Tuesday News Review


labour leadership debate

David Miliband in action at the Cardiff hustings

 Pity the Labour leadership contenders. They have made themselves hoarse on the hustings, but there are still three sweaty months to go. Yet they know they can only be a sideshow at this stage in the post-election cycle, when all eyes are on the coalition. It may be some consolation to the contenders to know they are doing their party some good as recruiting officers. At least 25,000 new members have joined up since Labour’s election defeat, a mixture of returners and disaffected Lib Dems. When ballot papers go out to MPs, trade union supporters and activists on 1 September, newcomers’ votes may have a disproportionate influence. – The Guardian

A common theme was the need to acknowledge that the last Labour Government had not only stopped listening to the public but had stopped listening to the Labour Party’s own members. Ed Miliband in a powerful moment declared that, “I do believe our society is too unequal. The gap between the rich and poor is too wide. That’s why I’m campaigning for a living wage, not just a minimum wage and for action on high pay.” This won the vigorously approval of Lord and Lady Kinnock who sat in the front row keen to champion their chosen candidate. – Western Mail

 If ever there was a moment for Labour’s rebirth, this is it. The C2 voters who walked away will bear the brunt of Conservative thrift, the once-Blairite middle classes are contemplating the scrapheap, and Lib Dem supporters are appalled that Nick Clegg has become the Trojan horse for Tory cuts. Yet in the greatest crisis to engulf Britain since the war, Labour seems oddly absent. The people’s party has become a travelling circus in which the five leadership candidates perform at endless hustings and get reacquainted with an electorate that told them to take a running jump. – The Telegraph

 Polly Toynbee is spot on when she says that the Labour hustings take the oxygen out of the leadership debate (Labour’s hustings are dismal, 3 July). It isn’t, however, just the nature of the spoken word which has trivialised the contest. What about the written word? Candidates’ leaflets, press interviews, circulated emails and blogs are all used to produce the equivalent of soundbites. It is hoped that we will read into them much more than they say. – Letters, The Guardian

Shadow Cabinet

You may think it’s still months away. But the manoeuvrings have already begun. Up to 40 Labour MPs are likely to put themselves forward for the shadow cabinet elections this autumn including ambitious younger figures such as David Lammy, Kevin Brennan, Tom Harris and Barbara Keeley. Others who have indicated their ambition to stand include Phil Woollas, John Healey, Caroline Flint, Chris Bryant, Jon Cruddas and Angela Eagle. So too has Stephen Twigg (pictured), despite only having been re-elected to Parliament last month. – The FT

Electoral reform

John Prescott has become the most senior Labour figure to call for the party to fight against the adoption of the Alternative Vote (AV) for Westminster elections. The former deputy prime minister said Labour should make the May 5 vote on AV – and elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils on the same day – into a “proper referendum”on the Tory-Liberal Democrat Government. And he savaged his successor Nick Clegg for throwing his weight behind a voting system which the Lib Dem leader denounced before the general election as a “miserable little compromise” and which was now being used as cover for Tory “gerrymandering”.- The Press Association

He sold out his party and the near seven million people who voted Lib Dem by letting in a Tory-led Government that’s hit the poor with 20% VAT, slashed child tax credits and sanctioned the prospect of 40% cuts to Government budgets that will devastate public services and lead to more than 1.3 million job losses. Now on the very day plans for more than 700 new state schools were axed, Clegg championed AV, a form of voting he once described as a ‘miserable little compromise.’ And on this occasion, I agree with Nick. That’s exactly what it is – cover for the biggest gerrymandering of seats that I have ever seen in my 40 years in politics. This is a poisonous package and Labour must fight against every single part of it. – John Prescott Blog

The Labour Party, ousted in May, opposes equalizing the number of voters in each district, a change that voting experts say could cost it as many as 30 seats. Labour is also split on other voting system changes that many members of Parliament, like the Conservatives, fear could benefit the Liberals. – New York Times

Opposition MPs said the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister was attempting to “fix” the democratic process, accusing him of gerrymandering the electoral map and rigging the electoral reform vote. Mr Clegg faced an unusually angry Labour opposition as he mapped out the constitutional reforms that are the glue to his coalition deal with the Conservatives, amid rumblings of dissent on his own side. – The FT


HE is the Labour Party’s forgotten man but James Purnell could be about to make a spectacular return to the political front line. Now Miliband is thinking about offering Purnell a way back from the wilderness. “David plans to have James back on board as a key adviser in the Shadow Cabinet,” says a colleague. “He regards James as a wasted talent who could be a big part of a Labour fightback.” – The Express

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply