Get up off your knees and fight

Earlier today, I lost my temper on twitter with a few shirt-rending hair-tearers of the “Labour is Doomed. DOOOMED I TELL YOU!” variety. I was really quite cross, which I know will surprise my regular readers for whom I’m a veritable sage of calm and considered wisdom. I have no patience for the “I’m a Labour supporter but I hope we lose big so that I can shout “I told you so” at all the members who wanted the Party to change” types. None at all. However, I accept that one of the many lessons of Brexit is that shouting at people that they’re idiots hasn’t, historically, changed many minds.

The venomous spittle-flecked aggression of some on the Labour Right actually pushed me back from wanting Corbyn gone to actually wanting him to stay, if only to keep the Party out of the hands of such unpleasant people. And I doubt my telling some wet-panted, weak-kneed Tory entryist that he is a wet-panted, weak-kneed Tory entryist inspired him to get out canvassing either. So let’s try another tack.

Even the Rightist of all Right members of the Party will acknowledge that the media is outrageously hostile to Corbyn, including many parts of the media traditionally sympathetic to Labour leaders. They might think he deserves it, but they’ll acknowledge the hostility. So let me put a proposition to you Rightists (and to despairing Leftists who think the game is up): if we look through the hysteria, there’s something here still to play for, and it’s not just a squabble over where to spread the ashes of a cremated Labour Party.

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My God, I’ve actually deployed a motivational poster. Kill me, someone.

 

Let’s look at the statistics in another way. Yes we’re doing badly. I’m still struggling to understand how one poll can find a gap of 9% and one of 21% in the same weekend, but nevertheless the consistent picture is of a big Tory lead and a poor Labour position. But how poor? The columnists don’t shirk from using words like “catastrophe”, “wipeout”, “extinction”. And of course, the columnists have never exaggerated the problems of the Labour Party, have they?

Looking at the poll of recent polls, we’ve been averaging some 27%. Bad. That’s 2% below the 2010 General Election score of 29%. 2%. Not 20% –  2%. Ed Miliband did a little better in 2015, with 30.4%. So we’re averaging 3.4% behind where we were in 2015. We’ve lost just 3.4% of that 2015 support despite two of the most abysmal years in Labour’s history. The daily public evisceration of the Leader, the very public attacks by our own MPs, the endless whining and self-flagellation by ‘supporters’ on social media. Oh, and also Brexit. And the aftermath of Brexit. And the continuing madness and mayhem of Brexit. And a right-wing media which has decided to model itself on the press of fascist Germany in its pursuit of ‘traitors’ and ‘saboteurs’. That’s lost us a whole 3.4% in the last 2 years. My God, but Labour supporters are loyal stalwarts!

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Jeremy Corbyn relaxes at home after another round of PLP meetings and media interviews

 

So what does that matter, if we still won’t get more votes than the Tories? Well, in the enormous post-Brexit mess, and looking through a media lens of “Labour is a disaster/catastrophe/extinct” we’ve too often forgotten that the Tories have a very small majority. That’s why they’ve actually had to back down on rather a lot of issues, from National Insurance increases to mass academization. They only got that majority in 2015 because they sucked the blood from the LibDem corpse and discarded the husk. They actually took few seats from Labour. The wonderfully non-televisual John Curtice, the only psephologist who got it right in 2015, notes that with Scotland and Northern Ireland both now out of bounds, it is much harder for either Tories or Labour to record the sort of landslides previously delivered. And by going early, May has gone before the boundary commission could help her with a seat redistribution.

Which raises a tantalising prospect: If all we manage to do is to match the result we had in 2015 (“woeful”, “dreadful”, “epic fail” etc) and defend the seats we have, while the LibDems resurrect a few of their old seats, then the Tories may well find themselves once again with either a tiny majority, or even lose it.

They finished 7.1% ahead of us in 2015, and got a tiny majority. This last weekend – although the media rather skated over it – there was a poll which put their lead over us at 9%. Could have been an outlier, of course. Their average is 42%, because they’ve benefitted hugely from UKIP nationalists returning home to nestle in the welcoming bosom of the Matron May. If they get 42%, they’re going to get a majority even if we exceed Miliband’s 2015 total. But. But. But…

It’s not easy. Of course not. It may not even be likely. Sure. But it’s possible.

Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, although nobody’s ever called me that before, but I don’t see 3.4% as a target which we can’t make up in the next two months. In a campaign, people focus more on the policies than at other times, and we have good policies, which cut through to very good approval ratings. In a campaign, the broadcast media at least has to watch its step a bit more on issues of equality of treatment, and that can only help us. While I don’t know anyone who thinks Labour are going to win a majority, I don’t know anyone who thinks the Tories are really going to record a 21 point margin either. They can only go down from here. We can only go up. People keep telling me the LibDems are having one of their periodic ‘surges’ and will regain some seats. The sensible people are putting together tactical voting guides and vote-swapping websites to allow citizens to manage the iniquities of FPTP.

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People rather like our policies, you know?

 

 

It’s possible. Maybe not to win. But to deny the Tories a majority. And from there, lots becomes possible. But we have to fight.

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I rather like our policies too, actually

 

So this is my appeal to Labour supporters, whether you think Corbyn is God or the Devil. Whether you despair of the failure of the proletariat to rise up, or you despair of the failure of the Corbynites to lie down. There are possibilities here. Maybe remote. Maybe unlikely. But possible.

So for the sake of all that is holy, shut up moaning, get off your arses, and fight.
Get your posters up and fight.

Promote our really rather good policies, and fight.

Talk to your neighbours, and fight.

Get on your local newspaper websites, and fight.

