On May 6th, election day 2021

On May 6th, election day 2021

If the strategy was to recover the old mill, coal and steel towns, it would seem this hasn’t worked. But there was a 3% swing to Labour on Thursday albeit in Blair’s middle England, not where Starmer and his strategists would have hoped. If the road to No 10, is through the old mill, coal and steel towns, Labour will have to do something else.

Corbyn’s leadership was made by a spontaneous movement, it was not a plot by 60 year old Bennite retreads. The eruption requires to be understood which Starmer’s people seem incapable of; the communications and strategy are poor, and Mandelson too engrained in 25 year old fights that makes Labour members and voters the enemy.

I am glad I waited to talk about this as it’s a story that unrolled over three days. Thursday night was dominated by Labour’s loss of Hartlepool and Durham County Council and rumours of an upset in London as the Tory GLA seats were declared and Labour held Harrow & Brent underperformed in delivering votes to Sadiq Kahn.

Over Friday, the picture became clearer, there was a great victory in Wales, we took the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor positions and held councils such as Preston, although we lost the West Midlands Metropolitan Mayor (again). There were some great victories in Oxfordshire and one notable defeat in Oxford City. Labour won the elections in Liverpool and in the evening, it became clear that Sadiq Kahn would win in London, with the result being declared just before midnight. Phil Burton Cartledge comments, possibly too early, in this article on the lessons to be learned on strategy , where he concludes,

What are the chances of this being a teachable moment for Labour? With the likes of Steve Reed and Peter Mandelson blaming “the party” as opposed to the leader or the strategy, the odds aren’t looking good. Six years on from Labour’s evisceration in Scotland, no analysis has been ventured by them, no lessons learned. 2017’s uptick in Labour’s fortunes – an election that must be buried at all costs, nothing to be seen here. And 2019: an awful result to be sure, but no consideration of how the party still clung on to over 10 million votes. Only a trend as stupid, factional and myopic as Labour’s right could look at their organisation’s recent electoral performances and conclude there is nothing useful there to learn about. These people are simply not serious.

Phil BC

He then wrote an article on Starmer’s poor reaction, entitled “On Keir Starmer’s Stupidity” about firstly claiming to take responsibility and then attempting and failing to fire Angela Rayner as “Party Chair” and finishing by giving her even more titles, and more responsibility. He also damagingly changed the story and buried Friday’s better news.   

However, on Sunday, Labour, in Bristol, despite or maybe because of, holding the Mayor, Labour lost control of the council to a Green surge.

I’d love to be able to argue that we did badly where candidates were imposed but it’s not compelling. There are well known stories about the Hartelpool which was lost and Liverpool selections which was held, and less well know stories about the West of England Mayor selection which Labour won. The West Midlands Mayoral selection was also unsatisfactory where an ex-Birmingahm MP was unable to turn out Labour’s Brummie vote. Both Liverpool and Bristol campaigns will have been disrupted by Evans’ suspensions. The disruption to Bristol’s campaigning will have been exacerbated by the managed selection process, one result of which is reported in the Bristol Post and where local commentators tell me the imposed candidates lost. The Bristol result seems to have been partly because of a loss of the youth and student vote; this will not have been helped by Starmer’s antipathy to the drowning of the Colston statue as part of Black Lives Matter protests and his comments on its policing. But is also a symptom of Starmer’s deliberate destruction of Corbyn’s coalition.

At the centre of the lessons to be learned is how to put together a coalition that can win. This is a question beyond that of geography. Phil’s writings are full of analysis about the changing nature of work, the aging and the political criticality of outright home ownership, the alienation of final salary pension recipients from the youth and even their children and the historic loyalty of Britain’s black and asian communities and these issues’ impact on British politics. He also argues that age is the primary bifurcation of politics today as Thatcher’s voters fulfil their homeowning dream and either look to survive and/or pull the ladder up behind them. He also argues that capital needs social liberalism as immaterial work becomes dominant in our economy. His arguments are probably most easily accessible in his article, “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” .

