Much as it offends my sense of natural justice, it’s still entirely possible that Theresa May is on course for a landslide.
We’ve been told from the horses’ mouths themselves, for example Ben Bradshaw MP and John Woodcock MP, that their strategy has been to tell potential voters to vote Labour. The reason is, “It won’t matter, as Labour doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of becoming elected.”
Of course this strategy was easier to sell on the doorstep with such a large polling lead of the Conservatives over Labour.
The experience of the 2015 general election and 2016 EU referendum reinforced the position, as well as the election of Donald Trump, that the polls are ‘unreliable’. The gold standard is what people actually do when it comes to the ballot box.
Of course, there are sorts of reasons why people might not tell pollsters the truth until the last minute. It could well be that there is a swing in the polls, and it happens at the very last minute. There is some evidence, albeit somewhat anecdotal, that this might have happened previously.
There are other reasons – in various combinations, such as the weather, voter turnout, and whether members of the public fundamentally lie to pollsters.
We’ve all been there before where we have seen the dreams of our political parties evaporate as the real results came in. 1992 and 2015 were good examples in my lifetime where I thought Labour was ‘in with the shot’.
But Lord Spencer Livermore and various others have opined on this in slight permutations that the campaign does not fundamentally alter the mood music of the way that voters are feeling.
It is noticeable that in the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric used by Theresa May there has been consistent reference to ‘trust’ – articulated invariably as ‘if 172 Labour MPs can’t work with Jeremy Corbyn, how can he become Proem Minister?’
I have no idea what has been going through the minds of these Labour parliamentarians, save for the fact that the ‘snap general election’ might have caught them by surprise. If they had “trusted” Theresa May, there would be no reason to believe she would go back on her word by wriggling out of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
However, beware the ideas of March – or in this case May. Theresa May had a perception of a healthy poll lead, so why wouldn’t she ‘go for it’? After all, it is well known that Gordon Brown “dithered” after what has hailed as a good budget by George Osborne, and stumbled on to lose the 2010 general election.
The question of trust in Theresa May is of course nonsensical, given all sorts of others which have materialised, for example costing school dinners or the lack of decrease of inward immigration despite numerous pledges, or failure to meet the deficit targets, but again this election swings onto trust again and again.
That is why, I assume, Sir Lynton Crosby has been getting people to bang on about that Nick Ferrari interview with Diane Abbott, or the Emma Barnett Woman Hour’s interview Diane Abbott, or the Sophy Ridge interview with alleged ‘terrorist sympathiser’ connections of Jeremy Corbyn.
Somehow this torrential avalanche of innuendo, from a Tory sympathetic media, it has been hard to displace, even with the ‘power of social media’, the actual news of catastrophic news on school funding, nurses’ pay, repeatedly missed NHS targets, and so on.
As an example, the lasting memory of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Question Time’ debate with Jeremy Corbyn is not a sober, detailed analysis of what had happened in London 1 and Manchester, nor what was about to happen in London 2, but the memory of ten White middle aged men fantasising about a nuclear war with Iran – and “would he or wouldn’t he” press that red button?
It could well be that Theresa May’s dreadful electioneering performances don’t matter. It might indeed be the case that she wins despite Jon Snow not having got an interview off a sitting PM for Channel 4 News for the first time in 14 years.
It could well be that many voters remain ‘undecided’ or positively antagonistic about Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott or John McDonnell, despite the well attended Labour rallies reinforcing the idea of ‘movement’ – snd that Jeremy Corbyn will in fact go the same way as Michael Foot who also had well attended rallies.
It is worth noting, however, that the Labour 2017 manifesto has, despite the usual criticisms of fantasy economics, not been dubbed “the longest suicide note in history”, as allegedly coined by the late Sir Gerald Kaufman.
It could well be ‘Tory arrogance’ that Theresa May wins for an enhanced ‘mandate’ in the Brexit elections.
It could well be that she wins with a landslide – even if that means ‘hard Brexit’ and the NHS and social care collapsing further within five years.
As for last night’s debate…..
Love an election in the Twitter era. It’s like seeing a fight in the playground and then getting to read all the bitchy texts too #BBCDebate
— Hannah Jones (@comedyhan) June 1, 2017
For all the criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s “incompetence”, Corbyn managed to nail it today. He referred to Theresa May as inciting “pumped up animosity”. Theresa May has not been able to give even the most basic details about what future cuts are in store from the failed austerity of the Conservatives, nor what ‘no deal’ in Brexit without inclusion in the EU single market would actually mean.
The Conservatives are now very exposed indeed. Every one should be concerned about the lack of vision of Theresa May for the future of this country. And to be honest quite a few people have not treated with Jeremy Corbyn with the respect he clearly deserved as twice democratically-elected leader of the Labour Party. Journalists are incredulous that Jeremy Corbyn has staged an ‘astonishing comeback’, but to be fair to Team Corbyn the narrative was likely to change if the narrative switched from personal attacks on Corbyn to a focus on policies.
Take Carville’s “It’s the economy stupid”.
Even that rule book is in tatters through exposing the truth about Tory economics.
— Dr Shibley Rahman (@dr_shibley) May 31, 2017
As for the ‘rule book’, Jeremy Corbyn has thrown out the doctrine that campaigns are irrelevant – something which Spencer Livermore is said to believe in. The argument goes that if the mood music has been sustained for long enough no amount of campaigning will make a difference. This is of course what the toxic parliamentarians in the Labour Party has relied on. They had hoped that Jeremy Corbyn would put in such a disastrous performance in this snap election that getting rid of Corbyn would be like taking sweets off a child following the result on June 9th.
The latest poll finds that Labour is closing the gap with Tories and now stands just three points from Theresa May’s party, a new YouGov poll shows. The poll, commissioned by The Times, found the Conservative lead has slipped dramatically in recent weeks and is now within the margin of error. I am deeply ashamed of the reaction to Emma Barnett, but that interview for me shone out for how Jeremy Corbyn dealt with, with dignity, to not knowing a particular election costing. Barnett’s attitude appeared to be one of someone wanting to slip you up and humiliate you, and I very much oppose this. This is the same approach which saw the parliamentary Labour Party in large part 2015-7 decide to strangle Corbyn’s leadership rather than nurture it.
The figures show the Conservatives on 42 points but Labour are close behind on 39. This has only been possible from the barrage of lies from the Tory media. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are struggling to maintain the momentum of their “fightback” as they slip to just 7 per cent vote share. Based on last night’s ratings, it was calculated that Theresa May was knocking on at least 648 doors a second to have the same reach. May is already in a worse situation even she wins the general election, as her brand has been exposed for what it is. An uninspiring, shower of a shit-storm of boredom. Could throwing away a 20% poll lead soon mean for Theresa May that “exit means exit”? The knives are certainly out.
The fact that Sir Lynton Crosby has taken sole responsibility for the election, according to Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt, and when Crosby tells them all to jump the only query is ‘how high’, means that Theresa May has become nothing other than an actor speaking her lines. And if Theresa May stays as PM, as the continuity candidate, Jeremy Hunt will continue to dismantle the NHS. May will lie at any cost to keep her job. She maintains the myth that she will be conducting the negotiations, when it is clear that someone else like Boris Johnson or David Davies will do it. Corbyn has clearly already said that Sir Keir Starmer QC would lead the negotiations for the Labour Party. The campaign does matter. Jeremy Corbyn is now London’s favourite candidate. The policies of the Labour Party are more popular than those of the Conservative Party.
I couldn’t agree more with John Prescott. The #BBCDebate showed us the Conservatives with their non road tested ‘leader in hiding’ making any old stuff up, talking about a long term plan without actually having one. Theresa May’s ex-communications chief has penned a devastating critique of her former boss’s botched social care U-turn, which knocked the Tory election campaign off course. Katie Perrior said the ground should have been laid to publish the policy weeks in advance, but it was instead “whacked out in a manifesto and briefed the night before”. She also said those in charge of the Conservative campaign had failed to manage lofty expectations of a landslide when it first launched.
The whole campaign of Theresa May has had the content and style of a bucket of cold sick. “Strong and stable” Theresa May is instead “Incredibly dull and robotic”, with stunning U turns on whether to call the election, or the Dementia Tax. The Conservatives are riding on a stench of entitlement and arrogance, which means they don’t care that their school meals are costed at 7 p per person. All of this does leave an impression about what kind of a leader Theresa May can be for us. As someone noted earlier from ITV, she actually refuses to answer any questions (for example how many people will have their winter fuel allowance taken away, or what the upper cap of the Dementia Tax will be.) Theresa May thinks that the voters can yet further cope with a week of more of this drivelfest. It is possible that some basic mixup of communication meant that Theresa May simply got her wires crossed, and did not turn up to the Senate House in Cambridge because the event was not being held in a cold warehouse or factory with pre-packaged Tory stooges. It’s actually even worse than that.
