Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Rawnsley’

Labour’s real divisions are between “Would-ers” and “Could-ers”

31/03/2014, 03:22:53 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Andrew Rawnsley’s guide to modern divisions in the Labour party in yesterday’s Observer makes a great political parlour game, identifying, as he does, five new fissures in the party in how it approaches strategy, policy and winning next year’s election.

Yet, it’s much simpler than that: Labour’s sedimentary rock cracks neatly into two main groups.

The first, is the ‘Would If We Could’ camp. They want to make as much difference as possible while never losing sight of the fact that the British people are instinctively cautious and even suspicious of political grandiosity. “We would back X policy if we could get it past the public, but we don’t think we can” goes the theory.

For the Would-ers, winning power is their main preoccupation. There are no silver medals in politics and no point remaining ideologically chaste but losing in the process. So splitting the difference becomes second nature, or “shrinking the offer” in current parlance.

Then there’s the ‘Could If We Would’ group. They argue that Ed Miliband needs to be bold and present a big offer to voters. If he does, Labour will swing millions of people who are disenfranchised with politics and want something to believe in behind the party. “We could win, if only we would back X policy.” This isn’t a view confined to the old Left; it strikes a chord with many people on the party’s centre-left too who yearn to have their idealism validated.


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Labour will need both Darling and Johnson at the next election

02/04/2013, 08:18:51 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Unity should run through Labour like a stick of rock. Following David Miliband’s departure, we should reflect on what this might mean for figures like Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson in the general election campaign.

It seems that Ed Miliband left the door open for his brother to serve on his frontbench but David preferred to run the International Rescue Committee. It also seems to me that Jonathan Freedland has called this correctly by saying this was the best decision for David but may not be for Labour.

Things are not quite so desperate that all Ed can offer the British people is blood, toil, tears and sweat. But it might not be so far off. We are in the slowest economic recovery on record and the fiscal position becomes ever more horrific.

The only quick and easy road for Ed will be to the kind of unhappy position of Francois Hollande, which he created for himself by having “rather pretended to the French that he and they wouldn’t have to make any difficult choices”, as Andrew Rawnsley put it.

We should level with people that life under PM Ed will be a hard slog. But less so than under this government because of the one nation approach that Ed would bring to his task. Yet Gaby Hinsliff has observed of this thematic frame:

“For all I know it may embrace raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and feel warmly towards brown paper packages tied up with string: it’s not that these ideas are impossibly contradictory, just that cramming too many of them beneath one umbrella term renders it faintly meaningless.”


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Could someone please be sensible about a Lib Lab coalition?

23/01/2013, 07:00:12 AM

by Ian Stewart

Thank you Andrew Rawnsley. No, really – this was exactly the right time to bring up the possibility of Nick Clegg clinging to office by whatever means necessary after 2015.

Of course, Andrew was simply doing what he is paid for – writing speculative fiction that tantalises Observer readers every Sunday. After all, with Len Mcluskey giving one of the most important speeches from any trade union leader in ages, it was obviously a slow week in politics. Oh, and Cameron running away (again) on Europe, those nasty cuts to all those skiving strivers in the NHS, the armed forces; the firefighters’ warning of a looming crisis in our emergency services, yes, nothing to worry the world of high politics.

Now predictably the reaction to Rawnsleys’ article on Sunday has fallen into two camps – those who are trenchantly against any co-operation, and those who, for all sorts of reasons, favour some kind of Lib-Lab alliance. I can find no coherent reason to join the latter camp, yet I also reject the former.

The situation as I understand it is this: Ed and Nick are no longer throwing dung at each other. Outside of Westminster, the Lib Dems still covet the ambition to replace Labour as the main contender to the Tories, and, in differing areas, act accordingly. Most true blue Tories still detest the orange bookers, and blame government failure on them, rather than on Osborne’s economic incompetence.


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