View from the Margins

Politics from a 'Marginal Constituency’ by Andy Reed

These are my personal reflections as the former Labour and co-operative MP for the marginal constituency of Loughborough which I held between 1997 and 2010.

The Blogs are largely about understanding the Labour Party since 2010 and plenty of unsought advice for how to win a marginal ‘Middle England’ seat!

I have shared my frustration with the Miliband years and the horror of the Corbyn period leading to the disastrous 2019 General Election defeat.

At times I have been too timid for the fear of upsetting friends and being accused of undermining the Party and candidates – whilst at the same time being accused of doing that! So maybe I got the balance about right. I have certainly not held back on what I thought of Corbyn since day one.

As we move through the 2020’s I will reflect on what a Johnson Government means, how Brexit will unfold and what will happen to the Labour Party. Is it the end or just another long period in the wilderness. Will Labour members ever learn about the importance of winning elections?

I am sure the next decade will be as eventful at the last. Except this time we don’t have a home Olympics to cheer us up a little as we did in 2012!

  • It seems it was more than a Westminster Bubble Story!
    Last Saturday I wondered if it was worth covering the Cummings story because it looked like a Westminster Bubble/process story that political nerds like me enjoy but ‘real voters’ never really take any notice of! Well I got that one wrong. What a week. But as I write today Cummings in still in post and the government is unlocking the country against its own advice and tests it set itself. That’s the real story. Death rates are not at a level that warrant the opening up of the country. The Cummings story cut through because there is a sense of …

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  • Cummings and Goings – Why does it Matter?
    This weekend it’s now almost impossible to avoid talk of Dominic Cummings. On Saturday morning with the Dominic Cummins story first breaking I thought I’d leave it alone as it seemed as though it may be just a bit of a process or Westminster bubble issue therefore not important in marginal swing voters in seats like Loughborough. I know my own social media had gone crazy on Saturday, but I understand the size and scale of my own echo chamber and whilst the anger was palpable I wonder if it was still limited. At that stage I started to look …

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  • New poll puts Keir Starmer’s favourability 50 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn
    New polling of the public has found Keir Starmer’s net favourability has jumped 50 points compared to where Jeremy Corbyn left off as Labour leader. It’s only one measure but an important one. We live with a more presidential political style whether we like it or not. Leadership and economic competence matter. This is a solid base from which to progress. More thoughts to follow! — Read on
  • Remembering the taste of victory – reminds us how much defeat hurts.
    One of the benefits of social media is the annual reminder of past events. I love May 1st when friends and colleagues pop up on my timleines with the memories of May 1st 1997. Forever 1st May will be a reminder of the historic Labour victory in 1997 for me. It certainly changed my life! Whilst I am reaching an age where I regularly feel nostaligic the 1st May reminder goes deeper than that. It was a profound moment in the nations history and specifically for the Labour Party in 2020 where I realise there are many members who have …

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  • Competence is back – We have a real Opposition
    The strangest of times for Starmer’s first PMQs The routine of PMQs is obvious. Since Blair changed the format  in 1997 (Blairs first PMQs is worth watching – even for my 20 seconds of doughnutting) to Wednesday lunch time it’s a regular feature of the political week. But lockdown has done strange things and I thought yesterday was Tuesday. I had wanted to see how Starmer went on… I did after all watch Corbyn at his first outing to see how he would cope. I even wrote a Mercury Column praising some of the style. Probably the last positive thing …

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  • Ten Thousand Deaths and Rising. Paying the Price for a Slow Response?
    This week we saw the death toll from Covid-19 pass the 10,000 mark in the UK. This is only the figure for hospital deaths. It will be much higher when all the figures are collected. Yet if you saw the front pages of most of our Tabloids we are all meant to be grateful that Boris is home and in good spirits. It is perfectly possible to be both delighted the the Prime Minister survived and has returned from intensive care (I am), as it is to be angry that it has come to this. Now is the time to …

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  • A Competent Shadow Cabinet – A Really Welcome Start!
    We are just one week into keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party so it’s not time to making grand statements that might look a little foolish in 6-12months time! But whisper it quietly and it looks like competence is back in fashion in the Party. This week Keir has made plenty of steady media appearances. There was nothing memorable but he struck just the right balance given the current crisis the country faces at the moment. (although I will return to this over the weekend as the death toll rises). The big moment this week -for many of us …

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  • A Solid First 48 Hours. That will do for now!
    I have a spring back in my step. The first 48 hours of Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party has gone as well as I could have hoped for given the extraordinary political circumstances which form the backdrop.
  • Is Labour now Back in the Game?
    This feels a strange day. In normal circumstances news would be dominated by the announcement of the new Labour leader. Quite rightly the special conference arranged for today was cancelled. So instead I sat at home refreshing my twitter feed like thousands of others across the country.
  • Time for a Fresh Political Start in 2020? What will 2030 look like?
    As 2020 is just around the corner it feels appropriate to look back over the last decade and not just 2019. Perhaps because 2019 seems to have so politically exhausting and damaging it’s tempting to see the last decade only through the narrow lens of the politcs Brexit. It didn’t have to be this way in 2010. If you had pushed me to try and predict what the UK would look like in 2020 – remember all those catchy 2020 vision events you have been to – I woulnd’t have predicted what we are about to suffer. In this article …

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