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Keir Starmer and the Labour Party

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deltic

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A only slightly tongue in cheek plagiarisation of @Butts thread on the Lib Dems

May's elections for various offices in the whole of Great Britain, saw this once great Party standing on the edge of the abyss and becoming if it is not already an irrelevance.

Behind SNP and Tories in Scotland, controling fewer county and district councils in England than the Lib Dems, losing hundreds of council seats and around 16% points behind the Tories in the latest Westminster opinion polls and with the smallest number of MPs since 1935 it must be a major embarrassment being a member in these current times.

Remember those halcyon days of being the dominant party in Scotland and having 400 odd MP's at Westminster in the not to distant past ?

Did your Party die with Tony Blair the last (in my view) decent if troubled leader you had ?


Is there a way back ?
 
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birchesgreen

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After losing power there was a decision in the party to go left, its all been going Pete Tong ever since the wrong Milliband won the leadership, especially as Ed then allowed the rules changes which facilitated the elevation to leadership of Corbyn. Repairing all that damage is going to take a long time.
 

Geezertronic

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For me, it's the apparent Labour mentality that it is the "stupid" voters fault. After all, if the "stupid" people voted Labour, then they wouldn't be "stupid"...
 

Butts

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A only slightly tongue in cheek plagiarisation of @Butts thread on the Lib Dems

May's elections for various offices in the whole of Great Britain, saw this once great Party standing on the edge of the abyss and becoming if it is not already an irrelevance.

Behind SNP and Tories in Scotland, controling fewer county and district councils in England than the Lib Dems, losing hundreds of council seats and around 16% points behind the Tories in the latest Westminster opinion polls and with the smallest number of MPs since 1935 it must be a major embarrassment being a member in these current times.

Remember those halcyon days of being the dominant party in Scotland and having 400 odd MP's at Westminster in the not to distant past ?

Did your Party die with Tony Blair the last (in my view) decent if troubled leader you had ?


Is there a way back ?

It has been noted <D

Electing the wrong Miliband Brother as leader ?
 

deltic

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With the boundary changes for Westminster, the SNP remaining the dominant force in Scotland for the forseeable future and the left of centre vote split between Labour, Greens and Lib Dems it is difficult to see Labour returning to power in Westminster for a long time.

There was an interesting graphic in the Economist which shows the major shift that has occured in support for parties to the left and right across the world. In the 1970s higher paid and better educated people were more likely to vote for right of centre parties while left of centre parties attracted less well educated at lower income groups. That has now reversed. Trouble for Labour is that it has lost part of its core vote while the highest educated "liberal elite" are now moving to support the Greens.
 

Senex

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And yet how do we get back to even a pretence of having a democracy if there isn't a really strong second part or group in parliament and outside to oppose? As things stand, Labour is the only party that has any chance of being that opposition if it can change itself back into something with clear and electable policies, so don't we all, whether Labour supporters or not, have to hope that party can recorver PDQ kif we don't want to see an indefinite continuation of a Tory rule unchecked in policies and abusive of the practices of our so-called democracy? But can anyone see Starmer as the leader to inspire Labour and lead the party back quickly to some sort of effective national relevance?
 

507021

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David Miliband should have replaced Tony Blair. We then elected the wrong brother to replace Gordon Brown.

Corbyn's catastrophic leadership and the leftists it attracted.

Taking voters for granted and not understanding why traditional Labour voters don't vote for the party anymore.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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At the ripe old age of 76, I well remember the "Winter of Discontent" and think many people were utterly fed up with Labour at that period at the end of the 1970s.

I often wonder if matters would have been seemed to different then, would the "Thatcher and Handbag" period ever come to pass.
 

Iskra

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A few things strike me;

Gordon Brown’s economic mismanagement
Cronyism in the Blair/Brown era, showed them to be as bad as the Tories
Iraq War
Being the party of the ‘working man,’ (person) but reaching a point recently where the party seems to represent everyone but the ‘working man. (Person)
Corbyn.
Anti-semitism.
 

davetheguard

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At the ripe old age of 76, I well remember the "Winter of Discontent" and think many people were utterly fed up with Labour at that period at the end of the 1970s.

I too remember that with the rubbish pilling up in the streets which resulted in the 1979 Conservative victory; but I also remember the elation of the 1997 Labour landslide which resulted in that divided, seemingly sleazy, allegedly corrupt "cash for questions" administration finally loosing power.

