Posts Tagged ‘3 years on’

3 years on: Five years’ hard Labour?

03/06/2013, 07:00:47 AM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces we’ve been taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. In the last of the pieces, Rob Marchant looks back at this parliament, and forward to 2015

Obviously, we’re only halfway through the parliament, but what would be a celebration of our third birthday without a look back at the immediate past and a little look to the future.

2010: the year of purgatory. Uncut is born out of the ashes of Labour’s electoral disaster in May. The country still in economic crisis. It takes six months, however, for the party to get itself together and organise a leadership election, in which David Miliband, the seeming heir apparent, is effectively defenestrated. Most of the year is wasted, politically.

2011: the year of innocence. There is the sad departure of Alan Johnson, but a fresh-faced Fotherington-Miliband has skipped into public view. Hullo clouds, hullo sky, says he. We are going to do a new kind of politics. There are good people and bad people, for example in business there are producers (good) and predators (bad). Eh? says the public, a bit confused, and rather more concerned about their jobs and mortgages. Much work to be done.

2012: the Tories’ annus horribilis. A disastrous budget, coalition scandals and the travails of the Murdoch press mark the year. Miliband plays a blinder on the conference speech and the party discovers One Nation Labour. There is hope.

2013: the year of drift. One Nation Labour stays a slogan. The Tories start to recover. Disappointing election results. Trouble with the unions looms. The party organisation, unreformed, falters over controversial candidate selections.

And some thoughts about a possible future:


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3 years on: Labour is a happier place

30/05/2013, 09:25:51 PM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Kevin Meagher looks at party morale

“Let sunshine win the day” urged David Cameron speaking to his party’s conference a few years ago. Derided at the time, “Ibiza Dave” was on to something.

One of the noticeable changes to Labour over the past few years is that it’s a happier party. Not pleased to be in opposition (I don’t think), but a party, relatively speaking, at ease with itself.

After a decade and a half of the Blair/Brown psychodrama it is a welcome change of mood. Labour is more open these days. The era of top-down party management, vibrating pagers and lines-to-take are largely over. Not rejected per se, more absorbed into the party’s bloodstream. This is a sensible, social democratic party of incremental reform. We have made our peace with the pager.

What has been rejected though is overbearing centralisation. The days when frontbenchers actually shaved off their moustaches and beards at the behest of image consultants are thankfully long gone. The obsession with the media has eased, driven by the increasingly pluralistic ways of talking to voters and getting the party’s message heard.

Indeed, it is interesting to think how a Blair or Brown leadership would react to the rise of digital media, which has done so much to alter the terms of political discourse in the past few years. A gust of free speech has blown through the Labour party, allowing members far more say over its direction. The world has not ended.

In terms of the leader, there is no cabal of Millibandites (the Milliband perhaps?) running around stitching up their rivals. Spats between Unite, Labour’s main trade union backer on the left and Progress on the right are, in Labour party terms, fairly anaemic.


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3 years on: Ed isn’t in the Hobbit and needs to bin the invisibility cloak

30/05/2013, 07:39:44 PM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. David Talbot looks at Ed Miliband’s public profile

Ah, the Daily Express. What to say about this esteemed presence amongst our media? Last content sometime during the Boer war, today its coverage sticks to the traditional middle class issues of house prices, cancer survival rates and Princess Diana. A friend to the Labour party it almost certainly is not. Indeed, under the tutelage of its chief political commentator, one Patrick O’Flynn, the Daily Express can have a serious claim to be amongst the first members of the fourth estate to take the UKIP threat seriously.

O’Flynn seems an amicable, if slightly misguided, chap who nonetheless stumbled across pertinent analysis as we consider the three year anniversary of Labour’s demise, and Uncut’s rise from the ashes.

Three years on the Labour party is out of government, out of sight and out of mind. O’Flynn dubbed this Labour’s “invisibility cloak” in his leader last week, which was a charitable way of highlighting that three years on from a historic defeat, the party’s hierarchy has not constructed a coherent strategy for Labour’s return to power.

Ed Miliband continues to be Labour’s invisible man. Still virtually unknown to the British public this void in the British political realm can surely continue no more. Cameron was known to taunt the then novice Labour leader at the back end of 2010 noting that “he had been in the job for the past few months” before adding, woundingly, “people are wondering when he’s going to start?”

Too much of Labour’s strategy at present appears to be based on the coalition’s unpopularity, and frankly keeping low and not saying anything too stupid.

Indeed, as a political strategy it is well worn and often successful in the short-term. But three years on, Labour has rightly set itself an ambitious target of returning to power after just a single term out of office – a feat, historically, that has been near impossible to muster. Wearing an invisibility cloak for the next two years simply won’t achieve that high aim.

David Talbot is a political consultant

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3 years on: Ed Miliband has created Blue Nun Labour

30/05/2013, 06:20:09 PM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Mark Stockwell gives the other side’s view of Labour’s progress

You could see it on Ed Miliband’s face, that far-off day in September 2010 when he snatched the party leadership from under his big brother’s nose. David had led him in every round of the ballot, eclipsed him over every fence, but at the end, somehow, Ed had snuck through on the rails and won by a short head. And the new leader of the opposition was as surprised as anyone. In truth, he wasn’t ready for the responsibility that had been thrust upon him. Over the last three years, it’s shown.

