Posts Tagged ‘Ed Miliband’

Three quick points about the Labour manifesto

17/05/2017, 01:51:57 PM

by Kevin Meagher

You campaign in poetry…

Today we’re talking about Labour’s radical plans to scrap tuition fees, nationalise industries deemed to have failed the public, spend more on public services and raise the living wage – while making the dastardly rich pay for it all.

We’re not talking about Brexit and we’re not talking about how Labour wants to scrap nuclear weapons. Or, actually, about Jeremy Corbyn.  This is a tactical victory, of sorts.

Is the manifesto wise or workable? Hmmm. Do the individual measures resonate with voters? Yes. Is Labour credible when it explains how they will be funded? No. But the manifesto peps-up Labour activists who now have meaty, simply-understood things to talk about on the doorstep, other than the merits or demerits of their leader.

The sums don’t add up. Who cares?

Labour has a £57 billion ‘black hole’ in its spending plans, splutter the Conservatives, totting-up Labour’s great Monopoly grab of utilities.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond even called a presser so they could stand there and intone about the Cost of Labour. Stood behind their podiums this morning they looked like the lamest Kraftwerk tribute act ever, or a couple of mismatched contestants on Pointless, with Theresa May fluffing a question about whether she still has confidence in Hammond. (‘Well, we’ve known each other a long time…’)

For weary voters, it boils down to one group of politicians they don’t trust claiming the sums of the other group of politicians they don’t trust don’t add up.

At this stage, nothing matters

Election campaigns don’t fundamentally alter voters’ choices. Nothing that happens is either a dramatic success or failure. You cannot rub out months or years’ worth gradually constructed opinions in a few weeks. Labour famously ‘won’ the 1987 election campaign but lost the election. Ed Miliband had a really good campaign back in 2015. His performance was probably the highpoint of his five year leadership. But, by then, the public had weighed and measured him and found him wanting. Alas, Jeremy Corbyn’s numbers tell the same story.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Soft Brexit is an illusion. Either Labour opposes or backs a hard Tory Brexit by default

03/04/2017, 09:37:59 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The weekly dance at Westminster of the Parliamentary Labour Party over Brexit reached a new stage in the final week of March with Keir Starmer’s 6 tests of what Labour would accept to back Brexit.  It is not worth discussing them. They will be voted down and unless the Tories can be induced to split, then Labour faces a bleak future where it continually fails to set the agenda while the SNP (north of the border) and the Lib Dems (South of the border) collect the Remain votes.

While Ed Miliband’s speech at Open Labour was sad, possibly even sadder was Tom Watson’s weekly bulletin (1st April but not alas an April Fool’s joke)  in which he claimed “Labour won’t support a final deal which does not pass all these tests”, referring to Keir Starmer’s 6 tests earlier in the week. The PLP has lost every vote where it has voted against the Tory Brexit plans, and this will continue. Theresa May’s game plan is a hard Brexit to win the UKIP voter and destroy Labour in its northern seats, and it is formidable. However the belief that there is a soft Brexit – and not a clear choice to oppose Brexit, without playing a game that would split the party and the Northern MPs who are terrified for their seats – is no response for Labour.

Watson’s blog calls on May to honour her “strong commitments”  – she is doing so: she promised to deliver a an uncompromising Brexit –  and the relevant section ends “She needs to stand up to those in her party whose vision of Britain’s future is very different from that of most of the people who voted to leave the EU. And she needs to deliver a deal which meets her commitments. Labour’s tests and the aspirations of all British people, whether they voted Leave or Remain”. This is ungrammatical, fantasy politics.  There is no evidence Hard Brexit is not what Leavers voted for, though this can change, but arguing that the Leave and Remain voters have the same aspirations is to reinvent reality.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

At Open Labour, Ed Miliband backed the Corbyn-Starmer line on Brexit. A line that leaves Theresa May calling the shots

13/03/2017, 10:40:48 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The first Open Labour conference on March 11th was a successful launch of the project. In a school hall, 230 attendees took part for an afternoon of discussion.  Not all were members, but when a tight vote on an amendment led to tellers counting, 104 members had voted. This was a respectable number. I had sympathy with the colleague who asked “have we not decided this?”, not so as this was a first event, but OL was understandably treading a familiar path at this early stage. It will be for the perspectives conference in June to decide what the Unique Selling Point of OL will be.

