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Polling blues and reds in the UK November 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Depressing to see the Tory leads continue to be extraordinarily high. The latest ICM poll from the Guardian notes:

Conservatives: 44% (up 2 points from ICM earlier this month)
Labour: 28% (no change)
Ukip: 12% (up 1)
Lib Dems: 7% (down 2)
Greens: 4% (up 1)
Conservative lead: 16 points (up 2)
That score for the Tories, just to contextualise it, is the highest they’ve seen since 2009 and just one point short of their highest ever since 1992.

An even more thought-provoking chart is this on the wiki page on polling in advance of the next election. Look at the blue line.

The Tories and Labour were much much closer until… earlier this year – that’s right, pretty much until the referendum. And subsequently, well both Labour and UKIPs vote tumbled (the LP not helped by a completely pointless leadership contest) while that of the Tories soared away. Note too that the Tories have, since May last year been effectively ahead at all times. It is post-referendum though that the gap has really opened up. So what happens now? That’s a big hill everyone else has to climb.


1. 6to5against - November 30, 2016

56% percent support for parties ranging from the far to the extreme right. What can any party of the left do against that? Particularly when any message they try to get out there is filtered through a media that is either hostile or ineffective.
And noting that, here, we tend to follow trends set in either the UK or US its hard not to despair.


Gewerkschaftler - November 30, 2016

We need to be able to present a reasonable (set of) plan(s) which people can invest in, rationally and emotionally and the social and organisational structures to match.

Reading that, perhaps a little despair is appropriate. But dull.


2. EWI - November 30, 2016

The unpalateable reality may be that some vote not on reason but on emotion, and instinctively follow strong ‘winners’.

Corbyn needs to stamp on the Labour Blairite rebels, hard, and then start doing the same to Tories.


3. Joe - November 30, 2016

Is there an element of in time of crisis, support the government? Like the Falklands War, support for the tory governement increased. Now Brexit, Britain against the foreigners, support for the tory government increases.


Gewerkschaftler - November 30, 2016

Most likely there’s a good bit of that Joe.

Plus the unrelenting campaign against Corbyn from nearly all Brit meeja.


4. CL - November 30, 2016

“Back when I was young, Jeremy Corbyn’s views would have seemed mainstream Labour.”-Julian Barnes


5. ivorthorne - November 30, 2016

The problem with the rise of the far (golf club) right is that they make the regular right look reasonable. If the centre left just offers a less severe version of the centre right ( a la New Labour or the Democrats) while focusing on identity politics, they just look like a brand variation of the Green Party (who often come across as a party whose vision could be summed up as “let’s just be nice to eachother, maintain the status quo and look after rare species of slug”.)

When the far right are talking more about the issues that affect the working class (jobs, services, pay), they’ll take a share of the left leaning vote – even if their analysis boils down to “fuck the foreigners”.

At least when it comes to the US, people need to remember that Sanders would probably have beaten Trump. He would have been the most anti-capitalist POTUS in my lifetime (ever?). As in the early 20th century, the same factors that lead to people turning further right, can also lead to people turning left.

It’s a dangerous time, but there are opportunities here as well. People are unhappy with capitalism and the fruits of globalisation. The question is how to present a socialist analysis to people in terms they understand while getting around a hostile media.


WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2016

That’s a great point re making the regular right look reasonable, and just at the time when that orthodoxy was reeling after 2008-201x and the crises.


CL - November 30, 2016

Neoliberal orthodoxy has collapsed. To whom does it look reasonable?

“The neoliberal structural reforms of Bill Clinton — NAFTA, the WTO, welfare reform, and financial deregulation did so much damage that there wasn’t much left for the next president, George W. Bush, to do….
When center-left politicians — in this case from the Democratic Party — abandon much of their base in important ways, they can end up voting for right-wing demagogues….
the Democrats will also need new leadership that is willing to provide an alternative to the past four decades of neoliberal failure”


WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2016

What’s interesting is that there’s been a resurgence of an older form of protectionist capitalism at least rhetorically.


