The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘jeremy corbyn’ tag

On the rabid inflation of tuition fees as a political issue…

without comments

Tuition fees. No two words in the English language drive more fear into a Lib Dem heart. It has become not only a stick for other politicos and the media to beat the party with but the electorate themselves think a stick is far too tame and keep imploring the previously stated politicos and media to turn that stick into a baseball bat, then drive in some nails to said baseball bat, coat the baseball bat in cow pats and then and only then start swinging at the Lib Dems.

As has been written about here (and on many other fine websites – and some bad ones too no doubt) this has been a lot of the Lib Dems own doing. We can go around and around in circles about the nuance of the Lib Dems were a junior partner in a coalition and did actually put a lot of their 2010 manifesto into place but no-one cares about facts, facts are for losers, we live in a post-fact era and the only things that make sense are black and white, right and wrong, Will or Gareth (ok that last one is quite an old reference) but I think it is fair to say that the simpler the better when it comes to issues these days.

I do wonder though at times how we actually got to the position where we are. On Sunday Vince Cable penned a piece about Brexit and how it hurt the chances of young people not only now but potentially for generations to come. Most economists would agree that this is an accurate statement and that Brexit will not be beneficial in terms of either jobs, opportunities or salaries going forward. Yet instead of people going ‘right on Vince’ ‘You tell it like it is’ ‘fuck me that old geezer actually knows some shit’ or words to that effect, social media was full of one issue, yes, tuition fees.

Apparently tuition fees is an issue that won’t ever go away, it is radioactive and will still be used to bash the Lib Dems in 2197 when the aliens invade but allow humanity to have an election on whether they should be enslaved or not. The Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell will implore people to reject enslavement and embrace freedom but the hard left will go, ‘well you lied about tuition fees so I can’t trust you, now where do we sign up for a stint at the sulphur mines on Rigel IV?’

For you see tuition fees has very little to do with actual tuition fees. The policy is inconsequential to the emotion that people feel when talking about them. Families and young people want their children to have every opportunity going and therefore believe a free education for as long as they want it helps enhance those chances to find a path they’ll enjoy and will bring them a good life.

Fair point you would say but when the country is facing an obstacle that won’t just pinch financially but will actively shut down opportunities and jobs, the very same people who are desperate to keep education free are far more blasé. It is like they can’t see the big picture and that put side by side, tuition fees is a grain of sand whereas Brexit is the entire beach.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the actual cost to the tax payer of free education at higher institutes of learning. That is a debate that very few actually want to have but it is a legitimate one. Most people can understand and tolerate their taxes going towards health, defence, crime prevention, education up to adult years but why should someone who earns a low salary be part paying for someone they don’t know to study Philosophy at the University of Central Lancashire? I’m not saying I have that opinion but what I am saying is I can see that opinion and it is perfectly justified.

When Labour introduced tuition fees and then top-up fees when they were last in government, it was a story for a day or two and then life moved on. For the Lib Dems though it is something that everyone wants to throw at them mercilessly. Labour were able to win a fourth consecutive term in government even after an extremely unpopular war because the electorate took into account the whole picture. Now though people want to find a small issue and use it to supersede the bigger one.

Tuition fees was a dark day for the Lib Dems but Brexit will be an eclipse for the whole country for generations. Yet as Jeremy Corbyn leads Labour forward and quite possibly towards government, he does so still envisioning and supporting a departure of the EU that will leave his supporters poorer and with fewer life opportunities. They know this but they don’t care because they’ve grown to see that life (and politics) is simple. Good and bad, black and white and Jeremy Corbyn is good.

A lady called Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote in the Guardian a piece entitled Brexit will be catastrophic. Yet I still support Jeremy Corbyn and it sums up everything I have said here. A devout Corbyn supporter who knows that he’s happy to screw her over but yet is still highly enthusiastic towards the man. ‘I felt politically homeless (because of tuition fees, I would never countenance voting Lib Dem)’ she writes as once again tuition fees is clearly a much bigger issue than Brexit and that my friends (and enemies and those who are indifferent towards me) is the where we are today.

Tuition Fees 1, Brexit 0. One day future generations will look back at ours and wonder why anyone ever felt that killing off the liberals was worth it just over an issue like whether adults should all be entitled to free education. It may be important but compared to what else is going on not only in the world but also in our back yard, it isn’t even in the top 25 issues yet for a great swathe of the electorate, being morally superior is vastly more important than making better lives for themselves, their loved ones and for those who come after them.