Go deliver some leaflets, and fight.

Volunteer at your local party, and fight.

Just fight. Fight for Christ’s sake.

 

Don’t give me any more bullshit whines about “But Corbyn…” because that will not help us win one more vote. Do not send me any more smartarse memes about how biased the media are – I know, and it won’t win us a single extra vote.

But you might.

If you fight.

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10 thoughts on “Get up off your knees and fight

  1. The biggest stat you are missing is the one about only 43% of 18-24 voted last time. These are the labour votes (around 43% voted labour in 2015) who keep saying how pro Corbyn they are and how they are being deprived of opportunities by the Tory machine and yet can’t be arsed to do something about it. All we need is an Obama (or more likely a Bernie Sanders) resurgence of interest. Surely someone at Labour HQ can get the above messages about policy across to this vital group.

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    • You’d hope, Bassim. Possibly the only place in the media where Labour have a better operation than the Tories is on social media, and particularly social media aimed at young people.

      But as I never tired of berating my sixth form charges: “if you don’t vote, when the old do vote, then don’t moan about living in your parents’ house for the rest of your life, while your grandparents blow your inheritance on cruise liners”.

      Or words to that effect. We need to get the young out, and we need to inspire them to ignore the bollocks from the right-wing media. Answers on a postcard to Labour HQ, please.

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  2. I’m kind of doing what you suggest myself although in my case that’s campaigning for the LibDems since Labour has never had any chance where I live. By far the most useful thing I can do for the anti-Tory cause is to help the LDs here so that’s why I’m doing it. I can’t really believe there’s any chance of the Tories losing. But I think it there is a small chance that we can keep their majority down. There is one unknown factor. Usually an election like this with such a big poll lead is pretty dull (remember ’83, 87 and 01?) but this time you’ve got a significant number of volunteers and commitment from people who are campaigning on one issue (Brexit). Gina Miller’s and More United’s crowdfund have between them raised around £120,000 with no sign of slowing down. So instead of a traditional “done deal” election you have an election with a lot of committed people who are trying to influence the result. We don’t know if there will be any practical result of all this but we don’t know.

    I’ve never volunteered in an election before – are there other MEs around? If there are then isn’t there something different about an election that’s supposed to be a foregone conclusion?

    By the way, I’m tired of seeing on social media as to how now we’ll have to give up on grammar schools. The last serious attempt to do this failed in the 1980s http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/time-to-bring-back-grammar-schools-1338364.html failed due to the massive campaign that was put in on the ground. Schools in Windsor have consulted their parents and issued a joint letter saying they do not wish to re-introduce selection. Just by the simple act of doing this schools could cause embarrassment to the government. I really hate the feeble excuse of “well, if I don’t do it the school down the road will” – hasn’t this been the excuse of all collaborators? If the govt wants to claim that new grammars will be “where parents want them” let us take the simple measure of demonstrating that parents do not want them.

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    • It’s one of the more annoying ironies of our voting system that the LibDems – who are much further from Labour than the Greens are – can do far more to help remove the Tories than the Greens, who can only realistically hurt Labour, not the Tories.

      So an official or unofficial electoral pact with the LibDems makes sense, and I wouldn’t put any Labour resources into seats where the LibDem is second to the Tories with a fighting chance.

      The Greens though, are an enemy to Labour everywhere, despite being very similar in policy terms. In 2015, eleven seats had a Tory MP with a majority smaller than the local Green vote. Doesn’t sound many, but that would have stopped them having a majority, Ed Miliband may have been Prime Minister, and then history is very different.

      I like Green policies. I like Green people. But they need to get real and accept the brutal realities of the electoral system. Join Labour, fight for PR to be implemented under a future Labour government, then if they really want to, split off and go their separate way again.

      But until that time, do not tell me, as a Green, that the party is anti-Tory. It helps the Tories in every single seat in which it stands, save Brighton.

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  3. The call for a snap election wouldn’t have anything to do with Tory MPs under investigation for electoral fraud, would it? If they’d been found guilty it would have rather tarnished the Tory bling and resulted in by-elections which may have reduced May’s tiny majority. Dennis Skinner said it would be ‘squalid’ if May supported any MP under criminal investigation. She responded by saying she supported all of them because they’d be out on the campaign trail campaigning for a ‘brighter and better future for this country’.

    Spot the soundbite: will ‘brighter and better future’ be mentioned more than ‘coalition of chaos’? Which one will be the first to appear on the Daily Mail front page?

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  4. Hello,

    Having just completed my letter of complain to my daughter’s school, concerning her wearing chelsea boots to school. I was having a pause to think, if this would do more harm than good. After reading your article, “Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain”, am not sure I should. The purpose of my complaint, was how could she justify the waste of time and resources on policing uniform, when alienating academically motivated children, surely she has larger concerns, then my daughter choosing comfortable, warm and dry footwear. I will replace her shoes to fit to school code. At her school there has been a reduction of GCSE options. Including computer science. Leaving only ICT, which is a level 3 subject to provide any foundations for coding. A lack of interest in languages, has meant that a french class couldn’t be provided for my daughter, who already has a GCSE A* in Spanish (taken in year 7). A teacher who told the class that the Daily Mail is a reliable source of information. In the grand scheme of things and the changes to our education system, is this the headteachers focus. So should I keep my thoughts to myself and just replace the shoes, or voice my concerns and replace the shoes 🙂 Thank you for your time and consideration. Sarah

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    • Hi Sarah. The basic position is that if you do complain, you have a small chance of being listened to. If you don’t complain, you have no chance of being listened to. So in my view it’s always worth making yourself heard.

      Liked by 1 person

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