Monday 31 May 2021

Nick Kamen - Each Time You Break My Heart

The blog is playing second fiddle to more book. The proofs are back and I'm working through correcting them. Everything has to be tickety-boo with errant words excised and any instances of grocer's apostrophe eliminated. The politics and argumentation therein are a different matter, and so looking forward to the nitpickers and the naysayers in due course. You know what this means as far as the content here goes: music video time.

Because we lost him earlier this month and it's not a bad tune actually, we travel back to 1986 for your listening pleasure.

Saturday 29 May 2021

Can Keir Starmer Turn It Around?

If there is hope, does it lie in the polls? According to Ben Walker in the New Statesman the answer is ... perhaps. There's no hiding Keir Starmer's collapse in poll ratings over the last six months, but just as the nauseating Tory triumphalism carries the possibility of demise, can the green shoots of revival be espied among Labour's numbers?

Sifting through recent polling by Redfield and Wilton, Ben noted 39% of voters did not know what Labour stood for, and 37% don't yet know enough about Keir Starmer to make a judgement. And while we got excited over shadcab shenanigans, barely anyone knows who the Starmerist dramatis personae are - though Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are better recognised. He adds that of those who didn't vote in 2019 some 65% haven't made their mind up. Ben concludes, "... voter uncertainty is high and many are actively unwilling to write him off. All of which means the Labour leader still has an opportunity to persuade them to vote Labour." Therefore Keir's unknowability is ... a bonus?

Let us assume a scenario. Labour more or less carries on in its current vein, and starts unveiling its policy menu which is an updated but overly statist Labourism. Come the general election it trades heavily on being the "change" party and the sole means of booting out the Tories. Could it work? Events dear boy, events would determine the outcome, but one thing the leader's office would bank on is the unknown quantity factor because the public might look upon Keir with fresh eyes, like what they see, and rally behind him. After all, that happened in 2017 - not that this election and its lessons ever existed as far as the Labour leadership are concerned. If this is the strategy, then Ben's observations might carry a frisson of optimism.

I'm less than convinced Keir could pull off such a feat at the moment. And that's because he's demobilising Labour's base. One of the key take homes of 2017, and why the party did unexpectedly well wasn't just an alignment between the party's programme and the inchoate desires and interests of a rising class of workers, but because the base were enthused and were able to act as force multipliers and attractors. It wasn't Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, or John McDonnell making the party's case that mattered so much, it was the hundreds of thousands of members and supporters agitating and persuading among their friends, families, workmates, and randoms on the train and at bus stops. It was the subterranean process and movement of masses that confounded expectations. It was a weapon the Labour right came to understand, and why they put a great deal of effort into blunting it for factional reasons. And lo, come 2019 it was nowhere near as effective.

But Labour needs this enthusiasm if the party is to stand a chance. The next election, like the last two, won't be fought over a centre ground that is fetishised all the more its imaginary quality is revealed. There is nothing wrong with trying to win over previous Tory voters, but this has to be done in conjunction with turning out those who stayed home in 2019, winning back people that have bled to the Liberal Democrats and Greens and the SNP, and increase the turnout among those layers who are well disposed toward Labour. This is a difficult task made all the more improbable by a leadership who is channelling Peter Mandelson of late 1990s vintage and thinks its strategically important component of left wing voters will snap to attention to get the Tories out, leaving it free to weigh in as the party of social conservatism with 1945 Labour characteristics to win over Brexit supporters. It won't work.

The only way the situation can be turned around is not by proclaiming socialism from the roof tops, but by recognising who Labour's core support is, look at how they were consolidated behind the party during the Corbyn era, and learning how appeals to economic radicalism, social justice, and fairness can keep them aboard while cutting through with the Tory types Starmerism is overly concerned with. Attacking the Tories on raising tax and trying to outflank them from the right will not cut the mustard. In the age of a politics made more conditional, Labour is going to have to start wooing and listening to the people it has spent the last year bashing, because if it doesn't there won't be a last minute ballot box surge, there won't be a Labour government, and the remainder if the decade is for the Tories to do with as they wish.

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Friday 28 May 2021

Social Conservatism and Tory Overreach

Every period of dominance carries the seeds of its downfall, and the present overweening pre-eminence of the Tories is no different. But where are these immanent weaknesses and fault lines, the points of potential collapse that will eventually do for Boris Johnson what the ballot box hitherto has failed to manage? It's pleasing to note that just as their long-term decline hasn't gone away, despite recent successes and enviable polling leads, another persistent characteristic of their tradition is living and breathing. This is the tendency, the urge to overreach.

Consider each of the last four Tory Prime Ministers. Margaret Thatcher had her Poll Tax, an attack so manifestly unpopular and obviously counterproductive for the Tories that they kicked their most iconic leader since Churchill to the kerb. John Major managed just two years in the chair before his government overreached. Reeling from the farce of Black Wednesday, to follow it up with their vindictive pit closures programme and charging VAT on fuel bills to pensioners added cruel and callous to the popular perception of incompetence. Dave, does anything need to be added? Gambling and losing the UK's EU membership for the sake of warding off the UKIP threat in a handful of seats was probably the most reckless wager any Tory leader has made - at least until Johnson's handling of the pandemic came along and killed 128,000 people. Theresa May is on the hook too. Her mistake wasn't so much calling a general election in early 2017. With a commanding poll lead, thumping personal ratings, and a divided opposition what Tory leader wouldn't exploit the opportunity? The overreach here manifested itself in the terrible campaign the Tories ran. Nor is this just a disease of the leaders. For the longest time the Tories believed hard euroscepticism was the route to electoral success even though it had zero purchase - until a series of circumstances and poor decisions created the circumstances when it did.

Helpfully for Boris Johnson his friends in broadcast and print have shielded him from the consequences of being Boris Johnson. So far. But there are signs. Writing in The Graun, Andy Beckett reports on the ripples of concern bobbing about the Tory party in Southern England. While the new voters in the deindustrialised north were toasted for giving Labour a thumping, their eyes and ears were shut to the crumbling blue wall. In the shires and country lanes, the reds, yellows, and greens are making an advance. The corest of core areas are not the Arcadian redoubts they're supposed to be. So while the Tories talk about levelling up and get excited about infrastructure projects in the North East, the base they've loyally pampered might start shopping around. Or, worse, they might think they can go without and start attacking them if they get in the way.

If this wasn't tempting enough, there are other ways a death instinct can be satisfied. Also writing in The Graun, Tim Bale has a butchers at the latest book to issue from the many "research groups" fighting for space on the Tory benches. The Common Sense Group have pushed out a collection of essays "for a post-Liberal age". There's stuff in here on policing, on education and apprenticeships, stuff on families, and loads of other Tory touchstones. Note, nothing on housing, the environment and climate change, health and the pandemic, and life after Coronavirus. The one essay that particularly delights is the five page screed from Alexander Stafford, a typical well-heeled suit who now finds himself in an erstwhile proletarian stronghold - this time Rother Valley. To read the title of his essay, 'Social Conservatism – Turning the Red Wall Blue for Years to Come', is to read the essay. Not pretending to any originality, he argues Labour is now the party of the luvvies, the middle class, and "the woke" and former stalwart seats gave them the heave ho because of an abandonment of "traditional values". Also, the Tories are the party of "hard work" and must stand up for their new electorate's antipathy to "ever-larger handouts". With a mix of fiscal prudence and one nationism, "by opposing unpatriotic political correctness, conserving British institutions, and reversing the diminution of our country’s stature and history, we can end the culture war, and in doing so defend British values and our way of life" (p.111).

We've recently seen one Tory overstate Conservative activism as the key to victory, but that's harmless enough for Tory prospects. A spot of leafleting and occasional door knocking never did any party any harm. But to put success down to values is, as per the Tory way, to fundamentally recognise and misrecognise something simultaneously. Given the social positioning and lifeworlds of their old and new cores, peddling socially conservative culture war bobbins might work for some, particularly those relatively insulated from the everyday grind. Remember, the more secure the Tory voter is the less secure they feel. But for others, there is a transactional component to their switch from Labour to the Tories. Brexit is the obvious one, but the Johnson trumpeting of moving departments out of London, and talk about the levelling up of regions, even if it assumes clientelist forms, is a recognition family values bullshit and racist scapegoating aren't going to cut it. Andy Street's success in Birmingham and the galloping victory of Ben Houchen on Teesside was thanks to a perceived record of delivery, and is the same explanation for why Labour expanded its reach in the North West and Wales.

