Tag Archives: labour

Why it’s perception that matters

 

There has been plenty of analysis and commentary on the Liberal Democrats at the 2017 election. There were significant positives from some great seat gains.  But it is difficult not to be disappointed by the low vote share nationally.

Much has already been said as to why, which I won’t repeat here. I’d like to instead focus on three specific areas which pose – the third especially – a broader long-term question for the party.  Namely that of how the public perceive us, and what they think we are truly “for”.

The first point concerns increasing polarisation. Of course there is still a centre ground. However, it’s clear that an increasingly large number of people do support the Conservatives’ hard-Brexit, continued austerity and increasingly nationalistic swing to the right. Likewise there’s an increase in those in favour of Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of socialism and high public-service spending, funded by significant tax hikes to higher earners and UK businesses.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 17 Comments

If they say you’re a Red Tory or a Yellow Tory, ask about Corbyn’s welfare cuts

Jeremy Corbyn’s team had promised to reverse child tax credit cuts, but in their 2017 manifesto, they did nothing of the sort as the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows:

Corbyn’s manifesto planned to increase taxes by £46bn per year and to borrow an extra £350bn. With so much extra funding, there was enough to honour their promises on welfare, so voters could be forgiven for assuming that they would.
In his first leadership election, Corbyn said: “Families are suffering enough. We shouldn’t play the government’s political games when the welfare of children is at stake”.  This issue of welfare cuts is why he defeated his Labour rivals for the leadership, because they had previously abstained on a number of votes.
In autumn 2015, John McDonnell, his Shadow Chancellor, didn’t just commit not to implement these cuts, he promised to reverse those that had already happened: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits. If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will”.
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 59 Comments

Moving towards a progressive alliance

General Election campaigning has got off to a flying start across the country and it is exhilarating to be ‘back in the saddle’. Oxford West and Abingdon was hard fought at the last election and it looks like it will be again. Like many seats, the Tory incumbent increased her majority here in 2015, yet this still feels like a marginal, and we are campaigning to win.

We were knocking on doors yesterday and what struck me was just how different this election feels compared to 2015. The political sands continue to shift beneath our feet but the wind is very definitely no longer against us. This constituency voted strongly to remain, yet the local MP flip-flopped and is now totally behind a Hard Brexit. This, combined with a weak Labour party nationally, has meant that local Labour and Green voters are more open than ever to lending us their vote to beat the Tory this time. And we are going to need them to do it.

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Loyalty and respect

Politics in the UK seems to be in flux following the Brexit vote. With the Tories split between remain and leave and Labour too busy squabbling amongst themselves to be effective it ought to be a time for the Liberal Democrats. Yet, so far, although we have seen many individual members of both the Labour and Conservative parties switch to the Lib Dems, only a handful of councillors and no MPs or MEPs have done so. Why is this?

I want to suggest that in the case of the Labour Party there are two factors; loyalty and respect

We often accuse the Labour Party of being tribal. The reality is that loyalty is ingrained in the psyche of Labour Party supporters and even more so in MPs. The worst thing that you can do is be ‘disloyal’. Crossing the floor is unthinkable for almost all Labour MPs and we need to recognise that this is a real factor in preventing people from joining us. When you couple this with the attitude of Labour people to what they perceive as treachery – for example the Lib Dems joining with the Tories in government – you begin to see how difficult it is to get people to come across, even if they share our values to a much higher degree than the values of the Labour Party.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

So this is how Jeremy Corbyn will be holding May to account on Brexit….

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, any half decent opposition leader would have lined up his most ferocious MPs to go to town on the PM over Brexit. We’ll gloss over the fact that any decent Leader of the Opposition wouldn’t have let the Article 50 Bill pass unamended in the first place.

But we don’t have a decent Leader of the Opposition. We have Jeremy Corbyn. You just get the feeling that if PMQs had been extended by a couple of hours, he wouldn’t have got round to asking a question on Brexit. No doubt he’d have asked about the weather and who the PM thought had done in Ken Barlow on Corrie.  He should have taken May apart on Brexit. He should have had half a dozen MPs lined up with killer questions.  But Labour MPs asked about anything but – until Tulip Siddiq came along. The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, a passionate and effective opponent of Brexit, asked about the £350 million a week for the NHS.

