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 …

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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 …

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“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 …

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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 …

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“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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Questions for slugger readership on the Labour Election

Mick is on holiday and has asked me to do the following: Clearly the Labour leadership election has been the source of many stories both on slugger and elsewhere (helped by both it being the silly season and the interesting nature of the campaign). Unusually for such an election, any of us can vote by becoming a registered supporter (see link here). To try to get people to think about it and to try to see their reasoning we would …

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Question Time: Gay Cake

On a day when the Republic of Ireland goes to the polls on marriage equality, interesting to see cross party support for the Ashers ‘gay cake’ verdict from the major parties in Great Britain. On the panel for last night’s BBC Question Time were Nicky Morgan (Conservative), Stella Creasy (Labour), Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat), columnist Owen Jones and businesswoman Hilary Devey. Take note DUP. [twitter_follow username=”https://twitter.com/The_Firemen” language=”en”]     The Firementwitter.com/The_Firemen

The SNP have gone beyond the unionist-nationalist split – a new account of their success.

For those of us who can trot out the reasons for the dramatic rise of the SNP and still remain dissatisfied with the explanations, the writer David Torrance moves us closer in the Guardian today. Torrance is an open minded  unionist  who declares his views but doesn’t let them get in the way, a priceless asset  in a discussion of divided politics.  For me his key point is that the SNP have reached beyond the  basic unionist- nationalist, left right splits  …

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Labour’s defeat: the future is rarely as bleak as it seems

One of the advantages of reaching middle age is that, provided one has a good memory, one can see lots of things happening again. I have never been interested in betting: partly a good Calvinist upbringing but also the fact that aged 9 or 10 on a Sunday School outing I put money into gaming machines in Barry’s in Portrush and noted (unsurprising with hindsight) that I got less out than I put in. I have just once since been …

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Jim Wells: Has he damaged the DUP? UPDATED

Any hopes that the DUP had that last night’s ill-judged comments by Health Minister Jim Wells would be quickly forgotten appear to be fast receding. If anything the ‘apology’ by Mr. Wells betrays ignorance on the part of the Health Minister more than anything else. Sadly the PSNI have now confirmed that they are now investigating comments made by Mr. Wells’  –  perhaps the new laws suggested by the Ulster Fry would be more appropriate. UPDATE: Tonight (Sunday April 26th, 2015) …

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Mairia Cahill honoured with James Larkin award

UPDATED – WITH VIDEO Mairia Cahill was last night presented with the ‘Larkin Thirst for Justice Award’ at the Labour Party’s National Conference in Killarney. The award, named after the trade union leader and founder member of the Labour Party James Larkin, is awarded to a person who, in their personal and/or professional life has made an outstanding contribution in the area of human rights and justice. Speaking at the INEC in Killarney minutes before Joan Burton’s keynote address Ms. …

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Scottish voters gambling on nobbling UK Labour and having them in Government?

The Labour Party does not have its troubles to seek, particularly, it must be said, in Scotland. Polling by Lord Ashcroft in 16 parliamentary constituencies that voted Yes or nearly voted Yes in last year’s referendum added unsightly detail to an emerging picture. Fourteen of the seats analysed are held by Labour, with the remaining two held by the Liberal Democrats. Based on the responses, the SNP were predicted to take all but one of the seats, with only Willie …

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“Can Scottish Labour, under Murphy, learn to think big?”

So Jim Murphy, a machine politician from his very earliest days in the NUS, takes over the helm at Scottish Labour. He has an unenviable task ahead of him. The Yes campaign may have won the #IndyRef battle but the unionist parties now show every sign of terminal weakness in their war for the future of the Union. Of all the popular and rising parties on these island, the SNP has the highest base polling figure. Salmond has skillfully combined opportunism and populism …

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UKIP’s latest successes could yet damage it

Slowly the dust is beginning to settle on UKIP’s latest by-election victory. This one could be analysed as more or less important than the last one dependent on a number of factors. Rochester and Strood was a considerably less attractive target seat for UKIP than Clacton on Sea. It has much less of the older, poorer, white, “left behind” demographic which has been previously identified as the classic UKIP voter. Furthermore it seemed that Mark Reckless is not as popular …

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