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August 8th, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Politics

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On George Turner’s must-read excellent piece on the Lib Dem campaign in Vauxhall…

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Vauxhall was an opportunity for the Lib Dems in the 2017 General Election. Traditionally about as safe a Labour seat as you can get, it had a hard Brexiteer MP in an area that voted heavily to Remain. When Theresa May stepped out on to Downing Street that Monday morning to announce that she was going to the country, this was the type of seat that no doubt had a big ring around it at Lib Dem HQ. Labour would of course go on to win by over 20,000 votes but that doesn’t tell half the story.

George Turner was the candidate and he expressed some of his thoughts in an article entitled Losing in Vauxhall to Brexit Kate. It is a fairly open and honest piece that seems to have hit home for many.

The main parts that are worth noting are the slow reaction of Lib Dem HQ to the moving barometer of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity. He started the campaign as an electoral liability but the moment people started to look at Theresa May with more laser like focus coupled with his populist policies, he became Nick Clegg in 2010 but unlike Clegg, he had the party with deep pockets and infrastructure in a great deal more in-play seats. This financial and infrastructure factor cannot be overlooked.

I’ll start copying and pasting bits of the article with some comments…

All our data at the beginning of the campaign showed that we were significantly ahead of Labour in Vauxhall, and yet on polling day we finished 30 points behind. The data was not wrong. There was a genuine, large and late swing towards Labour. In the relatively short period of the election campaign, tens of thousands of people in Vauxhall, and millions across the country, switched their vote from Liberal Democrat to Labour.

This adds up to what the rumours were. Essentially at the start of the campaign when it was being fought on a Brexit ticket and everything else relegated to the back pages, the Lib Dems had every right to think they were set to make sweeping gains, even overturning such long odds such as downing Kate Hoey in Vauxhall. The problem was the party nationally never really had a strong Brexit message. The whole ‘you know what, we’ll have a second referendum on the terms of the deal’ was weak, weak, weak. Most knew it then, everyone knows it now. When the accelerator should have been pressed, the party cruised along in neutral. A huge miss.

Into this mess entered Jeremy Corbyn with a leaked manifesto and public opinion started to shift dramatically. For the first time there was a major political party offering a clear and credible way out of the dismal spiral of tax cuts followed by more cuts to services.

As Labour’s poll rating increased people started to believe there could be a Labour government. Voters began to think that their decision was about much more than who was going to be their local MP, it was about what kind of government they wanted.

At that point Brexit dropped off the agenda.

Ding, ding, ding and we have a winner. You win elections by giving people hope or scaring them. Jeremy Corbyn gave them hope and as national polls shifted to the possibility of a hung parliament or even a Labour majority, people weren’t just thinking about who will represent them in parliament but who could actually form that government. The Lib Dems kept banging on about no coalition deals ever (no matter who with) so that told people that to get rid of the Tories and Theresa May, you had to vote Labour.

I know the party are still salty about coalitions but by telling the electorate that, it didn’t calm down those who were worried about them propping up the Tories again but scared the Anti-Tory voters that they only had one way to get rid of May…and it wasn’t by lending the Lib Dems a vote.

The moment Brexit dropped off the top line of the ticket it opened up opportunities for a handful of Lib Dems, the Norman Lamb’s of the world but it also opened up the door to Labour for their extremely appealing domestic policies. People didn’t care whether they could afford them or not, they were fed up of the deficit and less money for public services.

When people are fed up they just do something they shouldn’t anyway. If you are in a foul mood and it is still a few days until payday, do you look at the Chinese takeaway menu and say, ‘No, maybe when I’ve been paid…’ or do you say, ‘fuck it, can I please have Set Menu B?’ I know that is a pretty simplistic analogy but the electorate weren’t thinking about the small print, they only wanted the headlines and the Labour headlines were very enticing.

Part of the national campaign was to flood each target constituency in direct mail, produced by Lib Dem HQ on behalf of the national campaign. On day one we told Great George Street in no uncertain terms that the last thing we needed was anti-Corbyn literature going though the doors of voters in Vauxhall. In order to win Vauxhall we needed to convince tens of thousands of Labour voters to change their vote to us in a one-time deal to kick out Kate Hoey. That would just be made harder if we were perceived to be anti-Labour.

Our advice was almost completely ignored. Voters in Vauxhall received a stream of literature, sent out by Lib Dem HQ featuring Comrade Corbyn in a silly hat. As the polls swung towards Labour that message became more and more damaging. The vilification of the Labour leader cost us volunteers and voters. When we complained we were told there was nothing we could do about it.

This seems to have been a big problem that the party needs to address. This wasn’t a one-size fits all election, not for the Lib Dems and nor will it ever be for us. The party have to look closely at every seat and listen to what the people on the ground are saying. If you are in an office in London with focus groups, are what they tell you going to be the same that people are thinking in Leeds North West or Ceredigion for example? I highly doubt it.

