Tag Archives: Sleaford

Ken Livingstone appears on TV; Twitter responds idiotically

Ken Livingstone on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, December 11, 2016 [Image: BBC].

Suspended Labour grandee Ken Livingstone appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics today (December 11, 2016), to defend the party’s recent by-election losses under crossfire from host Andrew Neil and Chris Leslie, representing the party’s right wing.

Of course, Twitter’s collective knee was jerking spasmodically throughout, and afterwards.

First up with the stupid was Ian Austin, another Labour MP, who earned notoriety when he tried to shout down Jeremy Corbyn while the Labour leader was criticising Tony Blair in response to the Chilcot Inquiry report:

Mr Austin’s political leanings mean he helpfully voted with the Conservatives on George Osborne’s silly fiscal rules (remember them?) – a Labour MP who voted for austerity. Meanwhile, his expenses claims have been astronomical.

And Mr Livingstone, of course, didn’t mention Hitler once.

Instead he pointed out, reasonably, that Richmond and Sleaford were not Tory-Labour marginals, and where by-elections have been held in such places, the results indicate a Labour victory.

Chris Leslie was quick to support the candidates, even though both have been criticised as right-wingers who do not support Jeremy Corbyn. Could that have been a reason for their unpopularity?

Moving on to Labour’s economic credibility, Mr Livingstone said the UK economy would “limp along” for the next few years, which is pretty much the opinion of any reputable economist.

https://twitter.com/NSP55/status/807909828488261632

Yes indeed, Narinder Singh – and underemployment is at a record high as well. People have jobs, but they don’t pay well enough, and the UK’s productivity is no better for the extra members of the workforce. So the economy is limping, and Brexit will only make that worse.

On that subject, Mr Livingstone said he doubted the UK would be able to get a good deal from the European Union. Andrew Neil countered by pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour is committed to getting the best possible deal. The two positions are not mutually exclusive; it’s simply that the best possible deal isn’t likely to be good. But Mr Livingstone allowed himself to be distracted by the line of questioning and said he did not believe that was possible – a confusing statement that may be used against him.

Mr Livingstone supported Labour’s plan for huge investment in the economy, saying it could be funded: “If we cracked down on what some believe to be £150 billion of tax avoidance… We can say to Starbucks… we’ll tax every cup of coffee you sell.”

This produced a cracking response from Zorba Eisenhower:

Yeah – there’s just one problem with that, Zorba – VAT is paid by the customer, not the vendor.

More to the point was the comment

In fairness, Andrew Neil’s flippant response generated something of a backlash as well:

https://twitter.com/decouvrir_xx/status/807912121690365952

On Labour’s current standing in public opinion – as defined by the polls which, as everybody reading This Blog knows, are not a reliable indicator – Mr Livingstone said: “If in a year’s time it was still as bad as this, we’d all be worried. I don’t think it will be.”

This was welcomed by the Twitter critics. It was as if their previous negativity towards him had never existed:

Andrew Neil, in a last-gasp bid to breach Mr Livingstone’s self-confidence, pointed out that Labour has lost Scotland, and its support in the North of England seemed to be wavering.

But he replied: “It’s in the north, in the areas that have been neglected, that Jeremy’s strategy has the most relevance.” He went on to discuss the rebuilding of British industry that is part of Labour’s current economic strategy.

In contrast, Chris Leslie hardly got a look-in. He had a few moments but they were mostly flops, despite the interest they generated on Twitter. For example:

Is he? Is he part of Labour’s leadership, despite the fact that he was suspended from the party back in the summer, on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism? Please. Let’s be reasonable.

Mr Leslie’s other good line was this:

See? Tom Newton Dunn (who?) agrees. And it’s true that Mr Livingstone is a divisive figure. But he spoke coherently in this interview and Mr Neil was unable to dent his logic, even if he (and, clearly, many members of the public) didn’t agree with it.

Mr Leslie, on the other hand, was dismissed with a sideswipe when Mr Neil poured ridicule on his claim that his side of Labour would hold the leadership to account. Labour’s right wing had lost and was deeply unpopular with the party membership, Mr Neil reckoned, and I reckon he’s right.

Oh, and here’s just one more (intelligent) comment about the main focus of discussion on Twitter:

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Labour certainly shouldn’t ‘tack UKIP’ – why discuss their nonsense instead of serious issues?

I could not agree more with this Skwawkbox article.

(Sources here and here. ‘A8 countries’ are Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia)

Anybody arguing an anti-immigrant position – with regard to Brexit or anything else – is misinformed.

Immigrants haven’t taken anybody’s jobs and services away – the Conservative Government did that.

And, in fact, the Conservatives have given far more of our resources to foreigners than immigrants could ever have taken – by privatising our national assets and allowing them to be bought by foreign concerns.

So weathervane-style triangulation of the kind suggested by Yvette Cooper (who is slowly turning into a political dinosaur and may find herself in danger of extinction soon) is exactly wrong.

Labour should stake out its own terms of engagement, scorn the UKIP arguments as the stuff and nonsense that they are and hammer into the Tory privatisers at the same time.

It is the only sensible response.

The message from the Labour right is that Sleaford – and Richmond Park before it – shows Labour is under threat from UKIP and needs to swing toward the ‘concerns’ of anti-immigrant voters.In other words, the weather-vane mode so beloved of the politically-bankrupt ‘triangulators’, rather than the ‘signpost’ of those who actually believe in something.

In fact, while I guarantee you won’t hear this in the news at all, the result in Sleaford shows the exact opposite. Far from meaning Labour should ‘tack UKIP’ to appeal to the anti-immigrant vote, it should do the opposite and accentuate its difference.

I can hear the screams of the Blairite/Progress/Labour First supporters (all 500 of them), but it’s true. Here’s why.

