“Take Back Control” and the Death of the Policy

This guest post comes from Alex Hunter, Insights & Analytics Director for Hearth Group and a longstanding Labour member. He shares his thoughts on the role policy has to play in the era of the political slogan. 

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On the 18th of February 2017, Donald Trump held a rally in Florida where supporters held aloft signs that read ‘Make America Great Again’. Trump told reporters that he first came up with the slogan after the loss of the presidency to the Democrats in 2012. Of course, this may be true, but when Donald was 33 years old in New York City, Ronald Reagan was using that phrase in all his campaign media.

In 1963, Martin Luther King spoke from the heart when he said “I have a dream…” and it was to become one of the defining speeches of the age. Many have discussed the rhetorical measures employed, and the theatrics by which it was delivered. However, in reality it was simply an excellent reflection of feeling at the time, and it therefore deeply resonated with people and effected change.

I’ve wondered if Nigel Farage would like to think he can bump up against such titans of global politics, but his most catchy of slogans was ‘Nigel Farage will give Britain its voice back’ which wasn’t quite ‘Take Back Control’. The credit for that slogan goes to Dominic Cummings, a political strategist, not Nigel, Boris or Gove. Again, resonance was needed, and for this they turned not to internal feelings of discontent, but to data science.

The “Vote Leave” campaign hired scientists and engineers to build the databases and tools required to deliver an extremely effective campaigning tool. However, they also used their data to understand on a deeper level what makes people tick and used this to their benefit. They outclassed the opposition by competing on a different plane. No longer did policies matter when you could tap in to a different level of thinking. This is the future advocated by Dominic Cummings.

So, we’ve tapped into an emotional way of thinking and shortened political debate by about 7,000 words, but how did it come to this? It’s more the why, than the how. I believe I can point the finger squarely at my own industry, market research.

Asking people what they think is now easier than ever, and in some ways you don’t even need to ask. However, step back to the dark ages (before the internet) and you will find many more people than now were knocking on doors and dialling numbers to ask people to fill out a survey. This generates huge amounts of paperwork and data. Why not use the latest in text analytics to scoop up every public (and not so public) thing that people say and use that instead? And so, in our most public age of sharing, a new industry was born of predictive analytics and algorithms.

The problem with standard commercial text analytics is that it still doesn’t really work. If you send that last sentence through my IBM text analytics software it tells me that I’m displaying negative sentiment and talking about the category of analytics. It’s right of course, I am, but it has obviously lost a lot of the nuance of my language. If you condense everything into a black or white statement on a category then you’re very likely to see the debate as fairly polarised. 44% believe the economy is negative, 38% believe it is positive, 18% ‘unknown’.

This means that the process of governing has become so much easier. No longer is it necessary to understand or empathise. You don’t need to believe in what you’re doing, you just need to sell it. Which is the best environment for corporate marketing. We are being governed not by politicians, but by marketers. Is it any wonder that the media means so much to them. They analyse sentiment, deliver policies and wrap it all up in a catchphrase which appeals to our base emotions. When the rewards are big enough, someone steps this on, and delivers class leading political messaging.

In 1996 Tony Blair took to the stage of the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool and after a while he said, “Ask me my three main priorities for government and I tell you: education, education and education.” to rapturous applause. He chose this line because he had looked at all the polling and knew that a focus on education was not only important to him, but to Britain. This was a new way of working and was to continue to guide him for years to come.

Fast forward 20 years, and we have Theresa May saying, “Brexit means Brexit” which not only didn’t make much sense, but left people empty of feeling. What we don’t know though is whether this was an attempt to surf the wave of feeling generated by the referendum. Did this play to concern that politicians were fiddling around the edges? Is this the tell to suggest Theresa has switched up to a new way of working?

What does this mean for Corbyn and Labour? Well, it probably means that his concentration on policies that matter will only continue to speak to the people for whom are willing to engage which means there will continue to be the obvious echo chamber effect. Of course, it is entirely possible to go out and fight on fair terms, bringing all the same data science to bear. Alternatively, it will be necessary to await the political conditions that were there for Martin Luther King Jr. and hope it comes soon.


You can follow Alex on Twitter @alexghunter

Who Are The Blairites?

