Is this the beginning of the end for Ed Miliband?

by Atul Hatwal

This morning it’s a cold new world. But as the shock passes and the harsh reality of George Galloway’s crushing victory begins to sink in, the questions will become louder and more insistent. Two in particular will dominate: How could this happen? And what does it mean for the leader?

The party briefers will try to box this result as a freak. They will cite the combined effect of the swing from Labour towards Respect among the British Pakistani community and the collapse in Tory vote as a localised one-off.

They will be wrong.

The vote demonstrates two critical points: first, hell will freeze over before large numbers of Tories switch to Labour. After the week the Tories have had, it’s not surprising their vote was down. But Labour picked up no Conservative switchers and remains toxic to swing voters.

The reality is, for too many people, Labour under Ed Miliband is not a viable alternative. The polls on leadership and economic competence have been unrelenting since he became leader.

Earlier this month the Guardian’s ICM poll placed David Cameron and George Osborne 17% ahead of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls on managing the economy 42% to 25%.  Meanwhile YouGov’s latest March figures on peoples’ preference to be prime minister had David Cameron 20% ahead of Ed Miliband 38% to 18% – that’s double the lead he held at the same point last year.

Second, the British Pakistani community has sent a clear signal to a party that has long taken their vote for granted: no more. Labour has spent two years since the general election agonising about Mrs.Duffy, Englishness and what are euphemistically called “white working class issues”. Well, congratulations, this is the result.

Simply cranking the handle on decaying community political machines and expecting the sheep to file through the pen will not work forever. When George Galloway condemned Labour’s use of “biraderi” or clan-based politics last night, he was right.

At some point Labour as a party will have to engage with its former ethnic minority supporters rather than just assume they will be there, regardless of whatever the party does.

But in one sense, there really is no excuse for such total and utter shock. This isn’t the first time that a feeling has taken hold in a formerly Labour supporting electorate that the party is no longer upto  leading or even interested in the local community.

What just happened in Bradford now happens in Scotland as a matter of course.  For Alex Salmond read George Galloway and the pattern begins to look a little more familiar.

But if the reasons for the result underline some of Labour’s wider electoral weaknesses, this is as nothing compared to the shattering impact that losing Bradford West will have on Ed Miliband’s personal authority.

Whatever passed for a mini-revival over the past week is history. The spotlight will be back on him and his leadership. The murmurs on the backbenches, frontbenches and Miliband’s own shadow cabinet will rise in volume.

The media will be littered with living obituaries for the leader while the parliamentary recess gives him scant opportunity to reset the coverage.

The unexpected nature of this defeat means nothing is secure. Everything will be a test and the expectation of failure will permeate the media on all that the leader does.

Events which could have been weathered, such as a loss in the mayoral election in London, assume a new significance.  Ken Livingstone’s defeat, after Ed Miliband has hugged him so tight, would be yet another failure in a pattern of defeat. The narrative would be hard to shift.

For the media, his parliamentary colleagues and many ordinary Labour party members, Ed Miliband is like a boxer who has been dropped hard. His jaw is suspect and in any future skirmish there is a chance he could be knocked out. This doesn’t mean he will be, but from now on, his leadership will be run through with doubt.

Within the cabals of the parliamentary Labour party, the weekend will be consumed with fevered discussion.

Yvette Cooper’s ambitions for the top job are well known. The assumption had been she would wait for a Miliband election defeat before making her move – uncharitably dubbed the “human shield” strategy – but if Labour begins to haemorrhage even more support, might she be tempted to move sooner?

The prospect of picking up the party after a large election defeat in 2015 is surely unappealing and she has been eyeing the rising profile of the likes of Chuka Umunna nervously.

Suddenly, all is possible, if not yet likely.

In the country, formerly secure Labour electoral strongholds are vulnerable. In Westminster, the leader is bloodied and humbled. Dissent and doubt will dominate the internal party dialogue over the coming weeks while the Tories are free to govern as they see fit.

It’s difficult to establish a sense of equilibrium in the immediate aftermath of such a disastrous defeat, but this might just be the beginning of the end for Ed Miliband.

