“290 seats and Ed stays”

Much rumour and speculation in recent days on the aftermath of a potential Labour defeat next year. The Guardian splashed last Saturday with an anonymous frontbencher demanding Ed Miliband’s resignation if Labour loses the next election. The Mail followed up earlier this week with “friends” of the Labour leader talking up his chances of “doing a Kinnock” and fighting on in the event of a loss.

To party members these types of stories often seem to erupt into the news without warning.  But in reality they represent the cresting waves above currents that are surging below the surface.

Uncut has now spoken to four parliamentary sources that have highlighted a specific operation by team Miliband to reset expectations in the PLP. Rather than an outright victory, or even being the largest party, this endeavour is focused on setting a new benchmark: the minimum number of seats Ed Miliband needs to stay on as leader.

The magic number currently being touted is 290, a gain of 32 on Labour’s current voting strength.

290 seats for Labour would almost certainly mean the Tories were the largest party with the Lib Dems in the high 20s to low 30s. Labour would be facing another five years in opposition.

The leadership operation has involved senior parliamentarians, political advisers and friendly journalists, all giving a similar narrative on why Ed should stay. Common phrases include, “two term journey,” “changing the terms of the debate,” and “Labour needs to stay unified.”

In the event of Labour securing 290 seats, the leader’s pitch would offer the prospect of a return to office if Labour could stay unified under Miliband and make another 30 or so gains at the next election. He would have a track record on making this type of progress and the fear of a divisive leadership election would be used to discourage rival candidates supporters declaring publicly.

This is the context for the recent press stories. They haven’t just happened randomly. They are the reaction to a concerted lobbying campaign by the leader’s team that prepares the ground for defeat and the internal battle to come. Expect more over the coming weeks and months.

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17 Responses to ““290 seats and Ed stays””

  1. swatantra says:

    If Labour loses the GE and fails to form a Coalition, then EdM should do the decent thing and resign with dignity. There’s no two ways about it.

  2. John Reid says:

    3 weeks ago we were 10% ahead in the polls, as Dan Hodges pointed out,with that sort of lead, Ed. Could have convinced the party that blue Labours view on Immigration and socially conservative views on communities such as religion, working with the state to subsidise locally run charities, was something, that could bring into our party working class people not already connected,by the groups associated with our movements (Trade unions, the Co-op,retired union affiliates )after the disaster of the World cup ,owl gate and then the Ill prepared speech at the IPFF on social change and trying to deflect attention from it by rushing out the “well make unemployed teenagers work for their dole” plan,it’s hard to see us being able to be taken serious on welfare reform.
    Ed had been able to get across the worry a lot of Core labour voters have about immigration concerning work, and not be shouted down as a racist by the likes of Diane Abbott, the way other labour supporters like lord Glasman or rod Liddle have in the past, when as Liddle pointed out lately,it’s the rich bosses employing Eastern European workers that have financially benefitted, not the working class ,and the mess Cameron has made over Junkter, is nothing to the failure of Ed, to score over Andy Coulson scandal,

    Yet we’re still 6 points ahead, we must have done something right in the last week as had we not had the bad weeks we could be 14 points ahead by now, which is the sort of lead we need to be if we want to win,

    This sort of hypothetical discussion on the election though,is pointless but as David Blunkett for once has highlighted ,what Rob merchant said that if we do lose next time they’ll be a civil war, Len Mclusky had said that he’ll form a workers party if we lose, how much of tthe oust the Blairites progress(party within a party) smear was associated with him, following Falkirk ,is unclear, how much will the CLPD, or LRC turn on the centre of the party (Many of whom Luke Akehurst,Ellie reeves,Peter Wheeler have all been loyal supporters of Ed)

    The Tories are planning to throw the kitchen sink at their campaign for the next election, Jon Cruddas has a brief to produce a working manifesto, but very little has yet to surface,,and several intalectual backers are disappearing that with the nepotism of appointing offspring of half the last labour govt ,to safe parliamentary seats, the loyalty they’ll show to add if we lose is questionable, the current PLP, seem to the right of Ed,but are all being loyal now, and we’re still losing members to the left,while the amount of constituency parties that endorse Ken Livingstone for the NEC,show his reign as speaker for the left of the party is falling,

    Excluding the out come of the Scottish referndum, Ed will have to get around the choice for mayor of London, Diane Abbott has proved a lose cannon for him, his choice Sadiq Khan is the least popular, with David Lammy and Christian Wolmar, being the front runners ,I don’t think Doreen Lawrence a brave lady now in the lords will stand and then Ed will ,if the Tories form another coalition govt have to deal with an EU referndum in 2017′, can he argue the case to stay in Europe when his main founder Len Mkluisky and his policy advisor Jon Cruddas are anti the EU,

  3. paul barker says:

    I notice that this recalibration of Labours aims breaks one of Unites “conditions” for remaining affiliated; an outright victory. The Labour Left has been oddly quiet about The Leaderships recent moves to the Centre, perhaps they are keeping their ammunition dry for later; July 10th perhaps.
    For the ordinary members all these adjustments must come as something of a shock, they might have beleived that Britain had swung Left & Labour were going to win.

