If you didn’t see defeat coming, you don’t know how politics works

by Ian McKenzie

We lost the 2015 general election in September 2010 and probably also the 2020 one as well. The result was bad for Labour but catastrophic for the millions of people who rely on us to look after their interests.

We let them down, and badly. If the Labour party – a major controlling proportion of it – doesn’t rapidly accept that the only chance to make amends is to stand in the centre ground, shoulder to shoulder with, listening to, working for the British people, and fight and win elections from there, then it will cease to exist and it will deserve to die.

Without the will and the means to win elections we are irrelevant. We might as well be Compass. Or a whelk stall.

As a strong supporter of the first decade of the last Labour government I am not crowing about being right about Ed Miliband; I’m angry and despairing and frightened of the consequences of his disastrous leadership. The whole grisly mess was predictable and predicted and all avoidable.

I can’t count the number of conversations I had with Labour people who agreed that we’d picked the wrong leader not just because he was clearly not up to the job, but also because his chosen strategy was so obviously bonkers.

Reshaping international capitalism in Labour’s image as if in an academic seminar, and simply hoping this newly left leaning British public followed us out to that lunatic fringe, sounded, to sane people, exactly like what it was: palpable nonsense.

It was also a gift to the people who are habitually used to running this country: the Tories, who are wasting no time moving to the right. By 12th September, when we have a new leader, they will have shifted the ground on us yet again.

To so-called anti-Tory luvvies in the Greens, what is left of the liberals, the hard left, the “real” socialists, the stay-at-homes, and spiteful proto-racist narrow nationalists in both Celtic fringes who thought they were going to get a supine minority Labour government to hold to ransom, I say you are wrong. There is a massive difference between the Tories and the Labour party and you are about to discover how different in the most painful way possible.

If the effects weren’t also going to be felt by millions of decent people as well, I’d say you deserve everything you get. But when you feel the effects start to bite you don’t come crying to us, we voted Labour.

The day after Gordon Brown lost us the last election I left a message on Andy Burnham’s mobile phone urging him to stand for leader.

I supported his candidacy because I believed he understood why we had lost, because he was (then, not now!) the most Blairite of all the candidates and because he would be best able to unify the party and appeal to most people across the whole country.

I knew he would be unlikely to win and I put what I assumed would be the eventual winner, David Miliband, at No 2 on my ballot paper and left it at that.

And then came Ed Miliband’s list of apologies for the crimes of the last Labour government, and his plan for permanent opposition. His whole ridiculous array of arrogance and hubris, taken together, made me so angry I resolved to put his name at the bottom of the ballot paper.

The only way to do that was fill the No 3 and 4 slots with Ed Balls and Diane Abbott. I took a picture of my completed ballot paper because I knew this day would come and I knew no one would believe me.

Ian Mckenzie ballot

Ed Miliband was the answer, I kept being told, because he had managed to do what no other leader had achieved after an election defeat, namely to prevent the party from turning in on itself and indulging in internecine strife. “He kept the party together.”

Give me strength.

No, no he didn’t. We kept the party together. We Labour right-wingers in our thousands who are loyal and disciplined and who know that internal division only distracts from the task of winning elections and thereby benefits external forces, like the Tories.

I had conversations with countless people, scores of ordinary activists and scores of Labour MPs, including many frontbenchers, who all said we can’t win with this leader but we have to get behind him. All of us kept our counsel.

I have supported every leader of my party since I joined in 1981 and I have never publicly criticised one on anything, aside from the shaming Syria vote in 2013. We all loyally resolved to do our best for our party despite its leader, and then we hoped for the best.

And now we are told that no one saw it coming. I’ve lost count of the number of times I said the Tories would win a majority. And yet the bookies, the pundits – Dan Hodges aside – and the wider media all said that a hung parliament was inevitable and the Tories couldn’t win.

Too many people who mattered signed up to the Toynbee Tendency. If only, Polly argued, we articulated forcibly enough how truly awful the Tories were then people had to see it, victory would be ours. Last year, I watched in mounting horror, as she and her husband were the guest speakers at a Labour candidate’s fundraising dinner. As they took turns reading paragraphs from this horror story, all around me were incredulous Labour MPs, staffers and activists with dropped jaws and widened eyes.

Now, at last, can we in the Labour party please at least stop taking anything Polly Toynbee says seriously?

I had a row with a Green leafleting outside a railway station the week before polling day, the parliamentary candidate himself. I told him if we ended up with a Tory government then the Greens, Liberals and SNP would all share some of the blame. “The Tories can’t win a majority”, he said. “We’ll know soon enough”, I said.

I had several rows with a couple of SNP friends (yes, I have three). They are decent people not like the SNP leadership who pretended to want a minority Labour government while all the time hoping and working for the Tory majority government that is going to advance their cause of Scottish separation.

My friends sincerely and genuinely thought that a Tory government wasn’t possible and wanted to hold a minority Labour government’s feet to the fire in the interests of Scotland. In vain I argued that taking 40 seats off the Labour Party in Scotland while urging the Welsh to vote WNP and the English to vote Green, as Sturgeon brazenly did, would only help give us a Tory government.

We saw this horrible defeat coming when Miliband was elected leader. We saw it coming with his every blundering, supposedly self-serving apology for the most successful Labour government in history, though such apologies served no one but the Tories.

When Ed Miliband dumped on the Iraq war policy (more of which in another post) and our housing policy, for example, he dumped also on the National Minimum Wage, the reduction in NHS operation waiting times, civil partnerships, 50%+1 trade union recognition and many hundreds more. Look at a list of the 1997-2007 achievements. Staggering in number and scope, they changed millions of people’s lives for the better.

That’s millions of real people with millions of real votes. Healthy acknowledgment of past mistakes and a determination to correct errors does not require wholesale defaecation on the Labour brand. It was a mistake to send people onto the doorsteps with a script like this:

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”

“The Labour Party”

“What do you want?”

“To ask you to vote for a Labour Government.”

“Why should I do that?”

“Because the last one we had really screwed things up. Here’s a list.”

No, anyone with any sense saw this coming. We saw it coming when the former Secretary of State who’d authorised Heathrow’s new runway came out against it a few weeks later in the hope of attracting a few more left wing, greenish votes in the leadership election.

We saw it coming when Unite’s kill order on David Miliband was issued. Left-wingers, they know who they are, who had told me they were genuinely open-minded in early summer of 2010, had by September become members of Ed Miliband’s cult. It was quite a phenomenon, and I’m someone who normally understands how peer pressure works in politics.

I became more of a figure of fun than I usually am among left and left-leaning friends, who voted for him. Their every criticism of the leader and his team and their works would provoke the reaction from me “don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him.” Sometimes, I wouldn’t even have to say it for someone would say it for me.

And then the tide turned. A couple of years ago the weekly, sometimes daily, embarrassment from the leadership would be followed not by mockery of me but by an averting of eyes and a shrug.

Then came the irritation with their own error. Then came the looks over the shoulder followed by the whispered confessions: “I’m starting to think I should have done what you did and voted for Andy Burnham.”

Of course we saw it coming. We saw it coming when, after his resignation, Alan Johnson’s sensible line on the top rate of tax was replaced with “50% in perpetuity”.

Once more for those in the balcony: “THERE’S NOTHING SOCIALIST ABOUT HIGH TAXES’.

We saw this coming when Miliband mounted a stage with Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage on the wrong side of the AV debate when the vast majority of his shadow cabinet, parliamentary party, Labour councillors and wider membership, and two-thirds of voters in the referendum disagreed with him.

We saw it coming when Miliband put the Labour party on the wrong side of the EU referendum debate. Most of his Shadow Cabinet disagreed yet he steadfastly refused to see the obvious.

Ian Austin MP saw it. His Dudley North seat was a key target for UKIP. Ian came out three years ago for an EU referendum. He held off the UKIP surge and his majority went up by 3,532.

We saw this coming when we telegraphed an energy price freeze 18 months in advance (allowing the industry to game it) and did so just before the oil price halved. Statutory control of all sorts of markets was back on the agenda in some 1970s throwback.

We saw this coming with every attempt to ignore political common sense; Dan Hodges rightly calls it gravity. And it wasn’t just an inept leader with a ridiculous political strategy and lots of policy mistakes. Basic amateurish presentational errors were made.

The check list for any political visit or event is a long one but after “get the boss on the right train” are “make them read the briefing”, “tell them who runs the council they are going to visit” and “never, ever let them eat on camera”.

The Edstone was such a monumental blunder (arf) I thought at first it was a Photoshop spoof. It’s been done to death now but the best analysis is Stone Daft by advertising’s Dave Trott.

The Russell Brand extravaganza was the worst. The man is a self-regarding, self-obsessed delusional clown, a political neophyte, and going anywhere near him much less paying him homage in his own home, and on camera, his camera, was bonkers.

All sorts of strange ideas are bandied around in campaign meetings, “no idea too stupid”, and all that. That’s what brainstorming’s for. But someone was supposed to say: “even if it’s a good idea, and it’s not, don’t you think we should have done it before voter registration closed?”

Communing with Russell “Don’t Vote” Brand wasn’t cool; it wasn’t big or funny and didn’t reach out to anyone except the pre pubescent morons without votes who look up to him. Serious voters thought it made us look stupid. Maybe we should have called the Labour’s 2015 manifesto “Our votey wotey booky wooky”.

You either saw the tragedy coming. Or you pretended you didn’t. Or you just don’t understand how politics works. I saw it coming in 2010 and decided to put £100 on it back in January. I’m still kicking myself for not getting another £100 on at 10-1 on the Tuesday before polling day. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of my betting slips.

Ian Mckenzie betting slip

And we can see what comes next as well. The Tories are in full pomp, the wind at their backs and setting course for their minimal state. Every day is another item from their first 100 days checklist. The Human Rights Act, the electoral boundaries, immigration, repeal of the hunting ban, the welfare state, a federal state, the BBC charter, employment rights. They will be just the start. We won’t just need 8.75% at the next election it’ll be 12% or higher once the boundary changes take place.

I despair. I went to the Progress conference at the weekend, normally an event to cheer me up no end. The leadership candidates at the hustings all did well, they are all serious politicians and all have something to commend them.

But the only hearty cheers were for Dan Jarvis and Jim Murphy neither of who, sadly, is in contention for the Labour Leadership. I was told to cheer up and remember that a few weeks after 1992 we were back in the ascendant and at the next election achieved the biggest majority in history. I replied that this was before 1997-2007 when we showed how it could be done. And before we lost Scotland. We’ve had our Blair and he’s gone and he’s not coming back. And nor is anyone close to being as good as he was.

But we do have to pick a new leader. I am finding it hard. It’s the first leadership election when I haven’t been certain. My support for Andy last time has gone with McLuskey’s endorsement and his SNP talks comment.

I think it has to be Liz Kendall. I am much enthused by her policies, her attitude, her performance and those backing her. And Hopi Sen is a very wise man; like him I can see her as Prime Minister. And yet Charlie Falconer and Michael Dugher are backing Andy. But so is Len McLuskey. The best demolition of that contemptible man is from Nick Cohen who shows that Unite is now Labour’s enemy.

The next four months are going to be interesting, though why we have to drag it out again is beyond me. The country only needed five weeks to decide who it wanted in charge. Why does Labour party need three times as long? Why give the Tories a head start in defining the last parliament and cement their attack lines as we did in 2010? But that’s a whole other story.

Ian McKenzie was a Special Adviser to Ann Taylor MP and John Prescott MP

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49 Responses to “If you didn’t see defeat coming, you don’t know how politics works”

  1. John P Reid says:

    Quite Alot to take in here, people from Swatatnra and Rod Lifdle who backed Andy voted for Daine Abbott as a higher choice than Ed Miliband

    as someone who voted for Andy and Ed as my first two choices last time, I have to say, that I’m backing Liz this time, and Andy will be one of my last choices

    This article has alot of great points .whyAndy is Avery nice man,I spoke to him backing him at the time and told him last week why i didn’t think he should stand

  2. John P Reid says:

    Jim Callaghan stood for Labur leader in 1963, Many people like Tony Crossland backed him,he lost ,and Wilson became leader,corssland believed Callaghan would have been the better leader ,so he backed George brown as his second choice,then in 76 Callghan stood again Crossland backed Healey,Callaghan won,but wasn’t strong enough to stop the winter of Discontent,

    There’s the similarity ,Burnham would have been the best leader we never had last time,but isnt right now, he should Let there be a contest between anew generation, not neccasarily Blairites, Gloria or Emma Reynolds being good choices,

  3. swatantra says:

    The best article on Uncut this week which reflects my own thinking.
    Any idiot could see defeat looming on the horizon but nobody had the guts to speak out and challenge the Leader and force an election a year after he was appointed. We had to go through a charade for 4 years.
    Secondly Liz is too lightweight, and Andy has had more experience in the rough and tumble of politics. And just because McClusky has the audacity to support Andy doesn’t mean that And likes him or his support. Andy is the Unity candidate trying to unite the warring factions of the Party together. It can be done it has to be done. I was going to say that we can’t choose our supporters just in the same way as we can’t choose our employers ie I noticed that Ian was an advisor to Prescott, and I loathe Prescott, but we have to put up with him. In the same way we have to put up with McCluskey.

  4. GeorgeM says:

    It SHOULD be 12% because the boundary changes SHOULD take place. Labour’s gerrymandering of the boundaries sees labour safe seats with as much as 30,000 voters fewer than safe Conservative seats. Northern cities are MASSIVELY over-represented in parliament.

  5. tyronen says:

    I have read many bitter, angry, and smug articles and posts since the election, but this has to rank as the most mean and arrogant one of all.

    There was an economic meltdown in the last Labour government. There was a recovery, albeit a weak one, under the Tories. All students of political science know how dominant the economy is over voter perceptions.

    Do you really believe David Miliband could have beaten the economic fundamentals by offering lower taxes on the rich, offering an EU referendum he’d likely lose, and bragging about the very government that lost the 2010 election?

    And defending the Iraq war in 2005 is bad enough, but no sane person would defend it in 2010, let alone 2015. Hell, George W. Bush himself has admitted he made a mistake.

  6. DblEntry says:

    Absolutely love this post.

  7. neu75 says:

    If you’re using Nick Cohen as leverage in your argument for Liz Kendall then she and you deserve to fail…

  8. Will says:

    ok the next five years ( or ten or twenty) will be awful. However life in fifty to one hundred years could be Much worse if we don’t take serious action against climate change. Labour Hardly mentioned it, neither did any of the other party’s.
    oK it didn’t feature much in the Greens campaign either, but at least they tried.
    If Labour could take this imperative issue seriously, rather than just giving lip service to measures needed, maybe we Green voters could support you.
    How ever you would have to drop any idea of new airport runways anywhere.

  9. Jen The Blue says:

    Labour lost because England is not a socialist country. Scotland is, but it is much easier to be a socialist when somebody else pays the tab.

    You are right to ignore everything Polly Toynbee says…..you should never pay attention to someone with her wealth and privilege who tells you she knows what is best for aspiring people.

    The policies of Ed Miliband you are so keen to ditch are socialist policies.

    I have two weeks nearly to gloat now and I am pretty well “gloated out”.

    Labour won’t be power for a generation…if ever again. Maybe some SDP type party will emerge from the wreckage of Labour and the Liberals?

    Who knows? Who cares so long as the politics of envy and revenge are gone from our country.

  10. George S says:

    until the left stop calling the torys evil for almost no reason
    until the left stop trying to pretend they can spend on everything with no ramifications
    until the left realize that britain isnt ever going to buy into socialism in a hard left way
    until the left realize that CARING about the whole world while ignoring british peoples concerns is a political suicide note
    until the left get it that a metropolitan elite has ZERO clue about what the majority of voters want…

    … labour are going to lose. Its not about chukka or len or tony or gordon … its about the fact that you still try to define ourselves in tory evil us good terms and no-one believes that any more. this isnt the early 1800’s.
    you need credible policies that arent the same as france (Ed, they were obviously failing) or venezuela (owen jones, good god! were you kidding?). Till then labour are now in the political wasteland.

  11. Frederick James says:

    Magnificent, self-aware piece. I’m not a Labour supporter but with thoughtful people like this in the party perhaps it has some future. Or perhaps there will need to be a new party.

    Only one fault to find. You said this:

    “I can’t count the number of conversations I had with Labour people who agreed that we’d picked the wrong leader not just because he was clearly not up to the job, but also because his chosen strategy was so obviously bonkers”

    which stopped short of the truth, which is that EdM was (and presumably still is) in and of himself stark staring bonkers, not just his strategy. Ed presumably thinks his failure is down to False Consciousness on the part of the electorate but you guys are equally guilty of self-delusion because you didn’t just elect a dud, you elected a nutcase. His candidacy was driven by some queer family psychodrama and you lot either got caught up in it all or simply acquiesced; either way you are all complicit.