Even if going into the campaign HQ thought they had put in place a smart tactic, they certainly were not flexible enough to adapt to the changing face of what was going on. As we went from an easy Tory landslide to an election where the keys to number ten downing street were genuinely up for grabs, the party didn’t seem to change course. The mind boggles. This is not an indictment at all on how hard people worked but sometimes you have to realise that working hard isn’t the only key to success, if it was the party would probably have won at least 50 seats on June 8.

If you are planning on an insurgency campaign then it has to be just that. In Vauxhall that seemed to be the plan and everyone was on board. This was about removing Kate Hoey, not for being in favour of Brexit but about how adamant she was about it and how how of step she was with her electorate. If that is the plan (and the seat was given target seat status) then you have to leave those who are in charge of the campaign locally to run the operation. By flooding the area with national literature, all it did was muddy the waters. This happened in several other seats too so I’ve been told, where the candidate’s views were overridden by HQ who wouldn’t listen.

What must be learned from this fiasco is two-fold. First of all, all plans must be adaptable. You must be able to change course to some degree during a campaign. If things outside of your control change then you shouldn’t stay on the same course. The world around us is very volatile and momentum can stall or change a campaign, even if you don’t have anything to do with it, another party’s rise or fall can and will affect how the electorate see you.

Secondly, more power should be given to campaign manager’s in target seats. If you have employed someone to run the campaign then let them do so at a local level. Candidates should be able to opt-in and opt-out of certain targeted mailings as they see fit. They have the people on the ground to see how the message is going across on their particular patch and why people don’t listen to these expertise and insight I’ll never know. The more data and knowledge you have, the more informed you are and you have a better chance of reaching the best decision. If you ignore that data and knowledge then you are setting yourself up to fail.

I have written on multiple occasions about the campaign. It was piss poor. I think most now know this and have taken it on the chin. I’ve heard on the grapevine that some at HQ prefer to point the finger at bad local campaigns than look inwards in the immediate aftermath. This now has surely evaporated to some degree. If it hasn’t then oh boy.

I know betting markets are just that but at the start of the campaign the spread on Lib Dem seats was around the 30 mark. Not all these local parties put together poor campaigns and fuck ups at local level. The sad truth is Tim Farron made little impact apart from having gay sex related issues and HQ’s plan was to target the soft Con vote only as they thought the majority Labour Remainers would come over without too much fuss. When all is said and done the party actually got fewer votes in 2017 than it did in 2015. That is just a damning statistic.

The Labour Remain vote stayed where it was because they fell for Corbyn’s magical charms on where he stood on the issue and whilst the party did see moderate success in LD/Con battles primarily in heavy Remain areas, the fact the party had Twickenham pretty much sown up weeks in advance and allowed Sarah Olney to lose Richmond Park by 45 votes to a man like Zac Goldsmith is a fitting epitaph to the 2017 Liberal Democrat General Election campaign.

I don’t know George Turner but he comes across as a highly intelligent and articulate individual. The party needs to nurture this type of candidate and listen to what they have to say. If they continue to stick fingers in their ears and say it wasn’t their fault, no progress will ever be made. Also where is the survey we were all promised on how the campaign went? I suspect quite a few activists have quite a fair bit to say…

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Written by neilmonnery

August 1st, 2017 at 3:53 pm

On Vince Cable’s tweet about Jeremy Corbyn’s student debt ‘promise’…

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Oh Vince. Vince, Vince, Vince. Why? Why? Why?

So as some will have noted over the past few days, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backtracked from his promise that he would deal with student debt. The issue is he never promised anything. He just said that he hoped he’d be able to deal with it. If anyone took it as meaning that he would cancel student debt along with scraping tuition fees then that is on them, not on him.

It was super smart politically. By saying that he hoped to deal with the issue surrounding student debt, he would firm up the support of young people, not just those going to university but also those in their 20s and 30s who still have student loan repayments to pay back. The fact he didn’t throw about the word promise and is saying it is an aspiration means he has plausible deniability. He can honestly say he never promised anything and people were free to interpret his words as they saw fit.

Most people looking at it without any political bias would say it was at best misleading but it most certainly was never a lie. I was talking to a Corbynista the other day about it and I called Corbyn super smart for how he worded what he said and not making it is clear that it wasn’t a policy but a goal. The Corbynista wouldn’t take that as praise but just went on about how it was everyone else’s fault if they thought it was a promise and that everyone bar Corbyn and his supporters are basically dumb. This is the world we now live it. Frustrating as fuck.

