No Confidence in Jeremy

So today Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of no confidence in his leadership but vowed to fight on….

20160628_154641000_iOS

After the drama of the resignation from his Shadow Cabinet over the last 48 hours, Jeremey Corbyn faced the vote of No Confidence today. He lost and lost badly. Most people in such circumstances would do the honourable thing and step down. But Corbyn has insisted it changes nothing and he will carry on.

So what happens now? The ‘process’ is set you below, but these are the formalities. What happens now politically is what will be interesting. The Corbynites will fall back on their belief that the new Labour party membership (including all those £3 members) will back him in the same numbers as before, if the PLP is able to force a formal leadership challenge, given that he is making it clear he is going nowhere.

You know my views – I wouldn’t have had to resign from the front bench because I don’t think I could have served honestly when asked if I thought Jeremy had the skills to be a successful leader and take the party into government as our Prime Minister. I kept quiet over the last few months to allow him to show us that I and others were wrong. Unfortunately the situation has not improved. As everybody says Jeremy is a lovely guy – unlike many of those who surround him – but he is simply not up to the job of being an effective leader of a modern political party who can communicate with the voters we need to win over to win a general election. I see nothing that convinces me otherwise. I know he enthuses the small band of the electorate that have joined Labour… but that is not the same as winning over voters who seem to be leaving in even larger numbers.

In the past I have remained loyal to political leaders because that is what we do in the Labour Party. But I am now convinced we don’t have the luxury of backing an electoral liability. It is time for a new leader.

The Process from here:-

Labour Leadership – Process  

The Party’s constitution* includes official measures for the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to call an ‘extraordinary conference’ to choose a new leader if they pass a vote of no confidence in the current one.
 In such a case, 20 per cent of the PLP would have to agree on a new candidate before the conference could take place.   At 25 percent of the PLP, such a move would force a leadership contest.
To elect a new leader, nomination papers would be provided for all Members of Parliament (Westminster). The closing date of PLP nominations would be set out in a timetable.

Individual members of the Commons PLP may nominate themselves or one other member of the Commons PLP for the position of leader and themselves or one other member of the Commons PLP for the position of deputy leader.
Nominees who achieve 15 per cent support of the Commons members of the PLP will be declared validly nominated and go through to the One Person One Vote (OPOV) ballot of contested positions.
John Cryer MP is currently the chair of the PLP, elected unopposed in 2015.
However, recent party legal advice has suggested that the need to have 20 per cent of MPs or MEPs’ nominations only applies to challengers, not to the ‘incumbent’. It also suggests the incumbent does not require to be nominated in order to appear on the ballot paper”.
The conflicting legal opinions could see the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol come to a decision, though the party’s ruling NEC may also decide that the current advice was sufficient to allow Corbyn an unhindered shot at getting on the ballot.
Voting  
All members are awarded a single vote, as well as affiliated organizations (trade unions and socialist societies) and temporary registered supporters.  The party uses an alternative voting system – each voter had to place the candidates in order of preference.
If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, the candidate that got the least first preferences get eliminated and their supporters’ second preferences votes are redistributed until one candidate achieves an overall majority.
The voting system for the deputy leadership works in the same way as the main leadership race.
Of the 553,954 people who were given a say in the election in 2015:

54 per cent were full-party members 

26 per cent were trade union members 

20 per cent are people were registered supporters who paid £3 to get a vote

A Week IS a Long Time in Politics

As you may have gathered from my twitter and Facebook I have fortunately been slightly pre occupied over the last week with the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup. Ironically the event got me onto the Daily Politics Programme when they did a light hearted piece on Friday.

However, with over 300 Parliamentarians from across the globe conversation inevitably drifted to politics very quickly and because the Commons & Lords is an All-party Rugby Team I have been talking with Lib Dem Peers & an MP, Tory MPs and Labour backbenchers. I was at an event on the Integrity of Sport in the Lords too which I chaired mid-week and again the walk from the tube through the Commons & Lords brings me into regular contact with many old colleagues from all sides of the House willing to share their news and views. My ‘friends’ extend right across the political spectrum from very old red Labour to Tory MPs many expected to defect to UKIP! 