    Worst of all are 100% of the leadership contenders, who until 7 May were trying to foist upon the country a mad programme and a leader whom they knew was, to put it mildly, more than one standard deviation from the mean; yet all are suddenly trying to persuade us that they knew this all along (despite supporting him) but we can trust them now, honest. Do you think we are ALL stupid? Are you ALL mad?

    The conclusion of your article should be to repent utterly your party’s contempt for the intelligence of ordinary voters. But I can’t see that happening any time soon.

  12. Tafia says:

    If moving to the centre would have won the election, then how come the tories got a majority by moving right to a position further right than Thatcher at here peak and 4 million people – more than half from socio-economic group DE (ie Labour core) voted for UKIP who are even more right than that.

    I don’t think left right or centre had anything to do with it. It was the message that was wrong – not the way it was presented, but the actual message itself.

    Three elections on the bounce now that Labour has polled below 10 million despite the electoral base getting bigger.

    Personally I reckon Labour would have sneaked it if they’d offered a referendum and stringent immigration controls. but they didn’t – so they got what they deserved basically.

  13. In the end, when all the talking stopped, and they were faced with the ballot paper too many people saw in their minds eye Ed struggling with a bacon sandwich and voted ABL (anything but Labour). Conservative, Green, SNP, UKIP even (God help us) a few LibDem. Most voters aren’t that bothered by or informed about policy nuances. It’s imagery that counts. Brown was in many ways a better man than Blair. But he trailed Blair by a country mile in brand approval. Ed’s brand picked up a bit by all media reports and polls. Bullshit. Dan Hodges got it right all along and most of the rest of us got it wrong. Ed was a loser from day one. Under his leadership Scotland was lost and he conceded a 99 seat deficit at Westminster to the Conservatives. That takes some doing. If the Conservatives do a half decent job over the next 5 years they will win comfortably in 2020. What to do? I’ve no bloody idea frankly.

  14. Ringstone says:

    Odd how many in Labour knew the game was up but kept quiet through “loyalty”, though you can’t argue with the betting slips! Maybe that’s why the Tories are the “natural party of Government”; ruthlessness. If Wallace had been Tory leader he’d have been knifed and replaced in short order, if they did it to Maggie once she lost her grip they’d do it to anyone.

  15. sammy gravano says:

    catastrophic for the millions of people who rely on us to look after their interests.


    You really have to lose this hubris.

    Labour got smashed – and guess what, the world is still revolving on its axis.

  16. Anders says:

    The party which brought us the deficit, mid-Staffs, Rotherham (and several similar) and seemingly unlimited immigration still wondering why they lost…

  17. London says:

    Hear hear for Liz Kendall. She comes across very well. And I am bored of being an apologetic Labour rightwinger. We’ve had our mea culpa’s that our man took us into the Iraq war (which I profoundly disagreed with). Done them. Time to stand up for the people who need us.

  18. Jamie says:

    One week after Miliband Minor announced his rent cap policy my landlord sent me notice of a £55 a month increase in the rent on the tiny flat I try to live in. I’m now re-budgeting my spending for less food and lower energy and water usage.

    Go to hell, Miliband. I will never, ever, ever vote Labour gain. Your arrogance and ideological stupidity will drive me to a food bank – while you attack the Tories for doing the same.

  19. Tafia says:

    voted ABL (anything but Labour). Conservative, Green, SNP, UKIP even (God help us) a few LibDem.

    Has it not yet dawned on you that people voted for the other parties because they preferred what they were saying? Do you seriously think you aregoing to get many of the voters you lost to the SNP back? Or the core DE blue collar ones you lost to UKIP?

    Your policies were crap pure and simple – you weren’t pitching to your core you were pitching to the middle class and ignoring your core. They aren’t going to vote for policies they don’t want just because you mumble drunken rubbish about tory bogey-men. It might surprise you, but the blue collar blue Labour voters that you lost don’t like europe, want far far stricter immigration controls than you were offering, weren’t arsed in the slightest about Sturgeon or Scotland, like the idea of right-to-buy and support benefit sanctions and capping. So if you want your core to come back, you know what message to preach.

  20. David Walker says:

    A very good article. Here is a 5-point plan for Labour to follow, if they genuinely seek power and don’t just want to be a debating society.

    1. Stop talking to each other about why Labour lost the election. To be fair, there is increasing evidence that no real autopsy is taking place and the usual suspects are just fighting like rats in a sack for endorsements. However, if this is not so, Labour needs to be talking to the people who did not vote for it and asking them why. Swing voters in seats that actually matter. Ordinary people who don’t really care about politics and who treat election day as just another chore. Find a way of getting the voters to tell the truth to you. What they told the pollsters turned out to be a load of rubbish. Why is that? Are they frightened about what might happen to them, if they express a desire to vote Tory?

    2. Get a leader with several years of meaningful experience in the private-sector. They don’t need to have run a business. They just need to have worked for a company that has nothing at all to do with the public-sector (private-sector firms that rely on public-sector contracts won’t cut it). Even if it’s just working in a shop, being self-employed with a trade, or whatever. Just any job that isn’t with a law-firm.

    3. Stop banging-on about Eton and the Bullingdon Club. Voters don’t care about this. They don’t hate posh people. They care about what somebody does, not their background. Boris Johnson is just about the most-popular politician in the UK. Working-class Yvette Cooper is loathed. Both are just doing what they think is right, but the British people will never warm to anybody with a personality like Cooper.

