Keir Starmer: if Tories and Liberal Democrats like him, he’ll be electoral poison for Labour.
How humiliating for new New Labour leader Keir Starmer.
A survey by Tory-run pollsters YouGov has given him an approval rating of +23 – higher than that of Boris Johnson – partly courtesy of people who vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat and have a vested interest in duff Labour leadership.
It is no reason for anybody associated with Labour to feel proud – and certainly doesn’t bode well for the party’s election chances.
New Labour leader Keir Starmer has been given a boost thanks to YouGov polling today that shows he has a net approval rating of +23, which is higher than that of Boris Johnson.
Asked whether they thought Keir Starmer was doing well or badly as leader of the Labour Party, overall 40% said “very well” or “fairly well” and 17% said “very badly” or “fairly badly”.
More Conservative voters said he was doing well than badly, at 34% and 25% respectively. Lib Dem voters were very positive about Starmer, with a higher percentage saying well (63%) compared to Labour voters (54%).
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
But then, perhaps we should not be surprised at this behaviour from the Liberal Democrats, in the light of this point by Dave Barlow:
well yellow tory @vincecable stole the Royal mail and sold it to his tory mates so a couple of leaflets shouldn't worry them
— dave barlow#Big Kahuna Burger (@davebarlow4) May 2, 2019
UPDATE: I’m told the Lib Dem candidate in the first clip won the seat. Who said cheats never prosper?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
“I might have remained “soft” Labour but for the perfect storm of Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit. The latter is quite simply anathema to me, not just because I’m the granddaughter of immigrants, but because I believe so strongly in freedom of movement, and that the evidence backs up the overwhelming truth that we are better off in the EU than we can possibly be out of it.
“The Momentum-propelled adulation of Jeremy Corbyn left me cold. I was also increasingly uneasy about the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and for the first time in my voting life I started to feel politically homeless.
“There has been a steady drumbeat from disgruntled Labour supporters looking to the Lib Dems over the past fortnight. A Lexit, you might call it, but not quite the one Jeremy Corbyn envisaged.
“Perhaps he should have listened to some of the 700,000 voices on the People’s Vote and Final Say March in October. I was one of them, protesting with the Lib Dems; I joined the party in August after a lifetime of supporting Labour.”
These were the words of Liz Jarvis in The Independent – and perhaps you think she was simply reflecting the feeling of the many Labour members and supporters we are being told are deserting the party because of Jeremy Corbyn’s opaque attitude toward Brexit.
But there’s a problem with the narrative:
Did you know that @LizJarvisUK – who has written this article attacking Jeremy Corbyn – used to work for Rupert Murdoch? She fails to mention this, as she declares her love for the Lib Dems, a party complicit in Tory cuts, Bedroom Tax and homelessness
Does anybody remember a song by The Police called Murder By Numbers? One of the verses went like this:
You can reach the top of your profession If you become the leader of the land For murder is the sport of the elected You don’t need to lift a finger of your hand.
That certainly rings true in the case of Amy Nice, who took her own life because she feared that her Universal Credit would be sanctioned away from her because pen-pushers at the Department for Work and Pensions might think she wasn’t doing enough to find work.
This is a young woman with kidney disease and attendant severe depression and anxiety. She should have been classified as having a long-term illness – and eventually was, but too late to do any good. DWP assessors had pressurised her into an early grave.
Ms Nice’s terror of losing benefits was due to the ratcheting-up of the sanctions regime at the DWP. On Twitter today, I learned a little about how that had happened. It seems the Liberal Democrats had agreed to it while in coalition government with the Conservatives in 2014 – in return for agreement to place a 5p tax on plastic bags at shops. Here’s Polly Mackenzie:
The Liberal Democrats had no qualms about increasing the threat to the lives of benefit claimants; they wanted a boost for their environmental credentials in time for their party conference – and nobody had to know about their grotty little deal.
Well, now we do.
It is because of this deal that people like Ms Nice have been going to their deaths with a regularity that makes the government that has been in place since 2010 one of the worst-ever killers of its own citizens. Thousands have died.
But nobody in power will ever admit responsibility; they’ll say these people took their own lives. And the reasons for suicide are complicated.
Coroner James Newman doesn’t seem to think so. He made it perfectly clear that Ms Nice took her life because she was “under pressure from the Department for Work and Pensions” and accepted that this “would play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of physical and mental illness.”
