Archive for the 'Labour' Category


Today’s 2nd terrible poll for Corbyn: YouGov ratings from its latest Scotland survey

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Just 19% of Scots LAB GE2015 voters say Corbyn doing well, 66% badly

Remember in those by-gone days in September 2015 when Mr. Corbyn pulled off his sensational leadership victory? Remember what he said would be his biggest initial priority? That was going to be Scotland where five months earlier Labour had slumped from 40 seats in the general election to just one – the same as the LD and CON.

This was absolutely awful for the party and raised serious doubts over whether at Westminster they could ever be a party of government again. Corbyn, quite rightly I’d suggest, said Scotland would be a major early priority.

Well LAB got hammered in the May 2016 Holyrood elections and now we have a YouGov Scotland poll which focuses almost entirety on leader ratings.

There are some reasonable numbers for Sturgeon, May and Ruth Davidson but the finding over the UK LAB leader, Mr. Corbyn are appalling, particularly amongst those who voted for the party at GE2015.

I don’t recall ever seeing as bad ratings figures for a party leader from party supporters.

All this will add to the pressure as he strives to hold onto his job.

Mike Smithson


What would really make Corbyn invincible is doing better than the 59.5% of 2015

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Labour Party  UK  leadership election  2015   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia
WikipediaLAB leadership contest 2015

If last week’s YouGov LAB members’ polling is indeed in the right territory and the split in the 183k £25 sign-up is as reported then Corbyn is heading for a big victory when the results are announced on September 24th.

Sure a lot can happen in the next eight weeks and Owen Smith is still a relative unknown but nobody doubts that he has a mountain to climb. Perhaps the best he can hope for is reducing Corbyn’s winning share from the 59.5% of 2015.

What Smith and those opposed to the incumbent want is for Corbyn to secure a smaller percentage share this time. That would provide some vindication of the PLP’s “no confidence” move and also, possibly set things up for another contest next year.

I’ve been asking my LAB contacts what vote share Corbyn needs to get in order to stabilise things within his party and the consensus is that anything below 55%-56% would be bad news.

There is also the ongoing forward risk of some sort of split though having watched at first hand the formation of the SDP in the early 80s and I fully aware that this is a massive challenge.

UPDATE Ladbrokes do have a Corbyn vote share market up but there are no obvious bargain.

Hopefully there’ll be betting markets on the leadership race vote shares.

Mike Smithson


How Theresa May could turn out to be the Labour party’s very unlikely saviour

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Video: A clip from John McDonnell’s appearance on The Andrew Marr Show this morning

Joff Wild on how Theresa May could simultaneously increase the Tory majority and save the Labour Party from Corbyn

John McDonnell’s appearance on the Andrew Marr Show this morning was among the most extraordinary television interventions that a senior politician has made in recent years. During the course of the interview, McDonnell explained how the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, did not understand the party’s policy proposals on pharmaceutical research and taxation incentives; and issued an unprecedented to-the-camera appeal for Labour unity, just a couple of weeks after telling leadership candidate Owen Smith and others that he did not care if the party split, and calling Labour MPs “fucking useless” at a Corbyn rally in Kentish Town.

McDonnell also gave what could turn out to be several hostages to fortune in his account of what happened when Karie Murphy – a senior Corbyn aide and the woman until now best known for her part in the Falkirk selection controversy – accessed Seema Malhotra’s Parliamentary office without permission; something that Malhotra has written a formal complaint to the Speaker’s office about. McDonnell made a series of specific claims about what occurred that will undoubtedly be disputed by Malhotra and her team. If these claims turn out to be incorrect, then the trip that close Len McCluskey ally and friend Murphy made down the corridor from the leader’s office may turn into Labour’s very own mini-Watergate.

But perhaps the most important section of the interview came right at the end. Thus was when Marr asked McDonnell whether he and Corbyn would resign if they led Labour to defeat at the next general election. Yes, McDonnell said, they would. As far as I know this is the first time that either he or Corbyn has said such a thing in public. That makes it extremely significant.

Should Corbyn beat Owen Smith’s challenge to him in September, as is widely expected, the next step in the hard left’s takeover of Labour is likely to be to seek the mandatory reselection of MPs. That, it is thought, will give Corbyn supporters among Labour’s membership the chance to get rid of those who have not shown sufficient loyalty to the leader and to replace them with candidates who can be expected to toe the line.

