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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress Column this week is about the problems facing "Red Tory" thinktank ResPublica: http://www.progressives.org.uk/articles/article.asp?a=8409

Friday, June 24, 2011

Council by-elections

Lots more changes in last night's by-elections:

Airyhall Broomhill and Garthdee Ward, Aberdeen City Council. SNP gain from LD. 1st prefs: SNP 1112 (26.6%, +9.3), Lab 783 (18.8%, +6), Con 649 (15.6%, -11.8), LD 554 (13.3%, -24.3), Green 101(2.4%, +2.4), Ind 98 (2.3%, -2.5), Ind 32 (0.8%, +0.8), NF 25 (0.6%0.6, +9). Swing of 1.7% from Lab to SNP since 2007.

Llanegwad Ward, Carmarthenshire CC. PC gain from Ind. PC 494 (52.1%, +32.7), Ind 455 (47.9%, -32.7). Swing of 32.7% from Ind to PC since 2008.

Stanton Ward, Derbyshire Dales DC. Con hold. Con 246 (48.9; -10.6), Lab 173 (34.4; +34.4), LD 84 (16.7; -23.7). Swing of 22.5% from Con to Lab since 2007.

St Andrews Ward, Great Yarmouth BC. Lab gain from Con. Lab 424 (51.4%, -0.9), Con 401 (48.6%, +0.9). Swing of 0.9% from Lab to Con since May this year.

Binstead & Fishbourne Ward, Isle of Wight UA. Ind gain from Con. Ind 428 (37.2%, -4.9), Con 424 (36.9%, -5.6), LD 139 (12.1%, -3.3), UKIP 93 (8.1%, +8.1), Lab 66 (5.7%, +5.7). Swing of 0.4% from Con to Ind since 2009.

Seabridge Ward, Newcastle Under Lyme BC. Con hold. Con 557 (45.7%, +2.3), Lab 497 (40.8%, +11.9), UKIP 112 (9.2%, +0.8), LD 52 (4.3%, -14.9). Swing of 4.8% from Con to Lab since 2010.

Deeping St James, South Kesteven DC. 3 vacancies. 1 Con hold, No Desc and Ind gains from Con and LD. No Desc 792 (29.8%, +4.4 from previous Lab share), Ind 647 (24.3%, +24.3), Con 631, 483, 318 (23.7%, -14), Green 350, 289 (13.1%, +13.1), LD 242, 70, 67 (9.1%, -21.2). The No Description winner is the Labour Party's Phil Dilks - there was a glitch with his nomination papers - so effectively there is a Lab gain here in rural Lincolnshire.

Cockington Ward, Torbay UA. LD gain from Con. LD 1048 (46.3%, +19.7), Con 614 (27.1%, -8.9), Lab 357 (15.8%, +1), Ind 129 (5.7%, -4.9), Ind 61 (2.7%, +2.7), Green 55 (2.4%, -9.7). Swing of 14.3% from Con to LD since May this year.

Elmley Castle, Wychavon DC. Con hold. Con 435 (68.8%, -3.6), LD 197 (31.2%, +3.6). Swing of 3.6% from Con to LD since 2007.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress column today looks at the tactical choices facing the trade unions:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ken in Hackney

On Monday 27th June Ken Livingstone will be hosting a Tell Ken public meeting in Hackney. The event is being held from 7.00pm until 8.30pm at Abney Public Hall, 73a Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AS.

You can register to attend here: http://www.kenlivingstone.com/hackney

Labourlist Column

My Labourlist column this week looks at John Denham's speech on winning in the South: http://www.labourlist.org/how-we-can-win-again-in-the-south

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Council by-elections

A bumper crop tonight:

Crewe South Ward, Cheshire East UA. 2 seats: 1 Lab hold, 1 Lab gain from LD. Lab 970 & 899 (59.7%), Con 507 & 489 (31.2%), LD 147 & 146 (9.1%). No swing calculation possible due to boundary changes.

Uwchaled Ward, Conwy CBC. Ind gain from PC. Ind 477 (94.1%), Con 30 (5.9%). No swing calculation possible as PC uncontested in 2008.

Eckington Division, Derbyshire CC. Lab hold. Lab 1142 (73.8%, +38.3), Con 406 (26.2%, +2.5). Swing of 17.9% from Con to Lab since 2009.

Abbey Ward, Dumfries & Galloway CC. Lab gain from Con. 1st prefs: Con 1236 (39.7%, -1), Lab 1196 (38.5%, +3.8), SNP 678 (21.8%, +4.9). 2nd Round: Lab 1448, Con 1391. Swing of 2.4% from Con to Lab since 2008 by-election.

Arlechwedd Ward, Gwynedd CC. PC gain from LD. PC 255 (56%, +8.8), LD 93 (20.4%, -32.4), Lab 72 (15.8%, +15.8), Con 35 (7.7%, +7.7). Swing of 20.6% from LD to PC since 2008.

Byker Ward, Newcastle-upon-Tyne MBC. Lab hold. Lab 1206 (72.6%, +14.9), BNP 144 (8.7%, +8.7), LD 102 (6.1%, -18.2), Ind 78 (4.7%, -4.1), Con 76 (4.6%, -4.6), Newc 1st 55 (3.3%, +3.3). Swing of 3.1% from BNP to Lab since 2010.

Westerhope Ward, Newcastle-upon-Tyne MBC. Lab gain from LD. Lab 1106 (33.2%, -3.3), Ind 883 (26.5%, +26.5), Newc 1st 532 (16.0%, +16), LD 492 (14.8%, -18.2), Con 240 (7.2%, -17.1), BNP 81 (2.4%, -3.8). Swing of 14.9% from Lab to Ind since 2010.

Hullbridge Ward, Rochford BC. Green gain from Con. Green 757 (48.2%, +30), Con 555 (35.4%, -6.1), Lab 182 (11.6%, -6), UKIP 76 (4.8%, +4.8). Swing of 18.1% from Con to Green since May this year.

Manvers Ward, Rushcliffe BC. Con hold. 2 seats: Con 730 & 692 (69.3%, -5.1), Lab 323 & 290 (30.7%, +5.1). Swing of 5.1% from Con to Lab since 2007.

Burton Town Division, Staffordshire CC. Lab hold. Lab 1233 (43.7%, +9.3), Con 884 (31.3%, +8.5), LD 525 (18.6%, -9.1), UKIP 182 (6.4%, +6.4). Swing of 0.4% from Con to Lab since 2009.

Marchwiel Division, Wrexham CBC. Ind 302 (63.7%, -17.1), Con 172 (36.3%, +23.2). Swing of 20.2% from Ind to Con since 2008.

Usually I don't report town and parish council results but this one in Cornwall is interesting:

Camborne South Ward, Camborne TC. Lab gain from Lab 334 (34.5%, +18.7), Con 324 (33.5%, +3.6), Mebyon Kernow 197 (20.4%, -8), Green 112 (11.6%, +11.6). Swing of 7.6% from Con to Lab since 2010 by-election. This was a Labour gain from 4th place last year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Progress Column

My latest Progress column looks at the events within the Labour Party over the last week:

Labour's Policy Review

The deadline for submissions to this stage of Labour's Policy review is 24 June 2011.

1. Members can find out about the policy review and send their ideas via our website: http://fresh-ideas.org.uk

2. Consultation events for Labour members on the Policy Review and Refounding Labour are underway nationwide - see here for events in your area: http://fresh-ideas.org.uk/yourevents

3. The latest consultation document which can be used in debates locally can be found here: http://fresh-ideas.org.uk/document-submission

4. And for those members who want to host their own ‘New Politics, Fresh Ideas' event there is a consultation toolkit available from the Stronger With You section of Campaign Resources at www.members.labour.org.uk

Monday, June 13, 2011

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column today unsurprisingly looks at this weekend's press coverage of Labour leadership issues:


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!

The title comes from Wordsworth's "French Revolution" but I've used it to sum up how I felt and how I asumed every Labour activist and voter felt on the May morning in 1997 when Tony Blair entered 10 Downing Street as Labour PM after a landslide victory.

I feel sorry for the younger generation of activists (gosh, never thought I'd write that!) who didn't get to experience that moment. Obviously older comrades had a similar experience in 1945 or 1964.

For me it was the culmination of 9 years hard slog as a Labour activist and by the end local organiser, and the symbolic ending of 18 years of torment from the Tories. It was particularly sweet because the defeat in 1992 had been so particularly bitter and for ordinary footsoldiers like me, so unexpected.

Unlike some, I was never disappointed by our beautiful Labour government or the 13 subsequent years it spent turning round the damage of Thatcherism and making Britain a better place to live in. The worst day and the worst decisions of the Blair and Brown years would be better to live through again than the best day of the mob running Britain now. I feel nothing but pride to have had the privilege to be a Labour Party member during the 1997-2010 period. Nothing but pride.

Every time I walk through the ward where I am a councillor, one of the most deprived wards in England, I see what Labour did for the poorest people in society: refurbished social housing, a brand new city academy where a failing school stood, a primary school rebuilt with BSF money, another new secondary school being built under a contract Ed Balls signed off, safer neighbourhood coppers and PCSOs put there by Ken Livingstone. Lives of my constituents which are still tough and sometimes desperate but lived a little safer, a little warmer, a little more prosperous and a little more full of hope and opportunity because of Labour.