For all the criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the expectation for Corbyn was set so low that Corbyn’s subsequent performance has subsequently been hailed as incredible. And for Corbyn’s supporters he is genuinely worth supporting. On the other hand, but Theresa May gives a strong impression of NOT wanting to answer questions directly and even telling the truth. I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t show up to the job interview, my prospects may be limited. If Theresa May does not happen to win the general election or to increase the size of her majority, questions will be asked about whether her ‘no show’strategy was fair to voters. On a practical point, one is entitled to think May stayed away from the #BBCDebate because every time she opens her mouth the polls for Tories drop another a few points. Her performance is genuinely shambolic, and this is of no particular surprise as she has not ever been properly ‘road tested’ apart from the Conservative Party and Laura Kuenssberg.
But in the real world, Theresa May is shambolic. Right wingers are obviously entitled to claim that last night’s audience was left wing biased, presumably because there wasn’t a fair number of Saudi Arms dealers. But in ComRes’ defence, the demographics of the audience had been meticulously worked out. A big problem now is that Theresa May is seen as a weak leader, as she couldn’t be bothered to turn up to the #BBCDebate. She therefore has no moral authority to attack Jeremy Corbyn for his leadership, when in fairness Corbyn’s answers on leadership (ranging from not being a dictator to the importance of listening) have been impressive. People are now not laughing with Theresa May, but laughing at her. The lady is not even for turning up.
Yep it is incredible that she’s busy losing the biggest lead in election history.
Even Corbyn ‘dark past’ smears are now longer working with an electorate who are more worried that the Tories wish to continue with their disastrous NHS and social care policy without batting an eye lid. With all the added scrutiny, the Tories and their journalists are not so vocal about their support for Apartheid quite so much any more.
Amber Rudd was laughed at during the #BBCDebate when asking the audience to trust the Tories “on our record”. Caroline Lucas, who is fast being recognised as a leading light in the new progressive alliance, was right to allude to how defending arms sales to Saudia Arabia as a strong economic benefit is a perfect illustration of how Tories value profit over people, and is morally indefensible. I agree that many people probably know little of the ‘money tree’ apart from a stick with which to beat the Labour Party. But a party which has progressing towards doubling the national debt in recent years is not in a good position to lecture on basic macroeconomics. The UK economy due to the flawed foundations of George Osborne, of poor productivity poor employment rights ‘gig economy’ is currently a busted flush, as today’s disastrous global figures how.
Voters are no longer falling for these pumped up lies from the Tories on their economic policy – for instance, economic growth, two words absent from Tory economic policy, act as ‘a money tree’ as does fair and equitable redistribution of income/wealth. Drinkers at the last chance saloon toasting to fundamentalism of supply side economics have received their last orders. The real money tree is well known to many victims on the left of course. These include dozens of Tory donors ending up on the Sunday Times rich list, Tories turning up in the Panama papers, a deficit not fixed not predicted to be fixed until 2025 now despite of cuts, 4 out of 5 NHS trust in deficit, a Tory manifesto where the only figures are the page numbers, and billions lost in tax avoidance and evasion. Theresa May is a busted flush.
— Danny (@danguest47) June 1, 2017
“The first rule of leadership is to show up”, as Caroline Lucas said.
The policies are popular of the progressive left are popular, and the contrast with the ideologically barren Conservative Party could not be more stark. The proposed programme for government for the Labour Party is as Angela Rayner alluded to is a continuation of ‘unfinished business’ from the previous administration of the brilliant Clem Attlee, who made the NHS a reality, introduced child benefit, nationalised the bankrupt private railways and introduced free secondary education as a right, and many other staggering achievements.
There is no vision with Theresa May.
She is deeply dull and boring.
— Nicole Jackson (@Jmappel0Nicole) June 1, 2017
I feel quite sorry for the person on Twitter who thinks “lefty” BBC is funded by the European Union. I can only assume that he is not paying his license fee. It is of course deeply patronising of Tories and the Daily Mail to tell us #BBCDebate was biased. We can judge that ourselves.
It is now patently clear that too much right wing opinion dressed up as news. And some news or opinion is being given a disproportionate amount of attention. The fact that UKIP are given such platform without an MP at all lends UKIP a credibility they do not deserve. The idea that the #BBCDebate was merely “echo chamber for left-wing views” is entirely risable.
The ConKip brand most definitely has very limited appeal.
Theresa May is trying her very best …
.. to completely blow this election.
Theresa May’s team can be congratulated on achieving one thing in particular.
That is, her team have produced an incredibly boring campaign.
The campaign can best be summarised as, ‘Vote for me because I’m not Jeremy Corbyn’. And – given the historic state of the opinion polls, and the past behaviour of the rebellious Labour MPs, this might have seemed like a bullet-proof strategy.
I’ve voted Labour all of my adult life. I am aged 43. I have indeed voted for Tony Blair’s national government three times. I’ll be voting for Jeremy Corbyn.
I apologise. I can’t write very well.
The Head of English at my school once wrote on my term’s report: “Shibley sometimes has very interesting things to say, but his approach is very vernacular.”
I was so disappointed, I looked up what ‘vernacular’ means.
It means ‘wooden’.
And that’s exactly how I feel when I see Theresa’s team campaigning – it feels ‘wooden’.
When I hear the phrase ‘strong and stable’ robotically activated, I despair.
I know people are on the whole uninterested in politics, but even a cursory glance at Theresa May’s record identifies her lack of strength and stability as a political force.
One is reminded of Groucho Marx’s famous saying, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”
And May has done U turns which are too many to mention: like the funding of school dinners, whether to hold an election at all, whether to leave the European Union, and so on.
Whatever is the truth, I am in no doubt it is the public perception that matters.
When Gordon Brown ‘dithered’ about whether to hold an election or not, the media were flooded with complementary similar stories about how he cannot make his mind up about ‘dunking’ Hob Nobs.
And when you would have expected Theresa May to be ‘strong’ in defending an ideological stance, which indeed some in her own party will support, there’s not a “sausage”.
I am no clearer now than when the Conservative manifesto was published about why it is not a good idea to socialise the risk of getting a long term disability such as dementia – and we should make people with lots of money pay with their houses albeit after their death.
Theresa May has made it all about her.
You may dislike Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘style’ . Indeed, you don’t know how many times I have come to close to throwing rotten tomatoes at my TV set when he gets ‘angry’ when on his rallies.
But the content of Jeremy Corbyn is clear enough – whether you find it agreeable or not.
There are, however, reasons to be not so cheerful at Theresa May’s ‘strong’ style of communication.
Do you remember how she talked around the subject of whether a Trident missile had been misfired in the sea?
Or do you remember how she refused to explain, several times, how new money would be made available to the NHS?
To all intents and purposes, Theresa May seems to be ‘just about managing’ to keep her show on the road.
There can be no doubt that, even if one has grave reservations about the messenger, Jeremy Corbyn has sufficient patriotism and pride in his country not to see the NHS, social care, housing or schools go to pot in the next five years.
The narrative had been in 2010: “Give us a chance, and we’ll fix the economy. And you’ll live happily ever after.”
And despite valiant efforts from the BBC and Sky, and some judicious use of ‘smears’, this has clearly been outed to be a complete lie.
We have ‘paid’ through the roof for austerity – some more than others, ask any families of disabled citizens who have committed suicide because of the welfare reforms.
And national debt has gone through the roof.
Margaret Thatcher always used to talk of her ‘strong foundations’, but it is crystal clear that George Osborne’s legacy, apart from a personal knighthood, has been a gig economy kept alive through poor workers’ rights.
And look at the state of A&E departments nationally.
Whilst the opinion polls were so bad for Jeremy Corbyn, in no small part due to the monstering Corbyn has had from all parts of the mainstream media, it has been easy to maintain the ‘Corbyn is incompetent’ narrative.
But the ‘Theresa May is incompetent’ narrative is much more damaging for the Conservatives.
If the Conservatives’ campaign is indeed all about her, it does matter if her answers to Andrew Neil as a whole are catastrophic.
I have racked my brains about how people who dislike Jeremy Corbyn feel.
I think their last throw of the dice was ‘unleash Corbyn’ in the hope that once the public truly saw what he was made of they would instantly find him repulsive.
People who dislike Corbyn genuinely find themselves between a ‘rock’ and a ‘hard place’.
The argument has long been: “He is unelectable” and “We can’t get rid of him.”