In his eagerness to force the pace of moulding Britain (England) around his mouldering social conservatism, Stafford falls prey to hubris. He might read his Rother Valley victory as an embrace of conservative values, but more than anything it was a rejection of a Labour Party lousy with entitlement and contempt. If he and his ilk don't deliver and are seen just pratting about lecturing poor people on how they spend their money, he'll be lucky to last two terms. And Stafford is by no means an isolated MP. If this becomes the Tory common sense and discussion of investment just remains words, then their misrecognition will really bite. Nemesis will happily jog in once Hubris has had its wicked way.

Unfortunately, ascribing social conservatism supernatural powers is more a feature of Labour than the Tories at present. Likewise, the wobbles in safe Tory seats are just that - minor tremors. But new fault lines can rapidly proliferate. If the Conservative Party neglects enough of the traditional core or, worse, attacks them, if they talk a good economic regeneration but nothing happens, and if Labour gets its act together and stops blaming Jeremy Corbyn for its ills then these small signs can become portents of disaster. And by the time they're flashing the warning lights and sounding the alarm, that will be the moment it's too late for the Tories to do anything about it.

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Wednesday 26 May 2021

The Doings of Cummings

Complacency. This has characterised the government's response to the pandemic all along (and, indeed, still does). Not my take this time, but the opinion of Dominic Cummings, the former chief advisor turned unlikely ally in the efforts to make the Tories accountable for the 128,000 deaths that have happened on their watch.

In his seven-hour testimony before the select committee, we learned the government were unconcerned about the reports coming out of China and the precautionary lockdown Taiwan instituted on New Year's Eve, an opinion shared with international organisations like the WHO too. But, of course, matters got especially worse in the UK versus comparator countries and these matters, and the tragic loss of life they entailed, are outcomes of reluctant, half-arsed, and delayed decision making. Boris Johnson himself treated the outbreak as an inconvenience rather than a mounting national emergency demanding immediate action. Cummings said that Johnson saw Covid as a scare story no more serious than Swine Flu. And to prove it, Johnson was happy to get Chris Whitty to inject him with the virus live on TV. Then there was the institutional inertia of government. Urgency was absent as "lots of key people were literally skiing". Cummings acknowledged his own failures too, saying he did not push hard enough on the seriousness of the situation and had recommended that Johnson not bother with the COBRA meetings - adding his flippant attitude would not have assisted proceedings anyway.

When government did get round to its response to Covid, Cummings argued the herd immmunity strategy without a vaccine was very much on the table. Indeed, the only option. He said the Dept of Health had drawn up two scenarios, and what needed managing was when the surge in infections would fall - either immediately, or later in the year. Readers without medium-term memory impediments will recall the Tories' dithering ensured the worst possible worlds: a peak in both parts of the year. The original thinking wanted to let the infection work through the population so enough would become infected, develop antibodies, and therefore stop Covid from transmitting to others. Or to put it alternatively, a plan for a massive death rate and skyrocketing serious illness. Again, some might remember Cummings himself got into hot water for allegedly expressing this opinion behind the scenes. Cummings also added that the then prevailing view in government was that instituting a lockdown was considered more dangerous than letting Coronavirus rip, with the government flying kites and tentatively testing the water instead of taking an early decision. However, this indecision was backed by professional opinion: lockdowns would only delay the problem, not avoid it. Exculpatory evidence? Hardly when you consider how the experience in the East was already in the can and had effectively managed infections.

Matters certainly weren't helped by distractions. The first, on 12th March according to Cummings, was a plan by Trump to bomb targets in Syria. The other was "the prime minister's girlfriend was going completely crackers about something trivial". In this case, press coverage of the Downing Street dog. And once the government started taking things seriously, instead of learning from East Asia everything was done on the hoof. For example, shielding was an afterthought and the (weak) policy was cobbled together over "two all-nighters". Matt Hancock also found himself on the sharp end, with Cummings saying the Dept of Health was turning down ventilators while PPE procurement was not immediately seen as a priority. Warming to his theme he called Hancock out as a liar for claiming everyone got the treatment they needed during the first peak, and tried blaming PPE shortages on NHS England and Rishi Sunak. For this he shoud have been sacked about 15-20 times.

There were bits and pieces for lovers of tittle-tattle. Asked about his relationship to the media, Cummings said he'd stopped talking to journalists in January 2020, except for the ever-loyal Laura Kuenssberg, to whom he gave "guidance" on "specific stories". Less amusing but altogether more damning was the admission testing was pared down between March and May because the government believed the effort was pointless if 70% of the population were going to contract the disease. And while this was deliberately and consciously wound down, Johnson promised a target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. As was widely suspected at the time, it turns out Hancock tried hoarding testing kits so the arbitrary target could be met on time. It was also Hancock who promised people moving out of hospital and into care homes would be tested, but weren't. And we all know what horrifying scenes visited the most vulnerable in these places.

As the crisis wore on, Boris Johnson continued to be a major block on things. He would avoid decisive action because of the knock the economy would take. Presumably the same thinking is behind his continued refusal to manage the borders properly, and Cummings speaks of his frustration of himself, Sunak, and the cabinet secretary coming to a conclusion but Johnson going off on and changing his mind. What mattered to him was media management and what the editorial offices were saying. For example, Cummings claimed he and others were urging the PM not to encourage people to return to work in late summer and early autumn, but his ears were bent by those who argued a degree of herd immunity had been achieved. A seed cast onto fertile ground, given Johnson's preoccupation with matters economic. And speaking of September, he claimed both he, Hancock, and others were arguing for a further lockdown to head off rising transmission - but Johnson completely failed to heed their advice. Indeed, Johnson continued to be "cross" with Cummings because even by this stage he felt the first lockdown was a mistake he'd been bounced into. Unsurprisingly, asked if he though Johnson was "a fit and proper person to get us through this pandemic", his answer was simply no.

Who can disagree? The failings have been glaringly obvious, the lockdowns haphazard and inconsistent and, if we are to accept Cummings's testimony as good coin, the fact the interests of key Tory constituents were protected despite the chaos and dysfunction was just a fortuitous happenstance. As ever, just as interesting as the utterances were the silences. He registered his opposition to Help Out to Eat Out, the one scheme that helped keep Covid transmitting throughout August, but Dishy Rishi didn't cop for any criticisms. Contrary to reports from around the cabinet table, he didn't oppose or drag his feet over locking down (news, it has to be said, to the chancellor himself). Another curious omission was a certain Michael Gove, these days de facto Prime Minister as Johnson busies himself writing Shakespeare's biography. As theoretically the most powerful man in government after Johnson, his role in proceedings is almost entirely opaque. Cummings might be immune to the normal pressures Tory solidarity exerts, but he knows who his allies are and who might listen to him in the future.

As Cummings notes, the disaster of the UK response to Covid was a systemic failure. Relationships within government were messy, the state labyrinthine, planning was non-existent and everything was done on the hoof. Matters weren't helped by disastrous decision making and a leader likened to a shopping trolley because of his tendency to veer out of control. The one success as far as he was concerned was the vaccine programme, precisely thanks to a clear chain of accountability and decision-making.

What strikes me about Cummings's appearance was how far removed he was from the crafted media image. Instead, we saw a frustrated, exasperated technocrat despairing at the way politics gets in the way of things. If has a counterpart in the Labour Party, his nearest kin is Tony Blair's most obsequious stan, Andrew Adonis. But there are special circumstances here. The Tories have expertly handled the politics of the Covid crisis, not least because their friends in print and broadcast media were there to lean on, but on actual competence this government is terrible on every measure. If there is "talent" in the Tory party, it's very well hidden in the junior ministerial and bag carrier grades. But ultimately, will today's revelations make any difference to Tory fortunes? And the answer is ... no. Covid might yet bite the government if the UK is forced into yet another lockdown because of their negligence, but raking over the record now, while important, is not going to produce a vengeful public who've just woken up to how the Tories have failed them. That moment was a year ago when the crisis was at its height, when alternative leaders are supposed to rise to the occasion. But that didn't happen. There was another failing politician Cummings didn't name, someone who simply sat in the Commons and nodded everything through and didn't ask the tough questions for the sake of being "constructive". When pressure and different policy proposals could have sharpened up the government's act, as per the dying days of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, Keir Starmer was nowhere. Indeed, so inconsequential to the last year he has been that I doubt the thought ever crossed Cummings's mind to mention him.

