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Paul Nuttall in Stoke

Paul_Nuttall_MEPA scene replaying itself night after night in drinking establishments across the land. A man, in late middle age, sat alone nursing a pint. He wears a creased suit and a defeated expression, and staring into the drink his mind races with what might have been. This was the London Road Ale House on Friday evening, and the gentleman concerned was Mick Harold, the chair of the local UKIP branch. When Tristram Hunt announced his resignation, Harold must surely have thought he was in with a shout of taking the seat. His party, he came second in 2015 after years of hard work and financial sacrifice. With a low turn out, with Jeremy Corbyn in the leader’s office, with a government paralysed by indecision and dithering, and the media hype machine bigging up UKIP, there, right there, was his chance to hit the big time. And it was taken from him without so much as a thank you.

Pausing only to disentangle himself from a parachute, the moment UKIP leader Paul Nuttall appeared at the North Staffs Hotel for Friday night’s selection meeting, it was all over for anyone else’s ambitions. And to make sure, the NEC were in the back pocket to overrule the branch’s decision had it not gone the right way. After all, they couldn’t well pulp all the ‘Paul Nuttall for Stoke-on-Trent Central’ leaflets his goons brought with them ready for Saturday morning leafleting.

Contrary to my useless prediction and warnings about the localist flavour of this by-election, they decided to go for the big name. In as much Nuttall can be regarded as an A-lister. That said, and to be fair to the purples their leader was in a sticky wicket. He won the party leadership on the promise of targeting Labour seats though, historically, like all right-populist and fascist outfits they do best among small business and middle class voters. Their mistake. Nuttall therefore would have looked pathetic and frit to not follow through the logic of his position, despite having no prior association with Stoke. However, the UKIP leader has mined his past for appropriate biographical links. Sandwiched betwixt playing professionally for Tranmere Rovers and being there at Hillsborough lies the claim, revealed on the West Midlands segment of The Sunday Politics, that he lived in Shelton a short time as a student. Yeah, in much the same way I “lived in Liverpool” during Labour Party conference.

Nuttall’s first leaflet goes on about what a great MP he would be. Stoke-on-Trent Central can look forward to “representation it has never had in Parliament before”. Whatever you might think of Barnet Stross, Robert Cant, Mark Fisher, and Tristram Hunt they did turn up to the Commons and represent the constituency. Nuttall came 736th out of 756 in terms of attendance at the European Parliament in the 2009-14 session. As the best predictor of future behaviour is part behaviour, I agree with Nuttall that our constituency can look forward to something novel alright. Still, doing the business on the green benches is only half of what goes on. Every MP is more than one woman or man, they are a small team of researchers and caseworkers. Nuttall’s record promises something exceptional too. Tristram, just like his Labour colleagues Ruth Smeeth in Stoke North and Rob Flello in Stoke South have offices in the constituency that deal with the problems their constituents bring them, and produce the work that makes for strong challenges to government policy. Nuttall’s office operation is currently getting looked into by the European Parliament. Despite claiming office expenses and three staff to support his sporadic work in Brussels, no trace of his operation can be found beyond a PO Box. Can Stokies therefore look forward to their correspondence getting filed in the waste paper basket a la the luckless folks of the North West?

His leaflet goes on. He promises to prioritise housing for local people (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), understands the pressure of uncontrolled immigration (so out of control that only 96.3% of Stokies were born in the UK) and calls for the abolition of the bedroom tax. Sounds identical to the platform the BNP took to the electorate during the 2011 council elections. It didn’t work then, and Labour is going to make sure this opportunist pitch doesn’t work now.

If UKIP are so keen to imitate the BNP, I would ask the local branch to cast their minds back to the 2010 general election. They might recall Alby Walker, then leader of the group in the City Council chamber. He and his not-so-merry band of misfits worked hard and expected to snatch the seat from Labour off the back of Gordon Brown’s popularity and media hype. Then Simon Darby, the BNP’s deputy leader overruled local aspirations and imposed himself as the party’s candidate. Walker resigned, coincidentally discovering that his party was racist along the way. He announced his own independent candidacy and came nowhere. Darby fell short by a country mile too, but still. Walker could look at himself in the mirror. He got steamrollered, but dusted himself down and fought back. Despite dwelling in the fascist gutter for the sake of a modest councillor’s allowance, he salvaged some self-respect from the whole affair. I therefore urge that lonely man in the Ale House to think seriously. His dreams are shattered. He’ll only ever visit Westminster on a Parliamentary tour. But he doesn’t have to be one of the little people, he doesn’t have to take a shafting from an uncaring career politician. He can win back his sense of agency with a display of the bulldog spirit. How about it then, Mick? You can’t win, but the next pint won’t taste so bitter.

