The Milibelievers are back to finish the job of destroying the Labour party

by Renie Anjeh

It’s been over a month since Labour’s devastating, but entirely avoidable, election defeat. Ed Milband’s leadership ended in abject failure.  David Cameron is the first prime minister since 1900 to increase his party’s share of the vote and number of seats after a full parliamentary term. There are voices in the Labour party who understand the gravity of the situation.  Jon Cruddas warned that this is the greatest crisis that the Labour party has ever faced.

Alastair Campbell reiterated Cruddas’s warnings when he told Andrew Marr that the party is in “big trouble” and “may not be at the bottom”. Unfortunately, their political sagacity is not shared by a lot of the party especially the Milibelievers. Yes, the Milibelievers are not dead. They are not even sleeping. They are alive and well and finding their voice again.

Over the last five years, the Milibelievers have given us a litany of excuses to prove that Ed Miliband was destined for Number 10. “2015 was going to be a ‘change election’”, they told us. This meant that the rules of politics no longer applied. They even said that Ed was the Left’s answer to Margaret Thatcher and he was going to reshape the political consensus.

As we learned last month, the messianic prophecies of the Milibelievers turned out to be complete and utter rubbish.

But here they come again.

Over 25 chairs of university Labour clubs wrote an open letter to Ed Miliband saying that they were “enormously proud of his principled campaign” and that we “did not lose because of what was in the manifesto”. How could anyone be “enormously proud” of a Labour leader and a campaign that cost us almost 30 seats from 2010?

Last week they were joined by Richard Biggs and Abby Tomlison – the high priests of the Church of Milifandom – when they both appeared on The Daily Politics. Tomlinson expressed her adulation of our former leader whilst Biggs told Andrew Neil on daytime television that Ed is “too fucking good for this country”.  

His use of colourful language wasn’t really a problem. The problem was what he actually said. Ed Miliband is not “too fucking good for this country”, if anything he was a “fucking disaster” for all the people that needed a Labour government.    

The resurgent Milibelievers are not confined to Labour’s youth wing.

Jon Trickett, a key member of Ed Miliband’s inner circle, has unsurprisingly cautioned against any move to the centre ground.  He’s also the same Jon Trickett who wrote a pamphlet for Compass saying that the Tories’ were losing support and this provided space for Labour to be “braver and bolder” (i.e. more left-wing).

Recently, he argued that we need a ‘new economic story’ because there is a new centre that is opposed to the market and wants a ‘clean break from the recent past’.

This is exactly the same agenda that Ed offered the country and it is the same agenda that was roundly rejected by the British people.  Labour’s revival will not come from doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s what Einstein called insanity.

Trickett also advised Labour to focus on the sixteen million people who voted for parties that “wanted a break with the status quo” and the millions who did not vote. It’s an idea that is as ridiculous as going to a nunnery in search of a one night stand.  More than fifty percent of the electorate voted for parties on the right and eighty percent of the voters that Labour needs to win over in 2020 voted Tory in May. We will not win safe Tory seats like Battersea or Putney (places we actually need to win to have a safe majority) by focusing on Green voters and non-voters.

The problem for the Labour party is that there is a body of opinion within the movement that agrees with the Milibelievers. Just look at this barmy post on Labour List, congratulating, yes you read right, congratulating Ed Miliband for his leadership.

They don’t accept that the party was at fault. They promote the same failed policies. They propose the same catastrophic electoral “strategies”. They lionise the same failed leaders. They are uninterested in looking for a future prime minister because they want the next leader to smother them in a comfort blanket and tell them that everything’s okay. Any attempt to move outside our comfort zone is treated with derision and contempt.

Meanwhile, David Cameron and George Osborne are intent on finishing off the Labour party for good. According to Electoral Calculus, the boundary reforms could gift the Tories with a majority of 50 and reduce Labour’s number of seats to 220.

That would be the lowest number of Labour seats since the war.

The introduction of EVEL makes Labour’s challenge even harder because it means that any future UK government will have to a majority of English MPs.  There is also every possibility that Cameron’s successor (probably Osborne, Boris, May, Javid or Truss) could appeal to voters that Cameron could not reach.