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I don’t know if you heard but on Friday morning an ex. Prime Minister gave a speech about the EU. You know the one: haunted look, manic smile, constantly on edge as if he’s seeing ghosts – oh and a bloody good orator. It’s a sad state of affairs when the only person in the Labour party speaking for the 63% of Labour voters who voted Remain is Tony Blair. Yep for just 10 minutes Blair was back although, listening to the bickering among Labour members over the last 18 months, it’s hard to believe he ever went away.

“The Blairites” are the reason Corbyn’s Labour Party won’t win a General Election. Corbyn’s approval ratings plummeting? It’s because of the Blarities briefing against him. An MP resigns from their seat? Blairite coup. Labour’s polling getting worse week after week? It was fine until the Blairites. It was the Blairites who elected Gareth Snell, the anti-Corbyn candidate, in attempt to lose Stoke. You see Blairites are both ruthless careerist politicians who will do anything to get Labour back in to power but are also masterminding plots to keep Labour out of power. They are completely toxic: clinging to the values of an ex. leader with lower approval ratings than Corbyn. The public hate Blairites, they’re the reason we lost so many members and why our share of the vote decreased during New Labour’s tenure, oh and at the same time they’re so revered that their opinion of Corbyn can sway voters.

So who are these apparent puppet masters? Who are The Blairites?

Well Blair obviously – he’s a massive Blairite. He loves all the Blair stuff: Iraq, PFI, tuition fees, academies etc… I think we can all agree on that. Technically the term “Blairite” refers to the most right-wing faction of the Labour Party which would include: Liz Kendall, a self-confessed “fan” of Blair, Jamie Reed, Tristam Hunt and David Miliband. Four of those people are no longer serving as MPs. Caroline Flint would often be classed as a Blarite but after condemning Blair’s speech on Friday, towing the party line on Marr this morning and voting in line with three-line whip on Article 50 people are not sure what to think.

And here’s the problem: some Corbyn supporters seem to use the term Blairite to describe ANYONE who has ever disagreed with Corbyn.

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, is called a Blairite because he defied Corbyn on the Article 50 vote. However he is also one of the MPs who nominated Corbyn to be leader in 2015.

Catherine West, my local MP, is apparently now a Blairite for not following the three line whip on Article 50. She is one of the few MPs who didn’t vote “no confidence” in him last year and on the day he was elected leader in 2015 and attended the “Refugees Welcome” march immediately after the result was announced, appearing onstage next to Corbyn.

Corbyn’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner is a Blairite for her claiming, “Tony Blair’s tenure changed my life it gave my children a life that I could never have dreamt of having and I want us to get back to that.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is a Blairite, despite nominating Corbyn for the leadership election in 2015 because, well I don’t know why really but maybe it’s because he won an election and what could be more Blairite than that?

Yvette Cooper, famously a Brownite, is a Blairite because she, you know, was there… at that time…

When I’m having a down day I remind myself of the time I saw a tweet dismissing Gordon Brown as a Blairite…

The trouble I have with the term is that it’s lazy. It ignores the distinction between the “soft left” and the “right” of the party. A division that plagued New Labour: the Blairites vs. Brownites. It has become a term to describe anyone who disagrees with Corbyn on anything. It’s anyone who acknowledges that being in power means making compromises. It’s anyone who wants to win an election. It’s anyone who disagrees with this three line whip on the Article 50 vote. It’s anyone who believes we should be worried about the polls.

It is not the case that disagreeing with Corbyn makes you a Blairite.

Questioning the effectiveness of Corbyn’s opposition does not mean you want another Tony Blair – you can disagree with both. I have real problems with some of Blair’s decisions – Iraq being the main one. It would be an error to think we can just try and repeat the 1997 election. But I also have issues with Corbyn’s leadership. I voted for him in 2015 but Brexit completely changed my view of him. His complete disregard for the 63% of Labour voters who voted Remain is astonishing.

The threat to the Labour Party is not the man who hasn’t been leader, or even an MP for a decade. It’s too easy to blame him. For as long as we have the excuse of “The Blairites” we can ignore the real issues facing the Labour Party. Let’s be really honest most of the electorate don’t care if the Labour Party is run by the right, the soft left or the hard left. They just want an effective opposition and a competent leader.

 

Now What?

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“You were almost spot on – he won with 61.8% of the vote.” were my first words to my husband this morning – he’d predicted 60%. (Note: it’s always a good idea to marry somebody who doesn’t mind you talking about your interests at 6:30am.) By 7:30am we were both at our laptops, coffees in hand, trying put something coherent down on paper.

