Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rreflections on how Labour are faring in the North - does Labour's win in Oldham spell good or bad news for Labour in the long term?

This from the Labour List website makes interesting reading:
At the by election I spent some time campaigning in Oldham. Even by Greater Manchester standards I think we arrived during monsoon season. The wind was biting and the rain was relentless. I was in Oldham to support our candidate Cllr James Daly in the by-election, with a team I’d brought down from the North East. Oldham West and Royton is one of three seats which cover the Borough of Oldham. This seat, covering the western part of the borough, was once as Labour as they come. In fact, Labour have held the seat on various boundaries since the 1970’s, and in May 2015 - even under Ed Milibands’ ill-fated leadership - Labour racked up a majority of 15,000.
Labour chose a strong local candidate, and he won well. The question is whether this win was a win for Jim or Corbyn? Some were highlighting how poorly Jeremy Corbyn was resonating with those on the doorstep, even as there was disdain for the hard left, north London, elitist direction in which Jeremy has taken the Labour Party. According to YouGov, Corbyn was the first opposition leader in polling history to start off his tenure with a negative rating. Since then things have worsened – Corbyn’s personal ratings have slumped even further - to minus 20. Locally, Labour tried not to talk about Corbyn because the simple truth is that he does not have mass appeal. Corbyn’s supporters argue very robustly that general consensus does not matter – and that he is reenergising Labour with those that matter. However, the gulf between Labour’s target voters and Corbyn’s supporters is visibly growing day by day. 71% of Corbyn supporters believe that competition among private companies does more harm than good, compared to just 25% potential Labour voters.
It is little wonder then, that when asked who they trust more to improve the economy, 40% of voters say the Conservatives, and only 23% say Labour. Under Corbyn’s leadership, this 17-point lead is the Government’s greatest since Labour lost power.
Even amongst declared Labour voters, only 56% trust Corbyn over the Conservatives on the economy. In other words, of the nine million people who voted Labour in the General Election, around four million now tick the boxes that they trust the Conservatives more, neither party, or simply ‘don’t know’. That is a notable decline in the short time since Corbyn and MacDonnell took over. Support from northern voters, who had previously stuck by Labour, has been rejected in favour of the nodding approval dog from the Twitter echo chamber.
Perhaps less well known is that members of Corbyn’s left-wing faction, Momentum, have already ousted a Labour MP’s husband as a local Labour campaign co-ordinator here in the North East - after allegedly claiming they had “a mandate to assume control.”
The long-standing members of the North West Durham Labour Party found their AGM packed out, and Paul Simpson, who actively campaigned for Mr Corbyn’s leadership was voted in as Mr Glass’ enforced replacement.
Election result’s aside, the revolution, comrades, is already underway.
And if the reshuffle rumours are true then labour MPs in e nor east who are not 100% Corbynista in fact, word and deed will know that their time is shortly up.