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Should the Starmer project be over after Labour’s dull local election result?

Keir Starmer: the compressed lips indicate he thought he had said the wrong thing. This seems highly likely, considering his party’s performance in the English local elections.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is celebrating after it increased its number of council seats in England by 25 per cent (against the number it won in 2019).

But what do his MPs really have to celebrate?

Sure, the Conservatives have lost more than 1,000 seats (1,058, to be precise – so far). But in proportionate terms, Labour trailed the other parties – the Liberal Democrats increased their seats by 33 per cent (with almost as many seats gained as Labour) and the Greens actually more than doubled their number of seats (that’s all in comparison with the number the parties won in 2019, of course).

And has it improved Labour’s chances of winning a general election?


Not according to Sky‘s forecasters, anyway:

The article states:

Based on analysis of change in vote share across 1,500 wards Labour is the most popular party with 36%, with the Conservative share 29%, Lib Dems with 18% and others standing at 17%.

Labour would be on course to become the largest party at the next election.

It would gain 95 seats – to an improved total of 298 in this projection – the highest number since Labour won the 2005 general election, but 28 short of an overall majority.

In other words, no matter what shadow ministers or other party representatives might say, Labour has not won the victory it needed.

And the party’s critics have been quick to point this out:

The result could indicate that voters are tired of living in a two-party state – especially when the largest two parties have many policies that are practically indistinguishable.

Labour didn’t even get a majority of seat gains:

In the article, he stated:

He told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “For me personally, I really hated selling myself to the membership and I much prefer leadership decisions as leader of the Labour Party. I’m much more comfortable in this than I am in the campaign.”

He instantly backtracked, of course – because he realised it isn’t appropriate for a leader to admit he considers himself above begging for votes among his party members:

Asked by the surprised podcast hosts whether he hated the campaign or the members, Starmer said: “Oh no, I didn’t say I don’t like the mem– what I don’t like is selling myself to the membership.”

He clarified: “You’re in your own party and you’re up against colleagues, and very good colleagues, who you like. And it is a very odd thing to do. I’m very glad that that part of it is over, I have to say.”

Hmm. Did he really like those colleagues? He had said he liked former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, but that has turned out to be untrue.

And how well did he like Rebecca Long-Bailey, one of his fellow 2020 leadership candidate who he appointed to the shadow cabinet and then sacked without discussion after she shared on Twitter an interview with Maxine Peake, who said US police had learned from the Israeli security services how to kneel on people’s necks (a reference to the George Floyd killing, if I recall correctly).

In fairness, the claim had been linked to a report by Amnesty International but the organisation said it had not made any such statement. Long-Bailey, after describing Ms Peake as an “absolute diamond” had stated that she did not endorse everything in her interview.

When it became clear that Starmer was planning to take disciplinary action, Long-Bailey claimed, she asked to discuss matters with him before agreeing what further action to take – but “sadly he had already made his decision”.

That doesn’t seem particularly friendly – or the action of a thoughtful, balanced leader.

It is symptomatic of a leadership that is best characterised by its purges of left-wing party members (most often under accusations of anti-Semitism, often of dubious value) and its rejection of the pledges Starmer made in order to “sell” himself to the party members – the same members he has been busily removing.

And what did those members do at the local elections?

Oh, yes…

That’s right – councillors purged by Starmer, who went on to stand as Independents, won resounding victories, including over the Labour candidates in their wards.

And that also feeds back into possible general election results – especially in any poll involving that former party leader mentioned above:

So whichever way you look at it, the local election results have been mostly bad for Keir Starmer and his Labour Party.

You wouldn’t think so, to hear him and his cronies talking.

But then, he promised to continue Jeremy Corbyn’s policies and ditched them – with the most recent being his announcement that he won’t oppose university tuition fees any more.

So we know that Keir Starmer’s words aren’t worth the air he uses to utter them. Perhaps that’s why his support at the local elections was so lukewarm.

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Dire day for Tories – so why were the pundits hammering Labour?

[Image: BBC]

[Image: BBC]

Own up: How many of you stayed up into the wee hours to watch TV coverage of the local council elections?

If you did, you would have witnessed a curious phenomenon. As the Conservative Party lost seat after seat (at the time of writing they have lost 113 seats altogether) and Labour won seat after seat (currently 125 seats better-off), the pundits sitting around David Dimbleby on BBC1 started telling us this put Labour in the poor position!

This, we were told, was because UKIP’s performance heralded the arrival of “four-party politics” – but does anybody believe that? UKIP won protest votes against the UK Coalition government’s policies at a time when elections to the European Parliament were also taking place. Anti-immigration feelings have been stirred up and people have been led to believe – wrongly – that a vote for UKIP will cut off the flow.

In fact, UKIP did damage Labour in areas like Swindon, where they took working-class votes and enabled the Conservatives to hold that council with a slightly increased majority.

But the ‘Purple Peril’ did far more damage to the Conservatives, with Essex Man and Woman voting very strongly for it.

What does this mean, translated to the Westminster Parliament?

The answer is, it’s difficult to judge. Turnout was only around 36 per cent – half the number who take part in a general election – because faith in democracy is so low. This means any predictions are more likely to be wrong than right.

But if the results are replicated, then the Conservative Party will lose seats to UKIP and it is possible that Labour will become the majority party in a Hung Parliament, and then…

… UKIP will do a coalition deal with the Conservatives because Nigel Farage wants a taste of power, and we’ll end up with five more years of David Cameron.