Worse still, as Sam Dale pointed out, the Tories are talking about rebranding their party the ‘workers party’ and colonising Labour’s territory. The Northern Powerhouse, the appointment of Robert Halfon to the cabinet, Tim Montgomerie’s The Good Right project supported by Michael Gove and the appointment of Camilla Cavendish to the Number 10 Policy Unit (who is receptive to a lot of  Steve Hilton’s ideas). The evidence is clear, the Tories are headed onto the centre ground.

When Cameron used the phrase ‘One Nation’ on the steps of Downing Street, it was not some meaningless platitude. It was a direct threat to the Labour party.

This is why it is a disaster that rather than waking up and smelling the coffee, the disciples of Miliband have doubled down on denial in their new bid to rewrite history.

If the party listens to them and continues in the same direction as the last five years, then the future is bleak. Labour will not be a party of government. It will not even be a party of protest. It will be a party of the past.

Renie Anjeh is a politics student at Leeds university

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44 Responses to “The Milibelievers are back to finish the job of destroying the Labour party”

  1. Adam Gray says:

    Good article but Labour won 209 seats in 1983, Renie. Lowest number of seats since the Iraq War, I suppose!

  2. Robert says:

    Labour did suffer a serious defeat, which was disappointing even for those of us who did not think that Labour had a chance of winning. It is also clear that Labour will need to take seats off Tory MPs in 2020, so we do need to seriously consider why Labour was slaughtered in Scotland and made very little progress in England and Wales.

    We also need to accept that Miliband was not popular and hopefully Labour’s next leader will be more popular with voters. He or she, like Blair before 1997 and Wilson, will need to appeal to people outside the Labour tribe to get elected. Even if Labour has a more popular leader, the policies that we put forward in 2015 will need to be reconsidered. Possible changes of policy could include keeping the top rate of tax at 45%, raising allowances rather than reintroducing the 10% band and aiming for a surplus when the economy is growing.

  3. Frederick James says:

    This is a terrific piece. As an example of well-organised, lucid, jargon-free prose it puts many of the big boys to shame and I hope we hear a lot more from this author.

    I think, in fact, that jejune, silly, attention-seeking overgrown schoolboy Biggs in his bid for 15 seconds of fame actually said not that EdM is “too fucking good for this country” but that EdM is “too good for this fucking country”. There’s a nuance there in terms of this immature nonentity’s contempt for his fellow electors (and for his country as a whole) that shouldn’t be inadvertently glossed over, because it is Biggs and his kind that are going to kill you – as the author recognises.

    Intelligent commentators on the reality-based Left are beginning to admit that the Labour party may well be moribund already through no longer having a reason to exist; and this article goes further than most, but not far enough, in that respect. The editorial line on this site is already far nearer to the philosophy of Cameron/Osborne than it is to that of the doctrinaire denialist fanboys on LabourList; but that is only the beginning: by 2020, complete convergence will have occurred and Uncut is going to have to take a deep breath and advise its readers to vote Tory rather than for the rump Labour Unite Dinosaur Party.

    We are already in the post-Labour world, it’s just that it hasn’t stopped moving yet.

    Finally, more from this author please!

  4. Mike Honfray says:

    If it finally means the entry it’s like yourself walk away and leave it will all be worth it. And for sure -your Blairite candidate won’t be elected

  5. David Walker says:

    When you hate somebody, they know it. Even when you try to act nice.

    If you are a party and the people you hate are the people who you need to vote for you, then you are in real trouble.

    You can’t just turn off hate, like a light switch. Hate is like an illness and only time can heal it.

    The Labour Party is like a hospital patient that has just awoken from a heavy blow to the head. It is trying to get out of the bed while ripping off the tubes that hang from every orifice. It wants to leave the hospital, because it has work to do and that work must be done today.

    It needs a good doctor to place a hand on its shoulder and to say that it isn’t going anywhere until it is much much better.

  6. Renie Anjeh says:

    @Adam Gray – Sorry, it should have been 202 not 220, so it’s even worse. If we listen to Mike Homfray and other MIlibelivers, we’ll get less than 200 seats for sure.

