Labour won Stoke. Jamie Reed lost Copeland - Paul Mason

For socialists in the Labour Party it will be a relief that the Blairite plan to stage two electoral disasters on one night failed. Nobody can claim losing Copeland was Jeremy Corbyn’s “fault”: the fault lies with the careerist right-winger who abandoned the seat in mid-session to take a better job.

And the Blairite plan to abandon Stoke to UKIP, egged on by the media also failed, when the latter turned out to be led by a hapless fantasist.

However the two by-election results taken together do reveal a big and challenging fact for Labour: in these two very different working class English seats, there is a majority for Brexit, and for the right wing nationalist rationale behind it.


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Comment by Bren Cook on March 1, 2017 at 16:32

The aphorism  'insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results' seems to be relevant here. We've not really done anything very different since the late 1940's when the Labour party developed the old NHS and Welfare state thing. Are we doomed to a future that is a bland version of Thatcherism that teeters up and down a short spectrum of grey politics? Is that the best we can do? Can we not dream beyond the boundaries that the media have laid down for us? What's wrong with sharing things out a bit more? Asking people what's the best way to spend the collective dosh? What's so rubbish about looking after the weakest in our society? What's so great about a small number of people having a lot of the resources when you're not one of them? It doesn't have to be this way, there's enough for everyone you know. I'm interested in whoever wants to work on this type of project. The rest are merely part of the problem and I'm weary of them.

Comment by Jez Hall on March 1, 2017 at 10:26

I've never been a party person, and so commenting on internal labour party strategy feels a bit like shouting at a dirty game of football from the sidelines... sometimes makes we want to go and watch a different game. A feeling only exacerbated by the internal labour manouevering over the sad death of Gerald Kaufman (my own MP) where respect for a man who has represented us for a very long time, and a generally good one who replied to constituents letters diligently right up til his death. He was well regarded locally but within a day of his demise the pundits were pontificating and knives being sharpened without a moment for respect or reflection. I hate the prospect that his legacy will be more bitterness and infighting up to and beyond the inevitable by-election.

So what to do, not about me, but about the millions of people who now have no political allegiance and are swing voters (
Part of the problem is the way media framing and the popular tabloids in particular have created a deep sense of cynicism, paranoia, fear and the need for the strict father... hence the calls... if Corbyn was a leader, had pazzaz, was more like Trump, we'd be ok... how sad that is. But there is a sad truth that for every guardian reader there are 23 readers of the RW tabloids.

No easy answers, but the answer can't be more 'strict fathers' to whip us into line. It is more humility, and reasonableness. Humility... will that win elections... i'm not sure it can. But it can direct our own approach to life.

This is an interesting research project... could something like this create a better frame, where empathy, respect and care for the value of another points of view start to change our discourse... throwing insults just doesn't work if we want to change hearts and minds?!

Comment by joe taylor on March 1, 2017 at 9:12

Thank you for your comment David.  I would be very interested in your reaction to this blog post, if you don't mind?

Comment by David Maltby on February 28, 2017 at 20:36

Hi Joe -  like the clarity  of your analysis. But could you be throwing the baby out with the bath water? You might conclude that the middle ground, although by definition unprincipled and soggy, is still a better way of achieving some social justice, particularly if there is no chance of Corbyn/Sanders gaining electoral victory. I personally would not prefer Trump/Le Pen. 

Comment by joe taylor on February 28, 2017 at 16:00

Speaking purely for myself David - unless Corbyn, or someone promoting the same socialist principles, is leading a united Labour Party come election time, there is no point voting Labour.

It’s far easier to oppose Tory policies with a clear conscious than oppose Tory-light ‘moderate’ Labour policies.

The data is in now.  Central politics had its day and didn’t deliver.  The vacuum will likely be filled with right-of-centre, a la Trump/Le Pen, or left-of-centre, a la Sanders/Corbyn.  Those with a social-justice outlook prefer the latter and many of them would prefer the former to more of the same central politics, a la Blair/Clinton.

My two pence worth.  Be good to hear other opinions.

Comment by David Maltby on February 28, 2017 at 14:24

Hi Joe - Yes. Very funny. And a lot of truth which suggests unfortunately that it's very difficult seeing the way ahead to national political success for Labour.  

Comment by joe taylor on February 28, 2017 at 9:31

Hi David - have you seen Jonathan Pye's rant about the by-election result?

He does have a way with words, and most begin with 'f'.

Comment by David Maltby on February 27, 2017 at 20:06

Paul Mason talks of a socially just society but where is the social justice in poor UK workers having their conditions of employment worsened by low wage EU immigration?  Either he thinks that the negative impacts of freedom of movement are insignificant or, if significant, are acceptable. To follow his Brexit policy would simply increase the present mistrust of working class voters for the Labour Party. 

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