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Never Gonna Give You Up

Obsessions are unhealthy things. The crushing of a horizon to a single point of focus, one infinitesimally small to outsiders looking in but for one person's internal life the be all and end all. It exerts an irresistible gravitational pull that locks them into a permanent orbit. Occasionally, it might suck them in to the point of no return. Whatever, once the fixation is established everything else is overdetermined. There is no escape, no line of flight away. Every point of contact with the outside world weighs heavy with their chosen burden.

Who in the political firmament do we see caught in the well of obsession? Readers might have caught Lisa Nandy sounding off about Jeremy Corbyn on LBC. You'd think the chair of Labour Friends of Palestine might have other pressing concerns at the moment, but no. The former Labour leader should apologise to the Jewish community for Labour's persistent difficulties with antisemitism. Ignoring his past self-flagellations on this very issue, it's interesting how Nandy has nothing to say about the times Labour Party employees sat on anti-semitism complaints to exacerbate the crisis. And neither has anyone else on the Labour right who were very concerned about this issue either. Very strange.

Then we have Neil Coyle. Evidently Keir Starmer is doing such an effective job at holding the Tories to account that Neil thinks he can spend his time pursuing Jeremy Corbyn over his declaration of interests, claiming support for legal costs from Unite were not properly filed. Whether every dot and comma has been correctly placed remains to be seen, but for Coyle it's proving easier for him to take on his own side than take the Tories to task. I mean, researching what the government do, asking tough questions in the chamber, making the case for an alternative government. It's all so much hard work.

Perhaps the most ridiculous were comments from Sharon Hodgson, who decided to say Jeremy Corbyn must come clean about whether he's had his Covid jabs or not. While people should get vaccinated, it's up to them whether they disclose it or not. If Hodgson is really, really concerned about who has and hasn't had their shots, as a leading opposition MP wouldn't her amateur health sleuthing be better directed at reluctant MPs on the other side of the Commons? After all, that's who the anti-vaxxers, face mask conspiracists, and Covid denialists are politically closest to.

Three cases of residual anti-Corbynism. Three cases where Labour MPs chose to keep the right's vendetta against Corbyn going. Three cases of an obsession the so-called grown ups in the room cannot shake. Nor will they ever. Their kind will be summoning the phantasm of Corbyn for decades after he's gone, not because of who he was but for what - to them - he represented. Forget their self-interested talk about winning elections and having a programme the electorate will respond to. They themselves spent the best part of the last six years scotching that particular myth. To them Corbyn was a joke until the very moment the floodgates opened and the mass member surge almost fatally threatened the only power they truly care about: their control of the Labour Party.

Exorcising Corbyn and using every opportunity to damn him to their seven hells is more than an expression of their collective trauma, it's an outburst of fear. They dread anything like 2015 happening again, and want to prevent it, even of the party has to be put to the sword. But because they don't understand politics, that even some Tories have a better grasp about what's going on, all they can do is continually aim their barbs against the former Labour leader and push their campaign of petty harassment.

Does this look like a party serious about government to you?

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Monday 24 May 2021

Rebuilding the Red Wall

How do the Tories understand their success in former Labour heartland seats? This is a genre of politics writing the left tend to give the body swerve, which is par the course for our wider political culture. But this is unfortunate, because they often reveal insights that the gatekeepers of the centre left, by accident and design are completely uninterested in. For example, of his increased majority in Mansfield in 2019 Ben Bradley wrote with more awareness about his constituency than anything I've seen the Labour right produce in the last decade. This niche genre of commentary therefore deserves keeping tabs on, and the latest setting out his thoughts is North West Durham's Richard Holden, who famously defeated Labour's Laura Pidcock.

In his piece for Conservative Home, Holden suggests Labour were able to keep the show on the road for decades in seats like his because of the strength of mass working class institutions that sustained a collectivist life in and out of the workplace, a shared religious culture that promoted a uniform social conservatism and was indelibly linked to Christian notions of fairness (and therefore provided trade unionism and its struggles the blessings of divine justice), and "a traditional Labour Party of the people that was both of and in touch with these communities." How did this state of affairs come apart? He lays the blame at New Labour who, he argued, provided little in return for loyal votes. He also points the finger at the "Britain hating far left under Jeremy Corbyn", a man so unpopular with the voters of NW Durham that in 2017 Labour improved its standing by six points and won over half the vote. But, apart from this silliness he also notes the importance of Labour's Brexit positioning, and the long-term legacy of the party returning lazy MPs who simply banked the vote.

Then comes the most interesting question: why does this Tory MP think so many working class seats turned to his party? Flattering his audience, he puts it down to the hard work of Tory activists. But there is something in this: activism ensures the Tories have a presence. It would be easy to overstate this. After all, Labour with its contact rate targets and obsession with heavily scripted, bureaucratised "conversations" regularly pounds the pavements. But, historically, the Tories have tended not to. It's harder to maintain the idea Tories forget about places like Durham when blue rosetted activists are out delivering leaflets, doorknocking, and getting their mugs in the local paper. A trick, as it happens, the Tories here in Stoke have spent the last decade pioneering and perfecting. Holden counsels his more sceptical readers that there are lots of former Labour voters in plenty of traditional no-go areas for the party, and so Tory activists should go out and find them. In other words, because the class cultures that sustained Labour for a century in Durham have melted away, everything everywhere is up for grabs.

A couple of insights don't make a theory, and there's a lot missing from Holden's account of Tory advances in Labour's former core constituencies. The first is how the Tories have managed to detoxify themselves for enough voters. Again, the experience of the Potteries is instructive. After four years of a Labour council that meekly passed on Tory cuts, let the officers do the running, copped the responsibility for an unpopular housing stock renewal scheme that left vast swathes of the city derelict, the building of two new office buildings, and egregiously wasted money by entering the Chelsea Flower Show twice, their replacement by a Indie/Tory alliance in 2015 saw the latter take on all the key outward facing portfolios. Namely regen and economic development, with the then deputy leader Abi Brown fronting up Stoke's City of Culture bid. These were not the Tories of old committed to butchering everything that moved, but leveraged the council's spending power to push their regen schemes (which, in many cases, had their roots in the previous Labour administration), getting new housing developments sorted out, and visibly sprucing the city up with money showered on heritage projects and parks. A lot of this was brought by cuts to services, but the calculation was most people weren't bothered about restricting library services or defunding alcohol and drug support, whereas they would notice new buildings springing up about the city centre and if the city's parks were tidied up and restored. Their reasoning was right, making the switch from Labour to the Tories (via UKIP in many cases) less painful when punters were voting with their Brexit feet. And now all three MPs are Tories, and the council is a majority Tory administration.

We've seen similar repeated on Teeside with the ridiculously huge vote won by Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley metro mayor. A stone's throw from Holden's seat, Houchen has earned serious respect by being a different kind of Tory. Not one who deindustrialises the land and calls it success, but one who nationalised the local airport and has tapped directly into the folk memory by promising to regenerate the dockside via the government's ludicrous freeport scheme. To the casual observer, the Tories are building and creating jobs, they're doing a politics that Labour should have done or be pushing to do. And because the only people who care about constituency and local authority boundaries are politics people and local government geeks, the example of someone like Houchen makes the switch from Labour to Tory that much easier in adjacent seats.

The other issue Holden is silent about is just who are voting for the Tories, but it's there, he instinctively knows who the Tory vote is. Starting off with a vignette about cake with a 50-something small business owner, and talking about traditional Labour voters, these are both figures standing in for and invoking older people. As Labour languishes in the polls with its new core support peeling off to smaller parties or electoral abstentionism (though not necessarily political abstentionism), the Tories have an electoral advantage because older people are much more likely to turn out. And this gives them a real edge in second order elections where this effect is exacerbated, as we saw.