Of course there was lots to talk about this week – about 99% of it about Corbyn and the effect it will have on British politics. The conversations centred around; what does it mean for the realignment of politics, how will the Tories react, what will it mean for the Lib Dems (one offer to defect and one “You’d be mad”), ‘what a shambles’, How long will he last, why didn’t he sing the national anthem etc. 

Each of these topics probably deserves a blog of its own and I have been catching up over the weekend on some great articles from a variety of commentators. So let’s start with what went wrong and why Corbyn let himself be defined in his first week because he wasn’t organised. The Corbynites must have known for some time he was on for victory. I was told even before I went on holiday by one camp that they were going to lose to him. Through most of September there was no doubt (despite me being told off for daring to suggest this would happen). So why on earth did the first 48 hours look like it was all a surprise and nobody had a plan what to do? Surely somebody has a ‘First 100 Days’ playbook somewhere in his team or are they all so anti-media and spin that they REALLY do think they can win the next election via twitter and town hall meetings? I was pleased to see even Owen Jones in the New Statesman pointing out the danger of such a strategy. It is a recipe for disaster. So in the first week we have the sight of a Shadow Cabinet being formed without any leadership and with MPs distancing themselves and even making it clear when they took jobs on what terms they had agreed to serve. Corbyn actually has a Shadow cabinet with more women than men, from a pretty wide spectrum of the party yet even this was turned into a PR disaster by the non-appointment of a woman to one of the ‘top’ jobs and the appointment of the much disliked John McDonnell to Shadow Chancellor. I see a number of astute appointments have been made but I fear it may be a little too late to try and sell Corbyn via the media to the public.

For me the above examples from the first week confirm my greatest fear. At no point during the campaign did anybody really test the ‘leadership’ qualities of the candidates. The least qualified of the candidates to offer leadership or even management (the two are different) was of course Corbyn. It may seem strange to those outside politics that we seem to choose the most like our political prejudices rather than the best placed to lead and win elections. Since Blair we seem to have decided we don’t like the idea of wining, as it means compromise. 

Following this slightly inauspicious start we then had the sight of a non-singing leader of the Opposition at an official WW2 event. Poor old Jeremy would have been damned as a sell-out if he had suddenly started singing the national anthem and equally lambasted as we found out if he stuck to his guns and stayed silent. The coverage was way over the top but welcome to modern day journalism! I will admit to being a republican too and in my student days I didn’t sing the anthem. I started singing when I represented my country in sport and the anthems were used. I realised that whilst I didn’t necessarily want God to save the Queen we had stumbled upon this awful song as our sporting anthem too and I had better get used to it. Equally funny in recent years has been having to work with a Royal or two through my sports links. I am pretty open that I would prefer not to see our Head of State chosen by the accident of birth but whilst there is some minor constitutional link I am happy to be polite and work with them to achieve common goals – like more sport being played. If their patronage opens doors to help then it is worth working with them rather than ignoring them and waiting for the day we abolish the monarchy. The position Corbyn now holds is to represent the entire Labour party and official Opposition at these events, so he may need to put aside some personal student politics!

On the positive side I have written about the change in mood he created at PMQs. I am sure there will be some positive feelings about party democracy in future as members will feel more included in the decision making inside the party. So all is not bad. But the important test now is to see how Jeremy starts talking to the country and what reaction people outside the party have for him and his policies.

This brings me to the conversations with political opponents who seem slightly uncertain what this might all mean for them. Having just elected a left leaning leader for the Lib Dems they are now wondering exactly how to position themselves and whether they like to call it centrist or not, the possibility of them being the sensible left leaning party seems possible. For some time they positioned themselves to the Left of Labour (in Northern seats at least) whilst being soft Tories in the South. In 2015 they were found out under Clegg and almost need to start again. For those I have spoken to they see themselves as a home for sensible social democrats if Labour continues to drift further left leaving the centre ground. Most of the Tories I spoke to were more certain this was good news for them but with a heavy note of caution added on top. Their fear is that it allows the Tories to take the centre ground for granted now that Labour has abandoned it and all those who had fought hard to modernise the party and reject their ‘nasty right wing’ label are going to have to fight this all over again. They are also wary of a populist creating more hope and optimism than they care to admit. They are of course delighted that Corbyn won because they think it gives them the 2020 election already, but they are wary it allows their own ranks to descend back into the old rivalries over Europe and other defining issues that gave them a civil war for 20 years. Without a serious opposition there is a danger that it may be created from within, especially with the European Referendum looming in 2017. 