But why am I feeling inspired to waffle on nostalgically about 1997 today?

Because of something I read today that made me realise that on that day in 1997 when my heart was bursting with the joy that we finally had a Labour Government there were people pretending to be part of our movement who did not share that joy. Neal Lawson of Compass has a piece on Comment is Free today where he whinges on about the betrayals of both Blair and Brown: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/10/tony-blair-brownites-blairites

It's worth reading all the comments because my good comrade Hopi Sen is on magnificent form dissecting Neal's position. But the one that inspired me to write this evening is the one by an anonymous commenter that quotes Neal's previous statement:

"I was a Blairite. Back in 1994, I believed he was serious about new politics, communities and Europe. More fool me. My first doubts crept in as early as election day in May 1997. I was crunching up long gravel drives in Enfield Southgate, where rumours abounded that no-hoper Stephen Twigg might oust Michael Portillo. After passing BMWs and Mercs I was met by enthusiastic upper-middle-class families who were "all for Tony Blair here". We were going to win, but what did we have to sacrifice to have these people in our tent?"

And correctly responds:

"The truth is you don't want a Labour Government. Not only are you saved from having to coax "these people" (i.e. perfectly ordinary middle class people) into the tent, it's just so much easier to snipe and whine from the sidelines. In fact you're so much happier being in opposition, you just couldn't stop. Even when Labour were in government."

Here I am raging against the dying of the light, and even at its most blinding, you could not see it. You could not see it and you did not believe in and support and strive to protect the best, most noble government this country has had in half a century. We were keeping the faith and trying to change our country and the world, and you were already hating it before the last Labour vote had even been counted. We saw Stephen Twigg beating Portillo and wanted to sing ourselves hoarse, you wanted to cry betrayal. Shame on you.

Council by-elections

5 last night:

Bo'ness & Blackness Ward, Flakirk CBC. SNP hold. 1st prefs: SNP 1622 (57.8%, +10.6), Lab 893 (31.8%, -0.1), Con 231 (8.2%, -4.5), Ind 59 (2.1%, -2.2). Swing of 5.4% from Lab to SNP since 2007.

Tain & Easter Ross Ward, Highlands CC. Ind hold. Full result to follow.

Chelmsford Central Division, Essex CC. Con gain from LD. Con 1496 (43.6%, +10), LD 1323 (38.6%, -5.9), Lab 610 (17.8%, +10.1). Swing of 8% from LD to Con since 2009.

Brompton Ward, RB Kensington & Chelsea. Con hold. Con 728 (79.6%, +12.2), Lab 101 (11%, -2.2) LD 86 (9.4%, -10). Swing of 7.2% from Lab to Con since 2010.

Queen's Gate Ward, RB Kensington & Chelsea. Con hold. Con 663 (73.7%, +4), LD 100 (11.1%, -8.2), Lab 82 (9.1%, -1.9), UKIP 54 (6%, +6). Swing of 6.1% from LD to Con since 2010.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Boundary Review Modelling

The modelling of a potential outcome of the forthcoming Parliamentary Boundary Review by Lewis Baston is being put online region by region on the Democratic Audit website. It shows which individual wards go into which of the seats Lewis has modelled:


An interesting quote from the North West document is: "A hugely overpopulated inner city seat at present, [Manchester] Central can lose a whole (large) Manchester ward. Liverpool Riverside can also remain unchanged. The ‘depopulated inner city constituency’ is largely a myth."

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Labourlist column

My Labourlist column this week looks at Lewis Baston's modelling of the forthcoming boundary review: http://www.labourlist.org/hitting-the-boundary

Monday, June 06, 2011

End of the road for Respect?

Looks like the Respect Party may have reached the end of the road:

"Electoral politics is a tough game and there is no hiding from results. The reality of our results on May 5th was that we had a very disappointing night.

It appears clear now, with the exception of Tower Hamlets with its peculiar local circumstances, that the electoral space that we have sought to occupy in recent years has been closing since the final few weeks of the 2010 General Election campaign."

Friday, June 03, 2011

Council By-elections

Just one yesterday:

Canons Ward, LB Harrow. Con hold.Con 1495 (59.7%, +0.1), Lab 774 (30.9%, +6.9%), LD 236 (9.4%, -7). Swing of 3.5% from Con to Lab since May 2010.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

London Calling

You can help Ken Livingstone beat Boris Johnson next May - sign up here:


Progress Column

My Progress column this week argues we should back an elected House of Lords:

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