Friday, November 20, 2015

From a strategic point of view, who should we want to win the Oldham West and Royton by-election?

Hopefully my radar isn't faulty on too many occasions, but it's probably fair to say my headline one year ago today of 'Is Rochester and Strood the most important by-election since Darlington 1983?' looks a tad silly in retrospect. I thought that a UKIP victory might produce a bandwagon effect leading to more defections, and ultimately to a telling breakthrough for Farage at the general election, but...well, it didn't. The outcome wasn't unexpected, and thus didn't produce any kind of shock factor - in fact the media reaction was extraordinarily muted.

But now that Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader, we've moved into territory where we might expect to encounter a genuine Darlington-style contest sooner or later. One of the reasons that famous by-election 32 years ago was so crucial is that if Labour had lost to the SDP, as they were initially expected to do, Michael Foot's position as leader might have looked untenable and he might have been replaced by Denis Healey in time for the general election a few weeks later - in much the same way that Bob Hawke had just replaced Bill Hayden as Australian Labor leader after defeat in the Flinders by-election. The 1983 general election was probably unwinnable for Labour under any leader, but it seems plausible that Healey might have saved a good few dozen seats, perhaps paving the way for a return to power several years earlier than 1997, and under a much less divisive leader than Tony Blair. So Darlington may be a classic example of 'a good election to lose' - and unfortunately for Labour, that was the election they actually won in 1983.

For anyone who thinks Labour's decline into irrelevance across the UK serves the best interests of the pro-independence movement, it's therefore hard to judge what would be a good result in Oldham West and Royton, where UKIP are rumoured to be running Labour close. I'll say straight away that this isn't Corbyn's Darlington - he would survive a defeat, but such an early electoral wounding would clearly be a landmark moment that would further darken the mood within the PLP. From a strategic point of view, what we don't want to see is Corbyn eventually being replaced with a charismatic leader who can transcend the divisions within the party (I'm not really sure if such a person exists, but one or two names have been mentioned as possibilities). So if you think a UKIP win on 3rd December has the potential to help set in train a sequence of events leading to that outcome, it might just be better if Labour cling on.

There's also a more immediate arithmetical reason why the SNP might prefer a Labour victory. We've already seen one crucial vote in this parliament where the SNP, the DUP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens lined up together in an attempt to defeat the government - but Douglas Carswell of UKIP went into the Tory lobby. So one more UKIP seat could make it harder for the SNP to hold the balance of power when there is a modest Tory rebellion. (Having said that, if Labour carry on abstaining as often as they have, that'll largely be an academic point.)

59 comments:

  1. If ukip wins on Dec 3rd it could boost even more the anti-EU feeling in England. If that country votes Leave in the EU referendum but the uk as a whole, because of Scotland's strong pro-EU vote, decides to Stay then the backlash by the Britnat media and Britnat Westminster against Scotland will increase further leading to a fundamental social and political breakdown between Holyrood and Westminster, between Scotland and England.

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    1. The counter-argument is that, paradoxically, the Leave campaign needs UKIP to be relatively weak - because Farage puts moderate voters off.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 20, 2015 at 8:44 PM

      Dan. Strange comment indeed the Scot Nats want a poltical breakdown with Westminster. They want to leave the Union and have their destiny controlled by Bruxelles und Frankfurt.

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    3. Strange indeed that BritNats told everyone during the referendum that an independent Scotland would not be allowed into the EU.

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  2. It seems unlikely that the result will make much difference from a strategic point of view,but we won't really know til we have the benefit of hindsight.

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  3. Given what this Tory government are doing to the whole of the UK, then there is no chance that I ever want to see them doing well. This UK government is about as dangerous and extreme as you can get in a democratic system. After what they have done to Scotland and the rest of the UK, I will never ever vote Tory, or even support them, or even want them to do well.

    UKIP are just more of the same, only more extreme than the Tories. After witnessing their Scottish MEP in action I would hate to see UKIP doing well in any contest. I would prefer Labour to win. The New Labour/Prospect/ Blue Labour etc crowd are never going to tolerate Corbyn and McDonnell as leaders of the British Labour Party. If they win the Oldham by-election, I see no reason to believe it will alter their hatred of him and the Labour left in the UK. The PLP are going to force Corbyn to stand down sometime down the road, but I don't think it is imminent. But they are clearly bidding their time.

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  4. Seems to me that Corbyne is already doomed.
    Cameron put a gun to the BBC's head, and the BBC has folded. There is hardly a political show where the anti-Corbyn faction isn't given free rein. Even interviews with pro Corbynites only highlight Labour's splits.
    However from our viewpoint the Labour civil war can only be for the good.
    Corbyne leads a minority clique within Labour's PLP, but the PLP is itself a minority within Labour. No coup can take place without serious and lasting consequences.

