Labour: Revival or Nemesis?

Sir Keir Starmer: Labour leader Pic credit: BBC

Labour needs popular policies that attract people from Carlisle to Camden

It would rather cruel to say Sir Keir Starmer named after Labour founder Keir Hardie should be the leader that led to its nemesis. But the weekend’s election results in the North East and the Midlands show it is Boris Johnson’s Conservatives that are the new champions of working class voters there not Labour.

That is not to belittle Labour’s achievements in Wales, Cambridgeshire, the West of England and the South Coast. In Worthing for example, Labour has gone from having no councillors there for 51 years, to a place where the Tories are reduced to a majority of just one.

But it is to say that Labour have lost the plot. They are fighting quite a different Tory Party than under Theresa May or David Cameron and they don’t seem to have got the message. This Tory Party is a high spending, interventionist party wrapped up in the trappings of Rule Britannia and law and order. It is prepared to spend loads of cash in targeted working class areas where it can garner votes and is happy for an image of Gunboats at Dawn with the French in Jersey over fishing rights knowing that a NATO ally is unlikely to open fire.

For Labour there is a choice it can either ape the flag waving ,law and order, overseas aid cutting agenda of the Tories or it could look for new ground to take on the changed Tory Party.

I have four ideas for the latter and they all affect millions of people whether they live in the North, Midlands or South of the country. If successfully implemented they could change hearts and minds.

Having a decent affordable home for Generation Rent

The first is finding a home to live. For younger people under the age of 40 this is rapidly becoming an unobtainable dream as house prices continue to surge way above wages. They are either stuck in expensive flat sharing or forced to continue living in their parent’s home. No chance to aspire to start a family there. And with little council house building social housing is not easily available for the poor.

For a real analysis of this problem read a book called Home Truths by Liam Halligan. It is a comprehensive analysis of what has gone wrong. Labour could do little better than plagiarise the ideas in this book as part of their manifesto.

The Tories – though promising to build more homes- are on the back foot on this one. Their second largest group of donors are property developers – whose rationale has to be to get the most profits for their shareholders and investors. This, as the book explains, means ensuring that house prices continue to rise and they will only rise if they drip feed rather than grossly expand house building. So here’s one policy that will appeal whether you are in Brighton or Barnsley- and it can be sloganised in simple terms as it is both aspirational and a basic need.

Time for Labour to embrace the new world of freelance working

The second is the new world of work. The old huge battalions of workers in the mines, shipyards and even steel no longer exist – the new world of work is often hi tech , freelance contracts or new businesses or low paid work in Amazon or Deliveroo. Yet neither the outdated national insurance system nor employment law helps them. Ed Miliband promised a small step in reforming national insurance under his leadership – to ensure at least the self employed millions got basic help. And this group were the worst off under the furlough scheme. Again the government is weak in this area and whether you have a start up in Maidenhead or Middlesbrough you will benefit.

Women’s rights

Then there is the equality issue -particularly for women. Johnson is not particularly popular among women. And women are half the electorate. There are still issues of inequality, low pay and a law and order issue over women’s safety – so a women’s bill of rights to end injustice and make them safer in the streets would be very popular.

Equal access to the green revolution

Finally there is the issue of green policies. Yes the government is committed to these – but will help be distributed fairly or will electric cars be the prerogative for the better off. There is an area where carefully pointing out the problems and promising to do something about it will be attractive.

These are just some ides.. But whatever happens Labour has to up its game and get out of this continual internal battle talking to themselves and talk to the voters instead. Otherwise it will lead to its traditional male working class voters permanently voting Conservative and its more left wing voters backing the Green Party. It could disappear down a hole in the middle if it doesn’t get its act together and decide what it stands for.

10 thoughts on “Labour: Revival or Nemesis?

  1. Another idea transform the DWP and set the retirement age at 65 for both sexes working after that should be voluntary not forced onto people when we all pay into the system and work long and hard. you should be allowed family time and rest before you reach your 70s for gods sake..

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  2. Hi David,
    It would be wonderful, if the multiple injustices to those with disabilities and illness’s could be highlighted. The MSM are not interested, the Labour, seem to be studiously ignoring chronically ill and disabled people. The Conservative government continue to inflict harm and deny / reduce rights. No one seems to be interested, or care.
    Thank you, for all that you do.
    Ellie

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  3. I like your recommendations and analysis of the current state of the Labour party. It was refreshing to see one of your recommendations as women’s rights. This has been so neglected by every political party. I agree that Boris does not seem popular with many women. The stripping of Angela Raynors role was such a knee jerk and unfair reaction by Keir Starmer. It makes me despair that he didn’t realise how unjust this was. When are they going to start listening to people on the ground, become less cautious about communicating their vision for a fairer society and learn from leaders such as Andy Burnham who seems to deliver what many members of the public need.

