Labour Party

Why Labour may lose Batley and Spen

On 1 July we will see a crucial by-election for Labour in Batley and Spen, coming soon after Labour lost the Hartlepool by-election and did poorly in the May council elections. The by-election is happening because the sitting Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, won the West Yorkshire mayoral election. At the last election Labour won with 42% of the vote, and a narrow-ish majority of 3,000-odd the Tories. But right-wing pro-Brexit parties - the Tories, the Brexit Party and the Heavy Wollen District Independents - won over 50% of the vote between them. The Heavy Woollen District independents grew out of...

Sharon Graham, Unite and “workers’ politics”

Workers' Liberty members and supporters in Unite the Union have not yet decided who to collectively back and campaign for for Unite's General Secretary. For debate and discussion on the election, see here. Unite General Secretary candidate Sharon Graham’s proposals for “a Workers’ Politics” point in the wrong direction for the trade union movement. In many ways they represent a regression from Unite’s current political strategy. The wider output from her campaign mentions little in the way of political struggles and largely disparages political trade unionism in favour of “returning to the...

The Chesham and Amersham by-election and Labour

The Labour Party’s showing in the by-election in Chesham and Amersham, in Buckinghamshire - down from 12.9% to 1.6%, 622 votes, about the same as the number of Labour members in the constituency! - was certainly very poor. Contrary to widespread suggestions, however, it is not unprecedented. In the 2016 by-election in Richmond Park, South West London – also won by the Lib Dems on a huge swing from the Tories – Labour’s vote share fell from 12.3% to 3.6%. There have been other similar by-elections – for instance in Orpington in 1962, when Labour went from second to badly third and the Liberals...

Labour's youth support plummets, Greens' surges

Voting intention among 18-24 year olds, +/- since 2019 general election (YouGov, 9-10 June): Labour: 35% (-21) Green: 27% (+23) Conservative: 21% (-); Lib Dem: 12% (+1); SNP: 3% (-3); Reform UK: 1% (-) Other polls have also suggested sharply rising Green support among young people. The big shift is, surely, one result of Keir Starmer’s attempts to chase after mainly older voters (reckoned, rightly or quite often wrongly, to be tied to socially-conservative attitudes), by taking nationalistic and regressive positions, while having little to say about issues of economics and living standards...

Labour and antisemitism: now open up for education and debate

The Labour Party held its first training session on “Understanding Antisemitism” online on 14 June. Anyone expecting a training session which denounced all criticism of Israel as antisemitic, or which cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) examples of antisemitism (much and wrongly denounced as banning criticism of Israel) as sole and absolute criteria, would have had their expectations confounded. The session covered too much in too short a space of time. It leaned towards handed-down “training” rather than to opening up education and discussion. But if it encouraged at...

Gary Smith and Eleanor Marx: why calls for union disengagement from politics are not left-wing

New GMB General Secretary Gary Smith’s 7 June article in the Morning Star suggest he is part of the trend towards union leaders disparaging labour movement political engagement. Sharon Graham, backed by much of the radical left for Unite General Secretary, is also an example of this trend, strongly suggesting that Unite is too engaged with the Labour Party and with politics as such: more on her politics and campaign here. “Over the last five years”, Gary Smith writes, “the GMB’s membership has been allowed to decline as we paid more attention to faction fights within the Labour Party than the...

Tony Blair's new manifesto

I have just got round to reading Blair’s latest piece of writing in the New Statesman, partly because I really didn’t want to read any more of what he had to say. However, in the spirit of an open mind I read through the three pages of Blair philosophy. I can’t say I found anything in it to bring joy or hope to my heart. He seems determined to trash all the ground that the left has built up and is completely unwilling to see older left-wing philosophy as something to be cherished and fought for. He rightly speaks of free education in quotation marks, as everything ultimately needs to be paid...

Where Labour made gains on 6 May

Robina Baine was the Labour candidate in the Southwick Green ward of Adur District Council, a seat in which Labour had not run a proper campaign for years, instead standing "paper candidates" and not canvassing. This time, an active campaign secured a remarkable 20%+ swing from the Tories to Labour, winning the seat for Labour for the first time in fifty years. Janine Booth asked Robina to explain what happened... Tell us a bit about yourself … I’m a very ordinary 61-year-old, mother of four and teacher for most of my life. When the children were young, I gave music lessons from home. Then I...

Beating the Tories after 6 May

The Tories’ narrative about where they are taking UK politics and society is dishonest and incoherent. But it is a narrative, one strongly honed and consistently argued for. In contrast the leadership of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party seems to have pretty much nothing to say about the kind of society or even the policies it wants. That is surely an important part of why Labour suffered such serious defeats on 6 May. Attempts by the Labour right to claim the problem was the party not being right-wing enough must be “forensically” dissected and vigorously opposed. Already the Starmer leadership had...

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