It doesn't have to be this way. Labour can look at its former heartland seats and just accept the political consequences of demographic drift and seemingly competent local Tory officials, or actually start fighting back. Despite Holden's boasts about campaigning, the Tory infrastructure is still much smaller than Labour's, even after a year's worth of membership losses. The party needs to go back to its roots in places like Durham, Stoke, and elsewhere and rebuild itself as a community centred organisation. Hence why scrapping the community organising unit is as daft as it is wrong. Labour needs to rethink its laissez-faire attitude to local government and offer some leadership about what the party should be doing in the council chamber. Preston and Salford, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, the record of delivery in Wales, just as the Tories have been awarded for doing things so Labour has its own good story to tell, and particularly in Preston and Salford where local government and regeneration actively and visibly rebuilds communities and solidarities. Ignoring them is just about the most ridiculous thing the party can do. And it has to think about what the party got right in the last two elections, and particularly how the economic radicalism of 2017 was able to cut through and assemble a coalition the party then spent the next two years demobilising. How it adapts to these political realities is the litmus test for its seriousness about winning.

There are plenty of Tories who think their dominance is next to overweening, and it will continue to be unless Labour understand why it is and what we can do so our party, not the Tories, can be the masters of our destiny. And the initial step can be taken by listening to the strategy and tactics talk of the Conservatives themselves, thinking about them, and drawing up appropriate counter strategies.

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Sunday 23 May 2021

Deleuze on Societies of Control

You know what I hate? Writer's block. At the moment, I'm painstakingly trying to assemble words on immaterial labour and an aspect of it I've tended not to emphasise these last few years. I'm talking about the connective, networking, social part of our rising class of socialised workers. Or, to be more precise, how this is tending toward new forms of solidarity that have bypassed the traditional, conventional and semi-institutionalised means by which practical solidarity is usually achieved. In other words, is the solidarity we're seeing in the mass UK mobilisations supporting the Palestinians also rooted into a diffuse, collective empathy more or less spontaneously arising from the experience of immaterial labour and living at the sharp end of the class struggle, as outlined by the good Keir. Obviously, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think there was something in the idea of mass empathy.

But I can't write it. Blame the marking. Blame the imminent fourth edit of the book. Blame work. Blame the podcast listening matter. Blame my very slow reading of Anti-Oedipus. Seeing as the latter has a hand in my writerly paralysis, I'm going to inflict a bit of Deleuze on you in lieu of proper writing. In this excellent discussion at the ever green Acid Horizon podcast, the comrades cast their eye over the famous Postscript on Societies of Control (something we touched on recently) and unpack Deleuze's arguments, the relationship to Foucault's work, and what resistance looks at and how it manifests itself when surveillance is everywhere and nowhere. If you like what you hear, please support the podcast here.

Friday 21 May 2021

Centrism Rebooted?

Four years ago this place suggested the writing was on the wall for Progress, and last weekend they wound themselves up to merge with the Policy Network. Marking the occasion was their conference which featured Keir Starmer and David Miliband, each pulling in 55 and 23-strong audiences respectively. Not the most auspicious of beginnings as both are significantly down on the in-person gatherings of just a few years ago. But I'm not here to pour scorn on the newly minted Progressive Britain but to see what's on offer and whether the centrists of the 2021 Labour Party have moved on from The Master. And the answer is ... not really.

Writing for LabourList, Nathan Yeowell says "we need need to rethink our centre left politics, not reheat them." Okay, but Progress has said the same thing for the last 20 years, so how does this "rethinking" differ? Well firstly, there's a plea for honesty and accounting for mistakes made. Sort of. Going back to 2010, Nathan argues we were busy "squabbling over which Miliband brother should be leader", which meant the Tories were given free reign to establish their association between Labour and profligacy and push their case for the "need" for swingeing cuts to the public sector. Compounding this trouble was the fact a systematic analysis and understanding of Labour's time in government wasn't established, meaning the party was ill-placed to counter Tory charges.

Oh dear. We're in the foothills of the argument and already we're encountering factionally convenient memory loss. Firstly, there was a Labour leadership contest which was why Labour was talking to itself and memory and some might recall the policy platforms of the two frontrunners. Dearest David, the great never-was of Labour politics was widely seen as the Blair continuity candidate and he was ... in favour of a programme of cuts. The blessed Ed, who affected a soft left pose, also acknowledged the "need" for cuts. The only candidates who didn't were Diane Abbott and, bizarrely, Ed Balls. If this wasn't enough, Labour went into the 2010 election also promising a programme then chancellor Alastair Darling summed up as "cuts worse than Thatcher." So let's take the bit between the teeth. The Tories drove the argument for austerity after the banking collapse and Labour completely capitulated to their common sense. They did so while in office, during the election, and pushed the line during the leadership debates. It was they who handed the initiative over to the Tories by stupidly affirming all of their attack lines, and refused to defend their record while still in office. This was an utter failure of politics, of centrist politics as well as a failure of leadership.

Nathan goes on and lays the fault of the subsequent defeat in 2015 at the feet of "political positioning and parlour games at Westminster." Was this really the case? Again, that wonderful thing called recollection comes to the rescue. Yes, Ed Miliband's leadership was too wonky, but its chief weakness was abiding by the common sense established by the press and the government, and also vigorously argued for by the centrist Labour. For them, Andy Burnham's health reforms were too ambitious, the suggestion of state intervention (note, not nationalisation) in the economy smacked of Soviet command and control, and yet somehow, mysteriously, Labour was still too left wing. The diagnosis, completely unsupported by polling evidence, was Labour lost because it was too weak on "aspiration". This is where we meet a symptomatic silence. Nathan opines how 2015 opened the door to Corbynism but the subsequent four years are merely designated a fractious period, or sturm and drang as he puts it in an unnecessary Wagnerian flourish. Curious that the former head of Progress might focus on the Commons minutiae of 2010 and 2015 as if these were the pivotal moments for Labour this last decade, and not the fall out from the Scottish referendum, the 2017 election - the first and only time Labour gained seats in a parliamentary election in 20 years - and the debilitating undermining of the Corbyn leadership by the parliamentary party and the centrists in exile in the "Remain movement". The disaster of 2019 had many authors, and no amount of "forgetting" or refusal to face up to their responsibility will get the Labour right, Progress-types, nor Keir Starmer off the hook for the part they played in securing defeat. Expecting the likes of Progressive Britain to accept responsibility for failure is one thing, but the fact these key events in the history of the party merit no mention suggests their idea of a rethink is as deep as their rebranding exercise.

If not recent history, what does centrism redux want to focus on? Nathan suggests accepting Brexit as a done deal, four years too late. That Labour should talk to progressive parties in Europe and the US, but curiously no whisper of discussions here in the UK. We need new policies and, in a roaring rhetorical finish, we must "look forward not back". Might I suggest this project won't get very far if you don't examine the contours of the political landscape we're in. And the two main questions are why the Tories are seemingly invulnerable despite the Coronavirus catastrophe, and what Labour's coalitions were in the two most recent elections and how they might be brought together again while taking votes off the government. See, it's not hard. If a hobby blogger can spot what the issues are, there's no excuse those enjoying the privilege of working full time in politics for not identifying what is staring right back at them.

What about policy? Nathan has little to say, but there is a prospectus already in the wings. A couple of months ago Rachel Reeves was talking up Labour values, and long-time readers might recall Wes Streeting's pamphlet on broadly the same theme. The next manifesto will draw from both, but with added plastic patriotism and paens for the army and police. But none of this matters if they keep ignoring the politics of Labour's coalition. Without an honest accounting, without an unsparing look at 2014-2019, it doesn't matter how many "radical" policies and fine-sounding initiatives they come up with. None will leave the environs of their seminar rooms, Fabian Review nor the Portcullis House coffee shop because they don't know and are uninterested in understanding how the country they want to run works. How pitiful it is that the Tories have a better handle and feel for the politics out there than the party that was founded as the voice of working people.