Anyway on to the new leader of the Lib Dems response. Vince tweeted on Sunday the following:

I just hung my head. Labour have never backtracked because they were just way smarter than the Lib Dems in 2010. How any Lib Dem can say they didn’t know what they were doing when campaigning on tuition fees in 2010 is beyond me. Yes I know of the nuance was how it wasn’t a Lib Dem majority government and that is a really important distinction but not many people will see that important difference. They saw the pledge, they saw the fact 28 Lib Dems voted for increasing fees and that is quite simply that.

Aspiration. Goal. Hope. Promise. One of those four words has a completely different connotation to the other three. A promise if broken hurts whereas an aspiration, a goal or a hope that doesn’t materialise disappoints but you don’t feel anywhere near as used or mislead or lied to as you do when someone breaks a promise.

As much as I hate it, sometimes politics isn’t about honesty but about smoke and mirrors. In elections when you are trying to court a particular vote but can’t get a costed policy out there, the best thing to do is hint but stop short of saying that is what you’ll do. That means if you fall short, the hurt the voter experiences will be minor. This is why the Lib Dems should’ve scrapped the tuition fees pledge before the 2010 General Election. Nick Clegg wanted to do so as we all know. Senior activists disagreed and conference voted to keep it in 2009. I often wonder how things would’ve turned out had that vote gone differently.

Going back to Corbyn though, that is the difference. He cleverly made/allowed people to think if he won that he’d cancel student debt when it was never a Labour policy, just essentially an idea that he had if he won and money was no object. The Lib Dems put it in black and white that they would not vote to raise tuition fees. That is politics folks and to claim Labour have backtracked and to call on Jeremy Corbyn to apologise is lazy and just won’t wash with the electorate.

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July 24th, 2017 at 2:58 pm

On why Labour are currently in a crisis – edition #396…

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So I’m there having a perusal of the Guardian website today and I click on a story about the 1997 Election triumph of the party. An absolute landslide that led to 13 years of Labour rule while the Tories sat in opposition and never got close to winning back power. I scroll down to the comments and the one with the moves up votes sums up everything:

No mention of the fact that Blair, Mandelson & Co. rendered Labour unelectable by moving so far away from Labour values, starting illegal foreign wars and stealing billions from ordinary people’s pensions?

So much that’s wrong now has its roots in that crowd – the refugee crisis and growth of ISIS? Blair and his mate Bush kicked that off. The growth of buy-to-let? That’s a response to the fact that we can’t trust the security of our pensions and needs some way to fund retirement.

And now Labour has a leader who actually represents Labour values and the Guardian can’t wait to destroy him. Yes Labour’s in trouble but a lot of the blame rests with the ‘nu-labor-lite’ Blairites and the Guardian.

Lets start at the beginning. On an article outlining how these men made the party very electable (indeed so electable they won three consecutive elections with huge majorities) a Labour supporters says they made the party unelectable. That is clearly not true.

As for moving so far away from Labour values, did they really? They inched towards the centre ground but they weren’t a million miles away from old Labour. Also has old Labour values won any General Election in the past two generations? Not so much.

Clearly the growth of extreme Islamic terrorism has some roots in the Iraq conflict but it could easily be argued that Al-Qaeda’s attack on the United States in 2001 was the real catalyst for those tensions to rise on both sides.

As for the Guardian wanting to destroy Jeremy Corbyn. That is paranoia talking. This newspaper after their endorsement of Nick Clegg in 2010 has run so far to the left that Corbyn himself probably thinks they’ve gone too far. They have been extremely strong supporters of his and have only cooled in recent months as his support has clearly ebbed away and most impartial observers can see he is leading the Labour party down the wrong path.

You win in the UK from the centre-left or centre-right. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Whichever of the two natural parties of government is closer to the centre will win an election. I know my lot went into coalition in 2010 and became a party of government but for most people, they are voting for one of the big two, whose leader will become PM.

Labour’s wild lurch to the left is very dangerous for many people who naturally want a party of government near the centre because it allows the Conservative party to move to the right and still be closer to the centre than Labour. If things were different and people saw the Lib Dems has a natural party of government, it would open up a huge chasm for the party to fill up. Sadly that big gap will pick up voters but not enough.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is a god send to the right-wing branch of the Tory party. If Labour had a strong position on the EU and a leader who was electable to the electorate as a whole then they would be in a position to both a) win back power and b) would stop the Tories going too far to the right. If they had a young Tony Blair who wasn’t tainted by Iraq then they would likely be planning for another decade in power after a big win in 2020.

Yet some Labour members can’t abide with this and will blame everyone and everything on Labour’s woes bar the leadership. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it is probably a duck. If a leader has dire polling ratings and is 17 points behind the Tories when at the same time in the previous parliament, his predecessor was 11 points up then its probably because people don’t like him or his policies. It isn’t the fault of Tony Blair or the Guardian et al.

