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Category archive for: Labour

Plenty for Labour’s new recruits, but Corbyn speech was no vote winner

Written by Charles Lee.

Jeremy Corbyn is not a great orator. He has spent most of his career talking to the already persuaded from the backbenches. Nevertheless, his low-key and patently decent approach proved highly effective in the Labour leadership campaign. The test, then, for his first major speech as party leader was whether he could carry these qualities over into the high-stakes arena of the televised party conference.

Lengthy and rambling in places, there was a familiar mixture of personal modesty and ideological conviction that delighted delegates in the conference hall. What is less certain though, is whether Corbyn has done enough to convince the wider public.

My University of Bath colleague David Moon is an expert on the rhetoric of Labour Party leaders. He told me before the speech that tone rather than content would be key to understanding its impact. And he was right. Continue reading Plenty for Labour’s new recruits, but Corbyn speech was no vote winner

Labour conference: John McDonnell sticks to broad brush strokes in debut as shadow chancellor

Written by Victoria Honeyman.

John McDonnell’s debut Labour Party Conference speech as shadow chancellor was hugely anticipated by both friends and foes. Would this left-wing firebrand light up conference with his alternative vision of Britain’s economy? How would he convince those outside the hall that he was a man to be trusted, a man with a realistic vision for Britain’s economic future?

Even though he’d only been shadow chancellor for two weeks, McDonnell was nonetheless expected to go beyond generalities and start laying out specific plans. Detailed policies would allow his supporters to rally behind him and counter the criticisms from both inside and outside the Labour party. His opponents hoped that detailed proposals would give them the evidence they needed to paint the Corbyn leadership as a cabal of “loony lefties”.

McDonnell worked hard to squash any expectations that his speech would be incendiary. Instead, he argued it would be fairly bland and boring, nothing extreme, merely the start of a discussion with the electorate well within “new politics” of Corbyn’s leadership.

Continue reading Labour conference: John McDonnell sticks to broad brush strokes in debut as shadow chancellor

British socialism is back – but what does Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader mean for the rest of the world?

Written by Victoria Honeyman.

The British Labour Party has a new leader in the form of Jeremy Corbyn – a left-wing politician who has spent more than 30 years rebelling against the party line.

Corbyn has some particularly controversial views on foreign policy issues and his win was described by British prime minister David Cameron, a Conservative, as a “threat to our national security”.

The congratulations sent to Corbyn (over Twitter, of course) by the Argentinian president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, were a reminder of just how contrary Corbyn can be.

He is a supporter of joint-governance in the Falklands Islands, or Las Malvinas, which the two countries fought a war over in 1982. This is where he stands on some other key foreign policy issues:

Continue reading British socialism is back – but what does Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader mean for the rest of the world?

Why Corbyn’s silent stand through the anthem is a matter of national importance

Continue reading Why Corbyn’s silent stand through the anthem is a matter of national importance

The 2015 Labour leadership election: How Jeremy Corbyn won

Written by Andrew Denham and Peter Dorey.

Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader of the Labour Party has stunned observers and practitioners of British politics. Conventional wisdom has it that rank outsiders do not become leaders of ‘mainstream’ British parties. Candidates with, say, a long history of rebellion against their own party, no practical experience of government or party management, and supported by very few of their parliamentary colleagues, are seldom seen as ‘leadership material’.

Instead, as Leonard Stark argues in his excellent book Choosing a Leader (1996), the winning candidates in British party leadership elections have usually been those considered best-equipped to meet three criteria: unity (the ability to maintain or restore party unity); electability (the ability to win a General Election) and competence (the ability to implement successful policies, and so lead a successful administration). Of the six Labour leaders elected between 1963 and 1994, Stark argues, two (Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock) were elected mainly on the basis of the first criterion of restoring party unity. The other four (Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, John Smith and Tony Blair) were chosen on the basis of all three criteria – as was Gordon Brown, the only candidate for the succession when Blair resigned in 2007. Continue reading The 2015 Labour leadership election: How Jeremy Corbyn won

Catastrophe Corbyn

By Steven Fielding.

