Two days is a long time in pre-election politics
On 28th November Francis Elliott’s triumphalist article in the Times heralded a seat-by-seat analysis based on polling by YouGov for The Times.
But two days later, a BMG poll which questioned 1,663 voters between 27 and 29 November showed that the Conservative lead had ‘narrowed sharply’ (Reuters) – halved when compared with last week’s poll.
Robert Struthers, BMG’s head of polling, said “If this trend continues, this election could be much closer than it looked just a matter of weeks ago.”
Rob Merrick (Independent) points out that the results come at the end of a week when Mr Johnson has faced further criticism on several counts, compounding earlier allegations, including:
- his appalling attitude to single mothers and working-class men
- his unwillingness to face Andrew Neil.
- the early release from prison of the London Bridge attacker and
- his relationship with Donald Trump, who will arrive for a NATO summit in London on Tuesday.
Robert Struthers said there was growing evidence Labour is “starting to build momentum” ahead of the election on 12 December. 73% of those who backed the party at the 2017 election now planning to do the same on 12 December – up from 67% a week ago.
The change in direction is shown above and BMG’s headline voting intention figures take the Conservative lead from a likely majority into possible hung parliament territory. Will this continue and take the Labour Party into the lead?
For years Stroud District Council has been led by a cooperative alliance of the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat parties – a ‘rainbow alliance’ (below).
Last May. Gloucestershire County Council’s agenda and minutes post recorded that Cllr Lesley Williams and Cllr Rachel Smith advised that the Labour and Green members had formed a political group called the Labour and Green Cooperative Alliance. They explained that under the arrangement the Labour and Green members would work cooperatively but would continue to look at issues on an individual basis.
Professor John Curtice summarised the electoral maths: almost half the nation voted for broadly progressive parties in 2015 (49% backed Labour, the LibDems, Greens, SNP or Plaid Cymru, while 51% chose the Tories or Ukip). He considers the impact of a coalition with even one ‘minor party’.
Labour MP Clive Lewis and Green MP Caroline Lucas noted that in the 2017 general election more than 40 local alliances were formed, where almost exclusively Greens put the national interest before that of their party.
It had a huge impact on the vote – more than doubling the average swing away from the Tories.
They pointed out the challenges we face:
- markets that are too free
- a state that can be too remote,
- a democracy that still leaves so many voices unheard
- and climate change on a scale our people and our planet simply can’t cope with.
Continuing: “It will take a politics that is social, liberal and green to overcome these challenges. No single party or movement has all the answers. We are going to have to learn to cooperate as well as compete to build the society of which we dream. And we are going to have to recognise that the future is not a two-party system but one in which smaller parties grow – both in influence and in their electoral representation”.
They point out that the millions of young people who voted live in a world of social media in which their identities and allegiances are permanently in flux. They like and they share. They flock to one idea, group or party and then another. A politics that is purposeful but also responsive, open and collaborative is needed.
The case for an alliance between ‘progressive’ parties, has been described by Simon Jenkins (above right) as unanswerable:
“In 2015, 49% of voters went for broadly progressive parties, including Labour, the Lib Dems and nationalists. But at elections they fight each other as rivals. As a result, 40 to 50 seats that might have gone to a single left-wing candidate went Tory.
Then, as now, Westminster tribalism won. Machismo required Labour “to contest every seat in the land”. That is apparently more important than denying the Tories a strong majority – let alone winning elections.
MPs Lewis and Lucas end:
“We are from different parties and different political traditions – and we celebrate that because, while we share so much, we can learn much more from each other. If we work together there is nothing progressives can’t achieve.
“The limits of the old politics are there for everyone to see – the limitlessness of the new we are just starting to explore.
People on the mailing list of this website are drawn from many areas of Britain and visitors come from several countries (opposite: eleven in May), the overwhelming majority from America.
British readers, expats and other well-informed readers are asked to send, via comments, any other examples of an effective co-operative alliance within councils and parliaments.
As Steve Beauchampé writes in the Birmingham Press and Political Concern, generations of an elite have ruled this nation (with a few intermissions) for as long as anyone can remember, due to a rigged electoral system.
Their dual achievements:
- comfortable tax arrangements for the few, a political/corporate nexus which ensures highly paid and nominal duties for all in the inner circle
- vast military expenditure bestowed on the arms industry, as rising numbers of the population survive in relative poverty, wait in hospital corridors, receive a sub-standard education and depend on handouts to eke out their existence.
