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Foot Resigns and other 80s Labour PODs

Time Enough

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So I've recently been thinking about Labour in the 1980s and how it was a rather fluid era in terms of how things could have gone differently. So I've been thinking about some differents PODS that could have changed things significantly (also if anyone has any ideas for POD's)...

Foot resigns in the aftermath of the Darlington By-Election; An easy way for this to occur is the SDP chooses someone more in tune with local issues as there candidate instead of Anthony Cook. Now that's Healy's in charge and likely will be in charge if Thatcher still calls the June election would Labour be able to do a bit better or would the same kind of result occur. If a similar result to OTLs 1983 occurs maybe the Right are blamed for incompetence on there part which maybe helps the Left in the long run. Also the SDP momentum would probably still be going.

Another POD I've been thinking about is if the Kinnock-Hattersly dream ticket is less of a thing and a more competitive 1983 Deputy Leadership and Leadership contest occur. Maybe you get Kinnock as leader and Meacher as Deputy which is what many of the Bennites wanted.

Another could be Benn launches a leadership contest before the 1987 election, this was a fear amongst some folks in Labour in the aftermath of Benn's victory in the 1984 Chesterfield By-Election

Another interesting one would be if Patricia Holmes is able to swing the 1988 Kensington By-Election to Labour, it's within the realm of possibility and the effect that could have is something.

Lastly John Prescott manages to gain the Deputy Leadership in 1988, @AlfieJ has covered this rather well in a list but what other effects could that cause?
 

Time Enough

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Foot resigns in the aftermath of the Darlington By-Election; An easy way for this to occur is the SDP chooses someone more in tune with local issues as there candidate instead of Anthony Cook. Now that's Healy's in charge and likely will be in charge if Thatcher still calls the June election would Labour be able to do a bit better or would the same kind of result occur. If a similar result to OTLs 1983 occurs maybe the Right are blamed for incompetence on there part which maybe helps the Left in the long run. Also the SDP momentum would probably still be going.
Just realised, Labour’s still probably fucked. Healy may be able to keep like 5-10 extra seats over Foot if he’s lucky but Labour is still going to probably have a god awful campaign in comparison to Thatcher. Also the Alliance would probably be doing better if the SDP momentum train doesn’t slow down.

The interesting thing to note is that Thatcher could get slightly less seats than OTL because of a stronger Alliance. But yeah Labour is still fucked. It would certainly make the 1983 leadership election more interesting (Meacher could be in with more of a chance).
Another POD I've been thinking about is if the Kinnock-Hattersly dream ticket is less of a thing and a more competitive 1983 Deputy Leadership and Leadership contest occur. Maybe you get Kinnock as leader and Meacher as Deputy which is what many of the Bennites wanted.
Just thinking, despite it all Meacher winning the Deputy Leadership position wouldn’t be as disastrous as it could be. Benn was rather toxic to 80s Britain, whilst I’ve always seen Meacher as a Bennite who didn’t have Benn’s past and seemed open to change in some ways. He’d probably be a better stander bearer for the Bennite movement than Benn in this scenario in my opinion.
Another interesting one would be if Patricia Holmes is able to swing the 1988 Kensington By-Election to Labour, it's within the realm of possibility and the effect that could have is something.
I think Labour winning Kensington could effect the 1989 Conservative Leadership election. Thatcher would probably still win but it probably wouldn’t be such a landslide. Losing Kensington would be deeply embarrassing to any Conservative Government and be a boon for Labour as it continues with it’s reinvention.
 

David Flin

Real people take priority over imaginary people
1983graph.jpg

I assume you've got this graph, courtesy UK Polling Report.

Unless you change the Falklands War significantly, the Tory shift is going to screw Labour regardless. Not choosing Foot as leader may curtail the SDP rise.

Other than that, it's largely a matter of label changing.
 

AlfieJ

left labour poster on here
View attachment 24007

I assume you've got this graph, courtesy UK Polling Report.

Unless you change the Falklands War significantly, the Tory shift is going to screw Labour regardless. Not choosing Foot as leader may curtail the SDP rise.

Other than that, it's largely a matter of label changing.
Reducing the entire complexity of the 1980s, not least the ideological fluidity of the period in Britain’s public political and intellectual life, to just “Tories Win” is a bit simplistic not least for an alternate history forum and also goes against considerable scholarship.