    4. Accept that you can’t get everything you want in politics. It is a long slow game where reverses are as common as successes and few victories are achieved without compromise. You might hate Blair, but he got Labour in power for long enough to change many things. I very-much doubt that Labour would have lost in 2010, if he wasn’t ousted. You might care about Iraq, but the average swing voter in Nuneaton has no interest in the Middle-East. Most felt that they did alright under New-Labour. They felt the same way about the Tories in 1992 and gave them another chance after a tough recession. There are many Tories who are outraged with Cameron’s social-democratic policies (at least that is how they see them). They hold their noses and back him, because they know he is one of the few people who can prevent them getting a Labour government.

    5. Accept that the voters made the right choice on May 7th. They have a long history of getting it right. The British voter may act like a drunk that wants to be everybody’s mate, during the campaign, but they will wake up on election day stone-cold sober. There was only one credible party and only one credible leader, for the English to vote for in this election. Many will have cast their vote with a heavy heart, but they are not going to feel guilty about it when they had no other real choice. Labour was unelectable.

  21. Paul says:

    Yet ANOTHER Labour supporter who “knew all along that we were going to lose” and “that we had the wrong leader” — Perlease, you got caught with your trousers down, and you’re all trying to say you knew better! WHY didn’t you say it BEFORE the electorate rejected you.
    By the way, I see all the current contenders are adopting this same strategy and denial.

  22. oLD bOSS says:

    “The result was bad for Labour but catastrophic for the millions of people who rely on us to look after their interests.”

    Labour hasn’t looked after anyone’s interests bar it’s own since 1997.

  23. george says:

    You’re still trying to convince everyone that a Tory government is something ordinary people should be terrified of – this is exactly what the voters dismissed when they elected them a couple of weeks ago.

  24. Michael says:

    Excellent article, you could also add Owen Jones to the list of Toynbees no longer to be listened to. The leaked doorstep strategy which said when immigration comes up ‘move the conversation on’ to say that it si not the problem the problem is availability of low cost housing, not enough jobs, not enough doctors appointments etc and Ed has the answers. It is lifted from Owen’s book ‘Chavs’ chapter ‘backlash’. It is ridiculous approach and clearly failed. A commitment to continue the current policies to prevent low skilled migrants and minimum income requirement for marriage would have killed this as an issue. Instead a policy was introduced to increase border guards as human bean counters it is meaningless if there is no commitment to reduce numbers of the unskilled. Finally put a nebulous commitment on mugs and on the Edstone with this being decried by Diane Abbot and the left wing undermined even this modest policy. The Labour party has one very big long term issue, left radicals seem to be getting approved for the extremely safe seats with Unite strong arming their vetted candidates in. Many would not be electable in a marginal seat this leads to the party that does not even represent the Labour party.

  25. Rob says:

    A lot of good, honest wisdom here. Unfortunately it’s undermined by the offensive reference to Plaid Cymru and SNP voters as “spiteful proto-racist narrow nationalists”.

    Labour has historically enjoyed strong support in Wales. That we have lost that support says more about the recent failings of the party than the motives of people who voted Plaid.

    I’m a Cardiff boy who now lives in the West Midlands (Ian Austin’s turf, actually!). I’ve never voted anything but Labour in my life but had I not felt I could support the party the only option would have been Green (Plaid not being on the ballot paper in Dudley) or a protest vote.

    There is more to the election results than nationalism, Labour need to attract support from all over the UK and stop blaming the SNP for this Tory government.

  26. James says:

    I am in no way a Labour supporter and never was even during the glory years of Blair, but this is a superbly observed piece. If only there were people with this amount of common sense and awareness at the top of the party now they would still be a genuine electable proposition.

    I thought much of the abuse levelled at Ed during his tenureship was mean-spirited and unfair. He’s a genuinely nice man and I found myself warming to him even more as a human being during the closing days of the campaign. But his political agenda had all the intellectual weight of the sixth form common room. It was never going to be the basis for government, sorry.

  27. ATF says:

    Congratulations for being so very right and being so very noble in helping to keep the Labour party united during the last five years. By not saying anything, along with those who agreed with you, in a serious, public manner you now get to write articles like this – well done.

    The Labour party won three large majorities against a backdrop of the LibDem vote rising – to put any blame on the result on LibDem voters (who still have plenty of reasons to not vote Labour) is to pass the blame on to a group of voters who did not win you elections between 1997-2005. Five years of pictures showing how very right you were is utterly pointless – you didn’t stand’t up and say anything at the time, and neither did a Labour MP. You have yourselves to blame. Deal with it.

  28. Twinkle says:

    The 21st century will be the nasty century making it a match for the nasty party.
    Long gone are the days when economic growth could be expected to more than match unfunded liabilities allowing increased spending year on year.
    For the future up to 2040 and beyond unfunded liabilities will rise far faster than economic growth http://www.bis.org/publ/work300.pdf
    We are part of the lowest growth are in the world so we will not escape rising debt through growth.
    Financialization means the real economy is permanently put on the back burner as returns from investment are low. Investing in markets has a much higher return. Finanicialization drives increasing inequality and low growth http://people.virginia.edu/~ar7kf/Media/NYT%20-%20Bruce%20Bartlett%20-%20Financialization%20as%20a%20Cause%20of%20Economic%20Malaise.pdf

    UK productivity is falling. The way to increase productivity is more investment but financialization has stopped that http://www.res.org.uk/details/mediabrief/6194611/THE-GREAT-BRITISH-JOBS-AND-PRODUCTIVITY-MYSTERY.html

    I suspect all this will mean cuts followed by more cuts into the future to prevent debt soaring out of sight.

    No political party has accepted the reality of the UK economic situation though increasingly the public are aware that today’s life chances for the many are worse than in the past and heading downhill. Few young today expect to ever be able to afford their own home. Most jobs for the young have little or no future potential – dead end jobs galore.

