Tag Archives: Labour

Tony Blair’s strategic move to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Contrary to popular opinion, Tony Blair is not an idiot – idiots don’t win three general elections. Furthermore, Blair isn’t out of sync with the British people either. A classy manipulator, the former prime minister used his anti-Brexit speech not to orchestrate an uprising against Britain’s departure from the European Union, but to strike a blow closer to home.

Blair’s move is a bold and strategic effort to oust Labour leader and destructor Jeremy Corbyn, by dousing petrol on an already rip-roaring fire.

There’s no coincidence that he gave his high-profile whinge less than a week before two crunch by-elections – one in Copeland, the other in Stoke-on-Trent. The former went 62 percent for Leave while the latter chalked up a whopping 70 percent Brexit vote. Both are, at least for a few more days, Labour-held constituencies. If Blair has his way, neither will be come 24 February.

Why does Blair want Labour to lose? Because two by-election losses by a party in opposition would undoubtedly spell doom for their leader, especially as a Stoke-on-Trent Central defeat equates to a UK Independence Party and Paul Nuttall triumph. With UKIP promising to leech on Labour’s northern, working class vote, a Stoke win would knock the first brick from the wall.

Bookmakers have Copeland trending towards the Tories, while Labour are narrow favourites in Stoke following Nuttall’s Hillsborough gaffe, which is appropriately now old news. In 2015, the combined UKIP-Tory Stoke vote bested Labour, making a purple heist and a first home-grown UKIP parliamentary win realistic.

Blair has no stock as a positive influence – you’ll struggle to find a more loathed British politician, and he’s not blinded by narcissism enough to be unaware. However, being loathed brings a few benefits, not least Blair’s ability to be a negative influence.

With more than two decades’ experience in understanding and capitalising on the public’s psyche, Blair, like President Donald Trump, knows exactly what to say to get exactly what he wants. Give it a fortnight and no one will care what this political has-been said, but for the next few days it’s juicy content.

What better Brexit rallying cry than a detested ex-PM who wants to thwart the will of the British people? It’ll likely be even more effective in Stoke, since immigration concerns are invariably blamed on Blair and Labour. Brexiteers are already cashing in, their obvious narratives sure winners. We may even see a Blair piñata before the show’s over.

It’s unlikely there’d ever be an era suited to a Blair comeback, but you won’t find tougher than this anti-establishment one. But Labour rightly realise that Calamity Corbyn has to go, and anything which can bring that reality closer will be secretly cheered – there’s no way Corbyn critic Tristram Hunt wasn’t aware of the implications when he resigned from Stoke either.

For all the talk of a strong democracy having a strong opposition, the last thing Conservatives and Brexiteers need at this moment is Corbyn’s resignation. His haplessness gives Theresa May and her government the necessary breathing space – and huge polling lead – to handle the country’s trickiest negotiations in generations.

An effective opposition would be primed to cash in on perhaps inevitable Brexit fallout with their vision for the nation. Instead, Corbyn, a closet Brexiter who choked and campaigned to Remain, took months to try and establish his party’s position on the issue – not helped by a poorly-timed leadership contest – before leaving many incandescent after giving May a “blank cheque”.

For Labour, the party’s survival is much more important than backlash from Moany Tony’s speech – short-term pain for long-term gain. If Blair’s blathering compromises Labour next week, Corbyn could be out soon after, starting a difficult but not impossible search for a talented leader in a talentless party.

Brexiteers should hold off on the celebrations for now.

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I saw the personal attacks, and I hated them

I saw photos in the Daily Mail over the weekend of defeated Labour hopeful Ed Miliband smiling with his family. Finally, the politics had been stripped away, the bacon sandwich gaffes gone, the “Hell Yes” jibes forgotten and even the infamous Ed Stone banished for all time.

I saw a man who had suffered vitriolic attack after vitriolic attack. A man who I vehemently disagreed with on a political level, but a good person, undeserving of the bile flung at him. There was something very American about this election – where the cornerstone of every bid is negativity – something that is profoundly un-British.

I saw someone who was standing up for what he believed in. Now, I’m not quite sure what that was – I think one of Labour’s biggest failures was that they were unclear on what, and who they were trying to attract – but again, the politics of it is irrelevant. His seemingly sturdy stance on ruling out an alliance with the Scottish National Party was also commendable. He went so far that had he backtracked in order to gain power he would have been an outright liar; something I think Miliband tried valiantly, if unsuccessfully to achieve.

