’t lack confidence. But he does need to remember that the world is full of EFLs – ex-future leaders of their party.

In the meantime, Labour’s man of the moment is Keir Starmer. The Shadow Brexit Secretary teamed up with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry to set out 170 questions on how the government will handle EU negotiations which one veteran Labour researcher declared it was “the best bit of opposition we have done in the past five years.

It helped Jeremy Corbyn to turn in his second impressive performance in a row against Theresa May at Prime Minister’s questions. Labour is on the front foot because Leave campaigners never had a plan and May – the Remainer who didn’t campaign — still doesn’t have one.

The most notable effect of the referendum vote is the slide in the value of sterling to a 168-year low. Devaulation is always a mixed blessing – good for some parts of the economy and bad for others — but where to look for the political fallout? My hunch is that, with 40 per cent of shopping basket products being imported, it is rising inflation that be the focus of voter impatience with what Jeremy Corbyn rightly described as “shambolic Tory Brexit.”

Donald Brind


My 100/1 tip to win the 2020 London Mayoral election

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

My betting tip if Sadiq Khan is hors de combat from the next Mayoral race.

Assuming the unelected PM doesn’t change her mind, the next general election will be on the same day as the London Mayoral election, Sadiq Khan has a choice to make, will he stand as London Mayor in 2020 or will he stand as an MP in 2020?

I know some say Sadiq Khan would be better of waiting until 2025 to become an MP again, but he might conclude, not without merit, that by 2025 there might not be a Labour party worth saving, 2020 would be the best and only time for him to win the Labour leadership. Of course there is the possibility with the current make up the Labour membership and the trend of the NEC becoming more in Corbyn’s image, that Khan might be replaced as Labour’s candidate to be Mayor.

So if not Sadiq Khan who could be the Labour nominee? Step forward the former Labour and Respect MP, George Galloway, his brand of politics seems to be more in tune with the current Labour party, a rapprochement with a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party looks plausible. Galloway is definitely on team Corbyn, during the recent Labour leadership contest, he tweeted ‘If you try to bring down Corbyn you’ll have to get around me first. Me and millions like me. Real Labour.’

It isn’t just to the hard left George Galloway appeals to, who can forget when George Galloway was the guest of honour at Grassroots Out rally during the campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, Galloway does have an appeal across the political spectrum, so you can see why a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party may wish to see Galloway as their candidate for London Mayor.

At the time of writing George Galloway was 100/1 with Ladbrokes to win the Mayor of London race in 2020, I’ll be placing a small stake, hopefully by May 2020 people will be saluting my courage, my strength, and my indefatigability for proposing such a bold tip as George Galloway winning the London Mayoralty in 2020.


P.S. – In an alternate universe George Galloway’s the current leader of the Labour party, had he not been expelled from the Labour party in 2003, he might have been the the left wing candidate that Labour MPs lent nominations to, to widen the leadership debate in 2015, instead of Jeremy Corbyn.


Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Sir Keir Starmer as Shadow Brexit Secretary and the Tories should be worried

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has just brought a bazooka to a water pistol fight

Whilst the focus might be on the appointment of Diane Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary I think Jeremy Corbyn has pulled off a master stroke by appointing former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, as Shadow Brexit Secretary.

David Davis doesn’t exude confidence as Brexit Secretary, and he has been very publicly slapped down by Mrs May a few weeks ago, and the complexity of Brexit, Sir Keir’s agile legal and forensic mind, coupled with his experience as a barrister, it won’t be tears for Keir’s supporters, but tears for David Davis’ supporters. Jeremy Corbyn might have just brought a bazooka to a water pistol fight. With Brexit going to dominate for a least the rest of this Parliament Corbyn is right to bring in the very best to cover this important role as the government introduces the ‘great’ repeal bill.

If the rumours are true that Seumas Milne is going to be replaced by Damien McBride then the Labour leader’s performance should improve as I’m not the only who thinks Seumas Milne has been an utter disaster as an adviser to Corbyn. Whilst many will focus on the manner of McBride’s resignation when he worked for Gordon Brown, it is a Westminster bubble story, David Cameron brought a criminal into Downing Street, and that didn’t stop him winning a general election.