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April 11th, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Politics

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On whether the Lib Dems can pull of the shock win in Manchester Gorton…

with 4 comments

Manchester Gorton is one of Labour’s safest seats if we look solely at the numbers. A majority of over 24,000 coupled with none of the other parties clearing 10% means that is any normal by-election, it wouldn’t really interest politicos. Yet we don’t live in a normal political era anymore and anything can happen.

One of the biggest reasons it was so safe came down to having an extremely popular and long-time MP. As we saw in 2015 for the Lib Dems, popularity and incumbency couldn’t save a plethora of MPs but this wasn’t a problem for Labour here. Sir Gerald Kaufman never had a majority of under 5,000 and never was truly challenged by the Lib Dems. He never even dipped below 50% of the vote. Yet here I am with writing a blog post with the title it has so I suppose I should explain why.

First things first, politics is changing and as I’ve said before as people we are less likely to identify with our ideology at the moment but are more likely to identify with our status on the EU Referendum. Are we remainers of leavers first and foremost? I know I’d still identify as liberal above being a remainer but that sentiment is not the norm these days. This of course may well change in the relatively near future but in the immediacy, that is the case.

Second is the CLP is in complete disarray. There is a good piece in the Manchester Evening News entitled The Labour battle for Gorton, which details some of the issues going on within the local Labour party. Now this isn’t abnormal, this happens to all parties in various places at various times. Still since the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and his radical new agenda of not holding the government to account (ok I’m being slightly facetious here) but since his supporters have flooded in, many local parties are pulling in different directions. They have fierce disagreements of where the party should go.

This leads me to the third reason, what if Labour select a Brexiteer Corbynite? This would be a good place for them to roll out this strategy. It is what a lot of the newer Labour members want. Jeremy Corbyn’s public and private views on Brexit seem pretty much at odds. Publicly he supports staying in the EU but he only seems to bang on about the European Workers Directive as to why. He told Adam Hills when he appeared on The Last Leg that he wanted to stay in the EU ‘seven or seven and a half out of ten’ and that is not a ringing endorsement at all. So why not go with a Brexiteer in this seat?

Honestly if the Lib Dems were to make a staggering (and lets not beat about the bush here – it would be staggering) then it needs Labour to have this strategy. If they put up a passionate Pro-EU voice or someone who isn’t on the ultra left of the party then they should cruise home with ease. However with the way Labour are functioning at the moment, who knows what will happen?

As for how the Lib Dems manage to navigate their way through the Labour carnage should it come about, well it will not be easy. In Richmond Park they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at it, in an ultra Remain area and still only just squeaked home. This though whilst being a 61-62% Remain area (based on estimates) has one very different thing in play, this would be the first time in the post EU Referendum era where the Lib Dems are the primary opponents to a Labour hold. This in itself is going to be enough for politicos to watch what happens closely.

Can the Lib Dems make serious inroads into Labour in Remain areas? This will be the first indication of whether they can or not. The Lib Dems got over 30% in both 2005 and 2010 but saw their vote share collapse after the coalition in 2015. Very quickly we’ve seen those numbers start to reverse. The Lib Dems haven’t lost their deposit yet in a parliamentary by-election since the EU Referendum. They lost it in Manchester Gorton in 2015 but that means nothing for the upcoming by-election.

All logic will point to Labour winning with less than 50% of the vote. The Lib Dems should finish second with over 25% (my guesstimate at this point would be 28-32%) but there is plenty of time to go. Plenty of hoops to jump through. Remember Sarah Olney wasn’t winning in Richmond Park until the final 72 hours as a very well executed campaign came to a head.

If Labour pick the wrong candidate, if Jeremy Corbyn continues to have dire ratings and if the Lib Dems get the right person with a clever campaign strategy then you never know. The party are between 7 and 10/1 around. That seems about right at this juncture but I wouldn’t be blown away if they hit 3/1 before polling day.

This by-election will be far more interesting than the raw numbers suggest…

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March 3rd, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Politics

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On the cult of Jeremy Corbyn and the Blairite fake news explosion

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Yesterday we saw two by-elections go the way all the pundits (bar apparently David Dimbleby) expected. The Tories to win in Copeland and Labour to hold on in Stoke-on-Trent Central. This wasn’t exactly stunning news when I woke up this morning to see that they were indeed the results. The fact is that there were special circumstances in Copeland regarding nuclear power and Jeremy Corbyn that led to the seat always being a tough one to hold on to.

Corbyn was saved from humiliation by Paul Nuttall and his quite frankly shambolic campaign that took UKIP from odds on favourites at one point to realistically fighting for second place with the Tories who really didn’t even bother to campaign until late in the day when it became clear UKIP were all over the shop.

