Holborn & St Pancras

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12014 (21.9%)
Labour: 29062 (52.9%)
Lib Dem: 3555 (6.5%)
Green: 7013 (12.8%)
UKIP: 2740 (5%)
Others: 533 (1%)
MAJORITY: 17048 (31%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of Camden council area.

Main population centres: Holborn, Camden Town, Primrose Hill, Kentish Town, Highgate.

Profile: A long slim inner-city seat, stretching from the fringes of the City of London at Holborn, past the museums and university collages of Bloomsbury to St Pancras and King Cross station, still regarded as a grim red light district despite the regeneration that greeted the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras. Northwards the seat covers the vibrant trendy areas like Camden Town with its market and music venues, the fashionable victorian terraces of Primrose Hill, the large council estates of Kentish Town and Maitland Park, Gospel Oak and the leafy affluence of Parliament Hill and Highgate. There are extremely high house prices here, but only around a quarter of the population are owner-occupiers, with most of the housing social housing or private rental.

Politics: Traditionally this has been a safe Labour seat and was retained by Labour throughout the 1980s. Almost half the housing is social housing and there is a significant Bangladeshi Muslim population. The more inner-city and southern part of the constituency is solidly Labour. The Greens have some strength in the seat and in 2015 it was contested by their party leader, Natalie Bennett
.


Current MP
KEIR STARMER (Labour) Born 1962, Southwark. Educated at Reigate Grammar and Leeds University. Former Director of Public Prosecutions. First elected as MP for Holborn & St Pancras in 2015. Appointed KCB in 2014 for services to law and criminal justice.
Past Results
2010
Con: 11134 (20%)
Lab: 25198 (46%)
LDem: 15256 (28%)
GRN: 1480 (3%)
Oth: 1581 (3%)
MAJ: 9942 (18%)
2005*
Con: 6482 (19%)
Lab: 14857 (43%)
LDem: 10070 (29%)
GRN: 2798 (8%)
Oth: 152 (0%)
MAJ: 4787 (14%)
2001
Con: 5258 (17%)
Lab: 16770 (54%)
LDem: 5595 (18%)
GRN: 1875 (6%)
Oth: 1631 (5%)
MAJ: 11175 (36%)
1997
Con: 6804 (18%)
Lab: 24707 (65%)
LDem: 4750 (13%)
Oth: 946 (2%)
MAJ: 17903 (47%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
WILL BLAIR (Conservative) Educated at Sherborne School and Oxford University. Associate director of a PR and Communications company.
KEIR STARMER (Labour) Born 1962, Southwark. Educated at Reigate Grammar and Leeds University. Barrister and former Director of Public Prosecutions. Appointed KCB in 2014 for services to law and criminal justice.
JILL FRASER (Liberal Democrat) Born Essex. Works in a chip shop. Camden councillor 2003-2012. Contested Holborn and St Pancras 2005.
MAXINE SPENCER (UKIP) Born Hampstead. Full time carer. Contested Holborn and St Pancras 2010.
NATALIE BENNETT (Green) Born 1966, Australia. Educated at MLC School and Sydney University. Journalist. Contested Holborn and St Pancras 2010. Leader of the Green party since 2012.
DAVID O`SULLIVAN (Socialist Equality)
SHANE O`DONNELL (CISTA)
VANESSA HUDSON (Animal Welfare) Born Sheffield. Educated at Liverpool University. Media producer. Contested London 2014 European election.
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Comments - 899 Responses on “Holborn & St Pancras”
  1. The irony is though that socialism has and has always had greater traction in the middle classes. The working class don’t think about politics in terms of socialism and capitalism. A lot of the proponents of socialism come from the middle class not just the current intake of the Labour Party but as earlier as the Beatrice and Sydney Webb who along with the Fabians drafted Clause IV ‘by hand and brain, etc’ in 1918 in an attempt to move the party away from flirting with revolutionary socialism. The Labour Party is one of the few socialist parties in western europe whose appeal is historically working class. Le Parti Socialist had greater appeal amongst the middle classes.

    I’m sure I’ve said this before too but Labour did better amongst ABC1 than C2DE and I know its not the most accurate description of class today but it paints an accurate picture. The Labour Party is no longer than party for semi skilled workers by a long shot. Labour did as well at winning over skilled workers in 2017 as they did in 1997 while the Tories scored their biggest numbers amongst skilled workers since 1979

    It’s why Labour are now more competitive in safe tory seats. Some Labour Tory marginals are Labour despite the Tories national double digit victory over Labour. Its why some Tory Labour marginals now have a tory maj so large that a 97 swing wouldn’t win it. It’s why Labour safe seats have a Tory MP. It’s why Labour have more seats in England than they did in 1987 despite labours worst election defeat since 1935.

