Jezza did it, and now it’s our turn

During the recent Labour Party leadership election campaign I was consistent in my support for Liz Kendall. I was also consistent in stating that whoever was successful they would get my full support. I think it is for all of us who want a Labour Government to get behind the leader, and I fully intend to do what I can to see that it is Jeremy Corbyn who resides at 10 Downing Street after the next General Election.

I still believe that Liz Kendall represented our best chance of success come 2020, and I think that we, the Labour party, has chosen to take the most difficult route to success. However, there is no getting away from the huge mandate that Mr Corbyn now enjoys within the party, and we have to translate this into votes; next May provides an interesting test (especially in my ward!)

There is cause for optimism; the huge growth in our membership (which I can attest has seen our numbers more than double in Southend-on-Sea alone) should auger well for the many campaigns ahead. I am looking forward to working with the newest recruits, who are bound to give fresh energy to our campaigning.

The leadership campaign was a mixed affair, in my opinion. It was too long, fought too soon after the May defeat. However, I have mixed views over the number of hustings, which must have been wearying for the four candidates (as well as for the five who contested the deputy leadership), and it must have entailed a lot of repetition. But, with the numbers attending these it clearly demonstrated an appetite amongst activists and interested persons for public debate.

Jeremy had a very good campaign. It demonstrated that social media is having a significant impact, and his brand of pure socialism has certainly gained traction. He was also successful, I believe, because of the tone of his campaign – his occasional apparent amateurism leant him an authenticity that his three opponents just could not match. You knew that he believed in what he was saying, which is a rare commodity in some political circles.

I think his stances on some topics will have to change, evolving into something a little more palatable to the wider electorate. A pragmatist myself, I see nothing wrong in accepting that to achieve success a little compromise is sometimes needed.

As for Liz – well, I have to accept comprehensive rejection. I hope she will have a part to play in future, and she should, when the time is right, re-visit her decision about not serving in a Corbyn-led shadow cabinet. She should be acknowledged for her role in creating the lively debate in the contest, and at least she stood for change. Hers was as radical an alternative as Corbyn’s, and it certainly does no-one any favours to have four identical flavours to select from. She also refused to buckle under pressure, and perhaps she may yet be our first substantive female leader.

Which leads me to the issue of gender. The Labour movement can be extraordinarily conservative at times, and to have no females in any of the really big positions is surely something that has to be addressed at some point.

Here are the recent polls, which show a small bounce for Labour. UKIP are still showing impressive numbers, and the Greens are falling away somewhat. It is earlier days yet, though, and only so much can be read into these numbers.

Lab Con LDem UKIP Grn
25 August 2015 ComRes 28 42 8 9 6
14 September 2015 ICM 32 38 8 13 3
20 September 2015 ComRes 30 42 7 13 3
20 September 2015 YouGov 31 39 6 16 3
20 September 2015 Opinium 32 37 6 14
24 September 2015 Ipsos MORI 34 39 9 7 4
30 September 2015 ComRes 30 39 9 12 4
02 October 2015 YouGov 31 37 7 17
average 31.0 39.1 7.5 12.6 3.8

We have had a good debate, and it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is keen to continue this. I for one look forward to taking part in the many discussions to come. I am sure some heat will be generated, just as I am sure that most will respect alternative outlooks, and the need to agree and work as a team. Divided we stand no chance. We have a long four and a half years in front of us, which will not only see radical changes to public services and welfare, but also see changes to our democracy that are designed to make it tougher for us, Labour, to succeed. If we are to kick the Tories out of national government, as well as ejecting them from local authorities, then we will have to roll our sleeves up and work – all of us, from all wings of our movement.




Labour leadership contests timetable announced

The timetable for the election of a new Labour leader and deputy have been announced, and I reproduce it below.

To be honest, I would have been tempted to have a more aggressive timetable (I think one of the failures in 2010 is that we spent far too much time looking at ourselves, allowing the Tory narrative to remain unchallenged for months). I would have also considered running the deputy contest afterwards, not alongside, the leadership contest. This would have allowed the runners-up to consider applying to be the deputy.

Last time I managed to get to two of the leadership hustings in person, and I hope to do similar this time around. Who knows? Maybe one of the hopefuls might even visit Southend!

Friday 15 May Election Period Opens
Monday 8 June PLP Nomination Hustings for Leader
Tuesday 9 June PLP Nomination Hustings for Deputy Leader
Tuesday 9 June PLP Nominations Open
12 noon Monday 15 June PLP Nominations (Leader) Close
12 noon Wednesday 17 June PLP Nominations (Deputy Leader) Close
Wednesday 17 June Hustings period opens
12 noon Friday 31 July Supporting Nominations Close
12 noon Wednesday 12 August Last date to join as member, affiliated supporter, or registered supporter
Friday 14 August Ballot mailing despatched
12 noon Thursday 10 September Ballot closes
Saturday 12 September Special conference to announce result

Reaction to that vote

I am hearing of rumblings within my own party about the vote in the council chamber yesterday. It is no exaggeration to say that some are angry, others disappointed, some confused. Some can understand and support what we did.

Firstly, it is important to state that we were unanimous, both in our discussions beforehand and during the vote. Our view was that we campaign to remove the Tories from power in Southend, and that was what we tried to do in the vote.

I have been asked why we did not put up a candidate. To stand any chance of success we had to have one candidate; two or more would only have made Nigel Holdcroft’s attempts to cling to power a lot easier. It then comes down to a judgement call as to whether a candidate from the fourth party would either have been credible or unifying.

Given that we did not put up, we were then faced with three choices: Conservative, Independent, or abstention.

We will be debating within Southend Labour this decision, and I am acutely aware of the problems that the Lib-Lab coalition caused within the party in the 1990s. I will not shy away from the debate, and hope that I can at least convey that it was not an easy decision for us. I think the wider populace will see that we compromised to try to rid the town of its failing ruling Tory elite. I am not for the comfort of opportunistic opposition – if you want real change you have to be prepared to compromise.

I have come in for criticism from the Tories; I have not been shy from expressing my views about the Independents and their anti-politics stance. I still hold that view. My vote for Ron Woodley is not an endorsement, merely pragmatism.

To view wider reaction I suggest the following reads:

Leadership election

How many councillors does Blenheim Park have??

Falling at the first hurdle

Lib Dems tell Southend Tories to clean up their own mess

Lib Dems and Dr. Vel allow Tories to retain control of Southend Council

Lib Dems show their true colours!

Yellow Bellied Yellow Buddies: If You Don’t Stand For Something, You’ll Fall For Anything.

Tories hold on to power in Southend