The “He is unelectable” mantra has been thrust at every opportunity – whether in the Manchester mayoralty race or the Stoke by-election.
And while Corbyn does seem to tap into something, it might indeed be difficult to get rid of him.
And that’s ironically where it all started.
Angela Eagle MP said it was all about ‘real leadership’, but few people can criticise Jeremy Corbyn for putting a good effort in a resilient performance despite having to re-invent his shadow cabinet several times.
And the leadership is authentic – and now we know it has a vision (whether you agree with it or not).
The wheels of the alternative vision are rapidly falling off – Nigel Farage is increasingly looking like a used cars salesman off ‘Only fools and horses’ and Katie Hopkins has ‘left’ her LBC show by ‘mutual agreement’.
With two weeks to go – there is all to play for. The disadvantage of the poll lead narrowing for Theresa May is that Tory voters will know that they cannot necessarily take victory for granted.
I must thank my friends and colleagues at this point, finally – including Paul Mason, “chunkymark”, Steve Topple, Dr Éoin Clarke, to name but a few.
Barry Gardiner, Angela Rayner, John McDonnell and Rebecca Long Bailey have tireless in interviews.
And also Liam Young – who has, even when Corbyn’s made was truly ‘mud’ – has heroically put the case forward for Jeremy Corbyn for many months now on the Independent.
That is where Owen Smith and Angela Eagle got it so badly wrong.
The strength in the Labour leadership is its collective nature. If you look at Theresa May’s team, you’re hard pressed to identify the other strong players – such as Boris Johnson or Phil Hammond?
There is something we can all learn from the damp squib nature of the May campaign.
But if she happens to win, there’ll be a lot of soul searching by many.
None of us know for certain what medical problems we’ll have, when or how they’ll be manifest.
Even precise genomics won’t be able to give us the full answer one day.
We all know there is a problem somewhere.
There’s been relentless messaging like ‘grey tsunami’ and ‘dementia timebomb’, reinforcing the notion that the ‘aged population’ (and immigrants) are the root causes of all that is wrong with Britain.
You know when things are bad for the Conservatives when they have to resort to “Google ads” to divert your Google search for the phrase “dementia tax”.
I’ve resisted from commenting on the ‘dementia tax’ as I have voted Labour all of my adult life. This means that I have voted for Tony Blair’s national government three times, and I intend to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in about twenty days’ time.
There are about 900,000 people living with dementia currently in the UK. I am united with them, not united against them.
I am also an academic physician in dementia and frailty. Nonetheless, I am loath to get involved in participating in participating in a highly emotive debate.
The issue which has caused the furore is essentially to do with elderly care. The media have not really helped by their conflation of ‘elderly care’ and ‘social care’. For example, social care is not just about ‘old people’. And the policy proposal conflated with ‘dementia tax’ is not entirely helpful either as not all people living with dementia need hugely excessive care costs and indeed dementia can affect young people.
But onto the actual heart of the issue.
I was left feeling that this policy announcement was either one of immense incompetence or sheer cunning from Theresa May, parliamentary candidate, and her inner circle reported to include Ben Gummer and Nick Timothy. The only reason at all we’re “taking a second look” is because the Tories themselves, and substantial parts of the Tory media, have complained about it.
The starting point is that the divide between ‘health’ and ‘social care’ is an untenable one.
It cannot be morally acceptable that cancer and dementia are viewed differently – cancer as a health issue will not cripple you financially like dementia as a social care issue. Also, many conditions, considered ‘health conditions’ such as emphysema, might have a formidable social care component, say if accompanied by physical disability.
Also – dementia very rarely ‘travels alone’. A person with dementia with substantial care needs is likely also to be living with various medical co-morbidities.
It can hardly be expected that good policy will come out of a general election announced at shotgun notice. After all, we’ve had countless and commissions looking at the same thing, all producing imperfect conclusions.
This new proposed policy on elderly care, conversely, does not appear to have come out of any policy commission. But ‘seemed like a good idea’.
And this contribution is not only disappointing in itself, but also in that it was signposted as a massive new contribution, so much so there was nothing substantial in the Budget.
As a society, the social contract between us individually and the State is that we all pool risk together.
We as a society decide not to punish financially those who get unwell through no fault of their own.
I can see exactly why this new policy is going down like a plate of cold sick on the doorsteps. It goes against a generation of people encouraged by Maggie Thatcher to buy their own houses.
Now the equivalent value of the house that people have saved for will now be surrendered to pay for the event of huge care costs.
In a way, these Conservatives are being disingenuous in that they would prefer to be bailed out by the State against excessive social care costs rather than using their money in an entirely individualistic way.
This is the policy as stated in the Conservative manifesto 2017.
“Under the current system, care costs deplete an individual’s assets, including in some cases the family home, down to £23,250 or even less. These costs can be catastrophic for those with modest or medium wealth. One purpose of long-term saving is to cover needs in old age; those who can should rightly contribute to their care from savings and accumulated wealth, rather than expecting current and future taxpayers to carry the cost on their behalf. Moreover, many older people have built considerable property assets due to rising property prices. Reconciling these competing pressures fairly and in a sustainable way has challenged many governments of the past. We intend to tackle this with three connected measures.
First, we will align the future basis for means-testing for domiciliary care with that for residential care, so that people are looked after in the place that is best for them. This will mean that the value of the family home will be taken into account along with other assets and income, whether care is provided at home, or in a residential or nursing care home.
Second, to ensure this is fair, we will introduce a single capital floor, set at £100,000, more than four times the current means test threshold. This will ensure that, no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home.
Third, we will extend the current freedom to defer payments for residential care to those receiving care at home, so no-one will have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care.”
In other words, the ‘family home’ is vulnerable, even if it is not during the course of your lifetime.
As an academic physician dealing with dementia, I have been struck with the difference between global policy from the United Nations and World Health Organization and the cheereladers of English charity on ‘dementia friendly communities’. In global policy, the notion of enhanced care at home or supported living, as part of the United Nations sustainable development goals, is actively embraced. However, the model of dementia friendly communities is predominantly one large charity in England endorsing their model of what a dementia friendly community is, with symbolic recognition of how dementia might bring Nudge-eque competitive advantage (e.g. dementia friendly leisure, shopping, banking, tourism), to the point that the relentless cuts in social care and NHS (unmatched for demand) have become an eyesore in the PR that ‘the UK will the best place to have dementia”.
There are only 8 years until David Cameron reveals his cure for dementia as part of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge. But I expect Cameron’s cheerleaders ought to be and will be held to account even this means through the academic version of pitchforks.
The English dementia policy is entirely in keeping with a Small state ideology, with contraction in the promotion of clinical specialist nurses, a cure ‘round the corner’, and the annihilation of social care.
It is tragic that the social care profession has had its wings clipped, when it could be given the resources to enable and protect people diagnosed with dementia and care partners.
But the Prime Minister Dementia Challenge also failed in the way it did not adequately recognise dementia advocacy services. This is ironic, given the proliferation of an added tier of rent-seeking middle men involved in the vague concept of ‘dementia awareness’.
This advocacy was, and is, essential for advising for people who lose legal mental capacity. At a time when global and international policy is overall preferring people with dementia to make their decisions known at a time when they retain capacity, as opposed to a third party making the decisions for them, it is shocking that England is in such a parlous state with dementia advocacy. Dementia advocacy, from regulated professionals, was and is essential for people with dementia upholding their legal rights, especially when the State might be interpreted as overzealous in taking these rights away – see, for example, the deprivation of liberty safeguards.
I fully agree with the desire to close the ‘diagnosis gap’. For people with dementia to live better after diagnosis for longer, they should be diagnosed at the last minute.
In my experience, in answer to the question ‘what do you want ideally?’ to a person with dementia, I receive the answers ‘hope’ and ‘time’.
If dementia services had properly matured after 2012, with the same ‘accelerator’ fervour so rampant from Pharma, medical advocacy through colleagues in palliative care might see advance care planning to be seen as routine and acceptable, rather than odd ball and luxury.
Advocacy would also have protected the human rights and democratic citizenship of people with dementia. The attack on the human rights legislation is one thing, but at the moment “contained” in as much as Theresa May does not wish us to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.
But people with dementia, if/when they lose the ability to make decisions according to the Mental Capacity Act, need some degree of protection. Indeed, the Care Act (2014) contains useful statutory guidance on safeguarding.
Theresa May in her 2017 manifesto has introduced unfortunately another element requiring safeguarding. Her policy effectively is one of equity release, with delayed payment, until proven otherwise.
