Posts Tagged ‘Blair’

Sunday News Review

29/08/2010, 08:37:36 AM


Vincent: It’s a tight battle for the ­Labour leadership. If your younger brother Ed wins, will you serve under him?

David Miliband: I’ve committed myself to serve my constituents in South Shields and I have committed myself to British politics. – Sunday Mirror

“I would definitely serve under David if he wins. I would expect him to do that same because that’s what he has said. But if I win, that will be his decision.” Ed Miliband – Sunday Mirror

The former foreign secretary is said to be ‘simmering with sibling rage’ at his brother challenging him for the post. Publicly, he has repeatedly said he would serve in a Shadow Cabinet headed by Ed. However, reliable sources say he is ‘dreading’ the prospect and will either boycott his Left-wing brother’s team or accept a job briefly before finding a diplomatic way out. – Daily Mail.

So, a “well-placed*” source tells the Guardian that while David Cameron would like Ed Miliband to be the next leader of the Labour party, he thinks the party would be best-advised to select Ed’s brother David. This news, scarcely earth-shattering to anyone who isn’t already a Labour party member (and obvious even to many of those that are) has Labour types suspecting some Deep Tory Game is Afoot. – The Spectator’s Alex Massie.


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I don’t want a new best friend. I want a Labour Prime Minister

24/07/2010, 12:00:21 PM

Back  in 1994 Tony Blair sealed the deal with many of us when he was billed as “the man the Tories most fear”. After the crushing blow of losing in 1992 we wanted a winner. Damn his policies! As the late Tony Banks exclaimed “my members will eat shit to see a Labour government”.

Blair was given enormous latitude. The party was desperate to break its losing streak. We got hooked on successful – but corrosive – habits about stifling internal debate and adopting an approach to discipline that would make a Gordonstoun headmaster blush. But that approach helped keep us in power for 13 years; albeit with a long trail of political capital and supporters leaching out on the road behind us.

We now find ourselves in the middle of Labour’s first truly modern leadership campaign; one that eschews the left/right factionalism of the past and the fatalism we used to have about whether we could actually win power at all. It is opening up debate in a way that we are unused to.

But we have to be careful we don’t overuse our new gifts. There is a balance to be struck between embracing the party’s new glasnost and forgetting the old ways – and why we adopted them in the first place.

At the moment, there’s a lot of tummy tickling going on but not much vision. We need a discussion about how do we equip ourselves for a world where coalition governments may become commonplace. Where there is less money to spend our way to our social democratic nirvana. Where we articulate our own version of The Big Society. Where we back up our grand rhetoric on localism and environmentalism with real commitments next time. But these kind of hard-edged issues are simply not breaking through. (more…)

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Thursday News Review

15/07/2010, 07:40:50 AM

Peter in print

Labour figures from all sides of the party expressed fury that Lord Mandelson had committed private conversations to print, such as his reporting that Mr Blair believed Gordon Brown to be “mad, bad and dangerous”, and that his then chancellor was “flawed”. Neil Kinnock, the former party leader, was said by a friend to be “spitting”, and John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, “furious”. Lord Mandelson, who was lauded at Labour’s annual conference last year, was warned by some to stay away this year. Political friends and foes urged him to donate a slice of the money he was earning from the book to the party. – The Australian

She argued that Mandelson “knew perfectly well how useless Brown was”, so, by sustaining him as Labour leader, he had fatally undermined the party’s general election chances. In return for his loyalty Mandelson, who “adores pomp and ceremony” was rewarded with the bauble of an honorific title that, to most people, means little. He appeared, she wrote, “like a much-favoured Tudor courtier, stooping under the weight of his gold chains and medallions”. Sieghart concluded with a further jibe at Mandelson’s gross hypocrisy: “The man who ensured that Labour would spend five, possibly 10, years out of power now hopes to capitalise on his tales of those torrid years in government. – The Evening Standard


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Saturday News Review

10/07/2010, 08:32:06 AM

And so it begins

The Peter Mandelson memoirs are released this week

At times, Lord Mandelson said, Mr Brown feared that he had “killed” all three men, but, wound up by his lieutenants, was unable to stop the feud, meaning that Mr Blair was forced to devote too much energy dealing with him. The former business secretary said some of the blame for the hostilities lay with the people around Mr Brown who, he said, treated Mr Blair with “unbridled contempt”. – The Telegraph

In an interview published by Saturday’s Times newspaper, the peer said that relations between Mr Blair and Mr Brown were “awful” and “exceptionally bad” between 1994 and 2007, not least because the latter “couldn’t get over” the fact that he was not prime minister. Lord Mandelson also said he wished the pair had “behaved to me and treated me differently” – a reference to his two resignations during the Blair government. – The FT