    It wasn’t the fact Blair expunged socialism but it was the fact he turned Labour into a progressive party. Not to say it wasn’t but it was other things too, namely a labour party. The problem is he called it new Labour. I think had he tried to rename it progressives or democratic party even Brown would have lost it. But not doing that and doing nothing to shape the electorate we now have a party nobody wants and electorate that hasn’t got a party it needs

  2. Should say ‘tories did as well amongst semi skilled workers as in 1979’

  3. Middle-class people are more likely to think in terms of “isms” full-stop. When you’re “just about managing”, you’re going to put more effort into making ends meet and less into pondering post-materialist dialecticism.

    That doesn’t mean that policies which could be reasonably described as socialist would necessarily fail to attract working-class support. It’s all about the framing (another thing Blair excelled at).

  4. Everything you say there is true.

    The middle class of course is now massive in size, very diverse in composition, not the small homogenous rump of society as was the case in say the 1950s.

    Nor do I believe that some kind of Blairite revival would fly in today’s environment – it won’t. Labour’s best hope, and the Tories’ worst fear, is for the Tory vote to become confined to a Brexit-supporting baby boom generation which is gradually dying off.

  5. I agree PT the actual real poltik of progressive policies certainly have a greater appeal than the isms for working class people. Though it does depend on which policies. At work the big one is minimum wage. If we did introduce £10 an hour it would go down a storm. Though is that socialist, I suppose if you were raising taxes to pay for it you could call it redistribution of wealth. A lot of individual policies that socialists tend to be proponents for like nationalising rail, mail, energy, etc. tend poll well. How does that actually translate into people at work telling me how much they want to nationalise rail… not often. Though and this is very unique to my setting but NHS services going out to tender is very unpopular with my work colleagues who are NHS TUPE and would like to reverse that. If anything any kind of talk like this amongst the working ckass is less to do with the benefits of socialism but nostalgia. People i work with love talking about steelworks, pits, etc. The trade unions bought a manor house outside Stocksbridge and one of my comrades joked to me this is what Britain will look like after tge revolution

  6. “By contrast, there’s nothing recognisably socialist about the US Democrats. A few mad Trump supporters might call them communist socialists but in the mainstream there’s no stigma for a banker or stockbroker in the US to vote Democrat whereas that definitely still exists here.”

    That’s true, but America has a different relationship with socialism, owing to the Cold War. My hunch is that, Blair aside, Labour is negatively associated with the “wrong sort of people” amongst the typical non-urban middle class electorate.

    Pre-Corbyn, I thought that it was odd to describe Labour as a socialist party, and perhaps quite an old-fashioned Tory description. A 40-something conservative friend referred to “the socialists” a couple of years ago, in a way in which it seems was mainstream in the British media in days gone by. It can be seen on old BBC election coverage. I believe Tory canvassers use the code ‘S’ for a Labour voter – S for socialist, of course.

    Around 2009, when I was in my early 20s and not very political, I was invited to a Facebook group by a friend, called “I am a socialist because I believe in humanity”. I was baffled. I might have joined a Labour-related group if asked.

    There’s a good story in John Golding’s book about canvassing for the 1976 Workington by-election. In an old folks’ home, a lady asked “are you from the socialists?” “No”, came the reply. “Oh, good”, she answered. “My father always said to vote Labour, never socialist”.

    There’s a good Radio 4 essay by Brian Walden on Labour and socialism which can be heard here:
    https://youtu.be/bOlXrqFWBj0

    Hilary Clinton was called a ‘Wall Street pin-up’; that’s one example of why I just don’t think the Democrats’ American liberalism is left-wing in the way Labour UK is. Jamie Reed said that Corbyn was Labour’s equivalent of George McGovern. I’m not sure other Democratic presidential candidates have been ‘radical’ or on ‘the left’.

    The mention of Battersea reminded me of John O’Farrell, the writer who was a Labour activist there. In his recent memoirs (a sequel to the original book), “Things Can Only Get Worse?: Twenty confusing years in the life of a Labour supporter”, he described Brexit as a “wedge issue” designed to divide voters as in the US. America has plenty of such issues which make the binary choice between parties a lot starker. Without a third party option (and no Corbyn), Labour could easily be winning leafier Lib Dem strongholds. Blair was inspired by Bill Clinton’s remodelling of the Democrats. Hence he did sweep Middle England.

    The Lib Dems do have a rather snobby element too though, linking them back to their Liberal predecessors. Look at Sarah Olney and her pearls. I think, for class reasons, there are lots of Lib Dem voters who are simply too ‘sophisticated’ to vote Labour.

