Video: early #LE2019 results confirm centrists = fantasists. Labour MUST drop referendum talk

As SKWAWKBOX has warned for months, centrist claims of shift to remain in working-class heartlands are a fantasy – and Labour must now discard notion of new referendum


The SKWAWKBOX – like many Labour MPs and activists in leave areas – has warned for many months that centrists are fooling themselves in their claims that leave areas of England and Wales have shifted to remain – and that the Labour Party cannot afford to humour the fantasy by continuing to talk about a new referendum if it wants to avoid huge damage in its working-class heartlands.

Early results in tonight’s local elections – with losses in leave-voting heartlands such as Sunderland and Hartlepool – underscore those warnings emphatically.

While the balance is likely to shift somewhat as results from further south start to come in – Labour has gained share from UKIP in a number of Essex seats, for example – the losses in vote-share relative to UKIP and even the incompetent-but-still-seen-as-pro-Brexit Tories, even in many seats that Labour has held onto in its working-class heartlands show the damage that has been done by Labour’s remain-hungry centrists.

That damage was captured eloquently by Sunderland council leader Graeme Miller, as he reported on the loss of ten Labour councillors – and the noisy calls for a new referendum by MPs in a Labour leave stronghold:

Losses to the LibDems and Greens in some seats, accentuated by poor turnout, also confirm that Labour’s nuanced position – of holding a new referendum as a last resort to stop a hard Brexit – has not cut through well enough to the electorate.

It’s time to state a clear and unequivocal position – with any notion of a new referendum clearly and firmly jettisoned and Labour’s vision for a better UK post-Brexit writ large and unencumbered.

Accommodating centrist fantasies and obsessions is a luxury in which the Labour Party cannot indulge.

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  1. Pro EU parties appear to be gaining from Labour’s losses

    Labour -48
    Conservative -58
    LibDems +52
    Greens +10
    UKIP -15
    Independent +53

    It’s hardly what you’d call a resounding endorsement for Brexit is it?

    1. Misleading analysis. One would need a breakdown of Labour’s losses differentiated from the Conservative losses. One would need to know a great deal more about turnout, i.e. whose traditional supporters are shunning the polls. There is no pro Brexit party apart from UKIP who have been discredited by their association with the far right. The four other parties regardless of their rhetoric are demonstrably pro-EU parties since they all colluded along with Labour to prevent us leaving the EU

    2. “It’s hardly what you’d call a resounding endorsement for Brexit is it?”

      No, it isn’t.

      Being rational (as opposed to a Lexiteer), the results don’t actually say much that is clear about Brexit – although it is interesting that the Greens and LibDems have benefitted – as well as the mixed bag of ‘Independents’, about whom you can only say that they represent a kicking for the established parties – either way. The Great British Public have always had a taste for self-righteous anti-politics.

      What can be said is that Sqwakbox’s desperate self-justifying thesis is pure bollocks. Labour has had an essential ‘Leave’ policy since the election, and has recently confirmed that the option of another referendum is a remote possibility. The major criticism of Labour has been its indeterminacy, and the departure of such as Umunna has underlined that it is a ‘Leave’ Party. Many here – and nationally – are at pains to deny the established fact that Labour support is solidly ‘Remain’.

      So to pronounce that the poor showing is down to calls for a second referendum is just pissing into an unfavourable wind.

      The fact is simply that Labour didn’t do well., if not disastrously, or as badly as the Tories. The reasons are several – and I would hazard that the assaults on Corbyn have been continuing in their significance. Along with that is the swallowing of the general right-wing propaganda line that ‘they’re all the same’ : as said, a notable section of the British Public loves to be caressed with the idea that their confusion and susceptibility to the Tory propaganda sheets is intelligence. Which view, of course, does have a link to Brexit.

      Looking at one northern council that voted notably ‘Leave’, and which I know well, Labour remained well in control, but lost two seats to ‘Independents’, and one to the LibDems. In overall perspective that result isn’t particularly exceptional : I can recall the LibDems having up to three seats, and the ‘Independents’ tend to be a mixed breed of right and left with local grudges to settle. In one of the working class wards that I know really well, the Labour vote was as strong as I’ve known it.

      Here, the result hasn’t been announced,my guess is that, despite my vote, the LibDems and Greens will gain against the existing Labour dominance. But, whatever, that will be considerably weighted by local issues rather than Brexit.