An example of current guidance, for example, on this is this:
“A deferred payment agreement is an agreement with us which could help you to use the value of your home to fund residential care costs. If you are eligible, subject to the council being able to obtain a first legal charge over the property, the county council will pay a sum agreed during your financial assessment towards your residential care home fees on your behalf. You can delay repaying the council until you choose to sell your home, or after your death. The amount you are assessed as having to pay for your care and support is delayed and not ‘written off’. The costs of your care and support will still have to be repaid by you or someone on your behalf at a later date either when you choose to sell your house or 90 days after your death.”
However, for the first time, this rule will now also apply to so-called domiciliary care – care at home – if the Tories win the election.
All of this is the end result of market failure from successive governments. There is no yearning for a private healthcare insurance market which is contracting rather than expanding.
This policy offering from the Conservatives is most dangerous because at first it had no upper cap. Now that, as of yesterday, there is a cap, but we don’t know what the cap might be even after questioning. And this cap is necessary to make sure there is some State intervention in excessive care costs.
Closing the ‘diagnosis gap’ is fine as long as people with dementia are given the proper care and support following diagnosis. It is clear that there is still much to be done, despite “Cameron’s cheerleaders”. To give you an example of how problematic English policy is at the moment, look at how the NHS Transformation Network “The well pathway for dementia” simply omits “caring well” from its structure.
With no upper cap, the State is in a position to repossess your house at some later stage if you need to pay for care costs.
The State will argue that it will guarantee you do not lose more than a modest sum in the process, but the devil is altogether in the detail.
Who for example is going to pay for the surveyors’ costs of your family home? Which lawyer, given the annihilation of legal aid following the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Act 2012, is going to help people with the legal paperwork which accompanies this?
The ideal of universal coverage is that we all put in and it’s luck of the draw what we pay out. Some people indeed hardly ever need to use the NHS or social care. But as a society we should worry, whatever political allegiance one is, about a policy which clearly acts to the detriment of a group of people because of their medical diagnosis, such as dementia?
But this is a policy which clearly benefits those involved in the private home equity release financial products, and where there are potential conflicts of interest from Government and “associated persons”, it would be helpful if these conflicts could be clearly identified if transparency is indeed the best disinfectant.
It happens that this is a policy which acts to the detriment of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), and is therefore potentially unlawful for indirect indiscrimination. The label “dementia tax” has somehow stuck, and is extremely effective during this general election period, but is not strictly speaking wholly accurate.
The Tory manifesto policy proposal does nothing to bring integration of health and social care closer (though this criticism by some was also made of the Dilnot recommendations). It also fundamentally does not address issues of quality of domiciliary care which could be affected by a number of disparate factors, such as implementation of the national living wage, lack of financial reimbursement for carers, ‘burnout’ of carers, abuse through zero hour contracts, poor financial sustainability of healthcare providers.
The Brexit induced by the Tory government 2015-7 has advantages and disadvantages as far as this policy is concerned. Firstly, if there were some delay in implementing this policy, the legislation might escape the EU gender directives (we know that more women on the whole are affected by dementia, so by escaping EU anti-discrimination law private insurance companies can ensure that women pay higher premiums to offset problems in paying out). Secondly, there might still be problems in getting enough people to be prepared to be paid carers if the UK stops free movement of workers.
The Tory manifesto proposal is sick as we don’t pool risk in the same way we do for the NHS, and yet the divide between health and social care is untenable. And definitely doesn’t address the problems so inherent in the lack of integration between health and social care, such as delayed transfers of care.
The sad thing is – I expect at the end of all this we won’t be much further forward. But at least some attention on social care, as opposed to the vast amount of attention normally given to the NHS, is welcome.
We now know that if Ed Miliband indeed had a million conversations at the time of the 2015 general election he was not very good at acting on the answer.
Before Jeremy Corbyn came along for the (two) leadership elections, the Labour Party was immersed in a smorsborg of banality.
Let me make a powerful confession.
I support Jeremy Corbyn.
This doesn’t make me a Corbynista or Corbynite. I am interested in winning elections. That would be totally counter-intuitive, IF I were interested in politics and I was disincentivised by success.
Please don’t hate me.
There has been a cruel, vindictive criticism that people who ‘follow’ Jeremy Corbyn are in a cult.
First thing to say is that it is not uncommon for leaders to have followers.
Second, Corbyn would not be the first person to want to be popular.
Look at Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson who were ‘intensely relaxed’ about being chummy with friends in the City or Republicans in the United States.
And talking of cults.
What is Mayism? Journalists were so busy fawning over Theresa May at the launch of the 2017 manifesto document, they embarrassingly forgot to listen to the answer.
The answer, incidentally, began in a Thatcher-esque baritone, “There is no such thing as Mayism”.
Soon there’ll be no such thing as society – nor even the United Kingdom, if the Conservatives carry on with their direction of travel.
As it happens, I don’t think Corbyn likes rallies because he is ‘popular’. He is probably happy with ‘preaching to the converted’ as his narrative is genuinely what he believes in. His voting record shows that.
Corbyn recently made it clear he gets paid generously for what he does, but more or less implied he gave it away to good causes without saying so as much in a recent TV interview.
My late father used to warn me that bad dancers always blamed the floor – that is when I tended to blame anyone but me for my triumphant mistakes.
But it is true that the David Cameron and George Osborne era has largely escaped meaningful criticism.
That is even though the legislative reforms of Lansley on the NHS or Iain Duncan Smith on welfare reforms have been both costly and catastrophic.
All the people who spend everyday criticising Jeremy Corbyn in the Guardian should remind themselves of where Labour came from in 2015.
At the time, David Miliband’s reaction to the general election was “We need to own the future. We turned the page back when we should have turned the page forward.”
And meanwhile Tony Blair said, “We must own the future. We must make the future our comfort zone.”
To give Blair credit, there were some very important achievements too in his period of government.
John Cruddas’ post mortem was, “We should now go to some very dark places to find out what went wrong”.
And Liz Kendall MP’s pitch in the first Labour leadership made a pitch for leadership on the basis of the fact she went to school in Watford.
Tristram Hunt said, “We appeared irrelevant. Now we must appear relevant.”
I campaigned for Ed Miliband in the 2015 general election. I voted for Tony Blair three times as leader. I have voted Labour all my adult life, every general election since 1992.
Now that we have a twice democratically elected leader, I would suggest something to senior members of the Labour Party.
Please don’t be arseholes.
Your time with us is temporary.
The Labour Party collectively is more important than you.
I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. I have always supported the democratically elected leader of my party. I think it is simply unforgiveable and unprincipled for Kezia Dugdale, John Woodcock or Ben Bradshaw if they are going round their constituencies telling people to vote Tory.
Blair, Brown and Ed Miliband all had one important thing in common.
They left the ideology of the Labour Party in a mess. I would go so far as to say they left it in a vacuum, which might explain why so many in the UK voted to leave the European Union.
But the Guardian, and senior political editors at the BBC, have made it into a passion criticising Jeremy Corbyn in an amazingly comprehensive hate campaign.
They are so keen on this hate campaign, they would not mind if this country went to the dogs.
That’s patriotism, the Tory way.
We are where we are with Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats insist that they are not ‘re-running Brexit’, but they do want to put to some sort of vote what our post Brexit existence could be or should be.
Indeed, whilst those who voted in the EU referendum in the most part wanted to vote out of the European Union, there is currently no clear mandate on leaving the single market.
If Labour or the Conservatives do not win the 2017 general election on their own, it is possible that the race becomes one of a race between (Tory and LibDem) or (Labour and SNP).
We can assume that the Conservatives have mentally written off the idea of ‘paying back the deficit’ on their third attempt (by 2025).
This incidentally is also the year David Cameron and his colleagues in big charity have promised to deliver a ‘cure for dementia’.
Labour had become triangulated, up until and including the departure of Ed Miliband, to ‘paying off the deficit’.
But that led to annihilation of any enthusiasm and vision under the Labour membership.
With the ideology of ‘paying off the deficit’, everything else follows – including making the State totally underfunded. Cuts and austerity have been euphemistically dressed up as efficiency.
This current general election in 2017 is truly astonishing.
Theresa May wants to use the 2017 general election as a blank cheque for a ‘small state’. This explains why May does not consider it important to deliver a universal entitlement on winter fuel payments or to deliver an elderly care system where we pool risk equitably.
Is it ‘patriotic’ of May to put people with dementia on the financial breadline in this way?
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, on the other hand, have produced a brilliant vision for government – whether you agree with it or not. It is fully costed – none of the 60 promises in the Conservatives manifesto have been costed, and the overwhelmingly right wing media do not care.
This is tragic.
The double standards further extend to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell allegedly being ‘terrorist sympathisers’. So why did Michael Fallon go to meet the dictator Assad in 2007?