    Wasn’t the old Republican base made up of traditional WASP types?

  7. “The middle class of course is now massive in size, very diverse in composition, not the small homogenous rump of society as was the case in say the 1950s.”

    @HH – not long ago I was listening to the R4 documentary on Blue Labour, made during the Miliband era. Danny Finkelstein was on it and commented that he didn’t think a party appealing to the (older) conservative working-class was capable of winning elections, as the real area of growth was amongst the younger (liberal?) professional middle-class. That was where elections would be won – essentially he was thinking of Cameroonism. The last election blew that theory out of the water, but whether it’s a viable long term strategy remains to be seen.

  8. The stigma point is important.

    I know of people who whilst neither nationalist, affluent nor particularly right wing who vote Tory as they want others to think they are more successful than they really are.

    Labour are seen – particularly amongst wwc male voters – as a weak person’s party – who represent the losers in life.

    I don’t think this is massive but it definitely exists.

  9. 100% this is a view held by many people. I see this mostly on Facebook. Labour is the party for benefits. Corbyn the loser. Labour could only win when they were Tory lite. Most these people either have never voted Labour or did but won’t now because of Rotherham, Brexit, etc.

  10. “I know of people who whilst neither nationalist, affluent nor particularly right wing who vote Tory as they want others to think they are more successful than they really are.”

    I remember during the 2015 election campaign asking both my parents separately about the fact that not all Tory voters were by any means rich or wealthy – surely it didn’t make sense? The similar response from both was “no, they’re not but they like to think they are”.

    I imagine it’s a bit of a status symbol for many. George Osborne remarked to Peter Mandelson that for his Conservative Association in Tatton, it was more of a social thing than anything political, and might be where lonely widows would find a partner.

    It also reminds me of an anecdote from Jeremy Paxman’s book “The Political Animal”. He recounts the Labour candidate for Henley addressing a local women’s meeting. I think this was the 2001 election, so Janet Matthews was the PPC. After speaking, an old lady said to Matthews, “my dear, I agree with every word you’ve said. But I could never vote for you as my husband would turn in his grave.”

    I think to some extent, the Lib Dems are a ‘safe’ option for the more class-conscious voter. I also feel it partially explains the Green success in the Tory shires. It may be a factor in Caroline Lucas winning in Brighton Pavilion.

    So I think Tim and Matt are probably right that this attitude persists. Labour have a lot of baggage. I would imagine ‘Rotherham’ is code for a perception that Labour panders to ethnic minorities for their votes.

    And yes, there’s perhaps a feeling that in terms of class/race/income, Labour is the party for “them” and not for “us”. It reminds me of the working-class black British mother and her grown-up son who I met going to vote in 2017. I asked if they were voting Labour and they said “no chance… not until you get the right leader back.” Who was that? “David Miliband.” The son said it would be the young people on the estates nearby voting Labour, as they wanted a life on handouts (or words to that effect). I think they were both planning to vote Tory. The Tories lost ground with BME voters at that election but the class element is perhaps more significant – the Tories improved among working-class voters in 2017.This happened again in 2019.

  11. “The Labour Party weren’t generally very happy if I ever mentioned that I worked in a pub or that I have woken up in the morning really frightened about money,” she said. “They didn’t like [voters] to feel they hadn’t made a success of their lives.”
    Kate Godfrey, Labour PPC for Stafford in 2015.
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/kate-godfrey-labour-candidate-oldham-election-says-she-unfazed-far-left-trolling-a6715556.html

  12. I must say this lady completely passed me by so I’ve just had a look to see who she is, etc. she doesn’t seem to have an online presence anymore. She’s a twitter with no tweets. Deleted her medium article. There was a denial by the CLP that they ever contacted her personally asking her to stand. She’s got a great backstory but you do have to say that Jim McMahon whose politics aren’t much different to hers and actually was from Oldham was the better choice. I get the impression this was the Ali Dia of Oldham selection process. Not to say she faked her CV but she was able to get the Guardian and Independent to cover her candidancy. I mean how many people on the long list get this much coverage and then are never heard from again.

    I’m also reminded of another candidate who had a disability and owned a licenced property. He was then suspended by the Labour Party for homophic, racist comments and left when he was readmitted. There was also the lady who owned a licensed premises became an MP defected to the worlds shortest centrist party. These aren’t all comparable and not an attack licensed premises but a good back story is one thing, being the best candidate is another

  13. Who is Ali Dia?

    Kate Godfrey defected to the Lib Dems it seems.

