UK Labour Party Watch

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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14221  Postby GrahamH » Jan 02, 2020 9:07 am

Matt_B wrote:Or just maybe they can pick someone who can win in spite of the inevitable smear campaign. I'm pretty sure that MacDonald, Attlee and Wilson - and I'm not even mentioning that other guy - all faced a fervently pro-Tory press but still managed to win elections, and people even read the papers back then too.

The problem with Corbyn was not that he was smeared, it's that enough of the smears stuck in the minds of enough of the voters.

Other left-leaning parties like the Greens and the SNP didn't seem to suffer from this nearly as much though, which suggests that Corbyn presented a particularly easy target.


He did, because he championed various underdogs. Although a considered opinion might be that he came out on the right side of history in many cases, through sound principles, it still leaves him vulnerable through association with various "freedom fighters" (aka "terrorists").

Campaigning against the South African apartheid state is pretty safe for a UK politician now, but opposing oppression of Catholics in N.I. or Palestinians in West Bank & Gazza is have different resonances for UK voters.

It seems the next leader will have to be someone who has not campaigned for oppressed populations with particular significance to the UK.

Is it the case that former Activists can't become Prime Ministers (except through revolution)?
Why do you think that?
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14222  Postby Matt_B » Jan 02, 2020 10:53 am

It's not as if there weren't both Irish Nationalist and Palestinian political parties with a commitment towards peaceful negotiation that he could have supported though. Absolutely nobody who's supported Fatah in the post-Oslo period, or the SDLP ever, is going to get credibly branded a terrorist.

It's seeking out associations with Hamas - with its openly anti-Semitic charter - and the IRA - prior to its renunciation of violence - specifically that's bitten him. There's a reason why talks with the IRA were kept secret until the peace process was far enough along for them to be publicly rehabilitated, and I've no doubt that secret talks are ongoing with Hamas until such a point can be reached with them too.

As for former activists becoming PM, I suggest having another look at MacDonald's career. I'd also note that the most radical reformers in office, i.e. Attlee and Wilson, did not have activist backgrounds.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14223  Postby GrahamH » Jan 02, 2020 11:22 am

Matt_B wrote:It's not as if there weren't both Irish Nationalist and Palestinian political parties with a commitment towards peaceful negotiation that he could have supported though. Absolutely nobody who's supported Fatah in the post-Oslo period, or the SDLP ever, is going to get credibly branded a terrorist.


Of course there will be other groups that are less controversial on any contested issue. One could denounce Mandela and the ANC as terrorists and talk to The Progressive Party instead, but isn't it those at the focus of a conflict that have the greatest potential for change?

One could have ignored or denounced Hamas but they won an election by some margin over Fatah.

Matt_B wrote:It's seeking out associations with Hamas - with its openly anti-Semitic charter - and the IRA - prior to its renunciation of violence - specifically that's bitten him.


It is ineed, but would he have been in a stronger position if he had campaigned in support of the Progressive Party and denounced Mandela along with Thatcher? Might it be safer to stay away from the issue almost entirely, taking a mainstream position only if pressed. That is, if you aspire to be PM one day.

The paradox is that his principled stands have won him support that someone avoiding controversy would maybe lose.

Matt_B wrote:
As for former activists becoming PM, I suggest having another look at MacDonald's career. I'd also note that the most radical reformers in office, i.e. Attlee and Wilson, did not have activist backgrounds.


What did you have in mind about McDonald? Did he support controversial foreign causes?