Ross McKibbin is one of the most structurally determinist Labour historians and even he doesn’t see it as that straight forward. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v24/n05/ross-mckibbin/the-luck-of-the-tories
 

Time Enough

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Reducing the entire complexity of the 1980s, not least the ideological fluidity of the period in Britain’s public political and intellectual life, to just “Tories Win” is a bit simplistic not least for an alternate history forum and also goes against considerable scholarship.

Ross McKibbin is one of the most structurally determinist Labour historians and even he doesn’t see it as that straight forward. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v24/n05/ross-mckibbin/the-luck-of-the-tories
That’s rather interesting and makes sense, I’ve always found the Tories in the 80s having a lot of ‘near the brink’ moments. Like Thatcher kind of gave up on full blown Monetrism that took place in the early 80s (80-81), for a slightly less aggressive approach (still Monetarism but not the full blown Friedman in Chile style of it).

Labour’s failure to really capitalise properly during the period didn’t help (not helping matters was ideological squabbles).
 

Elektronaut

Opinions from the Student Union
Though it would certainly be a feather in Kinnock's cap had it been won, I don't think Kensington is a very consequential by-election. It would ease the notion at the time that Labour had a serious problem in London, but it's hard to quantify anything much in terms of how it would impact. The only potential knock on I can think of could maybe be in Govan - by-election selections were on the cusp of being taken away from local parties, and Govan was the last instance of a candidate the leadership didn't want being selected. Perhaps with Kinnock in a stronger position from Kensington, there's a different candidate and a LAB hold - but equally it could just affirm the OTL selection.

I don't think Prescott winning is on a 'Tories win in 97' level, but it's getting there. The result against Benn demonstrates Kinnock had the clear confidence of the party, and once he'd made it clear Hattersley going meant him going too, the deputy election was effectively a confidence vote in Kinnock. You'd have to have Kinnock be in a much worse position to put Prescott in with a chance - but then the whole configuration of events would play out differently.
 

Time Enough

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Though it would certainly be a feather in Kinnock's cap had it been won, I don't think Kensington is a very consequential by-election. It would ease the notion at the time that Labour had a serious problem in London, but it's hard to quantify anything much in terms of how it would impact. The only potential knock on I can think of could maybe be in Govan - by-election selections were on the cusp of being taken away from local parties, and Govan was the last instance of a candidate the leadership didn't want being selected. Perhaps with Kinnock in a stronger position from Kensington, there's a different candidate and a LAB hold - but equally it could just affirm the OTL selection.
Interesting, hmm. I could see the leadership bulldoging there own choice in as a way to secure another ‘Kensington’. If Jim Sillars were to lose it could blunt the attempted SNP revival of that era. That could be interesting.
I don't think Prescott winning is on a 'Tories win in 97' level, but it's getting there. The result against Benn demonstrates Kinnock had the clear confidence of the party, and once he'd made it clear Hattersley going meant him going too, the deputy election was effectively a confidence vote in Kinnock. You'd have to have Kinnock be in a much worse position to put Prescott in with a chance - but then the whole configuration of events would play out differently.
Ah okay, hmm. Well there’s probably plenty that could occur that could undermine Kinnock in this era.
 

Elektronaut

Opinions from the Student Union
Interesting, hmm. I could see the leadership bulldoging there own choice in as a way to secure another ‘Kensington’. If Jim Sillars were to lose it could blunt the attempted SNP revival of that era. That could be interesting.

Ah okay, hmm. Well there’s probably plenty that could occur that could undermine Kinnock in this era.
Govan is interesting but really the Scots posters should comment on that as they'll have the best handle on it.

This is a bit of a thin line and a bit 'shit happens', but Labour being in better position in London probably means John McDonnell wins Hayes and Harlington in '92 - it was held by 53 votes IOTL. That would probably mean the Major government falls earlier - it survived a confidence vote on the Scott report IOTL by one vote. Less likely is also Slough flipping. I don't think Labour will hold Kensington in '92 irrespective of how good Holmes is as a constituency MP.

But really that's all just standard level butterflies and also assumption of butterfly death, so not that interesting.
 

Thande

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I have a feeling Foot resigning after Darlington, given how little time there was before the general election, would do more damage to Labour in the short run - it would make the party look like it was in disarray and the Alliance was the future. It would be wrong to suggest left vs right wasn't a thing in the minds of voters, but I would propose it fades into insignificance besides 'perceived strength vs weakness'. Even if the new Labour leader was a known name like Healey, I think they would still struggle to put their mark on the party in a few months and turn things around even under ideal circumstances.

