Guest article: a post-mortem of Labour’s N Shropshire disaster

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.

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  1. Everyone is concentrating on the almost total collapse of the Tory vote but the collapse in the Labour vote was just as dramatic.

    In 2017 when Corbyn was leader, Labour’s share of the vote in North Shropshire was 31% – 17,287 votes

    Even in 2019 after a year of all-out attack on Corbyn by the media, the CLP and Labour secretariat, the Labour vote in North Shropshire was 22.1% – 12,495 votes

    But yesterday Labour’s share of the vote was only 9.5% – just 3686 votes

    We are told that there was some sort of electoral pact with the Lib Dems – but they had a smaller chance of winning the seat than Labour – if history was anything to go by. And voters still had a choice of voting for the unlovely Starmer and his teenage clone in N S.

    AND…this was supposed to be a massively Brexit constituency – and who did they vote for? The Lib Dems – the only major Remain party.

    What it does show that these teenybopper psephologists who surround Starmer haven’t the slightest clue about what policies will attract votes. Ditching any suggestion of redistributive, internationalist, immigrant-embracing, pro-nationalisation policies – they have managed to lose 14,600 votes.

    One day they might get around to realising that representing the interests of the poorest half of the country would be a popular move – but they would only do that if it got them in Downing Street – not out of any altruism or concern for those less well-off than themselves.

    The great lesson from this by-election is, however, that huge populations of voters can and do change 180 degrees in their direction on a sixpence if they are given a proper choice.

  2. More calls today from supposedly smart political pundits for a ‘progressive alliance’ to oust the Tories. The fundamental flaw in their arguments, is the fact that Starmer isn’t in the least bit progressive. He’s a RW, establishment sponsored hatchet man; out to either turn Labour into a ‘safe’ centre-right clone of the Tory party, or destroy it. And I don’t think he and the people around him are particularly fussy as to which of those outcomes prevails.

  3. “No one wants to back a slightly better version than what we have” well Rosie you are certainly looking through Rose tinted glasses with that comment about the Labour party alarmingly.Do you not realise that the Labour party is in the hands of fascist thugs…and I could take your comments seriously if you were to cancel your subscription instead of supporting the fascist dictator.with your funds……the shows over find a real democratic socialist party and build on it….I have and its certainly better than pissing in the wind.

  4. It is not merely Keir Starmer who needs to go as leader. The whole rotten borough organisation of the Establishment reserves from Blair, Mandelson and Campbell et al through to the majority of the current PLP and their LA equivalents, along with their cadre of twelve year old management clones clogging up space which could be filled by people of talent and commitment to the values, both at head office and throughout the region’s all need to be expunged from the host body if that host is not to permanently expire.

    We need a root and branch clearing out of the stables with room only for those prepared to do what it says on the tin when it comes to values and doing the business. No bodge jobs and no sodding waste of time and space careerists – just as applicable to some of the wastes of space self referencing so called ‘progressive’ (pseudo)’ left’ as it is with such equivalents on the right/extreme centre.

    1. The whole political class, yep.

      The scary thing is how they think serving US hegemonic interests and unquestioningly going along with neoliberal orthodoxies, represents ‘grown up’ politics. No doubt while being handsomely rewarded for presiding over what’s merely the veneer of being an independent country and free democracy in the UK. They justify such subservience among themselves as patriotic realpolitik. We’d be better off ending the facade and becoming the 51st State, for at least we’d be rid of the monarchy, have primaries and constitutional rights.

  5. Rosie Dee, is now part of the problem of labour lies and deceit! This is meant to be a post-mortem when in reality all it is is yet another gutless avoidance of the truth. Not once did she mention the almost industrial like betrayal of the British people now ex labour voters and membership. I am fucking sick to death of having to swallow this level of bullshit and am feeling the only way forward is to bring this dreadful party to it’s knees or destroy it as a political party and demand a new party for the people and demand it NOW !!!

    1. If you don’t believe that the Labour party represents your views then what is stopping you and other like minded individuals from setting up a party that does?