I was not suggesting that it took an activist to be radical in power. Rather it was the reverse. Is an activist past an obstacle to power? I would think activism on non-domestic issues might make a difference there. Activism on any issue that casts the British state in a bad light being particularly toxic.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14224  Postby ronmcd » Jan 02, 2020 11:29 am


Labour party membership, first preference for leader:
K. Starmer: 31%
R. Long Bailey: 20%
J. Phillips: 11%
Y. Cooper: 7%
C. Lewis: 7%
E. Thornberry: 6%
L. Nandy: 5%

https://twitter.com/britainelects/statu ... 8462244864
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14225  Postby GrahamH » Jan 02, 2020 11:41 am

ronmcd wrote:

Labour party membership, first preference for leader:
K. Starmer: 31%
R. Long Bailey: 20%
J. Phillips: 11%
Y. Cooper: 7%
C. Lewis: 7%
E. Thornberry: 6%
L. Nandy: 5%

https://twitter.com/britainelects/statu ... 8462244864


What about the UK electorate? Will Labour members elect a leader that UK voters will vote for?
Which of these will be popular enough to rebuild the "red wall"?
Why do you think that?
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14226  Postby Beatsong » Jan 02, 2020 2:47 pm

GrahamH wrote:
ronmcd wrote:

Labour party membership, first preference for leader:
K. Starmer: 31%
R. Long Bailey: 20%
J. Phillips: 11%
Y. Cooper: 7%
C. Lewis: 7%
E. Thornberry: 6%
L. Nandy: 5%

https://twitter.com/britainelects/statu ... 8462244864


What about the UK electorate? Will Labour members elect a leader that UK voters will vote for?
Which of these will be popular enough to rebuild the "red wall"?


None, after the fake news media are finished with them and the Tories are done fiddling the system so they can't be voted out anyway.

We're fucked.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14227  Postby Matt_B » Jan 02, 2020 8:43 pm

GrahamH wrote:Of course there will be other groups that are less controversial on any contested issue. One could denounce Mandela and the ANC as terrorists and talk to The Progressive Party instead, but isn't it those at the focus of a conflict that have the greatest potential for change?


Or he could just have supported the ANC and not get arrested for taking part in protests that even they didn't approve of.

In all seriousness, South Africa was one of the cases where there was widespread acceptance of the idea that violent struggle against an openly racist and authoritarian regime was in some senses justified. That's not to say that there wasn't condemnation of ANC bombings of civilian targets and such, but - having supported them through the 1980s myself - they're clearly in a different league to the IRA and Hamas, who I most certainly didn't support.

There are obviously parts of the world where the IRA were, and Hamas still is, seen as legitimate in their aims but I find that more troubling than reassuring.

One could have ignored or denounced Hamas but they won an election by some margin over Fatah.


Winning an election in Gaza doesn't refute the anti-Semitic passages in their charter, unfortunately. They're as racist in their roots as the National Party of South Africa was, and shunning them was always seen as a good move.

This obviously isn't a black and white issue and I can see a need - that becomes ever more pressing with the more guns and bombs they've got - to negotiate with terrorists. As before though, this need not come with the implied support of openly associating with them, and can take place in secret.

What did you have in mind about McDonald? Did he support controversial foreign causes?


Yes, he supported the initially highly controversial cause of not getting involved in a bloody war that would go on to last four years and kill tens of millions of people, losing his seat for his troubles. It didn't take that long to show he'd been on the right side of history there though and he was back as Labour leader and PM within but a few years of that.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14228  Postby minininja » Jan 03, 2020 12:27 am

Beatsong wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Which of these will be popular enough to rebuild the "red wall"?

None, after the fake news media are finished with them and the Tories are done fiddling the system so they can't be voted out anyway.

We're fucked.

I think you're right, if the aim is to win a general election. The little democracy we had has been corrupted beyond use, and the Tories are set to reinforce their grip with voter suppression and boundary changes.

But the Labour party doesn't even need a leader to try and win a general election now. There won't be one for a couple years at least, and nothing the Tories are going to do will turn the rest of the establishment against them any time soon. No matter what the opposition MPs do in parliament or scrutiny committees, the media don't enable them hold the government to account in any meaningful way.

It would be better to accept that it's a false hope without first having revolutionary change. And that has to start from the ground up. Labour needs a leader who can mobilise the membership, not for knocking on doors and asking people to vote for those at the top - if Labour are only seen at election times, people will never trust them - but for actively showing there's a better way, organising community groups, helping people help each other out when things are difficult, direct social action to grow a movement.