  7. John A Bateson says:

    abour votes in England – 2015: 8,087,684. 2010:7,039388. 2005:8,035,213. Yes we won more English votes in 2015 than 2005.

  8. Mandy Hall says:

    The amount of denial that is flying around nationally reminds me of a person putting fingers in their ears and singing over and over again ‘I’m not hearing you’ .

    We lost despite the manifesto being great, we lost despite our leader being unpopular, we only lost because of all those nasty other people taking our voters from us.

    Oh for heavens sake.

    We lost because we assumed the 35% would stay with us because they always had. No, the leadership failed to do anything about the threat of UKIP (we nearly lost Hartlepool to them!) , we had a leader who was like a weather vane driven by the Daily Mail. We lost despite having 4 million conversations – because we didn’t listen to what people were saying.

    Where is the person in this current leadership election who can capture the popular imagination, who can drive a vision of a successful, inclusive and socially just society that looks to the future?

    All I’ve heard from both wings of this party since the GE is a retread of the battles of the 90s – battles that we should have moved on from 20 years ago. Meranwhile, the Tories are laying waste to all that most of us hold dear. I really do despair.

  9. Tafia says:

    we do need to seriously consider why Labour was slaughtered in Scotland and made very little progress in England and Wales.

    You need to watch Scotland very very closely – the upheaval and political shift going on up there is nowhere near over yet – in fact it’s barely started. The SNP are now polling above 60% (and independence is also now above 60%) and on course to make massive gains in the Holyrood electins next year. As for England and Wales, to say you made little progress in either is burying your head in the sand. You dodn’t make little progress, you made absolutely none at all – you went into reverse in both. Not only did UKIP put in a good showing, but in Wales Plaid’s vote in increased by around a seventh and they are on course to destroy Labours majority in the Assembly elections next year.

    You have major problems. The message you need to sell in Englamnd will not work in Scotland or Wales, and the messages that sell in Scotland and Wales do not sell in England. Increasing devolution to the London GLA is also goong to have a similar impact. So before you do anything, you need to square that circle or you will just end up chasing your tail.

  10. Tafia says:

    appeal to people outside the Labour tribe to get elected.

    And therein lies your next problem. If you move away from your tribe, there are now other parties who will start to erode your tribe because they will feel abandoned. The days of tribal voting are coming to an end and Labour needs to develop a message that appeals to it’s core and at the same time the soft Tory, UKIP, SNP & Pliad vote – or it’s going nowhere.

  11. Peter McGeer says:

    A+ Renie. GREAT piece. I hope we will be hearing a lot more from you.

  12. Selohesra says:

    If the author thinks it is important for Labour to occupy the centre ground which the Tories are now occupying why not just vote for them. Surely it is the position of the party that is more important than a name. There is no point being elected if by then you have abandoned what you believe in.

  13. 07052015 says:

    Silly article ,who are these milibelievers ,never heard of most of them.

    The three main contenders have got the message ,why all the panic ,go away and have a good holiday renie and come back when we have a new leader -then we can have a sensible discussion

    Who knows where politics will be after the EU referendum ,I mean you saw the scotland outcome coming right ?

  14. John P Reid says:

    Mike Homfary, either Cooper who is competent ,gets elected then and we never win again, or Burnhams elected and within a year you’d ll be Calling him Ramsey Mc Burnham,
    John A Bateson, there was a 62% turnout in 2005 a 66% turnout in 2015

  15. Tricia says:

    Miliband won more votes in England than Blair did in 2005 & Brown in 2010.

  16. Tricia says:

    Miliband won more votes in England than Blair did in 2005 & Brown in 2010

  17. Tafia says:

    John A Bateson Labour votes in England – 2015: 8,087,684. 2010:7,039388. 2005:8,035,213. Yes we won more English votes in 2015 than 2005.

    It’s not votes that counts – keep thinking like that and you’ll lose again. It’s where the votes are that counts.

