Members must be able to sack the leader before the next election if they turn out to be Ed mk 2

by Joe Anderson

Two years ago, I was summoned to see Ed Miliband. He wanted to talk about my continuous public challenge for the Labour party to unequivocally promise to scrap the hated bedroom tax.

His answer left me speechless. He told me, “Joe, It is what we do in government that matters”.

I told him straight how wrong he was: “That it was “hope” people needed, if nothing else, a belief that Labour was the party that would speak out for all. Only by being bold would we ever get to be in government again.”

I also gave him some unsolicited advice:  ”Get out of the Westminster village, stop spending days preparing for PMQs , get out and see real people in real communities, visit the food banks, and visit the cities being  hardest hit by the cuts.”  And I again left him with a challenge:  “Make the news, don’t respond to it.”

The plea fell on deaf ears.

Soon after that meeting the same people who had led us to defeat in 2010 developed their 35% strategy.  Those same advisers and spin masters were making the same mistakes again based on the false assumption the Tories would win the election for us, all we had to do was sit back and wait.

The people who didn’t want  to talk about the bedroom tax or cuts to local services were the same ones who decided to give us the EdStone.

I had a similar meeting with Ed Balls months before the general election.  His attitude and approach was worse and I hold him responsible for much of the problem we faced. His “dead hand” hung over all our policy in relation to public sector spending. His approach of, “say nothing, offer little and wait to win” showed how arrogant and out of touch the leadership had become.

The ‘command and control’ mentality of those at the head of our party has now been in place for nearly twenty years, but it has to change to face a new world.

I left those meetings with a real sense of shame about how I and others had let a patronising elite at the top of our party become so out of touch with political reality and the world of our members.

Because all sections of the party – the leadership, advisors, the PLP and members alike – were a part of this problem, it is time to make changes to ensure our leadership never again represents themselves rather than the people they serve.

That is why I want the person who next leads our party to be honest about their role in our failure this past election. I want them to insist on a mechanism for the party membership not just the parliamentary MPs to hold them to account.

In other words, I want to be confident the next Labour leader commands the full support of all the party, at all times. To challenge our party’s leadership isn’t being disloyal. Sitting silently in the wings watching the impending car-crash but doing nothing about it is.

There should be a mechanism where the party’s membership can confirm their happiness with the leadership or trigger another leadership contest before the next general election.  With 5 years to go, only by the membership being able to have a say in the direction of the party and the performance of our leader will we prevent ourselves sleepwalking into the same mistakes again.

Outside voices shouldn’t try to characterise this leadership debate as left versus right, New Labour versus Old Labour. Hopefully this will be recorded as the moment we choose to become pragmatic Labour and genuinely regained the trust of people once more.

We can only do that by engaging, listening and passionately advocating the ethos of Labour as the party that represents all with fairness and hope for a better life. I, like many, look forward to questioning and scrutinising the candidates on the direction of the party and their vision but for me there simply has to be change.

Joe Anderson is mayor of Liverpool

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14 Responses to “Members must be able to sack the leader before the next election if they turn out to be Ed mk 2”

  1. Madasafish says:

    So will this happen if Labour are in power?

    If so, giving the the membership to change the PM of the country?

    I am sure that would go down well with voters.

    (Arthur Scargill would have used it as often as he could against Kinnock)

  2. Ex labour says:

    I keep hearing of this “hated bedroom tax”. Could you tell me who, apart for left wing politicians and activists, actually “hate” this?

    Joe Anderson embodies everything that is wrong with Labour and he has the cheek to come on here and moan about it.

    Why dont you be honest for a change Mr. Anderson and state what YOU really want from Labour and I bet its not a centerist party which the public can support. I’m guessing you are one who believes that a move even further left is the answer. If thats the case expect 5 more years of the Tories in 2020.

  3. swatantra says:

    Well said Joe! I could have written this article myself. Leadership is not for life. Its only as good as your next engagement, or the next year.
    Put it in the hands of Annual Conference ie a vote of confidence in the Leader, and let the members decide. If they fail to win that vote on a OMOV ie none of this card vote nonsense with Unions yielding millions of votes from their members by proxy, then the Leader steps down.
    It wouldn’t necessarily apply to when Labour was in power, because a PM is actually an appointment by the Monarch and not the Party, but the Party could make life difficult for a unpopular Leader that refuses to step down.

  4. Tafia says:

    Madas – neither the membership nor theven the voter can change the PM.

    The mebership can chnge the leader – and the leader is not necessarily the PM.

    Never, in the entire history of UK politics, has any PM (or Cabinet Minister) been voted in. There is no requirement – they are appointment posts not electoral ones – you don’t need to ber an MP, you don’t even need to be a party member.

  5. Landless Peasant says:

    Scrap the Bedroom Tax, scrap Universal Credit, scrap UJM, scrap Benefit Sanctions , and you might win next time.

  6. Madasafish says:


    What you say is strictly correct. But in the real world….

    Just imagine in real life what would happen if the PM was not an MP.. There would be all hell to pay.. I suspect the Queen might refuse to deal with the PM on those grounds.
    It would at best be impossible to run. PM’s Question Time would be fun without a PM…

    Why bother with Parliament then?

  7. Tafia says:

    Just imagine in real life what would happen if the PM was not an MP..

    Alec Douglas-Home and there were others before him.

    Incidentally, there is not even a requiremnt for a PM so long as Cabinet (not Parliament) is happy to run without one.

  8. John P Reid says:

    Well said Tafia,Ex labour and Swatantra
    Madasafish, Scargill lost all power he had to influence labour after he lost the strike, so even during the strike when Kinnock couldn’t back Scargill, I can’t see him ever doing it
    say Scargill wanted to get rid of Foot, and get in Benn,actually had Benn win the deputy leadership, in 81 he could have ousted Foot himself, but the idea as in this article to get of a rid of a leader who looks like they’re going to lose, although, Blair, Charles Clarkr, Andtew Mckinlay all said Miliband was going to lose, apart from john Rentiul, Dan Hodges how many spoke out for him to stand down ,no one,

    Another point would be ,in other times when we’ve had reforming opposition leaders, who may have h ad poll leads only to lose and to stay on Gaitskell etc, if he’d been ousted, who’d have replaced him Geirge brown, the idea if a reformer came in upset his own side, that the party may oust him, would be a mistake, especially if he was replaced by someone swinging us to the left,and opposition again,

  9. larkworthywill says:

    why don’t you just elect the right leader in the first place and choose someone who will push forward bold policies and enthuse the electorate?

  10. Matthew Blott says:

    I see the pub bore calling himself ‘Ex Labour’ has returned. I called him Never Was Labour but he insists he did vote Labour but once voting for Tony Blair doesn’t fit the username. I once voted Tory as a protest vote against my local council but I wouldn’t call myself ‘ex Tory’.

  11. Ex labour says:

    @ Blott on the landscape

    Good to see you back old chap. I’ve also been reading your leftie sad bollox on other forums. Keep up the good work.

    When are you going to learn…..the public dont want Labour in its current guise ?

  12. Tafia says:

    why don’t you just elect the right leader in the first place and choose someone who will push forward bold policies and enthuse the electorate?

    Because Farage is already in UKIP and Sturgeon is already in the SNP.

  13. John P Reid says:

    Tafia, good point

  14. Bob says:

    Can we have a referendum in Liverpool about firing you then Joe.

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