According to some observers Jeremy Corbyn has a more than outside chance of becoming the next Labour eader. Endorsed by UNITE and other, smaller, trade unions, Corbyn certainly enjoys more support than many predicted at the outset of the campaign.

Corbyn’s unexpected prominence provoked The World Tonight to run a piece on the Labour left, one to which I made a rather sceptical contribution). For, that which passes for the Labour left today is, despite appearances, at its lowest ever ebb. Long gone are the days when the Tribune Group enjoyed a membership of nearly 100 MPs and had decent representation in Labour Cabinets.

The left enjoyed its greatest influence in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time that saw founding Tribune member Michael Foot become leader and in 1983 present to the country possibly Labour’s most radical manifesto. It was no accident that the left’s greatest influence came at the same time as one of Labour’s deepest electoral nadirs. For, if some see the left as the party’s ‘conscience’, electorally speaking you can have too many principles.  Continue reading Catastrophe Corbyn

Labour should forget ‘Saint’ David Miliband – he fluffed his chance


By Steven Fielding 

One of the many problems faced by Harold Wilson after he became Labour leader in 1963 was heading a team dominated by supporters of his immediate predecessor. Hugh Gaitskell had died suddenly, leaving his political friends understandably bereft.

Wilson was one of Gaitskell’s most prominent opponents and, as things went from bad to worse during his 1964-70 government, arch-Gaitskellites spent their evenings wishing Saint Hugh, the Man of Principle, was alive to save Labour from disaster. It was hard for Wilson to compete with a man whose qualities became ever more superhuman after his passing.

In the same way, Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour party was dogged by the reputation of his brother David from the start. David was the candidate supported by most of the shadow cabinet when the two took each other on in the 2010 leadership race.

Continue reading Labour should forget ‘Saint’ David Miliband – he fluffed his chance

Red Ed’s Manifesto?

By Steven Fielding

Political manifestos are infamously fallible guides as to what a party will actually do if it wins office. That is especially true in these uncertain times when policies might have to be traded away as the price of forming a coalition government.

But a manifesto can still tell us something about what a party stands for, its priorities, and how it thinks it can win votes.

What did Labour’s manifesto launch tell us?

Continue reading Red Ed’s Manifesto?

Ukip’s 2020 strategy: topple Labour in the north

By Matthew Goodwin

Spend time with senior people in UKIP and it will not be long until you hear about the ‘2020 Strategy’. Buoyed by their recent success, Farage and his party are already talking openly about their plans for after May. And there is little disagreement about what they should be.

The 2020 Strategy is geared toward establishing Ukip as a permanent feature on the political landscape, transforming it from a short-term revolt into a long-term insurgency. It is anchored in an assumption that the party has already established ownership over its two core issues – immigration and Britain’s relationship with the EU.

Continue reading Ukip’s 2020 strategy: topple Labour in the north

Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party

By Matthew Goodwin 

Is Britain’s two-party system really about to crumble? This question was the title of an academic paper that was written back in 1982. Like many other observers at the time, the academic Ivor Crewe had been captivated by the sudden rise of a new challenger to the main parties: the Social Democratic Party. The SDP’s surge was truly astonishing; it won a string of parliamentary by-elections, attracted more than two dozen defecting MPs and was soon polling ahead of all the other parties. At one point the SDP was on more than 50 per cent.

At first glance the scale of the SDP’s insurgency makes the contemporary rise of Ukip seem much less impressive. Ukip has only two seats in the House of Commons, continues to average only 16 per cent in the opinion polls and you would be hard pushed to find a serious commentator who thinks that Nigel Farage’s party will attract more than 20 per cent of the vote at the 2015 general election. Ukip also remains prone to public relations disasters and is a polarising force. A new poll by YouGov this week indicated that around one in four voters would struggle to remain friends with a Ukip supporter. Continue reading Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party