CL - November 30, 2016

Protectionist capitalism and a massive anti-austerity fiscal stimulus, which Trump is proposing, are significant departures from neoliberal orthodoxy, but significant features of market fundamentalism remain, such as further deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, attacks on workers, making education, health etc more ‘market dependent’.
Neoliberal orthodoxy has given rise to populist nationalism,-to Brexit and to Trump. A befuddled Blair in the U.K is unable to see this. Likewise the Democrats in the U.S. Prodded by Sanders and Warren, can they shift to a more pro-worker stance? Doubtful. Meanwhile Trump and the predator class are seizing state power.

Liked by 1 person

Gewerkschaftler - December 1, 2016

“When the far right are talking more about the issues that affect the working class (jobs, services, pay), they’ll take a share of the left leaning vote – even if their analysis boils down to “fuck the foreigners”.”

Indeed. And that’s going to apply in spades to the FN in the election campaign that has started in France.

But we don’t need to put across ‘a socialist analysis’ – we need a plan and program that people can believe and and invest in emotionally. Something a little more concrete than “let’s have a revolution and then leave it to us”. A weakness of the (Marxist) left – indeed a fatal weakness – is the idea of false consciousness – the notion that if people “correctly” understood their position they would automatically take part in the “correct” political strategies. Leftist intellectuals / activists always assume everyone else is a leftist intellectual or activist in the making.

The (proto)fascist right always come with a do-able plan – usually “get rid of / keep out the foreigners”, decorated with an implicit and unfulfillable promise “… and you’ll get your old secure jobs and services back.”

It’s possible to address the concerns a significant section of the (proto-)fascist right’s support in terms of a political economy that damages and disadvantages in concrete terms without giving an inch on their racism, misogyny, homophobia, islamophobia and identitarian nationalism.

The demand for a $15 an hour in the US as a minimum wage would be an example.


CMK - December 1, 2016

The people who initiated and pushed the ’15 Now!’ campaign in the US were largely committed Marxists.

There is a parallel liberal ‘false consciousness’ which sees politics in terms of debate, argument etc. and that all the Left needs to do to compete with the Far Right is come up with catchy slogans. Erasing, entirely, the extent to which powerful interests in any capitalist society will nurture the Right and the Far Right at a time of political and economic turmoil so that the Right and Far Right come to be seen in ‘common sense’ terms as having the ‘answers’.

The fate of Sanders’ campaign; the continual attacks against Corbyn since his election in 2015; the media attacks on and sidelining of the Left here; etc.

Contrast that to the extent to which a creep like Farage is given more or less unlimited platforms across all media. I mean last week we had the ridiculous spectacle of the main RTE evening radio programme – Drivetime – discussing the succession of the runner up in the Bootle constituency to the leadership of a party led by the runner up in the Thanet East constituency. Jesus, the Left has spent decades here ekking out a platform, in the face of media indifference and hostility, and yet a Right wing outfit like UKIP is gifted extensive coverage. That’s not because of their ‘populist’ appeal; it is because they will serve powerful interests and not interfere with property rights, if they assume elected office.

That’s a bit of vulgar Marxism, but I think it stands up.


Gewerkschaftler - December 1, 2016

There’s something in that, certainly.

But I don’t know to what extent the media deliberately gives the AfD, say, so much air time, as a conscious political choice. Because in doing so they are eating away at support for much more reliable supporters of powerful interests – namely the CDU/CSU and the SPD.

It’s partly a question of the right ‘populists’ being good for viewing figures and click-throughs.

An interesting (from a propaganda point of view) technique adopted by Bannon and co. was ‘Anchor left, pivot right’.

Basically you put something out there that’s offensive to the ‘liberal’ media. They then create massive free publicity and your creature can respond – amplify, endorse, backtrack; whatever – it doesn’t matter – consistency is not their primary aim – the focus is on their issues, their playing field.

Could ‘Anchor right, pivot left’ work? Probably not, because if there’s one thing the liberal media is consciously consistent about it’s that little time should be given to the responses from the left to – well anything really.

The ‘liberal’ media’s refusal to ask hard questions about the causes of the rise of the right is visible in the way surveys of far right voters are carried out, for instance. The real questions of political economy and loss of income and loss of economic and social security are obfusticated behind a tendentious label ‘fear of globalisation’ – take this example from the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Whether the liberal media to ever be brought to ignore the (proto-)fascists and not make them the star of every TV debate is doubtful – it’s against their commercial interests. But attempting to shame them into some kind of action has to be part of our approach.

Perhaps we can frighten them with the way Trump simply isn’t going to give them a role – he’s going to put out tweets and Youtube videos and go straight over their heads to his audience.


CL - December 1, 2016

‘Through his Twitter and Facebook accounts, he has a personal “fake news” network with enormous reach, which he can use to circumvent the mainstream media. And in Steve Bannon, his former campaign C.E.O. and now his chief strategist, he has a skilled and unscrupulous propagandist….
so far the Grand Old Party, under the guidance of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, has shown no enthusiasm for standing up to Trump, instead intimating that, with its assistance, he will make a fine President.

Which brings us back to the darkest of histories…”

Yes, and we have now entered a post-Godwin’s law era, or at least a period where it should be ignored.


6. Ed - November 30, 2016

I think Brexit is a large part of this, aside from all the obvious messing-about with a pointless leadership election. Basically, the Tories have been able to get away so far with being all things to all people. The negotiations haven’t started yet, they haven’t had to take any firm positions, and they’ve been promising to have their cake and eat it too (using exactly those words); unlimited access to EU trade, controls on immigration, no pay-outs to the EU, etc. The latest polls suggests that’s where the majority of people are at right now: they want the single market and they want controls on immigration too, and May, Johnson and co certainly aren’t going to come out and say they can’t have both at this stage. I thought the cake-and-eat-it stuff was largely a sham for public consumption, but according to notes that were snapped by an eagle-eyed photographer the other day, this is actually their strategy for the negotiations.

So let’s say you have three parts of the Tory base right now: the hard-line anti-immigration Brexit voters who want controls on EU workers coming into Britain above all; the softer Brexit voters who would prefer to keep the single market even if it made it harder to control immigration; and the people who voted Remain because they feared it would lead to economic disaster or instability. Groups A and B are both being satisfied by the Tory line right now, while Group C hasn’t seen any negative consequences of leaving the EU yet (because Britain hasn’t left). So they can be all things to, if not all people, then certainly enough people to have them riding high in the polls.

Labour, on the other hand, is in a much tougher position. Two-thirds of their supporters voted Remain, one-third Leave. But the Remain voters often tend to be concentrated in cities where there are safe Labour seats, while the Leave voters often tend to be concentrated in areas where Labour risks losing seats or needs to win them back. So trying to keep both parts of their electorate on board is going to be very tricky; they can’t be seen to oppose Brexit—in the sense of trying to overturn the referendum—but they can’t be too enthusiastic about it either. It’s harder still for Labour in Scotland, where the majority voted Remain, and the SNP is flatly opposed to leaving the EU and trying to use it as leverage to win support for Scottish independence; Labour was already in a very tough position in Scotland with the SNP claiming the left-of-centre ground and linking it to independence, and the Tories claiming the unionist ground, but now they’re caught between pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit parties. Labour can’t take the same position as the SNP because it needs to win votes all over Britain, not just in Scotland.

For all of those reasons, the idea that some anti-Brexit liberals have been pushing, that Labour should go on a kamikaze mission to try and stop Brexit at all costs, just isn’t a runner; it can’t work, and it’ll do them enormous harm if they try it. Maybe they could get enough pro-Remain Tory MPs to defect in a parliamentary vote to overrule May’s government, but then May would call a snap election, running on a Eurosceptic/British nationalist platform, presenting her party as the only one that respects the will of the British people and their opponents as anti-democratic conspirators representing the ‘cosmopolitan elite’. And they’d probably do very well on that platform. The idea of holding a second referendum on the terms of exit from the EU makes a little more sense, but it would have to be based on something more substantial than ‘you got it wrong the first time, time to repent your error’. According to a poll this week, just half of Remain voters are keen for the referendum result to be overturned anyway: http://neweconomics.org/polled-remain-voters-told-us/

I don’t think there’s going to be a major shift until A) the Tories have to come down from the heights of abstraction and put their Brexit cards on the table, or B) another crisis intervenes (or both, or they amount to the same thing). It’s a very hard position for the British left to be in, and I have to take a minute to mock once again those socialists who claimed that the likely outcome of a Brexit vote was a Tory split, a snap election and a Labour government within a few months. The most important thing for the Labour leadership to do until a shift comes is to hold on, keep sharpening their game (which they’ve been doing quite noticeably of late, by the way), and hold the line against the Labour right-wing who are demanding full capitulation to UKIP-style politics and want Labour to try and outflank the Tories from the right on immigration.

