Labour activist ‘Rosie Dee’ on her party’s humiliation in last night’s by-election, in which a leave seat voted for the most ‘remain’ party and rejected Starmer’s offering outright
Earlier this week, ‘Rosie Dee’ – a popular activist still in the Labour party – wrote in withering terms of Keir Starmer’s foolish squandering of an opportunity to actually oppose and set Labour apart from the Tories, when Starmer propped up Boris Johnson to save him from a Tory rebellion over ‘Covid passports’ and compulsory vaccinations. Starmer did not even demand any concessions from Johnson in return.
Now she analyses Labour’s catastrophic result in last night’s by-election as a ‘nightmare’ for the Tory PM – and for the Tory-lite Starmer:
North Shropshire – a Nightmare for Johnson, A dream for Lib Dems and sleepless nights for Labour if they are to approach this result with honesty.
So why did Boris Johnson lose such a safe seat with a stonking majority of 60 plus percent to the party that began the race in a poor third place? And how did Keir Starmer’s Labour replace the LibDems as the new poor third?
This was a leave seat but voters swung to LibDem despite it being the most pro remain party in England. It’s not that the Brexit divide is over, it’s that single issue politics have led to an urgency. The single issue here was the Prime Minister because it is urgent.
But don’t be fooled into thinking it was the only issue, it was an opportunity and Labour failed to recognise it and so failed to take it and build a strategy, because it doesn’t listen to its members on the ground any more.
Technically Labour started in a far better place. In 190 years, Labour has almost always been second. Labour’s strategy has been to win back voters from the Tories and LibDems, but clearly they didn’t. Even the Greens gained on 2019, while Labour lost well over half its vote share and fell to its lowest number of votes – by a distance – in its history in the seat.
The Lib Dems had the better story and given Labour’s new, supposedly focused ‘campaign to win’ machine that’s shocking.
If tactical voting was the sole name of the game then statistically Labour should be sitting where the LibDems are today.
Helen Morgan stood in the 2019 general election. She is the most local of the three. Clearly local ownership of candidates is more important than ever and it’s not hard to understand why. But there’s an additional factor: since 2019 Helen Morgan has continued her local activity. Door knocking and listening, building her name and focus, bedding herself into the local communities.
Labour HQ refused to allow Graeme Currie, their candidate for 3 General elections, to even stand for selection. His name was known, he had that local connection. That was cast aside.
What Labour did to Graham was to many local people unfair. And ultimately the strategy failed.
Keir Starmer failed the ‘comparison with other party leaders’ test
Surely if you are going to vote because of a party leader then you are going to compare the other possibilities. That comparison with Keir Starmer failed. Labour may continue to claim it was ‘never possible’ for them to win in North Shropshire – but clearly they thought they could, as the front page of the regional paper carries a personal recommendation from ‘Sir’! Never have so many Labour MPs been seen on the doorstep and still that didn’t make up for the lack of Labour activists willing to campaign for Keir Starmer.
Voters are simply not seeing Labour as an alternative to the Tories.
This week as Labour helped the Tory cabinet by lending them their votes to get through controversial Covid legislation and the LibDems didn’t. When the country distrusts the Prime Minister, the LibDem’s had the sense not to bail him out.
Labour now claims this election was never winnable. What an attitude. One that wasn’t shared by Labour activists and wasn’t accepted by the LibDems – and they won with a massive thirty-seven point gain last night, more than the Tories lost, while Labour collapsed.
Having enjoyed supportive media Labour that Jeremy Corbyn could never have dreamed of, Keir Starmer can now forget it for a while. The LibDems are going to be up there, gaining visibility they or any smaller party rarely ever get.
Now after two historic by-election votes no one from Labour can realistically argue this is a flash in the pan. The LibDems’ Chesham and Amersham victory – another worst-ever Labour performance under Starmer – was in the all time top ten of parliamentary swings, North Shropshire is one of the top seven. There’s going to be a focus on that, plus a focus on discipline problems on the Tory back benches. The focus will be on them and not on Labour as any kind of government in waiting – especially if the LibDems can make even clearer that they are not going to back the Government for no return for themselves.
We are in a time of political volatility. The voting landscape has changed. No one that wants to see an end to this poisonous government is going to accept an alternative that’s just a slightly better version of what we have – if Labour as it stands is even that. ‘Quality candidate’ spin can’t replace community involvement and activism, no matter what how much the friendly media try to help. Last night’s winner Helen Morgan is the proof of that pudding! The attacks on her by the Right wing press failed.
Tories are Damaging the Tories. Labour isn’t. People see the Lib Dem’s as hurting Tories. Labour isn’t. Those chickens are coming home to roost.
SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.