Ed was right, we need to rebuild trust in Labour. Here’s how.

by John Woodcock

With so many councillors winning the chance to serve communities who rejected Labour at the general election, Thursday’s election puts us back in contention. But only if we treat this boost as a spur to raise our game.

On Thursday many cast a vote of anger against what the Tories and their Lib Dem helpers are inflicting on families across the country; many cast a vote that recognised that Labour was speaking their language again; but most did not vote at all.

So Ed Miliband struck exactly the right tone the morning after the results. This is a moment for determination, not hubris. Ed was right to address directly the overwhelming majority of people who who didn’t vote at all on Thursday. The pledge to ‘work tirelessly between now and the next general election to win your trust’ is exactly what a weary nation deserves to hear.

The grim mood on the doorstep felt like more than the usual reluctance to engage with local polls mid-way through a parliamentary term. The particularly low turnout was a symptom of a genuine malaise: people are doubtful that the mainstream parties can offer anything that will make a real difference.

Voters repeatedly told me they were sick of hearing politicians slag each other off when they should have been working together to sort things out. But I was most struck by what Mr Moore said to me when I asked him how he would be voting in the council elections in Ulverston.

“I’m not voting,” he said. He didn’t see the point.

Mr Moore voted at the general election, though he didn’t say which way. I asked him how he thought the coalition government was performing. “Terribly,” he replied. Then why wouldn’t he vote Labour to register his disapproval. “No,” he repeated. “You haven’t given me a reason to vote for you.”

Mr Moore agreed with me that returning to jobs and growth was the most important thing the country could do, but he had not yet seen enough to convince him we were the party to do that.

Mr Moore sums up the challenge we face. When Labour says that families across the country are suffering as a result of the policies of this government, millions agree. But they are highly sceptical that any party remain can deliver the change they believe the country needs. That scepticism extends to us.

This is our chance to convince anxious families we can set out credible ideas to put the country back on track. We are all determined to take it.

But to succeed in that we must also address people’s lack of faith in politics.

Once in place, there are many MPs and councillors who build up a good reputation as someone who works hard on behalf of their constituents.

But believing that your local councillor is a decent guy is not the same thing as believing the Labour party, or any other party, is on your side. We need to win back the idea that Labour can be a force for good in communities, not simply those slightly irritating people with rosettes who come round during Eastenders and ask you how you intend to vote.

We can do this. We have hit on some important ideas such as Ed’s suggestion that Labour could organise collectively buying energy to cut prices; the grass roots campaigning in David Miliband’s Movement for Change is exploring news way to organise; and the Co-operative party is rightly determined to embed mutualism as a genuine alternative where private enterprise or top down state control falls short.

And most importantly of all, we have great people who are determined to win. Those ranks have been swelled by victories across the country this week.

Tories have abandoned the centre ground of British politics. After years of double dealing locally, the Liberal Democrats have finally shown their true colours to the public; they are finished as a progressive party.

The British people desperately need someone to step up. This can be Labour’s time.

John Woodcock is Labour and Cooperative MP for Barrow and Furness and a shadow transport minister

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14 Responses to “Ed was right, we need to rebuild trust in Labour. Here’s how.”

  1. swatantra says:

    George may be reading his entrails or tea leaves wrong.
    What people are fed up with is punchnjudy politics, and yet here we are talking about more difference. Mad Nad Dorries saying Dave must move more to the Right; Di Abbot saying Ed must move more to the Left, and Bercow just promoting John Bercow.
    What people on the doorstep want is more consensus politics not confrontational politics and parties slagging each other off, particularly in times of crisis.
    We need consensus on Social Care, on Transport and more importantly Housing, otherwise we’ll never get anything off the ground, but still keep alking about these things ad infinitum. We don’t want the pendulum swinging back and forth forever on Education on Health on the 3rd Runway,while the rest of Europe moves on and Britain sinks furher and further down the League Tables, on everything.
    George is right in one respect: ‘… the Co-operative party is rightly determined to embed mutualism as a genuine alternative where private enterprise or top down state control falls short.’ and ‘We have hit on some important ideas such as Ed’s suggestion that Labour could organise collectively buying energy to cut prices.’
    The Co-operative Party has most of the solultions already mapped out for Ed and Dave and Nick. By working together more co-operatively we can get Britain back on its feet, and look the average voter in the eye with a bit more pride.

  2. swatantra says:

    … that should have been John … not George… the well known Trade Unionist from way back. Any relation?