The attendees seemed to be drawn from the Miliband cadre who had come to hear their leader. The age profile was around half over 50, about the same under 30. Anyone in their 30s or 40s and joined during the New Labour years seem not to warm to Open Labour so both the pre- New Labour and post New Labour cohorts seem to be the people attracted to Open Labour. However whether Open Labour can confront the failures of the Miliband era as well as those of earlier years is an open question – and very much open after Ed Miliband spoke to end the conference,

Miliband rightly focused almost entirely on Brexit in his 15 minute contribution, correctly as this is the defining issue of the current period, and supported the current Corbyn-Starmer line. This is to accept Brexit and the 2016 referendum but to seek a soft Brexit with concessions, none of which are on offer – certainly not EU citizens’ rights and access to the single market, currently dominating the debate. It is a fact that none of the amendments Labour put to the Article 50 bill were accepted, and the Tories did not accept any of the Lords amendments.  Labour is not likely to propose a constitutional crisis by using the Lords to overturn the rights of the Commons as the last thing an unpopular Labour Party can do is use the unelected Lords to block the decisions of the elected chamber. Certainly not to challenge the referendum result, which gave the government the mandate to trigger Article 50.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

How to fight hard Brexit: Step 3 – Don’t do a Miliband on migration. Answer the numbers question

23/01/2017, 08:06:55 AM

In a series of three pieces, Atul Hatwal sets out how hard Brexit can be fought in the coming years. Today he looks at what pro-Europeans need to do on immigration

The prologue is almost at an end. Theresa May’s Brexit speech last week marked the close of the preliminary skirmishes. Battle lines are being drawn on triggering Article 50; MPs are mobilising and a slew of cross-party amendments to the government’s A50 motion are expected on retaining significant single market participation.

Immigration will be at the heart of the debate with the balance of public opinion shaping what is and is not politically possible at Westminster.

Unfortunately, at this pivotal moment, on this central issue, pro-Europeans are in disarray. Too many seem to have taken a leaf out of the Labour playbook at the last election and are using Ed Miliband’s approach on immigration as their strategic template.

One of the great failings of the Labour party in the 2010 to 2015 parliament was magical thinking.

Labour policy on immigration exemplified the problem. Ed Miliband repeatedly sympathised with public worries that migration had been too high for many years. Yet rather than committing to policies to cut migration, he focused on tackling labour market exploitation. All very laudable, but not really answering public concerns on the level of migration to the UK.

The result was incontrovertible. At the 2015 general election, 15% of the public backed Labour on migration, 2% lower that at the 2010 election (YouGov issue tracker) despite net migration running at over three times the Tories’ target.

It was a hard lesson that remains widely unlearned.

Stephen Kinnock and Emma Reynolds’ recent proposal for a two tier migration system with sectoral quotas is pure Milibandism. The Brexit Together campaign, fronted by Caroline Flint, which echoes this call, is more of the same.

Set aside for a moment the substance of the policy suggested. Plenty of practical criticisms could be made about the huge levels of state planning required to work out migrant quotas for jobs, by sector, seniority, substitutability and region.

This whole approach is built on an assumption that the British public is more concerned about the process of migration control rather than the resulting numbers arriving in the UK.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

How to fight hard Brexit: Step 2 – Learn from the Brexiteers, use their tactics against them

29/12/2016, 04:23:00 PM

In a series of three pieces, Atul Hatwal sets out how hard Brexit can be fought in the coming years. Today he looks at the political tactics needed to control the debate

The unwritten story of the past twenty years of British politics is the triumph of the nutter. Or at least, those who were once commonly described as such.

