It’s hard now to remember just a few months ago, when Labour was being written off entirely and was hovering at around 25% in opinion polls. As I outlined in the first part of this article, heading into the 2017 general election Labour faced enormous challenges – some of them recent, but most of them deep-rooted. To overcome them, Jeremy Corbyn needed to lead the Labour Party to the sort of popular vote swing achieved only once by Labour since WW2, and to gain nearly 100 seats, a figure only managed by one Labour leader since Attlee.
It was perhaps naïve, but I had hoped that the 2017 general election result had settled the argument about Jeremy Corbyn’s electability. It certainly settled it for me. However, a shrinking minority of critics continue to insist that he must go, insisting that as he lost the 2017 election, he will lose the next. In these two articles I’d like to avoid personalising the issue and simply demonstrate two things:
(20.06.16) – There is No Third Tick Box: ‘Lexit’ is Not an Option
So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politic
(06.05.16) – It’s Time to Reform Union Council
For the last 3 years, I’ve sat on the UEA Student Union Council. Council has the power to set SU policy, call referendums, mandate Officers to take political stances and actions, rewrite the SU budget and elect members of various committees. In the last year, however, it has become clear that its ability to exercise these powers – and to represent the 14,000 students that make up UEA’s student population – has been hamstrung by various issues. A handful of councillors have blamed the rules of Council, but I strongly disagree: there are only a few rules that every councillor should know, and those can fit on one side of an A4 piece of paper. The rest are all rules that the Chair and Deputy Chair should know in intense detail, and interpret and explain for the rest of the meeting.
With the London Mayoral election nearly upon us, opinion polls for the contest are finally beginning to emerge in force. And each one of them tells the same story: Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, is in the lead.
He wasn’t always. Back when the race for the Mayoral nominations began, Khan and the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, were much closer – at one point Goldsmith had an 8-point lead. But as the race began in earnest, Khan opened up a large lead that hasn’t gone away. Currently, a simple average of polls in the last month (7th March-7th April, when the last poll was conducted) puts Khan on 54% to Goldsmith’s 46%.
Once again, talk of a Green-Labour electoral pact has come back into the public eye, thanks to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn daring to not express outright hatred for Caroline Lucas, a position taken as suggesting a possible pact. Regardless of Corbyn’s actual intentions, the news item has gotten people discussing the possibility of a pact once again. As I suspected would happen, when I first wrote a piece on this issue earlier this year, there’s been a sceptical and sometimes angry reaction from some elements within the Green Party. One member, in particular, outlined their position in a Bright Green article, saying that “there are no guarantees, no accurate statistics, that suggest ‘Lefty’ electoral pacts will win seats”. I’d like to respond to anti-pact sentiments, and to that article in particular.
(22.06.14) – The NUS and the student movement.
In the last month, two student unions have held referendums on whether to be part of the National Union of Students (NUS). The first, in Oxford, saw 52% vote in favour of leaving the NUS – a result which was later reversed after it was discovered that 1,000 anti-NUS votes had been cast fraudulently. The second, in York, saw 65% of student voters back the idea of remaining in the NUS. In both cases, the referendums were held in exam season, with turnout at 15% in Oxford and just 7% in York. Although neither referendum ultimately saw the unions leave the NUS, both the campaigns and the initial Oxford result brought to the fore the many issues that students have raised with the NUS.
(08.06.14) – Divestment, decisions and democratic deficit.
Last month, it was revealed that UEA plans to raise accommodation fees for university students by up to 9%. Students have already come forward to say that they would not have been able to afford the new prices, and the students’ union has raised questions about accessibility and affordability. Yet the second big story of the fee rise is an issue of democracy. It was reported – and the university declined to deny – that student union officers were told they would not be consulted on the fee rise, and that the university had no intention of consulting them at all. In other words, on an issue that is of material concern to thousands of new and continuing students on our campus, management felt it necessary to completely ignore and override the wishes of our elected representatives.