  3. Alan Cox says:

    John is absolutely right Mr Moore has it in a sentence. I suggest the most damning phrase that reveberates in Mr Moore’s head, because he can’t listen to any coalition spokesman (or even BBC political commentator), without taking on board the strap line “the economic mess that Labour left”, without getting it. This isn’t challenged sufficiently robustly and “coalition austerity measures are too deep and too fast” whilst true doesn’t capture the imagination. The response needs to be about creating a sense of purpose with a massive initiative on jobs rebalancing the economy with strategic initiatives e.g. independence from imported energy. Get the economists doing a real job for once and think through 30 years of deficit reduction fuelled by growth and link the two to benefit the British people. Get the maths to work to set the goals for all to understand (i.e x% growth = deficit controlled in y years). When challenged lionise Brown/Darling for preventing economic meltdown and sowing the seeds for recovery cut short by this coalition. Note the good sense of some liberals (e.g. Matthew Oakshott on economic recovery) and how Labour will work with all that can rebuild the prospects of future prosperity for the peoples of our country. “Fast on growth, deep on investment, restore prosperity ” that should be the riposte and agenda to give people credible hope. Such an alternative, thought through and articualted, will get people back into the polling stations.

  4. No government on its own can deliver the necessary changes. It would help us – the public- if it could signal that it knew this. I rejoined Labour to vote for Ed because as Minister at DECC he had seemed to recognise this – and listened well.

    To know more, do read http://www.earthcharter.org which provides a systemic analysis. UK is not able to deal even with its own issues without cooperating with others – so future governments should not make promises they can’t keep. A government can be part of the solution, however.

  5. Peter Kenyon says:

    Dear John

    Just who are the ‘we’ in your post?

  6. Anon E Mouse says:

    swatantra – Your problem is that when Labour supporters in every poll (72% in the last YouGov one) say they agree that Housing Benefit, Child Benefit etc should be cut Miliband and Balls don’t agree with them.

    Until the Labour Party gets rid of the multi millionaire unrepresentative individuals is is infested with it will never be re-elected.

    What we need is an opposition that is opposed in principal to the current government. Not one cut proposed by this coalition will be reversed under Labour any more than the Trades Union reforms were reversed.

    Until the Labour leadership actually start to represent the working classes we may as well vote for the coalition because they are all the same.

    Unless of course your name is Boris Johnson in which case whatever party you lead will storm in….

  7. Nick says:

    There is a simple problem

    Governments are frauds. They have run a massive ponzi. The problem now is that the debts are falling due. Tory or Labour, it doesn’t matter. The government is bust.

    Even the ‘go for growth’ won’t solve it. Get a million back to work, and you only get 15 bn off the 150 bn deficit. On top of the deficit, the liabilities are increasing at 350 bn a year.

    So its a case of the electorate shooting the messenger.

    Now I suspect that Cameron and co will be booted out. Labour will then try the spending splurge, and that is when it really goes tits up. After all Labour don’t have a solution for the mess, because the only solution is default and whole scale robbery.

  8. uglyfatbloke says:

    Jus because Osborne and Cameron are crp is no reasonto forget that Blair, Brown and Darling were totaaly useless. The fincancial crisis was not all their fault, but they should shoulder quite a bit of the blame. it’s not just that they were Tories – they were incompetent tories. Undwe Thatcher the price paid for prosperity in the south was poverty in the north. Under Blair, Brown and Cameron, the price paid for prpsperity for the wealthy (including themselves of course) is poverty acros the whole country.

  9. uglyfatbloke says:

    Pardon the typos…can’t find my specs!

  10. Anon E Mouse says:


    The North of the country is poor because we are happier having immigrants doing the useless service industry jobs that exist there and use their taxes to let lazy Brits languish for year after year on the dole.

    As a country we are uncompetitive because our wages are too high compared to other places and that is because of high taxes and a reliance on increases in property prices.

    If we really roll back the state so we no longer have to take so much in tax to run the country and we stop the stupid European project which is almost universally hated by every countries populations (although not the undemocratic elites obviously) then we might get back to a system where we choose our own destiny instead of people we can’t get rid of overseas….

  11. swatantra says:

    To suggest that Blair and Brown were closet Tories is simply not true; its like saying that Cameron and Osborne are Socialists.

  12. Anon E Mouse says:


    Anthony Charles Linton Blair was educated at Fettes College which probably makes him a Tory really. No self respecting socialist would be seen dead at that establishment.

    Mind you John Major was brought up in a council house so he probably isn’t like a Tory really. But he did get more votes than Blair at their respective winning elections….

  13. uglyfatbloke says:

    I don’t think Blair and Brown were closet tories, they were just totally self-absorbed. For each of them ideology was simply a career vehicle. Thye were pretty successful in that both of them are now very rich, but neither was over-burdened with either principles or pragmatism.

  14. Landless Peasant says:

    How to rebuild trust in Labour? Abolish back-to-work schemes, increase State Benefits, re-instate Clause IV, and legalize Cannabis, then I just might vote for you.

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