“A struggling young mum took her own life after she feared losing her benefits under the Government’s Universal Credit scheme, an inquest heard.
“Amy Nice, 21, had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety following a diagnosis for kidney disease but had felt ‘pressurised’ to find work under new rules for claimants.
“On October 24 last year, after months of financial worry, Amy wrote a suicide note saying she ‘couldn’t see a way forward’, dropped off her young son at school then hanged herself in woodland near her home in the village of Coppull near Chorley, Lancashire.
“At an inquest into her death, a coroner ruled the tragedy as suicide saying the risk of losing benefits would ‘play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of illness’.
“Coroner James Newman said: “She was under pressure from the Department for Work and Pensions – a source of income she relied on. The pressure was to get back to work or be able to prove she was searching for work.
“”In a person with her mental history I could understand that would be difficult. There is pressure that she could run the risk of losing her benefits and I can see that financial matters would play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of physical and mental illness.””
To the DWP and its lower-than-vermin minister Esther McVey, this means nothing.
She’d probably say the Department’s cruel threat of sanctions had “assisted” Ms Nice into a place where she could be happier. I refer, of course, to the grave.
And they will never – ever – consciously accept responsibility, even though it is plain for all to see that this woman died under threat from the DWP, which was acting on the orders of the Conservative government.
The ever-increasing ranks of the deceased are a demand for justice.
When will they get it?
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Vince Cable really is debasing himself and his party.
He knows the Labour Party has less anti-Semitism now – and Islamophobia, come to that – than when Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
He is simply playing up to the media- and Tory-led lies that have been claimed about Mr Corbyn and Labour.
And he won’t profit from it – because Mr Corbyn is more popular now than before his enemies in the Labour Party (and the Tories) kicked off their attack.
And we all know that Liberal Democrats love to support Tories – and lie to the public before they do.
The Liberal Democrat[s] would never prop up a coalition Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader adamantly confirmed this week.
Speaking to Jewish News Sir Vince Cable fired a warning shot to the opposition, claiming prejudice, including anti-Semitism seems to be “pretty severe” in the party, as he assured the community of “personal importance” to good relations.
He said “we’re very clear we would not be going into coalition with Corbyn-led Labour. Simple answer on Jeremy Corbyn, is no”, should there be another hung parliament at the next election.
The Lib Dem leader welcomed “attracting people who are disaffected” by Labour’s anti-Semitism row, saying he knows of “members of the community who used to support Labour who are now supporting us”.
Amanda Broom, who defected from the Tories, and Daisy Benson (right) the Lib Dems’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Yeovil, pictured in Chard town centre. Once again the Liberal Democrats are winning votes by making promises they have no intention of keeping [Image: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian].
It has been said that the Liberal Democrats are winning back votes in a big way because they are positioning themselves as the party of ‘Remain’; they want to stand for those who still want the UK to stay in the European Union.
What a bold statement!
As if the Liberal Democrats had any say at all in the matter. And even if they did, there is no guarantee that they would stand by their word.
Doesn’t anybody remember the Liberal Democrat promise not to increase tuition fees?
They had a chance to achieve this aim as part of the Coalition government they formed with the Conservatives – and what did they do instead?
They tripled tuition fees.
That isn’t all they did, either.
They sold off the Royal Mail – on the cheap – to hedge funds, if memory serves.
They supported the Tory austerity agenda to the hilt, no matter who it killed. That’s right – killed. The Liberal Democrats are as responsible for the Bedroom Tax deaths, the ESA deaths, and the jobseeker deaths, as Iain Duncan Smith and all his DWP minions.
Finally, voters need to remember that the current leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has made it absolutely plain that his party would go back into coalition with the Conservatives at the first opportunity to do so.
The Conservatives have positioned themselves as the party of Brexit. They are determined to steer the UK out of the EU, no matter what.
So what do you think the Liberal Democrats will do, if they go into coalition with the Tories?
That’s right, Remainers – you are following a falsehood.
The Liberal Democrats will betray you at their very first opportunity.
So why on Earth are you voting for them?
Lib Dem strategists are pinning their hopes for rebuilding after the dire results in 2015 on a resurgence in the south-west, their former heartland, where the party lost all 10 of its seats in the last election. Since then, the party has been quietly notching up its best council byelection results in 20 years, with a net gain of 28 seats compared with net losses for Labour of four seats, Ukip of three and the Conservatives of 33 seats.