    Labour hankers after a past where there was plenty of money to spend on new projects.

    This has gone if not forever then at least for many many future decades. The combination of financialization (i.e. working just for the 1% aiding low productivity in the real economy), being the lowest growth area in the world, plus rising debt plus ageing demographics seals our future.

  29. Andy says:

    Disagree with much of the post, but broadly agree with the conclusion. Liz Kendall potentially offers the break with the past we need and the ability to communicate. Andy Burnham would be my second choice.

    What I don’t agree with is that Ed was too left wing. He lost for two main reasons. Firstly, he just never projected the image of a potential prime minister, simply wasn’t a person that the electorate really connected with. Secondly, the Labour strategy for this election was outrageously poor from a long way out. It seemed like the plan was to say as little as possible and rely on the Tories to hang themselves. The frustration at watching the party do so little to rebut the Tories or repudiate their policies was terrible. And when they did it was all bad slogans and buzzwords – like an episode of In the thick of it. Simply inept. Talk to people, don’t fling slogans at them.

  30. K J says:

    What really annoys me is how the labour leadership took us all for fools, and now are still trying to maintain any shred of credibility by de facto admitting that they were overtly, blatantly lying to us all, all along.

    They are all telling us now what was wrong with the message, the policies and the people over the last 5 years, and that they knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. They are all now passionately opposing the very things they were passionately supporting only a few weeks ago. How utterly stupid does the labour party leadership think the voting public are?

    How stupid do labour voters now feel, knowing that your leadership was lying to you all along? Conning you all along? NONE of the current candidates for leader opposed the last labour strategy, tactics or policies, which that are all now criticising, despite knowing they were rubbish.

    To listen to them now, they are all desperately trying to steal the tory, and UKIP’s manifestos as if they really believed in them all the while when they were passionately attacking them. Who knows, perhaps they did support UKIP’s actual policies, and that is why labour blatantly and repeatedly told utterly ridiculous lies about them.

    Either labour were lying then, or they are lying now, or both!

    And they think the voters will ever think that labour are trustworthy? Labour are a sick joke. A joke on the British people and most of all a sick joke on their own supporters.

    Honestly, if you voted labour because you believed their campaign promises, how stupid and used do you feel now?

  31. Madasafish says:

    What this article basically says is that the upper echelons of the Labour Party are not to be believed.

    The actions of Burnham and Cooper in rushing to disagree with teh policies of Miliband – who was their Leader less than 3 weeks ago – say the same.
    Surely the Labour Party is not a party of lemmings who all jump blindly over the same cliff together? Apparently it is.

    Neither the Conservatives nor the LibDems would be so mad as to do that. There would always be voices of dissent..

    It seems to me that the Labour Party has become like clockwork machine politics. Wind it up, point it in any direction and watch it crash and burn.

    It needs a change of direction and personnel . A TOTAL change.

    You appear so anxious to present unity that any judgement and common sense flies out of the window…

    Any organisation run like this is bound to fail.

  32. Patrick says:

    Dear oh dear

    I’ll state it firmly and bluntly. If the choice is between Conservatives and the kind of politics that can include the bitter, smug likes of McKenzie, I’m going to chose emigration. If this is the best the country has to offer, I can’t waste any more of my time on that country.

  33. Dadad says:

    Do we want to see a Labour government ever again ? Hell, no!

  34. anyfool says:

    Labours rise in ethnic voter base will be reflected in its losses among non ethnics, that its membership is now almost 50% ethnic, mainly Muslim, it can no longer represent the country as a whole.
    Importing a replacement voter base from the under educated in the Third World, was the great act of folly, by anyone ever in the history of political opportunism.
    Andrew Neather in reporting this shameful act was soon brushed away because of fear of being labelled a racist, but as Labour has found over the last three elections, the secret ballot nullifies fear, its only weapon.

    You can as someone once said, put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig, Labour was in 97 given a massive mandate, ever since then it has abused the people who gifted it, it deserves to die a cruel death and it will.

  35. paul barker says:

    Labour were really lucky this time because the polls got it so wrong. The Tories were the only ones with the money & will to fund the very expensive polling that gave them an idea of the truth. They could have published their polls & destroyed Labour but that wouldnt have got them a majority, for that they had to take Libdem seats. The whole “Election on a knife-edge” narrative allowed them to squeeze the Libdems & take Labour seats.
    I am a Libdem, I cant give you advice but I do wonder if all this anger is worth it ? Isnt it clear now that there are 2 Labour Parties, wouldnt a “Velvet Divorce” be better than civil war ?

  36. John says:

    “The result was bad for Labour but catastrophic for the millions of people who rely on us to look after their interests.”

    Oh the arrogance! The smug, self righteous and pretentious moral superiority! That deep, deep unquestioned self regard from believing that your opinions are validated purely by your own innate sense of virtue. Virtue that you alone embody – solely and self-evidently on account of your compassion and your desire to perfect the world.

    “We let them down, and badly.” Yes you have but not in the way you think.

    “If you destroy the livelihoods of the working class by opening our borders to millions of unskilled labourers from Europe, then destroy their chances of ever owning a home because aforementioned foreign labourers also need somewhere to live, and then you limit their access to high quality healthcare because aforementioned foreign labourers also have some healthcare needs (which the system doesn’t have the capacity to service) and then you remove the school place for their child because the aforementioned foreign labourers also have children that need to go to school – don’t be surprised if they vote for someone else!”

    You lost and you deserved to lose because you shat all over the people who relied on you to look after their interests.