Atul Hatwal is associate editor at Uncut


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55 Responses to “Is this the beginning of the end for Ed Miliband?”

  1. Mark says:

    Labour needs policies – a whole new direction in a world where there is no longer a route to funding for the size of State it has as a default position – before it needs a leader that can articulate that change.

    At the moment it has neither. Those who think they merely have to wait until 2015 to walk back into power just had a very, very rude awakening.

  2. Popeye says:

    It’s going to be a long drawn out slow, lingering death methinks.

  3. Tim Sewell says:

    Hardly a surprising piece from someone not noted as a supporter of the current leadership. Galloway’s win last night means no more to the national picture than did his defeat of Oona back in the day. His particular brand of cynical and divisive identity politics works well in short, sharp bursts and he generally (pace Poplar) picks his battlegrounds with Clauswitzian skill.

    Agreed, the perception created by this needs a huge amount of work and this, I fear, is where the problem lies – rather than in the leader himself. Since the general election Labour’s communications team have proven themselves utterly unfit for purpose. Love them or loathe them, the likes of Campbell and Mandelson ensured that Labour’s message cut through the prejudices of the media to reach the electorate – a message they did much to fine tune so that it resonated with ordinary people’s aspirations. Ask yourself why, in the midst of the coalition’s troubles, we are failing to ‘seal the deal’ and the answer will surely be that our values are the right ones, but our message and the way it’s delivered are falling far short of what is required.

  4. Rob says:

    Mark says: March 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

    “Labour needs policies …..”

    Labour had one very clear policy, which it never told the electorate about, which was to encourage mass immigration from Muslim countries. The policy had, or so they thought, a massive electoral benefit for Labour since Muslins were expected to obediently vote for the Labour Party.

    Having successfully alienated masses of traditional working class white people the Labour Party now finds itself outmaneuvered by Respect for the Muslim vote.

    This is the problem for the Labour party in a nutshell. It has ceased to be a party for the nation, but has, instead, identified special interest groups whose aims it promises to support (even if they are mutually incompatible) and then wonders why things go wrong.

    The next chapter in this car crash is even now unfolding as we see Ken Livingstone desperately trying to suck up to extreme Muslim clerics who would like to have homosexuals put to death while trying to appear progressive and tolerant of different sexualities. His pathetic attempt to sooth the London Jewish community is yet another example of his wanting to face two ways at once.

    This is not surprising as the Labour party has now become a repository for malcontents and losers with nothing coherent to say about the problems facing the country.

  5. Arthur says:

    I agree with half of what you say. A Labour Party which plays “communal politics” can hardly complain when somebody beats them at that game.

    But make no mistake. Galloway ran on the basis that he was a non drinker. A better Muslim. This was the most sectarian appeal I can imagine.

    Labour would do well to acknowledge that this appeal worked brilliantly for Galloway. it also needs to pledge to fight against it.

    That means: not doing it, itself.

  6. Bradfordian says:

    I’m delighted by Galloway’s win. I hope there will be many more such victories. After what Labour have done to Bradford why you think Labour has some God given right to rule is beyond me. I hope it is a long lingering death. Labour deserves nothing less.

  7. Chris says:

    Yvette Cooper? Aka ‘The Ice Pixie’? Mrs. Ed Balls? Putative Prime Minister?

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ha.

    April 1st is still 2 days away.

    Agreed – MiliEd is toast, sooner or later. But as dreadful as he is, Labour is still unelectale, and changing Leader will not make it so.

    Labour has still to accept its part in the ecenomic mess that the country is in. Until it does so, it cannot produce a credible economic policy. Elections are fought and won primarily on economics, coupled with trust. The Labour party is still a million miles away from credible policies and the elctorate doesn’t trust Labour. Putting Mrs. Balls in charge is not going to change anything.

  8. Ralph Baldwin says:

    Anyone care to pay attention yet? Oops no of course not, PLp will continue to exist in lala land recruiting useless drones and family members and cronies, disregrading their members and supporters. The movement of change, the real movement of change is gaining momentum slowly as the Labour party continues its inevitable decline, the useless incompetant Labour Leadership being totally inconsistent any amany issues because they are not true politiicans just people taking up administrative jobs.

