2016 was obviously a total disaster for those who want to see a Labour government in the not too distant future. Disappointing local election results, coming third in Scotland, losing the European Union referendum and the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn followed by near silence. Since 24 September 2016 there has been little done to unite the party, nothing done to flesh out of policy ideas, campaign days on grammar schools and the NHS were so poor few voters noticed and the Labour leader appears at prime minister’s question time and that’s about it. Labour finishes the year with a 25 per cent standing in the polls – some 17 points behind an unelected Tory leader that is bereft of ideas and vision. Only 18 per cent of the public like our economy team and just 17 per cent our leader. The Corbyn project has clearly failed and many who voted for him, even the second time, are rapidly coming to the same conclusion. (more…)
‘No one does it in my name’, says our dear leader over and over again. But it simply is not true. The Twitter feed and Facebook pages of Labour MPs are filled with people making horrid and threatening comments towards those who speak for Labour in parliament. Not just MPs. Sadiq Khan gets booed at Corbyn rallies – showing no respect for the mandate given to him by the people of London. People like Ayesha Harazika, Sonia Sodha and Johanna Baxter, who appear regularly in the media and are not total adherents to the dear leader, get told they should be deselected and face a torrent of abuse. In an interview coming out in the next edition of Progress magazine Hazarika tells me it only bothers her when she wakes up and finds they have been ‘at it all night’. She tells me her best friend would rather she ‘step back’ it has become so unpleasant. (more…)
Politics is often guilty of ramping up the rhetoric beyond reality. But not this time. The existential crisis, for that’s what it is, that now grips Labour can only be solved by the parliamentary party showing a level of unity and purpose that is proportionate to the scale of the challenge.
Let’s take a step back and see how we’ve got here. Jeremy Corbyn had never enjoyed the genuine support of more than a couple of dozen of his fellow members of parliament.
The rest who ensured he was on the ballot paper last summer have already expressed buyer’s remorse, if not all as bluntly as Margaret Beckett. (more…)
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…)
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)