On paper, this part of the country does not look like a happy hunting ground for the fervently pro-remain party, because of the high number of leave voters in the south-west. Yet more than half of those byelections gains were in the West Country, most recently in Taunton and Teignbridge in early December, with the seats all seeing swings upwards of 20%.
Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.
Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.
This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.
The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.
Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.
The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.
This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.
You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.
Iain Duncan Smith started writing his letter without a leg to stand on. Here it is – read it for yourself and see if you have any sympathy for his attitude.
Note that he admits the DWP has a “duty of care” to benefit claimants. It has taken years to get him to admit this and it will be very important if – for example – corporate manslaughter charges arise in the future.
Where he says the report’s authors admitted there was no evidence of a “causal link” between the WCA and suicide, he is of course being disingenuous. Iain Duncan Smith would not be satisfied with any evidence other than coroners’ findings that all 590 suicides mentioned by the report were attributed by the perpetrators to the work capability assessment. That was never going to happen.
But the report did examine other causes and eliminated them. While it states there is no direct evidence of a causal link between the WCA and suicide, the deaths certainly aren’t linked to any other cause.
Note also, Duncan Smith’s claim that the lack of a causal link was not reported in the media is not true.
The comment that there is no evidence the people with mental health problems underwent a WCA is covered in This Blog’s follow-up article, but for clarity I’ll repeat it here:
“Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) told This Writer that… the DWP’s response ‘reflects a basic misunderstanding of how you do this sort of analysis! Looking at WCA cases would be precisely wrong. You need to be able to control for selection – to do that here, [you] need to look at [the] whole population.
“’Let’s try [an] example. Does Coke make you fat? You can’t just look at people who drink coke & ask if they’re fatter, but if in areas where Coke [is]cheap, [and] people [are] on average fatter, *controlling for everything else*, that does tell you something.’
“So, in order to ensure that the correct cause is ascribed to any particular effect, those who carried out the study had to examine the health of the population as a whole, and eliminate elements that could relate to everybody, rather than just those who took the work capability assessment. They needed to rule out “unobserved confounding” – unseen elements contributing to the results.”
And that is precisely what they did.
Duncan Smith’s assertion that being sent back to work can “promote and protect health, and also reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence” is only accurate if the person doing the work is healthy enough for it – and, by definition, may not be applied to those whose mental ill-health has driven them to suicide.
Inaccurate WCA findings that claimants are “fit for work” or may be “fit for work” within a year of their assessment also mean that many ESA claimants will be sent back into the job market before they are healthy enough. In these cases, there can only be one result: Being sent back to work will make their health worse.
Of course it will; there is a reason they stopped working and claimed ESA in the first place. If that reason still applies, then sending them back to work can only have one result.
Anyone wanting to suggest that a large number of ESA claimants are committing fraud in order to avoid work should remind themselves of the facts: While a TUC survey has shown people think 27 per cent of the ‘welfare’ budget is claimed fraudulently, the government’s own figure is just 0.7 per cent. For ESA claimants it reduces even further, to 0.4 per cent. That’s one person out of 250, rather than roughly one in four – a big difference, especially when one considers the effect on their health of sending an ill person back to work prematurely, as Iain Duncan Smith appears to be advocating.
And then there is this:
The handwriting is appalling so This Writer will try to translate: “NB: There are some out there in the media and social media who have used raw figures to accuse the govt of outrageous [sic] action. I would hope that the committee would not seek to follow suit. I note that having introduced the ESA and the WCA, the Labour Party now seeks to attack it as though they had nothing to do with it. Surely the committee should seek to recognise the good intent of those engaged in this difficult area.”
Those engaged in this area have no good intent whatsoever – let’s get that clear from the start. Their intentions are well-covered in previous articles on This Blog, which I will forward to Frank Field and his committee.
As for “some out there in the media and social media who… accuse the government of outrageous action” – I think he means me.
How nice to have official recognition and how clever of him to describe his own behaviour accurately.
Outrageous action? That’s exactly right.
Iain Duncan Smith’s department practises ‘chequebook euthanasia’ – WCA assessors use psychological ‘nudge’ techniques to push the mentally-ill towards suicide in order to reduce the “burden” on society caused by these “useless eaters”.
Even Frank Field – chairman of the work and pensions committee who contacted Iain Duncan Smith over the Oxford University and Liverpool University allegations – has raised concerns about this behaviour:
It is outrageous.
Even more outrageous is the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is trying to deny it.
Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].
Did you think the Budget was the only important thing that happened yesterday (July 8)? Think again.
The European Parliament had its first-ever vote on the controversial TTIP trade deal between the EU and the United States – and, thanks to British Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it went against the will of the people.
Millions of us, across Europe, have demanded the removal of part of the proposed partnership agreement that allows corporations to take legal action against national governments if they pass laws that inhibit the firms’ profit-making ability.
But a compromise on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) secured a majority, with help from the UK’s Liberal Democrat and Conservative MEPs.
It was opposed by Labour, Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP MEPs
Stronger amendments, that were opposed to ISDS altogether, were kept off the agenda by procedural manoeuvres – leading to EU President Martin Schulz being accused of “shredding the rules of procedure”.
Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: “The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power.”
Campaigning group 38 Degrees released a press release stating: “We know exactly what the corporate lobbyists writing this deal want: they want us to go quiet.”
Instead, the group is proposing a series of actions to ramp up the pressure:
Another huge national day of action. “Enormous public pressure has been a huge factor in causing chaos around TTIP so far. We know that as soon as people get the facts, outrage follows. The more people that know, the more worried decision makers will be.”
Commission an expert report on TTIP, to throw in the face of anyone who says it is a good idea. “It’d give us a valuable chance at media coverage, and we can take out adverts in newspapers and online to expose the findings.”
Meet face-to-face with MPs to ask them directly where they stand on TTIP “and what they’ll do to represent the British public’s opposition.”
Get ready for MEPs to come back from their summer holidays and be ready to pile the pressure on them again. “As soon as they’re back, they need to be reminded about TTIP. We need to make sure that whenever the next vote is, we’re ready to step in.”
“To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest issues 38 Degrees members have ever taken on. Many people hear “trade deal” and their eyes glaze over. The acronyms and figures that fly out of the mouths of TTIP officials are designed to get people to switch off,” the 38 Degrees press release states.
“But when people like us hear what’s going on and choose to stand up, that changes everything. TTIP has gone from zero public awareness to huge public outrage. There’s plenty more we can do together to stop this awful deal.”
If you thought you had it bad under the Coalition then, as someone once said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
The Conservative victory in last night’s election has left many of us reeling – not just because of its disastrous implications for the future of the UK and its citizens, but because nobody saw it coming.
Some have blamed ‘shy’ Tory voters. These are selfish little liars who skew the polls by denying any intention to vote for the Nasty Party. In the case of yesterday’s vote, many will have done so against their own best interests.
So why did they do it? The most likely reason being touted overnight is the success of the Conservative Party’s big scare tactic: The lie that Labour would go into a coalition with the Scottish National Party in the event of a hung Parliament. Cameron made vague claims that this would hit everybody in the wallet and Middle England – already burdened by a £4,000 per year loss of earnings thanks to Tory austerity – turned into a tribe of ‘shy’ Tories.
With the polls duly skewed, there was no way for Ed Miliband and Labour to know that their strategy wasn’t going to work for them, so they carried on. Britain fell into the Tory trap and now David Cameron has a slim majority.
And we are all in deep, deep trouble.
For supporters of the SNP, the disappointment must be the most bitter. Still, they supported a party with the most contradictory message of all – vote SNP in Scotland because Labour is bad, so that the SNP can go into coalition with Labour MPs from everywhere else because Labour is good.
It seems likely the most straightforward reason they voted SNP is because they had been whipped into a frenzy of righteous indignance about the independence referendum, believing the SNP propaganda that Labour was “in cahoots” with the Conservative Party – not just over the referendum but on general policy as well; ‘Red Tories’ was the SNP brand on Labour.
(Of course, others responded by labelling the SNP ‘Tartan Tories’. It is ironic that all this bickering resulted in the real Tories seizing power.)
So Scottish voters believed an SNP lie about Labour, and the knock-on effect was that English (and some Welsh) voters were convinced by a Conservative lie about Labour and the SNP. This created a domino effect which eventually meant that every single Scottish seat could have gone to the SNP, and the UK would still have ended up with a Tory government.
Is Nicola Sturgeon proud of herself? She seems to be. One is led to wonder how her party will respond to Tory legislation, when Parliament resumes.
Interestingly, Jon Craig (of Sky News) tweeted: “Tory at East Renfrewshire count: ‘Nicola Sturgeon has won more votes for the Conservatives in England than she has for the SNP in Scotland.'”