    In the main, Labour was only increasing it’s vote in seats it already held – which is utterly pointless and a total waste of effort. Apart from which, you also need to feed in the size of the electorall base (which has increased election on election) and the turn-out (which has also risen over the last few elections). Then remeber labour were polling over 10 million regulalrly 2001 and before. They haven’t done ever since.

    Remember, we live in a Constituency-based pParliament. It is physically impossible to vote for a party – you can only vote for a named candidate within your own Constituency.

  18. Derek Emery says:

    Strong political belief, left or right, is the triumph of confirmation bias over reason

    Labour values and ideology were set in stone decades ago and left thinkers interpret the world and solutions today in terms of these tablets of stone. The comfort zone for left thinkers is well to the left of the average voter who is in the middle politically.

    Left thinkers tend to be left because they have just one moral trigger harm/care whereas the mass of the public will have the full five to an extent

    You cannot get round your preconceptions so all data that does not fit has to be ignored leaving you with an unchanging outlook as the world changes round you.
    Hence left thinkers think Miliband policies were perfectly right and its just a question of presenting them differently.

    The public are not interested in an ideologically based interpretation as many have little belief in politics in any form today. Only 10% believe that politicians are working for the good of the country.

    They know the world is changing rapidly and that the UK and EU are firmly stuck in the slow lane with the lowest growth in the world. This fact is hardly conducive to a strong belief in politics working for the people

    The public knows that life chances for many are getting worse where employment is less likely to allow you to be able to buy a home that ever before.
    This is largely due to unstoppable financialization where politicians and the richest 1% have worked together for decades to keep money away from the real economy

    The public are looking for today’s solutions for today’s problems. Most will see ancient politically ideologically based solutions as irrelevant. They do not really believe strongly in any political party because they know politics is not there to work for them but for the 1% and big corporations and that cannot change.

  19. Sloper says:

    A very interesting read, thank you.

    The problem for lefties is that they don’t listen to their enemies (of which I am one) and as such exist in an echo chamber of their own self righteous drivel, the exemplar being the lack of understanding of the difference between deficit and debt.

    Labour have, with the decline in mass low skilled unionised employment and the inculcation of employment rights and equality legislation, lost their raison d’etre.

    They need to find a new cause that resonates with those who don’t know their Karl from their Groucho and think Gramisci is that nice white wine one buys from Tesco (other prole shops are avialable).

    Unless or until they do that they’re doomed to be a low calories ersatz Tory party and we’ve got enough faux Tories in the Conservative party.

  20. Sum Geeza says:

    The Labour party has become a middle-class talking shop, reflecting only the concerns of a handful of quite wealthy north London BBC employees and a couple of Guardian journalists, which is the practically the same thing.

    When Labour is aligned with the Unions again, then it will at least represent a significant number of people. Power alone should not be seen as the most important objective – under Blair’s 3 election triumphs, the gap between the most and least wealthy increased.

    Of course, the Unions need to start acting in the interest of their members too, instead of trying to overthrow governments. Can we try to drag ourselves out of the 1970s now, please?

  21. Socko says:

    My grandfathers were working class, one a miner, the other a Fleet Street printer. No doubt they voted Labour. My parents were both teachers. They read the Express and then the Telegraph. I don’t know how they voted. I’m a computer programmer. I’ve never voted Labour in my life and I never will (if only because of the endless train strikes we suffered in the 1960s as I struggled to get to school by train).

  22. Forlornehope says:

    “When Cameron used the phrase ‘One Nation’ on the steps of Downing Street, it was not some meaningless platitude. It was a direct threat to the Labour party.”

    Of course you could interpret this to mean that Labour has actually won in the same way that New Labour was Margaret Thatcher’s greatest victory. If the Tories really do push “One Nation”, even as a means to consign the Labour party to the dustbin, that would actually be a good result. But now that Labour has won and there is a real consensus on the welfare state and the NHS (yes, of course there are differences but they are actually pretty marginal to all but the head-cases) the big question is: “What is the Labour Party for?”

  23. Tafia says:

    Tricia the ratios are wrong. You have to compare them to the size of the voter base, and then the actual turnout. Then for a bit if gravy how it held up in seats ou retained compared to how many in seats it lost, compared to how many in seats it didn’t hold.