I don’t see the possibility of the immediate re-establishment of the Lib Dems as a political force. Their defeat in 2015 was so deep and painful. I can’t see the Tories completely imploding over Europe either. So this leaves the other two rumps of voter’s choice – UKIP and the SNP. 

I have not seen much about the impact on UKIP yet – especially from a Labour perspective. As we know UKIP gained large votes in many Labour held seats and prevented us winning some marginals. Two years ago UKIP was a Tory problem but it is equally a Labour problem now. Many left because they didn’t recognise that Labour stood up for them or didn’t speak for them now. I don’t think many of those that left over issues like immigration and welfare will be won back by the Corbyn position on these two issues. But again we will have to see. As for the SNP, there are many Corbyn supporters who believe our path back to power lies through telling SNP voters they can have a left wing labour party again. Having spent time talking to defeated Labour candidates and party workers north of the border I don’t think it as simple as this. The SNP surge is much more complex than this simple analysis suggests. 

Where does all this leave us? We have a Labour leader who is unable to control the positions taken by his MPs and Shadow Cabinet who are currently still working and speaking up on positions taken prior to the Corbyn victory. They have all agreed to take positions after being given assurances about some key issues like NATO and Europe. We have the daily sight of Shadow cabinet members contradicting positions taken by Corbyn and certainly not quite enthusing about the likelihood of a Corbyn win in 2020. We are told this is all very refreshing and great to see open debate. The problem is that the electorate also hate seeing divided parties and there is a fine line between open debate and open warfare!

There is still a lot of settling down to be seen. The build up to conference will be really enlightening and we await to see more details from the Leader and his Office about how they plan to take forward policy making and who will control this process. I can’t see Shadow SoS really staying if the Party decrees they have to take an untenable position on some key issues. 

Finally I wonder how long it will be before people decide if Corbyn is actually up to the job of leading an opposition political party. I ask this in all seriousness. There has been little sign of these qualities so far. They are not the qualities I want or expect of Corbyn. His strengths have always been elsewhere. He is a good constituency MP determined to pick unfashionable political fights. That is great and there is a role for MPs like this. It is the sort of role I would like to have carved out if I had 32 years in politics! It is a nice place to be. Leadership is difficult and a long hard slog. It means daily attention to the job and whilst it is great that Corbyn is fulfilling some constituency engagements and surgeries he can’t neglect the official invites he is getting as Leader of the Labour Party and Official Opposition. It is a full time job, not a drop in when you can part time chair role!

For me the jury is still out about how long he can last. If we lose in May 2016 in London, Scotland, Wales & in Local Govt surely the knives will be out. So until then let’s allow him time and space to get this shambolic start behind him and give him the opportunity to show some leadership.

New Style PMQs

It has been a roller coaster of a ride for Jeremy Corbyn since his election on Saturday and PMQs was the first time to see him in action in the Commons. As a former insider it is difficult to express how much of the mood for MPs is set by this weekly encounter that many of us hated in its current yah boo political style. It does matter up to a point. But as a vehicle for holding the PM to account it has largely lost its ability to do so.  I hated PMQs as a forum, but enjoyed it as theatre.  I always tried to ask serious questions and not to join the shouting. It took a lot of self restraint!

So Jeremy Corbyn by announcing he was going to do things differently would have struck a chord with many people. Although to be frank every leader of the Opposition and PM have said the same and it has lasted a few weeks, a few hours or a few minutes! 

It has not been the best start for Corbyn and his team. I say ‘team’ but from the shambolic few days he has had I am not actually sure there is a proper team in place yet. I really hope for his own sake he can rely on some good people to help him. I don’t mean to over style or over coach him but mumbling speeches at TUC conferences are not a great start. It is probably the easiest audience he will ever have and whilst most told the cameras how excited they were by his speech, most privately despaired. The fiasco over the Singing/Not singing the National Anthem is a case in point. It is an unecessary battle line. 

