21 April 2017

Fighting the Tories – Within and Without

No Overall Control is a likely outcome

A good opening start to the election campaign - 

In Brighton the key dilemma is whether to concentrate on the winnable Kemptown seat or throw them away in Pavilion when the current MP is to the left of most Labour MPs
We had an interesting discussion at Brighton and Hove Momentum’s Steering Committee tonight. 

The first item on the agenda was a political debate over the general election.  I was one of the few to predict an overall Tory majority last time around so I stuck my head out again.  No doubt I will be in the same position as Paddy Ashdown last time around when he offered to eat his hat but....
It is clear that Theresa May must have agonised for a long time over whether or not to go to the polls.  Her lead in the opinion polls must have been tempting.  We can discard her explanation about difficulties over Brexit.  Unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn has made her job in this respect only too easy. 

As I said yesterday her lead can only go down.  It is likely that there will be a number of tendencies.  In Scotland it is doubtful that there will be any major changes to the SNP’s domination, especially given the weak state of Labour under Kezia Dugdale.  It is however likely that UKIP, which scored 4 million votes last time, is going to suffer a hit.  I suspect it may lose at least half its vote.  If its northern vote crumbles this may result in a number of Labour gains.  In the Tories southern strongholds, UKIP’s collapse will not affect the Tories.  What is also likely to happen is that the Lib-Dems will regain a number of their seats in the South-West and possibly elsewhere.  If this happens it is possible that the Tories, who may not be able to control the agenda in the same way as slippery Cameron did, may find things coming apart at the seams.  In particular over their plans for a hard Brexit.  This is my feeling and we will have to see how things pan out over the next 7 weeks.
If he can't support the elected leader of the Labour Party Woodcock shouldn't be a Labour candidate
If both the Tories and the Lib-Dems fail to gain enough seats to form an administration, then Labour is in with a chance of forming an administration.  However, this does of course mean dealing with the Tory cuckoos within the Labour nest, one of whom, John Woodcock has explicitly said that he won't vote to support Corbyn as Prime Minister.  There is no doubt that the Woodcocks and Peter Kyles are politically closer to the Tories than Jeremy Corbyn.  In the event of  hung parliament then we can expect Labour’s Progress MPs to behave accordingly.

One of the main items on the agenda of Momentum’s meeting tonight was the question of what position to take over standing a Labour candidate in Brighton Pavilion.  For those who are not aware, its current MP Caroline Lucas is the Green Party’s only representative in parliament.  In 2015 she had a majority of nearly 8,000 compared to 1,300 in 2010.  The Labour and Tory votes stayed constant at nearly 15,000 and 12,500 respectively whereas the Lib-Dems collapsed from over 7,000 to 1,500 votes.  UKIP went up from under 1,000 to 2,700.
Peter Kyle - Hove's current Progress Labour MP will find it hard to support a Corbyn-led administration
It is therefore blindingly clear not only that Labour is unlikely to win the seat but that Caroline Lucas is far better than the average Labour MP in terms of her stance on things like the NHS.  Many people in the Labour Party are opposed to standing a candidate at all in exchange for the Green Party not standing a candidate in Brighton Kemptown.   There was, not surprisingly, a certain amount of tribalism from those who believe that Labour should stand regardless.

However we were told that Labour Party rules stipulate that there must be a candidate in every constituency.  The meeting agreed to a motion proposed by Greg Hadfield, the former Secretary of the Brighton and Hove District Labour Party before he was deposed in a right-wing coup nationally, that we should ask the Greens to stand down their candidate unilaterally in Brighton Kemptown on the understanding that activists in Momentum and the Labour Party will concentrate their efforts on winning Kemptown. 
Mandelson has already said that he spends every day doing something to undermine Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party

The other major question concerns who is the candidate in Kemptown.  Whereas all other parties have selected their candidates already, Labour’s NEC hasn’t allowed the selection of candidates nationally resulting in it imposing candidates on constituencies like the two Brighton ones without candidates.  Possible candidates include former Momentum supporter Lloyd Russell-Moyle and far-Right Blue Labour supporter, Progress Councillor Caroline Penn as well as another councillor, Daniel Yates, a supporter of greater private involvement in the NHS.  The previous candidate, Nancy Platts, who is a Corbyn supporter is unfortunately not standing again, which is a great pity since she only lost by under 700 votes to Simon Kirby.  If the Greens, who last time got over 3 thousand votes, were to stand down, then a Labour victory would be possible.  

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