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Thurday News Review

10/06/2010, 07:40:14 AM

And then there were five

Diane Abbott made it through nominations

“FIVE candidates will fight for the Labour leadership after backers of the favourite, David Miliband, lent their support to less-fancied rivals. Mr Miliband, his brother Ed and former Schools Secretary Ed Balls had already secured the 33 nominations needed before yesterday afternoon’s deadline. But the former Foreign Secretary allowed some of his team to nominate left-winger Diane Abbott and former Health Secretary Andy Burnham, in a bid to ensure a more diverse line-up of candidates.” – Wales Online

“Former ministers Jack Straw, Denis MacShane and Phil Woolas were among the other surprise names to deliver Abbott the 33 MP nominations she needed. Miliband and the others made their move after another leftwinger, John McDonnell, withdrew from the race.” – The Guardian

“The Labour Party now has its final five leadership candidates – and it’s a broader field than initially expected. The left, women and BME voters will now be represented in the race – but most of the diversity is thanks to one candidate only – and she still went to Cambridge.” – Labour List

“The left-wing MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington joins David and Ed Miliband, former children’s secretary Ed Balls, and former health secretary Andy Burnham on the list […]But Ms Abbott’s presence on the ballot paper was only thanks to a late flurry of support after fellow left-winger John McDonnell quit the race and called on his backers to get behind her.” – The Scotsman


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Wednesday News Review

09/06/2010, 07:39:06 AM

Count down

Abbott hoping to make the final cut

“Diane Abbott received a boost to her candidacy for the Labour Party leadership when Harriet Harman, the party’s deputy leader, nominated her yesterday. Ms Harman said she was doing so in the hope of helping to ensure there is a woman on the ballot paper, and will not cast her vote in the election this September.” – The Independent

“Mr Balls, the shadow education secretary, called on supporters to back Miss Abbott during an event held by the GMB trade union, saying that it was important for a woman to be in the race.” – The Telegraph

“BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the three candidates so far are all Oxford-educated men in their 40s, and none of them are from the party’s left – unlike both Ms Abbott and Mr McDonnell. On Tuesday, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said she was nominating Ms Abbott because she did not want to see a “men-only” contest.” – The BBC

 “Speaking on Tuesday Mr Burnham said he was confident he would gain the seven nominations he still needed, while Ms Abbott and Mr McDonnell – who failed in a bid to challenge Mr Brown for the party’s leadership in 2007 – did not appear close to a deal to transfer MPs to the other to ensure a left-winger made it on to the ballot.” – In the News


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Saturday News Review

29/05/2010, 08:17:20 AM

The Contest

Yvette Cooper leaves the door open for future leaders bid

“So whoever wins Labour’s leadership election, I’ll still be there alongside Harriet and others, campaigning for progressive help for women. And as for future leadership contests, who knows …” – Yvette Cooper, The Guardian

“The question Burnham has to answer is what does he really bring much that one of the front-runners doesn’t? His campaign website doesn’t provide any answers (at least, not without joining a mailing-list up front), and looks amateurish, to be kind. In fact, things like his campaign launch, media non-appearances and website all contribute to an appearance that he’s just not trying very hard.” – Political Betting

“We cannot afford to just have an internal debate within our party. And we must stay focused on our number one task – being a responsible and effective opposition and once again becoming a party that can win.” – Ed Balls, Tribune

“DIANE ABBOTT yesterday launched her bid to become Labour Party leader in the B6 College in Kenninghall Road in Clapton.” – Irish Times

“Front runners in the Labour leadership race are under pressure to help lessfancied contenders to clear the first hurdle by lending them some supporters.” – The Telegraph

“THE younger of two brothers in the leadership contest, Ed Miliband, said he would be happiest if all six declared candidates got onto the ballot paper. Aware of criticism within the party at the prospect of an Ed Miliband v David Miliband contest, he said: “I think it’s important the party has the widest possible choice.”’ – Wales Online


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Wednesday News Review

19/05/2010, 06:58:03 AM

Ed Balls to join leadership race

“Mr Balls will travel to the Midlands today to give a speech from Gedling, Nottinghamshire, a marginal constituency which Labour unexpectedly held at the election. Its MP, Vernon Coaker, is among those backing Mr Balls. His declaration takes the number of leadership candidates to three. David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, and his younger brother, Ed, had been the only others to officially launch their leadership bids.” – The Independent

Ed Balls will announce tomorrow that he will join the race to replace Gordon Brown, as Labour opted for a marathon timetable to elect a new leader. The party’s ruling executive committee responded to calls for a cathartic contest by laying out a four-month battle lasting through the summer. The new leader will be announced on the first Saturday of the party’s annual conference in September. Balls, the former schools secretary, will launch his bid while visiting two marginal constituencies in the Midlands. At the general election, the party lost one of the seats and gained the other.” – The Guardian

