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What happened to the Labour vote in the recent by-elections?

BallotBoxI am no psephologist but in compiling the graphs below I noticed a number of points which I think are important in any discussion of Labour’s poor performance in both Stoke Central and Copeland.

First the graphs which show Labour’s share of the vote and share of the total electorate since the creation of the two constituencies.

StokeCentral_1950_2017

Copleland_1983_2017

In the case of Stoke Central there is a clear picture of general decline (with a few ups and downs) ever since 1950. In that year more than 50% of the electorate turned out to support Labour. They did the same again in 1951. From that point the same thing was never again achieved and Labour support in the general electorate went into long-term decline. Labour peaked at 41.6% in 1997 and from that point the story was one of dramatic decline. By the end of the Blair/Brown years this had fallen to just 20.6%. In 2015 the figure went even lower and fell under 20%. Finally, in the 2017 by-election it fell to 14.2%. Even though Labour retained the seat this can hardly be regarded as a great victory. Despite Paul Nuttall’s many attempts to commit political hara-kiri, UKIP increased its share of the vote by 2.1% and Labour share fell by 2.2%.

We don’t have such a long data series for Copeland but some similar patterns emerge. The main point is that Labour’s support by the general electorate has been in continual decline since 1997. It is one of the many quirks of our electoral system that despite Labour’s loss of the seat in 2017 its collapse in support has been less dramatic than in the case of Stoke. Labour’s share of support from the electorate as a whole has always been greater than in Stoke.

There is much to reflect on in these figures and I leave finer analysis to others. An obvious point is that pinning the blame for the situation on Corbyn is something that is only possible if you ignore the history of decline which was well under way before he became captain of the ship. It is not that I want to excuse him for his part in the continued decline nor to say that I think he is doing the best possible job as leader. Rather it is to say that if Corbyn’s Labour opponents are going to point the finger of blame then honesty requires that they also point to themselves and to the reasons for the general decline of support over many decades and especially in the Blair/Brown years.

34 Comments

  1. david is right in that the decline in Stoke Central has been consistent since 1951. However there are two important facts about the decline, firstly the sharpest drops have been in 1970 and 2001. In both cases after Labour majority governments. SUggests that whatever working class voters want, they did not get it from Labour when it was firmly in government.

    Secondly, the decline after Tristram Hunt was parachuted in is even more marked. The party got less than 40% of the vote for the first time at both the general elections he fought. The by election was around the same vote share, but in real terms the actual number of voters plummeted. None of the major players did well in the by election, the Lib Dems better than most as they increased their vote from a low base. The three top parties, Labour, UKIP and Tories all lost votes.

    THe winner in Stoke Central was apathy. This is a dangerous situation. in four of the last five elections including the by election, less than 50% of the voters turned out to vote.

    Trevor Fisher

    1. David Pavett says:

      Interesting point about the drop post Labour governments.

      Yes, a situation in which there is so much apathy cannot be regarded as anything other than dangerous.

      I hope for the Victoria and Albert museum that Trisram Hunt’s heart is more in the job than it was for the Labour Party of Stoke Central. He will also surely go down in Labour history as one of Labour’s worst spokespersons on Education ever (and that is saying something) – possibly the worst.

    2. Peter Rowlands says:

      For Stoke the by-election turnout was good, although with the publicity given to Nuttallthat wasn’t surprising. The Lib-Dems more than doubled their vote share, taking votes from the Greens and Labour Remainers, but crucially the Tory vote did not move to UKIP and remained solid, and this was I fancy quite deliberate. They had an obvious interest in preventing Nuttall becoming an MP.Very different in Copeland, where tactical voting by previous UKIP voters delivered the seat to the Tories.

      1. peter willsman says:

        Re Copeland, the antiJC dissembling by the
        dire press and media ignores 2 key points.First many UKIP voters are appalled by the long record of lies by Nuttall,esp.re Hillsborough,few think he was even there.So UKIP switched to Tories in C.Second,there have been several adverse boundary changes in C,esp.in 2010,when a big chunk of the Lakes was added in,including the rather posh and rather large,Keswick.

        1. Nelia says:

          OBJ is the way to go. It’s a very generic format that works very well. Ideally try to export it without any suidivbsion surfaces, those can be added back in Blender.