Perhaps parties of all persuasions winning multiple elections and staying in power too long is the problem; they run out of ideas; get complacent; and voters get throughly fed up with them.
 

deltic

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Perhaps parties of all persuasions winning multiple elections and staying in power too long is the problem; they run out of ideas; get complacent; and voters get throughly fed up with them.
Probably why the present Governments presents itself as new and nothing to do with previous Tory administrations which is another problem for Labour. They are facing a government which in some ways is more Labour than Labour
 

NorthOxonian

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For me, it's the apparent Labour mentality that it is the "stupid" voters fault. After all, if the "stupid" people voted Labour, then they wouldn't be "stupid"...
I think that's the biggest factor. I come from the kind of town where the votes used to be weighed for Labour, but even in my lifetime the majorities have fallen from 66% of the vote to less than 20%. Many similar constituencies have gone one step further and even voted for the Conservatives.

Labour are no longer rooted in communities like that - and while to an extent they've made inroads among middle class and urban voters, I don't believe they can win back power unless they get back at least some of the voters they've lost. Crucially, this isn't about Brexit or Corbyn - this is a very long term trend that has been going on for decades.

The good news for them is I don't think it's a question of policies, or even necessarily leadership. It's about messaging and image. Labour need to focus on bread and butter issues again. I remember at the 2017 general election - I started out planning to vote Conservative but ended up voting Labour, because despite not liking Corbyn and being unsure on many of the policies, I felt we needed change and they were speaking to the concerns that most people have. If they can find issues like that again, they might just have a chance.
 

Busaholic

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At the ripe old age of 76, I well remember the "Winter of Discontent" and think many people were utterly fed up with Labour at that period at the end of the 1970s.

I often wonder if matters would have been seemed to different then, would the "Thatcher and Handbag" period ever come to pass.
Harold Wilson's decision to anoint James Callaghan ('Sunny Jim') as his successor did for Labour in the late 1970s, in my opinion. Callaghan's bete noire Barbara Castle might have become the U.K.'s first female Prime Minister if the mantle had passed to her, but Marcia Williams was no keener to see women other than herself flourish in the party as Margaret Thatcher was with the Conservative Party. Castle, though far to the left of Callaghan, produced a report called 'In Place of Strife' seeking to limit the excesses of Trade Unions but Callaghan's power base was in the unions, so he opposed its recommendations. The rest is history!
 

Typhoon

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David Miliband should have replaced Tony Blair. We then elected the wrong brother to replace Gordon Brown.
I'm not certain about that, he was untried in the Great Offices of State. (An issue I had with most of the 2010 candidates and with Hague in 1997). The media soon find these people out - baseball caps, bacon sandwich, the cough. I would have preferred Alan Johnson, who, at least, had had a real job and was relatively battle hardened. I'm sick and tired of professional politicians, many of whom haven't even run services for a district council.

Harold Wilson's decision to anoint James Callaghan ('Sunny Jim') as his successor did for Labour in the late 1970s, in my opinion. Callaghan's bete noire Barbara Castle might have become the U.K.'s first female Prime Minister if the mantle had passed to her, but Marcia Williams was no keener to see women other than herself flourish in the party as Margaret Thatcher was with the Conservative Party. Castle, though far to the left of Callaghan, produced a report called 'In Place of Strife' seeking to limit the excesses of Trade Unions but Callaghan's power base was in the unions, so he opposed its recommendations. The rest is history!
That's a good call. Callaghan was dull and it was past his time. Over a decade after Wilson championed the 'White Heat of Technology' and was photographed with The Beatles, Callaghan was chiding Thatcher with a refrain from a music hall song, going well over most voter's heads. Ironic really as Labour had come to power with the charge that Douglas-Home was from a bygone age. The one thing about Castle was that she was a fighter, she would have challenged Thatcher at every turn. She may also have overruled Healey who was championing an autumn election, which Callaghan ultimately called even though he had previously intended to go through to the following spring.
 

507021

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I'm not certain about that, he was untried in the Great Offices of State. (An issue I had with most of the 2010 candidates and with Hague in 1997). The media soon find these people out - baseball caps, bacon sandwich, the cough. I would have preferred Alan Johnson, who, at least, had had a real job and was relatively battle hardened. I'm sick and tired of professional politicians, many of whom haven't even run services for a district council.

That's a fair point actually.