      So forget Sqwawkbox’s generalisations about trying to simply shut up genuine internal disagreement. It’s actually the Remain parties that seem to have benefited from Labour’s anaemic showing, rather than the reverse. Which tends towards supporting the opposite thesis.

      Overall, the same caveats as usual about what local elections indicate are important.

      1. “Here, the result hasn’t been announced,my guess is that, despite my vote, the LibDems and Greens will gain against the existing Labour dominance.”

        Confirmed. LibDems +4 Greens +2, Labour -3

        A net drift to ‘Remain’ parties. Not massively significant – simply a confirmation of the falsity of the second referendum as a key issue.

    3. All you posters on this issue need to stop being so completely obsessed with Brexit as the only issue today determining mass voter behaviour . Local elections simply aren’t about Brexit in the main. The undoubted low turnout and evident lack of voter enthusiasm from voters for Labour or the Tories is mainly because both the main parties , where they control councils, have been the main implementers of the entire central Tory government austerity programme. So voters have been either abstaining from voting or falling for the usual cynical Lib Dem , or sundry “independents” ,bullshit promises “to be different”, rather than voting for the ruling parties in the austerity-implementing councils in their area. In fact, given the extraordinary scale of central government revenue grant cuts, year on year now since 2010 (nil support funding by 2020) , NO party will be able to run a viable local authority within a few years whatever its nominal political colour, until a future Labour government re-funds local government adequately.

      1. If you read more carefully, you will see that a lot of the comment is aimed at contradicting Skwawkbox’s assertions about the primacy of Brexit. As said :

        ” the results don’t actually say much that is clear about Brexit “

  2. FFS this is about democracy!
    Tell people their vote doesn’t count – the one that they won and there are consequences.
    You’re either a democrat or you’re not.
    If you’re not, overturn the result and that sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

      1. Yeah right. Labour voters in Bolsover, Sunderland, Wirral, Hartlepool downing tools because they’re straining at the leash for a second referendum?

        I don’t think so.

      2. Certainly looks like a swing to parties supporting a second referendum – even if I’m cautious about reading too much into it.

        What is clear mis that the opposite is certainly *not* supported by the overall picture!

  3. Things may well alter as the hours progress but the only conclusions one can draw at the moment is that both Labour and the Conservatives are getting a kicking for ignoring the wishes of there members and voters. The only mainstream parties that have gained seats are pro EU.

  4. The voters are fed up of Brexit and have sent a clear message to the main parties. It is almost 3 years since the vote. The vote was split with leave narrowly winning. The country remains divided. A clear way forward needs to be found in order that the issues that have been neglected or kicked down the road can be addressed.

    The UK needs to be reunited. All the talk of leave and remain needs to stop (this is fuelled by the main stream media) and instead we need to be talking about a way forward.

    1. ” The country remains divided.”

      That is indisputably the case, and it can’t be papered over. Which is why a lot of us argue that a confirmatory referendum is necessary.

      Of course – we should never have ended up in this Tory quagmire – but that’s where things are.

  5. The idea of a 2nd vote as a last resort was too open to centrist distortion and misunderstanding. Labour’s manifesto policy of respecting the result of the vote to leave, and making constructive agreements with EU on Ireland,Trade, Environment is still the right way and needs to be repeated and emphasised again to clear up confusion.

    1. “The idea of a 2nd vote as a last resort was too open to centrist distortion and misunderstanding.”

      I reckon the major incidence of ‘distortion and misunderstanding’ was the result of the right-wing propaganda press on the referendum. And that overall bias hasn’t changed.

  6. SKWAWKBOX is good I think. I will continue to read it as an alternative to the mainstream media. However, there are three, recurring, infinite themes that I now find quite comical.

    1) Tom Watson is the devil incarnate. And so are his friends!

    2) Anyone who does not agree with SWAWKBOX are centrist, reactionary, revisionist, imperialist lackeys. Those who want a second referendum because most of the evidence we have indicates that working class people, especially, poor working class people will be worse off after Brexit are the problem.

    3) That votes for nationalism, xenophobia, racism, hostility in particular, to muslim migrants (Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian) which was the foundation of the leave campaign is somehow to be respected.