    3. Tim Pendry says:

      Very good points, Trevor … maybe your points also relate to a possible growing problem of trust – that the Party is not ‘for the people’ but rather ‘for itself’ yet it seems that this is not just a problem for Labour either but one for an entire professional political class.

      1. The problem is much bigger than Labour Tim, and UKIP’s failure to pick up on popular discontent is remarkable, and as you say, an entire political class is failing.

        Which makes Peter’s comment about turnout really odd. The turnout in both elections fell, as is usual in most by elections, and about the same – Copeland was 63.8% in 2015. 51.33% in 2017. Stoke Central 49.9% in 2015, 36.9% 2017. The drop in Copeland 12.5%, in Stoke 13%. So far its not unusual in Stoke.

        However since Stoke Central was the lowest turnout in 2015, and in 2001 turnout was 47.4%, 48.4% in 2005 – not a blairite constituency this – and 53.6% in 2010, the drop to 49.9% in 2015 is consistent with most people not warming to New Labour or indeed any political party since alienation from Labour was not exploited by the others. Less than 40% of voters turned out for the election last week, and the lack of posters in windows told its own story of a plague on all your houses.

        What is really telling is the 2017 failure of the political class to engage. From the outside, most observers will have known UKIP and Labour were pulling out all the stops. On the Saturday before the poll, I was told Labour had 500 people out on the streets and contacted 8,000 voters. Ukip also were said to have 500 out. Result – actual voters – Labour 7852 – a poor result given every door was knocked twice allegedly UKIP 5233 partly due to Nuttall.

        But the really interesting thing was the Tory and Lib Dem effort, massive in both cases. I will be looking at the spend when the figures are available, huge numbers of leaflets went out – though the Greens were invisible and I don’t have a single Green leaflet, unlike BNP and the woman who got 137 votes calling for the return of the workhouse system, which just put her ahead of the Raving Monster Loony Party by 10 votes.

        Lib Dem vote did go up but from 1296 to 2083, 66% or so. For their effort a very poor return. Tories down from 7008 to 5154 but they stopped their people voting for UKIP, the PM herself visited Stoke on the Monday prior to the poll

        But overall the number of people actually ticking a ballot paper went down from 31,084
        to 21 169 a loss of 9915 votes.

        WHen people are turned off politics to this extent given the amount of media and other effort, democracy itself is at risk. Stoke Central is not a typical constituency and will vanish under boundary changes, but all democrats should be looking at the working class areas and turnout and asking what the future of democracy is in working class constituencies.

        Trevor Fisher.

        1. Tim Pendry says:

          I agree with all that, Trevor. I was discussing the phenomenon with a thoroughly unpolitical service worker I have known for 11 years. She was almost forced to vote last election by her policeman husband on principle but her instinct was not to bother. Her reasons were not the standard ‘they are all the same’ that mythology tells us to expect but the more worrying ‘my single vote really doesn’t matter’.

          The conversation moved on to Brexit and Trump where she had no strong views (our area is strongly Remain and the local phenomenon is largely that Brexiters tended to feel ‘bullied’ and fell silent socially).

          Her colleague, by implication but not stated, noted how many friends she had lost on Facebook (a common phenomenon in both directions as tribes cohere) but what was more interesting was the reaction to the ‘aggressive’ position of Remainers in social and work contexts (I suspect the same precisely in reverse in Brexit areas so it is not a partisan point).

          She feared that if she ‘gave the wrong answer’ to any question from customers (apparently emotionally Remain), she would lose the customer’s custom – so there was a sort of implicit economic intimidation going on. This is a serious collapse in civil society discourse.

          She said (not after prompting) that, privately, she was so irritated by the constant aggressive attacks on Trump (about whom she knew very little) that she considered it just not fair (my best re-interpretation) and (her statement) she was now inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and wish him well – or rather to let him get on with the job and judge him on results. Polling shifts in the last few days suggest that something similar is going on in the US and I suspect anecdotally the same as happening to popular attitudes to Brexit, something which gives May her confidence and weakens Labour.

          The point (which adds as a gloss to the comment you have made about the resources put in by the parties not having an impact) is that the campaigning mentality may actually now be counter-productive. It mobilises your own tribe but it alienates people who are otherwise uncommitted – and this may be a fundamental flaw in the proposed Momentum and Corbynista social mobilisation strategy. Its very aggression and energy alienates.