    Labour is a busted flush and is dying. For the main part, it’s only increasing it’s vote in seats it already holds and is unlikely to lose. In short they are wasted. It knows that’s the problem and that’s why it’s senior politicians are so glum.

    And it’s also one of the resons why the decline below 10million is so catastrophic.

  24. Madasafish says:

    The Labour Party has been captured by an elite – educated, clever, university educated – who believe in nothing but the opportunity to make contacts and grow rich through politics.

    They also believe in and practise nepotism which is useful when you want to have someone who will help protect your family wealth.

    I find it hard to fell sorry for the people who vote for them when the above is so blatantly obvious….

  25. William Rubin says:

    Excellent article – one of many which I am glad to say everyone in Labour is ignoring in their haste to join the rest of the lemmings as they go off the cliff.

    Have to say the last four weeks have been the best ever in which to be a Tory 🙂

  26. Jeremy Poynton says:

    Disclaimer – reluctant Tory voter (they are not real Conservatives), Labour won’t wake up from its nightmare till the likes of Corbyn don’t call the electorate ‘confused’ and shadow Treasury ministers stop telling us ‘what the public want’. IE – stop insulting us

  27. George S says:

    labour is no longer fit for purpose because the conditions that brought it into being no longer exist.
    now even the working classes dont want to know as they have aspirations. something that labour would rather that they didnt have because as soon as you get aspirations … no are no longer content for the scraps socialism is willing to throw you.

  28. Caroline Molloy says:

    The manifesto was shite.
    But not for the reasons set out here.
    The TUC poll shows twice as many people thought labour were ‘too soft on business’ as ‘too hard on business’.
    Whilst the TUC poll relies too much on testing people’s obedient recall of tired media tropes (Labour bad on economy), it also reveals that less than 1 in 10 thought Labour would make them better off.
    Other polling shows labour did particularly badly amongst young families.
    Now… remind me… what was that big conference announcement? Something about freezing child benefit?
    Remind me, when it became obvious the tories were laying into tax credits, did labour speak up about the attack on the working poor, or did they parrot stuff about not being ‘soft on benefits’ as if they hadn’t even noticed?
    as for the nhs, no-one was convinced. they cared. they just didn’t see much genuine commitment to principles of social solidarity that is the reason people love the nhs so much, anywhere else in labour’s policy. and they certainly didn’t see anything remotely convincing in the nhs policy, which made it, as a subject, both scary and boring.

  29. john P Reid says:

    SUm geeza, for a start if the unions got power ,labour wouldn’t get power, as for the Guardian readers, yes they preopbalby dominated the labour party over the Miliband years, having backed the libdems in 2010, but the Guardian had many a row with Blair,and Blair famously in 1997 denonced them agreeing with the sun,
    and hte guardian readers propbably think they speak for union members

  30. Noel says:

    Equally it could be said thy New Labourites are back to finish the destruction job and this article is propaganda on their behalf. For crying out loud the intensity between sections is unreal. Whatever side you lean to, there is a bottom line that grassroots Labour are mightily cheesed off by the bitterness and by the impotency of the PLP to oppose unacceptable unfairness. Labour is and will remind the cause of its own strife while it is unwilling to confront root problems. If it can’t understand that Milbank having some steel to try that would appeal to Labour hearts and minds, then I despair. And I despair more if it cannot understand that too much adherence to free-market agenda will destroy Labour and send this country to a dreadful unequal permanence. And I assure you many fairly centrist grassroots hold this view.

  31. LS says:

    “if anything he was a “fucking disaster” for all the people that needed a Labour government.”

    The trouble here is that the people didn’t think they did.

  32. ruby says:

    The future for Labour looks bleak. One million ethnic minority voters voted Conservative. Labour have been abandoned by Scotland, are being abandoned in the north and midlands by white working class voters for UKIP, are being challenged in Wales, and even black and asian voters are willing to leave them. If the Tories can stay at the centre, and if they get a charismatic leader who connects with the electorate, truly, the Labour Party faces oblivion.

  33. Ex labour says:

    this is a good piece from someone I’ve often accused of writing tosh, so I’m happy to praise in this instance.