Thinking about the position of the party, where it has come from and what its trajectory is was first task of Progressive Britain. And at less than a week old it has flunked this most basic of tests.

Image Credit

Thursday 20 May 2021

Andy Burnham Vs Keir Starmer

May's weather might be changeable, but Keir Starmer and his environs are shrouded in permanent gloom and downpours. And matters weren't made any sunnier by Diane Abbott's musings as Labour prepares to select its candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election. "He's a goner if we lose" said the people's Auntie in not so many words. Ordinarily, Dear Keir and the exalted ones would ignore such as bellyaching. A quick look at the membership of the Campaign Group and the number of MPs needed to launch a leadership challenge would ordinarily reassure them. But following the terrible results, ordinarily does not exist any more. Diane suggested the SCG would go into bat for Andy Burnham, whose PLP hinterland is somewhat wider than the parliamentary forces of continuity Corbynism. With grumbles reverberating around the closed Zoom calls and WhatsApp groups, the numbers might be there for a contest. The only ingredient missing is ... Andy Burnham himself.

Unless he filed his papers in time for the by-election nomination, the King of the North is unlikely to challenge Keir for the iron throne of LOTO. But why, why Andy Burnham? How has he become the great hope of the parliamentary left? Diane recalls the Blairite figure who entered the field back in the 2010 contest. His only real departure from the orthodoxy then was resurrecting the S word, which had then been in exile since His Blairness assumed leadership in 1994. Then following a period as shadow education secretary and then health which he acquitted to much applause, he entrered the 2015 contest as the heir presumptive. Versus the dull, Brownist continuity of Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall's liberalism, Andy was destined to be the left candidate. Until Jeremy Corbyn and 200,000 new members interrupted proceedings. The subsequent campaign saw Andy zig-zag from hard right authoritarian positions to a fuzzy, ill-defined leftish Labourism. It was an erratic affair, but to his credit he served in Corbyn's shadow cabinet and did not join in the failed coup. After winning the mayoralty of Greater Manchester with ease, winding the clock forward to last Autumn Andy reminded Labour that another opposition was possible by actually opposing the Tories and winning wider support on this basis.

Some might suggest that if Andy Burnham is the answer, then Labour are asking some pretty poor questions. But this is where so-called Starmerism has led us. As the organised political expression of the labour movement, the party remains the best means, the only means for socialists to get elected in England and Wales. And where they have they can, like Salford, like Preston, made a real difference. No amount of Twitter tantrums, pop up parties or angry, vengeful thinking changes these facts of political life. Nor does the gnashing of teeth alter the character of the current leadership, who aren't going to disappear under a barrage of barbed tweets but are by accident and design driving the party off a cliff.

Burnham's faults are legion. He's not a socialist, he doesn't believe in democracy at the point of production, and as a rule is as bad as the mainstream of the parliamentary party on foreign affairs. But unlike Keir Starmer, Andy does understand the labour movement - at least to a degree. His politics on economics, health, education, and local government are soft left, appreciates the importance of the union link, and knows Labour can only win if it appears sufficiently Labourist. The most basic insight one can have about the party and its "offer", and it's beyond the ken of Starmerism's grown-ups-in-the-room. And, as much as it grates the Blairites and those for whom Keir Starmer is eminently electable if only the electors would vote for him, Andy Burnham is a much more experienced politician, is sure footed and understands politics, is much better at it, and possesses a certain charisma that has otherwise eluded the Labour MPs of his generation. As well as the Labour leader himself.

This is far from ideal, but Andy Burnham keeps open the possibility of Labour as a party of our class, warts and all. And with it the possibility of it becoming a vehicle for these interests. Keir Starmer, if he continues as he is - and the farcical appointment of Deborah Mattinson as "head of strategy" underlines the kamikaze direction - will end up destroying it, or shoving the party so far down a hole it can never climb out of. Unike Diane and the Campaign Group, we don't need to wait for Batley and Spen. Keir Starmer has shown his course and unwillingness to deviate, and therefore cannot be removed soon enough. And if Andy Burnham, in or out of parliament, and his proxies are the means of achieving this, so be it.

Image Credit

Wednesday 19 May 2021

The Tory Attack on Farmers

It's easy to reel off the groups of people the Tories like to attack. In the age of Covid, in no particular order we've had Travellers, the young, the "woke", and trans people just to name a few. But the latest addition to the list is a curiosity, if not an anomaly. Farmers. Strange because if a popular imaginary about farmers' political preferences exist, one might expect them to be steadfastly Tory. Go into the countryside at election time and plenty of roadside fields have Vote Tory hoardings, and indeed the farmer should be the quintessential Conservative supporter. Polling suggests there is strong Tory support here. Petit bourgeois and tied to the land, they embody the party's virtues of hard work and the deep traditional embeddedness to place. And while it was the case the National Farmers' Union took a quiet remain position during the EU referendum, more polling evidence suggests the majority voted to leave the European Union. In other words a small constituency, but from which solid support is drawn and occupies a special place in the conservative imaginary.

In what manner are they under attack? Because of three developments that have come to light over the last week. There are the pledges outlined by environment secretary George Eustice, which aims to re-green the countryside. This pays particular attention paid to biodiversity, the protection and restoration of peat bogs, and a tree planting programme lifted straight from Labour's 2019 manifesto. This programme will apply to England only and can only work by taking some farm land out of use. On the face of it, this seems innocuous. Farmers would be compensated for their land, and might be employed to undertake some of these conservation efforts themselves. Were it not for the coincidence of the other two items.

In the government's replacement of the EU grants system, the Tories have come forward with a plan that would pay older farmers to retire. This ranges from lump sums of £50k to £100k depending on the size of the farm. Why, when farmers as a group are ageing across the globe and having trouble attracting the young is the government looking to get rid of the experienced hands we've got? According to Eustice, these measures would encourage new, younger entrants (without deigning to explain how or why). He also suggests the old system encourages lethargy as money was distributed dependent on the size of the holding, therefore farmers were incentivised to do nothing while the subsidies rolled in. This fits in with the wider plan. As the Tories want to end farming subsidies (so much for the promises of a more generous settlement outside of the EU). Easing out older farmers with the carrot might undercut opposition later.

But what's this? There are reports of cabinet divisions over the proposed Brexit trade deal with Australia and New Zealand over farm subsidies. As the Tories are desperate for anything that improves on the third country terms of trade the UK had as an EU member, nothing can be allowed to get in the way. After all, this was one of the supposed advantages of moving "out of Europe and into the world", crowned by photo opportunities for ministers signing deals. But what is at stake is more than episodic advantage and fleeting good optics. Whenever a putative trade deal with the United States is mentioned - the real prize as far as Boris Johnson is concerned - animal welfare and food standards makes their unwelcome presence felt. Who fancies a drumstick of chlorinated chicken, or hormone-injected steak? The NFU has led the charge against the Tory desire to sacrifice British food standards to secure their deal, so it makes sense to undermine their position now by redirecting farmers toward conservation efforts, buying them out, or sacrificing them early on the altar of the small change of an Australia/New Zealand agreement. And if you don't buy this interpretation and put it down to usual leftist ravings, this is precisely the argument Paul Goodman has offered on Conservative Home.

What chances the Tory arm is the recent recomposition of their vote. The social weight of a comparatively tiny number of farmers, even if a good proportion of them are loyal supporters, is nothing versus the vote captured across their recent gains in the Midlands and North. Especially when Labour's formers seats are demographically drifting away from them and, as Hartlepool and the metro mayor results in Birmingham and the North East underlines, are likely to carry on doing so. By removing a well-organised interest group from the table, the easier it will be to sideline opposition to trade deals with the US or anyone else where agricultural subsidies and standards have to be dispensed with. Therefore the so-called row between Eustice and Liz Truss about farming is not one of principle but of timing: Truss wants support gone so the Tories have their deal, while Eustice also wants to withdraw the support - but not before the sweeteners are in place. As far as farmers are concerned, the government has everything but their best interests at heart.