What I was surprised at however was waking up this morning and to see the word ‘Blairite’ coming up constantly on my twitter feed. Seemingly how people (and indeed some Labour MPs) are blaming the Copeland result on a backlash against the politics of Tony Blair. This is about as bewildering and off the mark as you can get. Yet they produce the stats that since 1997 the vote share in the seat has gone down consistently.

They might seem to forget that that was Labour’s high point where Blair was cruising and the party were competitive in seats where they had no business traditionally of being such. So of course the vote will have declined since because that is basic logic and maths, when a party is at their most popular they’ll get the most votes, when they are less popular they’ll get fewer votes. This is not rocket science folks, yet people are trotting out the mantra that it was Blair that cost them this seat (despite the party winning it with ease every time it came up whilst he was Labour leader.

Emily Thornberry said one of the big issues was all the fake news surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s position on nuclear power. This woman is just something else. Every time she comes on my radar it is because she is just sprouting a clear lie or is tweeting something divisive. I’m not exactly sure what Emily’s problem with in the reporting of Jeremy’s position on nuclear power but he very clearly detailed his opposition to new nuclear power stations in his leadership election campaign. He of course said in Copeland that he’s now for new energy stations but when you say something like that during an election campaign in a seat which is very pro-nuclear after a long history of being against it, who is going to actually believe him? Seemingly not the people of Copeland.

The Tories didn’t win Copeland because they were popular, they won it because the Labour voters weren’t inching to get out and vote. The area is still very Labouir leaning but if you have a leader who doesn’t chime in with your views then people are going to think twice about voting that way.

In Stoke it was a similar situation. In what should have been a stroll in the park, even up to two weeks out they were in a real dogfight. UKIP kept tripping over themselves from Paul Nuttall claiming to live in Stoke when he didn’t to his Hillsborough comments being found out. At this point those people who were sitting on the fence started to come off the fence and go back to their natural home. Nuttall was unelectable and is now probably unelectable in any seat. I thought those Hillsborough comments were problematic but not a death knell but they were. Things like that live long in the memory.

So yesterday wasn’t a terrible night for Jeremy Corbyn. Two seats he should win with ease demographically but one did shave very local issues where he was a serious problem. I saw some Corbyn supporters hail Stoke as the party’s Waterloo moment and a victory to saviour. If winning a seat they should never have even had an issue with is grounds for great celebration, then I think that says everything about where the Labour party are at the moment. No-one knows what they stand for and they have two core sets of voters – the metropolitan and the industrial – who want vastly different things. You can’t please one without upsetting the other. This is a problem that they have seemingly no answer to as yet.

One thing is clear though. Labour did not lose Copeland because of Tony Blair. Anyone who truly thinks that either knows naff all about politics or are so blinkered they don’t recognise reason anymore.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 24th, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Politics

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On the radicalisation and the ‘us’ and ‘them’ nature of modern politics…

without comments

Depressing.

That is how I describe modern day politics all over the world. Can it be just eight years since a black man was first elected as the leader of the free world? That win was born out due to both hope and disappointment in the other choice. A landslide victory in a two-horse race doesn’t solely come down to people liking you, but in people liking the alternative less. We are seeing the same thing happen in the States now but instead of two politicians going at it, an angry man is fanning the flames of hate in an attempt to gain power and whether he’s ultimately successful or not, the fact that he’s in the race in the first place says everything.

Here in the UK we don’t have a two-party system but the truth is people are becoming radicalised and instead of progress they want change. People who want change think that the game is fundamentally wrong and the only way to change it is by doing a complete u-turn. For generations the major party closest to the political centre has won because that is where the majority of the voters lie and here’s the kicker, they still do but the activist bases are increasingly moving further and further apart.

Jeremy Corbyn has essentially won the soul of the Labour Party by tapping into this base of people who think the game needs to be changed. The game is rigged against them they think and he’s the man who speaks up for them. They are supercharged and energised to fight for him and for what he believes in. They do not believe he can do anything wrong and wherever he’s erred according to the media, it is the medias fault for highlighting it. By vetting him on his actions it proves that they have bias against him so goes the logic. It just dumbfounds me.

The people in Labour should rally behind him and back him. If they don’t like him as leader then they should get out. Yet when it is pointed out that he himself rebelled against his previous leaders more than any other Labour MP during the 1997-2010 Labour government, it is stated that he is principled and fighting for what he believes in. You can’t have it both ways yet many believe that you can. You can call Jeremy principled for standing up for what he thought was right under a previous leader because he is just one man but when lots of people disagree then that is just plain wrong. You have to laugh.