Of course "Foot resigns, Labour goes under 200 seats under Healey" sounds like a possible chain of events for discrediting the Labour Right and getting Benn as leader 83-87.
 

Time Enough

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Of course "Foot resigns, Labour goes under 200 seats under Healey" sounds like a possible chain of events for discrediting the Labour Right and getting Benn as leader 83-87.
Benn lost his seat in 83 so it’d probably be Meacher, which would actually be the better option (Meacher seemed a lot less toxic than Benn and would likely be more electable to the Soft Left than Benn). But a world in which Alliance have something like 30-40 seats is something.

This is a bit of a thin line and a bit 'shit happens', but Labour being in better position in London probably means John McDonnell wins Hayes and Harlington in '92 - it was held by 53 votes IOTL. That would probably mean the Major government falls earlier - it survived a confidence vote on the Scott report IOTL by one vote. Less likely is also Slough flipping. I don't think Labour will hold Kensington in '92 irrespective of how good Holmes is as a constituency MP.
Yeah, Kensington is probably lost. McDonnell winning in 92 means he can establish himself more and likely have more of presence from earlier.
Govan is interesting but really the Scots posters should comment on that as they'll have the best handle on it.
Yeah, I wonder if @Archdeacon of Dunwich has anything to say about it.
 

Elektronaut

Opinions from the Student Union
I'm very wary of 'He would HAVE to resign' because let's face it, that never actually happens with Labour leaders in real life, but is often stated.

I think if it did happen, the NEC would confirm Healey as interim leader until a conference in the autumn. And then the Tories play absolute hell with 'Vote Labour and get Benn as PM'.

But honestly you can only take guesses on how the public would respond. 'Noooo, a new leader and nothing much changng can't possibly be of benefit' is very Inside Track but yeah, that does actually happen.

Yet I don't think anyone's going to believe Healey was literally the one issue anymore than they did with Foot. Kinnock put so much effort into presentation becuse everyone acknowledged that Labour had been a shambles in terms of that and it was a structural problem.
 

Thande

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Benn lost his seat in 83 so it’d probably be Meacher, which would actually be the better option (Meacher seemed a lot less toxic than Benn and would likely be more electable to the Soft Left than Benn). But a world in which Alliance have something like 30-40 seats is something.
Of course, good point.
 

AlfieJ

left labour poster on here
I don't think Prescott winning is on a 'Tories win in 97' level, but it's getting there. The result against Benn demonstrates Kinnock had the clear confidence of the party, and once he'd made it clear Hattersley going meant him going too, the deputy election was effectively a confidence vote in Kinnock. You'd have to have Kinnock be in a much worse position to put Prescott in with a chance - but then the whole configuration of events would play out differently.
Ah okay, hmm. Well there’s probably plenty that could occur that could undermine Kinnock in this era.
There's actually a few problems with this. The 1988 Leadership Election began largely as a result of serious political developments which are often forgotten about now. Firstly Prescott's relationship had deteriorated with Kinnock during the 1987 campaign. Nevertheless, he had actually initially attempted to contest the deputy leadership at the end of 1987 as a friendly candidate and largely a vessel for soft left discontent which wasn't willing to outright challenge NK. However, after JP was pressured to pull out of the contest on the advice of union allies and in return for some concessions regarding the campaigning role of the party, NK turned around and publicly humiliated JP by saying no such concessions were ever promised (they were, however, as documented by correspondence in the Kinnock archive). Basically, some of the big factional problems came from Kinnock's poor political judgement in deciding to publicly humiliate rather than privately accomodate JP.

When the internal make-up of the TGWU's executive shifted drastically to the left in January 1988 the potential opening for a considerable left-wing challenge was apparent. Not one that could win, but one that could give NK a bloody nose with 1.5 million votes behind it minimum if the TGWU followed their new factional line. This was made even more possible when Kinnock made his 'something for nothing comments' about nuclear disarmament, leading many members on the soft left, up until this point loyal if critical, to fear that he was serious about dropping unilateralism as party policy. With Benn/Heffer not seen as credible JP was the main beneficiary of this soft left frustration and Hattersley was seriously threatened. So much so that the leader's office had to run a far more interventionist campaign than first planned, not least through a heightened targetting campaign of MPs and through throwing the sink at CLP nominations. In the end, NK was able to backtrack on nukes in return for the TGWU's continued support, not least due to the personal intervention of Gen Sec Ron Todd, and the victory was assured (along with his threat to resign if Hattersley was defeated). But that is not to say that Hattersley's victory was certain. In fact, first internal polling showed him winning on a very slim margin, and a later computer projection had him losing outright in the constituencies, and it was only through significant levels of targeted campaigning that this deficit in CLP nominations was made up and in the end was relatively resounding.