    1. 3) That votes for nationalism, xenophobia, racism, hostility in particular, to muslim migrants (Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian) which was the foundation of the leave campaign is somehow to be respected.

      You have proof to back this claim?

  7. In the cold light of morning, as an election agent and a canvasser it is more than obvious now that Labour HAS to support putting the EU vote back to the public. This pretence of pretending the public don’t count has to stop or we will be certain to lose any GE in the near future.

    Labour MP Brexiters are dragging the Party down and need to face up to the racists who took advantage of the divisions in the Tory Party to promote their hateful ideas.

    1. You don’t get it do you. The EU is a neo-liberal organisation.; That is why many detest it, not because we’re “racists”. Lab has moved away from neo-liberalism.

      1. Believe me I do get it and just like many other Brexiters you try and twist what I said to include all Leave voters.

      2. Jack T

        This pretence of pretending the public don’t count has to stop or we will be certain to lose any GE in the near future.

        Isn’t that why Corbyn is insisting on respecting the referendum result?

      3. “The public” includes 50% that favour Remain, and who have been ignored by both major parties.

        Of that 50%, most voted Labour.

        This basic fact seems to go over the heads of True BLeavers.

      1. Never voting labour again.

        “Who says anyone listened to Farage?”

        You obviously don’t keep up. Farage’s party is at 30% from a standing start.

        “So one chap turned 17+ million people into racists?”

        It would have only required 1m or so racists to swing the vote and I’m sure Farage could easily muster them up.

    2. That’s not proof is it…

      The Tories have always used racist language to promote division. Farage simply stole their clothes

      1. So one chap turned 17+ million people into racists? Or were they already racists and just needed the almighty Farage to unlock their hidden agenda?

        This is why you need proof. Who says anyone listened to Farage? Apart from the media of course…

  8. My take on this…this was the centrist’s night. Labour and the Tories lost the vote of the centrist and Brexit supporters largely stayed away because no one spoke for them.
    I predict that on Thursday 23rd of May, Labour and the Tories will get another hammering when Brexit voters have their say. It will be their chance to disrupt the gravy train say no to the mock election of nobodies to the simulated parliament.

    1. Just seen this in the centrist loving Indy:
      “The Tories are more than 440 seats down, while the Lib Dems are up by over 300 seats and the Greens look set for an historically strong performance. Ukip’s vote is down but some of that is reflected in good performances for new pro-Brexit parties and independents.”

      I’m not a statistician, but there’s more to this then meets the eye. Looks like the Tories got the real hammering from those figures, with Brexit supporters staying away, seats fell to party closest to the conservatives, the LibDems. In this light, Labour’s losses are small beer and not a mass movement towards remain.

      1. While the Mail interprets it as a “backlash” against Theresa May’s failure to take us out of the EU and points to vote spoiling.

  9. Votes for nationalism, xenophobia, racism, hostility…?

    People voted for democracy and home rule, the natural right of all free people. They voted against the EU policy of Austerity.

    It is not acceptable to denigrate and stigmatise people as xenophobes or racists just because you disagree with the way they voted. Your language is overtly bigoted.

    Nationalism is also patriotism and springs from a respect for national community, traditions, ethics, and values. What’s wrong with that?

    1. “the EU policy of Austerity”

      The policy of austerity is entirely a home-grown choice, endorsed by a majority of ‘the public’.

      That the EMU endorses it is entirely beside the point, since the UK doesn’t belong.

  10. Here is my IRONIC view on last night.

    I don’t agree with the result of the local elections. Can we have another vote next month?

    1. Not next month, luniel, but, as in most democracies, you can after an appropriate period of time – as has elapsed since the referendum. 🙂

      1. However, during the ‘appropriate period of time’ between votes, we shall implement the choice made by voters. If we fail to implement yesterday’s results, that would be a denial of democracy.

      2. I think that you have indirectly hit a nail on the head. A constitutional issue is not amenable to a simple majoritarian vote – especially one where the *actual* (as opposed to propaganized) result was ‘Errrr? Ummmm?’ – and only 37% were in favour of the proposition.

        The specific problem is that the proposition was not only widely met with incomprehension, but is also actually *irreversible*. We lose the UK’s current position within the EU, and it can’t be retrieved.

