Why not the “ultimate rebel” as Prime Minister?

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

“I’m voting for Jeremy because I don’t think any of the candidates are capable of winning in 2020 so I think we need to remember why we’re Labour.”

“I don’t see why people think he’s unelectable. He speaks to my issues.”

“The other three candidates don’t seem to have any policy ideas. They’re just politicians. Jeremy believes what he says.”

These are just some of the reasons local Labour supporters, including members of Ipswich Borough Council, have given me for supporting Jeremy Corbyn in recent weeks. Those who blithely bury their heads in the sand and insist that even the Labour Party isn’t that bonkers need to spend less time in their ivory towers (or Grafton House as it is called) and more time talking with their own supporters.

I am yet to find a single person prepared to tell me they would vote for the only Labour leadership candidate who realises the party lost the last General Election because it wasn’t credible on the economy – Liz Kendall.

I am yet to find anyone who will openly support either Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham – though both have significant backers, especially among the local party membership. I can remember, for instance, David Ellesmere telling me that Yvette Cooper was a future Labour Prime Minister, though that was several years ago, and he did loyally insist that Ed Miliband would be PM first.

But Jeremy Corbyn is the popular choice among Labour’s affiliated members, registered Labour supporters and others who have a vote. Or at least that is what recent discussions have told me.

What the media is completely forgetting, however, is that it doesn’t matter who comes first. The Labour Party prefers to elect the person who comes second. David Miliband won the backing of more MPs and more party members, but affiliated members backed his brother by a much larger margin and so we had five years of Ed Miliband. The crucial thing for this election will not be how many people vote for Jeremy Corbyn. It will be how many of Liz Kendall’s second preference votes go to Andy Burnham and how many go to Yvette Cooper. It will be how many of Andy’s second preference votes go to Yvette and how many of Yvette’s go to Andy.

Liz Kendall looks set to come last, and will therefore be eliminated first. Her second preference votes will be split between the other three candidates. Whoever is then last – and I suspect it will be close – will then be eliminated, and their second preference votes redistributed between the remaining two candidates – and whoever has the most votes overall will then become leader.

If the polls turn out to be as accurate at polling Labour activists and registered supporters as they were at polling Labour voters up to 7th May, then Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper could already be ahead. Indeed Liz Kendall could have a silent majority of support out there. But from conversations with Labourites here in Ipswich, I don’t think so.

We could be just five years away from Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn MP.

To quote a senior Labour figure from the Speccie the other week – we’re in real fuckaroo territory now.

Tory dodgy economic message won’t last forever

2015-Budget-Announcement

Three weeks ago the Tories got themselves re-elected, this time as a majority Government, in large part based on a misrepresentation of a very dodgy economic record. In 2010 George Osborne promised to eliminate the structural deficit by 2015, and to protect the UK’s triple A credit rating. He failed on both counts, yet somehow the Tories got elected on the basis of a record for economic competence.

That says an awful lot about the team Labour were offering: Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were Gordon Brown’s advisors in the Treasury when key decisions were taken, and the Tories ruthlessly exploited that. Labour should remember that when considering making Andy Burnham, who was in charge of public spending control in the run up to the world financial crash, their next leader.

One of the big problems the Tories seem to have is in confusing debt and deficit. The Prime Minister has done it a number of times. They had to be rebuked by the National Statistics office. Yet yesterday they were at it again.

You would, however, rather hope that Her Majesty’s Treasury would understand the difference between debt and deficit. Yet yesterday the Treasury Press Office issued a press release claiming that the Chancellor’s statement in the House of Commons had “announced £4½ billion of new measures which will bring down public debt this year.”

Yet it won’t. The public debt this year will grow. By more than £70 billion. Yes, the sale of the Government’s remaining stake in Royal Mail will raise cash which the Government can use to pay off some public sector debt. Other asset sales will also reduce debt. But the majority of the £4½ billion will come from savings cuts this year – some £3 billion. That merely reduces the deficit, which will have a negligible effect on the debt (a lower deficit does mean that the debt goes up more slowly).

On Wednesday the Prime Minister patronised a newly elected Labour MP who asked the question Labour should have been asking for the last five years – when will the UK regain its triple A credit rating? Cat Smith MP (Lancaster & Fleetwood) didn’t get an answer to her question – the PM said: “I welcome the hon. Lady to her place and congratulate her on her election success. The first question she asks is about fiscal responsibility and sustainability. I take that as a sign of progress. I would say to her: there is a leadership election on, throw your hat in the ring. In that one question she has made more sense than all the rest of them put together—go for it!”

Cameron has been accused of patronising her as part of his “women problem” but the real reason he chose to patronise her was part of his “economic problem”. He has no idea when – or if – the UK will ever get that credit rating back, and he only has a rough idea when the deficit will be “eliminated”.

Thousands converge on Downing Street to protest Tory victory

Fuck Tory Scum

Protestors took to the streets today outside Downing Street, to protest against the outcome of the General Election, and against austerity.

In an act of irony, they took to twitter using the hashtag #occupydemocracy. They clearly have no understanding of what democracy means.

Yes, it is outrageous that our electoral system allows a party that gets 37% of the vote to form a majority Government. But I don’t think that’s what has upset them – instead it is that the TORIES form the Government.

Why do I say this? Well apart from Laurie Penny defending the vandalism of a memorial to the Women of World War Two – on the very day we celebrate Victory in Europe – it is because these protestors didn’t take to the streets in 2005 when Labour won a majority of 66 seats on just 35.2% of the vote.

Cull the ToriesIf your objection is the first past the post system – which was confirmed as the country’s preferred electoral system just four years ago in a referendum when 67.9% of the voters decided not to change – then go and protest First Past the Post. But when you’re carrying “Cull The Tories” signs and scrawling “Fuck Tory Scum” on war memorials I don’t think your objection is first past the post – it is that your preferred party wasn’t preferred by the other voters.

As for austerity, both UKIP and the Tories pledged to stick to Treasury deficit reduction targets. Between them they got more than half of the votes cast in this election. Given Labour also pledged to reduce the deficit, as did the Northern Irish Unionist parties, and at least one Independent, you’ve lost that argument too.

So to those on the streets screaming “fascist pig filth” at the police, and their supporters on twitter, tucked up quietly in their middle class homes away from the reality of the demonstration, I really have nothing to say.