Direction of travel
Beauchampé: “(The) economy is increasingly kept afloat by the economic support of China . . . The modern high-rise residential blocks that have sprung up throughout the capital may give the impression of a modern, flourishing economy, but look closely and you will see that many are all but empty, whilst homelessness and a reliance on subsistence level housing grows . . . “He notes that surveillance is at an historic high with spy cameras, and even microphones installed in many public places -describing the state’s ability to track the population and follow their activities and conversations as ‘frightening’. . .
The elite stranglehold could be broken
OB’s editor agrees with many that electoral reform is a priority for beneficial change – but even under the rigged ‘first past the post’ system, if the weary mass of people (Brenda of Bristol) saw the true situation they would vote for the candidate with a credible track record who would be most likely to work for the common good.
Calls for a progressive alliance are coming in. Today, a Green House alert included news that the case for cross-party working and why it could be a game-changer will be examined on 2-4 September at the University of Birmingham (Edgbaston campus) at the Green Party’s Autumn Conference, when Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, will be joined on the panel by Labour MP Lisa Nandy, former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Chris Bowers, Neil Lawson, Chair of Compass, and Rupert Read, Chair of the Green House think-tank.
Professor Paul Rogers has reflected on the shifting of the tectonic plates:
“Within the Labour Party, ward after ward is witnessing the impact of new membership but, more importantly, seeing a remarkable degree of anger at what the government has enacted since the election and the palpable lack of opposition by Labour in the midst of its protracted leadership campaign. Many Labour members (Ed: and many not in the party) are angry at:
- the intended review of NHS funding involving accelerated privatisation,
- the sell-off of housing-association stock,
- the constant blaming of the “feckless poor”
- and the renewed assault on labour rights.
At the same time, inheritance tax is reduced, bank bonuses are rising, tax avoidance is the order of the day, and the Financial Conduct Authority looks set to relax even its modest regulatory grip. Among these and many other indicators of a move to the right, no wonder the Tories’ claimed long-term aim of a “living wage” is treated with deep suspicion.
Journalist and documentary producer Peter Hitchens sees the need for a new approach as “both major parties have been taken over by the same cult, the Clinton-Blair fantasy that globalism, open borders and mass immigration will save the great nations of the West”.
He continues: “It hasn’t worked. In the USA it has failed so badly that the infuriated, scorned, impoverished voters of Middle America are on the point of electing a fake-conservative yahoo businessman as President”.
Many will agree with Hitchens’ reflection that – so far – we have been gentler with our complacent elite, perhaps too gentle. He sees the referendum majority for leaving the EU as a deep protest against many things and forecasts:
“If Mr Corbyn wins, our existing party system will begin to totter. The Labour Party must split between old-fashioned radicals like him, and complacent smoothies from the Blair age. And since (Blairite Labour MPs) have far more in common with Mrs May than with Mr Corbyn, there is only one direction they can take. They will have to snuggle up beside her absurdly misnamed Conservative Party.
“And so at last the British public will see clearly revealed the truth they have long avoided – that the two main parties are joined in an alliance against them. And they may grasp that their only response is to form an alliance against the two big parties. Impossible? Look how quickly this happened in Scotland”.
Media 62: A well-kept secret? Government proposal to intervene to invest local government pension funds in projects such as HS2
A Lancashire UNISON reader mentioned this recently and an online search confirmed a message which I had found hard to believe:
Government proposals to force the 89 local government pension funds to invest in infrastructure projects have prompted over 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for a debate in Parliament, says UNISON today (Friday).
The proposals are part of the government’s attempt to create six new multi-billion pound British wealth funds. UNISON is concerned that the move could take away funds’ ability to invest in the best interests of local government pension scheme (LGPS) members.
If these changes come into force, it could mean the new funds replace government funding for roads, bridges and railways, which might not give LGPS members the best possible return, says UNISON.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It’s time ministers granted a debate in Parliament on the future of the local government pension scheme. No other pension fund in the UK has this level of interference, and it’s important that MPs can scrutinise proposals affecting one of the largest schemes in the UK.
“There must be proper consultation on the introduction of the new wealth funds, one that must involve unions in any investment decisions.
“Ministers must allow council pension funds to make their own decisions on where they invest the current and future pension pots of care workers, teaching assistants and social workers, and allow them to get the best return.”
The ‘thin end of the wedge’?
From the government’s response to the petition here:
We have recently consulted on proposals to grant the Secretary of State a power of intervention . . .