17 Comments

  1. John Penney says:

    This is a quite stunningly complacent article.

    Since the BNP’s gang of misfits lost their (eight was it ?) councillors, Stoke Labour Council continued to carry out the Austerity agenda with such ferocity that Labour is utterly discredited in Stoke – such that in this previous Labour heartland we have a bizarre UKIP/Tory/”independent” Council.

    Add to this the impact of parachuting in the neoliberal Toff, Tristam Hunt, and what we actually have in Stoke is the serious potential for a classic protest vote win for the opportunists of UKIP, regardless of who they put up as a figurehead for this role.

    Phil has boasted about the “post Corbyn Surge” huge numbers of Party Members that will flood the constituency to campaign for a Labour win. Let’s hope this works – but even if 10,000 canvassers flood the streets of Stoke , what answer do they have to the dire past record of the Labour Council in implementing Austerity ? What believable arguments do they have as to why electing yet another Labour MP will change anything for Stoke citizens ? Compared to the undoubted political shock a protest vote win for UKIP would produce ?

    We are in BIG trouble, Phil, and it isn’t Jeremy’s fault – its the past actions of Right neoliberal, Austerity collaborating, Labour Councillors and MP’s like Tristram Hunt, that have produced this looming potential disaster – and in Copeland too.

    1. Bazza says:

      Yes I think Labour’s best hope ideally is a working class pro-Corbyn local candidate.
      Did wonder if the headline in the Stoke Evening newspaper was: NUTTALL OFERS FECKALL FOR STOKE WHILE IT’S ONE IN THE EYE FOR HAROLD!
      LABOUR TO FIGHT FOR THE WORKING CLASS/WORKING PEOPLE AS TORIES GIVE TAX CUTS TO MILIONAIRES!

  2. Tony says:

    There is an enormous amount at stake here. I shall be looking at what I can do to stop Nuttall and his vile politics.

    I urge everybody to do the same.

  3. prianikoff says:

    It’s hard to believe that the by-elections in Stoke Central and Copeland haven’t been engineered as a deliberate attempt to challenge the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party.

    In both cases, the sitting MP has been tempted to resign in mid-Parliament by a large cash-inducement. As we know, Hunt’s appointment was approved by Theresa May, despite his lack of experience in managing a gallery.

    In both cases, the former MP’s have a history of refusing to work with Jeremy Corbyn.
    Jaimeson Reed’s Jedi sword developed a serious droop just one minute into Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance speech, when he resigned as shadow Health Minister. 3 days later, Tristram Hunt resigned as Shadow Education Minister.

    The resignations put the spotlight on two key issues in Labour’s platform:-
    * The nuclear power industry and Trident (which are very important in Cumbria)
    * Labour’s demands on Brexit.

    The fact that Eddie Hitler is standing in Stoke is a serious issue.
    Rather than dismissing it, Labour will have to devote a serious chunk of its campaign to exposing Nutall’s views on the NHS, UKIP’s fake portrayal of itself as a “workers party”, as well as its growing links with Donald Trump.

    UKIP is operating as an external faction of the Tory party, pushing it towards the nationalist right. Theresa May is moving closer towards their positions – so it will be two birds with one stone.

    1. CraigieBhoy says:

      If these resignations are “a deliberate attempt to challenge the Corbyn leadership,” then expect more of them in the next few months. Plenty of hapless, hopeless MP’s that are contenders.
      But it is far more likely that these clueless MP’s realised the game was up, and that, with or without Corbyn in charge, Blairism is dead, and a new politics has emerged within Labour.
      There’s been a lot of fear about these by-elections, but I can see Labour winning both elections, with increased majorities as voters plump for far better candidates, not ones parachuted in.

    2. Rob Green says:

      Labour are trying to square the circle, be all things to all men but they are going to end up being nothing to nobody like all the other social democratic and reformist parties in Europe now that capitalism has died the death. They are determined to go down with the neo-liberal ship and cling on to the wreckage of the EU, capitalism and globalization. There is no room for this third way crap anymore. Embrace a Hard Socialist Brexit and a New European Settlement before it is too late, before you get sucked into an Unpopular Front of Tories, Lib Dems, Branson, Greens, Geldof, corporate capitalism and other dross and end up getting screwed over like 90s neo-liberal throwback Hillary Clinton by some British proto-fascist.

  4. James Martin says:

    Great car crash interview by Piers Morgan (of all people!) with Nasty Nuttalls, look at how uncomfortable and shifty the twerp looks!

  5. Paul Dias says:

    No lack of support for this piece of garbage among the closet Labour xenophobes.

    Let us hope the people of Stoke show more dignity and common sense.