  14. Ali Dia was a footballer who was able to convince Southampton that he was a world class international and made a professional debut in a premier league football match where it became clear he was not. He never played again in top flight

  15. Yes it appears she also had a career in the worlds shortest centrist party. One of her other claims is she worked for TogetherIn. I must say as I was also offered a job by the party for the EU elections I’m not sure this is any greater deserved coverage. Closest i got to the guardian was an interview with John Harris where all my comments were cut

  16. Via Ipsos Mori, a concerning trend – net approval, Keir Starmer:

    Jun +33
    Aug +21
    Oct +15
    Dec +5

    This slump is too big to be random noise but I really don’t know what’s caused it. Is it just his generally invisibility in the PU pic eye because I can’t think of any specific event that would turn people off him. His treatment of his predecessor has arguably been harsh, but equally considering how unpopular that predecessor was I’m struggling to see how that could be a net negative.

    My best guess is that this change is driven largely by losing the benefit of the doubt from the leftmost section of the electorate. However, one wonders whether those voters have anywhere else to go.

  17. Your last sentence is totally true. I really get the impression too many left wing Labour Party members are all too happy so long as they remain ideologically pure – and hand over to the likes of proper ideological Conservatives like Thatcher and Johnson who really will make their utopian dreams more distant than ever.

    To be honest I think they need a good slap because they are the ones who ensure the Right prevail

  18. Too happy to lose that is

  19. Oh give over Tim

    Since August I’ve delivered over a thousand leaflets and input data for over a 10,000 voters. I’ve got 200 more leaflets to put out before Christmas and a batch of 10,000 is waiting in the New Year. We’ve got a quota to make of voters we have to contact in a certain amount of time. I might not have voted for the bloke, I may disagree with his approach on various issues and at times said so but I’m doing everything in my power to make him PM. But if that’s not good enough as it doesn’t seem to be for some people anyonevis of course welcome to pick these leaflets up and deliver them instead

  20. I’m not saying they don’t work hard – more that they pursue policies that put people off rather than attract them.

    Too many on the Labour Party find themselves outside their comfort zone as soon as they get into government as it’s far easier to promise the world when you don’t have the responsibility of delivering it.

    Take Blair – Labour’s most electorally successful leader ever – although you would never guess given how widely he’s despised within his own party.

    One can’t fail to conclude that Labour don’t seem to like winners

  21. The whole point of politics is to have a set of beliefs based on what you believe will improve the lives of people who need it most; to then campaign and vote for those beliefs. I don’t work for a think tank or a economic research group , my beliefs aren’t devised by studies or research. I don’t pretend that I developed ideas from a great understanding of economics. But I’m not ashamed of what I think and I know it’s not going to happen tomorrow but will campaign for it. I like to think I’m not unreasonable and when I talk to people even when they disagree with me I don’t put them off.

    I won’t change the world tomorrow. I’m not going to create the NHS but I help in small ways; keeping a day service open, keeping the childrens heart unit at the hospital, getting a bin for your neighbour, etc. I think my contribution has an appeal.

    The last paragraph is not true either. Yes Blair isn’t well liked. Tbf not just amongst Labour members. According to the YouGov website 22% like Blair while 53% don’t. But Clement Attlee who achieved the largest swing in Labour history is well thought of mainly due to the introduction of the NHS, large house building and the welfare state. Similarly Harold Wilson who won 4 GE is also well thought of thanks to him being from the Bevanite left, introducing the Open University, ending censorship in the theatre, liberalising divorce and abortion laws, equal pay act, nationalising Aerospace, etc.

  22. The main consequence of Labour deserting the centre ground of politics in the 1980s was that Thatcher was able to reshape the UK more in her own image than they ever could have imagined.

    And having done so again in the past five years they have allowed the scarcely credible Boris Johnson to build up the first substantial Tory majority since 1987

    Without the Labour left, the legacy of Thatcher and now Johnson would be far less – if they had a legacy at all.

  23. Worth pointing out 35 years of post war consensus was carved by the left. The centre ground is not fixed thing, the centre ground in 80s was motorway man and today its workington man. The centre ground is no longer determined by whether you commute to London but if you’re from a Rugby League town.

    I’m not sure that applies to any of us and being a liberal who believes in a mixed economy no longer fits that centre ground swing voter. This whole conversation I think eliminates us from the centre ground. Most my work colleagues are workington men and women, and this would be over their head. I understand their politics though might have our disagreements, however, am entertained by people who think buzzwords like community, family and country are enough to win over the Red Wall as if people I work with are stupid and if we throw some words their way that be enough.