          And it may be why the professional US Democrat apparat has been careful not to get over-engaged with the protests, petitions and internet hysteria, saving their emergies for the more material battles over tax cuts, Obamacare and so forth.

          So what is the alternative, since there are two tasks here – to get people like my friend to be prepared to vote and, second, to get them to vote for socialist causes? Forced voting is no solution any more than conscription for military readiness. These people have to want to vote and want to vote for the Left. No gain is had if they want to vote against the Left which is what UKIP had hoped would happen but didn’t.

          I don’t have the answer to that but I suspect it comes down to changes in behaviours by parties, activists and the political class. The first need to embed themselves in the community (which the Liberal Democrats tend to be slightly better at than other parties). The second need to (bluntly) grow up and listen and not preach. The third need to make promises they can actually keep and then keep them (something Trump at least seems to do to his supporters).

          There are, in short, too many professional political careerists, there is too much emotional excitability and there is too much cynicism in policy and campaigning for the middle ground to take any of the politicians seriously enough to reverse the decline in democracy. And there we have the rot of Blairism and its mimicry by the other parties in a nutshell.

  2. John Walsh says:

    On the issue of campaigning, there’s some contrast between the obvious continued decline in the proportion of the electorate who can be bothered to get out and vote in Stoke Central and the ‘inspirational’ message being pushed by Momentum. For anyone not on the Momentum mailing list here’s a taster from 3 emails sent out over the weekend …

    “I’ve seen everything we need to win across the country right here in Stoke these last few weeks. Let’s keep building.” … “I’ve been overwhelmed to see hundreds of volunteers coming to Stoke – sharing cars, knocking on doors, calling voters. It was inspiring.” … “This is our moment. Let’s seize it.”

    And so on (here’s a perhaps more balanced reaction to Stoke from Momentum people). What happened in Stoke – every door knocked on, at least twice, and 14% bother to vote Labour – has happened locally to me (the worst being a County Council election where vanloads of members were ferried to the area and around 3% actually voted). As a new member, I’m wondering if campaign methods could be improved – to which there’s a strident defensive response from the main activists.

    As with input on policy or becoming involved in internal democracy, it’s seems to be the same with campaigning – the Party hierarchy knows best (with depressingly predictable results).

    1. John Walsh says:

      Apologies above , link to reaction … “here’s a perhaps more balanced reaction to Stoke from Momentum people”.

  3. Rob Green says:

    You certainly cannot blame Corbyn for the decline of the Labour Party but you can ask how come he has not been able to arrest that decline and reverse it.

    The most immediate reason I would say is that he has put party unity above principle to the extent that he campaigned for a Remain vote in the EU Referendum just when the Labour Left’s forty year opposition to the EU and its predecessors was about to pay off. Had Corbyn led a socialist, labour movement Brexit campaign the party would be on the cusp of a general election victory now. As it is Corbyn was fortunate that Brexit won anyway otherwise Labour would already be finished and UKIP would be the main opposition to Cameron and Osborne. If Corbyn’s Labour does become a junior partner in some kind of Soft Brexit coalition of Majorites, Blairites, Lib Dems, etc the end will come quickly.

    The main reason though is that reformist parties cease to make sense or offer anything tangible in a period of capitalist decay.

  4. John Penney says:

    The Labour Right, and , Phil BC in his many, many, recent non-analytical Stoke Central propaganda pieces, look at the electoral decline of the Labour vote in previous Labour heartlands, and choose to see the Westminster electoral contest as revolving only around “national issues” and , for the Right of course, the perceived “leadership failures of Corbyn”.

    However , the longer term retreat of all voters generally from active participation in elections, and the particular long term decline of the Labour vote , in local elections and Westminster elections, is a consequence of the “Tweedle Dum/Tweedle Dee neoliberal politics which now dominates all the major parties. It is indeed, and has been since Blair, increasingly the feeling amongst voters that , as the abstentionist old anarchist slogan says “whoever you vote for, capitalism gets in”.