    They believe in nothing, they advoctae barely anything and they practice the opposite of what little they preach in such a way as to be blateny hypocritical. They call themselves professional and elite and yet are utterly appalling having no claim to the levels of professional behaviour in proper genuine skilled vocations, in fact they merely represent nothing except themselves. This country has has shown well before it hung Parliament, made UKIP the no2 party in Europe, wiped out the three main parties in Scotland, elevated trash like Nick Griffin to the European Parliament, that it has had enough of such outright blatent unqualified arrogance and corruption. Betray the people, dismiss them, defy them and they will return the favour when they get the viable opportunity to do so. They did it in Scotland, they did it in the General and European Elections and they are doing it now. Labour leadership are either bordering insane or just incredibly dumb to have achgieved such feeble and embarresing results.

  9. We can’t afford it to be long and drawn out.

    Just think: even without the current Tory car crash where should we be at this stage in a parliament, with these economic conditions, this incompetent, sleazy, error prone and arrogant government.

    Ask you friends and family – whatever his qualities, does he look like a prime minister?

    There is plenty of work needed in all areas, but it will all be for nothing if we continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

    This can’t be left to drift.

  10. Adam says:

    Hmm…

    Bit soon to read to much in, but you are right to see in this the SNP taking the previously core support. However, this is just one by-election which Labour handled disastoursly.

    As for strategy; appealing to the white, working class vote doesn’t preclude campaigning to the Pakistani community, although I would imagine that most worry about the NHS, jobs and their kids futures than really worry about Kashmir and such like.

    As for Miliband; bit tough that the Labour’s best week in ages (admittedly more by Coalition incompetance) is overshadowed and while it will knock his authority in the short term, long term (ie the next election) this will be forgotten. Who knows what will happen, but the election will be out the economy and who is best placed to run it…

  11. Seymour says:

    @Tim Sewell
    ……Ask yourself why, in the midst of the coalition’s troubles, we are failing to ‘seal the deal’ and the answer will surely be that our values are the right ones, but our message and the way it’s delivered are falling far short of what is required.

    Don’t blame the messenger, the message may be at fault.
    The deal isn’t acceptable to a large number of people, especially as the deal differs depending who Labour is speaking to.
    No clear message to give is also a problem that needs to be addressed.

  12. Richard says:

    A lot of this is utter drivll because it overlooks the fact Galloway was standing. Is Hatwal seriously contending that had he not stood, the outcome would have been the same? Somebody slap him out of his delusion, please.

  13. Simon says:

    However provocative, Chris (9.19am) has a point. Labour cannot be the right party until it ceases to deal in ever more unrealistic aspiration and promises, and realigns itself as a political grouping committed to dealing competently with the administration of reality. Blair won three elections by turning politics into window-dressing, and during this time Labour worked tirelessly to defer the realities that would have exposed the Dear Leader’s sham. Well, we’re now well and truly back in the land of reality, and the Party that shows it is best able to deal with this will be the Party that wins.

  14. Ethan says:

    Postal vote corruption a factor? It certainly is in Tower Hamlets with the IFE infiltrating the party. Yet NOTHING AT ALL is being done. Now why would that be? The result of such complaceny is plain to see in Bradford.

  15. Derek Emery says:

    Politicians from the main parties are tainted and have themselves to blame for the low regard they are held in by the public. It’s a never ending saga of incompetence, low moral values and distancing themselves from the public and their views and hoping to get away with self-serving behaviour.
    Labour took us the the brink of bankruptcy by spending money they did not have, de-regulation of banks and holding down interest rates to create an unsustainable house price boom and uncontrolled bank lending. They compounded this by having a secret policy of mass immigration on steroids. Anybody with half a brain should expect this to create competition and loss of wages and bad conditions for workers at the bottom but they did not care, even thought these are natural Labour voters. The negative effects from this policy are still increasing. That illustrates how little they care about the public.
    We had the expenses saga with politicians of all parties gorging shirtsleeves on the public purse? Now the Tories have shown how easily they can be bought by Lobbyists.
    Politicians have to spin that they are like up etc but it will never ring true because they are not and never will be and are not interested in the public except as a means to an end.
    The problem for politicians is that their lack of values and low moral stance is completely obvious to the public no matter what spin is applied. The public do not trust either politicians or political parties see http://www.theprogressivemind.info/?p=50907