    As I’ve said before if you’d rather I didn’t contribute you’re always welcome to take my leaflets off me

  24. @ Tim Jones

    The problem is that you are equating what the public wanted in 1987-1997 with what the public wants now so you seem to be suggesting that if Labour repeated Blair’s move to the liberal centre ground they would get in which is not true. Blair’s post government approval ratings dived as people assess what he actually achieved in government.

    As Matt says the Labour swing voter has changed since 1992 to a totally different demographic and the will not vote has increased substantially among the descendents of “traditional” Labour voters. Additionally Brexit is scarcely a centre position even if 52% of voters went down that route and it was Brexit that defined 2017-2019 elections.

    Blair in 1997 could rely on the traditional Labour voter to vote Labour regardless of what he did and at the same time win the soft Tory swing vote. By 2010 that “always vote Labour” was very much weakened.

    So Labour now finds itself in a post Blair situation where they can’t ignore the left section of their support base which they do if they go too centrist. While Starmer, for the benefit of centrists, obviously has to make clear he is not Corbyn, what he has done to date is to p*ss off his left base (-18% trustworthy among voters 18-24 and moving from +52 to +6 satisfaction among BAME voters). A lot of those two demographics may not have anywhere else to go but they are inclined to stay at home unless motivated.

    Totally agree with Matt on this one- red wall are far more interested in quality jobs than they are in flag waving or defence spending increases. Their social Conservatism is mainly defined by the belief that Labour spends too much time on equality issues and not enough time on “us” even if that is not actually true.

  25. I guess we see politics very differently Matt. When I was younger and less cynical I was keen to get out and campaign for the candidate/party I wanted to win, but as I’ve grown older and seen both main parties making similar mistakes during their times in government, politics and voting in particular has become a damage limitation exercise.

    This was starkly illustrated in 2019 when there was no possible way I could endorse either of the two parties.

    Whilst I don’t mind Kier Starmer he’s got his work cut out trying to bring Labour back to the centre ground

  26. I would say I am fairly cynical now. It’s not really about campaigning for party I’d like to see to win. I don’t knock on doors to win votes but to have a conversation with someone about what i can do for them. Labour aren’t going to win 2024 even if Tony Blair circa 97 was leader but in the next 4 years I’ll speak to thousands of voters who will have lots of issues I can help them with.

    Tbf I’m unclear on what Starmers end game is. His 10 pledges were in many ways to the left of Labour under Corbyn

  27. it does not really matter to me if I felt I couldn’t possibly endorse a party. Its more important that i can get out and talk to people

  28. TIM JONES
    Your last sentence is totally true. I really get the impression too many left wing Labour Party members are all too happy so long as they remain ideologically pure – and hand over to the likes of proper ideological Conservatives like Thatcher and Johnson who really will make their utopian dreams more distant than ever.

    To be honest I think they need a good slap because they are the ones who ensure the Right prevail
    December 14th, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I agree – and that is what made me so depressed for much of the last five years. Corbyn’s supporters could just never see that he wouldn’t win an election, and preferred his ‘purity’. I think there is now a large constituency of activists for whom the likes of Starmer (and before him Miliband) are reprehensible for not pandering to their every demand (particularly on ‘cultural’ issues, ie. anything that involves race). The website gal-dem (for “women and non-binary people of colour”) recently posted an op-ed titled “Keir Starmer is a Wet Wipe”, listing all his supposed failures since becoming leader. He’ll never be good enough for that type of leftist.

    Labour’s election winners pre-Blair were centre-left, I’d say, but I’m not sure he was. So I can understand the disappointment some felt towards him – which is largely about Iraq, although they do go on about top-up fees and PPI hospitals, failing to see anything good he did. Almost as if he had belong to another party. In a way he did.

    I would say that Labour changed the consensus on social issues when they were last in power, to a much more liberal one. They didn’t change it much on economic issues though. I agree with Matt that the ‘centre ground’ is always shifting… more accurately, the centre of gravity. I wonder who the average swing voter was before ‘motorway man’? Or what the typical marginal seats were? I say this as ‘Essex man’ was seen as emblematic of Thatcher’s success, and I wondered if the old East End had any marginals.

    I probably empathise with ‘Workington Man’ more than many here, but on paper I hardly fit the type. I’m a graduate living in a middle-class multicultural metropolitan enclave.

    SHEVII is right that this liberal centre ground wouldn’t particularly help Labour nowadays. My perception too is that a large part of the “always Labour” core vote or their descendants have become non-voters.

    Starmer is in a similar position to Miliband in that he is trying to appeal to too many different types of people. I remember that type of “holier-than-thou” Green voter in the Miliband era who probably helped a number of seats stay Tory by not voting Labour. I guess it’s post-austerity/post-crash politics which has created a new wave of activism. It was Peter Mandelson who supposedly said that Labour’s traditional voters had “nowhere else to go”. The thing is, they’ll have to decide whether they’re willing to moderate their views and vote Labour anyway, or allow another Tory government in.

