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Calling it wrong

First published on the Huffington Post

Emily Thornberry, keen to prepare the ground for moving on from the ‘chaos and distraction’ of the leadership election, has written a very private message to all her Islington South and Finsbury Labour followers on Facebook, a message which managed to find its way to the Guardian. It contains a ‘plea’ to her ‘fellow MPs’ to ‘stop the internal division, unite as a party, and take the fight to the Tories together’. Given that Thornberry now occupies a senior position in the party, as shadow foreign secretary, her words matter for how the party regroups after the election result. (more…)

Modernisation, values into policy, policy into action

Richard Angell opens Progress annual conference 2016

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CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

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Comrades.

Welcome to Progress annual conference – the highlight of the political calendar. Bold speakers from broad backgrounds. This year’s promises nothing less. We are honoured to be joined by not just one, but two leaders of the Labour party – Kezia Dugdale and this afternoon Jeremy Corbyn. For those worrying, I have not become a Corbynista, and Jeremy has not become a ‘formerly known as Blairite’ member of the Labour party. Today is part of a dialogue. Both leaders will inform and challenge us. It is our role to ask informed and articulate questions about where we go from here. (more…)

Paying the price

First published in Progress magazine

Never again should Labour play fast and loose with working people’s lives

The Labour party is full of idealists; it is one of the things I like about it most. But its ability to wish the situation to be better than it is sometimes has no bounds. Ed Miliband’s Labour party had this in abundance. Central to all this was one assumption: that the economic crash had moved the centre-ground to the left; that, because markets had failed, people’s trust in an all-powerful state had been restored. There was almost no grounding for this theory, other than wishing it so. The very reason Labour was in opposition was because the voters, following the crash, had replaced Labour with David Cameron’s pro-austerity Conservative party. No incumbent centre-left party in office since the crash has been re-elected across Europe, yet the centre-right in Germany and elsewhere has been. France was the only place the left was winning, but that has hardly gone to plan or been a model for British social democracy. (more…)

Time to talk about losing

First published on LabourList

In November I wrote an editorial for Progress magazine headlined We need to talk about… losing’. At the time the Labour Party was telling itself that the fact that 450,000 people voted in a Labour leadership election in September 2015 changed the fact 11.3 million people had voted Tory in May earlier the same year. If the present situation of a prime minister versus a mayor of London heading the opposing sides in the EU referendum serves one purpose, it is to remind us how far from power we are.

Since that editorial we have had the Beckett Report, which failed to ask, let alone answer, key questions about why we fell two million votes short. The former Foreign Secretary’s duty should have been to put on record why Labour lost and sketch out a route back to power regardless of how unpopular that was with the current leader’s office. When the party decides it wants to win again the blueprint for doing so should have been found in the pages of her report. Instead that work will need doing afresh. (more…)

rhubarbTV: Head To Tozer

Episode 2 of Head To Tozer is here! Watch Ben Tozer interview the director of Progress – Labour’s progressives, Richard Angell.

About rhubarbTV

We are rhubarbTV. It’s an acronym. Royal Holloway’s Unique Broadcasting and Recording Brand. And that is exactly what we do, broadcast and record. We aim to cover an array of events both on and off campus in order for clubs and societies to reach a stronger audience with what it is that they do.

The mountain to climb: how does Labour win in the 2020s?

At the Fabian New Year Conference 2016 titled ‘Facing the Future‘ I was asked to join a panel of excellent speakers to debate and take questions on how Labour wins in 2016.

Saturday 16 January 2016, 9.15am-5pm
Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

The mountain to climb: how does Labour win in the 2020s?
Richard Angell (director, Progress), Ellie Mae O’Hagan (journalist), James Morris (partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research), Olivia Bailey (research director, Fabian Society), Chair: George Eaton (political editor, New Statesman)

10 unanswered questions from the Beckett Report

If we don’t ask the right questions, how will we get the right answers?

First published on the Staggers

2015 was painful for Labour. A winnable election in which we failed through decisions, not destiny, to win. Like 2010, had Labour made the right choices, both of those elections could have been very different. Every year of the 21st century so far could have been under a Labour government. Now the pattern of the 20th century looks to be taking hold: Tory rule punctuated by short spurts of Labour.

It does not have to be this way, which is why the unasked – let alone unanswered – questions of the Beckett report must be confronted. I have 10 such questions – one for every seat we won from the Conservatives in May – that need to be addressed, quickly. (more…)

Release the Beckett report – it’s a necessary first step

First published on the Fabian Review blog

In May we lost everywhere to everybody‘ was the verdict of former policy chief Jon Cruddas after Labour’s second avoidable but disastrous defeat. Labour lost Scotland, eight seats to the Tories – including one never held by anyone but Labour, Gower – and saw the Tory majority increase in 68 of the 88 target seats where we faced David Cameron’s party. We won just 10 seats from the Conservatives, and reduced their majority in a further 10.

The 10.01pm exit poll put large swaths of the party into shock. Still wrapped in the post-trauma tin foil blanket, the result is still seeping in, as are the consequences. Labour still has not issued an apology to the 9.3 million who voted Labour and wanted an end to the bedroom tax, the zero-hour contracts, the selling-off of the NHS to the lowest bidder. Those who relied on a Labour government to change, not just their immediate lives, but their whole trajectory, are left in pain on the sidelines. Some at least have Labour members of parliament, councils or councillors who can be on hand to help; too many have no one on their side. (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…)

Labour has to be honest about the hole that it’s in

First published on The Staggers

Labour suffered a “hidden landslip” at the polls last week. Getting out of the hole requires some frank conversations.

Let us be in no doubt how bad last week’s result was. We lost – I repeat – lost eight seats to the Tories, and of the 88 seats we were targeting to win from the Tories we gained just 10 and reduced their majority in only a further 10.

Our prospects at the next election now look more distant than ever. Had we this time around gained 3,000 net votes per seat from our closest rival we would have gained 49 seats. Next time, if we rose 3,000 net votes against seats’ new majorities we would gain just 24. Just as Joan Ryan identified the ‘hidden landslide’ – 2005 seats won from Labour by the Conservatives which massively increased their majorities against us in 2010 – this time we witnessed the ‘hidden landslip’  of our party sliding further away in the seats we need to win just to get near a majority. The Staggers’ own Stephen Bush has calculated the large swings Labour would now need to secure in target seats if it is to return in 2020. (more…)