Whatever you think of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, they have taken the level of debate much further on the risable twaddle from years ago.
The first question after George Osborne’s omnishambles budget from Nick Robinson was, “Prime Minister, have you ever eaten a Cornish pasty?”
Ed Miliband, and his shadow cabinet, were control freaks. None of them could ever go passionately off message. Take for example their tortured messages on the ‘cost of living crisis’.
The tragedy, however, was that Ed Miliband was also right in his way too.
This year, prices will far outstrip wages. There is definitely a phenomenon called ‘the cost of living crisis.
And we know that the energy market is broken. The inflated prices from large oligopolies demonstrating near monopolistic behaviour show that.
Ed Miliband recognised that too.
Even ‘Red Tory’ Theresa May recognises the housing market is ‘broken’.
However, we know that her superior, Mrs Thatcher, perhaps referred to as ‘selfishly individualistic’ in May’s manifesto, sold off the housing stock.
Now Maggie’s children are having to sell off their houses to pay for their own elderly care, because successful governments obsessed with a small state and free movement of capital have neglected to safeguard the infrastructure.
Let’s vote May out, and then we can discuss what ‘Mayism’ is at our leisure.
A few days ago, somebody aged above 70 said he would not be surprised if Labour actually defied the odds – like when Clem Attlee won in 1945 with an extraordinary vision, when good Mr Churchill was expected to win.
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.
Strong and stable? My arse.
Just ask the junior doctors, nurses or teachers.
I think it is time to give the robotic ‘strong and stable’ Theresa May the boot, and send a giant rocket to her equally unappealing and unimpressive Cabinet.
This is not a once in a lifetime opportunity.
This is a once in many lifetime opportunities.
Even if the BBC and Guardian can’t be arsed to give you the facts about the manifestos (sic), seize the opportunity to divert the UK from being an offshore banana republic off the shores of the European Union.
Time to give Theresa May ‘nil points’.
I discovered a new font this week. It’s called “Liberation Serif”.
I’ve never heard of this before.
It’s the font which was used to produce the draft of the 2017 general election Labour manifesto which was leaked to the press.
Leaks have happened for ages (remember the ‘you leak and I brief?’), so the claim that this is specific to the highly incompetent organisation of the Corbyn leadership is somewhat spurious.
The likelihood is that this 41 page pdf was leaked by a so-called Labour ‘moderate’ who did so with the sole wish of destabilising the Corbyn machine preparing for this shotgun general election.
The problem is – most people who at a push might consider themselves Labour supporters think the programme for government is absolutely brilliant, visionary and inspiring.
And it’s been invigorating and breathtaking to watch Barry Gardiner MP defend various issues, such as promoting world peace rather than detonating nukes, against problematic journalists.
But this is definitely a ‘tale of two elections’.
An antithesis to control freakery, or the Conservative election campaign, is being played out in the social media in a parallel universe where all the bare-faced shameless lying of Theresa May is being systematically exposed (even if through hyperbolic infographics).
This is still very much Theresa May’s election to lose. She may want to call herself ‘strong and stable’ all she likes – but she clearly is is a paranoid control freak as a politician.
As a person, she seems pleasant enough.
It doesn’t take much to work out why the polls are so bad for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. That is, even if you were a supporter of Labour, you probably would not wish to be open about it to pollsters given the intense hate campaign of all of the print media.
But you would feel perfectly happy to state support for policies, such as rail nationalisation or keeping fox hunting banned.
And the people you can blame for this are the vast majority of the media – especially the toxic nasty vindictive journalists who find themselves unable to criticise the Labour leadership on eminently sensible polices such as abolition of tuition fees.
Any reasonable person would call this policy ‘aspirational’.
I don’t even understand the logic of these mean-minded hacks – the resurgence of the LibDems evidently has not happened, nor is likely to happen in the general election, meaning that the certain ‘left wing newspapers’ have been working hard for an emboldened Tory vote.
Jeremy Corbyn has been completely ‘monstered’ in the media which is why one respondent in Nick Robinson’s focus group this afternoon called him a ‘snake’. And he has been monstered tragically by the vast majority of the parliamentary Labour Party.
About 172 Labour MPs have worked extremely hard at making the Labour Party unelectable. Quite frankly certain MPs should be running as independents to make way for MPs who are more suitable for the next Labour government to uphold the wishes of the current Labour manifesto.
I have found it very hard to like people who’ve been talking about, almost wishing for, a Labour opposition, namely Ben Bradshaw MP, Gordon Brown, and Tom Watson MP.
John Woodcock MP’s politics I find repulsive.
As John Prescott, former leader of the Labour Party, said yesterday about himself, I’ve backed every single leader including interim leader of the Labour Party. This does not mean that I have agreed with everything he or she has said.
This relentless war against Corbyn has been utterly disgusting and shameless. I’ve loyally supported every Labour leader since I became eligible to vote since the 1992 general election. But I do think he’s done his best despite enormous hostility.
I would understand the affection for Theresa May if she was any good – but she isn’t. She notoriously failed to negotiate adequate budgets for the police service against George Osborne as Home Secretary, where she repeatedly failed on the immigration targets set out in the 2010 Conservative general election manifesto.
May has shown herself – through either by chance or by intention – a serial liar. She discounted the possibility of a snap election many times, before, guess what, calling a snap election.
I don’t particularly care about incessant Tory love-ins on LBC, while all Theresa May can muster to make her sound human on LBC and BBC’s One Show is a love for cooking a spit roast or buying and wearing designer shoes.
And even if a young Tory was encouraged to go into politics because of her shoes – that’s feminism for you.
Her utterances of ‘strong and stable’ and ‘avoiding a coalition of chaos’ are intensely robotic and irritating, treating voters like fools.
Yes – even those UKIP voters who are not idiots, but who nevertheless are incapable of getting the names of senior Labour politicians correct on LBC, e.g. “terrorist” John McDonald (not McDonnell), or “smug” Emily Thornton (not Thornberry).
In a sense, the proposed programme for this new Labour programme seeks to redress the faults of the past. But this is no patch for an outdated Windows XP.
This is entirely new software, with new hardware to support it. The hardware is of course the new enhanced infrastructure of the United Kingdom.
I don’t think it’s possible that to argue that this programme abandons any wish to ‘govern from the centre’. If you’re physically disabled like me, you will recognise the clear wish of Government to not give you a personal independence payment after taking away your disability living allowance.
When I listened to a recent political podcast, an expert, supposedly guiding the Clegg and Miliband era, was talking with complete disdain about the notion of the Left being viewed as being charitable to the vulnerable.
This was exactly the same snootiness that I found utterly contemptible form Rachel Reeves in her bid for government.
It was the same detachment from the reality of lives of people with disability which led out of touch Harriet Harman MP to instruct Labour to abstain from the repellent welfare reforms from the Conservatives.
The only Labour leadership candidate who did not abstain, of course, was Jeremy Corbyn.
The main reason many people deserted Labour during the Blair, Brown and Miliband years – years before Corbyn – was that Labour seemed to be reckless in looking after groups of people
. While Lord Mandelson, who has subsequently claimed that he campaigns every day to get rid of Corbyn, was ‘intensely relaxed’ about people getting rich, it is clear that ‘none of the above’ would have called time on aggressive tax avoidance or the cuts in corporation tax at a time when social care funding has been on its knees.
The NHS has been subject to ‘efficiency savings’, when these are essentially cuts to control workforce costs as envisaged by the management consultants McKinseys. Together with crippling private finance initiative debts, it is easy to understand why the NHS is so susceptible to a cyberattack or continuing problems in patient safety.
The economy is clearly not working for all. Gas bills continue to be astronomic while the shareholders make a tidy profit.
UKIP voters have now all been effectively been safely rehoused in the Conservative Party, and see immigration as the cause of the problems.
The East Coast train line was handed to private shareholders even though the franchise had been returning a healthy surplus to the taxpayer.
To give the Labour top team credit, its manifesto is about to claim a desire to stay in the customs union or single market even if means that the economy will be better off (according to the draft).
To allow Labour some praiseand in particular Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has not signed up to this ‘immigrant bashing’ narrative at all.
The Conservative led-administrations from 2010 have clearly not been at the centre, but in fact very right wing. To give them credit, McDonnell and Corbyn have made clearly the argument that the austerity agenda has not only failed, but it was a political not economic choice.
National debt has gone through the roof, substantially more in 7 years of Conservative-led government than from 13 years of the previous Labour administrations.
Those pesky unconscionable utilities bills, due to a broken privatised economy, are still here. All of this contributes to nurses having to go to food banks to make ends meet.