Granted, he didn’t start from the most auspicious position. For all that the Conservatives had failed to win a majority, this only served to disguise the scale of the defeat Labour had suffered at the hands of the British electorate. When what Labour needed was to face up to the manifold reasons for that defeat, too many have sought comfort in the travails of the coalition and revelled in the difficulties of the despised Liberal Democrats.

It fell to Miliband to drag his party away from this comfort zone. He has failed. In truth, he hasn’t even tried. Yes, senior Labour figures have queued up to utter insincere pieties about how the leadership had been wrong in the past to dismiss the concerns of the party’s supporters about immigration. But the party as a whole continues to give the impression it doesn’t think it got much wrong in office – on the domestic front, at least.

It is no use Labour going into the 2015 election telling voters it was a mistake to kick them out last time. Asked to review their verdict (and you may be sure Conservative strategists will happily play along with such an approach), the good people of Britain will apply a swift coat of polish to their boots and find their own way to make sure Labour “reconnects with the voters.”

Miliband’s lack of preparedness has manifested itself in his desperate casting around for a distinctive, coherent agenda. It is rather as if, like the second year politics undergraduate he so closely resembles, finding himself unexpectedly home alone one evening, he has set himself the task of coming up with a tasty supper using only the ingredients he can find already in the kitchen.

Blue Labour? Hmmm, yes I remember picking that up on the way home after the leadership election. Maybe I’d had one or two glasses of wine. Anyway, it sounds interesting, in it goes.

But hang on, it’s missing something. I know, there’s that half-empty packet of incomes policy that’s been hanging around at the back of the cupboard since, ooh, about 1979. If I stick a big label on it saying “predistribution”, maybe I can kid myself it’s not past its sell-by date.


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3 years on: Is being the “other guy” enough for Ed to win?

30/05/2013, 04:26:50 PM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Peter Goddard gives a member’s perspective

I am not immersed in politics. I am not obsessed, absorbed or professionally involved.

For people like me, or as I like to call us, ‘normal people’, politics only consists of the big events.

Three years ago, there were two big events: Labour lost the election and there was a new leader of the Labour Party.

I wasn’t a particular friend or foe of Ed Milliband’s, but what I did know was that he wasn’t the other guy – the disastrous Gordon Brown.

It was a chance, I thought, for a new start. Ed Milliband’s Labour party could be shaped, moulded and presented to the nation afresh.

Three years passed.

Cameron stopped hugging huskies and sharpened his economic scythe. Disability allowances were targeted, tuition fees introduced, a bedroom tax launched.

In response, Labour presented… the same stuff, but not as much of it. And maybe not as fast.

Two years ago, there was another big event: an election took place for Mayor of London. The Tories put forward their wild-haired wild card candidate.

In response Labour presented… that guy from last time.

Last year, a conference happened. Everyone got excited about how Ed Milliband was going to define and shape the party’s future.

Labour presented ‘One Nation’.

So three years on I’m still not sure what Ed Milliband’s Labour party is all about. If it has a story to tell that has just failed to cut through to people like me, or if he is simply keeping things vague in order to remain flexible up to the next election, I don’t know.

But what I do know is that, until someone like me can clearly describe what today’s Labour party is all about, Ed Milliband remains reliant on the same appeal he had on his initial rise to the leadership – simply not being the other guy.

Let’s hope that’s enough.

Peter Goddard is a sales and marketing consultant

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3 years on: Ed Miliband has one of the most experienced shadow cabinets’ since the war

30/05/2013, 07:00:10 AM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Kevin Meagher looks at a battle hardened shadow cabinet.

Like many of you, dear readers, I vividly remember watching the 2010 election count, taking heart from every morsel of comfort on a losing night (‘we’ve held Birmingham Edgbaston!’) and cheering on every small advance (‘Simon Danczuk took Rochdale – even after the Mrs. Duffy incident!’) It was bad – we were out; but it could have been worse.

The share of the vote was abysmal – the lowest since 1922 – but the Conservatives hadn’t won. This was undoubtedly a rejection of Labour, but not a sea change. It was becoming clear gazing at the goggle box in the wee small hours that there would have to be a coalition government and, at that stage – and against all expectations – Labour was still in the game.

The rest, of course, is history, but it seems this sense of relief that the result was not as bad as it could have been for Labour averted any exodus of talent from the top of the party.

After all, here you had a bunch of experienced ex-ministers, many in their early 40s, who could easily have transferred their talents to the worlds of business or academia. Why hang around with no guarantee you will ever sit round the cabinet table again – and even if you do is it worth slogging through five years of opposition only to do a job you’ve already done before?

After all, the immediate effect of losing ministerial office is a fifty per cent pay cut, closely followed by the realisation that your retinue of officials, drivers, security people, diary secretaries and assorted hangers-on are no longer trailing behind you. You are back to running a shadow operation from your pokey Westminster office.

It’s a big psychological readjustment and they could be forgiven for for facing an existential crisis about what they were doing with their lives.


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