Losing the election – as easy as ABC?
So the first test of the ABC crowd – Anyone But Corbyn – went well! The concept moved on to ABL – Anyone But Labour..
Nationally - this means England because Wales held up well and Scotland ditched Labour a long time ago – the “Super Thursday” elections were less than super for Starmer and his supporters.
With a few exceptions in places with either a socialist leaning leadership such as Preston or an opposition politician of some clout such as Andy Burnham, Starmer’s brand of “don’t say anything and let the Tories mess up” was shown to be an empty promise.
Sheffield Council has now been thrown away from a supposedly safe Labour stronghold to one of “No Overall Control” with the Greens and Lib Dims set to take over ownership of the hollowed-out carcass that used to be a local authority. We had predicted a net loss of 7 seats, which in the end was slightly optimistic as the net loss for Labour was 8 seats.
Analysis of the results makes unhappy reading for the “strategists” in the Labour Group who poured their efforts into five key target seats only to lose four of them – Walkley, Beighton, Stocksbridge and East Ecclesfield. To cap that, Labour also lost Gleadless, Beauchief, West Ecclesfield and, most notably of all, Hillsborough.
This saw the demise of Council Leader Bob Johnson, surely one of the shortest terms of political leadership in Sheffield’s history.
The right will argue that Corbyn is to blame – the shelf life of that ridiculous excuse has run out. Others will blame the trees fiasco.
But at the core of this defeat will be the complete lack of connection between the Group and the Party and, in many parts of the city, the Council and its communities.
There are some exceptions – Burngreave where the vote was solid, Crookes where a local candidate worked hard to win – but these are small compensation for a period of opposition.
The Group’s response has been to elect Terry Fox, deputy to Julie Dore for many years, as the new leader. Less a new broom, more an old brush.
Add the ignominy of now having a Tory councillor in Stocksbridge – a sign that Penistone & Stockbridge is now a bridgehead into the city for the Tories– and the road back for Labour in the city is a long and difficult one.
What is obvious is that there needs to be a complete overhaul of Labour’s vision – as in there needs to be one! These results in Sheffield demonstrate that the Greens have attracted many on the left, the Tories likewise the Brexit voters on the right, the Lib Dims the centre ground leaving Labour staring in from outside the political battleground.
Socialist policies rooted in the communities this city serves are the only way forward – Preston has shown one way but Sheffield’s Labour Group continues to fail to see the need for radical transformative policies whilst also taking on the Tories.