  16. MajorFrustration says:

    And from the other side Frankie Maude should not assume that he is a shoe-in at the next election

  17. Ultra_Fox says:

    The scale of Galloway’s win last night indicates that his appeal extends way beyond Muslims alone. He delivered a clear message, opposing war and opposing cuts. Labour found itself, in the eyes of the electorate, on the wrong side of the argument on both counts.

    Any thoughts of a leadership challenge and the installation of a Blairite to head the party need to be quickly dispelled.

  18. swatantra says:

    It was an absolute disaster and a serious wake up call or Labour.
    It has finally brought home that Blair probably did more to destroy Labour and destabilise the BME vote in particular the Muslim vote than any other Labour leader and we cannot take any vote for granted anymore.
    Galloway has bought back sectarian politics of the worst kind just when we thouht we were winning back the confidence of the Muslim community and building bridges. And Galloway is back again at Westminster still spouting that he is a socialist. The only way it seems to stop him ever getting back again is to invite him back into the Party, like Ken, that should enure that he doesn’t win ever again.
    The result was worse than bad. Its the way that Manchester Central could go, if we parachute people in.
    Galloway has a point about the current leadership; we haven’t one. We have a Leader in name; but thats all.
    My worst fears are for the Muslim community, who are now ever more isolated from the mainstream than ever before. they are going to have to make up ther minds about their place in British society; whether they are going to integrate or not and share common values.Its seems they’ve given an indication of whre they stand by sending Galloway back.Things are not looking good for community relations anywhere.

  19. Cuse says:

    Hmmmm.

    Just think about it. All 3 major parties had significant decreases in vote share. Galloway ran a directive sectarian campaign; had face-recognition in abundance and had large media coverage.

    Mike Smithson over at politicalbetting gets it right in my view – Galloway’s win was built upon tactical voting on an epic scale from Lib Dem and Tory voters; as well as swathes of the local muslim vote. Evidence? The Libs lost their deposit and Tories were down by 30%.

    Granted Labour had a terrible night – but the Coalition party tribalists won’t be able to replicate such a result in too many more byelections.

  20. There are two areas I would question with this. One is that Labour has spent much time on Englishness – if anything Labour is the anti-English party that has conspired to disadvantage the English and England against every other group in the UK.

    The second is that Pakistani community naturally votes Labour. It doesn’t in Woking – where the vote has traditionally gone to the Conservatives and now the Lib Dems are making some inroads. This has little to do with political policies and a lot to do with power and sub-continent politics.

  21. BenM says:

    Let’s also acknowledge that had the Labour candidate been Blairite then the trouncing that Labour got – alongside the Tories and Lib Dems too let’s not forget – would have been even more pronounced.

    Funny that a critic up top wibbles about Labour’s position on funding of the size of the state when Galloway’s position is even more clearly a refutation of the coalition’s snake oil cuts agenda which the OECD says has tipped us into a double dip recession.

  22. ButcombeMan says:

    As long as that economic dream team of Milliband Junior and Balls remain at the top of the Labour party it remains unelectable and will always remain unelectable. Both are too well connected with the economic illiteracy of the Brown years.

    Labour needs to curse Brown and all his works plus then elect a leader who is fresh, Umunna might be the right one.

    Cooper is too connected with Balls and too “chippy” to have broad appeal. Women particularly, find her odious.

    Millband senior would have been a better choice than the current sixth form debater David he at least sounds vaguley Prime Ministerial.

  23. Alan Williams says:

    If anyone thought that merely electing Ed Miliband over his brother was enough to heal the wounds of the Blair era, then they were wrong. And I don’t see how Yvette Cooper is likely to do a better job of moving the Labour Party leftwards. I don’t know enough about Chuka Umunna to comment, but Labour needs to find a strong leader who was not a member of the Blair and Brown governments and who has a clear track record of opposing the New Labour “project”. The only candidate in the last election who hadn’t been a Blairite/Brownite was Diane Abbot, and she came last which shows how badly Labour members and MPs need to rethink what they are doing.