    I think on both sides, views are very entrenched and polarised, so if many don’t get exactly why they want, they aren’t willing to countenance a moderate position.

    I think Tim’s vision of Labour being brought back to the “centre ground” is perhaps more about the party being seen as “mainstream”, rather than a bunch of student activists obsessed with fringe issues.

    Matt, it is highly unlikely Labour can win a majority at the next GE, but it’s perfectly feasible they could be the largest party, forming a minority government.

  29. *it wasn’t

  30. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Matt. You tend to come across as more moderate in your posts than the usual Corbynites, and with more honesty. I never thought Corbyn could win. Everything I’ve learnt about politics taught me what Denis Healey summed up as the most important aspect of leadership: charisma. And Corbyn didn’t have it. He had no ‘star quality’. On top of that, he had a lifetime of dodgy history as a millstone around his neck. If you watch A Very British Coup, Harry Perkins has a charismatic quality. He comes from a different era though, and even though Starmer is from a working-class background, he’s moved on from it. Tony Benn had charisma, but also had other issues preventing him from becoming leader.

    The attraction of Labour being the largest party to me is that it would make implementing PR more likely. Any government who wins a majority under FPTP is then minded to keep the system that enabled their victory. The SNP threat could indeed play badly though. We could easily have another Tory majority.

    The ideas indeed were liked by voters, but not when taken as a whole. And my belief is that the manifesto simply offered far too much – free broadband may be a policy worth exploring, but to the average swing voter, it just sounds like madness bordering on communism.

    A lot of it is to do with marketing the ideas, and Corbyn was a very poor salesman. Brexit was a bigger problem for Labour than the Tories though, too, as it really split Labour’s historic coalition. I think Labour’s left-wing activists have always been there, but the Corbyn leadership, especially with social media being so prevalent, really shone a spotlight on such people. And a lot of the media’s star Corbynistas are really unattractive to most voters, I’d wager.

    You can maintain your beliefs even if you don’t want to change them. But the question is whether it’s a hill you want to die on, as the saying goes.

  31. I do try and come across as reasonable as possible because there’s no point looking for a fight. I do like a Very British Coup. Chris Mullins wrote it as a ‘what would happen if Tony Benn would become PM’ so it’s no surprise the similarities in the character of Perkins and Tony Benn. Mullins career is a fascinating one from Bennite left to a minister in Blair’s government. Mullins described Corbyn as a very nice man who’d share his lunch with you on the train but not suited to leadership. When Corbyn first became leader he quoted Perkins when asked if he’d abolish first class on trains ‘I’d abolish standard class’.

    Miliband once said in an interview with Matt Forde that when things were good they were great but when things were bad they were terrible. I think that sums up Corbyn. In 2017 he was nicked named monsieur zen by the media for being completely unfazed by the Paxman treatment but by 2019 had been completely torn apart by Andrew Neil was accused of throwing the election.

    I can see the appeal of a progressive coalition that introduces at least some form of PR. I think Wales will be the first domestic authority of its size on the mainland to use STV so the outcome of thst will be interesting.

    Broadband policy has not only been adopted by the Lib Dems but the government has rolled it out for students already. 60% of people support free broadband for all but only 30% actually supported nationalising open reach. So the idea is popular but the practicality less so particularly on that scale. Open reach physically cannot afford to rollout UK wide particularly to rural England. So it would require government intervention to do but there are alternatives. In Fully Luxury Automated Communism Aaron Bastani says in Nigeria they’ve completely bypassed broadband and everyone just uses mobile data.

    Social media made and destroyed Corbyn. I’m pretty convinced Corbyn would have never become leader if it wasn’t for the Jeremy4Leader online campaign which became momentum. The mobile phone banking app Call for Corbyn is basically the Labour Partys phone banking app Dialogue today. The intricate social media campaign in 2017 was cutting edge, using canvass data to target ads at voters made the dying art of canvassing relevant once more. Left wing blogs like Another Angry was reported along with various other blogs to have influenced a significant number of voters to make a difference. The Grime4Corbyn stuff made an old man popular with msny young voters.

    But social media also made it very easy to circulate old videos of Corbyn saying something or doing something that turned even people who voted for him against him. I’ve changed my mind on many things but I change my views on what i think does right by people i support

  32. Matt, I think Labour’s best hope is for a hung parliament, with the SNP holding the balance of power, but only narrowly. It might be possible for Keir Starmer to buy off the SNP with a very strong federal deal, with Scotland all but independent on domestic issues apart from Macro-Economics, Foreign Affairs and Defence. That might just work. I, even as a One Nation Conservative, would be very happy to have a Federal United Kingdom, as I think we are far too centralised.