We need to recognise the failure of policy promises, although it would be nice to have had some, to overcome authenticity, values and stories and that policy must be socialised amongst the electorate. One way that Labour does that is to debate policy on conference and in its CLPs so supressing the policy debate and declaring a Day 0 for policy are equally not helpful given his 10 pledges and the promises

There’s some great stuff Paul Mason, who tweets on strategy and ignorance (of Labour’s legacy leadership) ,  and Clive Lewis, on Centrism and triangulation. Labour needs to do more than wait for its turn and there’s more from Phil BC on immaterial labour i.e. the factor of production and its impact on representational politics and on Pasokisation. “On Hartelpool” by James Butler, covers many of these themes too.

Scylla & Charybdis

The meaning of class is changing and the way to do progressive politics is too.

Bristol is the Scylla, while Hartlepool is Charybdis. Labour should have learned that voters always have somewhere else to go and as Labour reinvents triangulation and trims towards the Tories, we lose the young and liberal supporters; people that vote for us and actually work. …

On New Cross’s by-election

Labour’s Samantha Latouche has won the New Cross by-election and won it well. Congratulations, now let’s look at the numbers.

Here’s a table showing the top vote for each party in 2018, when the council last had a general election. I have used the top vote of each party (of those that stood). This may cause some inconsistencies as in 2018 people might have voted both for the one green candidate and the top Labour candidate but this is the best I can do. My data source is Lewisham Council’s site. The 2021 by-election results.

NX Ward Elections 2018 -2021

I experiments with several chart types and came up with this. The solid bars represent the current vote, so if above the hatched bars, this shows a gain, and if below it represents a fall in voter share. The turnout was better than in 2018, wonder why that was and we should note that the Tory vote increased, while the Green vote decreased.

NX Ward Elections 2018 -2021

 …

More nonsense on Bitcoin

The Indy reports on Bailey of the Bank on Bitcoin, who warns, “Cryptocurrency has ‘no intrinsic value’ and investors will ‘lose all your money’, says Bank of England chief” I add, “Bitcoin only works because the ‘proof of work’ is so expensive and time consuming; and its also destructive of the environment due to its useless power consumption. (It’s also very slow, doing 700 TPS, that’s not enough for a business, let alone an economy.) …

When 2nd best is actually best!

Another note on proportional representation. We elect MPs for two purposes, to represent us in Parliament and to choose a Prime Minister.

Sometimes the best and most supported answer is a compromise of 2nd bests which only a Parliament can deliver. i.e. the former role is more important.

Opponents of PR, within the LP, have a vision of a Labour Govt., exercising the powers of the elective dictatorship, (presumably without the corruption) ruling on the basis of a minority plurality. This always ends badly.

As other’s have said, the UK’s system i.e. FPTP is little used in democracies, and truth be told, not used in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or London.

PR may or may not benefit Labour or the progressives in the UK, but the UK is a ‘flawed democracy’ and something must change to ensure this kakistocracy is never repeated. …

A step too far?

A step too far?

Johnson’s in a bit of bother, and it’s not his Johnson this time, at least as far as we know. The outrage that has the media’s attention is that he is accused of having said, “No more fucking lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!” This is disgusting but almost as bad is the fact that this has been kept hidden for over 6 months.

When you add to this, the Greensill Fund affair and Cameron’s lobbying, where it seems the Tories are ready to let Cameron hang out to dry, the failed and extortionate priced track and trace system (£37bn and counting), shipping contract to a company without ships, the lobbying for favoured tax status and contract for ventilators to a company that’s never made them, the failure to acquire PPE for NHS staff and many more. To this we can add the creation of a No 10 press suite which they no longer plan to use, the murky finances of the redecoration of the No 11 flat, and the resurrection of the Arcuri affair (narf narf), this Govt. is the epitome of corrupt although it doesn’t seem to have come through in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index yet, although they identify the pandemic as a major global threat for corruption. For more on corruption and impunity see, “Corruption Britain has reached new heights under Boris Johnson’s government” at the New Statesman (£). …

A better Brexit?