    This was never quite true, even in the neoliberal depths of the Blair/Brown privatising, banker hugging, governments, but the neoliberalism of Labour, with no alternative Left vision for society, has simply pissed off the core labour vote. In Scotland this 30 year cronyist, neoliberalism has destroyed the core vote entirely – to be hoovered up by the phony Left-posers of the nationalist SNP.

    What has REALLY destroyed much of the core working class Labour vote in Stoke Central and Copeland, and across the UK though, is the craven Austerity implementing collaboration with the Tory agenda of local Labour Councils, and Labour Councillors in even Tory held local authorities, and the deep corruption and arrogance of all too many Labour led councils , particularly in the planning/housing field. There is no point Jeremy Corbyn preaching a “new, kinder, Left politics”, when sundry Labour councils, particularly in London, are busy doing dodgy deals with developers to evict social housing tenants in favour of new upmarket developments which the old tenants can never hope to occupy.

    Jeremy and John McDonnell have capitulated to the mass of Austerity implementing Labour Councillors by ruling out any resistance to the ever-tightening Austerity screw on local government. Local government is now, across the UK, at the “tipping point” of actual collapse in many key services. Labour will never recover its mass working class voter base whilst the reality facing potential Labour voters at local level is that the Labour councils are little different from the Tory Councils. In Stoke Central in particular, the dire record of the previously Labour council in implementing Austerity was a massive factor in demotivating potential Labour voters from going out to vote – for a Labour candidate, Snell, who was in the driving seat in Newcastle under LymeCouncil’s Austerity offensive .

    1. David Pavett says:

      John, while I agree with much of what you say is there not a need to state some of these things with rather more care and caution? As it is I feel that criticisms like yours are half way between analysis and a general rant.

      For example, you say “What has REALLY destroyed much of the core working class Labour vote in Stoke Central and Copeland, and across the UK though, is the craven Austerity implementing collaboration with the Tory agenda of local Labour Councils, and Labour Councillors …”.

      There certainly are Labour councils and counsellors which fit this description but there are other who do not. There are councils and there associated CLPs which have made an effort to point the finger of blame for what they are being constrained to do at the government. But then it is not at all clear what you count as “Austerity implementing collaboration with the Tory agenda”. Does that mean refusal to implement legally binding cuts? If it does then that is a whole different debate. The result, as I am sure you know, would be that Council officers would be required to take control of the budget, the cuts would be implemented and Labour would be seen to have abdicated any control over the process. It is clearly a difficult situation to be in but surely it is arguable that simple refusal to work within the set constraints is a form of posturing. Your strictures seem to me to be far too sweeping and far too harsh.

      The real problem seems to me that all too many Labour councils and counsellors, and even more to the point CLPs, have no concept of responding to the situation politically doing everything they can to ensure that the majority of electors are clear both about the reasons for the cuts and of an alternative approach that would make cuts of this type unnecessary. The cuts should be used as a powerful basis for a fight back to get Labour elected on a programme of major reform in the economy and in the relation between central and local government.

      Many people hate their local authority because they see it as always implementing cuts and imposing restrictions. That situation needs to be turned around by leaflets, speeches, social media, articles etc to explain the problems of local government, how it should be reformed and how to end the cuts. The sad thing is that Labour, even under Corbyn, has done almost nothing about any of this.

      On austerity I would not say that Corbyn and McDonnell have capitulated. I am sure that they want to oppose it. The problem is that ideology, like nature, abhors a vacuum and that in the absence of the sort of comprehensive economic programme that you call for, all the detritus and rubbish of received wisdom rushes in to fill the gap. What is emerging as the problem of the Labour left at every level is that it has no idea how to go about providing such an alternative. That is a desperately serious matter. Trying hard to look on the bright side of things, I note an increasing recognition that the failure to develop policy is a obstacle to sustaining the gains of the left. It has not come a moment to soon. Will it lead anywhere? That is not clear but it is up to us to do what we can to contribute to that process.

      P.S. I have seen early drafts of draft statements from two of Labour’s policy commissions. The nicest thing that I can say about both is that they are drivel of the worst sort. If these statements see the light of day then everyone on the left needs to put their thinking caps on so that we can pounce on them and argue that they MUST NOT be accepted. We need robust policies not ambiguous, commitment avoiding, right-wing drivel with a few lefty sounding bits of rhetoric. Game on.