  4. John Reid says:

    Although 2 of the 3 ‘left wing’ LRC NEC members backed his reforms for union affiliation, they’ve certainly got their act together,regarding organising for the 2014 elections, o wonder how loyal they’ll be if we lose Ed stays,and unite either leave,or refuse to continue to accept labours broad support for welfare reforms,
    Do Ed loyalists, Like, Roy Hattersley, Sadiq Khan or Pete Hain, feel Ed can lose and stay, I don’t think so, as the PLP is rallying around him, but are secretly worried we’re gonna get massacred, Ed probably does think he can carry on, but they’ll have to be a Stalking horse,David lammy?, to tell him the games up, it worked for thatcher,when she took on Heath in 75′

  5. Robert says:

    We are now in the fifth year of this Parliament and it is clear that the next General Election will be close. We should start thinking about the leadership of the Labour Party when we know the result.

  6. steve says:

    Best to hang on to Ed as Leader if Labour lose in 2015. Who else would be able drive through the jettisoning of the trade unions? Who else could drive away Labour’s core vote? And who else will be as uncompromising in their support for the EU?

    Frankly, Ed is the best Progress candidate there is. Stick with him and Labour will win by a landslide in 2020, surely.

  7. John Reid says:

    Steve,what is labours core vote, The Working Class,IE Blue collar workers, those who grew up in council homes, those prepared to pay a greater part of their tax,as it’ll be returned in the NHS, universal benefits, welfare used to subsidise for those in Concil bought social housing,comprehensive education, subsidised state jobs created,that aren’t really needed for the Country to run,but give back to the chancellor public money,by taxing those workers ,who are doing jobs not needed for the country to work, those who read the Daily Mirror?, the morning Star?,

    In the late 70’s to the 80’s, the socially conservative Labour Party,of Attlee, Calaghan, Dick Crossman, Healey, was replaced but he idea that if we appealed to special interest groups, of Environmentalists, Ethnic minority and gay rights, women’s rights ,of those women, who wanted positive descrimination, then all these groups could together have enough of an appeal to make Labour SUCSESSFUL, without considering the fact, that ethnic minority people,or Gays and Lesbians, who had suffered prejudice, were concerned about the coats of their gas and electric bills, and despite what we thought, voted Tory in a large number,

    In Both the 92 and 2010 elections, there were bigger swings towards us from the middle class than the working class, for different reasons, maybe those who came to us in 92 were Ex SDP, voting for us after it’s collapse,and the working class,were sticking too the Tories in Essex,as they hadn’t lost so much under the recession, and weren’t losing their jobs in the city,the way the middle class were,and read the Suns twaddle about labour saying they’d put the basic rate of tax,when we said we weren’t going too.

    And in 2010′ there were left wing voters who possibly voted Libdem in 2005 BecUse of Iraq, and came back,as Blair had gone,while our traditional working class vote,according to labour HQ didn’t vote for us due to immigration.

    Core vote was the strategy William Hague tried in 2001′ when he felt the core vote as ultra Thatcherite,25 years earlier, te Toey core vote was one nation Tories,

    Progress is rather irrelevant,but too take the example of Pro EU, not supporting the trade union legislation of the 70’s, that’s something labour has supported since 1989′ so those who’ve campaigned for labour since then, or when presenting Labour at a national level since then have t campaigned to reverse those views, and it didn’t disillusion our core vote,and I’m not even sure some Progress people over the years Jon CruddasEllie reeves,Bryan Gould, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stewart, are Pro the EU.

  8. steve says:

    John Reid: “what is labours core vote”

    It can be found in what are assumed to be safe Labour seats such as Rotherham: 26,852 votes in ’97; 9,966 in 2012. Where Rotherham leads other constituencies will follow.

  9. BenM says:

    Interesting stuff.

    I think that any circumstance where Labour were not in a position to form a government will probably see Ed resign.

    However, it is very likely that Ed is going to be Prime Minister this time next year so the point is moot.

  10. John reid says:

    Steve, so labours core vote are those who only gave labour a 10,000 in 1983′ and as for 2010′ the core votes are the ones who voted for Denis mcshane in 2010?

  11. steve says:

    John Reid: “so labours core vote are those who etc”


    Like it or not, that’s the way it is. Find what is assumed to be a Labour safe seat and you’ll find Labour’s core vote.

    The industrial working class which was once the backbone of the Labour Party no longer exists and this is reflected at the polls. Old loyalties are being eroded and abandoned.

  12. Anne says:

    Yes,as a Labour Party member, I believe that Ed should go as leader if he looses the election, and also some of the Shadow Cabinet.

  13. Madasafish says:

    It’s all very well saying Ed must go IF (when?) he fails to win.

    But who will replace him? Lots of runners and riders but which potential rider has staked out a clear and coherent position?

  14. steve says:

    Madasafsh: “who will replace him?”

    It’s obvious: Liam Byrne.

    He is charismatic, coherent, personable, imaginative and dynamic in his approach to politics.

    He is a man who was made for 21st century politics – head and shoulders above the rest, a true leader of men and women.

  15. Tafia says:

    Liam “there’s no money left” Byrne?

    You jest.

  16. Landless Peasant says:

    Myself and many other Socialists I know stopped voting Labour because of Benefit Sanctions. Abolish them and we’ll all vote Labour again. Simple.

    As for Liam Byrne, FORGET IT! That man is SCUM.

    It would have to be someone like Glenda Jackson or Dennis Skinner for Labour leader. No more poncy Middle-Class intellectuals and Class Traitors.

  17. Landless Peasant says:

    @ steve

    “Old loyalties are being eroded and abandoned.”

    Not to mention that Labour was infiltrated many years ago in what Pilger described as a “silent coup”, and they no longer represent the Working Class.

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