Another Europe (AEIP) have issued a pamphlet, called “The fundamental problems in the UK-EU trade deal and how it can be reformed”, it’s release is announced on the AEIP blog and commented on in the Guardian, Labour group urges Keir Starmer to back better Brexit deal

Luke, its author has started a thread on twitter which I have unrolled here. Central is the argument that the negotiated sovereignty is bogus and that it would be more efficient even in liberal terms to synchronise some laws and regulation. It catalogues what it sees as the weaknesses of the agreement and the demands are summarised as,

  • Harmonisation with EU standards, with a no-downgrading principle written into future deals
  • A review and weeding out of regulatory duplication
  • Re-joining EU programmes on the basis of common interest e.g. Erasmus and Erasmus+
  • A mutual rights agreement for UK and EU citizens to reinstate free movement rights
  • Promoting a democratic economy, with state investment and industrial strategy sitting alongside strong protections against cronyism
  • The creation of a forum in which to cooperate on human security and foreign policy

I am disappointed that he doesn’t talk about the customs union, as this is key remedying the collapse of the SME import/export industry and part of the threat to the Good Friday Agreement.

I am also disappointed that he doesn’t talk about Parliament and while I understand why, I think it’s a mistake, but I am equally disappointed with the apolitical nature of UK trade and business commiussion and the support it has won in the PLP. Its a lack of a political defence of the EU and its internationalist future that has led to us being where we are today.  …

Pasokification: evidence from Germany

While Labour campaigns for the most extensive local elections in decades with one Parliamentary by-election, much internal attention is turned to its strategy. There are important lessons to be learned from Greece and now Germany. In 2013, the SPD, Grüne and die Linke won a tiny majority in the the Bundestag, but the result of the election was another Grand Coalition of the CDU & SPD. I wrote at the time,

We’ll see if her prediction, that the smaller party always get screwed remains true. It’s hard to believe that the SDP will allow her to do it twice.

Me on this blog 25 Sep 2013

The polls are quite different today. The SPD has been in government since the fall of the wall, mainly as junior partners in a Conservative led government. In 2013, the SPD won 25.7% of the vote, (in 1998 it was 40.9%) today they are trailing Die Grune at 15%. For those for whom the mantra without power we can do no good, I ask how much good do you think the SPD have done over the last four years.

Here is where all the parties stand today.

I have chosen to use a stock price chart type, solid boxes are movement’s down, white boxes are movement’s up, line’s up are the 6 month high (if different from the open or closing score) and lines down are the 6 month low (if different from the open or closing score). …

The Senedd, proportionality and size

The Senedd, proportionality and size

I have been thinking how many politicians is the right number and how to build proportional voting systems, these came together in a chat about the Senedd, so I thought I’d share.

The Welsh Parliament is elected in two classes, one class (40 seats) is elected in constituencies by first past the post, the remaining 20 are elected in five super constituencies of four members elected using a D’hondt count. The D’hondt count is done allocating the first places won in the count by a party to their constituency assembly members. This means that the results i.e. the number of assembly members/party are proportional within the super constituencies subject to rounding. This is as is done in London.

Acadmemia may suggest that assemblies that are too small become dominated by the executive, which in Wales is limited to 14, while those that are too large become prone to low quality legislation and corruption. It has been suggested that the optimum size of the Welsh assembly would be 147 based on a cube root rule. See also, “Wales needs 20 or 30 more Members of the Senedd, says committee” at Wales Online.  Other work suggests that we, in the UK have too few elected politicians because we have the House of Lords and too few councillors.

Proportionality depends upon the ratio of list AMs to constituency AMs. In Wales it’s ⅓, 43% in Scotland, 44% in London and 50% in Germany, who also have very finely calculated additional seats to eliminate rounding errors and any ‘crowding out’ effect.  i.e. the Bundestag is not of a fixed size, but as one reduces the size of the top-up class of seats, we reduce proportionality. …

The Fabians canvass for policy

The Fabians canvass for policy

Momentum have run a policy primary to decide what topics and motions to push for Labour Conference 2021. The Fabians seem to have decided that this is a good idea and issued a shorter, more guided questionnaire to the world at large. They ask five questions, ... a new policy Labour should back that could transform the country, one thing Labour should do to reconnect with voters who rejected the party in 2019, one commitment from the 2019 Labour manifesto that the party should abandon, one idea for creating more unity and harmony in the Labour movement, and name one Labour MP the party should make more use of. The last is just asking for trolling, my answers are overleaf/below and feel that I have a right to offer my advice as I only left the Fabians last year having joined it to help me rethink my ideas about policy and strategy. ...