      1. John Penney says:

        Unfortunately the years of cuts implementation by Labour councils when for a while at least the “dented shield” argument had some validity , are long past. Today EVERY Labour council following the legal path of compliance with the ever more stringent central government cuts programme is cutting right into the heart of effective local service provision.

        The biggest council in the country, Birmingham, has, under its Labour council now cut 10,000n jobs and 30% of its budget since 2010 !

        Given this local government services meltdown (and its knock on impact on the NHS via the collapse of local social care provision), compliance with the Tory Cuts agenda cannot but be seen by local Labour voters as proof that “they are all the same – why bother to vote ?” . The all too common cronyist corruption of local government, across all political colours, but to which Labour is deeply implicated too in all too many Labour led “rotten borough” authorities, explains why turnout on local elections , and in by elections in particularly hard hit area like Stoke, is so low.

        The local government Labour councillor cohort within the Party is today , along with the PLP and the Party machine, the absolute bedrock of the neoliberal supporting Right and “anti Left Centre” . I do not for a moment expect any Labour Councilors today to “do a Clay Cross” or “Liverpool” in refusing to set a Cuts budget. Though if 50 Labour councils did so the Tories would not find it so easy to just “send in the commissioners”. That Labour will continue to administer the Tory Cuts agenda at local level is probably guaranteed. And if so, is one of the key reasons why Labour faces the real danger of an electoral wipeout of Scottish dimensions in England and Wales over the next five years. or so, both in Westminster, but also locally – with all manner of dodgy political opportunist parties, like UKIP, filling the void.

        1. David Pavett says:

          So your argument is that any Labour Council not refusing to apply legally binding cuts is engaged in “craven collaboration” with the Tories. This seems more like an expression of moral outrage than a political judgement to me.

          There are circumstances when defying the law can be the right thing to do but that depends on the balance of forces and the likelihood of some clear objectives being achieved and that these outweigh the obvious drawbacks and problems. That requires an evaluation that you don’t even begin to make. Moreover, before accusing Labour Councils and councillors of “craven collaboration” you should note that they have all received advice from the Labour Leader, Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Communities minister telling them not to set illegal budgets.

          1. John Penney says:

            I know that the current and all past Labour Leaderships advice has always been precisely to go along with whatever instruction the central government of the day instructs. Unfortunately the current government’s plan is to all but destroy local government as we have known it for generations – with the residual services contracted out as far as possible.

            So here we are finally, the “dented shield ” strategy of Labour councils has played itself out, and at a “tipping point for local service delivery – such that even lots of Tory councils are in a serious panic (eg Surrey, but many more).

            So Labour councils will keep on implementing austerity under the Tories, until even the bins aren’t collected more than monthly, ALL social care is gone, and every library and health centre, and sports facility is closed.

            The outcome of this “strategy” by Labour ? A ever increasing alienation of our working class voter base from Labour , such as exists already in Stoke and many other places. And ever more desperate lurches to a series of opportunist radical Right parties like UKIP.

            You may object to the expression “craven collaboration”, but whether it is with tears in reluctant eyes or with indifference as long as the expenses and fiddles are available, unless some major radical political upheaval across the UK changes the current line of march, the last task of the “going along with the diktat of the Tory government” Labour councilors in ten years or so time, will be to switch the lights off in town halls across the UK , as the last remaining local services are handed to the private sector and local democracy is disbanded on the basis of “no longer having a function”.

          2. David Pavett says:

            Illegal action is a big commitment and should only be undertaken when it is part of a wider political protest which it is likely strengthen and receive support from. Without that it is an empty moral gesture which does nothing for the people it is supposed to help and may well damage efforts at building opposition.

        2. Peter Rowlands says:

          A detailed exchange between David and John, albeit somewhat repetitious. I broadly agree with David, but let me add some points.
          It is not now possible to be a ‘Clay Cross’ type martyr.Yes, Labour councils could just abandon the field, but we should remember the result when this happened in a major way with the resignation of the Labour government in 1931.This was followed by the worst result for Labour since 1918, and it wasn’t just MacDonald’s betrayal. But it also reflects the failure, during the Miliband years and since, to build the sort of movement that could have seriously challenged the cuts. I am reminded of a quote from a Labour councillor who was not prepared to vote for an illegal budget on the grounds that he was not prepared to be a substitute for a movement that didn’t exist!
          Yes, some Labour councillors are right wingers who are prepared to manage cuts, and some who are only there for the status or money it provides, but in my experience most are dedicated to defending the services for their communities as well as they can, while seeking to pin the blame for the cuts where it lies with the Tories,although much more needs to be done here. Yes, serious damage has been done to the provision of local services, particularly those provided by Labour councils, which the Tories cynically knew would in part be blamed on those councils, although the interesting revelations from Surrey are perhaps an indication of Tory recognition that the cuts programme can not be indefinitely extended.