It’s not true

Simply put, the anti-immigrant position – at least as far as the EU is concerned – is based on lies. The UK is substantially better off because of EU immigrants.

Source: Why Sleaford means Labour should NOT ‘tack UKIP` | The SKWAWKBOX

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ANALYSIS: Sleaford suggests flooding a constituency with campaigners really DOES get results

New Conservative MP Dr Caroline Johnson [Image: Joe Giddens/PA].

What are we to say about the result of the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election? That you can get a good result – even if you can’t spell the constituency’s name – by flooding a constituency with campaigners and hassling people for their vote?

If so, we would have to qualify that by saying the tactic only served to give UKIP a smaller drop in voter numbers than Labour. If you look at the chart showing what happened to voter numbers between last year’s General Election and yesterday, you’ll see…

… the Conservatives lost almost half the votes they had in 2015, making them both the winners and the biggest losers of the by-election.

Labour’s drop to fourth place makes the party look terrible, but there is a difference of just 1,063 votes between the second- and fourth-placing parties, making the result statistically useless if any attempt were made to use it to predict a general election result.

In effect, Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are neck-and-neck.

Liberal Democrats don’t care about the good of the UK – they care about being in power.

But the Lib Dems managed to increase the number of voters they had – and this is significant as turnout, at 37.1 per cent of the electorate, was 33.1 per cent lower than at the general election last year.

It indicates that voters are continuing to return to the Lib Dems after punishing them for five years of coalition with the Conservatives at the 2015 election.

It indicates that the Lib Dems, who claimed to have run their biggest campaign ever in Lincolnshire, are also following the tactic of flooding a constituency with campaigners – but, with them, it paid off better.

It also indicates that voters are choosing to ignore the fact that the Lib Dems would happily go right back into coalition with the Conservatives if it gave them another whiff of power.

In a recent interview, Mr Farron said: “Any serious politician who rules out going into power isn’t a serious politician.

“It’s not up to me to choose who the Liberal Democrats go into power with if the Liberal Democrats don’t get a majority. That’s up to the electorate [and] that’s how the arithmetic worked out in 2010.”

Voters should remember that: Liberal Democrats don’t care about the good of the UK – they care about being in power.

Here’s how the Daily Mirror reported the story:

“The Conservatives have comfortably held the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat with Ukip the runner-up in the parliamentary by-election.

“Tory candidate Caroline Johnson will be the new MP after winning 17,570 votes, beating Ukip’s Victoria Ayling, who had 4,426.

“It was a bad result for Labour, slipping from second place at the 2015 general election to fourth, behind the Liberal Democrats.

“The Tory majority of 13,144 is far lower than the 24,115 secured by Mr Phillips last year but represents a comfortable hold for the Conservatives in a by-election with a turnout of just 37%.

“Dr Johnson won 53.51% of the votes, down 2.68% on the share in 2015, while Ukip won 13.48%, down 2.21%.

“Labour’s Jim Clarke won 3,363 votes, a 10.24% share, down 7% on 2015, while Liberal Democrat Ross Pepper’s 3,606 votes gave him a 10.98% share, up 5.33% from the general election.

“Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said … ‘With Labour yet again nowhere, and after losing their deposit in Richmond, the Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government.'”

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Polls open in the OTHER #Brexit by-election

Labour candidate Jim Clarke.

Labour candidate Jim Clarke.

Nobody should get their hopes too high that the Conservatives will be defeated at Sleaford and North Hykeham.

A majority of 24,115 at the general election last year means any other party would face a near insurmountable task to overturn it.

But Labour’s Jim Clarke seems a good choice. He’s a dustman, meaning the party is fielding people with real jobs again; he’s a local man; and he’s hitting the right policy points on poverty and the NHS.

Regarding Brexit, the arguments are now so confused, who knows what’s right any more?

UKIP certainly doesn’t. The party that couldn’t even spell the name of the constituency properly has flooded it with activists in the hope of emulating the Liberal Democrat win in Richmond Park last week – without understanding why the Lib Dems succeeded.

Richmond Park had been a Liberal Democrat stronghold before Zac Goldsmith took the seat in 2010. Residents only needed a nudge to go back to their old ways, and the huge numbers of campaigners meant they actually received a shove.

In Sleaford and North Hykeham, UKIP came third, behind Labour. A victory from such a distance seems unlikely.

But will Labour make significant inroads into the Tory vote? Could UKIP leapfrog Labour to gain second place?

These are all valuable data to election watchers – far more so than the opinion polls that have been pushed out by the newspapers lately and that seem to run in defiance of what happens at the ballot box.

Polls have opened in the second Brexit by-election with Labour aiming to take advantage of mild weather to boost turnout.

Jim Clarke, a dustman and GMB activist, hopes to make inroads into the Tory vote but paediatrician Caroline Johnson is favourite to replace Stephen Phillips, who stepped down over “irreconcilable policy differences” with his boss Theresa May.

Temperatures in Sleaford are expected to run between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius for much of today, in contrast to the near-zero conditions which provided the backdrop to the poll in Richmond Park a week ago.

Clarke is one of 10 candidates fighting the seat which is located in North Kesteven which, at 62.2 per cent, was one of the strongest Brexit-supporting areas. When he was selected as Labour’s candidate Clarke said immigration “played a big part” in the vote to leave the EU.

In last year’s general election Labour came second in Sleaford and North Hykeham, behind a Tory majority of 24,115, with UKIP close behind them in third place.

UKIP, whose candidate is Victoria Ayling, has flooded the seat with activists in an attempt to revive their fortunes under new leader Paul Nuttall.

Source: Mild weather prompts hopes of high turnout in today’s Brexit by-election | LabourList

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