Today the idea of taking questions from the Public  or ‘crwodsourcing’ had some merit and the authenticity of the questions shone through from people who know what is happening in their ‘real lives’. This is always powerful and harder to tell members of the public they are wrong rather than fellow MPs. It is an innovation that should stay even when people are bored of it… 

The Corbyn style of asking questions in a calm way was welcome. Although he will have to work on the sharpness of the questions and perhaps give himself a couple of quetions as follow up with supplementaries when the PM slips out of answering the question by making a facile point or by deversion. Short sharp pointed questions have always caught Prme Ministers off their guard. Don’t forget PMs spend a great deal of time preparing for PMQs and rehearsing their ‘answers’ so they usually have good lines available when questioners give them time to think.

I was equally interested in how Cameron handled the new style. He cleverly showed he could calmly answer questions instead of going into one of his red faced rages that frankly make him look petulant. Look at not only the style of his answers but the long term traps he has laid  for Corbyn. In a very sublte way today he started defining Corbyn and you can see the ‘attack lines’ emerging already. We will see a lto more of these lines on the economy and defence.

Quite a few journalists gave it to Corbyn ‘on points’. I saw it as a 0-0 score draw. The real tests are still to come and I bet by 2019 as we build to the next election we won’t be having this style of PMQs. The noise will have risen by then. But let’s hope things have changed a little for the better.

  

Live Blog Updates on Labour Leadership

12.37 – I have been gripped by my twitter timeline, the news, facebook. The fact is that much of the commentariat now believe Labour is now unelectable as does my non-labour member friends on social media. I have thousands of friends/ ex constituents. people who voted and supported me in a marginal seat but wouldn’t normally have ever voted Labour until 97. I care what they say and think and I don’t have response for them at this moment. I need to go away, play some sport and come back with a clear head before blogging here again and working out what to do next…

11.58 – I have  always liked Jeremy personally. But the people around him are not quite so pleasant. I will have to reflect on how to respond to this historic day. I am not and never was a Blairite/ New Labour but  I do fear that we have just lost the next election already. I know I should be excited because II support some of the causes promoted by Corbyn but his 1980s politics is not attractive to the electorate.

11.47 – JC doesn’t realise he has a microphone and is shouting his way through this speech. It is now when the full sense of what is happening takes hold. Corbyn  has a massive task ahead. I am not sure he will survive to 2020 but we will have to see. Quite righty he is praising the role of the other candidates. Looks like Corbyn got 84% of the ‘new registered’ supporters. Let’s see ho many now get involved and pay full membership..

11.43 – chaos as Corbyn figures read out 251,000 – 59% of the votes.   I feel numb,, certainly not excited. I feel fearful for the future of the  party. However, this is an amazing win for him. I can”t argue with that. I will look at the figures in each part of the electorate. But we know he has no support in the PLP

11.40 we finally get to the Leadership. All my twitter feed shows JC with 60% on first round with 422,000 voters.

11.38 Tom making a long call for Unity.. he is going to have a tough job holding together the Labour Party between now and 2020. I need to hear from him and how we win with Jeremy as leader.

11.33 – Tom Watson gets it. I first got to know Tom when he was minding Brian Moore on a campaign visit to Loughborough to support me in 1997.  I am pleased for him. I helped him on his first rebellion!

11.26 So Tom Watson gets 39% so we go to 2nd round. I love this tension but can’t we just annouce the winner and then  publish the figires for each round and how they got to 50%

11.25 – wow over 408,000 votes cast.

11.24 we finally get the Deputy Leadership results. I’m calling it for Tom Watson.

11.23 Sadiq gets a quick go.

11.11 Chance for @iainMcNicol making a few pointed remarks about expecting to see our new ‘£3 supporters’ out on the doorstep instead of click & pay for a vote… let’s see.

11.05 BBC Norman Smith speculating about the shadow cabinet – his options are really limited and his lack of leadership will sadly be exposed very quickly

11.00 Live TV coverage of the ‘conference’.  Lots of familiar faces in the crowd
10.54 – Kevin Maguire would know the ‘secret signals’ so there you have the result!