The lie that ‘politics won from centre’ is further compounded by the fact there are clearly some very nasty, bigoted, racist people who have found themselves in UKIP.
Strangely enough, the BBC have found a group of people who used to be Labour voters who now will vote May, but it is obvious that these people voting May have gone via UKIP in the meantime. Contrary to the highly biased narrative which Kuennsberg and Robinson have tried to portray, arguably, there is not an army of floating voters about to vote Tory, in the same way Cardiff was not won by the end by the Conservatives.
The attack that the programme is a ‘throwback to 70s’ no longer has any teeth as this was an era when it was more affordable to buy a house or to leave university without crippling debt.
The worldwide ‘cyberattack’ on the NHS served to highlight how a lean approach to management does not leave too much lee way for safety even if the minor thing goes wrong.
The decision made in 2015 to save money by not patching up out of date Microsoft Windows XP has come back to bite the Scrooge-like management of the NHS on the arse.
The culure of running the NHS with the bare minimum of resources is one which makes its own workforce feel deeply undervalued – and the lack of investment in people in the workforce is symbolised by the lack of salary increase for years
Critics have thrown every random attack to the leaked draft manifesto. Firstly, it is claimed ‘it is a wishlist with no vision’.
I completely disagree .
You have to be an extremely mean-minded Blairite to say that rebooting the National Health Service and introducing a National Care Service or National Education Service comprises ‘no vision’.
There is a vision in wanting to do something about the number of homeless people sleeping on cardboard boxes on the street – a direct result of economic inequality and ‘market forces’.
Secondly, it is time and again claimed that the manifesto will be uncosted. It is well known that there is a small team which has been pouring over the costings repeatedly, to ensure that they are perfect when published.
And it’s a bit rich to attack Labour for this when it is the Brexit, as negotiated by Theresa May, which is likely to result in a 60-100 billion Euro as a one-off divorce settlement.
The Tories have no vision, and yet this is a truly radical, transformative agenda for government for Labour, comparable in my view to the 1945 Clement Attlee government.
Time to give Jeremy Corbyn a second chance. Vote Labour.
Hate is such a strong word.
But passions do indeed ‘run high’ at election time, even if this is the third plebiscite in two years. Indeed, today is the anniversary of the 2015 general election.
The EU referendum was a landmark event in British politics for all the reasons which have been well rehearsed elsewhere. But why it is particularly noteworthy is that it somehow managed to galvanise members of the Conservative party into a strongly anti-EU party under the rationale of ‘will of the people’.
It is this ‘will of the people’ argument which has totally ignored the will of 48% (and even some of the 52%) who have never had an official way to articulate what it wanted to be on exiting the European Union. A perfectly possible position for the Labour Party to take would have been to be side opposite to UKIP but still respected the ‘verdict’ of the referendum.
We all have differing views of ‘leadership’. Angela Eagle MP had her chance to articulate her views of ‘real leadership’ last year at a time when the Labour Party was faced with a bland option of Owen Smith and Angela Eagle, or rather than supporting Jeremy Corbyn.
I heard a new Labour person sneer on the radio the other day, “I’d be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn had a smartphone.”
Let’s get this straight – this is not debate, this is BLATANT AGEISM.
Jeremy Corbyn clearly hasn’t done everything right – but he has been dealt a very bad hand. His 172 MPs are revolting in every sense and, with a few exceptions, have been sitting on their hands and sticking fingers in their ears, when they haven’t been openly slagging off Corbyn as is the wont of Alas Kinnock and Woodcock.
There was never a coherent debate within the parliamentary Labour Party of how the potential policy arms could be reconciled with Middle England.
Let’s be blunt. The behaviour of the ‘liberal press’ has been far from liberal. It’s given a disproportionate time to certain voices and the expense of annihilating the character and reputation of Jeremy Corbyn.
I would list at this point all the Guardian journalists who have been snide, antagonistic, pathetic, vituperative, negative, snide, smarmy, malicious, nasty, uncooperative, arrogant, unpleasant, but I can’t be bothered with them as human beings.
The Guardian has successfully, with others, turned England into a far right dictatorship, where it is acceptable to put up with robotic words such as ‘coalition of chaos’ and ‘strong and stable’ in the absence of a lack of debate about lack of meeting NHS targets including A&E times, the burdgeoning PFI bills, the closure of mental and physical health beds, the lack of access to your local GP, the anger amongst junior doctors over their new contract, the pain of junior nurses with training and cost of living pressures.
The Guardian are the Daily Mail of the left, except with the odd veneer of pseudointellectualism which is now fooling no-one. They spew bile and hatred towards any well meaning debate from left, and it’s pure hatred – in the name of Corbyn being an ineffective leader.
And for a couple of years this has been mainstreamed, and nobody bats an eyelid. The plan B to make UKIP a big force in politics has failed (apart from the fact that racist, elderly bigots have now been safely rehoused in the Conservative party).
The plan C to make the Liberal Democrats the third party has been doomed due to unnecessarily hostile tribalism from its leadership, and problems on its position over gay sex. Also, nobody at all can take their position on an extra penny on income tax for health and social care seriously after their Herculean somersault on tuition fees.
I salute the journalists in Guardian for not only carrying out the most complete character assassination of the left in my living times, but also for trying to extinguish the hopes and dreams of people like me who felt completely stuck in the rut of the same failed policies by the same hierarchy.
And all this for a woman who will not debate her policies, can only go to empty warehouses in England by helicopter, and who thinks that regurgitating the same memes wherever she goes is worthy of her second class degree from Oxford.
That woman can be intensely proud of her pathetic attack on the leadership of the European Union, but I for one thinks that she will get a firm two fingers salute from their leadership when she comes to negotiate the UK position. And 28 are more powerful than 1.
None of Corbyn’s critics can mount a coherent criticism against any of his domestic policies.
Call it what it is, please – this is simply a personal hate campaign with very sinister aspects of ageism.
I have no time for the new emboldened Tory, Unionist and UKIP Party. The Guardian can go to hell too.
It is alleged that John McDonnell MP, in reviewing the fortunes of the Labour Party in the recent elections, joked that at least Labour had not been annihilated. Who says the Left doesn’t have a sense of humour?
Of course, the likes of Alastair Campbell aren’t laughing.
Was the reaction to the recent local elections expected? Should we have guessed that Laura Kuenssberg would be behaving as if she had just bagged an amazing Louis Vuitton bargain at the first day of the sales?
I feel that this difficulty in the local elections was entirely predictable – and indeed is all factored into by people who want to get rid of Corbyn, as well as those who massively support him.
This comment was made in May last year on a US website:
“Mid-term elections, in particular, are revealing as to how triangulation strengthens the right wing. Once incumbency relieves national Democratic leaders of the any need to lean toward their “base,” triangulation comes in full swing. In 2014 for example, triangulation led to electoral disaster for Democrats and the lowest voter turnout in 70 years despite the record $4 billion spent on the election.
With few exceptions, 2014 offered the choice between pseudo-Republicans on the Democratic ticket and real Republicans. Voters choose the real deal and/or the demoralized voters stay home.
Triangulation sharply curtailed Obama possibilities. This is not a new pattern. Triangulation did its share to contribute to the rightwing resurgence and entrenchment in 1994, 1996, 2010 and 2014.”
Note – this is nothing to do with Jonathan Freedland, Stephen Kinnock or Richard Anstell. This comment is about how mid-term elections tend to reveal a low turnout, with a phenomenon that right wing parties tend to entrench their positions.
I’m not a professional political commentator. I think very few people are – apart from the magnificent Steve Richards. But I do have an interest in human psychology, and what I perceive to be fairness and justice. And the aftermath of the local elections and Mayoralty decisions have been very traumatic for ‘people like me’. But in a way which I think is entirely predictable.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell claim they want to reach out to various members of the ‘broad church’ – but like all playgrounds, this approach will run into difficulty if certain infants simply don’t want to play. Corbyn and McDonnell give the impression of only being interested in their own, and this ironically is a departure from the criticism of the Blair years where Labour is considered to have ignored ‘its core vote’.
Corbyn and McDonnell are not running a 35% strategy. It is claimed by Lord Steve Wood that despite the popularisation of this selective marketing of the Ed Miliband pitch offer this was actually a figment of the imagination of certain personnel in the media. One cannot possibly imagine who Wood means, but if the names John Rentoul or Dan Hodges actually come up, so be it.
Corbyn is perfectly happy with this ‘comfort base’. The element of ‘Corbyn’s way or the high way’ is prone to over-interpretation, such as the issue of whether Andy Burnham’s success party on winning of the Manchester mayoralty avoided turning into yet another Corbyn mass movement rally.