However, Labour’s constitution has many moving parts, making it difficult to change existing rules. First, proposals have to be submitted to the NEC, which then decides whether they should be put in front of conference. If the NEC agrees, then only a year later will conference get a vote. Thus, if the NEC agrees this year that reselection should be put to conference, at the earliest MPs are looking at possible deselection in 2018. However, as recent events have shown, it is highly unlikely that Corbyn has the votes on the current NEC to get this through. That may changes after the NEC elections have taken place, but would mean a conference vote only in two years’ time and reselections in 2019.

All this, though, is probably academic. By 2018, the new Parliamentary boundaries are likely to be in place, meaning a different set of MP selection rules will apply. These will be decided by Labour’s chief whip Rosie Winterton, who does not sit on the hard left wing of the party.

Thus, should Theresa May call a general election sometime between now and 2018, it is highly likely that the Labour MPs  currently in place will be the ones fighting it for the party. If, as the polls suggest, the Tories win handsomely some of those MPs may lose their seats. However, assuming that McDonnell is not being economical with the truth (and, of course, that cannot be ruled out) both he and Corbyn will step down from their roles. That will leave the PLP to decide who should slug it out for the leadership. Given that it is certain that no-one is going to lend a hard left candidate his or her vote ever again, that means it will be very difficult for such a candidate to be put in front of the membership, which – in any case –  will also be contemplating in the starkest way possible the electoral reality of putting its faith in Jeremy Corbyn.

So, consider this: Theresa May has a wafer thin Tory majority and the first signs of possible dissent on the party’s right are now beginning to emerge. May knows that if she goes to the country sooner rather than later, she will beat a Corbyn-led Labour party comfortably and substantially increase her majority. This would make her awkward squad much less of a problem and give her a whole lot more room for manoeuvre. Normally, this scenario would terrify Labour MPs, but if May does pull the trigger early it may actually prove to be their party’s salvation: Corbyn and McDonnell would be gone and the PLP would get to decide the candidates to replace them. A return to sanity and the long process of rebuilding Labour as a potential party of government could begin.

Theresa May has it in her hands not only to win a major general election victory for the Conservative party, but also to restore Labour to being a party whose primary aim is to achieve power through Parliament. That would be quite a legacy.

Joff Wild



A staggering 54% of Corbyn supporters in the YouGov members’ poll think their man will lead them to victory

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

How can you argue with people who totally believe this?

The graphic above is from the Times Redbox and has further detail from the Times YouGov Labour members’ poll. This one looks at how at how the Corbyn backers view the current party leader.

I find the figures staggering particularly the 54% believing that he’ll take them to election victory.

This is, of course, contrary to all the other indicators, local by-elections, Westminster voting intentions and leader ratings. In all LAB as a party is struggling and Corbyn in particular has terrible personal ratings.

Labour and Corbyn are going to be tested in the coming weeks ahead of the leadership ballot. If Theresa May enjoys a polling honeymoon then Corbyn’s party could have double digit deficits almost across the board.

As for his personal ratings amongst voters in general these are dire.

Corbynistas don’t seem able to grasp that their party needs to be attracting CON voters in marginal seats to have any chance at the next election. So far there’s precious little data to indicate that it is happening.

Whenever I get into arguments with them they’ll tell you that you can’t trust the polls because of what happened in May 2015.

What they don’t appreciate is that the the three general elections in modern times where the polls were badly wrong the LAB position was overstated in every case. Go look at the numbers for 1970,1992, and 2015.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn and McCluskey, comrades in arms

Sunday, July 17th, 2016


Joff Wild on why Len McCluskey will never abandon Jeremy Corbyn

One of the more striking aspects of Labour’s headlong plunge into seemingly permanent civil war and irrelevance is the role being played by the trade unions in the conflict; and, in particular, the unwavering and highly vocal support that Jeremy Corbyn has received from Unite leader Len McCluskey.

Speaking at the Unite annual conference this week, for example, McCluskey described the mass resignation of shadow ministers from Labour’s front bench as “a cowardly attack”, continuing: “Jeremy Corbyn has always – always – stood by us, stood on the picket lines, joined our campaigns, argued our case in parliament, advocated for workers’ rights … What sort of people would we be, had we joined in the witch-hunt? Never mind that I could not have come to this conference, I could not have looked myself in the mirror, had this union done anything other than stand by Jeremy.”

