“This is the “Canada-plus” option the EU at one point said it would never agree to…”

The Irish Times today carries the view of, the always worth reading, FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. First he makes a quick point on the opposition on both sides of the House of Commons… When British cabinet ministers resigned hours after the publication of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, they could not conceivably have read it, let alone digested its finer points. Many of the MPs who denounced the … Read more

The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters. Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their … Read more

Will YouGov’s election model be vindicated when the results are in?

Opinion polling firm YouGov have raised eyebrows in the run up to Thursday’s poll with the results of their forecast model, which at the time of writing is forecasting that the Conservatives will only win 307 seats. This would deprive them of their parliamentary majority, and leaves open the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister if Labour could secure support from the smaller parties in the Commons. The YouGov model is out of line with other election forecasts, … Read more

Yes, Corbyn condemned the IRA. And the rest

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn allegedly refused to condemn the IRA when pressed multiple times during a television interview. This sent various media into a frothing overdrive, delighted Conservatives, and apparently set off the whataboutery alarm at DUP headquarters, who immediately and predictably declared Corbyn “beyond the political pale”. Except, of course, he did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Rather, he insisted on condemning the IRA and any other perpetrator of violence by condemning “violence on all sides”. James Brokenshire, who … Read more

Labour facing real risk of wipeout as their polling slump continues

The past days have seen a number of opinion polls released ahead of June’s General Election, and they continue to make grim reading for the Labour Party. The ComRes/Sunday Mirror poll gave the Conservatives a 50% share, double that of Labour on 25%. The last fortnight has continued to give Tories a vote share in the high forties, whilst Labour have been languishing far behind on the low to mid twenties. Were these results to be replicated in the election … Read more

Ditching Corbyn now: probably the daftest political idea in the world

As I write Labour politicians are defecting from the shadow cabinet at a rate faster than people left the Titanic. That analogy is flawed as it seems most people behaved rather honourably in that bygone age (although First Class women passengers had the highest survival rate, Third Class women had a higher survival rate than First Class men). The reasons for this mass desertion are many but fundamentally they come down to Corbyn’s leadership during the referendum campaign and his … Read more

Labour and Europe: a brief history

The recent narrowing of the polls in the EU referendum has prompted much soul searching by the Remain camp. This may all be unnecessary as exactly the same was seen in the Scottish referendum before Remain’s victory. However, for the meantime Remain is rattled. Much of their angst seems to be coming from the revelation that substantial numbers of traditional Labour supporters are going to back Brexit. This realisation has come with much complaining that Labour is being too metropolitan … Read more

The perfect poem for Labour’s anti-semitism row

Those following the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party will be aware of the recent suspension of Momentum vice chair, Jackie Walker. Following an investigation into comments she made on Facebook about Jews and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, she’s been reinstated into the party. The Walker incident, and similar incidents, have opened a fierce debate about the Left and anti-Semitism, and where anti-Zionism crosses the line into racism. But let’s step back from the intensity of the frontlines of this … Read more

The common thread between Ken Livingstone on the IRA and on Jews and Israel

It looks as if Ken Livingstone faces a tougher time with the Labour party over his “Hitler was a Zionist” remarks than he did over consorting with Gerry Adams when the IRA campaign had ten years to run to the first  ceasefire. What was the charge against him in 1983-4?  That he gave comfort to the IRA by supporting  their key demand of “Brits Out,” without demanding an IRA ceasefire.  The evenhandedness of his call for an end to violence … Read more

The Labour Party: the Lansbury lessons

Check the scene out: the Labour Party, reeling from a crushing election defeat, chooses an idealistic, peace-loving left-winger as its leader, who frequently comes into conflict with his party’s grandees who fear that the new leader is adversely affecting their popularity and electability. No, this is not Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, but George Lansbury in 1935. For it is exactly eighty years since Clement Attlee succeeded Lansbury as Labour leader, following a stormy power struggle among the party’s higher echelons … Read more

On the anointing of Corbyn

At 11.30am yesterday in the room where the Labour leadership result was to be announced there was an uninvited guest: a spectre who had hovered over every party gathering for almost twenty years. Then when the result was announced an older yet spritely man strode forward to do battle with the spectre. Wearing his priestly garb of not a tie (though he did have a dark sports jacket and had removed any Lenin style hats) he approached the lectern. Then … Read more

“Corbyn owes less to his own merits than to the weaknesses of the alternatives…”

Before I sign off for the weekend, this from Chris Dillow on the Corbyn victory: Was this a victory for Jeremy Corbyn or a defeat for the Westminster Bubble? I ask because of three different but related things. One is organizational. Many New Labour figures supported the introduction (pdf)of registered supporters as a means of weakening the influence of activists and union leaders – of avoiding “stitch-ups by special interest groups”. It turns out that that innovation bit them on … Read more

Labour’s New Leadership…

Tom Watson has been elected deputy leader [not worth a bucket of warm piss? – Ed] on the third count and, as expected, Jeremy Corbyn is now the new leader of the Labour Party having taken 59.4% of the vote in the first round. Phil Rogers has a breakdown of voting by category – full party members, affiliated (trade union members) and registered (those who paid £3 to vote). Labour leadership election result by category of voters pic.twitter.com/5lSWU3johL — Phil Rodgers … Read more

“Perhaps we will wake up on Saturday afternoon and find it has all been a bad dream.”

Ahead of the election of their new leader, in the Guardian Andrew Rawnsley samples the mood, of despair, among the moderates of the parliamentary Labour Party. Labour MPs, as a collective, are still getting their stunned heads round what is happening to their party. Because the hard left had been fought – and apparently crushed – so long ago, it simply did not occur to them that it might revive, least of all in the person of a 66-year-old colleague who … Read more

The disaster of the 1970s: truisms in need of challenge?

As I noted previously in relation to the 1983 election campaign there is a tendency in political analysis to accept truisms which are historically inaccurate or at least highly incomplete. One of the recent manifestations of this tendency (also related to the current Labour leadership campaign) is that Corbyn is going to take the UK back to the 1970s: the implication being that this would be dreadful. Whilst I make no comment on whether or not Corbyn would do this, … Read more

Andy Burnham pitches to Labour leadership voters in NI: comprehensive not selective education, gay blood, & candidates

This morning’s Belfast Telegraph publishes a statement from UK Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham. He’s the bookies’ favourite to come second, and clearly the candidate the local Constituency Labour Party members are most comfortable with. 610,000 ballot papers have been issued to party members, registered supporters and affiliate supporters. There are around 500 1,000 members of the Labour Party in NI, but an unknown number of registered or affiliate supporters. Heavily tailored for the NI audience, Burnham’s statement remarks on … Read more

Labour leadership: Corbyn, his opponents and The Vision Thing

The Labour leadership contest has every appearance of a soap opera. I noted below that the historical precedents that Jeremy Corbyn would be unelectable as Prime Minister were strong but by no means overwhelming and were based on a post hoc deterministic analysis. One of the most fundamental problems for the non Corbyn candidates is that they have singularly failed to outline their vision in sufficiently persuasive terms to become newsworthy. They may indeed have a vision but have failed … Read more

Thoughts on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s un-electability

I have been trying to write something on the Labour leadership election for a while now but keep getting put off. Rather than look at the election itself it might be interesting to look at two of the supposed truisms with surround the election and specifically Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign: that Corbyn as Labour leader would be unelectable and that only a Blairite Labour position can win a UK general election. The standard view is that Corbyn is unelectable. He is … Read more