(Department for Communities and Local Government) Councils must invest local government pension scheme funds in the best interests of scheme members. The Government has no intention of setting targets for infrastructure investment or removing the right of individual pension fund authorities to make their own decisions about strategic asset allocation. However, the pooling scheme assets announced at the July 2015 Budget will improve their capacity to invest in infrastructure, as well as achieving significant cost savings, while maintaining returns. (Ed: weasel words follow)
We expect that the power to intervene would be used exceptionally when there was clear evidence that a pension fund authority was not acting reasonably and lawfully.
The Government is currently considering the responses to the consultation.
– The text of the parliamentary petition is available here. Nearly 103,000 people have currently signed the petition.
Alan Weaver T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: email@example.com
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
As news comes in that over 50 CLPs have voted to support Jeremy Corbyn, another side of the coin has been revealed.
A new Labour Party member, who joined because of Jeremy Corbyn’s principled track record, went to a “hustings” meeting this week. She writes:
“There were about 170 people present from all wards of the constituency. They allowed 3 minute speeches from supporters of both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith – equal numbers – and judging from a ‘clapometer’ perspective, the JC supporters were in the majority, probably two thirds to one third.
“The invitation to the event had said there would be a ballot but, when we got to that part of the agenda, the chair stated that, at a previous meeting (a year ago) it had been decided that there would not be a vote.
“As people objected to this proposal, there was a show of hands of who wanted to vote and who didn’t, probably about 50:50 or 60:40 for those who wanted to vote. Yet the chair, who counted the hands announced that the numbers were 57:36 in favour of not voting – a total of 93, when almost double that number were present.
“She obviously made a mistake, onlyans giving figures for one side of the room where there were more OS supporters, but was this deliberate?
“The meeting was called with a view to endorsing one or the other of the candidates. They failed to do this, when they saw the pro-JC mood of the meeting, saying that those present didn’t represent the whole constituency anyway, with some on holiday or unable to make it, so they wouldn’t proceed to a ballot.
“I can’t believe that this type of manipulation happened. It will be interesting to see which way the vote eventually goes when the whole membership sends in their official ballots.”
In Canada, Britain, Greece, Italy and Spain, ‘a sense of revulsion at the political elite’ is leading a popular vote for those seen as trustworthy candidates, who care for the 99%.
In the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders has gained 60% of the vote, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 38%. As noted earlier on this site, Sanders has a Corbyn-like appeal for younger voters and is attracting far larger audiences than expected. He has assembled an online fundraising operation and ‘electrified’ the youth vote with promises of a “political revolution” that would bring Scandinavian-type policies to the US.
The Times reports that, in a speech to his supporters after the contest, Mr Sanders said the result marked a new era, adding: “What the people here have said is that given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for the same old, same old establishment politics and establishment economics”.
“A message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington”
Sanders’ message that that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their Super PACs [political action committees] and that the economy is rigged in favour of a “billionaire class” struck a chord among New Hampshire voters who did not trust Mrs Clinton and her ties to Wall Street, reference being made to the “1%”.
According to exit polls, income inequality and jobs – two central themes of the Sanders campaign – were the top issues for Democrat voters. More than half said they were dissatisfied with the current state of politics. Just as people in Britian cared more about a candidate’s trustworthiness than about experience or electability, the same ranking of priorities has favoured Bernie Sanders.
Corbyn and Sanders offer the hope of peace and justice to a divided people, currently exploited by the wealthy 1%.
He conveniently omits to acknowledge the impact of the attack on Iraq in 1992 – well before 9/11/2001. It was followed by an illegal and ruinous invasion in 2003 and illegal detention and torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and less well-known prisons.
He said: “I think we need a clarity of what we mean by extremism” – the actions mentioned above are extreme and over time an extreme response to them has materialised.
Then he added that what we need is people involved in our schools who buy into British values of freedom, democracy, free speech :
Freedom: Babar Ahmad imprisoned in Britain without charge for years
Democracy: ignoring a million strong protest against the second Iraq war
Free speech: as long as it doesn’t ‘rock the boat’ & is politically correct.
Second, Mr Cameron should tone down his extreme support for Israel, which slaughtered over 2000 Palestinians in five weeks and has inflicted many hardships on those living in the occupied territories – except those living well in the illegal Israeli settlements.
Finally he can apologise for Britain’s part in executing young and old without trial by drone strike.