I started working for the Labour party in the mid-1990s. Back then, the Maastricht rebels – the political forbears of today’s Brexiteers – were regarded as fringe loons yearning for pre-Suez Britain, while hard left refuseniks such as Jeremy Corbyn were similarly dismissed as deluded Bennite voices from a long dead past.

In possibly the quote of the decade, John Major’s press secretary, Tim Collins, described John Redwood’s supporters in the 1995 Tory leadership contest as the “swivel-eyed barmy army, from ward eight at Broadmoor.”

How times change.

Many centrist words have been expended bemoaning the triumph of yesterday’s nutters, not enough understanding why they have been successful.

The journey from margin to mainstream for Brexiteers and hard left alike has been driven by a common political tactic, a tactic which pro-Europeans should repeat in the fight against hard Brexit: co-ordination between ultras and moderates.

Campaigns to move opinion on big issues are won by tag teams. Ultras and moderates working together, wittingly or otherwise.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

If Labour MPs want to make ending free movement a Brexit red line, they’d better be ready to leave the single market

20/09/2016, 10:35:24 PM

by Atul Hatwal

One of the reasons the Labour party is in such a terrible state is that the many of moderate mainstream, those meant to offer an alternative to Corbyn, are so bad at the basics in politics.

Yesterday’s foray into the debate on freedom of movement by Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds and Stephen Kinnock, was a case study in ineptitude.

By arguing that ending free movement to reduce migration should be a red line in Brexit negotiations, they have constructed an argument that will not survive first contact with a journalist and set a broader public expectation which can never be met.

The obvious immediate question which journalists will ask these MPs is whether they are prepared to leave the single market?

If the central European states such Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, western European states such as France and EU President Juncker stick to their public position of vetoing any reform, are these MPs prepared for hard Brexit?

Will they back a version of leaving the EU that would see the flight of financial services from the City of London, the movement of major manufacturers like the Japanese car makers to the continent, the imposition of a hard border between northern and southern in Ireland and condemn tens of thousands of their constituents to the dole?

Seriously?

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Ed Balls was a useless shadow chancellor

02/09/2016, 10:50:09 PM

by Kevin Meagher

‘You are only a man’ servants used to whisper in the ears of Roman generals to stop them believing their own hype on their triumphant return from battle.

It’s a pity no-one ever performed a similar service for Ed Balls.

The former shadow chancellor, who was unceremoniously ejected by the people of Morley and Outwood at the last election, is rematerializing into British politics, with a new book out about his life in politics and some unsolicited advice for the party.

The extracts show Balls for what he is: a clever and effective politician in many ways. Unfortunately for him, his curse is hubris.

His period as shadow chancellor under Ed Miliband was an unmitigated disaster for Labour.

Routinely 20 points behind Cameron and Osborne throughout the last parliament on questions of economic competence and trust, it was clear three years out from the election that the party was stone-cold dead on the economy.

His associations with the dog-days of Gordon Brown’s government meant Balls – so long his factotum at the Treasury – was an insane choice for the role.

He was a constant, corporeal reminder of Labour’s previous mistakes, which the party in government did so little to contextualise when it had the chance.

But he coveted the job when Alan Johnson, Miliband’s original shadow chancellor, quit. Pride got the better of him and he simply wasn’t slick enough to shake off previous form to win a second hearing.

At no point did he manage to alter the terms of political debate.

Labour spent too much and regulated too little. They didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining. They maxed out the credit card. They have no long-term economic plan. The blows rained down on Labour’s reputation and Ed Balls was not equal to the task of rebutting them.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The skipped over people of real Britain

26/08/2016, 05:10:12 PM

by Kevin Meagher

There’s a space in British politics that no one wants to occupy at the moment.

If you’re sensible and moderate, perhaps even old-fashioned in your outlook, in favour of traditional marriage, say, or concerned about the pace of change in society, maybe disapproving of mass immigration and not particularly enthused by the growth of identity politics, then there’s not really anywhere for you to go, politically, these days.