    However if you want to understand just how bad the denial is in some Labour quarters go to Labour List and read the article penned by one Brian Barder…..this is unbelievable. if these people remain within Labour its surely doomed.

  34. Tafia says:

    Will you stop pushing this idea that the tories moved to the centre – they clearly did not. Moved to it from where? They were centre-right whilst in the Coalition, but now they no longer need the Lib Dems they have moved rightwards and are now more right wing than Thatcher ever dreamed of.

    Labour lost the election because the centre has moved rightwards and a significant chunk of it’s core has moved even further right and de-camped to UKIP.

  35. Tafia says:

    And when I say the centre has moved rightwards, I mean that the political beliefs, values and ambitions of the centre have moved rightwards.

  36. Sum Geeza says:

    john P Reid

    There is no point in Labour having power if they are not going to do anything useful with it when they have it. In 13 years under Blair and Brown, they failed to reform the House of Lords so we still have a non-democratic second chamber in the 21st century. They actually decreased social mobility, started 5 wars and presided over economic melt-down, which did not occur in say Canada or Australia or even Germany to such a degree.
    You do not need to be in power to have influence over government policy, as can be shown by the Tories having an EU referendum due to UKIP.

    Until Labour are realigned with what Union members want (which is not necessarily the same was what the Unions want), then they are pointless.

  37. Justice4Rinka says:

    The best and most realistic article I’ve yet read on Labour’s plight. What’s all the more impressive is that it comes from someone barely past puberty, yet who is more grown up than most of the Labour Party.

    If the party…continues in the same direction as the last five years, then … Labour will not be a party of government. It will not even be a party of protest. It will be a party of the past.


  38. paul barker says:

    A sensible article but readers of Labour List, the biggest Labour site, have voted for a new Leader. They went for Jeremy Corbyn. Among the activists, “sensible” isnt popular.

  39. Landless Peasant says:

    Labour was destroyed when they ditched Clause 4and attempted to redefine Marxism.

  40. John P Reid says:

    Sum Geeza, of the wars Iraq was probably illegal,and Afghanistan ,we should have cut and run, lords reform happened a bit,sorry it’s not in most people’s top interest, regarding the economy, labour must never accept th blame for the melt down,considering the Wilson governments bankrupted the country to the point it out U.S. Out of power for 18 yrs, then any blame of the last labour govt for the economy, see,s irrelevant

    You can buy into what’s the point of labour if we win and are not left wing enough,if you consider the alternative,is to never win,and feel losing constantly in a far left program is a moral victory,but when atony Benn was in his mansion,and there were homeless, on the streets, it wouldn’t have been a moral victory for them.

    Landless peasants how could labour be destroyed after ditching clause 4 ,when due to it,labour actually won a election for the. First time in 23 years?

    Paul barker,labour list maybe the biggest website, but still has at the most 1000 readers, hardly representative of the 300,000 members.

    As for Noel, saying that constituencies are at odds with the PLP in not opposing austerity, I only know CL
    Ps in the east end of London, some like arhurrock, Alford, abhor church Upimnster are right wing old labour, Barking in the ace re,and dagenham fairly left wing, but none are too the left of the clap, and how can balirites be back to finish the job,ruining it, aglair delivered us 3 victories,on t he back of Blair,even brown prevented the Tories winning in 2010 we’ve had 5 yrs of Ed miliband student angry young man lefty Bo@@ocks and the Tories won for the first time in 23 years.

  41. Iain says:

    We get it. Blairites don’t like Miliband. Rather than continually slagging him off, how about you try and win the intellectual argument over policy?

  42. Sum P. Geeza says:

    @John P Reid

    “the Tories won for the first time in 23 years”

    No – The Tories won for 13 years under Blair.

  43. Terry Chapman says:

    Well said.

    The only additional point I would add is to point the finger at those Labour MPs that muttered a potential challenge approx 18 months before the election. But cowardly put their careers before the needs of those that need a Centre Left government.

    Shame on them.

  44. John P Reid says:

    Sum P geeza so a Labour Party hasn’t won a election with more than 40% of the vote in 50 years

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