We know they’re already talking about it because Michael Gove has denied it.

To avoid this, Labour will have to consolidate its gains and show that it can make a real difference where it wins.

A good start would be to cut the harmful social policies in Hammersmith and Fulham, which Labour took from the Tories last night. H&F was once dubbed David Cameron’s favourite council. Why? Well, a recent Guardian article showed that the council was selling off its housing stock at an increasingly accelerated rate, while forcing homeless people into temporary accommodation outside the borough. Ending this wrong-headed nonsense would be a good start.

The new Labour administration could re-examine the planned closure of Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which won an award from London Mayor Boris Johnson at the end of last year after it “succeeded against the odds in improving pupils’ aspirations and achievements”. According to The Guardian (again), campaigners fighting to save Sulivan say it has been targeted because there are plans to turn the site into a new Free School, part of Michael Gove’s silly pet project that has been haemorrhaging money.

And Labour could halt the Earls Court Project redevelopment scheme, which will knock down elderly residents homes – buildings which are perfectly sound – in order to replace them with “impossibly expensive” flats.

The Guardian (yet again) states: “To the Tories of H&F, though, such things are of no value if there’s more money to be made from tearing them up, clearing them out, knocking them down… The council and its friends do not see what they are doing as wrecking. They see themselves as grand creators. They see those they would push aside not as citizens to be considered but non-believers, blockages, impediments; as inefficiencies that have to be squeezed out.”

Labour would score hugely if it took a stand against this merciless money-driven destruction of a neighbourhood that belongs to ordinary people. Elderly people, in fact. Not only are they vulnerable; they are also voters.

So let Hammersmith & Fulham become the example Labour holds up to the nation: “This is what we can do across the country, if you only give us the chance!”

One thing’s for sure – whatever Labour does there, The Guardian will be watching!

Results are still incoming from the council elections, so undoubtedly the ‘expert’ opinions will change before the end – and then we have the European election results to come on Sunday.

A quick anecdote about that: Yesterday evening Yr Obdt Srvt was at a meeting on a completely different subject (a local festival here in Mid Wales – I’m the organising committee’s secretary). Afterwards I was chatting with a friend about the election when a young man approached us in search of the nearest polling station.

My friend passed on the directions and the man thanked us and started on his way. “Don’t vote UKIP!” shouted my friend.

“I won’t!” was the response.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Elections: Labour discusses how to help Britain while other parties fight among themselves


Say what you like about Ed Miliband, at least he hasn’t descended into the morass of smears, accusations and counter-accusations that typify the Tory and Liberal Democrat election campaigns.

Labour’s approach seems to be focused on the national situation, rather than local areas – perhaps Mr Miliband is leaving local campaigning to local representatives, who know exactly what they’re talking about. Good policy.

By concentrating on the overarching issues – especially ahead of next week’s launch of the Coalition’s future legislative programme – he’s telling the country what Labour stands for, right now: Action on jobs, tax, housing and training, and cutting household bills.

I don’t know about you but I’m in favour of all of that.

Labour would provide a jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed. People out of work would be obliged to take up those jobs (which might seem draconian, but remember, these people have been out of work for a long time and their pay would be more than the benefits they receive) and the £1 billion costs would be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent.

Labour would re-introduce the 10p tax band and cut VAT temporarily, freeing up the money supply to pump much-needed life into the national economy. Mr Miliband said the Coalition’s attempt at trickle-down economics was failing badly, and he was right – trickle-down is a proven falsehood.

And Labour would cut energy bills and crack down on rogue landlords, putting more cash in the wallets of the people who actually spend their money.

Of course, the Conservatives reacted predictably by complaining that the plans mean more spending, borrowing and debt – completely overlooking the fact that their own policies have increased borrowing by £245 billion since 2010.

The World At One’s Martha Kearney tried to tackle Mr Miliband about this, but ended up making herself look a little foolish. While Miliband patiently tried to explain that investment now would bring growth in the medium term, cutting future borrowing, she seem to expect him to wave a magic wand – a Mili-wand, if you like – and fix the borrowing issue immediately.

Of course that isn’t possible – but it’s a far better alternative to the failed austerity programme. The statistics in the image (above) indicate clearly how disastrous austerity can be for a country, and of course Gideon Osborne’s main evidence to support this course was disproved a couple of weeks ago (I’m still waiting for you to bring forward other documentary evidence in favour of austerity, by the way, George).

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have climbed onto the Tory ‘negative campaigning’ bandwagon and decided that their best hope of winning votes is to attack the other parties. It’s a common Lib Dem ploy.

So the Conservatives have abandoned compassion, and Labour is now a party of protest, according to Nick Clegg (who was clearly taking notes when Mr Miliband met former Labour leader Tony Blair).

What a shame he didn’t pay attention to what Mr Miliband was saying. It’s ridiculous to suggest Labour is “offering anger rather than hope” when Labour has been telling everyone exactly how it would return hope to Britain’s blighted economy.

Mr Clegg claimed that both Labour and the Conservatives were retreating to political extremes, and urged voters to vote for his party instead – conveniently forgetting that the Liberal Democrats in Parliament are currently an enthusiastic part of the most extreme right-wing government the UK has had in generations.

What’s even more amazing is that he followed up this character assassination of his political rivals by saying that, in the event of another hung Parliament in 2015, he would gladly go into coalition with either of the other parties.

He said the Lib Dems would “do our duty to the country”.

Considering your track record to date, Nick, it seems unlikely that ‘duty’ has ever been your motivation.