  37. John P Reid says:

    George M. To win the 1987 election labour needed a 10% swing , relying on the fact the 83 election here was a 5% lower turnout than 1979. And we could hold hope the fall in the vote by 3.2 million in 1983 was partly due to some labour voters staying at home,
    The ex-labour voters who went to the SDP, while hoping some voters who backed the Tories in 79 equally stuck with the SDP after going to them in 1983,

    Plus of course getting back Voters who went to the Tories in 1979′

    This can be divided into 3 classes, the ex labour voters on Middle England who having voted labour many a time, could bring themselves to vote labour, the spring working class who backed the Tories and those who went to back a third party,

    Three examples that Could be used to describe ,the voters we need to get back now, the difference is getting back labour voters who went to the SDP, is different to getting back voters who went to Ukip,

    Trynonen , In 2010 Emily Thornberry came to our constituency to back Ed Miliband, as I drive go her to the hustings, I pointed out,that in outer London when it comes to Iraq, no one cares about Iraq,so knocking David Miliband,and supporting Ed, it would be counter productive to knock those who backed Iraq,in backing Sadiq, for Mayor, I said the same to him last month,as people don’t care about it,and reminding members that Tessa voted for it,wasn’t the way to get the nomination,

    Jen the value, how many elections have the Tories got more Han 36% of the vote out of the last 5 elections, answer none,

    Nwu75′ , Nick Cohen ,wasn’t he the one subject to anti semeticism,after criticizing Hussein and Iraq,all he did was point out that Livingstine surrounded himself with people who lined their pockets,he didn’t actually endorse Boris,

    Paddy Briggs,Tafia put you in place but ex labour voters who vote elsewhere, have to have something to like,it’s like not voting labour in 83′ most of those who did it, felt that the Tories had at least dine some good, even if the times were hard.

    Well said London,

    aTF, quite,
    Madasafish, can’t make out what you mean sorry,

    Any fool,why did labour misuse its mandate, it stuck to its policies in 97 , and was reflected easily in 2001

  38. Tafia says:

    I argued that taking 40 seats off the Labour Party in Scotland while urging the Welsh to vote WNP and the English to vote Green, as Sturgeon brazenly did, would only help give us a Tory government.

    What a dork. Plaid Cymru does not translate as WNP (indeed WNP is registered at the Electoral Commission by a far right English group). Plaid Cymru means party of Wales so if anything, it’s anglicised abbreviation is PW. Then there’;s the little matter of arithmatic (never Labour’s strongpoint I know). If Labour had taken every seat in Scotland – all of them, it would still have lost. If Labour had taken every seat in Wales as well, the tories would still have had more seats and the Lib Dems would almost certainly have gone straight back into coalition with them. Labour didn’t lose the election in Scotland and/or Wales. It lost it – very very badly, in England where, to be frankl, people haven’t got the time of day for you.

    The Russell Brand extravaganza was the worst. The man is a self-regarding, self-obsessed delusional clown, a political neophyte You omitted to mention he has more persona than Labour’s entire front bench combined and the number of young adults that listen to himn dwarfs both Miliband and Cameron combined. There’s a message there.

    spiteful proto-racist narrow nationalists in both Celtic fringes. What complete and utter f***ing drivel. So you are calling the black and asian voters of Scotland and Wales racist are you? And the jewish, islamic, bhuddhist etc? And the resident English that vote for them? With those words you show yourself to be a complete and utter tool who has no idea what he is ion about. Labour won’t get Scotland back unless it completely separates Scottish Labour from tmain Labour, supports the separation of the STUC from the TUC and supports a policy of FFA for Scotland with total political autonomy. Other than that, independence is now only a matter of time.

    Ian McKenzie was a Special Adviser to Ann Taylor MP and John Prescott MP I’m surprised either of them lasted more than one term if they were listening to this joker.

  39. Paul Mack says:

    If the effects weren’t also going to be felt by millions of decent people as well, I’d say you deserve everything you get. But when you feel the effects start to bite you don’t come crying to us, we voted Labour.

    Yeah, let’s insult non Labour voters. That’s a great way to get a Labour majority next time. As an alternative, how about we accept that we don’t have an automatic right to anybody’s vote and that it’s something we need to win? Entitlement is not something that appeals to voters, as a general rule.

    But the only hearty cheers were for Dan Jarvis and Jim Murphy neither of who, sadly, is in contention for the Labour Leadership.

    I don’t know what parallel universe you’re posting from, but in this one I’m afraid the SLP under Jim Murphy did disastrously. Even worse than the Labour Party in the UK as a whole.

    “Move Labour to the left” is way too simplistic as a supposed solution. The issue goes way deeper than that. But here, your support for Jim Murphy shows that you’re no less ideological about this than the hard left. (And it reflects the approach of the “Blair years reenactment society” of Progress in general. Cheap nostalgia and a refusal to recognise that the world is a different place now. One thing you can say about Blair is that he was a modernising influence. Which makes it ironic that his claimed descendents have ended up sitting in a stagnant pool). Supporting strategies that have been proven to be losing ones is not the answer. Unless we come up with a vision of Britain that is both popular and radical, we’d better get used to opposition.

  40. Paul says:

    Aside from ranty delivery, the author has some important points. Mainly that Miliband and importantly, those around him, were never going to deliver a win.

    The fragmentation in politics is partly responsible, but if you fail to deal with the problems in your party you can hardly fault people for drifting to the Greens or the SNP. Remember, voters are not steely-eyed card-carrying diehards (at least not outside the North West).

    As for blaming the Liberals, you’re having a laugh. They hardly took your share of the vote if they lost 15% damn near everywhere.