The big trend: CON and LAB are still failing to win voters from each other

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Big Ben

The two big parties are left scrapping over the also rans

One of the more remarkable features of the polling in the last parliament was the almost complete inability of both Labour and Conservatives to win voters from each other. Vote shares may have gone up and down but it was gains from and losses to the Lib Dems, UKIP, the Greens and SNP (and non-voters) that was responsible; the direct swing between the big two was negligible.

As then, so now. All three polls released this last week tell the same story. ICM record 3% of the Labour vote from 2015 going to the Conservatives, with 3% of the Tories’ general election vote going back the other way; BMG’s figures are almost identical; YouGov have the Tories doing a little better, gaining 6% of Labour’s former vote while losing only 2% of their own but even there, that amounts to a swing of only a half per cent. We’re talking tiny numbers.

The current very comfortable Conservative leads are instead based on two different aspects. Firstly, the Tories are doing better at holding on to their own vote. ICM and YouGov record the Blues as keeping between 72-75% of their 2015 voters, against Labour’s 60-67% (this includes those who say they don’t know or would not vote). And secondly, the Conservatives have done better in the net swings from the lesser parties and in particular, from UKIP.

In fact, the notion that many Corbyn supporters have that the increase in the Conservative lead over the summer can be put down to the leadership challenge is at best only partly true. Labour’s introspection no doubt caused it to miss opportunities but the Labour share has drifted down only very slightly.

    Of far more significance since June has been what looks like a direct UKIP-Con swing, presumably off the back of both the end of the EURef campaign and the change in Conservative leader.

What looks to be the case is that Britain is a very divided country with the concept of the traditional swing Lab/Con voter close to extinct and instead, three distinct broad groups (with subdivisions but let’s keep this simple): those who would vote Conservative, those who would vote Labour and those who would vote neither (who, outside of Scotland, we can more-or-less ignore).

So while there’s barely any defecting between the Tory tribe and the Labour lot, they do potentially meet when they go walkabout elsewhere, to UKIP, the Lib Dems or (most frequently) to none of the above.

What that suggests is that the big boys, but especially Labour, need the also-rans to be performing fairly strongly. Without those parties being attractive enough to their rival’s supporters, the negative campaigning of old will be far less effective as voters might be disillusioned but find no real alternative home.

Interestingly, the Lib Dems have been performing fairly strongly against the Conservatives in local by-elections recently but this hasn’t made its way across into the national polls. All the same, that the party seems capable of big swings across the country suggests at least a willingness by Conservative voters to consider them again; a willingness that might translate into Westminster voting given the opportunity.

The Lib Dems will no doubt hope that the opportunity will come in Witney. That might be a little too early but with Con and Lab unable to take support from each other, with a far-left Labour and a Tory government engaged in debates about Europe, if they can’t take advantage in the next two years, they never will.

David Herdson


This will go down as one of the classic Andrew Neil interviews

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


Voters old enough to remember WW2 the least likely to be attracted by Mr. Corbyn and his party

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Findings from the latest ICM and ComRes polls


Joff Wild says the key to a Labour moderate fightback is understanding the Corbyn tribes

Sunday, September 25th, 2016


Just because you know something bad is going to happen does not make it less painful when it does. Since the day that the Labour leadership contest was announced I had been pretty sure that Jeremy Corbyn would win again. I knew with absolute certainty that it would be so one Sunday in late August when I went – nervous, but excited – to an Owen Smith phone bank in the upstairs room of a pub around the corner from my house in Leamington, only to find that no-one else had turned up. So, yesterday was no surprise; but it still hurt like hell.

For Labour moderates like me, the question now becomes what happens next. Some have already made their decision – Twitter is full of pictures of torn up membership cards and the hashtag #LeavingLabour. But while I understand such sentiments, I am not ready for that yet.

I may be hopelessly naïve, but I still think there is a chance to pull the party back from the precipice. I hold onto the fact that among long-standing members – the ones that go to all the meetings and vote in all the internal elections – Owen Smith was a clear winner, as he was among those in the 18-24 age bracket. I tell myself that with 194,000 paid members, the Anti-Corbyn Labour Party is now the second biggest political party in the UK. This excellent blog by Nora Mulready pretty much sums up where I am – now is not the time to give up.