In terms of human psychology, people who support Jeremy Corbyn are incredibly passionate about him. They claim to be equally interested in his politics and ‘pledges’, and to be fair people who criticise Corbyn tend to do so on personal terms rather than detailing objections on policy terms. But arguably their style of behaviour on Twitter tends to wind others up – a ‘force field’ around 20 second gifs of showing Corbyn invincible as he ‘meets the voters’, or some meme blaming some fiasco in Corbyn’s outreach on ‘fake news’ or misrepresentation in the ‘mainstream media’.
But here the Guardian have not played fair either. Jonathan Freedland was the first to pen a nasty article about Corbyn’s failure to reach the numbers required to win a majority in an election – and I dare say there’ll be others. But the fact remains that authors in the Guardian have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn, his colleagues and his supporters, trying to produce a mood of demoralisation which is hard for anyone to battle against.
Instead of focusing on the issues, or producing constructive criticism (for example how technology might be utilised in bringing together the NHS and social care in a Blairite way, or thinking about how the gig economy might work for both you and the State in a Blairite way), the agenda of the Guardian is to assassinate Corbyn politically.
And this has been the mission of Lord Neil Kinnock and Richard Angell (chief honcho of Progress). But I have to say that they were both personally very nice to me on the single occasions they have met me, in a club in Manchester and in a pub near St James’ Park (for a Christmas quiz) respectively.
I ‘get’ their frustration. They see the failure of Corbyn to ‘break through’ with the same frustration as me, but my unfortunate perception of them has been, rightly or wrongly, is that they – like Freedland – want Corbyn to fail. I cannot sign up to this philosophy. It goes much deeper than a misplaced sense of solidarity in the guise of socialism. I think this has been to play politics with people’s hopes, tread on these hopes, and want to see them dead and buried.
When I see John Woodcock MP throw his toys out of the pram, I cannot countenance him wanting to be a Labour MP. To be a MP under the leadership of whoever in Labour is a privilege – that crumpet Wo0dcock is nibbling on his cake and eating it – wanting to act independent but be labelled Labour.
The years of relentless Corbyn attacks have been, in my view, been to drown out any legitimate criticism of him over the years. There is of course an issue about whether the Corbyn inner circle would’ve listened to and acted on feedback – the persons involved are adamant that they act on feedback.
The perception has been of people on the sidelines supposedly well meaning, but flinging mud and contributing to the sour atmosphere – like Owen Jones. These are people who are adamant they are life-long supporters of Labour. A greater difficulty comes with people who have no intention of voting Labour ever who are held up to be great bastions of protecting socialist philosophy.
It is clearly now impossible with 33 days to go for Labour to embark on a third leadership election for leader. The only thing that Labour can do is to try to make sure its policies can break through despite the embargo in the mainstream media who are obsessed with the robotic ‘strong and stable’ meme of Theresa May.
My gut feeling is that Labour is living in cloud cuckoo land if it aspires to the ‘man on the street’ who would like Labour’s policy if only he knew about them from alternative news channels. I think it runs much deeper than that – like a group of people aged 50s from the shires who ultimately have an axe to grind against the Blair years and who were waiting for UKIP come along, but now UKIP have ‘done their job’, their natural inclination is now to vote Tory. This vote for Tory is a vote, they perceive, for competence rather than idealism – but of course the left ‘protest’, even not in an organised rally, is entirely principled to prevent the funding of public services getting further worsened.
I think Lord Stewart Wood is right. I think Tom Baldwin is right.
I think Lord Spencer Livermore is right.
— Dr Shibley Rahman ❄️ (@dr_shibley) May 6, 2017
The damage was done a long time ago, for example with 172 Labour MPs refusing to support their leader in public in any meaningful form (with the exceptions of a few, such as Grahame Morris, Debbie Abrahams, Barry Gardiner, Angela Rayner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Richard Burgon). Voters rarely vote for divided parties – and the Labour Party thanks to the political hand grenade offered from David Cameron in the form of a EU referendum is now deeply divided.
Surprisingly, I therefore think it is too early to write off Jeremy Corbyn. I am not the ‘eternal optimist’ of Voltaire’s Candide. I am not completely deluded about this. Theresa May is clearly petrified of the Conservatives sending out the message the election is already ‘signed, sealed and delivered’ – but the dynamics are hard to predict, and the election result will come down to the exact arithmetic of where people place their votes in the privacy of the ballot boxes.
Given todays results, I hope someone, somewhere reappraises the strategy of triangulating our own Brexit posn based on Mays #KamikazeBrexit
— Clive Lewis (@labourlewis) May 5, 2017
So tweeted Clive Lewis MP today.
“Kamikaze” is a plausible sounding technique which has one major problem – it has a very low hit rate. Kamikaze (神風) were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks. During World War II, about 3,862 kamikaze pilots died, and about 19% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship. Labour’s Brexit strategy suffers from one big problem – not many people, with the best will in the world, understand it. Like Labour’s previous electoral offering for the 2015 general election under Ed Miliband, it feels a bit too little far too late.
A major strategic flaw about Labour’s Brexit reaction is that, as Clive Lewis observes today, it is entirely a reaction to Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, rather than a reaction to the EU referendum itself. There are certain features of the current political situation which are more robust than others, but it appears that many UKIP voters are thinking “job done” as regards getting the Brexit case successfully argued. It is now up to someone – and it doesn’t particularly matter who – to execute the implementation of Brexit competently. This is reminiscent of the New Blair approach to running NHS services – it doesn’t matter who runs them, e.g. Virgin, NHS or Serco, as long as they’re run as well as possible. The issue then is that the emotional attachment to Labour doesn’t matter. This is borne out by Tees Valley and West Midlands voting for Tory mayors, despite the ‘past’. The perception of these UKIP turned Tory voters is that Jeremy Corbyn is not the most effective person to be on the other end of the negotiating table, whatever the negotiating strategy is.
Given that the central argument of Richard Angell in Progress, and that of some others, is that it is Jeremy Corbyn who is the central liability in Labour – for whatever reason, whether the inclination of his bow, his tie knot, his talk style, his past positions on foreign affairs, Jeremy Corbyn is part of Labour’s Brexit problem allegedly. So if you assume that Brexit is the forthcoming big issue, and you have a strong (even if irrational) dislike of Corbyn, the most logical conclusion would be for Corbyn to outsource this negotiating rôle to someone else who is well loved by the general public. But this is genuinely focus group stuff – more at home in the pages of the ‘Unfinished revolution’ by Blair guru Philip Gould. Who is the person within the current Labour parliamentary party who is best placed to represent the UK’s interests in Brexit?
It is no accident that Theresa May has whipped up emotions against Jean-Claude Juncker, as this plays very well on the front cover of the Daily Mail. Some time ago, Anna Soubry MP, a person with whom I don’t have much ideologically in agreement, suggested that the anti-EU rhetoric would get far stronger at around the time of the triggering of Article 50, citing that the ‘divorce bill’, now estimated at 100 Billion Euro, would become the centrsal figurehead for this hatred. So, it can be argued that, given Jeremy Corbyn is fully signed up to Brexit, he would be willing to pay the EU any pay cheque because he is a ‘soft touch’. Here, there is clearly a divergence between the position of hardline Conservative-UKIP voters and that of people who want the most pleasant relationship with the EU after the Brexit process – the latter group would happily leave the amount of the divorce bill up to an external court. The reason that this does not curry favour with hardline Conservative-UKIP voters is that this is not ‘taking back control’.
In the past few weeks, once touted as the future Prince across the water, Sir Keir Starmer is not the solution to all of Labour’s problems. He is responsible for producing an overly technocratic, though albeit perfectly logical, position on Brexit so that Labour can face ‘both directions’ at once. Today has revealed a nonsense that the Conservatives are pretending that they are not becoming too complacent whereas the main opposition parties, including the Liberal Democrats with their withering vote, are still ‘in the game’. The one decision of the EU referendum was settled, for better or for worse, on June 23rd 2016 – that we will leave the EU. But the triangulation has no solution. It is unlikely that there will be a second referendum, even though some people may have changed their mind. And the second, more crucial, bit of the referendum was never asked – “Should we leave even if the alternative is worse?”. The answer, of course, for many Brexiteers will be ‘yes’ still.
All of this points at the other robust factoids about the Kamikaze Brexit.