If you’re in any doubt that things could be worse, just have a look at what those people have been coming out with this week; it’s no longer accurate to call them ‘Blairites’, they’re well to the right of Blair. Just look at the unhinged stuff that the vile Stephen Kinnock has been coming out with over the last week, railing against ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ and saying ‘we must stand for one group: the British people’. They’ve been talking up UKIP under its new leader and trying to sabotage a very good effort by Labour to present Paul Nuttall as an ultra-Thatcherite who wants to privatize the NHS; as far as the ‘Blue Labour’ crowd are concerned, the only legitimate way to compete with UKIP is by saying ‘you don’t need to vote for UKIP to stop immigration, we’ll do it instead’, so they’ve been fanning out in the media to try and disrupt their own party’s anti-UKIP line, telling people ‘nobody cares about the NHS, immigration is all that matters’. Preventing them from using one of Britain’s major parties as a platform for that poison is a more-than-negligible thing to be doing right now.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2016

100% agree Ed and a great summation. The idea of the BLP trying to block Brexit is crazy, indeed tbh the idea of any trying to is problematic in the extreme (at least any party). It’s one thing to quibble about process and shape of it – soft, medium, hard, but the UK is going to have to exit membership of the EU. Frankly it wouldn’t trouble me if they went for EFTA or full isolation but that’s their problem and their decision, but politically it would be very foolish to try to stop an exit as a member of the EU. As you say a second referendum a good way down the line may be feasible but may not be.

I guess the best that can be hoped for is that the Tories makes such a mess that ultimately something can be salvaged from the wreckage but you and I have long been saying that the KInnocks et al with their UKIPish line is a complete betrayal. DIane Abbott had some great points at the weekend pushing back against that stuff.


CMK - November 30, 2016

That’s an excellent summation, ed. Have to say it is interesting to see Labour take in defectors from UKIP – one of their councillors announced yesterday he was leaving UKIP for Labour – while continuing to block the applications to rejoin from former MIlitant members and non-SP socialists who ran as TUSC candidates.


ivorthorne - November 30, 2016

A minor point, but relevant: 40 per cent of voters in the UK do not know that MEPs are elected.

From a “moral” or intellectual perspective, opposing the referendum result in justifiable. From a practical perspective, less so. Which do we want ?


Ed - December 1, 2016

Sadly it’s not even UKIP defectors at local level that are the main problem, it’s Labour MPs like Kinnock, Flint, Field etc. who are openly promoting a racist agenda in a way that even Blair’s Labour Party shied away from. I’ve no idea whether the ‘Corbyn project’ (for want of a better term) can be brought to a successful conclusion (even in terms of completing the left-wing takeover of the Labour Party, never mind winning power in a general election), but I do know this: success will mean driving those people out at all costs, there’s no way they can be reasoned with or won over. They don’t have any place in the most moderate of left-wing parties; it’s not a question of whether they should be forced out, it’s a question of how and when.


irishelectionliterature - December 1, 2016

Regarding Scotland, latest poll shows Labour behind the Tories and vying with The Greens for 4th place .


Ed - December 1, 2016

Yes, I saw that. Another complicating factor for Labour in Scotland is A) the local leadership is still very anti-Corbyn, and B) a lot of the energy that went into Labour post-Corbyn in the rest of Britain had already gone into the SNP with their big membership surge after the independence referendum (and the kind of people who have got involved with Momentum elsewhere are more likely to be involved with the radical-left independence forces in Scotland). It’s a very different political landscape from the rest of Britain now, and that’s only gonig to increase after the Brexit vote.


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