There was never any doubt that Jeremy Corbyn would win this election; if anything he has more support than ever within the party. For some today was the day the left “got their party back” after it was “hijacked” by the centre in the early 90s. For others, this is the day the party dies. I consider myself cynically centrist: my views are roughly in line with Corbyn’s but I understand that most of the electorate don’t share them. More than anything I want a Labour government. And no, I’m not willing to wait 20 years for it because lives depend on it.

The problem I have is that all the evidence suggests there is very little in the way of public support for a Corbyn-led Labour Party. Only yesterday there was a poll of Labour voters who won’t vote Labour next time – 71% of them give Corbyn as the reason.

Corbyn supporters have put forward a number of reasons for the disastrous polls: the sample was too small to be significant, the poll was of Sun readers who are right wing or that the poll is just made up. If we are going to get anywhere, is accept the idea that these polls actually represent people’s views. Not 100% accurately because we have to allow for some margin of error  – but we cannot just ignore them. What I want is a membership that, instead of dismissing the information entirely, responds with: “Why don’t we have the support of these people and what can we do to gain it?” We need to be fascinated by the people who disagree with us. We need to find out why they disagree, what their fears are and what they want from their government – we cannot just call them names. We cannot dismiss “The Sun” readers because no election has ever been won without their votes. I wrote this as a comment on social media yesterday and immediately someone replied with, “Why do we need their votes when we can appeal to all the millions of non-voters?” Here’s the thing about non-voters: they tend not to vote.

In the last election 15.7 million registered voters didn’t cast their ballot. I suppose it is possible that they were all refusing to vote until there was a more left-wing candidate on offer but I imagine that they have a broader range of views than that. If the electorate had been desperate for a left-wing alternative then the Green Party would have a strong majority. Yes, there are some people who have been inspired to vote again by Corbyn and that’s great, but to win an election under first-past-the-post we will have to take seats off the Conservatives – that is just a fact. Yes, the system is hugely flawed and we should be campaigning for electoral reform but for now we have to work with the system we’ve got.

The first thing Corbyn needs to do is hire a smart and savvy media team. If elections were won on Twitter, according to my timeline, Ed Miliband should be in Downing Street and the Ed Stone would have pride of place in his  garden. #WeAreHisMedia only reaches those who a) already follow you on social media or b) are interested enough to click on the #WeAreHisMedia hashtag. Most people aren’t interested enough in politics to seek it out. So however much he resents it, Corbyn is going to have to up his game. No more grumpy, snarling comments, no more refusing to participate because of media bias. Yes, the media are biased against him and they will continue to be for as long as he is leader of the opposition. I have no doubt that they are just getting warmed up and as we approach the next General Election they will unleash hell. Everyone Corbyn has ever shared a platform with will be dredged up, the “my friends,  Hamas” quote will printed over and over again until it’s burnt into the electorate’s retinas. Rupert Murdoch managed to decimate Ed Miliband with a picture of him clumsily eating a sandwich – we cannot underestimate the power of the media. Research suggests that the general public believe the media is biased against Corbyn but they still don’t want to vote for him. Just calling the media biased or shouting down every criticism as an MSM smear will not convince the public we should be running the country. Finally, Corbyn mustn’t restrict the outlets he works with because, in doing so, he narrows down his audience. Tim is sat next to me writing about media bias so if you want more on this you can find it here.

Whilst he’s hiring, Corbyn might want to get himself a data bod. You know, someone with a brain for stats and figures. He cannot go on national television and not know the number of seats we need to win an election. He needs to know the stats, the names of the key seats, the number of votes we need to win the swing seats etc… If he really isn’t interested in that information, and surely as leader of the opposition he is, then he needs to hire somebody who will be interested for him. Somebody who will make sure he goes into interviews with all the information he needs.

He will need to compromise and learn to pick his battles. Sadly, now is not the time to be fighting to scrap Trident. Whilst I believe it should be scrapped, and the money spent elsewhere, I know that my views are at odds with the majority of the British public (51% support keeping Trident.) We will not win an election by telling the public what they SHOULD want. We also won’t win by assuming the public will realise how awful the Conservatives are. Regardless of the damage they have done to the country and the lives they have ruined, at the moment they are seen as a safe pair of hands and Labour are seen as unstable and reckless.