As a sidebar anecdote, as many of you know who read this I am hilariously unattractive and one of the worst human beings on the planet in terms of potentially forming a relationship with (true story) but I potter around on dating websites from time to time and on around a third of the profiles I click on on OkCupid, they’ll be some form of line saying something like ‘don’t message me if you are a Tory or ever voted for them’ or ‘Tories are evil’ something along those lines.

Now I’ve never voted Tory nor ever considered voting for them but if I found an amazing woman who had voted Tory or even still did, would that automatically mean that I wouldn’t want to date them? Hell no. That type of shallow shit is furthering the ‘us’ and ‘them’ narrative that I fear is taking over many people’s thought process.

This goes to another issue that I think has helped causes this division between people. The social media era. I got involved in a Facebook thread last week (which I try not to do because they are a distraction from the important things in my life – MasterChef Australia) but one thing I brought up that people disagreed with was that in this social media, we can talk to many more people than we would before it and we tend to talk to people who broadly agree with us. People who we find we disagree with regularly we tend to block or disconnect with. We don’t like to have our opinions questions, we prefer to have them confirmed.

I firmly believe that if you surround yourself with people who think like you then you are bound to become more cock-sure that you are correct. Most of us will have friends on Facebook from school who say voted radically different to us in the EU Referendum. We’ll have been shocked by it and wonder where they went wrong. Back in the day when you went to school with them you won’t have cared that they had differing political views than you. Some won’t care now. Yet I bet you a significant number of people who are extremely politically motivated will resassess those friendships with those who thought differently to them on such a passionate issue.

As people we want to be right and if we are to be right then those who disagree with us must be wrong.

The problem with that sentence is of course that if we are to believe that then we have to believe that everything is a black and white issue. Right and wrong. In reality that is very rarely the case in any form of life except facts. An opinion can never be wholly right or wholly wrong. The thing is the ore we surround ourselves with people with the same opinions, the easier we’ll see our opinions as facts and fall into groupthink.

Across the world we are seeing radical people and voices rising us because they feel emboldened by having their views re-enforced by others on social media. It is more accepted to have a strong view that goes against conventional wisdom because you can easily find many more with the same view. Donald Trump is pretty clearly a misogynist and a racist. Put those two things together and you can’t see how he’d ever gain political traction but yet here he is. He has gained traction because he is exploiting those fears that the Leave campaign exploited in the EU Referendum. Emotional fears based not on facts but on opinion. With more and more people being able to share opinions, the groupthink net widens and voila, here we are.

In the Democratic nomination process Bernie Sanders would likely have won had he not had such a slow start. Had he been able to gain traction say two-three months earlier or at least put together a real plan that he’d run a year or two before he did then he likely wins. It is because party members want it all. They don’t want compromise. They want to be 100% right.

Bernie of course also did very well with independents because he appealed to those who thought with ideals instead of electability. The middle ground is no longer a safe place politically (bugger) because you are right or you are wrong. Had the Republicans nominated John Kasich against Hillary Clinton then Kasich would have likely won in a landslide. He was the candidate that people wouldn’t have to hold their nose for, would have appealed to the broad independent base and even Reagan Democrats. He was a slam dunk winner but remember, political leaders aren’t voted for by the electorate but by the membership.

That is what Labour here in the UK have to understand. Yes Corbyn has won two internal elections of Labour members but does that automatically translate into a wider electoral success? No it does not. If there was a vote within my own family as to who the person was who’d make the best next England manager, I would win in a landslide. If I open up that vote to include non-Monnery candidates then I think I might struggle. That is of course an extremely analogy but winning an internal vote amongst people who are energised by you does not equate to winning over the larger electorate who are deeply sceptical.

Yet if you speak to a Corbyn (or a Trump) supporter you’ll often make them saying very similar things. The media is out to get them. Their man is right and everyone else is oh so wrong. They don’t see nuance and they don’t question their leader on any level. The extremes of politics say exactly the same thing regarding their electability, they have exactly the same excuses when they get negative press and they both not only worship their leaders but also believe anyone who disagrees is not only wrong but also a bad person who they don’t want to associate with.

The extreme left and extreme right aren’t very different when it comes down to it. They both want someone to blame and someone to hold up as the gold standard. The more politics (and indeed society) goes down the route of ‘us’ and ‘them’ the more the human race goes back to a period I had hoped was in our past. I wrote a few months back that the older I get the more I realise that life is less black and white than I thought when I was younger. I fear that for many the opposite is true and that is not good for anybody.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 27th, 2016 at 2:26 pm

On the new ‘kinder, gentler’ politics…

without comments

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. Not because I haven’t had things to say but because I’ve been in some sort of a malaise in terms of writing on the blog. Not that I haven’t been writing a lot mind you, I’ve been writing elsewhere doing a fair amount of sports writing. This blog though has developed more into politics as the years have gone on.