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  4. The weakness and strength of the Labour Movement is that it is a broad church that as terrible media coverage. Clive Lewis MP called on Labour to “be authentic” and to scrap “politics by focus group” in order to win back trust in Labour heartlands. Of course those who are on the Left but outside the broad church stated “They were taken for granted for over 20yrs, including 13yrs of New Labour. Thatcher destroyed their industries and Blair gave them call centres instead, , where they have to ask permission to go for a p. That’s why they (and I) saw no difference between Tory and Labour”.
    The problem is the facts do not fit the narrative,. In the two decades from 1950-1970 around a hundred North East coal mines were closed often with shattering consequences for small mining communities which relied on coal mining for work. . In fact Durham County Council in 1951 listed villages into 4 categories the last category was D, and 121 villages were placed into this category ” Those from which a considerable loss of population may be expected. In these cases it is felt that there should be no further investment of capital t when the existing houses become uninhabitable they should be (demolished) replaced elsewhere*, and that any expenditure on facilities and services in these communities which would involve public money should be limited”. So in the 1950’s Durham County Council was managing decline and continued to manage decline for the next 70 years. As the Durham Miners Union dominiated the council, the councils priority was the protection of the mining industry, and looking back rather than forward to the future.
    In 1997 a Labour government came to power with a considerable number of cabinet ministers from the region. An unspoken policy was that Labour needed to focus on the marginals and since they weighed the Labour vote in County Durham the area never received the benefits of Pork Barrel politics and many people remember that voting Labour did not necessarily bring home the bacon. Then came the centralising of control by the Labour County Council and the abolishment of the district councils, Darlington kept its status, but everyone else came under the Labour controlled County Council, who decided that they needed a new county hall which would be built on the site of the police headquarters. Of course in the 1960’s Labour was sure of its vote, but what Labour failed to notice was the decline in their vote. Take Bishop Auckland 1951 Labour share of the vote 61%, 1966 64%, 1974 52%, 1987 48%, 2005, 50% 2010, 39% 2015, 41%.
    At the time of this slow but steady decline of Labour’s vote, the Conserative share of the vote as been rising at every election since 2001, so for the last 20 years they increased their vote share at the expense of all the other parties. This is not a Johnson/Brexit vote as portrayed by the Media, one must pose the question are we seeing socio-economic and demographic change that compares to the Southern States of the USA going from the Democrats to the Republican Party, which give the latter 8 Presidential terms since 1968 and the control of the Senate for many years.

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  5. I sincerely hope that Sir Keir Starmer does something that gets the Labour Party back in the game. Right now there isn’t any party I would consider voting for. If he were to come out and openly support The Peoples Tribunal or push for the implementation of CEDAW into Law he would surely win the support of many women. I’m sure it would be an easier fight than winning back Northern voters .The women of this country need a champion with a prominent voice in Parliament, because if it continues to be left to the Tories we are left on a hiding to nothing.

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  6. I have never voted labour but it would be nice if one party presented a decent and practical alternative to the Conservatives (who present no reasons to continue to vote for them!). With the last election, we had candidates by quantity, not quality – all saying much the same thing, none detailing how they would actually do things differently to achieve their stated goals, none with a USP, many of whom we had never heard who did nothing to persuade us they were viable candidates. Now is the time for a real shake up in politics – a party who would act for all, behave with integrity and decency and actually achieve some progress to give us hope for the future which is so sadly lacking. David, your ideas are a very good start – could you find 600 like-minded people who could form a non-woke political party? Unfortunately, being one of the elderly women from whom the government stole our pensions, I have neither the energy or wherewithall to volunteer.

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  7. I take some issues with your comments David – the Tory Party can no longer declare themselves the party of law and order – when they vote en masse to break international law and the Attorney General looks the other way. Also where’s the evidence they are spending loads of cash in former labour held seats . The Tories may have a huge majority in Parliament but it certainly does not represent a majority of people in the country. Traditional Labour voters / union members have seen their jobs disappear and are setting their hopes on Brexit as a ” cure all” which of course it won’t be. I want to vote for a party who is honest about the disastrous decision that Brexit was and how we as a country are going to forge closer links with our nearest trading partners instead of this truth twisting disaster of a government. I want a party who is prepared to forge working alliances with other opposition parties such as the Greens and SNP and above all I want to vote for a party who is actively working to change the antiquated unfit for purpose voting system that is first past the post.

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