One factoid is: the British voters have not actually been offered much meaningful choice about the style of Brexit. You can either vote for the Conservatives, with their ‘hard brexit’, leaving the membership of the single market, or Labour who appear to be ‘waiting and seeing’ having rubber stamped Article 50 through parliament. Or you can vote Liberal Democrat, Greens or UKIP, who are unlikely to have much negotiating power in the unlikely event of a coalition. Or, if in Scotland, you can vote SNP, but if the Conservatives become the largest power, this Scottish vote is in fact worthless. There is of course the huge disclaimer that local elections are different from the general election – there are more protest votes with a much lower turnout – but it looks unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit is THE winning formula.
The second factoid goes back to the triangulation with the ‘May position’, so to speak. We know that left wing voters, despite their opinions of Jeremy Corbyn, find May entirely unpredictable rather than “strong and stable”. Theresa May saying “strong and stable” five million times doesn’t make it true. As one Tweep put it, Theresa May is not actually ‘the iron lady Mk. 2’ after all – more like a robotic Metal Mickey, or as John McDonnell referred to the situation today, a ‘dalek’. Triangulating to the May position takes no account of the changing dynamics in the European Union – for example, if the new French president is able to be more successful in reforming the EU than David Cameron ever was.
So a more logical position would be for a strong negotiator of Labour to deal with the Brexit situation as it evolved, but this would be to go against the approach of Brexit at any cost. But given the mood music from Juncker and Tusk (and Merkel), it is unlikely that the 28 EU states are thinking very much about the size of Theresa May’s mandate. So all this fundamentally goes to the root of the problem – whether other voters are logical and reasonable, or simply irrational or bigoted? Let’s assume that Jeremy Corbyn’s domestic policies are unobjectionable (a big IF) – the solution for Labour to resurrect lost voters would be to say the policies are there to stay even if Corbyn isn’t for the full three terms (he would be approaching 80 if Corbyn started three terms). And Labour would have to stop standing in the middle of the road where it is bound to get run over as Nye Bevan warned. That is, it makes a stance – that of a party which believes that immigration is necessary to meet the social and economic needs of the country, and that the UK is better off being signed up to the single market, but our position as a unified UK can only dealt with with any certain as the political and economic situation of the EU evolves. This might be totally incomprehensible – but so is the current position of Labour on Brexit.
It is however clear that Labour can still produce ‘hits’. Look at Steve Rotheram in Liverpool or Andy Burnham in Manchester. The immediate drastic solutions to the kamikaze Brexit would be to find a ‘bloody difficult’ negotiator on behalf of Labour, but who unlike ‘that bloody woman’ will want to negotiate some of the advantages of inclusion within the European Union. But the current public perception of both the Labour and Conservative Parties wanting the same outcome on Brexit, but with the Conservatives with the better negotiator, is untenable. Also, one needs to factor in that the mainstream press will not allow ‘other issues’ to take central stage, like the NHS, social care or schools, even if the infrastructure of the UK goes to hell and a handcart on June 9th. And clearly – for such a big decision – the UK does need more time. It needs to ask the EU for an extended negotiating period to get the negotiations right.
And Labour needs to get personal with Theresa May, having made the entire debate so personal.
Can British voters entirely trust ‘strong and stable’ Theresa May to get back control of immigration figures, when she objectively failed as the Secretary of State for the Home Office?Can Labour extract out of May any ways for us to measure her performance on this? In other words, how can we hold Theresa May to account for her special ‘May Brexit’?
It’s a pity that Sir Keir Starmer spent so long working on something which has failed to address Labour’s central weaknesses on Brexit, but, given that Labour has now voted for political suicide (Clive Lewis MP was also against the triggering of the premature end of the ‘fixed term’ without invoking a vote of no confidence), Labour now has to produce some sort of eye-catching stunt on Brexit to allay voters’ fears. Or else it could be game, set and match – finished for Labour, with more loss than three hundred council seats.
We know that, if Labour had a free choice, it wouldn’t start from here – that is Lord Mandelson working ‘every day’ to undermine Labour (in his own words), or members of the parliamentary Labour Party continuing to rubbish Jeremy Corbyn – but it is too late to complete a third leadership election within the space of six weeks. Jeremy Corbyn needs to do something drastic and fast on Brexit, and also pin his nails to the Union flag, if he has any hope of standing up to the Tories or the SNP.
To this extent, the ‘moderates’ are right – there is little point in having principles without power? It is said that Kamikaze pilots who were unable to complete their mission (due to mechanical failure, interception, etc.) were stigmatised in the years. It is possible McDonnell and Corbyn are unable to ‘complete their mission’, but they would be the first to agree that if the current strategy is not working it is perhaps time for a re-think.
The problem with the strategy of 172 (odd) Labour MPs in parliament slagging off their leader minute-in and minute-out in open warfare conducted in the court of BBC News is that certain chickens would come eventually to roost.
It was vile. And utter madness.
At a time when the Labour Party could have united behind their once democratically elected leader, the MPs decided to rubbish entirely their brand. Labour MPs, barely out of their Price Waterhouse Coopers nappies, were heard to throw loudly their toys out of their parliamentary offices, as we all said: “Don’t bother shutting the door on your way out.”
And are the membership of the Labour Party all meant to be euphoric at the 20th year anniversary of Tony Blair? We’ve done our best in wheeling out Owen Jones (who interestingly shares a GQ triangle of himself, Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell) to mount the TV screens, and tell us all for the millionth time how many amazing achievements Blair had.
But whisper it softly. A new dawn had not in fact broken it, had it not, and could only be best as a false mirage. You can easily understand why the Blair legacy has ultimately failed, aside from the cataclysmic desire of Blair to own the failed mission that is the Iraq War.
It was, that, at best that New Labour itself had no vision, to extent that all Governments since Thatcher have been effectively the same government run by different parties.
There is barely anything to distinguish the Blair, Brown, Cameron and May governments in approaches to the hybrid market ideology and outsourcing/privatisation of the public sector – what the late Lord Macmillan of Stockton had called ‘selling off the nation’s assets”.
Scottish Labour, in their hearts, deep down, know this.
Corbyn had to be elected not once but twice to get some standing as leader of the Labour Party, and this is still in massive public opposition to him in the highly influential media who continue to troll innocent people in the social media without shame.
In a way, Peter Mandelson’s plan worked in toiling every day such that Labour would appear unelectable and to get Jeremy Corbyn out. Labour has tanked in the opinion polls, with no supposed hope of immediate recovery.
What Mandelson is, however, in denial is this.
For all of Tony Blair’s withering reputation as a ‘strong leader’, who took parliament into a war under false pretenses (some argue), despite his opinion poll ratings, not many people want him back – or at least want him back as much as a sewer infested with rats.
Already the hugely unpleasant media is talking about Corbyn ‘taking ownership’ of what will ‘inevitably’ be a disastrous general election result – and not a single vote has been caste yet. Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones haven’t even stopped slagging off Jeremy Corbyn yet.
But there is an even more gruesome possibility strategy guru Mandelson has not thought of.
Mandelson like May is not ‘first class material’, but he has failed to grasp that the media have toxified the Corbyn brand that not even the people who wish to vote for Labour will now wish to reveal themselves to the opinion polls.
As far as “strong and stable” Theresa May is concerned, there is actually no strong mandate as far as getting the best for Britain is concerned.
The whole world and his cat knows that Britain is about to be tarred and feathered in a ritualistically humiliating exit from the European Union by the 27 member states led by Tusk and Juncker.
The whole world and his cat know that despite Nigel Farage’s imagery of not paying your subs to your golf class the UK will be sued to high heaven if it doesn’t come up with the billions held to be its liabilities.
And all of this is at a time when the NHS and social care are on its knees, not due to the ‘aged population’ as you might be led to believe from dilapidated chumocratic Tory peers – nor from the skeleton staff levels – but from the astronomic PFI debts amassed triumphantly under the Blair governments principally.
We know that schools funding is on its knees.
Furthermore, the economy is about to tank big time – due to creeping important inflation, faltering growth and wages being far outstripped by prices. Andrew Marr’s questioning of nurses having to attend food banks is only the tip of the iceberg.
Thankfully, if there are riots on the streets, the privatised justice systems will be able to make a tidy profit.
The only ‘strong mandate’ May can realistically hope for is that the Government, in whatever shape or form, has in its first Queen Speech the aspirations for a hard Brexit, thus meaning due to the Salisbury convention the House of Lords has to accept the wishes of an election manifesto.
After all, “strong and stable” Theresya May had only been elected by her party in parliament – a pathetically small number.
All of this carnage cannot be simply resolved by Guardian hacks telling their ever dwindling loyal readership to vote tactically for any party other than Corbyn’s – whatever their views of gay sex.
Get braced for Jeremy Corbyn to have to fight a third leadership election, but the advantage is that the country will have imploded by then. Even Scotland might be fully independent of the United Kingdom.