At the same conference, Unite delegates voted to introduce mandatory reselection of Labour MPs, a move that would undoubtedly benefit Corbyn and the hard left, while associate membership of Unite was being offered at a price of £2 so that people could sign up and vote in the forthcoming Labour leadership election before that loophole was closed by the NEC.

To outsiders, McCluskey’s support may seem somewhat strange. The polling evidence points clearly to the fact that, just like those of other unions, Unite members believe that Jeremy Corbyn should stand down as Labour leader. What’s more, Corbyn is opposed to current Labour policy on Trident renewal, something that Unite is very much in favour of; while his lacklustre support for Remain during the referendum was – at best – unhelpful to a cause to which Unite was deeply committed.  All this before you even begin to consider that ongoing Tory government is unlikely to be beneficial to the unions in general.

McCluskey can read the runes just like anyone else and is not, despite appearances to the contrary sometimes, a foolish man. He knows that under Jeremy Corbyn Labour cannot win a general election and is likely instead to be heavily defeated. So why the unequivocal backing for the current Labour leader? Well, it’s all about Unite’s internal politics.

Although Unite is the country’s biggest trade union by far, boasting around 1.5 million members, those who are actively involved in the organisation represent a much smaller number. When he was re-elected as general-secretary for a further five year term in April 2013, for example, McCluskey beat his challenger by 144,570 votes to 79,819. That’s a turnout of 15.2%.

If McCluskey wants to keep his job, which comes with a six figure salary and a generous pension package – not to mention trips to places such as Las Vegas, as well as regular TV appearances and newspaper interviews – it is the 15% to 20% of members who may take part in the next leadership election that he needs to keep onside. And that activist base is well to the left of the political mainstream and to Unite’s membership generally. Indeed, Jerry Hicks, the man who took him on back in 2013, was a member of Respect and stood as a candidate for the party in Bristol in 2009.

The next Unite leadership election takes place in two years, when McCluskey will be 68. It will be the last one he contests and his challenger is almost certain to be to the left of him. McCluskey cannot afford to go into the campaign with accusations of having given succor to “Blairites” and “Red Tories” hanging over his head.

Thus, whatever else happens between now and September, you can be sure that Len McCluskey will stand should to shoulder with Jeremy Corbyn as loudly and as ostentatiously as possible. Whether that will continue should he be re-elected in 2018, though, is another matter entirely.

Joff Wild (Southam Observer)


How do you solve a problem like Jeremy Corbyn and his dire polling?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

New Party

A new political party for Labour MPs who actually want to win a general election seems like the only option.

Speaking as a Tory, every time I remember that Jeremy Corbyn is likely to be Labour leader at the next general election my reaction is similar to every time I remember that there’s a mineral called cummingtonite, it makes me laugh way too much. I suspect the reaction of Labour MPs who want to win the next general election won’t be as sanguine as my reaction when it comes to Corbyn leading Labour at a general election.

Just look at last night’s ComRes polling, whilst this poll was conducted at the start of Theresa May’s honeymoon, it still make pretty grim reading for Labour. By 40% to 36% those who voted Labour at the 2015 general election tell ComRes that May would make a better PM than Corbyn, the over 65s break by nearly 10 to 1 for Mrs May over Mr Corbyn, and Mrs May is ahead as who would make the better Prime Minister with even younger voters.

To put these figures into context as Adam Ludlow of ComRes points out ‘Ahead of [the 2015 general election], Cameron led Miliband on “best PM” by 52% to 31% (21 points). May now leads Corbyn on same measure 58% to 19% (38 points)’

So what do those Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn do? They are trying to oust Corbyn via a leadership contest, but if that fails, what do they do then? Do they keep buggering on and hope eventually the members decide to ditch Corbyn before the general election or do they do something more radical?

If Labour go into the next general election with Corbyn as leader they are risking an extinction level event based on those ComRes figures. Several Labour MPs were tweeting/retweeting those ComRes figures above in despair last night. A split seems inevitable if Corbyn remains leader, whilst Labour might not have much of a history of toppling their leaders they do have a history of splitting, there was the famous split in 1981 that led to the creation of the SDP and the split in 1931, though that split was effectively leader led.

Paddy Power are offering 7/4 Five or more incumbent Labour MPs to register a new political party before the next general election. With the requirement that the bet pays out only if five or more Labour MPs register a new party (it only took two sitting Labour MPs in 1981 to set up a new party) these odds are too short for my liking for me commit substantial sums.