10.51 – Political pundit Brain Moore

10.48 – Strange knowing the candidates already know. It has been a hard graft for all the candidates in a marathon campaign. One lesson we must learn is not to create this tortuous process again….

10.39

Of course if the 76% turnout is correct that is a massive bonus for the Labour movement.. now with over 600,000 members and supporters which dwarfs the Tories at about 100,000. But of course the Tories rich friends and businesses and hedge fund managers pay into the Tory coffers so their moribund Associations don’t matter to them.

10.36

10.33 The candidates will be told the results soon and well before they are announced to the Conference. Whilst they are all sworn to secrecy they and their campaign teams will have secret signals to let their supporters know how to react. At the last election one team had a glasses on or carrying signal to note that their candidate had won or lost!


10.15 – speculation about who will and won’t serve in a Corbyn Shadow Cabinet. It’s a genuinely difficult one for most colleagues. Walk away and be accused by Corbynites for being a traitor and ignoring the democratic will of the party (and leave shadow cabinet to the Corbynites) or sit around a table and squirm in every interview about the policies that emerge and whether you think he can win the next election and become PM. For those of us who think we should have acted sooner on Ed Miliband when it was obvious he had no traction with voters this would be a nightmare situation. Personally I would do what Corbyn himself has done – fight from the backbenches for what you believe is right.

10.10 – It’s like Cup Final Day as the live coverage includes the candidates leaving their homes and arriving at the special conference.

The journalists and pundits are all calling for ‘Corbyn by a mile’ whilst some friends are still hoping that the ‘shock’ is anybody but Corbyn, I have looked through their various scenarios but ‘clutching at straws’ springs to mind.


9.00 Quite rightly most of my regulars ( yes there is such a thing!) will not be glued to live coverage of the Labour Leadership today on BBC2. Whilst I have managed to move on from full time politics you can’t eradicate the total absorption I feel on big days like today. This is not just an announcement about a post that nobody cares about (the annual battle for the conference arrangements committee for example). But today for me will decide the next historic fate of the entire Labour Party and who governs Britain for the next generation. There will be plenty of time for reflection when we know the result. But this morning is a chance to build up to the 11.30 announcement.

I have posted intermittently over the campaign so you will know that I eventually backed Andy Burnham, whilst feeling very torn with a vote for Yvette. In fact I thought Yvette finished the campaign much stronger and I am glad our household did vote for her! I put her as me second preference with enthusiasm.

I have also been pretty open at my despair at the electoral prospect of Corbyn winning today. I feel after 20 years of frontline politics in a marginal key middle england seat I know what it takes to win an election. Despite many of my own values probably being closer to Corbyn than all those Corbynites calling anybody who doesn’t think he is the messiah as ‘Tories or Blairites’ I realised the electorate are more centre left/ centre right and we need to win their votes not hector them about being wrong and shouting our views at them.

So it means I am not really looking forward to the result – unless of course we are now going to have the biggest upset in political polling and betting. With just about 2 hours to go I will post some more random thoughts as I read articles and tweets.

9.20

Quick Dip Back Inside the Bubble

IMG_1380

I know Westminster is often described as a political bubble and therefore anything that is said inside is somehow not worth the same as a ‘real discussion’ on the doorstep! So today I was back in Westminster to get some ‘gossip’ from as many people as possible about the state of politics and of course the Labour Leadership election. This wasn’t the main purpose of course but nobody could stop themselves talking about it!

It is fair to say that my 15-20 conversations were not scientifically chosen but I did speak to MPs, staff and others from across the House. It seems the only happy people I cam across were the Tory MPs I spoke to who couldn’t believe their luck! A Corbyn led opposition was a gift to them as far as they were concerned. Although in the long run they felt it was poor for democracy and the quality of decsion making not to have an opposition that looked like a government in waiting.

The only other thing I picked up was the willingness for people to stay inside the Party and to fight for it again. I see there has been some ‘speculation’ about an SDP type split if Corbyn wins. I haven’t seen any evidence of this, indeed just the opposite. For those who fought off entryism in the 80s they feel they might have to start all over again. There was also some fear expressed about the darker side  of Corbyn  supporters who are nowhere near as charming as him and who may well use their newly found status to take over the machinary of the Party too. The word de-selection was muttered a few times.