What does this mean for the Tory base? Evidently, the government thinks it can evade flak from the backbenches. The way farmers are being constructed as undeserving recipients of handouts and as obstacles to fulfilling their Brexit fever dreams might be enough to win over enough MPs exposed to farmer-friendly pressure. On the other hand, it strikes at the rural affinities of the more traditional Tory, and as we have seen over the last 18 months the backbenches can be antsy if the mood takes them. And what might happen outside of the seat arithmetic of who supports what and when? The electoral coalition might be strong, but a direct attack on the interests of a constituency close to the party's hearts might spur the further fraying of the Tory organisation in such places and, given support for the Liberal Democrats is unusually high among farmers, see them benefit. But the likelihood of this resulting in damaging consequences is, unfortunately, as far from certain as can be - especially how the LibDems are still much reduced, even in their former west country strongholds. It seems then the government are secure enough to carve out and carve up this section of support. The Tories' problem lies not with the farmers, but when they go after other sectors of their coalition. An easy victory here strengthens the tendency to hubris, and from there the propensity to coming unstuck.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Local Council By-Elections May 2021

This month saw 781,808 votes over 342 local authority contests. All percentages are rounded to the nearest single decimal place. 99 council seat changed hands. For comparison with April's results, see here.

Number of Candidates
Total Vote
+/- March 20

*There was one by-election in Scotland
**There were 10 by-elections in Wales
***23 contests has Independent clashes
****Others this month consisted of the Andover Alliance (249), BNP (55), Christian People's Alliance (158, 80, 115), Communist Party of Britain (36, 33), Coventry Citizen's Party (194), For Britain (99, 49, 34, 12, 11, 14, 69), For the People Not the Party (88), Freedom Association (49), Heritage Party (49, 52, 45), Hart Community Campaign (1,417), Holland on Sea and Eastcliff Matters (118), Indeed (61), Kingston Independent Residents Group (378, 378), Lewisham People Before Profit (303, 219, 188), Liberal (383), Official Monster Raving Loony (110, 8, 16, 12, 13, 6, 14, 8, 2, 6, 2, 3, 7, 1, 1), Reform (40, 53, 112, 40, 35, 88, 105, 70, 89, 89, 42, 387), Residents for Guildford and Villages (660, 109) Residents for Uttleford (892, 361), SDP (16, 17, 30), Rochford District Residents (788), Skegness Urban District Society (121), Tendring First (140), Taking the Initiative Party (219, 251, 100, 36), TUSC (47, 72, 32, 33, 56, 551, 58, 77, 149, 38, 30, 40, 9, 117, 34, 55, 58, 27, 345, 82, 87, 154, 111, 91, 7, 58), UKIP (48, 105, 124, 19, 142, 35, 55, 384, 63, 120), Wales Needs Champions (34), We Matter Party (37), Welsh Independence Party (121) Women's Equality Party (149), Workers Party of Britain (58, 13, 21, 45), Yorkshire Party (397, 136), Young People's Alliance (52)

That's pretty much all the by-elections we've been saving up this last year thanks to Covid and ... what a disaster for Labour. What a triumph for the Conservatives. Interestingly the Tories managed to do better in popular vote terms here than the rest of the local elections that were taking place (as did Labour), but the deficit is the same - seven points. Labour did go into the locals as it went into these by-elections with some significant disadvantages - a voter base less likely to turn out for second order contests, and a national platform that wrongly suggested local councillors can save the NHS from cuts. But none of this disguises the fact the party got a pummelling. Mind you, the Liberal Democrats and Independents didn't come off lightly either. They two had bites taken out of them by the Tories.

How to explain this? In many parts of the country, it seems a portion of older voters have moved into protest voting against Labour. Years of entitlement and breaking trust with a significant layer of former Labour supporters thanks to the second referendum position has rendered the party radioactive to them, but this only goes some of the way. How have the Tories managed to advance against the LibDems and the flotsam and jetsam of Indydom? A similar no-trust dynamic is at play with the LibDems, and so they're unlikely to be the protest party du jour from now on. Likewise, localist candidates won't fit the bill either. Instead, in addition to awarding the Tories for the vaccine bounce, they have bizarrely become the go to protest party against the establishment. Even though they are the establishment. Consider how the Tories' popular base is mainly old, more dependent on legacy media for information about politics, and are ill-disposed toward parties who publicly attempted to throw over their referendum votes to remain in the European Union, you get a sense of the antipathy the Tories are feeding off. Naturally, getting to grips with this dynamic requires more work but for now perhaps the most simplistic way of putting it is that the Tories have annexed the UKIP vote wholesale, and have kept them on board for the same reasons these voters supported UKIP in the first place.

There is a lot in these results, but as one cannot resist the minutiae of things the 'Others' are interesting. Not just because the Official Monster Raving Loony Party stood 13 candidates in a single seat, but also because of UKIP's reduced circumstances (just 10 candidates!) but how TUSC have returned to the post-Corbyn electoral fray with the greatest spread of candidates after the Greens. The votes are what you might expect, but they're sure to remain a by-election fixture for the foreseeable. Also the Brexit Party are back in their new Reform Party guise, and they pulled in a couple of reasonable results. Also worth keeping an eye on should the wheels start falling off the Tory Party.

And that's it by-elections wise until 10th June. The best ever by-election preformance for the Tories and the worst for the other Westminster parties bar the Greens. If there is to be a recovery among the anti-Tory parties, local council by-elections will be the first to pick it up, so stay tuned.