On the 23rd of June the country revealed itself to be almost entirely divided in two. Corbyn needs to lay out Labour’s vision for our role in Europe, he needs to address the issue of immigration – and by address I don’t mean dismiss and, more than anything, he needs to convince the public his party can be trusted with the economy. It is a mammoth task and at the moment I have seen no evidence that we’ll succeed but I will keep up the fight.

“The Girl On The Piccadilly Line” started after the last election. Originally my plan was to document the challenges of leading a community school under a Conservative government. When the challenges proved too much and I resigned from the profession I was worried I’d have less to write about. As it happens 2015-2016 has been the most turbulent political period in my lifetime. We’ve had a referendum, resignations from the leaders of all 5 main political parties, a mayoral election, David Cameron fucking a pig, Nigel Farage resigning then un-resigning – then resigning again, Gove and Boris cosying up for to lead the Leave campaign then stabbing one another in the back the second it was finished and two Labour leadership elections in 12 months – there’s been no shortage of matierial.

I hope, more than anything, that over the next few years I will be able to document Labour’s rise to power. I will fight and campaign with Corbyn because I am proud to be a member of the Labour Party. We’re the party of the NHS, the Civil Partnership Act, the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. We have a history of fighting for a more equal society. Quality of life under the Tories is declining at an exponential rate and we desperately need a Labour government. Can we win? I don’t know – but I’m not going to stop trying.

Kinder, gentler politics

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Last week I was asked by a journalist from the Huffington Post if I would like to feature in an article he was writing about young voters who voted for Corbyn last year but won’t vote for him again in the coming leadership elections. I agreed to be in the article for one simple reason: I think it’s really important for people to speak out about changing their mind in politics. Because, let’s be honest, the only way elections are won is by convincing a lot of voters to change their mind about the party they’re going to vote for. Accusing those who change their mind of being weak or disloyal will only result in people firmly retreating to their chosen “side”. Politics is a never-ending dialogue. It is the way in which we decide how best to live alongside each other. It’s not a war.

The response to the article was, sadly,  as I could have predicted. I was called: a vile human being, a moron, an ignorant bitch and a “traitor to the Labour Party” by some Corbyn supporters. For me, far worse than the name calling was the, “you’ll understand when you’re older dear” comments which littered my inbox.  Reading some of the comments you would have thought I had attacked these people on a personal level rather than simply expressing an opinion different to their own. I spent last Summer campaigning for Jeremy and trying to convince them to vote for him and at no point did I resort to name calling of abuse. I didn’t call my friend a “heartless Blairite” for voting for Yvette Cooper and I didn’t accuse my Kendall voting colleague of “wanting disabled people to die.” Yet these were comments thrown at me for saying I could no longer support Corbyn.

Wanting a “kinder, gentler politics” is admirable yet seems to only apply to Jeremy himself. He shows great integrity in Prime Minister’s questions and refuses to engage with personal attacks, sadly the same can not be said of some of his supporters. Of course it isn’t all of them. There are plenty of mild-mannered, polite and kind Corbyn supporters but they are being let down by a loud, minority who are behaving appallingly.

I can understand why some Corbyn supporters are angry. They think the challenge put forward by the PLP was vindictive and underhand and they’ve watched with frustration as Corbyn’s message has failed to cut through the media. Some of them joined the Labour Party at the beginning of this year, paid membership fees for 7 months only to be told they don’t have a vote in this leadership election unless they pay a further £25. They have every right to be angry. But I am angry too.

I am angry that we cannot engage in a debate about the future of the party without being shouted down. It’s not just happening online, it’s also happening at meetings.  A women in the last GC Meeting I attended was shouted down whilst speaking against a motion. She was brave and just firmly asked them to stop shouting at her which they eventually did but you’d have thought she was a fascist the way they were attacking her not a long-standing member of the same party.