I think there are a few practical reasons for hope. Most significant in the short and medium term is that Corbyn and the hard left do not have control of the NEC. Without that it is very difficult to change the party’s rules on issues such as reselecting MPs and how to nominate leadership candidates, or to get rid of Labour staffers like general secretary Iain McNichol. If, as expected, this week’s conference votes to give specific representation to the Scottish and Welsh front benches then the non-Corbyn bloc on the NEC looks like being in a majority for the foreseeable future (and if that does happen, the oft-criticised Kezia Dugdale deserves the lasting thanks of every single person who wants an electable Labour party).

Corbyn’s big NEC problem is that it is divided into different blocs: MPs, the shadow cabinet, the unions, constituency Labour parties, councillors and others all have guaranteed places. The NEC is not elected on one member one vote – the method Corbyn would dearly love to introduce – and that is highly unlikely to change. The unions, for one, would not stand for it.

Then there is Corbyn himself. Yesterday morning, the newly-elected leader was preaching unity, by the evening it was clear he wanted to overturn the NEC vote on Welsh and Scottish representation, while continuing to stall on shadow cabinet elections. Today on the Andrew Marr show he again refused to rule out mandatory reselection of MPs, while being far from furious about the boundary review. These are not the acts of someone looking to bring the party together.

It is also clear that whatever does finally happen with the shadow cabinet, Corbyn is not capable of leading it effectively. Too many on-the-record stories from too many ex-shadow cabinet members (mostly women) speak of the same thing: someone who lives in a bunker, is not collegiate, does not consult and does not abide by majority decisions. That will not change. Neither will Corbyn’s lack of interest in issues that matter greatly to most Labour members, such as Brexit and the new constituency boundaries.

What the leadership campaign exposed was someone who is inflexible in his views, uninterested in engaging with anyone who does not agree with him and who is more concerned with building a social movement than winning power. Those who voted for Corbyn saw this as much as those who did not; which brings me to the Corbyn tribes.

It is common currency to view those who voted to re-elect Corbyn as one bloc of like-minded people. I have been as guilty as anyone; but it is wrong and it is lazy to see things in that way. Instead, Corbyn got backing from different kinds of Labour supporter and it is only when moderates understand this, and absorb it, that they will have a chance. There are, in fact, at least five types of person who voted for Corbyn:

  • The Trots – these are the entryists, the people from the SWP, the Socialist party and other far left fringe groups who see Corbyn as their way into the mainstream. Corbyn, John McDonnell and the Momentum leadership are probably closest to this group than any other, which is what makes it so significant and dangerous – but it is small. The vast majority of Labour members, new or old, are not Trotskyists.
  • The implacable lefties – not Trots, democratic socialists who see the Blair/Brown years largely as a betrayal of what they think Labour should stand for and who feel that they have their Labour party back with Jeremy Corbyn. They see Corbyn’s weaknesses and they are worried by them, but when push comes to shove they will always support him. To do otherwise would be to risk returning Labour to the “Blairites”; and that would be worse than the Tories winning the next general election. This is the Owen Jones camp.
  • The lefties – they do not subscribe to the idea that the 1997-2010 government was to all intents and purposes a Tory one. Instead, they believe that Blair and Brown did some good things; but could and should have achieved much more. They regard Corbyn as a means of ensuring that Labour becomes more left-wing in outlook and less managerial. They also understand Corbyn has many flaws, but for now (key phrase) are prepared to overlook them because they do not see a more electable alternative. I’d say PB’s Nick Palmer belongs to this camp.
  • The angry – there is a fair bit of overlap here between these folk and the lefties. They are furious that the PLP precipitated “a coup” just at a time when, they believe, Labour could have had the Tories on the ropes. Whatever they think about Corbyn, there was no way on earth they were going to allow the PLP to ride roughshod over the mandate that members had given him in 2015.
  • The anti-Smiths – for me, the leadership election was about whether Labour is primarily a party that seeks to gain power through Parliament or is, instead, a social movement. That’s why I voted for Owen Smith, even though he is to the left of me and clearly was not a great candidate. Others, though, saw the contest in terms of who had the best policies for beating the Tories. Some of those are not lefties or angry, but just did not rate Smith as a candidate – so they voted for Corbyn.