These are only the bits I picked up today. I was hoping to bump into a Corbyn supporter or two to balance out the insider gossip, but that looks like it may have to wait until next time.

And finally most of the anger turned to a Party that gives the same voting rights in an election to somebody who may have voted against us in May 2015 but with the payment of £3 gets the same rights as those who have sustained the party for 30-40 years through good and bad. These people are pretty bitter.

Labour Leadership Ballot Papers Out – it is now VERY real

The ballot papers for the Labour leadership election have started to go out and I am looking forward to receieving mine and posting my first preference for Andy Burnham, and my second for Yvette Cooper. As we saw in 2010 the distribution of secnd and third preferences can become really important.


So far I remained fairly quiet on my political blog – probably like a lot of members I was getting slightly fed up with being bombarded by texts and emails from the candidates (Leader AND Deputy Leader of course). But then ‘Corbynmania’ started to become a little less of a joke and serious polling started to emerge that he is odds on favourite to win. I still held back thinking the collective voice of the party would or will win through. I worked on the assumption that party activists have always been to the left of the majority of party members and certainly to the left of the majority of Labour party voters and way off the scale when compared to the general electorate. But day after day the bandwagon kept rolling for Jeremy and his campaign. My twitter and facebook is full of normally sensible friends with their ‘I’m backing Corbyn’ photos.

That’s why last week I had to come off the fence and support Andy Burnham as my first choice and Yvette as my second. The timing was helpful as Yvette delivered a really well received speech, moving out of the comfort zone of candidates trying to say all the right things to appease the Labour party electorate. It is right that she started to take on some of the myths of the magic surrounding the Corbyn campaign. It is frustrating that every time somebody raises serious questions about Corbyn and his policies their team run for the cover of ‘avoiding personality politics’.

This is the theme for today. I am afraid we are in an era of personality politics- even if we reject this kind of politics. It is like much of the Corbyn campaign – harking back to an era before 24 hour TV, News, and social media coverage. It seems that whilst UKIP want to take the country back to some mythical 1950s, The Tories ARE taking us back to some 1930s level of state provision, and now we have Corbyn & the left fighting battles of the 70s and 80s.  They also attack anybody (I assume I will now join their list) who does not agree with their vision of a left wing agenda as somehow a ‘Tory’. This idea that there is some test of ideological purity is something I find as deeply depressing as those in the Christian world denouncing others as non-believers because of some obscure theological doctrine.  I am reminded of the Life of Brian Scene time after time – ‘Splitters’.

Just because I am willing to adjust and create pragmatic policies to fit the world as it is now and will be in the future it does not mean an abandonment to my core principles of creating a more just and equal world. I hold a really positive and radical view of what the world could and should be like. It is a world in the words of Shane Claiborne – “where Capitalism is impossible and Communism is unnecessary.”

The main difference is that I know the majority of the British electorate don’t share my worldview just yet. Yes I could spend my time ‘educating’ them or waiting for our Right Wing Press to collapse. I could even wait for the end of international capitalism. But whilst I am waiting people suffer. I made a conscious decision as an 18 year old to Join the Labour Party because I wanted to change the world. I joined because of issues of international development and global poverty & inequality. I could have joined a campaign organisation (I did this too – from the Nicaragua solidarity Campaign to CND), i could have gone and worked for an aid agency to offer practical skills and effort. But I chose to join a political party so that we could get our hands on the levers of power to make the positive changes I wanted to see. Yes it was always slower than I liked and full of compromises, but when we cancelled much of the debt of the poorest 49 countries as a consequence of the Jubilee 2000 campaign I could see how important it is to be IN government, making the right choices even if it means compromise and adjustments.

So I can see the appeal of those who join Labour as a protest movement against capitalism and this bunch of Tory cronies running the country. But as we battle with each other over our ideological purities the Tories are busy ruining our country and sitting on 39% in the polls. So if you joined Labour as a ‘supporter’ just to get Corbyn elected as leader I fear you will have destroyed the very thing you want to see – the end of  Tory government. With Jeremy we will all be able to tut very loudly about the state of the world and just how awful these Tories are – but we won’t stand a chance of being able to do a thing about it!

