Labour Party

The Chesham and Amersham by-election and Labour

The Labour Party’s showing in the by-election in Chesham and Amersham, in Buckinghamshire - down from 12.9% to 1.6%, 622 votes, about the same as the number of Labour members in the constituency! - was certainly very poor. Contrary to widespread suggestions, however, it is not unprecedented. In the 2016 by-election in Richmond Park, South West London – also won by the Lib Dems on a huge swing from the Tories – Labour’s vote share fell from 12.3% to 3.6%. There have been other similar by-elections – for instance in Orpington in 1962, when Labour went from second to badly third and the Liberals...

Labour's youth support plummets, Greens' surges

Voting intention among 18-24 year olds, +/- since 2019 general election (YouGov, 9-10 June): Labour: 35% (-21) Green: 27% (+23) Conservative: 21% (-); Lib Dem: 12% (+1); SNP: 3% (-3); Reform UK: 1% (-) Other polls have also suggested sharply rising Green support among young people. The big shift is, surely, one result of Keir Starmer’s attempts to chase after mainly older voters (reckoned, rightly or quite often wrongly, to be tied to socially-conservative attitudes), by taking nationalistic and regressive positions, while having little to say about issues of economics and living standards...

Labour and antisemitism: now open up for education and debate

The Labour Party held its first training session on “Understanding Antisemitism” online on 14 June. Anyone expecting a training session which denounced all criticism of Israel as antisemitic, or which cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) examples of antisemitism (much and wrongly denounced as banning criticism of Israel) as sole and absolute criteria, would have had their expectations confounded. The session covered too much in too short a space of time. It leaned towards handed-down “training” rather than to opening up education and discussion. But if it encouraged at...

Gary Smith and Eleanor Marx: why calls for union disengagement from politics are not left-wing

New GMB General Secretary Gary Smith’s 7 June article in the Morning Star suggest he is part of the trend towards union leaders disparaging labour movement political engagement. Sharon Graham, backed by much of the radical left for Unite General Secretary, is also an example of this trend, strongly suggesting that Unite is too engaged with the Labour Party and with politics as such: more on her politics and campaign here. “Over the last five years”, Gary Smith writes, “the GMB’s membership has been allowed to decline as we paid more attention to faction fights within the Labour Party than the...

Tony Blair's new manifesto

I have just got round to reading Blair’s latest piece of writing in the New Statesman, partly because I really didn’t want to read any more of what he had to say. However, in the spirit of an open mind I read through the three pages of Blair philosophy. I can’t say I found anything in it to bring joy or hope to my heart. He seems determined to trash all the ground that the left has built up and is completely unwilling to see older left-wing philosophy as something to be cherished and fought for. He rightly speaks of free education in quotation marks, as everything ultimately needs to be paid...

Where Labour made gains on 6 May

Robina Baine was the Labour candidate in the Southwick Green ward of Adur District Council, a seat in which Labour had not run a proper campaign for years, instead standing "paper candidates" and not canvassing. This time, an active campaign secured a remarkable 20%+ swing from the Tories to Labour, winning the seat for Labour for the first time in fifty years. Janine Booth asked Robina to explain what happened... Tell us a bit about yourself … I’m a very ordinary 61-year-old, mother of four and teacher for most of my life. When the children were young, I gave music lessons from home. Then I...

Beating the Tories after 6 May

The Tories’ narrative about where they are taking UK politics and society is dishonest and incoherent. But it is a narrative, one strongly honed and consistently argued for. In contrast the leadership of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party seems to have pretty much nothing to say about the kind of society or even the policies it wants. That is surely an important part of why Labour suffered such serious defeats on 6 May. Attempts by the Labour right to claim the problem was the party not being right-wing enough must be “forensically” dissected and vigorously opposed. Already the Starmer leadership had...

"Policy review"? Only by Labour conference!

The Labour leadership talks of a “policy review”. On the Labour right many are suggesting left-wing policies should be eliminated. In practice they already have been. We need to revive left policies, weld them into a coherent whole, and get the party and movement campaigning for them. The 2019 manifesto contained many good ideas. So does the “Alternative Queen’s Speech” put together by John McDonnell and other left-wing MPs here. The left’s fundamental approach must be to insist that policy is “reviewed”, and decided, by Labour Party conference (which takes place in four months, at the end of...

Labour conference deadlines on 11 June

Peter Mandelson has effectively called on Keir Starmer (Financial Times, 8 May) to overrule or neutralise Labour Party conference, and to break or neutralise the union say in the Labour Party. After conference 2020 was replaced by a no-debate online event on grounds of the pandemic, Labour Party conference 2021 (25 to 29 September in Brighton) is an important point for the left of the labour movement to regroup and halt the retreat. Socialists are putting themselves forward to be conference delegates (the deadline for constituency delegates to be chosen is 11 June). The Momentum...

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