  5. John P Reid says:

    Your grow shows labour’s vote increased massively from 1983 also, there were boundary changes in 2005 and foot and mouth in 2001

  6. Bill says:

    Bill

    February 27, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Just posted this on the Guardian Comments section. We ALL need to stick together not accept the blame and put it right back on the PLP.

    If more can post in a similar way that would be great!

    “Look we really are not putting up with this narrative pursued again today, The so called ‘moderates’ have been in charge of the Labour Party and lead it to steady decline and the state it is today. They are entirely responsible for the low polls and as others have said , including Tom Watson Deputy Leader an unnecessary second election for Leader.

    The PLP have trashed their own party and made themselves unelectable by the public. Never mind any fears of deselection by the party.

    The real story of Labour if we had investigative journalism is that members in many areas are not prepared to campaign for these M.P.s and there are plenty of people of various persuasions in the party who would be grateful to do a better job than these spoilt MPs with their sense of entitlement.

    Of course they are not intersted in the future of the Labour Movement beyond their own careers. I predict more will leave to well paid jobs and by the way see how they get on there when they have to do what is required of them and produce results. Not set their own pay and hours and have a job for life no more interviews or work assessments. So hey welcome to the real world you deserve it.

    We will be on their backs now 24/7 making sure they don’t scapegoat The Leader and the membership for the state the party is in. They have since Jeremy Corbyn was elected drilled holes in the boat now they complain its sinking.

    In conclusion I am not interested in the trolls on here banging on about JC. They are not members of the Labour Party. Not going to vote Labour and if JC is so disastrous why not encourage us to keep him on? ”

    Bazza is totally right about paid trolls and its getting very serious because the media and establishment are trying to decide what sort of opposition party they are prepared to accept.

  7. Bill says:

    We ALL need to stick together not accept the blame and put it right back on the PLP.

    If more can post in a similar way that would be great!

    “Look we really are not putting up with this narrative pursued again today, The so called ‘moderates’ have been in charge of the Labour Party and lead it to steady decline and the state it is today. They are entirely responsible for the low polls and as others have said , including Tom Watson Deputy Leader an unnecessary second election for Leader.

    The PLP have trashed their own party and made themselves unelectable by the public. Never mind any fears of deselection by the party.

    The real story of Labour if we had investigative journalism is that members in many areas are not prepared to campaign for these M.P.s and there are plenty of people of various persuasions in the party who would be grateful to do a better job than these spoilt MPs with their sense of entitlement.

    Of course they are not intersted in the future of the Labour Movement beyond their own careers. I predict more will leave to well paid jobs and by the way see how they get on there when they have to do what is required of them and produce results. Not set their own pay and hours and have a job for life no more interviews or work assessments. So hey welcome to the real world you deserve it.

    We will be on their backs now 24/7 making sure they don’t scapegoat The Leader and the membership for the state the party is in. They have since Jeremy Corbyn was elected drilled holes in the boat now they complain its sinking.

    In conclusion I am not interested in the trolls on here banging on about JC. They are not members of the Labour Party. Not going to vote Labour and if JC is so disastrous why not encourage us to keep him on? ”

    Bazza is totally right about paid trolls and its getting very serious because the media and establishment are trying to decide what sort of opposition party they are prepared to accept.

  8. Judy Dickinson says:

    Weren’t there also boundary changes in Copeland in 2010 which added in Keswick?

    1. David Pavett says:

      Yes, but that change took effect in 2010 when, despite it, Labour retained the seat. It did so again in 2015.