Anyone sufficiently pro-neoliberal-establishment that they would be allowed to be considered "electable" or "prime-ministerial" wouldn't be able to make the changes that are really needed anyway.
[Disclaimer - if this is comes across like I think I know what I'm talking about, I want to make it clear that I don't. I'm just trying to get my thoughts down]
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14229  Postby GrahamH » Jan 03, 2020 8:43 am

Matt_B wrote:
Or he could just have supported the ANC and not get arrested for taking part in protests that even they didn't approve of.


That was more or less my point in asking if the next leader must not have an activist past. Someone who maybe voted in support of motions in the House but didn't protest on the street or meet with the key people involved. That might paint fewer targets on their back although it also might make them less credible in other ways.
Why do you think that?
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14230  Postby GrahamH » Jan 03, 2020 9:34 am

minininja wrote: Labour needs a leader who can mobilise the membership, not for knocking on doors and asking people to vote for those at the top - if Labour are only seen at election times, people will never trust them - but for actively showing there's a better way, organising community groups, helping people help each other out when things are difficult, direct social action to grow a movement.


Honestly, that would put me off. I believe some right wing party did that sort of think in Greece. It seems like buying votes with small kindnesses that are nothing to do with policy or politics. You can win votes by making trains run on time but that doesn't make you fit to run a country.
Why do you think that?
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14231  Postby ronmcd » Jan 03, 2020 10:10 am

And it's not what gets a party elected. What gets a party elected is at the moment of an election they need to appear more competent than the other party.

To be honest this tends to happen not based on the newly winning party and what they do, but on the cyclical disintegration of the formerly winning party.

It probably should have happened in 2017 when the Tories imploded.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14232  Postby ronmcd » Jan 03, 2020 10:25 am

There was an example in Scotland in I think 2011.

In March 2011, two months before the election, Labour held a double-digit lead over the SNP in the opinion polls,[24] 44% to 29%.[25] The SNP's support subsequently rallied, with the two parties level in April polling. In the final poll on the eve of the election, the SNP were eleven points clear of Labour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Scot ... nion_polls

SNP won a majority, under PR.

It's difficult to describe in retrospect what happened, but Labour *were* going to win that election and wrestle power back from the SNP. They had 40+ seats at Westminster the year before in 2010, and were way ahead in the polls coming in to the Holyrood campaign.

So what happened? They were fucking incompetent. I can remember watching one of their candidates, an experienced minister at Holyrood (andy Kerr?), disintegrating on a tv interview because he didnt have answers to the questions. What Scottish Labour did was promise policies different from the SNP, right up to the point they ... changed their policies and copied the SNP policies, and collapsed *during* the campaign.

Also leader Ian Gray, a good man but not a leader, famously did a Boris and ran away and hid. Boris hid in a fridge, Gray hid in a subway takeaway. It was the end.

UK Labours problem now is Boris is one of those politicians a % of the electorate like because he's a blustering fool. Their opinion will likely change in time, and Labour need to be ready, but for now there's nothing to be done. A Starmer vs May election may have been different, or even a Philips or Cooper election. But it will take time for Boris to be seen as incompetent.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14233  Postby GrahamH » Jan 03, 2020 10:33 am

ronmcd wrote:And it's not what gets a party elected. What gets a party elected is at the moment of an election they need to appear more competent than the other party.


That is certainly a key issue. If a party doesn't seem competent to deliver their policies it doesn't matter what those policies are, they won't count for much.

But a party with unpopular policies won't get elected, no matter how competent, so long as their opponents with better policies are also seen as credibly competent.

Then you have the 2019 election where neither party looked credible and perhaps the simpler slogan won.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14234  Postby ronmcd » Jan 03, 2020 11:24 am

GrahamH wrote:
ronmcd wrote:And it's not what gets a party elected. What gets a party elected is at the moment of an election they need to appear more competent than the other party.


That is certainly a key issue. If a party doesn't seem competent to deliver their policies it doesn't matter what those policies are, they won't count for much.