    The Labour party is having the type of think that it ought to have had in 2010 – but seemingly deep-thinking within Labour is like a magnetic force. As sure as North attracts South, eventually all the hubbub will settle and there will be two candidates, one leftish and one rightish – eventually, the leftish one wins and you’re left with not an election but more a coronation.

    Suddenly, it’s 2010 all over again – uniting behind a candidate who appeals very much to the party, but not the public.

    Mark my words, unless the Labour movement deals with its demons now, it has no chance of winning in 2025 let alone 2020.

    Labour needs to appeal again and that includes winning support from those across the political spectrum, if they haven’t been lost for good.

  41. John A Bateson says:

    Somewhere in my collection – I wish I could find it – I have an booklet written by several Labour right wing modernizers after the 1959 heavy defeat. Some believed another victory was not possible, others that it would only happen if the Labour party changed out of all recognition. The Tory majority over Labour was 108.
    Labour entered two years of soul searching, much to the delight of the Tories. Five years later a Labour govt was returned with an overall majority, eighteen months later by a landslide. 2015 is very different to 1959, until you compare Ian’s views with the pessimists then.

  42. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Labour pushed through devolution – Conservatives said it would break up Britain.

    Labour represent public sector unions and would, without a doubt open thier legs wide to national socialist parties to get into government.

    The only way Labour could in it’s present form form a government would be a coalition of public sector unions and spiteful proto-racist nationalists.(let’s not forget Hugh MacDiarmid: Hugh MacDiarmid, still hallowed as Scotland’s foremost nationalist poet, argued in the 1930s that Nazism should be a model for Scottish socialist nationalists; in 1940 he wrote a poem admitting that if London should be destroyed by bombs, “I hardly care”. He later became an ardent supporter of the Soviet Union – a fact that, appallingly, excuses his earlier sympathies in the eyes of his admirers.

    Now when London is threatened
    With devastation from the air
    I realise, horror atrophying me,
    That I hardly care.)




    The Labour Party has nothing to offer British folk (except for the above)

    The Labour Pary now are just a joke to the British electorate.

    The Labour Party, as rightly so, can only in the future, be seen as a pain.

  43. Mr Akira Origami says:

    I’ve heard that Carwyn Jones likes to let off a bit of steam with some karaoke after a hard days work at the Senate in Cardiff Bay. Apparently his favorite song is…….



  44. John P Ried says:

    Tafia, I don’t think the reason the Tories got a majority wa at hey were perceived as having moved to the right,with the he coalition,people thought they saw them as centre, and as labour moved towards the left,they were able ot shift where the centre was, and still be seen as more close to people’s needs than labour were,, of cours ewe’ll see what they’ re really like now,

  45. Tafia says:

    Akira the Tit at it again I see. Why os it everything you publish is fatally flaewed and makes you look a backward-looking clown?

    For example, Labour pushed through devolution – Conservatives said it would break up Britain. That was then, nearly 20 years ago The ‘now; is that the tories are more pro-devolution than Labour. The Scotland Bill will be announced next week. Wales, NI and London will have more devolution – but they won’t be given a referendum about it, it will be delegated whether they want it or not along with the new understanding from Westminster that even more will come in the future whether they want it or not and there is no going back. The Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland Offices will be abolished and replaced by one Office – The Regions and preparations made to combine the S of S for each of Wales, NI and Scotland into just one S of S and the break up of England into regions will commence (again whether the regions want it or not) all be it slowly at first. All of this is also supported now by UKIP who also see increased devolution and the regionalisation of England as a good thing. Barnett Consequentials will almost certainly cease in entirety by 2020 as well. Because the Tories know that to keep winning, they just have to keep the voters of England happy – outside of England is of little relevance.

    As for proto-racist nationalists. The SNP, Plaid, the SDLP and Sinn Fein are less racist than the mainstream parties and more accepting and supportive of diversity. They also have less severe attitudes to immigration. And all pro-Union parties are nationalist, just at the next level up. You cannot believe in a UK unless you are a UK nationalist.

    As for politicians joining picket lines – if a politician supports the strike then it’s their duty to join picket lines. Not to would be hypocritical and a weakness of character.

    You aren’t actually too bright at this sort of thing are you. That’s probably why you look backwards to what has passed and is no longer relevant instead of to to the future and what is going to happen whether you like it or not and how to adapt to it.

  46. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “That was then, nearly 20 years ago The ‘now; is that the tories are more pro-devolution than Labour.”

    The now is that:

    1. Labour have been wiped out in Scotland.

    2. Welsh Labour with their “clear red water” – leftier than Millibands’ lefty ideals will decline(seen as a backward fiefdom of the Principality) with the Conservatives and UKIP primed for Welsh Assembly ascendency (Liibdem Wales, RIP)

    3. The Conservatives will be in power, in Britain, for a generation.

    4. The Conservatives will now capitalise on devolution (Seen as the party that can sort out devolution and the ecomomy)

    I’m not looking backards – I’m looking forward.

    Tafia…..why don’t you just put your head up your proto-racist nationalist arse and vote Plaid Cymru. You know it makes sense…………..

  47. uglyfatbloke says:

    Describing Plaid and the SNP as proto-racists rather demonstrates that you are the one who does not understand how politics works.

  48. Mr Akira Origami says:

    I’ll tell you how politics works.

    Firstly, you don’t hang out with dubious people.


  49. JAC says:

    Rightwing technocrat policies won’t get one nation new labour power. Imagine labour councillors up and down the country refusing to be the loyal opposition and refusing to set cuts budgets. Imagine the disruption to Tory policies by not helping implement £ 12 billion cuts and building support for civil and industrial resistance with the many absent voters – young people! You won’t win over the right but that’s not the point. Take a leaf out of tebbit’s attitude to the unions and the left we need to treat the right as an enemy to be smashed not compromised with.

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