A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A soft landing

I haven't blogged since eve of poll as I was busy running a committee room in Stoke Newington Central (defensive marginal ward won by 800 votes) then attending as an Agent and council candidate the count from hell in Hackney (lasted 24 hours due to need to separate Mayoral, council and parliamentary votes), then at Legoland with my son for two days.

My local MP Diane Abbott was re-elected with a majority almost doubled from a notional 8,002 to 14,461 after turnout in Hackney North went up by 13% (http://www.hackney.gov.uk/2010-results-mps.htm).

We made six council gains in the wards I was Agent for (1 from the Greens, 5 from the Tories), thanks partly to Gordon Brown's decision to wait and hold the General Election on the same day as the council elections so that council turnout was at General Election levels, and partly to sheer hard work by our candidates and activists. Labour's 15 extra councils and 420 extra councillors are a result of a very wise decision about election timing by our Leader (http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/election2010/council/html/region_99999.stm).

My own result in Chatham Ward is here: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/chatham-result.htm. I won a third term with 2591 votes, a majority of 1690.

The composition of Hackney Council is now 50 Labour (+6), 4 Tory (-5), 3 LD (nc). I think this is the best result in terms of seats since 1978. Full results here: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/2010-results-council.htm

I was also Agent for Jules Pipe, who won re-election as Mayor of Hackney (http://www.hackney.gov.uk/2010-results-mayor.htm) with a 32,545 majority.

The mood in the Labour camp isn't one of a defeated party - it's oddly euphoric. We thought we might come third nationally but Cleggmania turned out to be the biggest joke in political history, and those of our key seat candidates who clung on despite the odds have successfully blocked Cameron from getting the majority he craved and put the Lib Dems in a position where they might go into an inherently unstable coalition with the Tories, leading to their own annihilation amongst centre-left voters at the next election.

One of the unsung heroes of Labour's campaign is the veteran London Labour Regional Director Ken Clark who held the swing to the Tories to only 2.5% as opposed to 6.1% in the rest of England, with his targeting and long-term building of London Labour's organisation leading to key seats such as Hampstead & Kilburn, Islington South, Feltham & Heston, Poplar & Limehouse, Dagenham & Rainham, Westminster North, Eltham and Hammersmith all being held and Labour gaining overall control of Brent, Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Southwark and Waltham Forest councils - our best local government result in London since the heyday of New Labour.

Going forward I think we need to let Gordon make his own decision about whether and when to stay or go as Party Leader, and if he does go members need to be presented with a broad and real choice of leadership candidates, not a coronation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your personal and collective sucess.

Are those who were queing up on your blog predicting the vapourisation of Labour, and financial bankrupcy now going to appologise ?


11:23 am, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Andrea said...

"Hampstead & Kilburn, Islington South, Feltham & Heston, Poplar & Limehouse, Dagenham & Rainham, Westminster North and Hammersmith all being held"

Another good hold was Eltham.
Among the losses, Enfield North and Hendon stayed competitive. Without boundary changes Joan Ryan may have survived

12:00 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Arnold said...

Congratulations, Luke.

I've been laughing all weekend. We were told to expect a 1997 style landslide for Lord Gaga, instead he's having to grovel to the leader of the party that came third. Even if he does become P.M. it will be a sham as he does not have the backing of the majority of the people. It will be like having John Major back at No.10. Happy days.

12:02 pm, May 10, 2010

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Other good results: Leyton and Wanstead (John Cryer bucking the trend of candidates replacing expenses-discredited MPs taking a kicking) and Walthamstow - in both seats the LibDems campaigning had been relentless, Barking of course and Islingtons south and north (a great hold, and an increased majority respectively).

Though we should remember it's still our worst general election result in modern times.

But yes, the next leadership election must not be a coronation. The last one caused too many problems.

12:29 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Spirit Leveller said...

I agree entirely with the general perception of euphoria amongst activists following the election. While we've failed in an 'absolute' sense, our success relative to the Libdems' hollow bombast and the Tories' arrogance prior to the election (and their eventual performance) is little short of astounding.

Holding on to key marginals (particularly in London); taking big cities such as Liverpool and Leeds at the local level; and, most importantly, going 'toe-to-toe' with a party that has been out of power for 13 years - with (almost) the full, malign support of the print media - and forcing them to negotiate a coalition that will still mean they’ll probably have to go to the polls within 18 months, can only be regarded as a success.