    As for Labour at Westminster. They are now so fractured as to be useless as a reliable ally.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 2:16 AM

      Labour will never be an ally of petty minded Nat sis. We are for the working class and poor. The SNP are worse than the Tories. F,n con merchant spinners.

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    2. Labour are for Labour. Party first, last and always, with the working class as voting fodder. The Labour man wants you to shut up and eat your cereal

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    3. I'm going to put forward an unfashionable viewpoint here and say that leaders of the main political parties should be chosen only by the members of parliament belonging to that particular party. They know what is feasible and they are likely to have first hand knowledge of the candidates. This would relegate ordinary members to the role of cash cow / cheerleader, but at least their party would have a realistic chance of governing.

      Aldo

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    4. Thanks for your contribution, Aldo.

      Once again you show your scorn for democracy. What you are advocating is a form of technocracy. A "we know best, don't worry your pretty little heads" approach to governance.

      Why not take the voters out of the equation altogether? it would make life so much simpler. You know that's what you really want deep down, isn't it? Go on, admit it.

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    5. Actually, I'd probably introduce an intelligence test for people wanting to vote. You would need to have basic knowledge of economics and how a nation state operates. You would also need to be able to understand basic numeracy and speak a reasonable level of English.

      You wouldn't allow people to drive without a license. You wouldn't allow someone to work the control panel of a nuclear reactor without having spent about 10 years at uni. Why allow people to vote if they are fundamentally unqualified to choose the government?

      Had the rule been in place at the referendum, I think no would have won 80-20.

      Aldo

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    6. How tough would this test be? What would be included in it? What percentage of the population would pass it? And of course, would you pass this test that you propose?

      I bet you would.

      Funny that.

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    7. Oh, and by the way, as for your 80-20 comment, are you quite sure about that?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmGjiokfQ2A

      Would one of your tests be the ability to sing The Sash? That might swing it for you.

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    8. Name 3 functions of a central bank.

      What is the difference between debt and deficit?

      What is the difference between tax rate and tax yield?

      Name 3 matters reserved to the Westminster Parliament.

      Name 3 matters devolved to the Holyrood Parliament.

      Just a few suggestions. But it wouldn't be me deciding - it would be an independent panel of experts.

      Aldo

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  5. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 20, 2015 at 8:29 PM

    Oldham is only important for the Tories as it will be a test of their policies. If Labour lose then that will not be a surprise. In case anyone has not noticed the Tories are in power and were helped by the right wing Scottish Nat sis. If UKIP win then Tory policies are endorsed. Britain is probably more far to the right in decades with the Tories, UKIP and Nat sis refusing to tax the rich and helping the poor.This is a historical moment.

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    1. Oi ladyboy, away and eat your cereal.

      Geez, how slow are you?

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 20, 2015 at 9:22 PM

      Awa tae yer scratcher wie yer peoples friend.

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    3. Better than getting into bed with the Tories like your heroes did during the indyref. Eat your cereal

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  6. UKIP require a 17.1% swing - which is achievable, especially given that by-elections tend to have a lower turnout than General Elections. Labour's core vote may be less likely to turnout than UKIP voters - giving them an advantage.

    If UKIP do get a boost from this - it will have likely dissipated by the EU Referendum. I think UKIP could receive a similar boost as what happened to the Lib Dems following the Brent East by-election. From what I can work out, the Liberals were polling at the figures they were before the by-election after about two or three months.

    I highly doubt that Labour will get rid of Corbyn after just one by-election. They might consider something if Labour do badly in the Scottish and (particularity) Welsh elections next year and in future by-elections.

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  7. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 20, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Anon. Watch ra telly, Michael Portillo is in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that you want tae control Jock finance.

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    1. Eat your cereal. The Labour man's orders.

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    2. Eat your cereal. The Labour man's orders.

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    3. Remind us what your beloved Labour parties position on E.U. membership is again? That is if indeed you actually do support the lying Labour party I think you are really a Tory Troll. So what one is it the party that is 30 points behind the SNP or the one that is 32 points behind? Eithe way you are a loser!!!!!!!

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 7:32 PM

      Hey Paul do not get aff ma point aboot Frankfurt, is that what you Nat sis want? Because that is what will happen if you Nat sis drag us into Europe seperate from the RuK. Prostrate yerselfs before Merkel. Hands in German pockets giving the English a break.

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    5. But Better Together said we wouldn't be let into Europe. Eat your cereal while you make up your mind, you poor confused troll.

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  8. I'm currently pining for Dan Jarvis. He's my King in the Mountain. He shall ride in atop a winged horse and deliver the UK to a glorious Labour-led golden era. Oh yes.