Alan Johnson is a good call too.
 

507021

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Do we hear much from Momentum acolytes at present or are they plotting "The Second Socialist Coming"?

The leftists have been banging on about leadership challenges since the day Starmer was elected.

Thankfully Labour no longer pays any attention to what is an irrelevant, crackpot protest movement.
 

brad465

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Do we hear much from Momentum acolytes at present or are they plotting "The Second Socialist Coming"?
The issue with Momentum I find is not so much their policies (although some of them are nutty), it's their bullying tactics and mentality towards others, most of the perception that Labour call voters stupid likely comes from their past influence. Their presence in the Labour party can also be put down to FPTP, as if we had a proportional voting system they could have found influence as a separate party far more easily, but in our two party system they've decided to hijack another party. That said for now at least they seem far quieter than before Starmer took over, which suggests they're only capable of making noticeable noise when a like-minded figurehead is running things, but such noise has little or no power to influence.

I think a majority is out of the question for them, but if there's a way of making a progressive alliance work to bring in PR voting then the whole dynamic of who parties appeal to changes completely. PR seems to be a policy that's gaining traction in the party and those against it can't easily speak up, so if Labour are to get somewhere this needs to become a flagship policy no later than the next party conference.
 

507021

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The issue with Momentum I find is not so much their policies (although some of them are nutty), it's their bullying tactics and mentality towards others, most of the perception that Labour call voters stupid likely comes from their past influence. Their presence in the Labour party can also be put down to FPTP, as if we had a proportional voting system they could have found influence as a separate party far more easily, but in our two party system they've decided to hijack another party. That said for now at least they seem far quieter than before Starmer took over, which suggests they're only capable of making noticeable noise when a like-minded figurehead is running things, but such noise has little or no power to influence.

I think a majority is out of the question for them, but if there's a way of making a progressive alliance work to bring in PR voting then the whole dynamic of who parties appeal to changes completely. PR seems to be a policy that's gaining traction in the party and those against it can't easily speak up, so if Labour are to get somewhere this needs to become a flagship policy no later than the next party conference.

The bullying and calling people stupid did not help our cause in the slightest. They are an embarrassment to the party.

I've been called all kinds on social media by Momentum activists over the past few years. My centre left leanings have been the main target but my religion has been brought into it on a couple of occasions.
 

DynamicSpirit

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Corbyn was definitely one of the Tories' best recruiters in a long time, but I think Labour's problems go back much deeper. To my mind, the fundamental problem was that Labour was originally formed as a socialist party, firmly believing in centralised control of the economy, and firmly wedded to the trade unions. Up until 1940ish, with everything that was known about economics etc. at that time - that was arguably a reasonably thing to believe in. Unfortunately, in the 40 or so years after WWII, various countries tried out socialist ideas - usually without success, and it gradually became obvious to virtually everyone outside Labour and other left-wing parties that (a) a state-controlled socialist economy just doesn't work, and (b) having super-aggressive super-powerful unions doesn't work either.

And quite simply, Labour never adapted to that new reality, and never overcame that antipathy that most members - even 'moderates' instinctively feel towards capitalism and the market economy. As a result, the Labour movement never figured out how to articulate a progressive vision that simultaneously reflected both the desire for social justice and most people's instinctive desire for the economic freedom to create a better life for themselves. Tony Blair - alone of virtually all Labour leaders - came close to articulating that kind of vision, and was rewarded by the voters at 3 successive elections: But instead of embracing that vision, most members ended up hating Blair for supposedly betraying socialism.

I don't really see that Labour has any chance of power until it can overcome that problem (Barring of course the Tories messing up so badly that they become equally unelectable). Unfortunately, a culture of believing the the market economy is evil and capitalism is evil and all bosses are greedy and it's all the media's fault that people don't understand how good and noble Labour is etc. etc. is so deeply embedded in Labour (even post-Corbyn), that I see little chance of Labour being able to fix that in the near future.
 

tbtc

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I know that people like to tie things together to present some kind of "narrative" but I don't agree with the OP's suggestion that May's election is the reason for the party standing on the edge of any "abyss" - it was a mixed night for Labour, as it was for all parties - everyone can come away claiming that the glass is half full or half empty for each party

I think that the timings of the results meant that things looked worse for Labour since so much attention was focussed on the one result in Hartlepool and significantly less on the various other announcements.