While we largely managed to fend off the Tory assault on central London, I think this was more to do with polarisation that was outside the control of the London Labour Party - although street-level campaigning was very good. In fact, I think our press campaign was negligible. I was disappointed, for example, that we failed to capitalise on Johnson's poor record as Mayor, showing the current Tory model for government as fundamentally flawed. We missed a huge opportunity to expose Tory economic policy as deeply ideological and reactionary by highlighting Boris' decision to cancel the Childcare Affordability Programme from 2011 (even though it unlocks earnings potential and helps grow the economy by providing £7-£9.50 of value for every pound spent on it).

I also have reservations about how well Ken Clark and the LLP dealt with the Tower Hamlets issue.

Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but it’s my view that that a significant proportion of the electorate who concur with traditional Labour values have given us the tools to form a strong, credible opposition that is going to act in their interests. We must repay this faith by quickly regrouping, conducting a transparent leadership contest, learning from our mistakes, and treating our local areas is as if we are still in ‘campaign mode’. By doing so, we’ll be giving ourselves the best opportunity of returning to government at the next election (whenever that is) – without requiring the support of a party that may yet choose to sell its members and voters down the river for the sake of a few cabinet posts.

1:40 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerrymandering is the word you're looking for.

Importing 7m immigrants into inner London and asking them for a small token of their gratitude goes a long way to explaining your vote.

Lady Porter was an absolute amateur at it. "Stuff multiculturalism down Tory throats," as David Neather, Blair's speechwriter, put it.

The day of reckoning on that one is yet to come. Your kid might be going to Legoland but that's about the best education he will get in the whole of Hackney. Stable communities, my arse. Just make sure he wears a stab vest, is not out after 6pm at night, carries £5 just in case of the obligatory taxing attack and talks that BabyCaribbean patois that Catherine Tate renders almost human.

Oh and the postal vote scam. In Islington, the postal vote was at 75% or 10% ahead of those that turned up on the day.

The LibDems have shown Labour how to scam so now you're both at it. Please, so many households who appear to be so overcrowded that they must have rabbit hutches for rooms.

2:02 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Julian Ware-Lane said...

Congratulations on your result Luke. Things in Essez and the East of England not so rosy, but we live to fight again.

Onwards and upwards.

4:24 pm, May 10, 2010

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Well done on gaining a third term Luke.
It seems the local election picture does not seem to tally with the general; as you are probably aware we now have a Labour council here in Liverpool, and the Tories and the LD made losses in council seats across england. In addition Luciana Berger actually got a quite a good majority in Wavertree. My local MP, Maria Eagle, was returned with an increased majority which is excellent news.
Gareth is right to say, although Brown had his moments (ahem!), the result was not crushing for us as the pundits, tories, LDs and even our own lot thought it might be.
As for your thoughts on Gordon's future, I completly agree, it should be left up to him if he wants to go and if/when he does there should be a proper election.
I am surprised at the length of time it has taken the LDs to step into bed with the Tories, do you think it likely they want to band with us and the rest of the centre left in a coalition governement? I doubt it, but we can hope........

4:39 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous David Furnell said...

Here in Southampton I won a seat on the council for a ward which has not been Labour since 1993. We made two gains and kept the two Labour MP's. We only did this through hard work and excellent organisation.

6:00 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right - enough nonsense on local rubbish....

Master stroke by Brown earlier, leaves Lib Dems totally high and dry - they would have to strike a Labour deal.

But here's the twist, the brighter Labour strategists -i.e. Mandy / Campbell realise that they are better off out of office (one hopes), so does Labour set the talks up to fail (making sure it all looks like the Lib Dems fault) and ensure a minoritty Tory government for a few months? A new election called, all Lib Dems then vote Labour (probably for Miliband) and you get a Tory landslide?

i.e. LD have lost, whatever option they take here - but are Labour clever enough to resist power for a few months to get a landslide, or will they be greedy........

6:25 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Dan said...

Anonymous, before you make serious accusations you might want to actually look at the facts on the ground. The highest postal vote in Islington was in solidly middle class areas, and the general view is that it was a predominantly Tory/Lib Dem vote.


6:27 pm, May 10, 2010

Blogger Jimmy said...

Is there any chance that the next time you are incommunicado you could take your MP with you? Or are you afraid that if you came between her and a microphone you might get trampled?

7:58 pm, May 10, 2010

Blogger Neil80 said...

"Cleggmania turned out to be the biggest joke in political history"

Is this so; considering the Lib Dems got 23% of the vote compared to Labours 29%.......

What are your thoughts on electoral reform... will be interesting to hear your take on them.... BTW PR was Labour Policy pre 1997!

9:15 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Fed Up said...

So the losers will end up running the country with another unelected PM. 10 million people voted for the Conservatives and only another 29,000 votes in marginals would have got them the majority they needed to govern on their own. Makes me give up on politics and wonder why I bothered voting

10:33 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Fed Up said...

So the losers will end up running the country with another unelected PM. 10 million people voted for the Conservatives and only another 29,000 votes in marginals would have got them the majority they needed to govern on their own. Makes me give up on politics and wonder why I bothered voting

10:33 pm, May 10, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Neil80

"BTW PR was Labour Policy pre 1997!

Ignorent "'erbert !!!"

PR has not been LP policy since the 1920's = It was dropped at the same time as the policy to "municipltise the breweries" was dropped.


PS Its late, can somebody correct my spelling of "municipltise"

11:46 pm, May 10, 2010

Blogger Mark Still News said...

All these people facing the prospect of redundancy and many years out of work or in fear of it, what does PR actually mean to them???

1:19 pm, May 11, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1987 Labour opposed nuclear weapons and Kinnock stated that he would withdraw Polaris and abandon plans to replace it with Trident.

Labour polled 10.2 million votes.

2005: News of Blair's plan to replace Trident widely reported in the media.

Labour polled 9.5 million votes.

2010: Brown and Cameron at one on Trident replacement which came up in the debates.

Labour polled 8.6 million votes and had a lower vote share than in 1987.

It really is time to abandon the nonsense idea that being against nuclear weapons loses elections.

6:13 pm, May 11, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dan" wouldn't be Dan Needle, Labour's election agent in Islington South?

The postal vote is one thing being looked at.

The other thing is your endorsements, supposedly by members of the public, but composed and distributed in hand-written letters from Barnsbury Street.

I notice you have nothing to say about a constituency that has stuffed 70% social housing into the footprint for no other reason than to create a power base for Labour which just happens to be an economic and social disaster.

Thanks Margaret Hodge.

6:36 pm, May 11, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to ditch nuclear weapons as the 1st cut to be made?

7:36 pm, May 11, 2010

Anonymous Rich said...

I don't think labour were ready to give up power at all and the idea that this is a cunning plot by labour leaders is nonsense. Cameron knows that the media painted a gloomier picture than was necessary with respect to the economy. In fact it's perfect timing as it gives the Tories the perfect excuse to slash public spending.

While I think this was the most likely outcome I fail to see what the lib dems will actually gain from this. Over half of voters want pr voting but this deal doesn't get close. What I fear is that the Tories are looking at constituency boundaries to keep labour out and may cut lib dems a deal there.

While I'm very anti Europe I do like the social charter but it is this that the Tories seek to reverse. They will end working time directives etc and leave workers wide open to abuse. Surely this isn't the fairness that clegg talked about. Also talk about fox hunting ban being reversed and many health and safety rulings being scrapped. I don't think this sort of talk will lead to a progressive partnership between the Tories and the lib dems.

Only time will tell if cameron really is different and I truly hope he is. I'm willing to give him a chance to prove me wrong.

11:04 pm, May 11, 2010

Anonymous Liberation said...

Glorious to get the Labour tools out at last!

Does anyone remember when certain Labour people (who shall remain nameless) thought it would be a good idea to get a 7/7 victim to defend ID cards for them? Remember when the victim told them to get stuffed with such a fascistic idea?

Well - now the country has done the same! Come back when you want to offer the British people more freedoms, not take them away...

1:15 am, May 12, 2010

Anonymous Nick The Election said...

With Cameroon in No.10, perhaps I.T.V.-1 could consider bringing back 'Spitting Image'. It helped make the Thatcher/Major nightmare years partially endurable!

6:20 am, May 12, 2010

Anonymous Ed said...

Rejoyce, rejoyce, that the Labour vermin have been swept from power!

It will be many, many years before we can even afford another Labour government, before the Tories have restored the public finances to the point where the Labour incompetants can fritter them away again.

3:10 am, May 28, 2010


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