Editorials from Labour Affairs

Covering the previous year. Older editorials are part of Past Issues.

Brexit Blues.  September 2017

Theresa May’s gamble on a landside majority in June’s general election was a Titanic disaster. She failed to get the mandate she wanted to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She even lost the pre-election majority she had. Consequently, May and her Brexit ministers, shocked by the election result, are floundering like fish out of water. It is fourteen months since the June 2016 referendum resulted in an unexpected vote to leave the EU. Yet no progress has been made with the EU’s three pre-trade negotiations demands.

They’re All Corbynites Now!  July / August 2017.

The election was a personal triumph for Corbyn. Labour MPs who had poured scorn on him as leader and undermined him at every opportunity, have undergone a Pauline conversion. Many of their seats which were forecast to fall to the Tories, were retained with increased majorities. The majority of elderly voters continued to support the Tories. But this was more than compensated for with a huge surge in support for Labour from relatively young voters.

Corbyn’s Comeback, June 2017

On the eve of the election campaign the Tories held a lead over Labour of around 20 points.  But as Harold Wilson once said, “a week is a long time in politics.”  Within a few weeks the political landscape changed as Labour successfully switched the focus from Brexit to the bread and butter issues of falling living standards, the desperate housing shortage, and the crisis in the NHS and social care.

Trusting Theresa May.  May 2017.

‘Trust Me, I’m A Vicar’s Daughter’ could be the message.  But the overwhelming support of MPs for Article 50 wasn’t enough. She wanted complete obedience from her congregation in the chamber of the House. She claimed, bizarrely, that the country was united following the referendum result, but that parliament was divided. She accused Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP of attempting to sabotage the Brexit negotiations and of threatening to oppose a final deal.

The Parliamentary Labour Party: Labour’s Timid Tendency.  April 2017

Corbyn’s major problem as leader derives from his desire to unite the party as much as possible. This is unachievable and he should therefore concentrate on setting out his own views, and also be more firm with shadow cabinet members who step out of line.

Testing Times For Corbyn And LabourMarch 2017

The loss of the marginal seat of Copeland to the Tories was immediately added to the long-running story that Labour is doomed under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The fact that the Tories had been a strong second to Labour in every general election since 1983, when the seat of Copeland was created, was not deemed to be relevant. Labour’s share of the vote, on the other hand, had declined in each election from a peak of 58.2% in 1997 to 42.3% in 2015.

May’s Fantasy Brexit.  February  2017

Over the six months since the UK voted to leave, Theresa May has been constantly accused of vagueness about the government’s plans for the UK’s future outside of the EU. In spite of her firm delivery, couched with threats to turn the UK into a low tax haven unless her demands are met, there is still a lot of vagueness and flights of fantasy about her aspirations.

Corbyn: Could Do Better.  December 2016  – January 2017

Jeremy Corbyn’s performance at Prime Minister’s Questions has improved in the weeks since his re-election. He is more abrasive and aggressive, and carries a confident swagger. And yet, he continues to let Theresa May off the hook. Her false accusations about Labour and the NHS, the last Labour government’s profligacy and its responsibility for the 2008 crisis, go unchallenged. But Corbyn is not helped to counter these accusations by his backbenchers who remain fixed to their seats with an air of indifference. One could suspect that they are more keen to defeat Corbyn than to weaken and eventually defeat the Tory government.

Labour: the Unions and Workers on the Board.  November 2016

The election of Jeremy Corbyn has pushed the centre ground of British politics to the left. Teresa May, ever the eagle-eyed opportunist, was quick to spot this and is occupying the space she believes will bring electoral rewards to the Tories. With the latest Tory slogan ‘A country that works for everyone’ and warm words about looking after the working class, she is clearly appealing to UKIP and Labour voters who feel that they were neglected by previous governments, both Labour and Tory.

Thirty nine years ago the Bullock Inquiry on Industrial Democracy published its findings. It proposed a scheme for employee representation on the boards of companies with at least 2,000 employees.

Bullock arose from a need to accommodate the industrial strength of the trade unions in ways that were not merely disruptive. It foundered on the fact that the unions were blind to the consequences of the exercise of untrammelled collective bargaining

Corbyn’s re-election: There will be trouble ahead.  October 2016.

Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader with an increased majority would in normal times lay the leadership issue to rest. But we don’t live in normal times. Even though Corbyn won a majority of votes in all three categories—full members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters—there are those within the parliamentary party who refuse to accept the result. They have publicly hinted, in spite of Corbyn’s call for unity, that they will continue to make life difficult for the leader. It’s clear therefore that the overriding message of the result is that there is a wide disconnect between ordinary members and supporters and the parliamentary party. Unless this disconnection is unravelled the future for Labour looks exceedingly grim.

Labour’s Next Leader?  September 2016.

Jeremy Corbyn’s PLP critics claim that under his leadership Labour is unelectable. Some of these critics are the same people who were responsible for Labour losing the last two general elections. But rather than rally round Corbyn they have placed their faith in Owen Smith, a man with little more than six years experience as a member of parliament. Their aim, they say, is a Labour government. So what guarantees can they offer that, should Smith defeat Corbyn in the leadership election currently being held, Labour will win the next general election?

There is something odd about the choice of Smith. If Corbyn’s critics seriously want Labour to win in 2020, why choose Smith? Whatever happened to the big guns among the PLP? Where are Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper, for example? They have been strangely quiet in recent months as if on permanent vacation. Could it be that had either one stood against Corbyn in Labour’s present political atmosphere they would have been soundly defeated?

Divisive PoliticsJuly 2016.

David Cameron made a monumental blunder when he promised a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.  But his decision to resign and force an election for a new Tory leader and Prime Minister in October killed off further criticism of his premiership both within the Tory party and the anti-Cameron press.

Labour on the other hand, has the difficult problem of reconnecting with its supporters who have become alienated and disillusioned. Corbyn’s opponents expect him to deliver quick positive results. He has a long-term project, the core of which is to re-connect with working class Labour voters deserted by a Blairite Labour party. But they are not prepared to go the long haul. They want Corbyn out.


Older editorials are included with other articles on another page.

PDFs of the magazine are also available, for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and earlier.  Incomplete, unfortunately.

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