“David Cameron and Nick Clegg must be delighted that no women, ethnic minority candidates or working class men have entered the Labour leadership race. Assuming Ed Balls throws his hat into the ring today, he’ll be the third white, middle class man to enter the fray, joining Ed and David Miliband.” – Toby Young, The Telegraph

“The ex-Schools Secretary will join David and Ed Miliband in trying to succeed Gordon Brown. Labour bosses said yesterday the new leader will be named on September 25, the first day of the annual conference. Mr Balls, a close political ally of Mr Brown, will get heavyweight backing from trade unions.” – The Sun

“Mr Balls is expected to formally announce his candidacy today. David and Ed Miliband have already confirmed they are in the running. Andy Burnham, who was Health Secretary under Gordon Brown, is also expected to stand. Jon Cruddas, a backbencher who had been tipped to take part in the contest, has said that he will not be a candidate. Left-wing MP John McDonnell will also announce tomorrow that he intends to stand.” – Sky News

The leadership contest

“It is a tragedy for Labour that the best woman for the job isn’t even standing for the party’s leadership. Yvette Cooper would expose David Cameron and Nick Clegg as a couple of out-of-touch posh boys just by appearing at a TV podium. Persuasive and articulate, this comprehensive-educated daughter of a trade union leader is a family-friendly politician. And that’s a significant reason why the mum-of-three isn’t running. The former cabinet minister is ambitious, but not so ambitious that she’d trade her life for a thankless post with uncertain prospects.” – The Mirror

“The design specifications are exact: fortysomething Oxbridge boys who approach ideological difference through their choice of ties, who understand the importance of political stagecraft and who see no difference between “the country” and television’s demographics. Since the creation of the Blair template, they have become, as Labour is discovering, compulsory. They have to be young(ish), therefore energetic, therefore new, therefore capable of associating their brands with the word “change”. A foreigner might have difficulty in distinguishing between a Cameron, a Clegg and a Miliband (any Miliband) in an identity parade, but that’s of no account, least of all to the contestants.” – The Herald

“THE BATTLE for the Labour Party leadership is expected to intensify today with a declaration by former cabinet minister Ed Balls, but a row is looming over the decision to close off nominations next week. Even though the election will not be decided until Labour’s September annual conference, the party’s national executive committee yesterday decided that nominations would close tomorrow week. Gordon Brown’s replacement will be chosen by an electoral college split three ways between MPs, Labour Party members and union members who have not opted out of paying a political levy.” – The Irish Times

GB tried to resign before election

Gordon Brown drafted a speech on the eve of the general election campaign setting out plans to stand down within a year of the poll, but was persuaded by senior ministers not to go ahead. At a meeting on the eve of the election, his proposal to announce his plan to stand down was supported by David Muir, his director of political strategy and chief polling adviser. But Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander argued against the idea.” – The Guardian

“Supported by David Muir, his director of political strategy and chief polling adviser, Brown announced his plan at a meeting on the eve of the election campaign, but was dissuaded by Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson and Douglas Alexander. According to an adviser Mr Brown had even drafted a speech setting out his intentions because he saw himself as a barrier to Labour’s re-election.” – The Telegraph

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John McTernan on the cant of an honest debate in the Labour movement

18/05/2010, 06:12:46 AM

There are two great mistakes that parties make when they lose elections. First, they blame each other, then they blame the voters.   Each in its own right is disastrous. Together, they are toxic.
Thus far, the emergent leadership campaign has been more benign. There is a refreshing willingness to concede that we made errors in office and need to reconsider before we rebuild.
But the biggest trap awaits – the false consciousness of an “honest debate in the party/the labour movement.” This is cant, and dangerous cant. A debate with ourselves is a conversation with the already convinced – we all voted Labour. We lost, not amongst the 29% who voted Labour or (generously) the 10% of voters who pay the levy or join the party. We lost among the middle-ground decent folk of Britain. If we were serious we’d let voters in Brighton, Redditch and Redcar choose our next leader.
I’m not suggesting that we have primaries. There is a very good reason that parties have members: the collective discipline provided is crucial for effectiveness in campaigning and ultimately in governing. What I do believe is that unless we understand not just why we lost but also what our people want, then we are doomed to a treadmill of defeat.
Let’s be clear, we were liberated by New Labour because it was a set of policy ideas based on analysis. The example set by Philip Gould was finally copied by the Tories when Lord Ashcroft funded the work that underpinned his polemic pamphlet “Smell the coffee.” What we need now is an equally detailed and compelling assessment of where public opinion now stands. We will differ about how to respond to the facts, but can we have the sense to gather them first?
John McTernan was Political Secretary to Tony Blair.

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