Editorial

Now More Than Ever, Labour and the Country Need a Pro-European Leader

First published on the Huffington Post

Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to visit the European Union at the height of the referendum on Labour’s continued membership of the world’s most successful peace project. Not to make a speech, speak truth to power in Brussels – but to holiday. Portugal saw more of Corbyn than whole regions of England did. The Labour leader didn’t visit the north-east once, where the EU is vital to the economy.

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Time for a new tune

First published on LabourList

Nostalgia is to modernising politics, what rust is to iron. Corrosive.

Modernisers in the Labour Party have been dealt a heavy blow. Our candidate Liz Kendall did us proud but the result shows the challenge we face to win over our fellow party members if we want to be able to put our case directly to the British public. (more…)

Modernising modernisers

PROJXXXX_Mag_October_22.09.15_FrontCover_RGB_SFirst published in Progress magazine and on the Huffington Post

The result of the Labour leadership election was hurtful – to pretend otherwise would be untrue. I think the candidate that I supported did a brilliant job – tough though her task was. As Jeremy Corbyn said, Liz Kendall ‘absolutely stands up for what she believes in’. Yvette Cooper came out and changed government policy on refugees. Andy Burnham showed he was one of the nicest guys in politics. Congratulations are due to Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

It is horrid losing elections. Internal ones are often more painful. While May’s general election result was hard to take, losing within the party for which you have worked your whole adult life is more personal, especially when your very motive for doing so has been brought so firmly into question. (more…)

You need more votes than your opponents, not predecessors

First published on LabourList

Elections are simple affairs in a first-past-the-post country. The task of the candidate is to get more votes than their opponent. Not 50 per cent of the vote, nor a reliance on being enough people’s second preferences to deny your adversary victory. Just more – one will suffice – than the other person standing.

The role of the party leader is not dissimilar. More votes than the party on the opposite benches and you invariably get more seats in the House of Commons. This has been true in every election for time immemorial bar, February 1974 when the Conservatives beat Labour by more than 200,000 votes, but had four fewer seats, and 1951 when the reverse was true. 2015 was no close run thing. Labour polled two million fewer votes than the Tories. (more…)

The 80 per cent strategy

Progress editorial | First published on Progressonline

The political establishment is running scared. The United Kingdom Independence party is a phenomenon that it barely understands and cannot quite work out how to outmanoeuvre, let alone outsmart.

While Ukip has given those who do not vote, or reluctantly vote for a mainstream party, somewhere to go, the party has real and present limits to its support base. It might not have reached it yet, but it sits around the 20 per cent mark.

Herein lies the opportunity to win a majority at the next election. Twenty per cent of the electorate may be leaning Ukip, but the rest are not, and there is no party that provokes greater antipathy than Nigel Farage’s. The leader best able to represent and lead the ‘anyone-but-Ukip’ vote has a prize waiting at the end. (more…)

Social democracy in an era of no money

Progress deputy director Richard Angell addressed the International Union of Socialist Youth in Austria yesterday on the legacy of New Labour and next steps for social democracy in an era of no money, and Ed Miliband and Liam Byrne’s work on the ‘new centre ground’.

New Labour as a political project was born out of the 1980s and a disastrous period of rejection by the British public. Labour presented the public with manifesto after manifesto packed with policies we liked and stood passionately against a government that looked to act with spite against many of those we sought to represent – trade unionists, the LGBT community, Scotland and the people of Liverpool – and failed on its own terms on a number of occasions – three million unemployed twice is a damning record, but we achieved no cut-through and symbolically missed out in 1992. (more…)