  24. Dave B says:

    Re: Yvette Cooper/Chukka Umunna

    “The Spectator commissioned YouGov-Cambridge to find out how popular these new MPs are and, not surprisingly, they easily outstrip their parties. On the Conservative side, Priti Patel, Louise Mensch and Zac Goldsmith all get higher approval ratings than their party or their party leader, as do Chukka Ummuna, Tristram Hunt and Louise Berger on the Labour side.”

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7750453/the-new-generation-of-tory-rebels.thtml

  25. Herbert says:

    How can anyone be a ‘British Pakistani’?

  26. Rob says:

    Dave B says: March 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

    “The Spectator commissioned YouGov-Cambridge to find out how popular these new MPs are and, not surprisingly, they easily outstrip their parties. On the Conservative side, Priti Patel, Louise Mensch and Zac Goldsmith all get higher approval ratings than their party or their party leader, as do Chukka Ummuna, Tristram Hunt and Louise Berger on the Labour side.”

    Perhaps all this proves is that being good looking makes you popular.

  27. Don McC says:

    Interesting that you mention Salmond as I think Scottish Labour show exactly the direction the Labour party are headed in.

    We have MPs who vote (or abstain) against the interests of their Constituents simply because the proposal came from the SNP (cite Willie Bain). We have Labour’s parliamentary business manager, Paul Martin, reporting (at the urging of that great labour supporting paper, the Daily Telegraph) Salmond for alleged breaches of the ministerial code, conveniently deflecting heat away from Call-Me-Dave. All the while, Lamont, the leader of Labour in Scotland, is silent.

    The arrogant belief that working against the SNP is more important that working for the people of Scotland had resulted in the SNP winning a majority using an electoral system that was specifically designed to stop such a thing.

    Bradford, albeit only one example so far, shows that people want a party that works to benefit the constituents, not the Labour party.

  28. Remittance Man says:

    At some point Labour as a party will have to engage with its former ethnic minority supporters rather than just assume they will be there

    True, but I would say that the party has to engage with all its former voters. Then again, so the Conservatives. Both parties have drifted to a mythical place called The Middle Ground and ignored their core voters. Looks like those voters are now starting to express their resentment.

  29. Ballsforever says:

    re leader YBalls. Excellent idea. She’s as bad if not worse than Milliminor and indelibly associated with her excruciating hubbie. Media bashing of a double Balls leadership would be 10x easier and 100x worse than the mauling Milli gets. Keep it up. Labour will be out of power for a century.

  30. jasper says:

    Hang on in there Ed Milliband you are doing just fine. 😉

  31. paul barker says:

    Missing the point, milliband isnt the problem just a symptom. Ed won as the least divisive candidate – labour voted for unity at any cost. Bradford is part of that cost.

    Labour cant make a decisive move without losing thousands of members & millions of voters & without a move slow decline is inevitable.

  32. Brian the Snail says:

    Time to ditch all the fine intellectual debates, put some quite horrible personal agendas (and their owners) on the block and face up to the stark reality: both the Millibands and Balls/Cooper are for different reasons toxic to the electorate, who not surprisingly perceive them all as two faced opportunists hopelessly linked to the still ongoing disasters spawned under the Blair/Brown years.

    Did somebody mention Diane Abbot? Don’t make me laugh, it hurts too much.

    I really do not see any way forward unless there is a radical departure from current thinking and one that does not involve Old or New Labour dogma. The party needs to properly reconnect with real people, not just activists and minorities, and develop policies which are credible to an electorate that now fully understand that big promises off teh back of tax and spend does not work.

    That is not going to happen before the next election, so think long term. Any leader whose idea of strategy is wondering how to score a few more points at the next PMQ or divert attention from the latest cock up is useless

  33. madasafish says:

    Many of us non Labour supporters told you Gordon Brown would be a bad leader before he was “elected”. You ignored us, told us we were afraid of him and went blindly on.