6th May
Adur DC, Churchill, Con hold
Adur DC, Eastbrook, Lab hold
Adur DC, Southlands, Con gain from Lab
Allerdale DC, Aspatria, Ind gain from Oth
Allerdale DC, Christchurch, Con gain from Lab
Allerdale DC, St John's, Lab gain from Ind
Amber Valley DC, Somercotes, Lab hold
Arun DC, Brookfield, Con gain from LDem
Arun DC, Pevesney, Con gain from LDem
Ashfield DC, Annesley and Kirkby Woodhouse, Ind hold
Ashfield DC, Skegby, Ind hold
Ashford DC, Beaver, Con gain from Lab
Babergh DC, Great Conard, Con hold
Barking and Dagenham LBC, Thames, Lab hold
Barnet LBC, East Barnet, Con gain from Lab
Barnet LBC, Edgware, Con hold
Barrow-in-Furness BC, Hindpool, Lab hold
Barrow-in-Furness BC, Roosecote, Con hold
Basildon DC, Langdon Hills, Con gain from Ind
Bassetlaw BC, Ranskill, Con gain from Lab
Bassetlaw BC, Sutton, Con gain from Ind
Bassetlaw BC, Tuxford and Trent, Con hold
Bexley LBC, Longlands, Con hold
Birmingham MBC, Billesley, Lab hold
Birmingham MBC, Hall Green North, Lab hold
Birmingham MBC, Oscott, Con gain from Lab
Birmingham MBC, Quinton, Con gain from Lab
Blaby DC, Stanton and Flamville, Con hold
Blackpool UA, Highfield, Con hold
Blackpool UA, Norbreck, Con gain from Ind
Bolton MBC, Aspley Bridge, Con hold
Bolsover BC, Bolsover North and Shuttlewood, Lab hold
Bolsover BC, Pinxton, Lab gain from Ind
Boston DC, Skirbeck, Con hold
Bournemouth/Poole UA, Canford Heath, Con gain from LDem
Bournemouth/Poole UA, Commons, Ind hold
Bradford MBC, Bingley Rural, Con hold
Bradford MBC, Keighley Central, Con gain from Lab
Bradford MBC, Wharfedale, Con hold
Braintree DC, Hatfield Peverel and Terling, Con hold
Braintree DC, Witham South, Con Hold
Brent LBC, Brondesbury Park, Lab hold
Bridgend CBC, Nant-y-moel, Ind hold
Brighton and Hove UA, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Grn gain from Lab
Brighton and Hove UA, Patchwood, Con hold
Bromley LBC, Crystal Palace, Lab hold
Broxtowe BC, Beeston Rylands, Lab hold
Broxtowe BC, Stapleford South West, Lab hold
Bury MBC, Moorside, Lab hold
Bury MBC, North Manor, Con hold
Calderdale MBC, Brighouse, Con hold
Calderdale MBC, Greetland and Staniland, Con gain from LDem
Canterbury DC, Swalecliffe, Con hold
Canterbury DC, Westgate, Lab hold
Carlisle DC, Cathedral and Castle, Lab hold
Carlisle DC, Harraby South and Parklands, Con gain from Lab
Carlisle DC, Newtown and Moreton North, Con gain from Lab
Castlepoint DC, Boyce, Con hold
Castlepoint DC, St George's, Con hold
Chelsmford DC, Moulsham Lodge, Con gain from LDem
Cheshire East UA, Crewe West, Lab hold
Cheshire West and Chester UA, Frodsham, Con hold
Cheshire West and Chester UA, Neston, Lab hold
Colchester DC, Lexden and Braiswick, Con hold
Colchester DC, Prettygate, Con hold
Copeland DC, Whitehaven Central, Lab hold
Cotswald DC, Fosseridge, Con hold
Coventry MBC, Wyken, Lab hold
Craven DC, Barden Fell, Ind hold
Craven DC. Penyghent, Con hold
Crawley DC, Ifield, Lab hold
Crawley DC, Tilgate, Con hold
Croydon LBC, Kenley, Con hold
Croydon LBC, New Addington North, Lab hold
Croydon LBC, Park Hill and Whitgift, Con hold
Croydon LBC, South Norwood, Lab hold
Croydon LBC, Woodside, Lab hold
Cumbria CC, Brampton, Con hold
Cumbria CC, Cockermouth North, Con gain from LDem
Cumbria CC, St John's and Great Clifton, Con gain from Ind
Cumbria CC, Ulverston West, Grn gain from Con
Dacorum DC, Leverstock Green, Con hold
Dacorum DC, LDem hold
Darlington UA, Hummersknott, Con hold
Darlington UA, Red Hall and Lingfield, Con gain from Lab
Dartford DC, Darenth, Con hold
Dartford DC, Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley, Con hold
Derby UA, Darley, Con gain from Lab
Derbyshire Dales DC, Masson, Con gain from Lab
Derbyshire Dales DC, Wirksworth, Lab hold
Dudley MBC, Belle Vale, Con hold
Dudley MBC, Kingswinford North and Wall Heath, Con hold
Ealing LBC, Broadway, Con hold
Ealing LBC, Habbayne, Lab hold
Ealing LBC, Hanger Hill, Con hold
East Devon DC, Whimple and Rockbeare, Con gain from Ind
East Hampshire DC, Bramshott and Liphook, Con hold
East Hampshire DC, Grayshott, Con hold
East Hertfordshire DC, Bishops Stortford All Saints, LDem hold
East Lindsey DC, Chapel St Leonards, Con hold
East Riding UA, South East Holderness, Con hold
East Riding UA, South West Holderness, Con hold
East Staffs DC, Eton Park, Lab hold and Lab gain from Ind
Eastbourne BC, Hampden Park, LDem hold
Eastbourne BC, Sovereign, Con hold
Eden DC, Hartside, Con hold
Eden DC, Skelton, Con hold
Enfield LBC, Chase, Con gain from Lab
Enfield LBC, Jubilee, Lab hold
Enfield LBC, Southbury, Lab hold
Epping Forest DC, Grange Hill, Con hold
Erewash BC, Hallam Fields, Con gain from Lab
Erewash BC, Nottingham Road, Con gain from Lab
Exeter DC, Mincinglake and Whipton, Lab hold
Fenland DC, Lattersey, Con hold
Flintshire CC, Gwernymynydd, Ind hold
Forest of Dean DC, Berry Hill, Ind hold
Forest of Dean DC, Cinderford East, Lab hold
Gateshead MBC, Birtley, Lab hold
Gateshead MBC, Lamesley, Lab hold
Gravesham DC, Westcourt, Con gain from Lab
Great Yarmouth BC, Claydon, Con gain from Lab
Great Yarmouth BC, Ormesby, Con gain from Ind
Greenwich LBC, Glyndon, Lab hold
Greenwich LBC, Greenwich West, Lab hold
Greenwich LBC, Kidbrook with Horsfair, Lab hold
Greenwich LBC, Shooters Hill, Lab hold
Guildford BC, Friary and St Nicholas, LDem hold
Guildford BC, Pirbright, Con hold
Guildford BC, Send, Oth hold
Hackney LBC, Hoxton East and Shoreditch, Lab hold
Hackney LBC, Kings Park, Lab hold
Hackney LBC, Stamford Hill West, Con hold
Hackney LBC, Woodbury Down, Lab hold
Harborough DC, Market Harborough Little Bowden, Con hold
Harlow DC, Church Langley, Con hold
Harlow DC, Toddbrook, Con gain from Lab
Hart DC, Crookham West and Ewshot, Oth hold
Herefordshire UA, Newton Farm, Con gain from Ind
Hertsmere DC, Borehamwood Kennilworth, Lab gain from Con
Hertsmere DC, Bushey North, LDem hold
Hillingdon BC, Charville, Con hold
Horsham BC, Trafalgar, LDem hold
Hounslow LBC, Cranford, Lab hold
Hounslow LBC, Hounslow Heath, Lab hold
Huntingdonshire DC, Huntingdonshire North, Lab hold
Huntingdonshire DC, St Ives East, Con hold
Huntingdonshire DC, St Ives South, Con Hold
Huntingdonshire DC, Warboys, Con hold
Hyndburn DC, St Andrews, Con hold
Ipswich DC, Castle Hill, Con hold
Ipswich DC, Holywells, Con gain from Lab
Isle of Anglesey CC, Caergybi, Ind hold
Isle of Anglesey CC, Seiriol, PC hold
Islington LBC, Bunhill, Lab hold
Islington LBC, Highbury West, Lab hold
Islington LBC, Holloway, Lab hold
Islington LBC, Mildway, Lab hold
Islington LBC, St Peter's, Lab hold
Kingston upon Thames LBC, Chessington South, LDem hold
Kirklees MBC, Birstall and Birkenshaw, Con hold
Kirklees MBC, Golcar, LDem hold
Knowsley MBC, Halewood South, Ind hold
Knowsley MBC, St Gabriel, Grn gain from Lab
Lancaster City DC, Bulk, Grn hold
Lancaster City DC, Kellet, Con gain from LDem
Leeds MBC, Roundhay, Lab hold
Leicester UA, North Evington, Lab hold
Lewisham MBC, Bellingham, Lab hold
Lewisham MBC, Catford South, Lab hold
Lewisham MBC, New Cross, Lab hold
Lewisham MBC, Sydenham, Lab hold
Lichfield DC, Summerfield and All Saints, Con gain from Lab
Liverpool MBC, Croxteth, Lab hold
Luton UA, High Town, Lab hold
Luton UA, Round Green, LDem gain from Lab
Maldon DC, Heybridge East, Con hold
Maldon DC, Tollesnury, Ind gain from Con
Manchester MBC, Brooklands, Lab hold
Manchester MBC, Clayton and Openshaw, Lab gain from Ind
Mendip DC, Wells St Thomas, Con gain from LDem
Merton LBC, St Helier, Lab hold
Mid Devon DC, Castle Ward, Con gain from LDem
Mid Devon DC, Taw, Con hold
Mid Devon DC, Westexe, Con gain from Ind
Mid Sussex DC, Copthorne and Worth, Con gain from Ind
Miton Keynes BC, Central Milton Keynes, Lab hold
Miton Keynes BC, Woughton and Fishermead, Lab hold
Neath Port Talbot CBC, Aberavon, Lab hold
Newark and Sherwood, Boughton, Con hold
Newcastle upon Tyne MBC, Byker, Lab hold
Newcastle upon Tyne MBC, Chapel, Ind hold
Newham LBC, East Ham Central, Lab hold
Newport CC, Victoria, Lab hold
North East Derbyshire DC, Eckington South and Renishaw, Con gain from Lab
North East Derbyshire DC, Killamarsh East, Con hold
North East Derbyshire DC, Killamarsh West, Con hold
North East Lincolnshire DC, East Marsh, LDem hold
North East Lincolnshire DC, Scartho, Con hold
North Kesteven DC, Bassingham and Brant Brougton, Con gain from Ind
North Lincolnshire UA, Ashby, Con gain from Lab
North Lincolnshire UA, Bottesford, Con hold
North Lincolnshire UA, Broughton and Appleby, Con hold x2
North Norfolk DC, Coastal, Con gain from LDem
North Norfolk DC, Holt, Con hold
North Somerset US, Portishead East, Ind hold
North Tyneside MBC, Chirton, Lab hold
North Tyneside MBC, Preston, Lab hold
North Tyneside MBC, St Mary's, Con hold
North Warwickshire DC, Atherstone Central, Con gain from Lab
North Warwickshire DC, Curdworth, Con hold
North Warwickshire DC, Polesworth East, Con gain from Lab
North West Leicestershire DC, Ibstock East, Con gain from Lab
North West Leicestershire DC, Worthington and Breedon, Con hold
North Yorkshire CC, Bilton and Nidd, Con gain from LDem
North Yorkshire CC, Ribblesdale, Con hold
Peterborough UA, Fletton and Woodston, Lab gain from Con
Reading BC, Peppard, Con hold
Redbridge LBC, Loxford, Lab hold
Redbridge LBC, Seven Kings, Lab hold
Redcar and Cleveland UA, Guisborough, Con hold
Redcar and Cleveland UA, Hutton, Con hold
Redcar and Cleveland UA, Longbeck, Con hold
Reigate and Banstead BC, Earlswood and Whitebushes, Grn hold
Reigate and Banstead BC, Hooley, Merstham and Netherne, Con hold
Reigate And Banstead BC, Horley East and Salfords, Con hold
Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, Llantwwit Fardre, Con hold
Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, Penrhiwceiber, Lab gain from Oth
Ribble Valley BC, Billington and Langho, Con hold
Ribble Valley BC, Mellor, Con hold
Ribble Valley BC, West Bradford and Grindleton, Con hold
Richmond upon Thames LBC, Hampton Wick, LDem gain from Grn
Rochford DC, Hockley and Ashingdon, Con hold
Rochford DC, Hullbridge, Oth gain from Grn
Rossendale BC, Stackstead, Lab gain from Ind
Rother DC, Easter Rother, Con hold
Rugby BC, Admiral and Cawston, Con hold
Rushcliffe DC, Sutton Bonington, Con hold
Rushmoor DC, North Town, Lab hold
Sandwell MBC, Old Warley, Lab hold
Sandwell MBC Rowley, Con gain from Lab
Sandwell MBC, Wednesbury South, Con gain from Lab
Sefton MBC, Blundellsands, Lab hold
Sefton MBC, Derby, Lab hold
Selby DC, Camblesforth and Carlton, Con gain from Oth
Sevenoaks DC, Brasted, Chevening and Sundridge, Con hold
Sheffield MBC, Richmond, Lab hold
Solihull MBC, Elmdon, LDem hold
Somerset West and Taunton DC, Trull, Pitminster and Corfe, LDem hold
South Cambridgeshire DC, Girton, LDem gain from Ind
South Cambridgeshire DC, Harston and Camberton, LDem hold
South Cambridgeshire DC, Melbourn, LDem hold
South Cambridgeshire DC, Milton and Waterbeach, LDem hold
South Derbyshire DC, Church Gresley, Con hold
South Derbyshire DC, Hilton, Con hold x2
South Derbyshire DC, Seales, Con hold
South Gloucestershire UA, Frenchhay and Downend, Con hold
South Hams DC, Ivybridge West, Con hold
South Kesteven, Glen, Con hold
South Lakeland DC, Broughton and Coniston, LDem gain from Con
South Oxfordshire DC, Didcot North East, Con gain from Ind
South Oxfordshire DC, Forest Hill and Holton, LDem hold
South Ribble DC, Longton and Hutton West, Con hold
South Ribble DC, St Ambrose, Lab hold
South Tyneside MBC, Horsley Hill, Lab hold
South Tyneside MBC, Monkton, Lab hold
Southend-on-Sea BC, St Lukes, Lab gain from Ind
Southend-on-Sea BC, Westborough, Lab hold
Spelthorne BC, Staines South, Con gain from LDem
St Albans DC, Harpenden East, LDem gain from Con
St Albans DC, Harpenden South, Con hold
St Helens MBC, Earlestown, Lab hold
Staffordshire Moorlands DC, Cheadle NE, Con gain from Ind
Staffordshire Moorlands DC, Cheadle SE, Con gain from Ind
Stevenage BC, Roebuck, Con gain from Lab
Stirling CA, Forth and Endrick, Con gain from SNP
Stockton-on-Tees UA, Billingham West, Con gain from Ind
Stockton-on-Tees UA, Bishops Garth and Elm Tree, Con gain from LDem
Stockton-on-Tees UA, Hartburn, Con hold
Stockton-on-Tees UA, Western Parishes, Con hold
Stockton-on-Tees UA, Yarm, Con hold
Stoke-on-Trent UA, Moorcroft, Con gain from Lab
Sunderland MBC, Copt Hill, Lab hold
Sunderland MBC, Shiney Row, Lab hold
Sunderland MBC, Washington South, Lab gain from Grn
Surrey Heath, Bagshot, Con gain from LDem
Swale DC, Sheerness, Con gain from Lab
Swansea UA, Castle, Lab hold
Swansea UA, Llansamlet, Lab hold
Swindon BC, Chiseldon and Lawn, Con hold
Swindon BC, Wroughton and Witchelstowe, Con gain from LDem
Tandridge DC, Queens Park, Con gain from LDem
Tandridge DC, Valley, LDem hold
Telford and Wrekin UA, Dawley and Aqueduct, Lab hold
Telford and Wrekin UA, Donnington, Con gain from Lab
Tendring DC, Eastcliff, Ind gain from Oth
Tendring DC, West Clacton and Jaywick Sands, Con gain from Oth
Test Valley BC, Andover Milway, Con gain from Oth
Test Valley BC, Andover St Mary's, Con gain from Oth
Test Valley BC, Chilworth, Nursling and Rownham, Con hold x2
Tewkesbury BC, Cleeve Hill, Con hold
Thanet BC, Central Harbour, Grn gain from Lab
Thanet BC, Dane Valley, Con gain from Ind
Thanet BC, Newington, Con gain from Lab
Torbay UA, Clifton with Maidemway, LDem hold
Trafford MBC, Bowden, Con hold
Trafford MBC, Flixton, Lab hold
Trafford MBC, Longford, Lab hold
Trafford MBC, Priory, Lab hold
Tunbridge Wells BC, St James', LDem hold
Tunbridge Wells BC, Speldhurst and Biddborough, Con hold
Uttlesford DC, Newport, Oth Hold
Uttlesford DC, The Sampford, Con gain from Oth
Vale of White Horse DC, Grove North, Con gain from LDem
Wakefield MBC, Airedale and Ferry Fryston, Lab gain from Ind
Walsall MBC, Pelsall, Con hold x 2
Waltham Forest LBC, Hatch Lane, Con hold
Wandsworth LBC, Bedford, Lab hold
Warwick BC, Leamington Clarendon, Lab hold
Watford BC, Nascot, LDem hold
Wealdon DC, Hailsham North, LDem gain from Con
Welwyn and Hatfield BC, Welham Green and Hatfield South, Con gain from LDem
West Lancashire DC, Hesketh-with-Becconsall, Con hold
West Lindsey DC, Kelsey Wold, Con hold
West Suffolk DC, Abbeygate, Grn hold
West Suffolk DC, Clare Hundon and Kedington, Con gain from Ind
West Suffolk DC, Lakenheath, Con gain from Ind
West Suffolk DC, Moreton Hall, Con gain from Ind
West Suffok DC, Southgate, Con hold
West Suffolk DC, Whepstead and Wickhambrook, Con hold
Westminster LBC, Churchill, Lab hold
Wigan MBC, Orrell, Con hold
Winchester DC, St Michael, LDem hold
Wirral MBC, New Brighton, Lab hold
Wolverhampton MBC, Heath Town, Lab hold
Wolverhampton MBC, Tettenhall Wightwick, Con hold
Wychavon DC, Emley Castle and Somerville, Con hold

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