I don’t want another Blair but I do want someone who can win an election; too many people are suffering as a result of this Government’s policies for winning not at least be a possibility.  Just increasing the support of Corbyn in areas that already vote Labour is not going to be enough. The General Election will not be won on the strength of members’ enthusiasm for their leader it will be won on the number of votes we can win back from people who voted Conservative last year. There is an assumption that there is huge support for Corbyn across the country and we just need to “tap into it”. One Corbyn supporter asked me to explain why I thought he couldn’t win an election “without quoting the polls” which is a bit like asking me to prove to you that my laptop screen is 30cm long without using a ruler. No polls aren’t entirely accurate and need to be taken with a pinch of salt but, even allowing for a large margin of error, this is a pretty bleak picture:

Let’s be honest – if these polls were reversed and it was the Tories falling this far behind we’d be feeling fairly confident at the moment.

The response to this from many Corbyn supporters tends to be either, “Well I meet lots of people who are going to vote for him – look how many members have joined to vote for him.” or, “It’s the fault of the main stream media. They’re working against him.” and not forgetting, “He was doing just fine until the PLP turned on him.” I don’t doubt any of those arguments – they are all true but they also don’t provide evidence that he can win a General Election.

Yes, since Corbyn was elected leader there has been a surge in Labour Party membership. At my last check it was just over 400,000. This is largest membership of any political party in the UK and something to feel proud about. If there were any correlation between the number of members and the likelihood of winning a General Election I would be feeling very optimistic right now. Sadly there isn’t. Last year the Conservative Party won a majority with only 100,000 members. Labour has always been stronger on the ground and at the grassroots but sadly elections are no longer won on the ground – they’re won in the media. Is that fair? Absolutely not. Does it mean we should stop campaigning or delivering leaflets? No but Corbyn and his team need to find a way to work with the media or, the MSM as we have to call them now because they are never going to make it easy for him. They do not portray him fairly, I accept that. However that is never going to change. If anything, if he is still leader in the run up to 2020, that is going to get a whole lot worse. What is Corbyn’s strategy for dealing with this? Last year Rupert Murdoch was able to convince swinging voters that Miliband would be an inept leader because of how he ate a bacon sandwich. “Don’t let him make a pig’s ear of the country” was the headline I seem to recall. The Conservatives won on a promise that they could offer security that Miliband could not. Just imagine what Murdoch and his buddies could do with a Labour leader who has lost the support of 80% of his MPs and refers to Hamas and Hizballuh as “his friends”.

The other acronym causing problems for Corbyn at the moment is the PLP. The week after the referendum they made very public resignations following a vote of no confidence in their leader. I’m told that Corbyn was doing just fine until that point and yet the most positive polling I was able to find had the Tories and Labour neck-and-neck the day that David Cameron resigned. The day the Conservatives were at their weakest for the last 6 years – we were able to scrape a tie. In some ways I hope Corbyn is still leader by the time of the next General Election because I’m desperate for Corbyn supporters to see how detached the majority of the Labour Party membership is from the rest of the country at the moment. John McDonnell has said Corbyn will stand down if he loses an election and I do hope he’s right. Although I can only see that promise from McDonnell as a maneuver to line himself up as Corbyn’s replacement.

“Calling us a cult is hugely offensive” one Corbyn supporter argued, in reference to the headline of the article, and I agree – name calling isn’t helpful or productive. However if you refuse to debate or even acknowledge the evidence, if you cannot accept that there are people who have legitimate doubts about the leader you defend, if you cannot even acknowledge his flaws then you are behaving no differently to a cult. If I were presented with tangible evidence that Corbyn could get the Labour Party back into power he would have my support. I won’t rule out supporting him the future. My question to Corbyn supporters is at what point would you stop supporting him?

It is most likely that Corbyn will win the leadership election in September. I can already picture the memes that will be generated and shared across social media: “They said he was unelectable and then he won an election twice!” He will be more popular than ever with the majority of members but the real fight comes once Jeremy is reelected as leader. Because if Corbyn supporters found it frustrating that people in the same party as them didn’t share their views they’ll be furious when they find out what the rest of the country think. Those members are going to have to find a way to engage with the electorate – they’ll have to convince Conservative voters in swing seats to vote for Labour – because that is the only way we can win an election. Members that shout at other Labour Party members in meetings cannot just shout in the face of people who voted Conservative next year and hope to change their mind. If they’re going to be knocking on doors or making phone calls they are going to be interacting with hundreds of people who do not share their opinion of Corbyn. Calling them names, mocking them and undermining them is not the way to convince them. What these people need more than anything is reassurance. The media are doing an excellent job as portraying Corbyn as extreme, unreliable and untrustworthy. To counteract that the members need tobe  calm, kind and open to reasoned debate.