    Many of us non Labour supporters told you Ed Miliband would be rubbish as a leader. You ignored us.. and look where you are.

    Two mistakes in a row suggest you :

    don’t know what you want in a leader (true)
    have silly policies (true- see Balls – unbelievable rubbish)
    and can’t run a leadership election to save yourselves..

    You could do worse than copying the Tories and force candidates to address the Party with their proposed policy first… but then you have the Unions behind you.

    You are stuffed till you modernise and drag the Party’s election system into the 20th century… (Not 21st as no 21st century Party would be bankrolled by one supporter).

    Until you address the basic issues, you are doomed to fail.

    Based on past history, it will take another 40 years.

  34. swatantra says:

    Diane’s new hairstyle makes her look at least 15 years younger and that natty new suit helps as well. She’s really making an effort to get into the spirit of being a Front Bench spokesperson, instead of being an irresponsible bolshie backbencher with loyalties to nobody but herself.

  35. ButcombeMan says:

    Brian the Snail says etc

    Absolutely spot on Brian.

    Millipede junior,. Balls, Cooper, Hayne, Straw etc etc are all remnants of the Brown/Blair disaster and the Big Brown economic mess. Thye will never be taken seriously again.

    The public know it.

    The publc generally do not like the current government either but they are regarded as the lesser of two evils for dealing with the economy.

    The party needs to utterly disown Brown’s economic incompetence . Admit they messed up. Tactically they should have done that as soon as they left government. Because Balls and Ed M were still there, they could not.

    Balls in particular has become ridiculous.

  36. GSilver says:

    i think the term is “hoist by our own petard”. Unfettered immigration allowed us to ignore the white working classes or at least take them for granted as we pursued the immigrant vote. We betrayed those we should have been protecting when their salaries were undercut, their jobs were exported to india and we over taxed those workers still in jobs as we bought votes with increased benefits.
    Now our imported support is turning on us and our natural working class support has rightfully turned on us as well.
    To be honest I cant see where we’re going to get enough support to win an election

  37. Nick says:

    Ed Miliband is unelectable as British PM. Fact.

    Anyone who has spent time like I have recently canvassing and leafleting, including in inner London Labour seats, can confirm that on the rare occasions that Miliband is mentioned, one of three standard responses from Joe Public is forthcoming;

    1. A blank look
    2. A grimace, and shake of the head
    3. The comment “I don’t like him”

    There is no doubt that similar feedback has reached the ears of both the PLP and the Shadow Cabinet.

    Labour is heading for a car crash in 2015 with Ed Miliband as leader.

  38. mark polden says:

    You need to agree to what ever party funding cap is suggested i.e £50k, ditch the unions and run a new leadership election. This should be based on open primaries and those who served under Blair/Brown should be banned so Umunna, Reeves, Berger, Hunt etc

  39. John says:

    swatantra, it was labour automatically assuming that it had the BME vote, which by it’s definition,is an incorrect statement regarding, respect as muslims aren’t a race they’re a religion, seeing as blair took labour from 33% in the opinion polls after 92, to at least 36% at the 2005 election, can’t see how he destroyed labour with the exception of Kinnock every labour leader at their last erlection they fought , got less votes than their preducessors (if you include blair getting 9.7m in ‘2005 and kinnock getting 11.3m in 92,)

  40. Mike Homfray says:

    What a load of nonsense

    Given that Labour were defeated by a campaign whose focus was on foreign policy, how is taking on a leader who voted for the Iraq war going to do anything positive for the party?

    The influences on the Bradford West voters clearly had nothing to do with Ed Miliband, and plenty to do with Galloway himself, the issue of foreign policy, and the view that the local Labour party was in the hands of a couple of local clans

  41. Brumanuensis says:

    I agree with you about the lazy assumption that BAME would just continue to vote Labour regardless. Clearly the good results in that area two years ago have induced complacency at the top of the Party.

    However as other commentators have pointed out, the idea that anyone else would have done better is laughable. Galloway may paint himself as an outsider, but he had Marsha Singh’s former agent as his agent, which no doubt gave him a wealth of insider knowledge on the strengths and weaknesses of Bradford Labour.

