I’d like to think the Labour Party’s leadership will be important to me because whoever is chosen as leader will be the Prime Minister of the next UK government.
I don’t really think that, though, which horrifies me because I don’t want the Tories to win a majority again in May 2020 – and yet: none of the Labour analysis about why they lost so catastrophically in Scotland or why they failed to win in England and Wales, looks to be on the mark: and all of the candidates for leadership seem to think that Labour lost because it was not sufficiently right-wing: which means I shall be still less inclined to vote Labour after five more years of the new leader than I was with the last.
If you are a Labour Party member and all set to snort with indignation and demand to know how I plan to get a Labour government if I won’t vote Labour, well: if you are a Labour Party member, why aren’t you snorting with indignation that your party is heading off down a path away from left-wing voters?
According to unverifiable rumour (via a friend heard from a friend who’s a Labour MP), Labour MPs don’t expect to win a majority in 2020: they want an interim leader who will get the Labour Party back on the right track after Ed Miliband’s failed experiment in steering it leftward, and then the new Tony Blair will step up after 2020 to become Labour’s next Prime Minister. If they are thinking like this I think they are hopelessly wrong: and I also think they are hopelessly insulated from the real-world problems that fifteen years of Tory governance will create in this country.
“A Labour, a LibDem, and a Tory MP walked into a bar. Oh, said the bartender, I must be in Scotland.”
I stayed up til 7am hoping to hear Thanet South declare – the only Tory victory of the campaign that I’m delighted with.
Four party leaders will likely be gone by Monday: Jim Murphy lost his seat and will have to resign, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband look likely to go, and Nigel Farage already quit. (Update: Ed Miliband resigned as I was posting this blog: Harriet Harman, as deputy leader, is caretaker until the next leader is elected.) (Second update: and Nick Clegg’s also resigned.)
I wonder what Ed Miliband will do with his big lump of stone now?
It’s not funny. This is a horrific result. And it’s Labour who lost it. This is a re-run of 1992 – and in 1997 the New Labour won a majority and gave us Tony Blair and the Iraq war. Who will “reform” Labour after Ed Miliband?
Even now not quite all the results are in. But enough to be able to see the picture for the next five years. Six constituencies yet to declare.
The Conservatives now have 326 MPs. They have a working majority in the Commons. The polling results were wrong. The “shy Tories” are back – the voters who know how shameful their desire to vote Tory is, who know they should care about the people suffering more poverty, more food banks, the deaths via sanctions, but they want to vote for the Tories anyway because they think the Tories have done good for them personally or they’ve been frightened off Labour with hellstories of what Labour would do to them. (Analysis about “Is there a shy Tory factor in 2015?” at Number Cruncher Politics.)
So, Iain Duncan Smith will get to continue with his sanctions and bullying and lies at the Department of Work and Pensions. George Osborne will get to make his twelve billion cuts to welfare. David Cameron will announce a referendum on EU membership. There will be no taxing the rich, no ending the non-dom tax loophole, Rupert Murdoch will continue to own swathes of UK media, and people will die of hunger and neglect: because that’s what the Tories do. We have no hope of ousting them until May 2020, and perhaps not even then.
The exit polls look depressing:
- Conservatives: 316
- Labour: 239
- SNP: 58
- LibDem: 10
- UKIP: 2
- Green: 2
- Plaid Cymru: 4
If the DUP get 10 seats, as some polls predicted, the Conservatives would be able to choose between a coalition with the LibDems or a coalition with DUP, whichever they pleased: either would get them to 326, and if so, we are screwed.
Jim Murphy cannot take all of the credit for the rise of the SNP in the polls: even before he declared his candidacy, the SNP were looking set to take the majority of the Scottish seats.
But under his leadership, the likelihood of Scottish Labour remaining a significant force in politics at Westminster has continued to fall, to the point where there is an even chance that Jim Murphy may not even be Renfrewshire East’s MP after 7th May: Electoral Calculus currently predicts Murphy’s margin of victory as 1.1%, in a seat which was 20 points ahead of the Tory challenger in 2010, when SNP was in fourth place behind the LibDems.