  9. Bazza says:

    Thanks for this David and perhaps there is a correlation between Labour’s decline and the erosion of the mass industrialised working class in the late 1960s onwards as capital shifted production to less developed countries to enhance profit.
    I would argue that New Labour exacerbated the decline in the 90’s by taking working class communities for granted and the Right/Far Right were ready to try to advantage of this but I think apathy was the biggest gain; the largest group in the last General Election were non-voters.
    Of course politics in Labour too was professionalised – University to SPAD to safe Labour seat and working class people (unlike many Labour MPs from the working class and trade unions in the past) were simply not seeing themselves reflected in Parliament.
    So if we are honest we are in a dark place but must reflect and fight, coming from a working class background (and the first in my family to go to university as a mature student) you learn it is all we can do; all we have is each other.
    We are socialists, from our experiences, from reading, from our discussions, from our campaigning etc. we have worked out who has the power and how to get it back for working people but we are a minority of the population.
    It could be argued Neo- Liberalism/Thatcherism/Individualism has made a significant number of people selfish and all they think of is themselves whilst many on the Left think of ourselves yes (you have to) but we think of OTHERS too, perhaps that’s what makes us socialists, thinking of others in the UK and World.
    A significant number of people are perhaps also not political and aren’t particularly interested, they just get on with their lives and put up with things.
    Many people may even read The Sun and Mail and not even realise that it is a Pro-Tory paper and of course to try to prevent socialists effectively engaging with the public we are smeared by the Right wing press, things are distorted, exaggerated etc. etc. as Gramsci argued we are up against capitalist hegemony and capitalism/Neo-Liberalism is presented as the natural order of things.
    And the careerists in Labour join in the attacks on the genuine socialists after all they believe we need them ‘The Great men and women of history’?
    Oh and to make things worse the rich are now dominating in social media, alogorithms, what the Observer called “Cognitive Warfare” and we need to investigate what they are up to and match them whilst appealing to people’s better nature, as a lovely human being recently said: “Most people want to be kind.”
    And our coalition of working class and progressive middle class are set against each other by the powerful though they use the terms “working class” and “the metropolitan elite” whilst the Rich and Powerful and Right probably despise both.
    So what can we do; simple, reflect then fight!
    . I remember years ago helping in a Tony Benn by-election in Chesterfield and as Tony was being vilified by the media he bypassed them and had loads of community meetings and he won (and remember if the social mediaists etc. will get out from behind their computers from time to time we may have an advantage on the ground to talk to people face to face with our 543,000 members).
    . We need to communicate with the working class and progressive middle class people (and to try to win the general middle class to the progressive middle class) by using simple language, and in as few words as possible – so we try to communicate with millions (and harness audio and subtitles too).
    . We need to take JCs 10 policy statements and build 12 or so policy measures on each then have CLPs and affiliates take these out to their communities in open community consultation meetings so we have community engagement on topics up to the election.
    . We need more diverse working class candidates so out of 6 on Parliamentary Shortlists at least 2 should be working candidates (occupation parent/s), 2 women, 1BME/LGBT/Disabled.
    . We need to stop creating an elite in Labour (Labour MPs) – we seem make them into some sort of ‘adults’ as though we are mere ‘children’; and why not have a Deputy Leader who is a non-MP; and nominations for a Leader by (a) 10 MPs or (b) 50 CLPs or (c) x amount of affiliates; double the number of CLP places on NEC from 6 to 12 to give members more power; reform conference so members make policy annually; scrap the NPF and elect working parties by topic made up of academics, campaigners, service users (experts and experts by experience); and perhaps we have 3 strikes and you are out for those who attack Labour in public – we are all there to serve Labour and working people not ourselves!
    One final thought, May was ‘The Invisible Women’ in the EC Referendum (sat on he fence ‘though in theory was for Remain) and remember the Tories lost in the by-election in Richmond Park in a Remain area so perhaps Brexit and a potential £50b + Brexit Bill will need to be explained and at the same time 50% of City of London workers are from other EC countries (and the German Stock exchange has just pulled out of a deal with the London one) and 4/10 doctors in the UK who are from other EC countries in a survey (reported in the BMJ on-line) said they would go back home if Brexit goes ahead so things may not be as rosy for the Tories and Brexit may do for May the ‘BORN AGAIN BREXITEER!’
    Reflect brothers and sisters then fight!