The fact of the matter is though that this was all on a bit of a knife edge. It was largely Kinnock's poor judgement in alienating JP that caused the initial crisis, and it was his gaffes that caused Hattersley to be seriously worried about losing, leading to a more hands-on and dedicated leadership campaign than was previously expected, and probably caused half of the perception of wasted months as much as Benn and Heffer's token challenge. If Kinnock hadn't backtracked, or perhaps only unconvincingly equivocated, TGWU's nomination could have either been withheld entirely, or more likely simply withheld against Hattersley in another act of covert rebellion against Kinnock. Either way, it would have shifted momentum JP's way particularly in the grassroots as an "acceptable" challenger and probably would have won off the back of it.

(apologies for the splurge but when you have going over these events for the past 9 months its hard not to).

I have a feeling Foot resigning after Darlington, given how little time there was before the general election, would do more damage to Labour in the short run - it would make the party look like it was in disarray and the Alliance was the future. It would be wrong to suggest left vs right wasn't a thing in the minds of voters, but I would propose it fades into insignificance besides 'perceived strength vs weakness'. Even if the new Labour leader was a known name like Healey, I think they would still struggle to put their mark on the party in a few months and turn things around even under ideal circumstances.

Of course "Foot resigns, Labour goes under 200 seats under Healey" sounds like a possible chain of events for discrediting the Labour Right and getting Benn as leader 83-87.
Could definitely see the left emboldeneed, particularly if Healey's leadership is seen as an undemocratic stitch up just a year after factional peace was declared at Bishop Stortford.

Yeah, Kensington is probably lost. McDonnell winning in 92 means he can establish himself more and likely have more of presence from earlier.
This would be interesting, not least in who he would back in the leadership elections in 92 and 94 (I wouldn't be shocked at all if he went for Smith and Blair) he could well have been brought into the Blairite tent like Hain was and like Livingstone was offered as a means of pacification.

Yet I don't think anyone's going to believe Healey was literally the one issue anymore than they did with Foot. Kinnock put so much effort into presentation becuse everyone acknowledged that Labour had been a shambles in terms of that and it was a structural problem.
Actually by far the biggest criticism deployed after the campaign beyond the Hard Right of the party was the organisational incompetence of the campaign, which Healey almost certainly wouldn't have been free from due to his similarly old school style of campaigning like Foot.
 

Time Enough

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(apologies for the splurge but when you have going over these events for the past 9 months its hard not to).
It's fine, Kinnock in 1988 seems a lot less secure than he would be in the aftermath of that leadership election, a critical Soft Left takeover would be incredibly interesting in 1988-1989 (especially when Thatcher pushes forward poll tax in 1990).
Could definitely see the left emboldeneed, particularly if Healey's leadership is seen as an undemocratic stitch up just a year after factional peace was declared at Bishop Stortford.
Indeed, of course the Left and Right would have been gutted by the election, so it would be quite intresting over who raises to the top in this situation (if it's the Left it's probably Meacher or maybe Heffer at a push).
This would be interesting, not least in who he would back in the leadership elections in 92 and 94 (I wouldn't be shocked at all if he went for Smith and Blair) he could well have been brought into the Blairite tent like Hain was and like Livingstone was offered as a means of pacification.
That would be interesting, you could see McDonnell becoming 'Blair's/Left's successor' if a 2007 style leadership election would occur. Which would be fucking bizarre to see.
Actually by far the biggest criticism deployed after the campaign beyond the Hard Right of the party was the organisational incompetence of the campaign, which Healey almost certainly wouldn't have been free from due to his similarly old school style of campaigning like Foot.
That doesn't surprise me, 1983 seems to have been a god awful campaign which would have still have occurred under Healey.
 

Time Enough

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So been reading Gould's memoir and is there any possibility for the 1987 General Election to go better for Labour, like I doubt they would have won but could they have gained something like 30/40 seats instead of the 20 they did in reality? It seems they could have done better if they didn't have various awkward mistakes, mainly around nuclear disarmament.
 
apropos Slough in 1992, it should be noted that an expelled member of the local Labour Party standing as "Labour Candidate" got more votes than the Tory majority over Labour - another example of the "Literal Democrat" syndrome which the laws were subsequently tightened to prevent.
 
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