The above is crude and if I had more words to play with I would go into more detail and probably break things down further, but you get the picture: the 314,000 votes Corbyn got were not all from the same kind of people. There is no way on God’s earth that the first two categories are redeemable; the following three are: they want a Labour government above all else and will do whatever they can to secure one.

My contention is that over the coming years Corbyn’s words and deeds will alienate more and more of his supporters: this is a man who cannot unite, cannot lead, cannot collaborate and cannot engage with non-believers. Labour will continue to languish in the polls under Corbyn and will continue to do badly in real elections; his personal ratings are unlikely to improve all that much. This will all be happening as the government – mediocre and unloved – continues to flounder over Brexit and panders to the Tory right over issues such as grammar schools. That will concentrate a lot of Labour minds – especially in the unions. But it will not be enough.

Moderates cannot just wait for Corbyn to fail. They also have to reach out, to think through what it is that they want and to develop policy platforms that can win broad support. Corbyn is in place because Labour moderates failed to make their case, because they were too timid, because they took the Labour membership for granted. Managerialism really isn’t the answer; policy and projection are. So, now is not the time to be planning the next leadership contest. Instead, we need to be working to develop a coherent, left of centre vision that reflects the realities of Brexit Britain. It is only when we have done this and stopped seeing the Labour membership as our enemies that we will deserve to succeed.

Joff Wild



Just how strong is Momentum? Don Brind takes a sceptical look at the numbers

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


Perceptions about its size could be greater than the reality

I’m only a few years younger than Neil Kinnock so when he tells John Pienaar on Panorama he fears that he may never see another Labour government in his lifetime it’s an “ouch” moment for me.

I regularly go in to bat for Kinnock with fans of Tony Blair, especially when they trot out the line “he won three general elections”. My argument is that Blair benefited hugely from the heavy lifting done by his predecessor in reforming the party in the 1980s. Nobody took over a party in better shape than Blair did in 1994. I worked for the Labour party under Blair and there is no denying he was a brilliant communicator and campaigner and the contrast between him and his Tory opponents was a key factor in three victories. But Labour did hemorrhage millions of votes between 1997 and 2010, most of them while Blair was leader.

Sadly, “Blairite” has become a lazy terms of abuse deployed by Momentum supporters to close down an arguments about the unelectability of Jeremy Corbyn. Watching the double whammy of Panorama and Channel Four’s Dispatches within an hour was a depressing experience for those of us who reckon electing Labour governments is a high priority.

Under cover reporting can be a gimmick but despite the predictable rubbishing by Momentum apologists, Dispatches exposures of entryism and possible breaches of the data protection laws by Momentum made it worthwhile.

The impression from both programmes was of Momentum as an unstoppable force with the potential to make life miserable for Labour MPs when selections to the redrawn constituencies take place in 2018.

But just how strong is Momentum?

According to Paul Mason, who believes passionately in its potential, it has about 18,000 members.  That is a big jump since June when according to Labour List the figure was 8,000.

The Momentum website has a map of local groups. They total fewer than a hundred. There are six in the South West and eight across the South, where there you can count the number of Labour MPs on one hand. There are roughly similar numbers in the North East (8), Yorkshire (7) East Midlands (11), West Midlands (11) where Labour MPs are much thicker on the ground.

There are 16 Momentum groups in the North West and 19 in London– double the number a few months ago. But the Evening Standard’s Pippa Crerar reports that  “The founding meeting of Momentum, London East End, covering an area with up to 10,000 party members, attracted just 50 people.

“It’s largely made up of angry young women with dyed pink hair and old crusties,” said one Labour member. “I don’t think Rushanara Ali or Meg Hillier have anything to worry about with Momentum. They’re not as strong in London as some people think.” Crerar adds “The group poses a more serious threat in Haringey, Lambeth and Lewisham, where it is said to have plans to unseat moderate MPs.”

For the record I now think it will be Momentum who will be cheering in Liverpool on Saturday. Having argued for some time that Owen Smith had a chance I am worried by some recent turnout figures. As of a few days ago, just 68% of party members had voted compared to 83.5% in 2015. That should be worrying for Smith. Voting by registered supporters 82% could yet match the 2015 figure of 93% and the 42% of affiliated supporters could come close to 2015’s 48.5%.

Don Brind