In previous times, many of you backed Labour, as your family did before you, but they’re all career politicians these days aren’t they? Self-serving PC loonies.

You can’t understand why Jeremy Corbyn won’t wear a tie or makes such a fuss about singing the National Anthem.

You don’t live in central London. You’re from one of those towns in the north and midlands that people in London have heard of, but aren’t quite sure where they are.

You don’t own an Apple Mac. You can’t taste the difference between Guatemalan and Colombian coffee beans. You voted to leave the European Union and you don’t regret it one tiny bit.

You want to buy British and be proud of your country. You like your politicians in suits. You wonder why we can’t just jail or expel Muslim fanatics who hate us.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Team Brexit’s political misjudgements have turned a campaign drama into an existential crisis for their cause

26/05/2016, 07:00:53 PM

In a three part series Atul Hatwal looks at the state of the two EU referendum campaigns and the likely winners and losers from the vote. For his second post, he reviews the performance of the Brexiteers.

Few would describe the Labour party as a model of electoral success in recent years.

But the two-headed Brexit team of Leave.EU and Vote Leave have contrived to ape Labour’s biggest mistakes over the past six years, combining the worst of Corbyn and Miliband to create a Frankenstein campaign that frequently defies belief.

The Faragists of Leave.EU are the Corbynistas of this campaign.

For Farage its immigration, for Corbyn its austerity, either way their mode of monomania is the same.

Britain’s electoral experience and current polling suggests that the economy matters most to voters.

But the Faragists don’t care about evidence.

Their faith-based approach to argument ignores the niceties of engaging with swing voters’ priorities in favour of shouting the same thing about their pet issue, EU migrants, over and over again, more and more loudly.

The stock response to set-backs or public rejection is to retreat into a nether-sphere of conspiracy theories about media bias, skewed polls and conniving, establishment lizard overlords.

The louder the Faragist tendency shouts, the more the anti-EU cause is seen by mainstream voters as a fringe concern propagated by advocates nearer David Icke than David Cameron on the credibility spectrum.

About the only thing that can be said in defence of the Faragists and Corbynistas, is that their position is at least constant.

In contrast, the Vote Leave campaign, who were meant to be the Brexit adults in the room, seem to have taken Ed Miliband as their model.

Like Miliband, they understood that banging on endlessly about what animates activists is not a route to victory.

They saw the importance of swing voters.

But like Miliband, they haven’t been able to bring themselves to act on voters’ concerns.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Until Labour addresses the toxic trio – immigration, welfare and economic trust – it will never win again

24/05/2016, 06:14:39 PM

by Kevin Meagher

You’ve probably heard Labour politicians concede there’s a ‘perception’ that immigration is a problem and respond by saying that ‘people are not racist for being concerned about the issue’.

These are the two weaselling formulations trotted out time and again to body swerve the issue that looms large in the concerns of electors – particularly those who still vote Labour – and millions more who the party needs to win back if it ever has a hope of governing again.

Yet Labour is not serious – not at all – in trying to meet the public’s expectations. There is no concession that mass immigration has indeed been damaging for many communities and groups of workers, (albeit largely positive for the urban middle-class). Behind the platitudes – the obfuscations – the real view is clear: Immigration is an objective good. There are no downsides. You are a fool or a racist if you think there are.

Enter Jon Cruddas. The Dagenham MP and sometime policy chief to Ed Miliband, has launched a new report, Labour’s Future, Why Labour Lost in 2015 and How it Can Win Again. It argues the party needs to: ‘…stop patronising socially conservative Ukip voters and recognise the ways in which Ukip appeals to former Labour voters…’

Devastatingly, Cruddas – a former academic and not much given to hyperbole – adds: ‘Labour is becoming a toxic brand. It is perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration, lacks credibility on the economy, and is a “soft touch” on welfare spending.’

‘A toxic brand’. My, how we sneer at the Tories’ lack of electoral success in the north, yet as the report points out, 43% of voters in the south said they would never vote Labour (the same figure for voters in the north who would never vote Conservative). (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon