Is This the Beginning of the End for Labour?

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Yves here. For those of us on the other side of the pond, the Labour wipeout seems hard to fathom. The Tories ran a shambolic Brexit and many businesses are taking it in the teeth as a result. But Labour seems to have acted as if it were due a win as a matter of right. The resurgence of Blairites in the form of Kier Starmer and the mean-spirited treatment of Corbyn and his followers (who did deny Theresa May what the Tories had expected to be a seismic win in the 2016 snap election) disgusted some once-loyal backers. And as UK-based readers discussed in comments to yesterday’s Links, the Tories played a ruthless ground game. For instance, from Terry Flynn:

The Conservatives in a key “former red wall county” actually LOST quite heavily to a new “anti-Westminster, anti-Europe” party in a district that is “Old Labour” – left-wing economically and small-c conservative socially (and very “LEAVE” supporting). However, they clawed back these losses by

(1) exterminating their coalition partner – another similar “local party based in Old Labour area” – turnout DOUBLED in those seats compared to rest of Notts, and
(2) grabbing Labour seats that were also “Old Labourish” but had “Starmer/New Labour” candidates.

By Caroline Molloy, editor of openDemocracy UK and OurNHS, a journalist and speaker. She has written extensively on politics, public services and the welfare state. Originally published at openDemocracy

Today is a bleak day for the Labour Party.

Yesterday, England held one of its biggest ever batches of elections. Though ballots in races for local councils, police and crime commissioners and metro mayors are still being counted, the results for Labour look set to be even worse than the bad results that leader Keir Starmer was preparing the party for.

Most councils were electing only a third of their councillors yesterday, meaning dramatic shifts were hard to achieve. But the Conservatives have nonetheless seized control of councils that have been run by Labour for most of their history, in the North, Midlands and South. And Labour has also seen its vote eroded by the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The Tories took Harlow, which Labour had controlled for the past nine years, and most of the past 40, but where it lost six of the seven seats it was defending.

In Nuneaton and Bedworth, Labour lost 11 seats to the Tories, who took control of the council for the first time since 2008.

In Redditch, the Tories won all nine of the seats up for grabs. Until 2018 Labour controlled the council – the party now has just four councillors left out of 29.

In many of its heartlands, Labour saw its majorities eroded from all sides. In Sunderland, Labour lost nine of the 22 seats it was defending, five to the Tories and four to the Lib Dems on huge swings. In Oldham, where Labour controlled 15 of the 20 seats up for grabs, it lost three to the Conservatives, two to independents, and one to the Liberal Democrats. In South Tyneside, Labour lost seats to two Greens, one Tory and an independent. In Labour-held Newcastle-upon-Tyne the party lost two seats, including its leader, to independents.

In Stockport the Lib Dems overtook Labour to become the single biggest party. The Liberal Democrats also surged in Cambridgeshire, edging the Tories out of overall control. In Sheffield, where results have just started to come in, the Labour leader has been toppled by a Green candidate on a massive swing.

The Conservatives also won overall majorities in Dudley and in Northumberland, both of which they previously ran as minority administrations, and strengthened their minority-administration’s grip on Derby, which was Labour-run as recently as 2016.

The best news so far for Labour has come from Gateshead and Rochdale, both previously Labour-controlled, where the party has managed to hold onto all its seats and overall control, and in Colchester and Southendwhere Labour managed to hold onto its seats and deny the Tories the chance to retake either council from current Lib/Labour/Green coalitions.

But there were very few signs of gains anywhere, and Labour made no inroads in Thurrock, where it’d claimed to be eyeing the ‘Blue Wall’ council.

So What Now for Labour?

Labour’s response to the dire results would appear to be more internecine battles, with arch-Blairite Lord Mandelson and shadow communities secretary Steve Reed rolled out on the airwaves as a bulwark against grumbles from the Left.

The biggest danger for the party might not be the loss of councillors and vote share – damaging though that is to its presence in communities and its ability to campaign and recover in future.

It’s that – as one party insider told me yesterday – “the movement has moved on”.

Activists are in despair, she added, at how the party has “wasted the last two years” on backwards-looking internal battles that are an “utter turn-off”, particularly given the urgency of the mounting, interlocking crises of climate, racism and policing, as well as the economic and social fallout from COVID.

Many of those who coalesced around former leader Jeremy Corbyn have simply run out of patience with Labour’s timidity on policy and vision.

And Labour seems to have little idea how to bring these voters back, and is unsure if it even wants to. Other, newer, climate and anti-racism activists speak of their resentment at clumsy attempts to co-opt them into the party machine from party figures intimating they need the protection and support of the ‘big boys’ who ‘know how to do politics properly’. Newer activists might not always encounter the hostility that some sections of Labour demonstrated towards the Momentum movement from the start – but the patronising stance doesn’t tend to go down too well with anyone – those knocking on the doors and those answering them alike.

Community organising was supposed to square this circle – to connect with people’s real concerns, building communication and trust over time, including with those who would never go near a party meeting. It’s a point Labour’s former shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, made on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

But instead Labour is disbanding its Community Organising Unit amidst bitter acrimony, one battle in what’s viewed internally as a war on Corbyn’s legacy. It appears to be reverting to its old tendency of thinking that ‘the movement’ box is ticked by its links with the unions, the largest of which, Unite, is currently distracted by a leadership battle of its own.

The lack of deep local connection was brought home forcefully in the Hartlepool by-election, where Labour’s super-Remain candidate parachuted in by party HQ, Paul Williams, was also revealed to have co-written a report that recommended the 2013 closure of the local hospital’s urgent care unit. Whilst he disputes the extent it’s fair to blame him for the cut, there was enough evidence for his opponents to label him a “hospital hypocrite”, mount a pretty effective voter suppression campaign and undermine Labour’s NHS trump card. Did it not occur to the leadership in London that hospital cuts strongly endure in local memories?

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  1. Paid to Lose

    They current leadership of Labour-parties in Europe are most likely paid to cripple the parties.

    The Swedish Social Democrats are clinging hard to neoliberal policies. Just an egregious example: a few years ago the prime minister was interviewed after they had once again become the party forming the government and asked about when they will raise the capital gain taxes. His only answer was “the previous government lowered the capital gain taxes”. He mentioned nothing about his plans to raise the tax and of course his government keeps on lowering the taxes, they do nothing to end the privatized public welfare system in spite of 80% of swedes want it.

    The German Social Democrats elected two persons that promised a break with the Schröder-inflicted neoliberalism. They were quickly neutred if not euthanized. As a Bundeskanzlercandidate (replacement for Merkel) they are pushing Olaf Scholtz, the current Financeminister who has done exactly nothing to help people, only secure the continuation of neoliberal policies. This dude also had the nerve to launch his candidature with article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, requesting Respekt from the people. Not one single word about what he himself should do in order to earn respect from the voters.

    As Michael Hudson made clear in his video a couple of days ago, the politicians get instructions from the US to dismantle all social welfare.

    The conclusion is that these people are paid to dismantle any labour-oriented party.

    1. Jesper

      After an official radio-ad by the Swedish Social Democrats some 7-8 years ago I decided against voting for them. When I first heard the ad I thought it was some sort of a joke and that running such a joke on radio before an election must be illegal. I checked it, the ad was real and since then I’ve not voted for them again. It is unlikely that I will vote for them again, the only way I could see it happening is if (what I consider to be) the rot in the party is cleared away and I think it is too late for that.

      The radio-ad was the of the ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’-variety.
      To me that was a clear indication that they’d lost touch with their own history and with people. They are now a party of and for the upper-middle class: Wages to be kept low, house-prices to be kept up and some pet-causes are allowed as long as those causes do not help the lower classes.
      In the next election they are likely to shrink again and again they’ll find reasons to double down on policies that most people at best do not care either way about or at worst actively do not want.

      On a personal level I have had conversations with senior regional politicians for the Swedish Social Democrats, they truly believe that liberal policies is what people want and if polls and elections show otherwise then those polls are wrong and so is the electorate.
      For what is is worth I do not think that their politicians are bought they are just living in a bubble. A few might be bought in the way that some corruption is legal (some forms of cronyism are difficult to legislate against).

      1. Paid to Lose

        “For what is is worth I do not think that their politicians are bought they are just living in a bubble.”
        For sure the bubble is a large part of the problem But wait, there’s more!

        1) our politicians are mainly professional politicians, having done politics only for all their meaningful time, meaning that they have no understanding about the worries as labour force. They just don*t have a clue what it means to be forced to sell or whatever you have to do or you are fired.

        2) being professional politicians also means that they have zero Plan B. Except as political lobbyists in one form or another (board members,PR-firms etc.) they are utterly useless on the labour market. They prove themselves all their career useful for further destructive activities in different lobbyist organisations catering to larger national or international needs. That is how you get EU-traitors sitting down and negotiating things like TTIP etc. It is a trampoline to WTO or whatever is higher than EU.

        3) taste bubble: on the parliament level and the higher municipal levels. They have salaries well above the median and average salaries. Higher salaries mean changed preferences and moral attitudes. Money makes people feel successful and therefore better than others and start to hang around with others with money. The others won’t deserve benefits and the others becomes chavs.

        4) consequence bubble: the parliamentarians in Sweden get life-long pension after having been in the parliament for only 2 periods. That’s right, you do not need to work for the rest of your life if you just work 8 years as a parliamentarian in Sweden. This also means that you do not have to bother, like the plebs, about the degrading processes to apply and continue to receive social benefits that are not enough for anyting, they do not need to worry about being denied sickness benefits in spite of the doctors telling the Swedish Social INsurance Agency that the person is unfit for work, they do not need to worry about the dysfunctional Swedish Public Employment Service etc.etc.etc.

        5) feedback short circuit: since our great leaders have inflicted pain on the population for the last 40 years nobody has anything great to say to them when they come out. They are correctly heckled and met with hate. The great leaders are for some reason surprised that people don’t like them and they get just a larger and larger security detail and meet people only in “safe spaces”, such as visiting companies where not one single hard question or protest is delivered. Just ask yourself when did you meet a parliamentarian or a politician in higher echelons yourself? They get less and less useful feedback and rely only on polls. Polls can then be discarded as false.
        As Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbin showed, if you have politicies that are good for the people you have nothing to fear from meeting the people.

        1. XXYY

          being professional politicians also means that they have zero Plan B.

          This seems like a point that does not get enough attention anywhere. We in the US rail (with good reason) about former politicians becoming lobbyists, but what else are they fit for, especially in the income bracket they are accustomed to?

          One cure might be to have adequate pensions for former elected officials, but you seem to dislike that approach for different reasons.

          I don’t have a solution, but we need an arrangement that frees elected pols to work in the interests of the larger population while in office, not just use the time to position themselves for their subsequent career.

          1. Paid to Lose

            A few ideas:
            1) mandatory experience of actually working as salaried or as recipient of social benefits, say 5-10 years?
            2) the same salary as before
            3) no parliamentarian pensions
            4) 15 years ban contacts with politicians after serving. Prison if breaking the rule

            1. Greg

              Drastically reducing salaries has the same consequence as internships as the gateway to employment – only the already rich can afford to do it. That’s not an outcome we want.

              It’s a tricky one, we need to walk the line between overpaying and insulating politicians from trouble, and making politics exclusively a playground for the independently wealthy.

              1. Paid to Lose

                Not reducing salaries but not getting a higher salary.
                Before you are allowed to have an office you have to have work experience as salaried or owner or having had lived off social benefits.
                When you enter the parliament you get the same salary as you had before. You get out with the same salary = you may be incentivized to improve social benefits, increase minimum salary, union power or whatever may help you after the parliament.

          2. Jesper

            One thing that might be done is that since they want the same or comparable pay as managers and CEOs in the private sector and comparable life-styles then find a way to reduce the pay of CEOs and managers in the private sector. Less need to grift if the relative benefits of grifting would be less. Probably easier said than done….

            The only possible solution that I can see, doesn’t mean that there are others of course, would be to improve the bargaining position of workers thus reducing corporate profits and thereby having less inflated profits to take of to pay and to justify high wages for those managers and CEOs.

            My favourite way of strengthening the bargaining position of workers would be by reducing the numbers of hours available to sell/buy by having longer paid vacations, earlier retirements, longer paid parental leave etc etc

            1. Paid to Lose

              The other week or month the Swedish government raised their salaries referring to comparable salaries of governmental peers on OTHER countries.

              That is really sick and you can see how deep the rot is (Lasch The Revolt of the Elites) and the neoliberal brezhnevism.

              What do they mean? If they don’t get the salary raise are they moving to the next country to become prime minister? They are not serving their country but only filling a salaried position?
              Or are we flooded with worse prime ministers from abroad of we don’t raise the salaries?

              The prime minister gets 180000 SEK/month = approx 18000€
              Ministers get 14200€/month
              Median salary in Sweden 3000€

              For that salary difference you get Ministers that negotiate blindly (= through 3-rs party) about establishing server park in Sweden and the lower the energy taxes for the during the negotiatons unknown company. It turned out to be Amazon.
              Our well-paid geniuses subsidize Facebook with 14 Million Euros and none of the jobs promised appears.



    2. SOMK

      I used to be a fairly avid Guardian reader given that it was the only ‘good’ newspaper for some time, but the quality dipped off a cliff to a bizarre extent that made no sense until I read this article which was linked here a few years ago claiming that essentially the security services did a number on them the idea that the guardian in publishing the wikileaks stuff and later Snowden had gone beyond the pale from being something that could be tolerated to being something that could not be tolerated.

      I suspect Corbyn’s labour project went through something similar in 2017, he was hammered in the media and treated to unprecedented bias up to the point of he election, but broadcasting laws meant that Corbyn had to be given fair time at elections and what pretty much every political commentator called a “master stroke” by May at the time, the 2017 post brexit election, turned into a disaster and it came down to a few thousand votes in marginal constituencies, if the Labour HQ had been functioning as a HQ instead of subverting the election from with Corbyn would have been the Brexit prime minister (this astonishing story along with the trial of Assange getting close to zero coverage in the British media).

      Essentially Labour under Corbyn revealed itself to be an existential threat and needed to be taken out, not just Corbynism but the party itself. What followed after 2017 was everything that had been thrown at Corbyn previously turned up to 11, so anything short of victory in 2019 meant he “had to go”, admittedly leaving a job he never wanted. Starmer comes in promising to be a compromise/healing candidate (and who was elected by left party members over the left candidate Rebecca Long Bailey who later was forced to resign as shadow education secretary because she tweeted a link to an interview with an actress who had less than terrific views of Israel) and proceeds to stir up the civil war, fighting a counter revolution within the party on the inside, ludicrously kicking Corbyn out of the party over antisemitism, when he hadn’t breached any guideline and banning it from discussion at local branch level, doing everything he can to reform and alienate the left of the party, causing many to leave in droves (after Corbynism had reversed a decades long trend of declining party membership and boosted membership levels to 500,000+), embarrassing himself and the party with Union Jack imagery and media campaigns and offering a weaker opposition in the face of the most corrupt and incompetent government since the reclamation of the commons than footballer Marcus Rashford.

      It seems fantastic, but given the sheer energy that was thrown into into anti-Corbynism by pretty much the entire media class in the U.K. you wouldn’t put it past them, it makes at least as much sense that Starmer and co are being deliberately incompetent, antagonistic and alienating, as opposed to doing it unintentionally. They give no impression of being people who believe in anything really, who have passion for anything other than their careers, I don’t buy it as an ideology thing that Corbyn’s soft leftism was so beyond the pale to all these people who were all apparently reading Milton Friedman as teenagers genuinely bought “the Nazis are socialist” line and felt compelled to save humanity from the road to serfdom.

      1. XXYY

        Very reminiscent of the treatment Bernie Sanders got in the US in 2016 and 2020. The big establishment guns were turned on him at every opportunity. Obviously, to establishment figures, Trump (a billionaire businessman) was vastly preferable to Sanders in both elections, if it came to that (which it did in 2016, and nearly did in 2020).

        The overriding goal was to keep even a moderate leftist out of power.

      2. delacaravanio

        Thank you for sharing that. I had wondered why the Guardian had gone so toothless. Deep state flattery and exclusives were clearly the more effective means of bringing the paper on side than smashing hard drives.

        One thing that is not mentioned in the article is the fact the paper haemorrhaged cash under Rusbridger. Wonder if more advertising money from the state has found it’s way to the paper since it stopped looking where it shouldn’t.

        Coincidentally, I see the CIA is “woke” now. Might make it easier to get some positive coverage in the op-ed pages in the NY Times, Vox and Huffington Post. “We’re just like you. We recycle, we check our privilege, and now when we extraordinary rendition we use the terrorist’s preferred pronouns”. Bless.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, D.

          Under its latest filings, the Grauniad has a billion pounds of cash in the bank, but pleads poverty.

          In addition to funding from the likes of Gates, its US based charitable arm plays the stock market.

          As the paper haemorrhaged cash, the toff Rusbridger bought hundreds of acres of land in Gloucestershire.

      3. none

        The Guardian’s reporting about Snowden was done under Janine Gibson, the editor of Guardian US at the time. Gibson was later in the running to become editor in chief of the Guardian in London, an elected post voted on by Guardian staff if I understand it right.

        Gibson lost the election to Katherine Viner, who apparently was seen as a more agreeable manager, but less interested in that type of reporting. Gibson left the Guardian and became editor of Buzzfeed UK, which later shut down. I don’t know what Gibson is doing now. She comes across mostly ok in Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place to Hide”, about the Snowden saga. So I was disappointed that she didn’t get the top Guardian job.

      4. Jon Cloke

        Excellent reply – Corbyn was tolerated until he hacked back May’s majority in 2017, then he had to go. The antisemitism fraud was just a 21st century reiteration of the 1924 Zinoviev Letter, which I would urge NC readers to go and look at.

        Now that the behind-the-scenes Blairite actors are trying to take over the party again, it needs to be understood that for them, winning elections is far less important than quashing what they see as the Left and controlling the money-making machine. They have no answers to climate change, they have no answers to institutional racism and Labour MPs are just mid-level rentier capitalists, using politics as a means towards better-paying work later on for serving the corporate shilling.

        In what world would it be understood that, after a chunk of Labour Leavers voted for PM Borisconi in 2019, shipping in a load of EU Remainers to head the party would assuage that vote? Do the Blairite Kabuki masters *really* think that getting Starmer to ‘take a knee’ would lead non-white communities to forget his role as the head of an institutionally racist CPS, particularly after the 2011 riots?

        The reason that movements such as BLM and Extinction Rebellion have begun to attract such ire from all sides of the political establishment and their media friends is that it seems at last they recognise that not only can nothing be established through our archaic political parties, but that those parties are *all* leading us in the opposite direction.

        Lastly, talking of ‘Net Zero’, ‘Carbon Neutrality’ and the ‘Price of Carbon’ will do nothing to change the course of climate change. These are mere pieces of neoliberal propaganda invented to put a market-based theoretical slant on a problem of planetary scale which is so huge and interconnected that, other than planet-sized campaigns of mind-blowing change, we’re too late.

        So, why not vote for Borisconi/Starmer or Trump/Biden? “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad”…

    3. Michael Hudson

      I think that’s exactly what has happened. (Think of the great movie/book, The Ghost [Writer]).
      For me, this is a model for what needs to happen in the US to the Democratic Party. Like Blairite Labour, it is unreformable — or rather, it is much easier to start afresh without the neoliberals. That happens to every once-progressive party (or religion). It is normal.
      The strategy is to co-opt the “lefties” with words and rhetoric, while actual policy is even worse than the right-wing parties. Only Blair/Brown/Labour could have privatized transportation; even Thatcher saw the limits. Only Clinton could have stripped away Glass Steagal and other regulations, just as on the other hand only Nixon could have gone to China.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I wish you were wrong but know in my heart you’re right. I got a somewhat cool/puzzled reaction from mum when I told her I’d deliberately spoilt my ballot paper with a criticism written vertically so it covered all candidates. Yes our councillor is a good one and gets things done but I think his party needs to die and be replaced. Time to turn off the life support.

      2. Cas

        I agree with your observation that the Democrats have done things the Republicans couldn’t. (I live in fear of them passing Social Security “reform.”) But I disagree that it is much easier to “start afresh.” As someone who spent years trying to build a third party, I can say unless money is taken out of politics, it is impossible to “start afresh.” And the odds of money not controlling politics is zero. So after years of trying to build something outside the duopoly I think taking over the Dem party is worth trying. I don’t know if that will work, but I know third party won’t.

      3. XXYY

        The US is in a very difficult situation in that the two-party system is enshrined in electoral law across the country. Local governments print the ballots from which voters cast their votes. A candidate with Democratic or Republican party affiliation can get on these ballots “automatically” under existing laws, while trying to get on as a so-called third-party candidate takes work and expertise that most campaigns lack. And of course, the first-past-the-post system means a third party needs to get a majority of votes in a jurisdiction to have any political power at all, something very difficult to achieve from a standing start.

        When Ralph Nader ran for president in 2000, his campaign was constantly pinned down by legal fights to get (and keep) his name on the ballots in jurisdictions across the country, as well as things like getting into debates and so on. Of course the Dems and Republicans will always make common cause to keep third parties out, a formidable opposition for a fledgling party.

        It’s fine to talk about “starting a new party” in the US, but IMO the practical problems are insurmountable, at least in the short term. The best and only aporoach is to replace the existing Democratic party apparatus from the inside. We seem to be making some progress here, but it’s slow work.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the various flavors of New Deal Restorationist and so forth want to form a new party and are willing to spend the several decades it will take slowly conquering offices here and there and building enough strength to conquer whole bunches of offices and other power-nodes at a time, they will have to have a very strong and effective division of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence.

        They will have to have totally thorough lists of everyone ever involved with the From/Boren/Clinton/DLC/New Democrat/Hamilton Project/Etc. groups and movements and cabals and keep them rigidly excluded from membership in their emerging party. Or even any contact with it at all.

        Because every such person from or near-to any of those groups or tendencies is a metatastic cancer cell or an HIV virus particle with a mission to penetrate and infiltrate any such new party and destroy it from within.

  2. Terry Flynn

    Thanks for the shout-out. Turnout differences across Nottinghamshire were totally astonishing. Most divisions had the typical (dismal) local election figures of 30-something percent. Yet those divisions previously held by the Mansfield Independents (who supported the Tories as junior coalition partners until this election) saw turnout figures of 55-60%! You are lucky to see those kind of turnouts in a General Election in many of these disillusioned parts of Notts. The raw figures show thousands of extra Tory votes compared to 2017 – as you said, a “ruthless ground game” was clearly played to get out the Tory vote and unseat their former “colleagues”.

    My division and its twin are (and I’ve not checked EVERY one of the divisions, I’ll admit, but a good spread) the only ones seeing a large swing TOWARD Labour, increasing the majorities of the sitting Labour councillors. But my councillor is regularly seen on our street, doing things like inspecting the pot-holes and following up other local issues.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Many thanks, Terry, for the comments yesterday and today.

      Further to your mention of the independent councillors in Nottinghamshire, one wonders if these were proxies for the Tories.

      It’s little known how Change UK Company Limited, sic, a company founded to house defectors from Labour, mainly, and the Tories, was funded by Tory donors and administered by consultants from Public First who had worked at Tory HQ and even co-written Tory manifestos in 2010 and 2015.

      The 2019 Change UK manifesto was written by two consultants, Rachel Goldstein and a guy whose name escapes me, both from Public First and now back in Tory circles.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks Colonel. I thought I had gabbled on quite enough yesterday so didn’t raise another concern that lurks in the back of my mind and which you have raised here. Who are all these Independents that sprung up across Notts? The two independent candidates in my division had (now defunct) entries in Companies House register but nothing else on the web (though I spent little time looking).

        Politics in the “former Labour heartlands” of outer Notts can get murky. I think the Ashfield Independents are more genuinely grassroots, but the Mansfield one has murkier beginnings and given the shock election of a Conservative in the General Election there, some alarm bells have rung about possible astro-turfing in Mansfield. After all, it is that same MP that quit his councillor seat in Ashfield to hop across the border and challenge a Mansfield Independent councillor. I’d like to know more about who is leading these fast growing “official” Independent parties in parts of Notts.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Many thanks, Terry.

          I will keep this community posted if I pick up anything.

          What a mess, eh?!

          1. Terry Flynn

            Complete mess, yes! Plus I wasn’t going to name you but I was (in my mind) hoping that you or someone with equivalent knowledge/experience might have insights (or be able to gain them) into whether these “localised, mildly socialist, doesn’t-want-to-discuss-IDpol” parties are really grassroots led :-)

            Or whether, like others “left behind” in flyover country USA, they are just being bankrolled by others. The evidence for the former is that on my side of the city, there is a lot of co-operative stuff happening as the District and County Councils have fallen further and further behind in doing things. However, there’s a lot of disquiet bubbling under the surface.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Terry.

              I don’t know about the localities and the US, but having former colleagues at what was Bell Pottinger and Cambridge Analytica and even by wined and dined by them in London club land, when a City lobbyist, I am aware of such operations at national level.

              Job done in Scotland, methinks.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Thanks Colonel S. Would love to know any insights if you get them. To think that in my “If you can’t beat them, join them” moments I enquired to Cambridge Analytica about work when I knew my skills in eliciting public preferences would be very valuable…..! Still wish the “good guys” would recognise what they must do……

      2. Harry

        I suspected as much but have never seen this allegation published. Is it now proven Col. Smithers?

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Harry.

          Not proven in a legal sense, but a former colleagues and still Tory activists, say it was common knowledge at Tory HQ and one reason why the former Labour, but not Tory, MPs were all found good jobs over 2020. Job done.

    2. R

      Hi Terry, what is a division? Genuinely curious, I have never encountered / noticed the term in local elections. I thought councils had wards. (Obviously the division bell is something else).

      Is it a Northern thing (granting Nottingham boreal-ity!)?

      1. Terry Flynn

        Hi. It’s not coterminous with a Ward (which defines District Councils – I believe – and aggregate to Parliamentary Constituencies). To be honest it threw me when I saw it since I lived abroad for many years before returning home.

        Here is where you see the stats and the term. A division can have one or two councillors depending on population size. Thus 66 councillors but only 56 Divisions in Notts. My division has 2, as does its “twin” next door. We’re really a big suburb of Nottingham.

        IMHO this is all a total mess. Nottingham has an official population of about 1/3million. Its “real” size is actually 3/4million whilst metropolitan Nottm incorporating all the sprawl is close to 1.5million (but the wiki stats I saw quoting that didn’t make clear if outlying parts of now-almost-twin-city-Derby had been included). The whole political structure needs urgent reform. Making Nottingham a unitary authority was stupid.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, R.

        When areas for representation were first divided, the term division was used instead of parliamentary constituency or local council ward.

        The local name for Tory parties is, for example around here, the Aylesbury Vale Conservative and Unionist Divisional Association.

        1. R

          Thank you, Terry and Colonel S, NC teaches the most surprising things. I cannot think how I never noticed that county councils have divisions when the rest have wards (I think divisions may map to a group of wards but I have not checked).

          The irony (and accuracy) of a Unionist Divisional association is delicious.

          1. Terry Flynn

            R – Colonel’s explanation was better than mine but I appreciate the irony in the point you repeated! Also get your other point about “the voters” letting the candidate down ;)

  3. bold'un

    Labour would like to see itself as uniting the native working-class with the immigrant working class, but the Right has managed to make this old coalition much more difficult to pull off. On the other hand, the student / postgraduate generation feels that Johnson has seriously dented their future employment and wealth prospects via Brexit. Plus homes are unaffordable for new young families…
    I believe that Starmer is imitating Biden’s strategy of not saying too much too soon: it’s not that Biden did not have a program, but it was not the basis of his election success! My feeling is that the ‘Liberal left’ can make inroads in the UK with big-picture constitutional ideas:
    (1) de-fang the national devolved assemblies by creating half a dozen English regions that have exactly the same powers;
    (2) float the idea that parents of young children can hold their votes ‘in trust’ to break the electoral power of oldies like myself!
    (3) Penalize in death duties the holding of land (but not condos), in order to provide an incentive for eighty-year-olds to sell up…

    1. RobertD

      But will the eighty year olds sell their properties or transfer them to their heirs?

      While property prices appreciate and other returns are low, I would have thought many will be reluctant to sell.

      1. R

        This makes no sense.

        The English regions are fake polities that were rejected in referenda under Blair. If voters want anything, they want their historic county or borough empowered, not some distant regional government with a new class of self serving politicians.

        Starmer’s silence is not hiding the message. It is the message. I have nothing to offer you. Even if he were hiding a plan, he would have to be elected to enact it and that is the bit he is failing to do!

        I have never heard of votes in trust as a policy but it is a lunatic idea. It gives parents multiple votes. Truly a toxic idea, especially combined with ethnic group fertility rates and block voting scandals – the far right would have a field day and giving extra votes to existing voters just replicates the status quo as they will be cast and wasted in the same proportions in FPTP constituencies.

        Inheritance tax already catches individual ownership of land at death, subject to tiny reliefs for main dwelling and relief for agricultural land. There are millions of unbuilt but consented houses in the U.K. There needs to be corporate tax and land tax reform to penalise land banking by developers and investment managers but even this will not alter house prices much, according to the elasticity studies. We need to buy out all mortgages, nationalise planning gain value and restrict private mortgage lending to definancialise housing.

        1. bold'un

          Re the regions, I agree that they would begin as artificial entities; but as the education systems or even perhaps divorce laws in ‘Mercia’ begin to diverge with ‘Wessex’, new identities would be formed. There is never a perfect breakdown between local and national but the current constitution is half-baked: Blair should not have made it subject to referenda, which IMHO are poor ways to decide big constitutional matters (vide Ireland in 1921 or Bosnia in the 1990s).

      2. bold'un

        Nothing wrong with transferring them to their heirs – provided that the tax man gets his cut. There can also be sale-and-leaseback deals with insurances. I am also making a distinction between bricks-and-mortar versus the land, so that oldies can relocate to flats that they could own (but not the land underneath).
        There are other tax possibilities that have the same effect, eg empty-bedroom taxes… but ultimately if they want to hold in view of appreciation, that is their right.

      3. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        Do you know how much land the oldies own? They are not aristocrats who own more land than is publicly declared or estimated and where reform is necessary.

        For many, if not most, elderly, a plot which would be nothing to write home about outside these islands may be the only source of distraction.

        1. bold'un

          I’ve no idea how much oldies own, but in our street of 10 4/5-bed properties only one has a family — all the others are single or couple occupancy.
          My impression is that while everyone is in favor of new housing developments in theory, any actual proposal brings out the NIMBYs. The resultant is that a few developments do get through planning but with very high densities in order to hit a target without using too much land (and also keeping the price of said ‘rabbit hutches’ high!).
          It makes demographic and geographic sense for these larger houses to be occupied by families, but we would need a serious incentive to swap ours for one of the same hutches!

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, B.

            I don’t disagree. I know what you mean about the need to keep prices high.

            It’s worth noting that about a third of Tory MPs, down after the Johnson purge of 2019, own property empires of varying sizes. The Blairites, too.

            You can see why the cousin of Sam Cameron, Kirsty Allsopp, gets to do all that property porn on TV. These two are investors in a property investment firm run by the former’s Astor half brother. You can see why Allsopp said that if Stanley did not return to the office in London in the middle of the pandemonic, his job would go to Stanislas in Lublin.

  4. Ven

    The Labour Party in the UK is what the Democratic Party is in the US. There to distract the real Left, and provide a semblance of opposition; but basically captured by the elites and their shills.

    Labour sold out a long time ago. They had the glimpse of an opportunity with Corbyn, but they chose to undermine him from the outset, in concert with the ‘centre-left’ media. It is hilarious to see a solemn editorial in the Independent saying that Starmer must be given more time.

    As in the US, we need a third party, that really represents the Left, from the grass roots. We’ve all been brainwashed that we need to be in the middle ground to win votes. That seems a convenient argument to maintain the status quo.

    Developing a new party will take time and effort. The quicker Labour falls into oblivion the better; otherwise it will continue to distract from the real issues and possible solutions.

    1. LowellHighlander

      I agree with you, Ven.

      I would just add that people must start voting for electoral reform (e.g. instant run-off) whenever activists manage to put it on the ballot. Maine has it, and I laughed when the Democrat nominee, Sara Gideon (from all appearances, an establishment tool) still lost to Susan Collins in the most recent race for U.S. Senator. Because of instant run-off voting there, the Green candidate, Lisa Savage, [arguably] cannot be said to have taken votes away from Gideon – and yet Gideon still lost to Collins when, it seemed to me, Collins had never been more unpopular.

      By the way, I hear voters in Alaska (in the most recent election there) also opted to have instant run-off voting.

      1. philnc

        On RCV (Ranked Choice Voting), it was clear in the ME US Senate race, at least, that while voters had approved it years before _they didn’t use it_ in serious numbers. National and local media deliberately ignored RCV in their coverage and acted as if it didn’t exist, and people went along. “Lesser of two evils”, straight down the ballot, thinking pervaded the election. As an independent, Lisa Savage was substantially blacked out as independents and third party candidates always are. It was the same across the country, with or without RCV. Like labor (deliberately using the American spelling here), voters in the US have been thoroughly conditioned to see themselves as locked into a binary choice between the two halves of a duopoly. A fake choice, because one half has now evolved into a nativist, anti-social corporatist charactiture of itself, and the other is just corporatists that say nice things about social policy.

        I’ve thought for a long time that the see-sawing between conservative and liberal victories in this country was our electorate’s attempt to punish each party in turn for failing them, but that it was a fool’s errand — missing the role that conditioning through fearmongering in mass media has played. Neither party, particularly the New Democrats, have a fundamental critique of the economic system that they serve — and neither do voters. That has been by design. They’re all like the denizens of Plato’s Cave, only seeing shadows instead of the world as it actually exists. Nothing will change until they get up, turn around, and walk out of the Cave so they can finally see for themselves. But that won’t happen until they stop being afraid.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Am pretty horrified by this:

          they didn’t use it_ in serious numbers. National and local media deliberately ignored RCV in their coverage and acted as if it didn’t exist, and people went along. “Lesser of two evils”, straight down the ballot, thinking pervaded the election

          This makes the already nasty-and-not-equally-fair-on-everyone math even less fair. Supporters of (say) the third party candidate can now be “treated” one of two ways: if they voted as if it were first-past-the-post (FPTP) and just gave one preference, then when their candidate is thrown out their vote is wasted (like under FPTP). However, the third party voter who did it PROPERLY, gets more influence – “another go via 2nd preference”. The two voters are not being treated equally.

          As most people know, ranked choice voting in single member constituencies is not “proper” Proportional Representation (PR) but is a good compromise or stepping stone to PR. Mathematically it is a horrendous likelihood function and yes, in practice, all voters don’t have the same level of “influence” on the outcome. Allowing people to do or not do ranking just exacerbates existing problems. I won’t hark on again about alternatives that solve the math (and constitutional issues?! Ha, maybe) but they’re out there and have been/are used.

    2. Dirk77

      Especially because of the Internet, I am not sure that political parties have a future anymore, other than being vehicles to enforce the neoliberal order. Similar to the MSM I mean. In reading “The People, NO”, I was struck by the idea that true representative democracy is the first principle, rather than policy. That is, if you give the average person a voice, things will stand the best chance of working out. So the first goal is to support candidates who have the best motivation to listen to their constituents, which to me are the small money only ones. And if none of them is running that you like policy wise, you vote for them anyways, irrespective of their policy positions. So if in the US you think AOC and the Squad are knuckleheads – and maybe they are right now – you support them anyways as they have the best shot of correcting themselves eventually beause they have the best motivation to listen to their constituents. Idk if small money only has any traction other than in the US, but I throw it out there.

      1. albrt

        “I am not sure that political parties have a future anymore, other than being vehicles to enforce the neoliberal order.”

        That sounds like a pretty solid future to me.

  5. eg

    Piketty in his “Capital and Ideology” describes the broader arc of this process (US Democrats, UK Labour, continental social democratic parties) whereby the former parties of labour have abandoned their erstwhile constituencies among the working classes in favour of educated urban elites (the “donor class”). Analyses by thinkers as various as Mark Blyth and William Mitchell have observed that this is increasingly rendering them unelectable.

    UK Labour either defenestrates its neoliberal Blairite wing, or continues to wander the political wilderness.

  6. David Jones

    Born in a mining community I was lucky to win a Trade Union Scholarship to Oxford the very same year that the miners defeated Heath,i.e 1974 probably the zenith of T.U activity and solidarity in the UK.

    One of my favourite theories is that after the “first total war” the citizens who had fought and suffered it were not about to relinquish their solidarity, as they did in WW1, via a bogus “Home fit for heroes” campaign.

    Thus Churchill was binned and Atlee led the greatest government the UK has ever had.

    That solidarity had won the war was a key feature of British working class experience and trade union life.
    In preparing a wage claim individual T.U. work areas,sections etc might (and did!) tear lumps out of one another in the union meeting to decide a claim but once the claim was in it was sacrosanct and all the membership solid behind it in public

    The old working class and labour understood this implicitly and I think echoes of this are retained in the collective folk memory.Thus for example, when the 182 Labour PLP members immediately decided via the “chicken coup” to replace Corbyn – just voted leader by the membership – it was understood that this is something essentially undemocratic and morally reprehensible.With these unprincipled people now back in control of Labour the party’s decline is inescapable.

    It also ignored the Brexit vote

    1. bold'un

      But the other aspect of the Brexit vote is that it has been seen as the last gasp of the oldies at the expense of the career prospects of the college-educated young (>50% by the way), who have also had to get into debt for their studies when the oldies got scolarships…

      So we may be seeing a new coalition {educated youth+ immigrants} vs {oldies + left-behinds}; not sure who wins long term!

      1. albrt

        The “educated youth” have been educated to sell their souls for basically nothing. I would not see much point in joining a coalition with them.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Whatever you say about the Tories, when it comes to actually getting votes out, they are extremely competent. And they are very good at ignoring focus groups and instead developing a simple message and hammering it over and over again until it becomes ‘the common sense’ stance.

    I haven’t been paying too much attention to this – but it looks to me like the voting patterns have been very complex (Labour has done very well in some places, like in Wales) so immediate knee jerk responses are likely to be wrong. But I think there are two key takeaways:

    1. A Labour policy of trying to be the ‘respectable’ option and waiting for the Tories to self destruct simply will not and cannot work in the current climate. People are angry and they want answers. Its not even a case of being Corbynites or Blairites – they want someone to set out a clear set of policies and act like they believe in them.

    2. The electorate is breaking up in the sense that vast numbers of voters don’t fit neatly into ‘left’ or ‘right’ archetypes anymore. I think the shrinking of the mainstream media is accelerating this as the BBC and major newspapers just don’t set the agenda for what people are thinking anymore. The Tories have been far faster to realise this than Labour.

    The situation is particularly previous in the UK because of the electoral system making third parties largely unviable on a national scale. So there is little to no scope for an alternative or multiple alternatives to arrive. Its Labour or nothing, only its absolute extinction can allow something better to replace it. But it seems to have grown very rotten from the head downward.

  8. The Rev Kev

    In past elections in Oz, I have noticed distinct patterns in voting almost as if most people are, as a group, voting strategically. So I am going well over my skies her for the UK result but could this be a solid message to Keir Starmer and his Blairites that they cannot beat nothing with nothing. A real Labour party would be fighting tooth and nail against stuff like trying to privatize the NHS, sending British forces to go fight in yet another hopeless war, selling off whole chunks of the government to insiders, etc. They could have launched unholy war on this trend after the Grenfell Tower fire, the sale of the Royal Mail, the ragged fight against the Coronavirus but if they have, I have not read much about it.

    But would it be such a disaster if the Labour party split into two? Sure, it would be a long struggle to rebuild but at the moment, they are too busy fighting Boris’s battles for him than fighting against him. How can you support a party that spends more time fighting you than the actual government in power? And it is not as if this has not happened before. One time in the UK you had a party called the Whigs who were the giants of their day but in the end they died. Political parties are not like buildings that stay eternal but are like plants. They grow, change, go off in new directions, bloom and can then die. It is not natural to think of a political party as something that never changes and will last for generations evermore-

    1. Terry Flynn

      I wish I’d still been in Oz to vote in the election in 2019 that evicted the mad monk, who’d been my local MP for all the time I lived there. I’d got my citizenship, then life took a turn and I ended up relocating to Sweden! I certainly, from back in Blighty, saw the oddities cropping up in your (our?) 2019 Federal election.

      The Labour Party *could* split geographically to form two left-of-centre parties that differed on social issues. There would still be a lot of “messy” constituencies where neither was obviously dominant and so FPTP voting would crucify them both. As I mentioned elsewhere, I think a four party agreement to put forward only one candidate (Labour1 / Labour2 / LibDem / Green) per constituency against the Tories would be the only way to get a majority in England. I deliberately say “England” because they have to be prepared for worst case scenario and losing the other three parts of the UK.

      Putting one “anti-Tory” up has been done during my lifetime in certain constituencies to evict certain particularly awful Tories but on a national scale? Labour isn’t ready. Yet.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Unfortunately for the UK, the mad monk got himself a job as an adviser to the UK’s Board of Trade and he has been going around giving anti-China speeches and patting himself on the back over giving Prince Phil a knighthood while Prime Minister. Worst case scenario is that he applies for British citizenship, as he was born in London, and stays in the UK for good.

    2. Ludus57

      I could not do better than direct you to two excellent posts on the All That is Solid Blog by the sociologist and Labour activist Phil Burton-Cartledge:

      Phil is currently checking the proofs for his new book, out later this year, on the subject few are talking about, but which has seismic implications. I mean the gradual overall decline in the Conservative vote.
      The Tories are helped in their survival by the antics of the careerist Labour right, who regard themselves and act as if they are the tribunes of the system that their electorate want to see changed.
      I am sure we ain’t seen nothing yet.

  9. pebird

    Identity politics are destroying Labour; anyone bringing up class issues is an anti-semite.

  10. David

    I think the answer to the question in your headline is “yes” and “not before time.” I would only question whether it’s actually the Beginning of the End, or whether we are already some way down the road.

    I think the right metaphor for the Labour Party is that of an old and respected firm, steadily managerialised from the 1990s, and taken over by successive waves of corporate raiders in recent years. Now, only the name really remains, market share has been steadily falling and its (much reduced) workforce is demoralised and embittered. A new CEO has been hired to “turn round” the company, but the situation is getting worse, not better.

    The point of this metaphor is that Labour’s decline is not a recent thing. Ever since the 1983 election, after the foundation of the Liberal Democrats, the real question has been whether Labour or the Tories would benefit most from defections to the LDs (and later the nationalists). In 1983, the LDs took enough votes from Labour to give the Tories an enormous majority. By 1997, when a party led by a stuffed toy would have beaten the Tories, their electorate defected en masse to the LDs, whilst that party also lost some voters back to Labour. That gave Blair a crushing majority. But, as with most British elections, there was very little movement directly from Labour to Tory or vice versa. That’s why talk of a “two-party” system, whilst broadly correct, leaves out the critical but indirect role that third parties play. But Blair’s victory was actually a Tory defeat, and there was no new, natural, Labour majority to rely on. Rather, Labour’s apparent dominance was almost entirely a hostage to the continued disorganisation of what was the most successful and power-hungry political party in modern European history.

    How did this come about? Well, this was the famous “New Labour” of the 1990s, which was effectively going to keep the name and the advertising, but go up-market, and try to recruit a new customer base. The idea was effectively to create a new political party, based on the cities (the posher bits, anyway), the university- educated, the middle class progressives and the young. Labour’s old working class base could be taken for granted, since “they had nowhere else to go.” And they would pick up votes from immigrant groups, sexual minorities and single-issue campaigners because of course. In an age of post-politics politics, the electorate wanted most of all a government with bland managerial competence: a political party as a glorified HR department. What could possibly go wrong?

    Three things. Firstly, it turned out that there weren’t enough younger, hipper, better educated, socially liberal voters to make a majority. Oddly enough, some of the “young” grew older between elections, and changed their opinions and votes. This meant a constant churn of voters and activists. And with the massive increase in the proportion of children going to university, a new class emerged, of indebted, bitter ex-students who still couldn’t get a job. Secondly, the patronising (and frankly neo-colonial) assumption that “ethnic minorities” would automatically vote Labour turned out to be wrong. Why, after all, should a second-generation Asian immigrant, an accountant who is the child of a small shopkeeper, from a socially conservative community, be automatically assumed to vote Labour? And thirdly, Labour’s traditional base started to peel away, sometimes to the Brexit party and the LDs, sometimes, as here, directly to the Tories.

    This trick has failed. This can’t be repeated too often. Labour is really a niche political party, largely southern, largely urban, largely from the higher social and economic classes, but without the interest or patronage of the really rich or the mass media. It’s hard to imagine a worse situation from which to try to confront a post-Thatcherite Tory party, which has shown that it has recovered its historical ruthlessness and appetite for power, and is quite happy to move to the Left on many issues. I don’t think there’s any way back.

    But this has really been inevitable for the last twenty years. If Blair had been sufficiently perceptive, then in 1997 he would have remembered the famous words of King Pyrrhus after his victory over a Roman army: “one more victory like that, and we’re stuffed.” Well, there were other victories and they were stuffed. And like the Romans, the Tories came back.

    1. R

      As Count Binface said this morning:

      “It’s the first time Hartlepool hasn’t had a Labour MP since Peter Mandelson.”


      Also , from today’s links: the real result from Hartlepool is “none of the above” – the extent of disengagement from both traditional parties is astonishing.

      1. Ludus57

        Hartlepool electorate (in 2018) = 70,032

        Hartlepool total vote (May 2021) = 29,933

        The Labour vote stayed at home.

  11. Pelham

    Allow me to highlight the observation on an Old Labour constituency that it is “left-wing economically and small-c conservative socially.” I wonder how many constituencies there are like that throughout Europe and even the US, or how many could be quickly cultivated if there were leaders willing to make the case.

  12. KLG

    As has been noted by many, Margaret Thatcher’s greatest accomplishment was Tony Blair. I remember 1979 well. I was the young guy working in the lab with a recent PhD from Sussex. Labour through and through, he told me the Iron Lady would unify the Left and things would return to normal. I was skeptical. This seemed different. I was a member of DSOC (precursor of DSA) at the time, and that had helped this Georgian realize Jimmy Carter was our first neoliberal president, albeit with a more technocratic focus than Thatcher’s and without “neoliberal” attached. Still, Carter did loose Alfred Kahn on the world, and that was different. I remained in deep denial about Ronald Reagan, but Ted Koppel was not yet a thing with his hysterical “America Held Hostage,” the precursor to “Nightline.” Anyway, rock bottom seems to still be down there somewhere. The question is whether there will be anything left to salvage when we hit it?

  13. Anonymous 2

    What an interesting discussion.

    Richard North has an interesting analysis of the Hartlepool result where he argues that the result reflects Labour weakness rather than Tory strength, as he believes many Labour voters just stayed home. I do not know if similar arguments can be made elsewhere with the council results.

    I have not been following internal Labour party developments at all closely. From the outside it looks to me as though they are suffering from a lack of a coherent message to put before the electorate. I am assuming Starmer is keeping his powder dry until nearer the election when it is clearer where the best places will be to try to put pressure on the Tories. Johnson is incompetent as a Prime Minister and this must become clear to at least some of the electorate eventually. Whether that will be before the next election, time will tell. I think the question with Starmer will be if he can find a coherent message that can attract support. Not easy with a Tory party that is prepared to use voter suppression and pork barrel politics to strengthen its position.