      1. We have it’s called the workers party and I am surprised to think Labour is speaking for you Steve.

      2. Andrew – …. and how’s that going, has it had any notable successes to date?

      3. SteveH-

        You do get the fact that Labour couldn’t even be described now as centrist, and that they’ve gone full tilt right-wing while retaining the red rosettes and name ‘Labour’?

        What Starmer and Evans represent and are doing isn’t some centre-left compromise to win, this is just another right-wing party, it’s as if Labour’s history and ideological underpinnings are disposable to these usurpers.

        Many on the left aren’t even ‘hard-left’ or all that ideological, most are nothing like the negative tabloid caricature, they just want to see some sign that Labour retains its core principles Starmer promised in the campaign. And all they are getting from Southside is the middle finger and hostility while the Labour bus veers right.

      4. Why do you assume most people in the party are FINE with Keir’s abandonment of socialism and suppression of internal party democracy? It’s not as if the so-called lead Labour currently holds exists for any reason other than simply public revulsion against Johnson and it’s not as if this “lead” won’t vanish the moment Boris is dumped.

      5. SteveH
        We get rid of those people who are shitting in our custard, like you

  6. Election North Shropshire 2017… Corbyn LP Leader votes for Labour 17,287.
    Election North Shropshire 2021… Starmer LP Leader votes for Labour 3,686
    Say no more.

    1. Keir sent his MPs out to North Shropshire to make sure Labour’s vote share was as pathetically small as possible

    2. Thank you, Harry.
      The one who loves to remind people what happened “under Jeremy” clearly couldn’t find out what the result was in 2019.

    3. ……… and, interestingly, there was no comment at all until the opportunity arose to criticise those who were not forming a new party.

  7. Harry Law
    The numbers don’t lie
    The reality is beyond the result, 200 years
    Where the hell is the challenge to Temporary Embarrassment

    1. Good point goldbach,but not so clever from mr Hall centrist Dad because his recipe for a clearout of the last drop of socialism that’s left decaying in the Labour party only realises the coming about of a working-class movement for the people who have no representation.Sh Steve H Hall has such a narrow vision and no values only ensures the Labour party fades away much sooner
      .I think that the obvious implications of the lack of leadership in the Labour party might now start to ring bells in the PLP even though in my opinion its far too late to save the Labour party.

  8. kenburch
    17/12/2021 at 7:12 pm

    Why do you assume most people in the party are FINE with Keir’s abandonment of socialism and suppression of internal party democracy? It’s not as if the so-called lead Labour currently holds exists for any reason other than simply public revulsion against Johnson and it’s not as if this “lead” won’t vanish the moment Boris is dumped.

    Oh go on do explain I just can’t wait.

  9. But, but, but, Labour did well, I read it in the Grundian. I’m sure no one is going to tell me the Grundian is less than honest.

  10. Just reading a good book on Labour’s history ‘Speak For England’ by Martin Pugh, which I would argue shows there was always a significant number of working class members who wanted a left wing democratic socialism but it was then and still is today held up by a significant number of middle class and upper class Labour MPs who fight for ‘moderation’ and mediocrity.
    Need a new Left Wing Democratic Socialist Party with the average workers wage of £39k for it’s MPs (and no second jobs allowed) and that should keep the opportunists at bay plus encourage the altruists.

    1. Bazza – Where were their votes at the 19GE?

      You really should have a good long look at the demographics of the Tory vote.

  11. Tactical voting huh…
    How many ex Labour or disenchanted voters would increasingly consider to vote against Labour at the next GE? Is giving the vote to lib dems an option? Establishment now wants Sir Schtarmer to be the next PM. Who’s for screwing up the plan?

    1. redoctober18 – What does it say about you when the reality of your f’wit position is that you are advocating that voters should enable another Tory government

  12. Is it Graeme or Graham Currie? Both spellings are used in this article for the local ‘known’ labour candidate who should have been selected. It is fascinating how with all the money (0ur money) he and Evans have wasted, spent on expulsions and legal fees, and on hirings such as Deboran Mattinson, Starmer the liar and purger is not cutting through at all.

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