Still here I am. On the back of two Labour conference speeches I feel compelled to tap tap tap on the keyboard once more. Jeremy Corbyn I actually have few problems with. He doesn’t live in the real world but what he has to say sounds good. He would be a fantastic President or Prime Minister of Utopia. Sadly for all of us Utopia isn’t where we live but his sentiments are nice all the same. He needs to remember that he isn’t talking to the Labour membership any more, he has to speak to the wider electorate but he may well get there in time. He speaks of a kinder, gentler politics. Something I could fully endorse and get behind.

I’ve been actively involved in politics for several years and I have found it challenging I must say. People trawl through Facebook and Twitter posts to find something that they can twist and manipulate to fulfil a narrative that they have. People lie. People will say that there is one rule for them but another rule for everyone else. It is a constant bugbear of mine. You can be the biggest arsehole you like if you choose to be, that is your prerogative, but if you whine when people treat you the way you treat them then I have issues with it. You treat others how you’d like to be treated but if you think people should treat you better than you treat them then surely that isn’t fair or right?

So kinder, gentler politics. Good. I actually liked Jeremy’s style at PMQs. I’m not sure six questions from the public is the best idea and his lack of follow-up allowed the PM to have a relatively easy time of it but it was conducted in a far more civilised tone. The House of Commons as a whole needs to grow up and if Jeremy Corbyn helps drag it there then good times.

And then today Tom Watson, who is the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party had his speech at conference. The memo I’m guessing didn’t reach his desk. You can read his speech here. If that is kind and gentle then I’m both an experienced and well recommended lover as well as a three Michelin starred chef. Just bear with me a second whilst I go and prick my microwave chilli…

Tom Watson is a big bruiser who thinks politics is done by being populist, attacking enemies and not putting your policies out there for people to debate and vote on. He is essentially the anti-Corbyn. JC is quiet but says what he thinks in a progressive manner. Watson is loud and in a way quite brutish. Calling the Lib Dems, a ‘useless bunch of lying sellouts’ and the Tories ‘nasty’ isn’t progressive. It is easy, lazy, old school politics. The type that Corbyn wants to move beyond.

The issue I have is the Lib Dems aren’t useless (as we are seeing now in government at all the Lib Dem policies that the Tories are cutting out) and aren’t sellouts. You can debate lying but when you consider how much of the Lib Dem manifesto made it into coalition policy then they punched above their weight in government. The Tories aren’t nasty either. You may disagree with their policies (I do a lot) but they aren’t nasty. Labour aren’t all bad either. The truth is (as I see it) that all parties have some genuinely interesting policies that could take this country forward. Heck even UKIP had a policy about reopening all the nursing colleges that had closed and that seemed like a sensible idea to help repopulate the nursing industry as it were.

I’m not saying consensus politics is the way forward but I do think treating the electorate like adults would be a great thing. Sadly as we know the way to win elections is to scare people (see Tories, 2015) so I’m not sure the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics that Jeremy Corbyn desires will be embraced by his party, let alone by the wider world. This is JC’s biggest problem. Lots of Labour MPs have things engrained into them and it will take more than a leader’s vision to take it out of them. This will be one of Labour’s biggest issues going forward, it gives other parties a free license to throw the words ‘kinder’ and ‘gentler’ in the face of any Labour MP or candidate who throws mud.

Lastly one final bugbear of mine, these ‘Never kissed a Tory’ t-shirts, badges etc. – do these people actually ask everyone they kiss what political party that they are affiliated with if any? Do they go to a club, get drunk, spy someone on the dancefloor, shimmy their way over to them and say, ‘hey baby, I just met you, and this is crazy, I think I want to snog you but before I do I want a breakdown of everyone you’ve ever voted for?’ I think not somehow.

Why would you be proud of the fact that you hadn’t kissed a Tory anyway? Isn’t that you know, just a bit pathetic? I have friends who are Tories, who are Labour, who are Lib Dems, who are Greens, heck I have even been known to have UKIP friends (albeit a smaller amount). Someone’s political allegiance isn’t the overriding factor of a friendship or indeed whether I want to snog them. I would be stunned if it was an issue that stopped most people deciding if they wanted to play tonsil tennis with another.

If Labour really do want to be kinder and gentler then stop calling the Lib Dems ‘useless’ ‘lying’ ‘sellouts’ and stop calling the Tories ‘nasty’ and ‘Scum’. Seems pretty straightforward to me?

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 30th, 2015 at 3:23 pm