    On the political side, I do admire you for sticking to your principles and battling for what you believe in. Mine (and H Hemmelig’s) side of the Conservative Party is obsolete as far as I can see. I think the expulsion and resignation of so many moderates means there is no longer a strong enough group within the party to have any real influence. I wanted Rory Stewart as leader and voted for Jeremy Hunt as the more moderate of the two remaining candidates. I suppose, had there not been a Brexit deal (it now looks as if there will be), one of the moderates (Tobias Ellwood or Tom Tugendhat) may have staged a leadership challenge. With a deal, Boris Johnson will be able to put the deal across as a great one, and moderates will be so glad there is one they won’t want to rock the boat. Not a happy situation for someone on my side of the party.

  33. A further point, Matt, though related to my previous one. While I would never call myself a socialist, I do have some sympathy with your view that things like social care should be provided, or at least commissioned by the statutory authorities, which usually happens in most European countries (though I think there is a case for partnership working – I used to work for a Christian Mission organisation, one of whose Missionaries partnered with a Christian care organisation, we had another organisation running several homes in our building, and my boss was CEO of such an organisation).

    Where I think you might disagree with me is that I think such services, and I include the NHS in this, should be run on a local or regional level, rather than nationally, provided they meet certain national standards. Needs in Brighton are very different from, say, Barnsley. This is common in Europe, where health services in Switzerland are run by the Cantons, while in Germany they are run by the Lander. I think bodies like the Combined Authorities would be the right level for such services to be run, as already happens partly in Greater Manchester. At university, I studied a module on Welfare Economics. Apparently there was a big battle between the centrists in the Labour Party, such as Ernest Bevin and Herbert Morrison, who wanted the NHS run by County Councils, and Tony Benn and Aneurin Bevan, who insisted it had to be run centrally.

    Going back to the Federal argument, I would like to see greater devolution across England. I think John Prescott’s idea of Regional Assemblies was based on too big geographical areas. I feel a great sense of loyalty to Sussex, but have none of that feeling towards the South East, which is far too big an area, and needs at least to be split between the southern counties and the Thames Valley.

  34. Perhaps you’re right but the SNP do seem to be looking at an open goal that is indyref2. I would find a federal Britain a fascinating prospect but I think there’s very little appetite for it.

    The history of Christian Care is fascinating. People i dupport have photos of support staff from the church. Problem with social care is it costs more and there us less money. The government are trying to push more responsibility onto tge people. The commission into social care had some good proposals.

    Herbert Morrison was very much on the side of the Conservatives who were opposed to nationalising hospitals. I do sympathise with the argument that services should be more bespoke to the areas they serve. However, this has already happened to an extent. It was true that in 1945 you could hear bedpan being dropped in Easington from Westminster but today with Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Primary Care Trusts before them secondary care services are commissioned locally.

    There are various problems with the current commissioning model. For example CCGs are primary care health care practitioners that commission secondary care services. As in hospitals budgets are managed by people who don’t work in them. This means no conflict of interest but should people who don’t know what it’s like working in hospitals today manage million pound budgets. Difficult square to circle. CCGs have also faced significant criticism for the data crunchers that advise them on commissioning based on patient data.

    Much like most devolution the government have devolved responsibility to CCG but not the funding. This has meant the closure of various services without the government having to take responsibility or any elected officials. The final problem is the post code lottery. If you live on the coast then great dimentia services. If you live in the city not so much. You can actually boil this down to cold hard numbers. I’m from St Albans, if you cross Harpenden Road life expectancy drops by 5 years.

    I too feel a greater affinity to my home than my country snd would love greater self determination for my neighbours

  35. I’m not sure the Tory left is as obsolete as Wandsworth Voter, or indeed myself at one time, believes. Obviously there’s Elwood and Tugenhadt, but they have been joined in recent years by the likes of Andy Carter, Laura Farris, Gillian Keegan, Jerome Mathew and, curiously, Anthony Browne, who seems an entirely different being from the one who wrote unapologetically right wing leading articles for The Times in decades gone by

    And the likes of Afomi, Costa, Crabb, Brine, Ford, Nokes, Neil, Hammond and Halfron seem to be sticking around

    They might not have got the same attention as all the right wing youngsters who were swept to power in the red wall seats but the one nation section or the party isn’t dead yet

  36. Those people all exist but, sadly, they have almost zero influence within the Conservative Party right now.

  37. Stephen Crabb doesn’t strike me as particularly being on the moderate wing of the Tory party. He voted against gay marriage, and to cut disability benefits. He also has links to a Christian group which promoted gay conversion therapy.