This is a shattering upset for the man who wanted to be Scotland’s First Minister. In October 2014, Jim Murphy – the third candidate in the Labour leadership race and the only not an MSP – told the Scottish Daily Record:
“I want to unite the Labour Party but, more importantly, I want to bring the country back together after the referendum.
“I am not going to shout at or about the SNP, I am going to talk to and listen to Scotland and I am very clear that the job I am applying for is to be the First Minister of Scotland.”
As Johann Hari found out to his cost, you can game Wikipedia for a long time, but in the end, if you violate their editorial process, they are remorselessly thorough in tracking you down.
Wikipedia allows almost anyone to edit pages about almost anything. But, to avoid conflicts of interest, you may not amend your own information, with the exception of very basic biographical detail (for example, if Wikipedia has your date of birth wrong).
In 2012, Wikipedia discovered that four usernames – 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, Historyset and one that’s surfaced again recently, Hackneymarsh – had been linked to “computers in the constituency office of the Tory chairman”.
These four usernames had edited Wikipedia to amend certain references to Grant Shapps and his online alter egos Michael Green MP and Sebastian Fox:
references were deleted about his role in a 2007 byelection in west London where he impersonated Liberal Democrats online in an attempt to discredit his rivals – but forgot that he had logged on as himself.
The campaign was notable as Shapps was then a vice-chair of the Tory party responsible for campaigning. The Tory candidate came third when many felt he was favourite to win. However, the episode was airbrushed away on the online encyclopaedia.
In another series of changes after the 2010 election, Shapps’s entry removed references to the company HowToCorp, which the Guardian has exposed for breaching Google’s code of conduct, and to his online pseudonym Michael Green – with a comment posted that this mention of his “alter ego” was linked to a diary item that was an “unreliable source”.
Gone too were links to sites which revealed the Welwyn Hatfield MP paid back £3.79 during the expenses scandal, replaced by glowing references to a Daily Telegraph piece describing him as an “expenses saint”.
The revelations come after it emerged that Shapps had changed his entry in the online encyclopedia to correct the number of O-levels he obtained. He had also inserted testimony to his “influential” work on homelessness.
Conor Pope of LabourList wants to believe the Green Party are not a threat to Labour’s chances of winning in May and are not a major party.
In fact, Conor Pope thinks the Green Party are a joke and Labour shouldn’t be frightened of saying so.
He writes of the Green surge:
The latest Green surge, I would wager, comes largely from ex-Liberal Democrat voters. They are another party whose supporters are seen by too many within Labour as faithful who have lost their way, rather than actual opposition. A huge number, of course, ‘came home’ to Labour following Nick Clegg’s foray into the rose garden with Cameron five years ago. We have come to lose them because we have already treated them as though they are our voters by some divine right.
There are certainly left-wing voters who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 who will never be voting LibDem again – they voted Liberal Democrat because they believed this was a party that would push Labour from the left, not a party that would give us a Tory government most of us never voted for. Those left-wing voters were already lost to Labour because of the Iraq war, because of hospital PFI, because of tuition fees – for any of many reasons for rejecting Labour on the left. I think Conor Pope is right to say that Labour assumed that it could simply scoop up those votes as the only left-wing party remaining, without needing to change any of the right-wing policies which drove left-wing voters away from Labour.
I was a fairly consistent Labour voter: I plan to vote Green in May 2015. I am not alone.
Steve Bell’s shtick is picking a comparator for a politician whom he knows he’s going to have to draw a lot. Nick Clegg as cardboard figure with massive chin. Edwina Currie as giant chicken. John Prescott as a toothless bulldog. Nicola Sturgeon has just become one of those politicians, as the very-soon-to-be First Minister of Scotland.
Edwina Currie said of him a few years ago:
He’s never kind, never affectionate. So it can feel hurtful. Afterwards, you realise it’s very funny and clever, but at the time you feel miffed that your enormous contribution to the country is not being recognised. Does it make you feel better when you see your political rivals skewered? Oh yes!
Steve Bell is a remarkable talent. I’m not in the least surprised at his longevity. Long may he continue.
So, Steve Bell might have picked something offensive, it might have been funny, it might have been clarifying or illuminating or silly, but the shtick Steve Bell seems to have chosen for Nicola Sturgeon is… Hitler.