  14. Dandelion

    Female membership in Labour has declined from 55% to 43%.

    This has everything to do with the battle over gender self-i.d. It is not possible to protect women as a “sex” and women as a “gender” at the same time; they are mutually exclusive categories, one excluding males, and one not. Either a set-aside in law & policy is single-sex or it is mixed-sex. There is no spectrum between those two.

    The set-asides that exist for females exist because women fought for them over the course of 150 years. Women are not going to let them disappear without a fight, and that includes even female-only toilets, for which women marched in the streets — when the first one was built outside Victoria Station, men promptly burnt it down overnight.

    The Labour Party has decided that every female set-aside in the UK shall now be mixed-sex and have refused to meet with women and hear their concerns. Instead, they’ve responded to women with vile insult and harassment, such that women in a meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton couldn’t actually meet, they were so met with physical and verbal harassment.

    The Labour Party celebrated placing a young male admirer of Jimmy Saville on their All-Women shortlist, which exists for a short time only to boost female representation in Parliament. Labour Party leadership candidates signed a manifesto which pledged to eliminate the single sex exemptions that exist under the Equalities Act 2010 to provide women and girls privacy, safety, and dignity and to allow women fair competition in sport.

    In contrast, the Tories HAVE met with women’s organisations. In contrast, Liz Truss, the Women and Equalities Minister, has stated that the government will strengthen providers’ understandings of women’s rights to the single sex exemptions.

    Per Labour, girls and women have no right to female only locker rooms at gymnasiums, no right to female only communal sleeping spaces in hostels, no right to female only provision of gynecological care at the NHS, no right to female only intimate care in nursing homes, no right to female only counseling groups in rape crisis centres, no right to female sleeping provision in DV shelters, no right to recovery from surgery in female only multi-bed wards in hospital, no right to female only dormitory rooms in university, no right not to be imprisoned with a male rapist in the female estate, no right even to female only rugby teams, and this after World Rugby determined that including males, even with reduced testosterone, increased the risk of injury including catastrophic injury to females (to which one is tempted to say only: well, yes, that does stand to reason.)

    Women won’t wheesht, as they are now saying in Scotland. It will be interesting to see what the female shift in membership/voting is from SNP to Alba.

    Women have been saying, throughout the UK, that they would spoil their ballots or vote Tory rather than vote for a party that eliminates “women” as an ontological and political category separate from men. Various Labour leaders stated, quite explicitly, complete with insults, “We don’t want your vote then.”

    Women voted with their feet.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, D.

      Did you see the recent poll that more NHS staff would vote Tory than Labour so disgusted are they with Starmer’s lukewarm support and awareness of his funding by United Health and Kaiser and advisors from them.

    2. fajensen

      Summarised like this, it sounds like Maybe some focus group research came up with Islamists and Incels as The Future electorate for Labour?

  15. Starry Gordon

    It could be that social democracy, as a solution for the problem of keeping capitalism going by paying off the discontented and dissident among the proles and driving actual Leftists off the field, doesn’t work any more. It’s still capitalism; capitalism is of necessity based on domination, exploitation, and extraction; to continue this, at least in the present epoch, it has had to follow a sophisticated long con with the prole masses. Long cons eventually run out, and electorates, at least in the UK and the US, not getting what they want from the social democrat types, are turning to tribalism or dropping out. Clowns like BoJo and Trump are the temporary result. “At least he’s one of us!” I suppose some Octavian is in the wings waiting for his cue.

  16. Terry Flynn

    “I take full responsibility” said Keir. Just sacked his second in command from her key roles. (Can’t sack her as deputy leader because she was elected.)

    The words dumpster and fire spring to mind.

  17. NotThePilot

    I don’t live in the UK but have family there & occasionally visit, so I’m a little tapped into the politics…

    And seriously, what is a Keir Starmer? Is he animal, vegetable, or mineral? My impression is that his entire political platform comes down to “Have you seen my jawline? BEHOLD my jawline!”

    As fanatical as it was, I obviously wouldn’t compare Labour’s defenestration of the Corbynistas to the soft-coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. But that said, the Keir Starmer radiates a lot of Michel Temer energy.

    I remember reading one article (in the Grauniad I think) that praised him for going on the attack in a parliament speech, but it must not have gone beyond the usual talking points. I don’t even remember what the speech was about. It mainly left me with the impression the journalist had never mentally left secondary school and was hoping that by just telling everyone how great the Keir Starmer was, he/she could also be “cool”. They were wrong; they are not cool.

    On a more positive note, I’m actually more optimistic about the UK than the US in many ways. and funny enough, it’s because of Brexit. It’s not my country so I couldn’t vote in the referendum, and I don’t really volunteer my opinion unless someone else brings it up. But I’ve explained to multiple people that, as distasteful as you may find a lot of the mainstream Leave campaign’s reasons, it was a brilliant opportunity to undermine those very things. “Heighten the contradictions” you might say.

    With stereotypical pluck, when the British voted for Brexit, the country (unitentionally) did more than maybe any other European power in modern history to vaporize the remaining legal & economic ties to colonialism, imperial nostalgia, financialization, etc. Countries do adapt, and now Britain has forced itself to adapt by eventually restoring some economic autarky, accepting even more immigration from its former colonies, and at the very least, demoting England & London to a first among equals in the union.

  18. Sound of the Suburbs

    The billionaires were wondering how they could rig democracy so it wouldn’t be a problem.
    They came up with a cunning plan.

    Inequality exists on two axes:
    Y-axis – top to bottom
    X-axis – Across genders, races, etc …..
    The traditional Left work on the Y-axis and would be a problem when you want to increase Y-axis inequality.
    The Liberal Left work on the X-axis.
    You can increase Y-axis inequality while the liberal Left are busy on the X-axis.

  19. Terry Flynn

    Labour couldn’t even manage a convincing win for London Mayor. It went to 2nd preferences when Khan only beat the Tory by 5% in 1st round. Surely Labour was meant to take London convincingly under Starmer?

    I think most people are probably going to be more interested how many votes Count Binface won.

    1. R

      Guido Fawkes has a good quote of the day.

      Outgoing Labour leader of Amber Valley council, Chris Emmas-Williams:

      “The voters have let us down. I hope they don’t live to regret it.”

      Very Brechtian.

  20. Philip

    Can I add an observation that no one else has brought up?

    The labour party across many sectors of the UK economy is now the party of the bosses. The labour parties heart land is now the graduate classes, who in work are the professional and managerial class. They dominate the management of the health sector, social care sector, education, academia, media, cultural sector, local & central government, charity sector, and increasingly the management of the police, security and military services. The labour party has been VERY successfully in recruiting in these areas and influencing the agenda because of its political dominance there in.

    The working class know this. The cry has too often been from the professional and management class in these sectors pity me, while ignoring those doing working class jobs standing literally next to them! I have heard it too many times and has become to me very patronising! If your management is Labour, why as working class would you vote for the bosses party?

    Regards Philip

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