        That’s why proper referendums on such issues have a threshold – in order to prevent irreversible mickey-mouse decisions.

  11. John Curtice’s analysis is as follows :

    “The truth is, the evidence of the opinion polls has been that, whereas it has been leave voters in particular who have been wanting to punish the Conservatives – though that was not perhaps as evident last night as you might imagine – on the Labour side the party has been losing both remain and leave voters. And in a sense therefore the problem with the fudge isn’t just necessarily that it does not deliver the Brexit the Labour leave voters are looking for, it doesn’t satisfy Labour remain voter either.”

  12. I’ve never seen spoiled votes paraded on the MSM before. Is that a new low for them, to add to the establishment shepherding of voters?

  13. BBC news lower screen 10 minutes ago had the header “Labour loses 100 seats” while the scrolling subtext below shows 400 Tory losses and 80 Labour losses.
    Actual figures Tory 446 and Labour 76.
    Bias – what bias?

    1. Apologies to the BBC – it says (still) almost 100 seats.
      Nobody serious rounds 76 up to 100.

  14. Let’s not fool ourselves – this was a bad night for our Party too, as well as the Tories. But methinks Brexit obsession is distracting Skwawkbox and the rest of todays posters from the real issue here. I interpret these results differently – as only peripherally to do with Brexit. Brexit is of secondary significance to most voters at local level election time – even today . Beset as we all are at local level with an unending Austerity that is year-on-year destroying local government budgets and consequently destroying their wide range of vital local services , from libraries , to sports centres, to social care , to SureStart centres, to old folks homes , onwards . What voters have discovered over the last eight years is that BOTH of the main parties, Tory and Labour, have compliantly implemented this central government funding cut-based austerity programme with very similar vigour – but with Labour councillors weeping tears of regret whilst they do it. Such has been the cleverness of the Tory strategy to draw Labour authorities into being key collaborating implementers of Austerity at local level. Of course the much fewer Lib Dem led councils (and the posturing Greens when in control in Brighton) have been just as collaborating with Austerity too – but being much fewer their cynical electoral posturing has allowed them to pretend to offer “something different ” in council areas in which they have not been the ruling group – hence their big series of wins last night, based on promises they simply won’t keep.

    The irony of this for Labour is that it is precisely the old Blairite and old Labour Right, corrupt, nepotism and cronyism infested local government Labour politicians that have discredited Labour as a real anti Austerity Party, who will be up on their hind legs today blaming Jeremy Cornyn for Labour’s losses !

    1. Almost inevitably, everything that has happened will be Corbyn’s fault. After all, he’;s responsible for everything bad, isn’t he?

  15. End of the month is the true acid test for brexit.

    Will we see a fudge between Tories and Labour to stop EU elections?

    Will the Lib Dems/Greens manage to repeat the success of yesterday?

    Will Fartrage or team Chukka clean up?

    Is anyone confident enough to bet money on a particular result?

  16. “BOTH of the main parties, Tory and Labour, have compliantly implemented this central government funding cut-based austerity programme with very similar vigour – but with Labour councillors weeping tears of regret whilst they do it.”


    The pro-Labour mask slips again as the usual ‘socialist idealogue’ crawls from beneath the stone.

    I have seen corruption and nepotism, so don’t need any lectures from bystanders. I’ve also seen good, solid Labour councillors wrestling with trying to keep services afloat against insuperable odds whilst the self-righteous pretenders jeer from the sidelines – the Tankies and Trots etc. playing their mock-conspiratorial games that have no relevance beyond the role of a tick on the body politic.

    I mentioned elsewhere a Council ward that I knew, and where Labour did well. The ‘Socialist Alternative’ candidate – full of the usual BS – mustered 87 votes against a right wing Labour candidate.

    1. This standard Labour Right Austerity-implementing justification drivel from the 24/7 sad constant Troller, RH ,unfortunately simply fails to address the harsh reality that the active collaboration over the last eight years of all Labour-run Councils with the Tory central government (and Lib Dem/Tory Coalition) in administering the locally hugely destructive Austerity cuts to basic vital services resulting from the huge central government cuts to Revenue Support Grants to local government has, as fully planned by the Tories, deeply implicated the Labour Party at local council level with Austerity too in the eyes of ordinary local voters. That’s why so many of them won’t vote at all, or won’t vote Labour .