Hartlepool was a seat that's always going to be hard to defend, given that the previous Labour MP had to stand down due to sexual harassment - which means Labour were always going to be on the back foot - if anything, Corbyn shouldn't have reinstated Hill after his suspension prior to the 2019 election

But the Tories have been throwing lots of money at that corner of the world - look at how the "austerity" agenda has gone out of the window whenever it comes to Ben Houchen - he gets the Freeport and the relocation of Treasury jobs to Darlington and buying an Airport - I'm all for generous bribes but this goes above and beyond the norm (and certainly isn't in line with most Tory rhetoric!)

The rest of the election results were generally better for Labour. They lost some councils (e.g. are now in partnership with the Greens in Sheffield) but picked up a lot of votes in other places - winning things like the Manchester Mayoralty might not be surprising but Khan was streets ahead of Bailey in London (whereas Johnson won in London in 2008 and 2012) - the picture is a lot mixed than the "Hartlepool" headlines suggested - but it's understandable that the media wanted a short sharp reaction rather than picking over the pieces of various local councils over the subsequent days.

I don't even know that Labour are doing that badly in England generally - the majority of the reduction in seats/ votes UK-wide is due to Scottish nationalism - but losing a "traditional Labour" seat like Redcar/ Hartlepool generates more headlines than winning a "traditional Tory" seat like Canterbury/ Kensington

That said, there are a lot of problems ahead. Labour's long term problem has been that people generally don't switch *to* Labour - lots of people start off voting Labour at eighteen/ twentysometing and then move on as they become parents/ get mortgages etc, going from young "rebels" to older "conservatives", but people don't often come back to Labour, they are replaced by new younger Labour voters. The difficulty for Labour has always been trying to retain these voters before they turn blue. You'd think this would be easier for them nowadays as people get mortgages/ become parents older than would have been the case in previous generations. But today's twentysomethings have to be a lot more financially savvy than their parents were at that age - student loans etc - so they are generally more switched on to money

Instead of focussing on the kind of things that twenty first century voters worry about (e.g. zero hours contracts), Labour have been happy to retreat to safe old ground - Corbyn allowed them to regress back to the 1970s - no need to worry about the kind of awkward compromises that Blair needed to deal with to gain power if you have no intention of diluting your moral purity!

Maybe London should give Labour hope though - Johnson won it twice in a row but the Tories haven't come so close since - take Johnson's "sparkle" away from the current Westminster Government and... are voters going to be as excited about Raab/ Hancock etc?

Gordon Brown’s economic mismanagement

How much of the Global recession are you blaming him for though?

Worth bearing in mind that Brown was paying off national debt during the good times and left a growing economy and triple-A credit rating behind (after dealing with the crash)

Cronyism in the Blair/Brown era, showed them to be as bad as the Tories

True, but I think any party would be like that after thirteen years in power - the SNP are going down that route at the moment - look at the latest news about Johnson's House Of Lords nominees


Would have happened with or without Britain

The leftists have been banging on about leadership challenges since the day Starmer was elected.

Thankfully Labour no longer pays any attention to what is an irrelevant, crackpot protest movement.

I think they need to decide whether they want to win over people who aren't Labour members, or just focus on certain "comfort zone" issues (impotently waving their Palestinian flags at the conference whilst ignoring other things) - there's a slippery slope towards blaming the "1%" for everything and getting into conspiracies/ anti-Semitism etc, and I think that some people are relaxed about going down that route
 

Bevan Price

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1. Too many Labour party people are living in the past, dreaming of things like doing what the TUs tell them to do, free-for-all strikes, the downtrodden manual worker, etc. and a manufacturing industry that has largely disappeared. That faction needs to realise that they will never again get enough support to win general elections.
2. Too many voters accept as gospel truth what they read in the Torygraph, Scum, etc.
3. To get a chance of winning, Labour needs to become a moderate centre-leftish party. No spin, no cronyism, total honesty, and a clearly defined new vision for the future, policies chosen that will benefit a large proportion of the population (not just the TUs or party members/donors), and - especially - a leader with charisma, willing to stand up to extremists (left or right).
4. I do not accept that nationalised industries are doomed to failure. Their problems are often related to poor choices of managers, failure to stand up to TU demands, and their policies / decisions being saddled with interference from clueless civil servants (especially the Treasury) unable to think beyond short term financial controls.
5. It would also help if they can finding a way to debunk the myth that SNP can solve all Scotland's problems.
 

brad465

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5. It would also help if they can finding a way to debunk the myth that SNP can solve all Scotland's problems.
I've not fully grasped why the SNP took over most of Scotland (beyond FPTP helping them do so in Westminster), on the back of losing the 2014 referendum, only that this is one of the bigger reasons Labour are not doing so well at the moment. The new Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar had a good approval rating in the run up to the last election, second to Sturgeon who was the only other +ve score (for amusement Salmond was on -70% in this poll), but didn't really have a chance to turn things around in his short term so far, but could build further from here.