But a party with unpopular policies won't get elected, no matter how competent, so long as their opponents with better policies are also seen as credibly competent.

Then you have the 2019 election where neither party looked credible and perhaps the simpler slogan won.

2019 was definitely a unique case, it wasnt really a GE, of the two only Corbyn was trying to discuss the issues a GE would normally be about. But it was about brexit, quite simply.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14235  Postby GrahamH » Jan 03, 2020 12:19 pm

ronmcd wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
ronmcd wrote:And it's not what gets a party elected. What gets a party elected is at the moment of an election they need to appear more competent than the other party.


That is certainly a key issue. If a party doesn't seem competent to deliver their policies it doesn't matter what those policies are, they won't count for much.

But a party with unpopular policies won't get elected, no matter how competent, so long as their opponents with better policies are also seen as credibly competent.

Then you have the 2019 election where neither party looked credible and perhaps the simpler slogan won.

2019 was definitely a unique case, it wasnt really a GE, of the two only Corbyn was trying to discuss the issues a GE would normally be about. But it was about brexit, quite simply.


So it isn't only competence that counts, is it?
Why do you think that?
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14236  Postby mattthomas » Jan 03, 2020 12:27 pm

Matt_B wrote:Or just maybe they can pick someone who can win in spite of the inevitable smear campaign. I'm pretty sure that MacDonald, Attlee and Wilson - and I'm not even mentioning that other guy - all faced a fervently pro-Tory press but still managed to win elections, and people even read the papers back then too.

The problem with Corbyn was not that he was smeared, it's that enough of the smears stuck in the minds of enough of the voters.

Other left-leaning parties like the Greens and the SNP didn't seem to suffer from this nearly as much though, which suggests that Corbyn presented a particularly easy target.

I do hope you're not labouring under the impression that my post was discussing what electability looks like, instead of bemoaning all the talking heads and twitterati who state with 100% certainty that this or that leader would have won hands down.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14237  Postby ronmcd » Jan 03, 2020 2:45 pm

GrahamH wrote:
ronmcd wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
ronmcd wrote:And it's not what gets a party elected. What gets a party elected is at the moment of an election they need to appear more competent than the other party.


That is certainly a key issue. If a party doesn't seem competent to deliver their policies it doesn't matter what those policies are, they won't count for much.

But a party with unpopular policies won't get elected, no matter how competent, so long as their opponents with better policies are also seen as credibly competent.

Then you have the 2019 election where neither party looked credible and perhaps the simpler slogan won.

2019 was definitely a unique case, it wasnt really a GE, of the two only Corbyn was trying to discuss the issues a GE would normally be about. But it was about brexit, quite simply.


So it isn't only competence that counts, is it?

Obviously not, or I'd be PM.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14238  Postby ronmcd » Jan 03, 2020 2:48 pm

The point is in a normal GE, and the next will be back to normal, the party that wins does so for the reasons I mentioned. Appearance of competence, which encompasses politics & policy to some extent, but being or appearing more competent is probably the key. As in the 2011 Holyrood example I gave.
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14239  Postby mrjonno » Jan 03, 2020 3:30 pm

ronmcd wrote:The point is in a normal GE, and the next will be back to normal, the party that wins does so for the reasons I mentioned. Appearance of competence, which encompasses politics & policy to some extent, but being or appearing more competent is probably the key. As in the 2011 Holyrood example I gave.


Looking like you could be on the board of a FTSE 100 company, even if it's due to having a posh voice. You just couldn't ever see Corbyn being CEO of anything.

You don't need to be competent but you do need to at least appear it
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Re: UK Labour Party Watch

#14240  Postby Beatsong » Jan 03, 2020 5:18 pm

ronmcd wrote:The point is in a normal GE, and the next will be back to normal, the party that wins does so for the reasons I mentioned. Appearance of competence, which encompasses politics & policy to some extent, but being or appearing more competent is probably the key. As in the 2011 Holyrood example I gave.


Competence is one factor, but by no means the only one, even in a "normal" GE.
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