If anything, the election has demonstrated that Conservative/Coalition policy has created an atmosphere of division in the UK, greater than at any time in our history. Nationalism is on the rise, with Scotland keen to secede from the union and the UK as a whole heading for a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.
The SNP result should also signal the death-knell of the First Past The Post voting system in this country – although its demise is likely to be protracted (the Tories will fight tooth and nail to keep it). Where’s the fairness in a system that can deliver 56 seats to the SNP with 1.5 million votes, and only one seat to UKIP, with nearly four million votes?
(This Writer supports neither party, as previous articles on this blog make all-too-clear. Facts are facts.)
It will also be interesting to see what impact – if any – the Coalition’s ‘individual voter registration’ has had on the number of people who voted. Also, how many people didn’t bother to vote “because it never changes anything”?
Come to that, what about all those people who were forced to move out of affluent areas because they couldn’t pay the Bedroom Tax (which will, of course, continue)? Did they move into Labour constituencies?
We could be looking at interference in the electoral process on an industrial scale.
Feel free to disagree with the free pass this image gives to Scottish voters if you like; the claim about voters in England is absolutely on the button.
Overall, the situation is best summed up by ‘Grumpy David’ on Twitter: “Seriously, who’s looked at the last five years and gone yeah, more of that please?”
What of the future?
Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK tweeted that a Tory victory would mean neo-feudalism is on its way in England, the union will be broken (with Scotland seceding), and the UK will leave the EU. He also predicted an economic crisis within a year.
Europe will be a major issue for the Conservatives now. With no Liberal Democrat partners to blame for government decisions, Cameron will be exposed to attack from his own backbenchers – many of whom are raving Europhobes.
Everyone on benefits will suffer, including those in work. Rachel Martin tweeted: “If exit polls are accurate I advise you not to be poor, not to be ill, not to be old and not to be in need of a job.”
The Tory victory means the end of the welfare state as we know it: People who deserve compassion will get none. Instead they will suffer £12 billion of cuts. Many thousands will die for the sake of a few pennies.
And the NHS? Privatised. With the provisions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that will lock that privatisation into international law. Here’s Jacob Richardson: “Imagine seeing rape crisis shelters being closed and children’s palliative care being sold off to Virgin Healthcare, and wanting more of it.”
Workers’ pay will take a hammering – and our ability to protest and get a fair deal will be removed, along with the rest of our rights according to the Human Rights Act. They will be replaced by a ‘Bill of Rights’ telling us more about what we can’t do than what we can.
The Labour Party will need to get its act together quickly. Probably the best thing to do is get right back out to the general public and get confirmation of why the vote went to the Tories. Was Labour policy too close to the party’s arch-rivals, as some have surmised? Did people feel Labour wasn’t offering a genuine alternative? There will be a conflict between the neoliberal Blairites and traditionalists, and it is important that traditional Labour wins. If there’s one thing to learn from the SNP victory, it’s that a genuinely left-wing, anti-austerity platform delivers a massive victory at the moment.
The Liberal Democrats have been destroyed as a Parliamentary political party – and rightly so. The message for others to take away is that any form of compliance with Conservatives is fatal. The Tories will shift blame for anything bad onto their partners and contrive to win more votes.
UKIP is also a spent force. Despite increasing its vote share, its representation in Parliament has been halved. Voters will see this and abandon.
The SNP has taken on the role that the Liberal Democrats enjoyed at the 2010 election. They were the darlings of the voters this year but will lose out when it becomes clear that they cannot deliver a single promise – and, in fact, their victory in Scotland ensured that they would not be able to do so.
Finally, what can we do – the public?
We need to watch the Conservatives – and any of their known collaborators – hawkishly. We need to build up information about them, their policies, and any other interests – including and especially those that are less than legal (and there will be a lot of this). They won because the public believed them. It is important to undermine that trust with the facts.
We need also to ensure that the Liberal Democrats do not stage a comeback. That party betrayed the people and must be consigned to history. Again, we need to monitor the behaviour of its members and work to make sure the public is not gulled into a false sense of trust.
And it would be good to start thinking about the kind of country we would create, if we had the chance – and what steps we could take to build it. This may seem like pie-in-the-sky at such a dark point in our nation’s history, but it is only with careful and clever planning that anybody achieves anything.
We are in a very dark pit at the moment – dug for us by the Conservative Party. At least we can take heart that, from here, the only way is up.
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