    Finally, your point about Scotland is undermined by the most recent set of polling there: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/4951

    Westminster voting intention: CON 17%(+1), LAB 42%(+7), LDEM 7%(nc), SNP 30%(-7)

    Holyrood constituency: CON 12%(-1), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 8%(+1), SNP 40%(-4)

    Holyrood regional: CON 13%(nc), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc), SNP 38%(-1)

  42. swatantra says:

    The memory of Iraq still lingers on, It created schisms in the BME community and in particular the Muslim clannish community which have never healed. There was a case for Afghanistan but not for intervening in Iraq. Now Galloway has the gall to speak of a Bradford Spring when the phrase actually would have applied to dictator Saddam being swept from power by his own people. So Blair got it very wrong on Iraq. He turned many Labour members away from the Party.
    The BME vote should never have been taken for granted and I have a feeling that that the Muslim vote is lost to Labour for good and is beyond recovery.
    The argument is often made by Islamists that Muslims will not fight Muslims; but that won’t wash; we’ve seen plenty of examples of Sunnis and Shites at each others throats; their religion hasn’t stopped them from killing each other. Its a situation British Muslims here are going to have to face up to and resolve when it comes to defending liberties and defeating dictatorships and fighting oppression wherever it occurs.

  43. Allan says:

    The short answer to that question is, well not really. Milliband the younger’s coat was always on a shoogly peg (as we say in Scotland) since they failed to come up with a viable alternative to Darth Gideon’s Scorched Earth Policy when it was really needed, when he was elected leader. But if you have to pinpoint a moment when Milliband lost the next election, it was the week when the constitutional debate kicked off, and Milliband sided with the Tories.

    You mention the pattern being the same as that here in Scotland. To be fair to Milliband, the SNP won at Holyrood on Blair’s watch. However this is a lesson that has not been learned 5 years into the SNP andministration at Hollyrood, and there is no sign that the lessons are being learned – which is one of the reasons that Salmond won such a convincing win last year.

    The problem is that post New Labour continues to resemble New Labour, with many of the cast list at the top of the party holding New Labour-esque views. Abbott apart, the contenders for the leadership two years ago were all varying shades of New Labour with not very much seperating them – and none of them genuinely leadership material. This critisism can also be made of Cooper and Umunna. Umunna in particular has been singularaly unimpressive any time he has appeared in front of the cameras – all Blair generalities while not really having the courage to voice an opinion.

    While Labour debates how to win in the key marginals, it has found that the poicy positions it has to take to win there is becoming more an more unpaliatable in areas who stay resolutely socialist – this is why Scotland rejected a right wing “Scottish” Labour at two elections and voted for a relatively social democratic SNP and why Bradford has voted for the 80’s throwback Galloway. The sheep are not prepared to take orders anymore.

    http://humbug3.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/week-labour-lost-next-election.html

  44. oliver says:

    “Agonising” over Englishness? Really? There might have been some agonising as to how Mrs Duffy blew-up in Brown’s face but I’ve not seen any evidence of anything else and certainly not anything that suggests anything other than subsequent PR clean-up job. For many (English) people – people who were struggling with lack of jobs, housing and resources even before austerity measures – (New) Labour are going to be the party that basically opened the doors for mind-boggling amounts of immigration.

    Whether statistics back this up as any kind of reality doesn’t matter – the perception is going to be there and it’s going to be more keenly felt as belts get increasingly tightened for those at the bottom of the economic pile.

    Austerity always polarises and concentrates political beliefs and opinions because, when people are feeling the ramifications of economics/politics, those economics/politics matter more. If people were worried about ‘losing out to foreigners’ before, watching libraries close, hospitals sold off, already scarce jobs disappear and benefits cut will only intensify this feeling.

    As for Bradford itself, don’t (New) Labour remember the anti-war demonstrations at the time? This wasn’t a specially Asian/Muslim issue – a lot of ‘left wing’ (not to mention people from across the political spectrum) were against this kind of war. Hey, as long as Blair and his friends personally benefited from it financially, who cares what the electorate think, eh? I can imagine that for many Asian communities in the North (generally Labour heartlands) will be encouraged to follow suit after Bradford and where will New Labour’s immigration policy have got them then?