      RH’s vacuous Daily Mail rhetoric about “Trots” and “socialist ideologues” is just the usual collaborationist Labour Right excuse for administering neoliberal capitalism – rather than even trying to oppose it. Collaborating with the Tory Austerity project , rather than organising mass Labour Council opposition by refusing to set Austerity budgets for instance, undoubtedly keeps the expenses and fiddles rolling for the closed claques of Labour Right councillors in charge of ever less service-providing councils across England and Wales, but unfortunately , as with social democratic governments and local authorities across Europe , the end result will be the collapse of faith by the mass of voters that social democracy offers an alternative to neoliberal capitalism and Austerity – and a massive shift to the opportunist parties of the populist Far Right.

      Never mind RH, you just keep bleating on with your classic Daily MaiI-style red-baiting distraction rhetoric, whilst the constant collaboration of Labour Councillors with Austerity lays the essential groundwork for the collapse of social democracy. And, unlike you, you poseur, I have actually WORKED in local government, for over 20 years, always in solid Labour-run councils , in Scotland , Wales, and England – and the image of the purely altruistic Labour Councillor just battling for his/her local citizens, is not one I can recognise in the majority of cases – a handful of very gooduns excepted. The endemic cronyism and petty and often major corruption of the Labour Right deeply embedded in the local councillor cohort of the Labour Party, almost universally hostile to Jeremy and our new Left direction, is the core reactionary redoubt of neoliberalism that pro Corbyn Labour membership will have to root out, just as much as the Right in the PLP. All your mates in fact, RH !

  17. “24/7 sad constant Troller”

    The mark of the eternal bullshitter.

    “unlike you, you poseur, I have actually WORKED in local government”

    Just a mark of your eternal habit of getting things entirely wrong!

    Plonker and bullshitter. Double tops!

    1. Just cutting through your warped bitterness (whence it comes, I know not) to a rare nugget of substance :

      “… Labour Council opposition by refusing to set Austerity budgets”

      … and what do you think would be the outcome of that? Particularly given that austerity budgets and the cutting of RSG has, actually been endorsed by the ‘democratic’ ‘will’ of ‘the people’.

      Your definition of ‘the Labour Right’ actually includes about 90% of the Party and 99% of the Labour vote – and is meaningless waffle.

      1. This rather depends on how you define the “democratic will of the people” A govt that can implement a programme with just 28% of the electorate is not democratic. But maybe in your world it is

  18. Three years ago, Labour promising to implement the results of the referendum is like the Black Night before battle, vowing to enter the decathlon next week.

    Skwawkbox: “Labour MUST drop referendum talk” ……. “Tis just a scratch”

    1. “like the Black Night before battle”

      Snap. The same image came to my mind as I read a sequence of posts excoriating the BBC’s reporting rather than addressing the problem – exaggerated or not..

  19. If Labour come all out for Bexit they will be finished too. They will suffer much more than going for another vote but from a different segment of voters.

  20. The solution for Labour is simple; recognise that because the situation has changed in the last three years, put the choice back to the people.

    There is no sustainable democratic argument against it.

    As a ‘lefty’ it’s sad to say it’s the dogmatic MPs on the left of the party who are damaging Labour’s electoral prospects.

    1. Let’s have a general election.
      Labour will win.

      Imagine the Tories say; “We don’t know what you mean by voting for Labour. You didn’t really understand what you were voting for.

      ‘Before we leave office, you have to do a deal. Ours is the only deal on the table.

      ‘A Labour government will make you poorer. And nobody voted to be poorer.

      ‘So instead of giving you what you voted for, we’ll put it back to the people, and have another vote.”

      By your reasoning, that would be democratic, and there is no sustainable argument against it.

    2. “The solution for Labour is simple”

      I’m not sure it’s ‘simple’ – but it is pretty obvious, because there is no other possibility that fulfils – to some degree – Corbyn’s stated aim of bridging the divide at this late stage of drift.

      I’m alarmed at the degree of leakage of the core Labour vote – which isn’t ‘working class Leavers’ to Brexit/UKIP. It’s getting harder by the week to dissuade individuals from gifting their vote to the LibDems or Greens as a response to Labour policy over Brexit. Here, the overall combined LibDem/Green vote was 1.5 times the Labour vote.

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