  6. David Pavett says:

    The table below shows Labour’s percentage of votes case, the percentage turnout and Labour’s share of votes of the registered electorate for Stoke Central since 1950. Clearly much of this reflects national trends but the underlying decline in Labour’s support in the electorate is sobering and shows that complacency would be very inappropriate.

    Results for Stoke Central

    It is perhaps worth pointing out that the slump in overall electoral support from over 40% to less than 20% took place in the Blair/Brown/Miliband years i.e. before the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

    And here are the above results in graphical form.

    Graph of Stoke results

    1. James Martin says:

      I’m surprised that this hasn’t been mentioned: http://www.labourleave.org.uk/labour_can_win_in_stoke_on_trent

      If you click the pdf link on that page it takes you to the full report with details of how the poll was conducted and the questions asked. I make no claims for its accuracy (it claims a 4% margin of error) but it is fascinating despite it showing that the ukips are 10 points clear of Labour in the lead.

      It would be useful for Phil B-C to actually answer and reply to the points that many have made on his articles, but he can never seem to be bothered (it’s called debate Phil, we don’t need lectures, thank you, unless these are the bad habits you picked up working for Hunt?).

      1. David Pavett says:

        It is indeed possible to wonder if a candidate whose arguments are so limited that he goes on public record to describe Brexit as a “massive pile of shit” is someone who has the subtlety required to explain Labour’s evolving position to the general public let alone navigate the differences of opinion in the Labour Party with the intelligence and judgement required to reach an honourable conclusion. Why was he chosen? What were the other candidates like? Can someone from Stoke tell us?

        1. James Martin says:

          Well to listen to Phil B-C who tells us that Stoke has a vibrant and active CLP you have to wonder how these activists would arrive at someone who not long ago lost his council seat to the ukips after making large cuts and redundancies (the same reasons I am guessing that Labour no long has control of the council in Stoke), and who called Corbyn “an IRA supporting friend of Hamas” in true Daily Heil fashion, and who it seems was also a bag carrier for that eejit Tristram Hunt. So go on Phil, how did such a rotten disgrace of a Labour candidate get selected by local members and affiliates, why did they select someone who would appear designed to lose this election, and who did you vote for?

  7. John Penney says:

    From today’s , understandably jubilant , Daily Telegraph:

    “Labour’s candidate for the Stoke Central by-election claimed that party leader Jeremy Corbyn was an “IRA supporting friend of Hamas” and said Brexit is a “massive pile of s**t”.

    Councillor Gareth Snell made the comments on Twitter ahead of the election triggered by Tristram Hunt’s decision to step down.”

    So this is the nightmare Right Wing Labour candidate that is being put up in a 80% pro Brexit constituency, and that Momentum Members are expected to turn out to canvass for ! So much for the claimed impact on this CLP of the “Corbyn Surge” – still obviously firmly in the grip of the , electorally suicidal, old Labour Right.

    I think we can now safely say that Phil’s baseless upbeat optimism is just a tad misplaced. Unfortunately there also must be a good chance that Labour canvassers for this guy will get beaten up on the doorstep !

    1. prianikoff says:

      Gareth Snell just tweeted:-

      “Really proud that the Leader of the Labour Party, @jeremycorbyn, is coming to #StokeCentral tonight to launch my campaign with our members”

      1. John Penney says:

        Sadly, social media is a cruel thing, his endless anti Corbyn tweets in the past , and repeated rabid anti Brexit comments , cannot be suddenly undone by a few “oops , what I really meant to say …” tweets, that noone will believe.

        The man is the very LAST choice of Labour candidate that should have been put up for this seat. The arrogance of the Labour Right is truly breath taking !

        Labour now to come in behind the Tories ?

        1. Rob Green says:

          Well they more or less committed suicide in Scotland rather than dump Blairite Third Wayism.

          An independent socialist candidate should be stood against him pledged to back a Corbyn government should the numbers be there in 2020 but also to argue for a Socialist Brexit and a New European Settlement.

          1. prianikoff says:

            There’s no chance of an “independent socialist” campaign winning in Stoke-Central.
            Doing what you suggest would split Labour’s vote and let in the Tories, or UKIP.
            The current priority is to reinforce the authority Jeremy Corbyn.

            However bad Snell’s history is (and it’s bad), his statement of loyalty should be taken at face value.
            The local Labour Party should demand he puts it into his election manifesto.
            If he gets elected as an MP, then reneges on it, he should be de-selected.

            What happened in Scotland wasn’t just the result of a Blairite-dominated SLP.
            It was abetted when thousands of socialist activists were diverted into the futile ultra-left project
            of building the SSP – an organisation which tail-ended the nationalists from day-one.

            Anyone who believes that the SNP is socialist is setting the bar so low that they’re likely trip over it.

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