    Labour really, really need to wake up or key demographics will never forgive them and there’s an increasing chance that they will be left out in the cold forever – like the Tories in Scotland. The left are in despair of a party who seem to be intent on out-Torying the Tories these days. The Asian demographic are beginning to see that they can get bespoke support with Respect and various independents and no longer need the Labour party to voice any concerns. The fact that fighting over the centre ground (or perhaps even right of centre) has lead to the three main parties being indistinguishable from each other has turned-off a lot of the general electorate as they don’t see the point in engaging with the political machine because whoever gets in, it amounts to the same thing: personal interests and big business being behind much of government policy whilst most of us get screwed.

    The bottom line is most of the electorate want something different from what a ‘three for the price of one’ right of centre political machine is currently offering. Labour has a fantastic opportunity to make a change here, to wake up and wipe the Blairism from its eyes, but it looks like they’re going to blow it yet again.

  45. ad says:

    I’d say that Galloway won because he was NOT backed by any of the three main parties.

    It is a curious thought that in recent years all the parties have become more internally democratic, and ever more detached from the actual electorate. Presumably this is because politicians find themselves trying to win the support of people in their own party, rather than the support of the voters.

    From which I conclude that it would be wise to copy the Americans, and have the Party leader selected by an open primary. If Ed Milliband had been selected by such a system, he would have a wider mandate than any other politician in the UK (with the possible exception of the PM), and would be in a much stronger position to force through whatever changes to the Party he though necessary to win.

    As it is, he has to spend at least as much time trying to please his party, rather than the voters. Naturally, the voters do not appreciate being ignored.

  46. dave Roberts says:

    Having spent 4 weeks in Bradford West working on the campaign I am of the view that too many people are jumping to conclusions about what the Galloway victory really means. To understand why things went the way they did requires an understanding of Bradford, an analyisis of how Galloway operates and a review of the campaign Labour chose to run and why that decision was made. I am sure all the above will happen in the next few weeks and then we will be able to understand and move on.

    For what its worth my initial gut feeling is that most of the issues were very local not national. In addition people should remember that the coalition partners were wiped out.

  47. Izzy says:

    The Muslims of Bradford were never going to vote for a party led by a Jew. Nor will any other Muslims. Get used to it.

  48. madasafish says:

    ad’s comments about open primaries are very relevant.

    There IS a wide separation between the political class and electorate.

    Who chooses the candidates who run as candidates for election: The political parties (all of them).

    Who selects the Leader of these Parties? The MPs..

    What we have is a self selecting autocracy: we – the electorate – exist only to legitimise the party’s choice of leader. And party leadership has been taken over by the Oxbridge set – all with similar education, suits and all millionaires. Yes there are differences between the methods and voting systems in each party but the results are the same. Conformity.

    Along comes George Galloway and purports to offer a change – with some credibility and some charisma.. Surprise surprise he appeals to a younger set of voters..

    The issue is not confined to labour and with austerity forcing the Coalition to squeeze the incomes of many of its natural supporters, it will get worse.

    Labour are in a unique position, however, when compared to the Coalition. Where the Coalition recognise the budget has to be balanced and have been honest and told tehir supporters so, Labour refuse to acknowledge it. If Labour win an election, their supporters are in for a terrible rude shock.

    It’s like the Iraq war. I opposed it. It was obvious at the time the reasons given for going to war were wrong. The Labour Party went to war and never apologised for lying about it: and you wonder why people do not trust you on foreign policy?

    The Conservatives of course were no better – but they were not the Government and did nothing so it affects them less.

    UK politics is designed to make a few people rich and wealthy . I need only say expenses and Tony Blair . The system has been corrupted over the years to keep an elite in power.

  49. Keith says:

    If Labour is to have any chance of being trusted by the electorate again then Ed Milliband must disown the disastrous Blair /Brown years and dump all shadow ministers associated with them.

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