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  9. Wouldn't a defeat lighten, rather than darken, the mood in the PLP? Just as would Khan losing the London Mayor race? There are none more terrified of a Corbyn success than the PLP.

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  10. I remember the Darlington by-election in 1982 rather well. Ossie O'Brien came over as a nice loveable man like your favourite uncle. The Labour win stopped the advance of the SDP and the plots to out Michael Foote. Labour lost the seat at the 1983 GE.

    In the Oldham by-election if Labour hold the seat with a candidate that backs Corbyn then that will dismay the PLP. This seat will have a sizeable anti-UKIP vote as the minority of the electorate from an Asian heritage just like some London seats will view them with suspicion.

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  11. I don't think anyone who considers themselves vaguely progressive could possibly cheer for Nigel Farage's UKIP over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour. Especially now, when refugees and their treatment have become the big political issue of the day.

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    1. I consider myself more than vaguely progressive, but by-elections aren't about choosing a government. If, for example, a UKIP victory worsens the Labour infighting but without seriously destabilising Corbyn, there might be some indirect benefits from that next May. It's not about 'cheering' for anyone, though - if I lived in the constituency I'd probably be voting Green.

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    2. Well said Niall.

      There are about 100,000 people in that constituency, and the winner will be their representative in Parliament as well as their advocate on local issues. They deserve better than petty politics.

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    3. Don't be late for Bible classes, Reverend.

      If only there was some way those 100,000 people could get to decide for themselves who their representative will be?

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    4. James, by-elections also have a major impact on the day-to-day narrative and shape longer-term trends. You made this point yourself by noting that Darlington saved Foot's leadership. If UKIP win this by-election on a platform of sending all the Syrians back, it could have a very damaging impact on inter-racial and inter-faith relations at a very sensitive time. At a minimum, it's likely to ensure that the UK won't make any movement towards taking a fairer share of the refugees arriving in Europe.

      I stand by my comment that all progressive people in the UK should be hoping for Corbyn's Labour to hang on, this time.

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    5. Why "Corbyn's Labour"? If you are so concerned about UKIP, surely all pious and right-thinking people should want anyone's Labour to win? Or indeed the Tories, if they were in contention? Isn't this really all about your own sympathies for Corbynism? The unionist flavour of your final sentence is fairly obvious.

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    6. " If you are so concerned about UKIP, surely all pious and right-thinking people should want anyone's Labour to win? "

      Yes and no. Corbyn's Labour is significantly more progressive on refugee and immigration issues than Ed Miliband's was or than Cameron's Tories are.. Not for Corbyn an 'Edstone' with 'stricter controls on immigration' on it. He went to a pro-refugee demo within hours of being elected leader.

      " The unionist flavour of your final sentence is fairly obvious."

      Can you explain this remark for me, please?

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    7. I would have thought the remark was fairly self-explanatory. Incidentally, aren't you the person that's been talking about voting Labour now that Corbyn is leader? (Voting Labour in Scotland, I mean?)

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    8. I'm considering it, yes, or possibly voting an SNP-Labour combo next year.

      No, your remark really isn't self-explanatory. Here's the sentence you referred to:

      "I stand by my comment that all progressive people in the UK should be hoping for Corbyn's Labour to hang on, this time."

      What's 'unionist'? The fact that I said 'UK'? The fact that I suggested that progressive people should want Labour to win on this occasion?

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    9. Yes, your demand that all progressive people in the UK must act with complete uniformity even in their THOUGHTS about an English by-election has a very unionist flavour to it. And, self-evidently, voting Labour would be a unionist act.

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    10. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 7:50 PM

      It is not Corbyn's Labour. Just the Labour Party. We do not worship like you do Wee Nicola and your Nat si sickening spin. Corbyn is on another planet and that is his choice but I doubt he will lead Labour in the 2020 election. Wee Nicola thankfully is not responsible for defense so she can afford to say she will take on board what Cameron has to say. She could say she will defend the Nation from pre Stoneage headbangers however she waits plays at politics with peoples lives and is an idiot like Corbyn.

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    11. I've narrowed the logical possibilities down to Dan Hodges and Stephen Daisley.

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    12. Come on James, you're better than that. I didn't 'demand' anything. I stated my opinion about the Oldham by-election, which I'm just as entitled to do as you.

      I think opposing racism and xenophobia is a pretty good litmus test for being a progressive, and that means, in the current climate especially, hoping that UKIP don't win. Again, this is my opinion and not something I am 'demanding'.

      "And, self-evidently, voting Labour would be a unionist act."