Labour would have to present a very strong case that going independent is unviable in many ways (and there plenty of reasons its unviable at the moment), but somehow having a left-leaning platform to win SNP voters over, in a tricky dilemma where they seem to be too left for England but too right for Scotland.

In the Airdrie and Shotts by-election last month, the SNP held the seat, but Labour closed the gap notably, so looking at what was done in campaigning there and building further maybe a good place to look.
 

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Harold Wilson's decision to anoint James Callaghan ('Sunny Jim') as his successor did for Labour in the late 1970s, in my opinion. Callaghan's bete noire Barbara Castle might have become the U.K.'s first female Prime Minister if the mantle had passed to her, but Marcia Williams was no keener to see women other than herself flourish in the party as Margaret Thatcher was with the Conservative Party. Castle, though far to the left of Callaghan, produced a report called 'In Place of Strife' seeking to limit the excesses of Trade Unions but Callaghan's power base was in the unions, so he opposed its recommendations. The rest is history!

Don't you mean "Chicken Jim" :E

Seriously don't undermine the man, like many in The Commons at that time he fought for his Country in WW2.

I can remember when Airey Neave was murdered by the IRA at the House of Commons and Callaghan as Prime Minister gave one of the most distinguished and heartfelt responses I have ever heard from the despatch box.

In those days the Commons was full of decorated War Heroes on both sides, not the turds found on it's benches today.

And as a footnote don't forget it was the SNP who effectively kyboshed his Government in the Vote of no Confidence.
 

Busaholic

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Don't you mean "Chicken Jim" :E

Seriously don't undermine the man, like many in The Commons at that time he fought for his Country in WW2.

I can remember when Airey Neave was murdered by the IRA at the House of Commons and Callaghan as Prime Minister gave one of the most distinguished and heartfelt responses I have ever heard from the despatch box.

In those days the Commons was full of decorated War Heroes on both sides, not the turds found on it's benches today.

And as a footnote don't forget it was the SNP who effectively kyboshed his Government in the Vote of no Confidence.
Actually, it was the INLA who murdered Airey Neave (not a pedantic point, the differences between it and the IRA were significant at the time) and declassified Intelligence documents show the go-ahead for the assassination was given by its leadership when they concluded Callaghan could not win the General Election about to take place. Enoch Powell later proposed the theory that the Americans, and specifically the CIA, were behind it all, but he was a Conspiracy Theorist par excellence who would have revelled in the 2021 political scene. Having said that, I've no personal antipathy for Callaghan and acknowledge he had a backbone, an item of anatomy sadly lacking from almost all of today's political class, together with a sense of shame. I believe he'd have lost the 1983 General Election as massively as Michael Foot, though.
 

Typhoon

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I believe he'd have lost the 1983 General Election as massively as Michael Foot, though.
Probably, he was still tainted with 'the Winter of Discontent'. The intervention of Leopoldo Galtieri and his merry men, who decided that a patriotic war was the solution to increased unemployment, economic stagnation, civil disturbances at home, ensured that the government held the trump cards.


I've been called all kinds on social media by Momentum activists over the past few years. My centre left leanings have been the main target but my religion has been brought into it on a couple of occasions.
That should never be an issue. The roots of the Labour Party are in various (usually non-conformist) churches; the founding fathers may have had issues with some of those in the higher echelons of the established churches but they have had the support, admittedly often tacit, of many of those in parishes throughout the country.
 

edwin_m

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Probably, he was still tainted with 'the Winter of Discontent'. The intervention of Leopoldo Galtieri and his merry men, who decided that a patriotic war was the solution to increased unemployment, economic stagnation, civil disturbances at home, ensured that the government held the trump cards.
Yes, "a patriotic war was the solution to increased unemployment, economic stagnation, civil disturbances at home" for Thatcher...
 
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