I saw a man who fought an election with dignity, and to be attacked without relent for who he was, and not what he stood for was wrong. Our country is one of the world’s most proficient in the art of mocking, and long may that continue, but as the election wore on, the smokescreen of satire became increasingly transparent, it was no longer pure comedy.

I saw a man who also got things wrong. His unerring, robust defence of Blair and Brown’s premiership on the subject of overspending was a poor move. When the crunch comes, taking a left jab instead of risking a more punishing right hook is sometimes just common sense.

I saw what a nasty place our politics has become. While the Right obsessed over Miliband, the Left spewed hate over Nigel Farage. Neither side were at all justified in their actions. When all is said and done they are real people with real families. Yes, by standing for public office you throw yourself into the cauldron of scrutiny, but I am not sure what political capital can be gained by such personal abuse. Both wing’s willingness to partake in such methods make them equally culpable, it is not a matter of who was worse, but I would hope that such unpalatable tactics are never indulged in on these shores again. Of course, if a party tries to go down such a route by all means they are entitled to. But perhaps the opposition shouldn’t fight fire with fire, but bring the hosepipe out instead.

I saw the mistakes I made as well. Too often I criticised Miliband for being Miliband, when there would have been more weight attacking him as the leader of Labour – it’s not like it would have been difficult. To the credit of the UK Independence Party, the abuse they suffered did not lead them to be similarly vile to their opponents. And Farage also commented on multiple occasions that the media’s assault on Miliband was unjust.

I saw the #Milifandom. The army of teenage girls who switched their attention away from Niall and Harry, if only briefly. Naive and keen on Labour’s policies, probably; but they too touched on the unfair treatment Miliband received, and in their own way tried to deal with it.

I saw someone who, deep down, I think is a good person. And whatever he does next, whether it be continuing to serve as a Member of Parliament for Doncaster North following the five years he has just been elected for, or whether he finds enjoyment in a life away from politics, I hope he finds happiness. I truly do.

Miliband could be in trouble in Doncaster North

UPDATE: A recent correction from Lord Ashcroft showed Labour’s share of the vote in Doncaster North was actually 54%.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how best the Conservatives could tackle the Labour threat in the north of England. Quite simply, they should stand aside.

The latest round of constituency polling from Lord Ashcroft today rather eloquently proved my point, that very method could hit Labour where its hurts most – in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat.

The Labour leader has failed to connect with many typically Labour voters and nowhere is that more apparent than in his own constituency. Today’s polling revealed whilst Miliband is leading on 40%, the UK Independence Party and the Tories are not without range, reaching 28% and 23% respectively.

Let us hypothesise. Imagine the Tories decided not to field a candidate and urged all of their voters to back a UKIP candidate. The combined figure between the two parties today tallied at 51%, which would be more than enough to unseat Miliband.

Conservative voters in the North must surely realise that whilst their own party has become something of a toxic brand and is of little threat to the Labour-dominated heartlands, the purple and yellow brigade is. The Heywood and Middleton by-election in October saw UKIP get to within 600 votes of snatching the seat.

If the Conservatives are realistic and make the bold decision to lose a battle to win the war, they may just be able to wreck Labour and Miliband’s aim of reaching Number 10.

Miliband’s failure to connect with his own voters could have devastating consequences.

FARAGE STRUGGLING IN THANET SOUTH

It wasn’t all good news for UKIP today though with an Ashcroft poll in Thanet South revealing party leader Nigel Farage is lagging five points behind the Conservative candidate.

Polling after the European Elections had Farage holding a narrow lead, but a lack of appearances in the constituency over recent months could be swaying voters away from the charismatic leader.

In Farage’s defence, he is the leader of a party which in the past three months has seen two Conservative MPs defect, force by-elections and duly reclaim their seats in the House of Commons. It has been a busy period.

Statistics also noted that 49% of Farage’s support in the Kent seat comes from previously non-voters, who are notoriously harder to get to the ballot box on election day.

It’s still far from a lost cause though with the margin very narrow. The Conservatives lead on 34%, UKIP are second with 29%, whilst Labour are trailing in third on 26%. UKIP will of course be plowing copious resources into Thanet South in the run up to next May, with the seat being a must-win for the party. It will be one worth keeping a very close eye on over the next few months.

CLEGG ALSO IN TROUBLE

Not much is going right for Nick Clegg these days and the Liberal Democrat leader has found his lead slashed to a mere three points in Ashcroft’sSheffield Hallam poll.

Clegg is narrowly ahead on 31% with Labour second on 28%. The Tories come next gathering 19% while UKIP and the Greens picked up 11% and 10% respectively.

If the Lib Dems are to bow out next May, their leader could well be going with them.