You see we are electing a “Leader” of the opposition party with a view to them becoming Prime Minister. The electorate couldn’t even cope with the concept of the decent guy Ed Miliband becoming PM. What do Corbyn supporters honestly think the general electorate will make of Jeremy? And as we are electing a ‘Leader’ I would love to see far more scrutiny of the leadership qualities of the candidates. Who can command the PLP and Party? I am seriously not convinced Corbyn could ever seriously ask for party discipline in view of his years of non-compliance in my time in parliament.

I admire my friends enthusiasm for Corbyn and I know – a little like Farage & Boris Johnson – people like to see a little more fun in their politics. But the reality is that winning government is about forming a coalition and alliance of supporters from your core supporters to those who may vote for the other major parties. Corbyn does appeal to the core hard left voters, but the maths are against him winning & forming a government. All the research from the 2015 election I have seen points to our need to win back in the centre – not tack further to the left to bring back a few Greens and minor socialist party voters. I know many Corbynites also add in non -voters, but again the evidence suggests these are more likely to be right wing voters than the left sitting at home. This is why UKIP did well. They took voters from Lab & Tories and gained on-voters. I can assure Corbynites these voters are not looking for us to be more left wing!

I make this plea to fellow party memberss not because I don’t share some of the hopes and aspirations that Jeremy talks about and I certainly have really tried to avoid any hint of personal attacks in anything I write or say. I personally like Jeremy and enjoyed working with him a few times on some issues in Parliament

There is still a few weeks to go. And I hope to wake up one of these days to see the Corbyn bandwagon put into a proper perspective. It’s nice to wish, but realistically 10-20 years of opposition is not a good place to be. And I don’t want to be writing here in 2020 “that I told you so”

I’m One of those Annoying Floating Voters

 Over the years campiagning on the doorstep I was always struck how many people were genuinely floating voters and ‘undecideds’. As we saw in the 2015 General Election people were making their decisions right up to the end of the campaign – even in the polling booth on the day. I have always struggled with the idea that people didn’t know where they stood by the start of an election campiagn – never mind half way through or on election day.  I wondered how people could have so few values or knowledge to instantly know where their loyalties were going to fall. 

Of course my problem was always that people like me are the minority. Those who are actively interested in politics is very small and those who join parties and become tribal and always knowing where their values take them is even smaller. It is one of the challenges for modern politics – the breakdown of party loyalty. Even by election day in 2015, not having quite the same personal vested interest in the outcome I could see how the transactional nature of politics did have people comparing personal shopping lists of their personal circumstances versus the values of any particular party. This is how people think and we need to acknowledge that. 

  
To my horror at the start of the Labour Leadership election campiagn I found myself in the Don’t know/ undecided box. As I have written over the last few weeks how I know the candidates and whilst individually liking them all, and knowing ideologically where I am closest my test for my vote was always going to be who was best placed to build the coalition we created in 97 to win seats like Loughborough.

Despite some friendly calls and texts from the candidates and their campaign teams – who are all very enthusiastic of course about why their candidate is best by a mile – I am afraid I haven’t seen any killer punch/ knock out blow or stand out moment yet that has convinced me which way to vote. I know I only have one of the 230,000 labour member party votes so I am not exactly crucial to any specific campaign.

The truth is that I am still a floating voter and even I am fed up with my indecision. I will vote for all of the candidates of course. Tha’s the beauty of the electoral system. It is just in which order!?

I am afraid I am not the only one. In discsussions with MPs and other leading campiagners – even those who have ‘declared’ I sense the unease about the quality and timing of this leadership campaign. I hope I am wrong and before ‘polling day’ it all becomes crystal clear who the ideal candidate will be.

However, I am really looking forward for this campaign to become a little more exciting. The safety first poltiics isn’t working. Sending ‘signals’ to every pressure group in the party – who is best on TUs or LGBT rights isn’t working. I am assuming they all have good records on LGBT rights for example. I have talked about this before on election literature. Whenever a candidate makes a claim ‘for safer streets’  or “for cleaner streets’ I always want to ask them which candidate is therefore running on maker our streets unsafe or dirtier. I want to se in a Leadership campiagn, er well some Leadership.