      Really? Even in England? Even in a by-election in which Scottish independence was not an issue? By the same logic, voting Green in the same by-election would be a Unionist act given that the Green's 1 MP voted against full fiscal autonomy recently.

      @GWC - part of the reason I want Corbyn's leadership to continue is my hope that he will purge the Labour party of people like you.

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    13. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 8:10 PM

      Shug McDiarmid Nat si admirer of Adolf and then the Soviet Union, all mass murderers. Never a friend of his neighbours in England. Never trust a Nat si I say. You do not really know what is in their heids.

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    14. Forget the "c'mon, you're better than that" tripe. Yes, you did insist that it was not possible to be truly progressive unless you were mentally willing the Labour party to win a by-election in England. By all means try to justify that ridiculous position, but pretending you didn't say it is pointless.

      Oh, and pretending you didn't understand that "voting Labour is a unionist act" was a direct reference to your possible plans to vote Labour IN SCOTLAND is tiresome in the extreme.

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    15. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 8:25 PM

      Niall the fool is too busy purging himself but he his tae make it soon very soon.Yesterday preferably. He is an embarrassment to a great historical party.
      Church of England middle class Grammer schoolboy that knows fuck all about the working class struggle and poverty. Like Chamberlain he should be told to go.

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    16. " it was not possible to be truly progressive unless you were mentally willing the Labour party to win a by-election in England"

      You missed out one crucial part: I'm mentally willing the Labour Party ***to beat UKIP*** to win a by-election in England. If Oldham were a straight fight between Labour and the Greens, I'd be rather more sanguine about who wins.

      " a direct reference to your possible plans to vote Labour IN SCOTLAND"

      OK, fair enough, but my original comment - which you deemed to have a unionist flavour - made no reference to my possible plans in Scotland. I have varied political objectives I want to see achieved: some of which are at least as important, or even more important than, Scotland becoming independent.

      PS You seem awffy grumpy this evening.

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    17. @GWC, who was the last Labour leader from a genuinely working-class background??? Kinnock, maybe?

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    18. Niall : Doubtless when a woman dares to disagree with you, you put it down to her hormones.

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    19. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 8:59 PM

      Niall, you miss the point. Mr Corbyn claims to represent the working classes. The leader of a country should be representative of all the country and look after the poor and this is not happening now in the UK with the Tories and Tartan Tory Nat sis. Blair and Kinnock are in the dusttbin of history. Corbyn seems to have been more interested during his career in PIRA, Palestinian Islamist and various arrays of fascists.

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    20. How can one person be representative of all the country?

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  12. James,

    My info from Oldham is that UKIP are struggling. I am not claiming that as a certainty, but it is from a born and bred Oldham man who is usually a shrewd observer and detests Labour.

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  13. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 8:43 PM

    http://www.food.com/recipe/scottish-lorne-sausages-square-breakfast-sausage-389024
    For Skier the morning after.

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    1. SNP 54% in the latest Comres UK poll Scottish subsample. Labour 14%.

      Methinks you Labour folks need to stop saying 'Nat sis' etc.

      When 7/10 are satisfied with Sturgeon as their FM (latest MORI Scotland) and support or open to independence (Panelbase for WoS) you're calling 70% of Scots nazi isis types. It's not really a vote winner GWC!

      ;-)

      (I must admit I really don't like lorne sausage; more of a black pudding man).

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 9:33 PM

      Just a point. What has Sturgeon ever did for the Scots. Name a landsliding policy like Atlee did. She has not prevented foodbanks. She does not want to tax the rich. So does that mean she talks a good game and the Jocks are fools?

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    3. Treating the Scottish people like fools is a Labour speciality. Eat your cereal

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  14. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    Look here Skier Scotland has always been right wing and you Nat sis have confirmed this. Same policies as Cameron nothing radical from you. Rich getting richer and food banks increasing. If you think a so called bus pass is free which it ain't and this is your flagship of progress then time for the pub.

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    1. You can see the positions of the political parties based on 2015 elections here.

      SNP are just left of centre social democratic (as they clearly state on their website). Labour centre-right.

      The Scottish electorate are, on average, pretty much exactly that same position as the SNP (e.g. from Yougov polls of self declared left-right stance).

      The electorate decides whether the SNP's position is in tune with them / is centre-left social democratic, not you or I.

      If Scotland was Tory, it would erm, vote Tory.

      Enjoy the pub. Are you going with friends?

      http://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassNovember 21, 2015 at 10:01 PM

      You can state what you want on a website however a left of centre is not supposed to be right wing and should raise tax to help the poor. So the Nat sis are liars. Brylecream on and away tae pull a pensioner.

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    3. Labour are a right wing party. They've been masquerading as a left wing party for decades. The Labour man orders you to eat your cereal and leave the thinking to him.

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