before the next election, there is much to do – LaborList


2022 will be an absolutely crucial year for the Labor Party. It will most likely be the last full year before the next general election. This is because no government likes to risk reaching the end of its full five-year term, as that removes any element of its control and ability to surprise the opposition about election timing, so that the Conservatives are more likely to go to the polls again in May 2023.

It could even be that this year is the year of the general election. If Boris Johnson gets the repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act through quickly enough, and he really feels under domestic threat, he could decide on a much-anticipated general election in May 2022, preferring to take his chances with the British public rather than to stay and wait for his Conservative colleagues to launch a leadership coup. An alternative scenario is that there is a coup and a new Conservative Prime Minister, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, decides to hold a snap election to capitalize on their honeymoon in the opinion polls.

Assuming we have a full year left to prepare, there is much to be done. The shadow cabinet team around Keir now appears to be the team that will take us to the general election, so the staff is resolute. But we need MPs to go through the re-selection process and elect candidates for over 400 seats held by non-Labour and wherever the Labor MP retires. Following two early general elections for which most local parties slammed candidates at the last minute, it is essential that local members have the opportunity to elect candidates whenever possible.

After a string of MPs who have done extensive damage to the party’s reputation, enough due diligence needs to be done for Labor to elect candidates without skeletons in their closets. We need to elect astute activists who show leadership in mobilizing their Constituency Labor Parties (CLPs) over a year of full campaign effort, and compelling candidates who cast an extra personal vote that could make a difference in a fringe seat. . We need to increase the caliber of the parliamentary party so that it has the talent and competence to fill the ministerial ranks, as well as increase its diversity so that it resembles the nation we seek to lead.

We need to develop and announce policies that win swing voters in key fringe seats and also form a manifesto that will be a radical but achievable program for our first term in office. We need to raise funds so that the party can afford to fight a general election on equal terms with the Tories. We need to rebuild an election-winning organization that was hollowed out during the Jeremy Corbyn years, both through the removal of key experienced party personnel and the political purging of experienced local activists and PLC officials.

We started the year winning in the polls, proving that we can win, something that many skeptics claimed was impossible. A key factor is that if we see in the polls that we could win an overall majority (as the MRP and multilevel regression forecasts in December suggest) that in itself will persuade some Scottish voters to switch SNPs to Labour, bringing some seats back up for grabs there, and persuading swing voters in England that there is no threat of Nicola Sturgeon dictating a Labor prime minister in a hung parliament.

But who knows what turbulence will come during the year due to Covid, the huge problems with the economy and the possibility that the Tories will try to repeat their trick of 1990 and 2019 by firing an unpopular prime minister so that voters feel that change is already over. has produced. before the general election?

The political climate can also be drastically changed by elections, as we saw during 2021 in Labour’s loss of Hartlepool and control of Batley and Spen, and Lib Dem gains in Chesham and Amersham and in North Shropshire. We already know there will be a by-election due to the tragic death of Deputy Jack Dromey. Birmingham Erdington is a difficult venue where the Tories have a strong home base and we cannot take a result there for granted. Nor should we be complacent about keeping Leicester East if Claudia Webbe’s court appeal fails. We have yet to see a by-election in this parliament in a Conservative-controlled fringe where Labor is the main challenger.

One certainty is that there will be local government elections on May 5. The key factor here is that these are seats that were last contested in 2018, the best year of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, when Labor and the Conservatives tied at 35% each for the national equivalent percentage of votes. They are also disproportionately in London, where all seats are up for election and 2018 was Labour’s best year. This makes it a real challenge to make a net profit. Campaigning for this election will be a key element for the subsequent general election in terms of data collection, building relationships with undecided voters, and building local campaign capacity.

Internal affairs will take a backseat after several years of drudgery to resolve legacy problems within the party. The problems have not entirely disappeared: as a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), I see enough cases of anti-Semitism in disciplinary panels to know that there is still a lot of work to be done, but now that the party is settled. in his direction of travel, we need the media to focus on our external battles with the tories.

But the inexorable wheels of internal party democracy will continue to turn. In the summer, there will be a hotly contested national ballot of one member, one vote for all nine CLP seats in the NEC and for five National Policy Forum (NPF) representatives from each region and nation, and a host of elections. in Young Labor and the new Student Labor organization. Hopefully all of these will see candidates who have a positive attitude to make the party eligible again.

The PLCs will also hold AGMs, where there is likely to be a continued move away from momentum, and elect delegates to the annual conference, where we need a pro-leadership majority if this vital pre-election conference is to be a true showcase for the next Labor government. .

It’s going to be a busy year. See you on the election campaign!

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