  10. CraigieBhoy says:

    All is far from lost. Helen Clark is a big hitter in the UN, and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand. She wouldn’t have got that far if she hadn’t stood down several senior MPs within her own Labour Party urging her to quit in the face of 2% personal approval ratings and 15% support for the party in the mid-90s. In 1999 Clark won the election and won two more.
    Her bravery and belief won her the day.
    Jeremy has to show those qualities and battle on.

  11. Bill says:

    Its a bit different here. Our problem is the NEC not suspending Labour M Ps and others in the party over thrir conduct.

  12. Craig Stephen says:

    That didn’t happen in NZ either. The upstarts just got on with it.

  13. David Pavett says:

    A FURTHER NOTE ON LABOUR VOTES

    I thought that it would be useful to put the above graphs into a more general context. The graph below shows Labour’s share of the vote and its support from the total electorate for the UK as a whole.

    There are many points that could be made about this but I guess that many of them will leap to the eye. Just one thing: Labour’s failure to win in 1983 under Michael Foot is held up a left-wing disaster. Note that Labour actually got more support from the electorate as a whole in that year than it got after 13 years of Blair/Brown government. I have never heard Brown’s failure spoken of in the same terms of derision as are used about Foot. Could this be an example of biased political judgement?

    1. Dell says:

      This artcile went ahead and made my day.

  14. Bill says:

    I want to comment on what John Penney has said about Labour councillors implementation of cuts.He is absolutely right. If we campaign on the terrible tory cuts and “people will die” and then go on to impose these cuts then they can’t be as bad as we said they would.

    Imagine a new political party. Its candidates say that if elected they will not impliment cuts to social care. Would not that party and candidate be highly electable? I say tgey would. We cannot have any more cuts in social care need a consistent message and act on what we say.

    Yes of course social care can be reconfigured to the satisfaction of the users.

    I think or rather KNOW that Labour’s decline will be terminal if we carry on as we are.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Do you understand that refusing to implement the cuts will not result in those cuts being implemented? It will lead to the decisions about how the are implemented being made by bureaucrats rather than elected politicians. Do you think that will be understood and do you think it will win support for Labour?

      1. Bill says:

        I do David because otherwise we are going along and playing the same game. On councils where Labour is not the majority party presumably councillors are voicing their opposition and making a big thing of not voting for the cuts. If that brings to council into administration then that would be what happens.

        So are the cuts opposed out of political opportunism or genuine objection? Where we have a council where we have control or are the biggest party we need to be consistent. YES let the bureaucrats manage it.

        I think it was Nottingham Council that was threatened with their Education Service being taken off them. When they said fine you manage it guess what happened? Yea nothing.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Okay, that’s clear, you do understand. Sorry for asking but I come across many who say such things with no understanding. We can move on.

          I agree that it would be cheap and hypocritical to oppose cuts in opposition knowing that one would implement them if in power. It would, however, be possible to oppose specific cuts rather than cuts per say but this require one to specify the alternative cuts one would vote for.

          The most political and the most honourable thing would be to present a clear case, coming from the party nationally, explaining how the cuts can be avoided. Cuts forced on councils by central government could then be debated in that light. A motion along these lines would draw a line between willing executioners and those acting under duress. This would even give some, perhaps many, Tory councillors a problem and would be the basis for wider political activity. The missing element in this is that the party nationally is not spelling out a clear alternative.

          And that’s the point, without a political campaign and without a clear alternative programme poposing illegal budgets is mere posturing. And it is here that it is worth reflecting on the graphs gives above. One should ask would this action be understood and supported by the majority of the electors or at least would there be a realistic expectation that such support cold be won by campaigning. If the answer is negative then there is no basis for the action. Your idea, with the Nottingham example, that the government would roll over and provide extra cash seems to me to be clearly unrealistic – however much that makes me, in the eyes of some, into an advocate of craven collaboration.

          I would like to see a popular movement against the cuts. If such a movement gained real traction it could be the basis for srongly supported councils refusing cuts knowing that they will be replaced by officers but also knowing that the action would highlight the avoidabilty of unpopular cuts along with the Tory responsibilty for them. In that way cuts would become a properly political issue. There are no shortcuts to such a process and it is vital that a clear alternative is spelled out (something Labour so far has failed to do).

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