    Can we have some first names please Tim – Neil? Ford? Only real political anoraks would recall the full names of everyone you mention.

    I also feel that Halfon is putting on a bit of an act, although he may well be moderate compared to many of his colleagues.

  38. I actually quite like Halfon. His Workers Party stuff is just fascinating

  39. Via Opinium: should MPs vote for the Brexit deal?

    Yes 55
    No 15

    I thought it would get public approval, but not by this margin. The deal commands plurality support amongst Labour, Remain, and even Labour/Remain voters, so I think this vindicates Keir Starmer’s approach.

    But perhaps even more surprising is its landslide showing among Tory/Leave voters, where the proposition romps home by 72-9. Many of these people have spent the last four years confidently asserting that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, so it’s somewhat refreshing to see them change their minds. (For which some very begrudging praise must go to Boris Johnson, I suppose, for at least on this occasion being the relatively sensible person subduing the headbangers.)

  40. Haven’t seen any figures for SNP voters, and I’m not sure you could say all that much with confidence anyway as the SNP cross-tab would only have a sample size of about fifty. But, given the power of elite cues in determining public opinion on issues like this, I’d expect SNP voters to overall lean towards rejecting the deal, or at least for it to be much closer than the Labour split.

  41. Thanks for sharing those figures. Quite reassuring given that the Spectator’s coverage of Starmer’s position is very negative – even from what appears to be a liberal-Remain perspective. The argument in that op-ed goes that he will alienate his Remain voters in university towns etc. But surely only the most die-hard Remainers will hold this against him. Most people are moving on. In the end it seems that only one Labour MP voted against the deal, Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

  42. Yes, only Ribeiro-Addy voted against.
    36 didn’t vote (+ Corbyn and Webbe). Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) and Helen Hayes (Dulwich) resigned from frontbench to abstain. Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) resigned as PPS.

  43. Yes I was very surprised at the Spectator decision to outflank Starmer on Brexit. I think this was the right decision but i total get the decision made by the 36 rebels. I think the attacks on the rebel MPs have been very unnecessary. Comes across as bitter imo

  44. You don’t possibly think the Spectator might have been arguing in bad faith, Matt? Perish the thought.

  45. Lol yeah true I guess I just thought they’d take the typical tory attack on Starmer

  46. An MRP published today by Focal Data. Headline figures Labour gain 80 seats. SNP get 57. Lib Dems lose 9 seats!

    The only poss government is Lab/SNP. I’m fairly sure any hint of this kind of result will be used to scare voters away from the poss of SNP in government

  47. It worked in 2015 but I think too much has changed since then. Swing voters in England aren’t really bothered about Scotland’s constitutional future, some may be actively happy to see the back of them.

  48. Yes, I’d agree. My reply seems to have got stuck in moderation, probably because I posted more than one link.

    Interesting to hear about this poll, it backs up the recent Electoral Calculus projections. Their site says:
    MRP stands for “multi-level regression and poststratification”, which means it is a regression-based poll which uses similar techniques as Electoral Calculus.

    Those polls are usually much bigger samples it seems – this one was 22,000.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_United_Kingdom_general_election#Seat_predictions
    Conducted: 4–29 Dec 2020
    Sample size: 22,186
    CON: 284
    LAB: 282
    SNP: 57
    LD: 2
    Others: 25

    Yes Matt, the SNP would be used to scare English and Welsh voters off Labour, but they’ll have had another nine years of Tory government by then, so people might be less inclined to care. This poll was partly done before the EU deal was finalised, and how that turns out remains to be seen. I suppose we’re still at least three years from an election – unless the FTP Act is repealed and Boris decides to go for one sooner.

  49. I think it’s less to do with Scotlands constitutional debate and far more to with a resentment toward the SNP who get a better deal for Scotland than the English get in terms spending per capita and that the SNP would in government would only serve the interests of Scotland at the expense of England

  50. The Tories managed to cobble together an unlikely majority in 2015 on the basis of that fear – and to be fair you didn’t have to have that vivid an imagination to picture Nichola Sturgeon running rings around Ted Milliband

    I’d hope Starmer won’t be as forthcoming but personally I think he, Boris and all the other unionist parties should put their many to differences to one side to support something they do all believe in – the Union. And that’s despite the misgivings of the increasing of English Nationalist Tory MPs who would like nothing more that to see Scotland go it alone – and would hope with any bone in their body that they would fail to – as surely they inevitably would if the SNP get their way

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