That we’re discussing the odds of Labour party MPs registering a new political party is a damning indictment of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party and the direction the party is heading, as Nick Cohen writes in The Observer this morning, Labour has the stench of death.



Another contender enters the LAB race which could be drawn out for months

Monday, July 11th, 2016

UPDATED: Corbyn looks as though he’ll struggle to get an “assisted place”

What a contrast with the speed & efficency of the Tories

And my gratitude to Leadsom


Corbyn v Eagle will decide whether LAB continues to be a parliamentary party

Monday, July 11th, 2016


By Southam Observer(Joff Wild) who has rejoined the party after a long absence

The sudden end of the Tory leadership contest and Theresa May’s imminent appointment as the country’s new Prime Minister has made the Labour leadership contest – now confirmed following Angela Eagle’s collection of over 50 nominations from MPs and MEPs – even more important than it was previously. Given the slim Tory majority and the potential Brexit deal blocking ability that recalcitrant right wing Tory MPs currently have, May will be giving very serious consideration as to whether to call an early general election. Labour must be ready for that.

It has become commonplace over recent times to state that the Labour party is facing an existential crisis. But the plain fact is that it is. Tempting though it is to see the forthcoming leadership battle between Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle as a clash of personalities, policies and styles what it actually represents is something a lot more profound. Essentially, the NEC and then, presumably, the party’s members are going to be asked what kind of organisation Labour will be in the future.

Article One of Clause One of the Labour party’s constitution states:

“This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘the party’). Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.”

Up to now, the role of the Parliamentary party has always taken precedence over the role of the party “in the country”. That is, Labour has organised itself as an entity whose overriding aim is to secure power through Parliament in order to govern. It is through being in government and the enactment of legislation, so the thinking has gone, that Labour has the best chance of shaping a society that reflects what are grandly called “Labour values”.

In order to be a functioning Parliamentary party, the Labour leader needs to command the support of a majority of the party’s MPs. If he/she does not do so while in government, that leader cannot be the Prime Minister; if he/she cannot do so in opposition that leader will not be able to assemble a shadow front bench. That is the situation that Labour finds itself in now after 172 of the party’s current roster of 230 MPs stated in categorical terms that they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

For a party whose primary goal is to secure power through Parliament the next step is absolutely clear: Corbyn would stand down, Tom Watson would take over as temporary leader and others would seek the nominations needed to participate in a leadership election. The members would then decide who they want to do the job. This is the concept of the Labour party that Angela Eagle represents, and which at least 171 more of the party’s MPs also believe in

As we know, though, Corbyn has not resigned. This is because for Corbyn, Labour is a party “in the country”. That is, it is a party whose primary aim is to reflect the beliefs of its membership and to campaign for these. According to this view, the role of MPs is not to act as representatives of their constituents – the premise that underpins the notion of parliamentary democracy – but to act according to the instructions of Labour party members. Whether Labour is in power or not is by the by: what matter is that the voice of the membership takes precedence.

As Corbyn-backer Jon Lansman, the millionaire founder of Momentum, stated in a Tweet on Sunday: “Democracy gives power to people, “Winning” is the small bit that matters to political elites who want to keep power themselves.

If you put Trident and perhaps foreign affairs to one side, in terms of policy there is very little to distinguish Corbyn from Eagle. Domestically, at least, both are very much on Labour’s left. With the best will in the world, neither is inspiring, compelling or able to reach very far beyond Labour’s core vote. Whichever of them is in charge at the next general election, a Labour defeat is just about guaranteed. But for me, that is not the point.

Instead, what I see as now being in play is the unbridgeable gap that exists between their views of what Labour should be: a Parliamentary party or an extra-Parliamentary one. That’s why the choice will be an easy one when I get my ballot paper. Labour will only ever have the opportunity to help shape this country’s future by focusing on winning general elections. It has the best chance of influence by being strong in Parliament as a credible opposition or by being in government. Labour in Parliament comes first. That’s why my vote will go to Angela Eagle.

Sadly, though, I suspect that I will be on the losing side. Labour members will choose the extra-Parliamentary route and the party will become a movement rather than one that aspires to govern. What happens then will have to be the subject of a different piece penned sometime in the future.

Joff Wild @SpaJW

Joff Wild lives in Leamington Spa and has been posting on Political Betting as Southam Observer since 2008. He has recently rejoined the Labour party after a long absence.