We are the Labour Party. We sell ourselves on being kind, compassionate and fair. We’re the party that introduced the minimum wage, the NHS, the Civil Partnership Act, the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. We have fought tirelessly to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in our country and more people are relying on us than ever before. We are tolerant – we accept that not everyone shares the exact same views as us but they are welcome in our party. If you want a fairer, more equal society then there will always be a place for you in the Labour Party.

We are the kinder party – so let’s bloody well start behaving like it.

The Eagle Has Landed. Sort Of.

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Stereotypes are often exaggerated and unfair. Not all British people have a stiff upper lip, not all doctors have terrible handwriting and people with blonde hair don’t necessarily have more fun. The media have a huge part to play in generating these stereotypes and they love nothing more than presenting the Conservative Party and cruel but efficient and the Labour Party as kind but incompetent. Sadly, both parties seem to be embracing their stereotypes with renewed vigour.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the need for a new leader of the Labour Party. I received some criticism from Corbyn fans (yes, fans.) It was the usual stuff: I’m a sell-out and/or a Blairite because I am willing to compromise some of my values for the sake of winning an election. Corbyn was elected on a wave of hope last Summer and in the last few weeks it has come crashing down. It is time to be realistic not idealistic – we need to address the country on their terms, not ours.

Whilst I agree that the MPs couldn’t have chosen a worse possible moment to make their point, I understand why they did it. They, like I, have reason to believe that the General Election we thought we had years to work towards may now be happening in the next few months. Our country and party are divided in two and we desperately need a leader who can unite us. I like Angela Eagle but she isn’t best placed to challenge Corbyn, in my opinion. However after a week of resignations and infighting I was just relieved that someone had finally stepped up to the plate. Whatever the result of this leadership election Labour need to sort themselves out and they need to do it quickly. Tomorrow afternoon Theresa May will become Prime Minster: the Tories are back in town.

The Conservatives have had no less drama or controversy than Labour have. It’s been a difficult few weeks for the Dark Side. The Prime Minister resigned after he was unable to convince the country to vote with him to stay in the EU. 40% of Conservative MPs voted to Leave compared to 58% of Conservative voters – Labour aren’t the only party that are heading in a different direction to their membership.

The Conservatives have been divided over Europe for decades but the difference is this: the one thing they all agree on is that they want to remain in power. Nothing is more important to them. It was hard to deny that they looked anything other than in control as they stood around steely-eyed Theresa May making her victory speech yesterday. This is a party entirely driven by a desire for power. Does it make them compassionate, or good for the country? No but it makes them bloody efficient when they need to be.

Any hope I had of a challenger being able to convince members of the public to pay £3 and vote for them was lost when Angela Eagle stepped out onto a platform that looked like the set of a Channel 5 chat show.  In case we hadn’t noticed that she’s a women, Eagle mentioned the fact repeatedly whilst sandwiched between two pink screens wearing a bright pink jacket. She may as well have carried a box of tampons on with her. I really wish the Labour Party would get into their heads that painting things pink doesn’t make women more likely to engage with them. It looks patronising, out of touch and shows a terrifying lack of awareness. We should have learnt this after the bus debacle.  It frustrates me that the party that brought in the Equal Pay Act, paid maternity leave and who have more female MPs than any other political party (42.7%) can get this so wrong. Anyway. I digress.

It was unfortunate that Eagle’s announcement came at the exact same time as Andrea Leadsom announced that she was pulling out of the Conservative leadership contest. As the journalists quickly exited, Eagle’s press conference began to look more like an afternoon with Alan Partridge, with special celebrity guest star, Sue Cook Harriet Harman, as she awkwardly called out for questions. I’m not sure who is managing her campaign but they definitely want Jeremy Corbyn to win.

Angela Eagle is unlikely to win this leadership election. And sadly, Labour is unlikely to win the next General Election even though the country desperately needs them to. As someone who voted for Corbyn there is a part of me that thinks we should give him the chance to fight a General Election although I’ve seen nothing to indicate we could win it and I worry that, with the rise of UKIP, we could face wipe out.

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The day after the Prime Minister resigned having split the country with a divisive, unnecessary and ugly referendum a poll showed Labour to be neck-and-neck. If we weren’t leading in polls when the Conservatives were at their weakest then something is very wrong.