Later, in his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, rather than deliver a feisty riposte, he sounded like he was discussing the relative merits of different kinds of broad bean. There was no passion, no fire. “If she meets our tests, we’ll back her,” he said. Labour’s tests are meaningless anyway as they have failed them themselves. They had every opportunity to ensure that the Government’s strategy was changed to include membership of the single market, to stand up for the rights of EU nationals, and to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the deal. 

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Nick Clegg cheered by students

Six years ago, Nick Clegg was not the most popular politician amongst students. Now, things have changed as many young people find that he speaks for them as the Government hurtles towards a hard Brexit which will blight their future and opportunities. The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour watched him speak to a crowd of students last night:

In his Standard column this week, Nick described another student debate, in his Sheffield constituency, where he had a few words to say to the Labour MP on the panel:

I was on a platform with other politicians taking questions from a student audience. A local Labour MP was having the normal go at me about tuition fees. Fair enough — though I noticed he omitted to mention Labour’s own role in introducing tuition fees, and then trebling them on its own watch.

No, the moment Labour’s malaise really struck me was when this MP started speaking about the vote last week in the Commons on Article 50. He displayed none of the intelligence or humility of Keir Starmer, the shadow secretary for exiting the EU, who disarmingly confessed to the gathered MPs how difficult the issue is for Labour. Instead, in Sheffield this MP started to deliver a sanctimonious lecture to the Ukip and Conservative panellists, berating them for placing immigration above the economy in the Brexit talks.

I couldn’t contain myself. Irascibly, I interrupted his pro-European sermon to remind him that he’d just got off a train from London having voted with Douglas Carswell, Michael Gove, John Redwood and other zealous Brexiteers. How could he claim he was representing the interests of the youngsters in the audience having given his support to Theresa May’s uncompromisingly hard Brexit, yanking the UK out of the single market altogether?

I don’t believe that it would have been a betrayal of democracy if MPs had voted against the Government last week. All that would have happened, once the splenetic outrage of the Brexit-supporting press had passed, is that the Government would have been forced to come back to MPs with a more moderate, workable approach to Brexit which would then have received their support. MPs would not have blocked Brexit but they would have blocked hard Brexit. So it is pretty rich for Labour MPs to deliver pious homilies to other parties about the dangers of hard Brexit.

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Labour lashes out at Lib Dems

Remember how, last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch was such a runaway success. Not even Tony Blair in the early years could gather such positive headlines.

Ok, so maybe that’s not quite how it happened. At least we’re now clear on their policy on freedom of movement. They love immigration and they hate it, depending on who they are talking to.

Labour has stepped up its attacks on the Lib Dems in the last couple of days, presumably because they have to fight two by-elections on 23rd February where the Leave vote will be split 3 ways and we are the only party offering any sort of opposition to the Tories.

But they couldn’t quite manage it competently. The International Business Times was none too chuffed to find its video being used by Jeremy Corbyn, uncredited, to attack Tim Farron.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 29 Comments
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  • User AvatarPeter Brand 22nd Jul - 9:13pm
    It's not a ransom, it's clearing your account before you leave the club.
  • User AvatarJoebourke 22nd Jul - 8:57pm
    Michael, "...tax the high earners to pay money to those who are restricted in their freedoms by their lack of economic resources." Isn't this what...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 22nd Jul - 8:41pm
    Have a wonderful and well-deserved change of pace Caron. Having had four spaniels in our family I imagine it will be a different pace rather...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Jul - 8:02pm
    Zoe, could you let us know, please, why the Economy Working Group has not apparently produced as expected a policy motion for Bournemouth? I went...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 22nd Jul - 7:56pm
    Arnold Kiel, I'm just going by what you have on your FB profile! It's a valid point. Anyone can express an opinion on Brexit but...
  • User AvatarJohn Littler 22nd Jul - 7:43pm
    It is worth remembering that in most countries, major constitutional change requires a threshold based on vote percentage and/or turnout , rather than a simple...