Posts Tagged ‘Ed Miliband’

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…)

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The results are in on Corbyn’s first few months. No matter how you spin it, they’re terrible

13/05/2016, 01:51:37 PM

by Rob Marchant

The leader’s office spin operation began long before the elections, because everyone knew they would be bad. The objective was simple: essentially, anything, anything at all to try and make them look other than the disaster most expected.

For example as Dan Hodges, sometime of this parish, pointed out, the Corbyn team decided on a tactic (of comparing the outcome with 2015 results, instead of 2011 or 2012 when the seats were last contested) was leaked to the BBC. It was patently foolish. No sane psephologist would try and compare an election with the previous year.

And when even the Leader himself ended up describing the results as “not good enough”, we still had incoherence in the party’s appearances on the media. In only the latest in a series of car-crash interviews, Diane Abbott memorably described the results as “steady progress”. Oh, my aching sides.

But they were all attempting to spin the unspinnable.

Yes, Sadiq Khan did a highly professional job in winning the London mayoralty, the one bright point of the elections. But even he did not manage this without exposing his past as a cuddler-up to unpleasant elements of the Islamist far right. Not, as the Tories tried to imply, because he is a card-carrying Islamist himself; he is not. But he has been ruthless enough in his pursuit of political support to schmooze with extremists until quite recently, in a way that should make party members nervous.

And let us not forget that London is, historically, a Labour stronghold par excellence. In fact, the two Boris wins in 2008 and 2012 may arguably be seen as the result, not just of the pendulum swing against Labour nationally, but also of a serious falling-out-of-love with one Ken Livingstone on the part of the London electorate.

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Of course we need to support those 3,000 Syrian children looking for a home. We helped put them there

27/04/2016, 06:05:27 PM

by Rob Marchant

There are some times when Labour and the Tories divide on party lines, not because merely they are whipped differently – or that they have dark and evil hearts, see Uncuts passim – but simply because they have fundamentally different ways of looking at the world.

What might seem a no-brainer to ordinary folk – the desperate plight of children alone in the world and bearing no responsibility whatsoever for their fate – becomes a point of immovable principle to a pig-headed Tory party caught in a moment of blind, anti-immigration frenzy. And it is sadly difficult to think this is unconnected to the current turbulence within the party over its perennial, navel-gazing obsession, the EU. Along with Labour MPs, a few noble souls defied the Tory whip, but mostly the vote was a shabby affair on the part of the governing party; the parliamentary equivalent of a mumbled excuse.

No, if you need an example of why this country needs a Labour government, it was given to you on Monday night without too much fuss.

The Parliamentary Labour Party, having suffered a rather difficult few months, largely paralysed over how to respond to its politically disastrous new leadership, finally showed what it was made of and supported Lord Alf Dubs’* amendment. An amendment requiring the government to accept the 3,000 homeless, stateless and unaccompanied Syrian children into the country.

Bravo, PLP. Bravo. It was a good thing you did on Monday night, even if it ended in honourable defeat. We should, however, just remember one, painfully ironic thing.

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Labour needs to end its pathetic war on the media

12/04/2016, 09:38:50 PM

by Samuel Dale

Labour MP Angela Raynor is interesting. She is shadow pensions minister but despite a time of huge upheaval in both public and private pensions provision, she rarely talks publicly about her patch.

Instead, the former union rep focuses her ire on a vast array of issues beyond her brief such as the steel crisis or – the favourite of most Corbynite Labour MPs today – criticizing the press.

Last Wednesday, prime minister David Cameron admitted he had more than $30,000 held in an offshore trust that he withdrew in January 2010. It was a stunning admission after days of evading questions over the Panama Papers.

At 10pm on Wednesday, Raynor tweeted: “I bet the right-wing press will hardly cover Cameron confession, front page will be a silly non-story on an obscure topic #curseofcameron”

By 11pm, the front pages of all major newspapers had been published and the story was splashed on the Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Mirror, Daily Express and Metro. It also made the second story on the front page of the Sun.

Obviously she was completely wrong. But more importantly, it is typical in the party today. Even when Labour is getting good coverage, it is blinded by its hatred of the press.

On Friday morning, a reporter from LBC door-stepped Jeremy Corbyn to ask what he thought about the criticism around Cameron’s offshore holdings.

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The Beckett report reminds us of the utter uselessness of Labour’s establishment

20/01/2016, 10:25:50 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The Beckett report is a woeful reminder of the paucity of insight that characterised Labour’s pre-Corbyn establishment.

Commissioned by Harriet Harman in her second stint as acting leader, with Margaret Beckett -the only MP to have served in every Labour government since Wilson’s in the 1970s – leading the drafting team, this report is steeped in the mores and perspectives of Labour’s old guard.

The resulting analysis manages to be both asinine and anodyne in equal measure

Meaningless blandishments that would be laughed at if written in a GCSE essay are proffered as pearls of wisdom. For example, on communications, this is Beckett’s recommendation,

“We need a comprehensive media strategy, which includes local, regional and national media, print, broadcasting and social media. “

Yes, really.

On Labour’s vision for the country, the report says,

“We must set out a vision for the country’s future, which shows both what we believe the country needs and what we will contribute to its achievement.”

Who would set out a vision based on what the country didn’t need and how Labour wouldn’t contribute to things getting better? Was the team writing this report ill?

Simultaneously, fundamental reasons for defeat such as Ed Miliband’s leadership are glossed over.

“Over the period 2010 – 15, what the polls did consistently show was that, when asked if ‘this man could be Prime Minister’, David Cameron was rated above Ed Miliband. Since he actually was Prime Minister, this response was perhaps less than surprising.

It is the fate of every Labour Leader of the Opposition to be the target of ferocious attack from partisan sections of our media. Tony Blair was called ‘Bambi’, and described as too young and inexperienced to be up to doing the job.”

This glib statement is tossed in without the salient qualification that Ed Miliband trailed David Cameron on preference for Prime Minister by double digits while Tony Blair led John Major by a similar margin.

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For Ed Miliband, One Nation was a soundbite. For moderates it should be the rallying cry to take on Corbyn

11/01/2016, 05:30:25 PM

by Tom Clements

There is much to regret about the leadership of Ed Miliband; not least the election defeat and changes to leadership election rules that have led to the election of Jeremy Corbyn. But for me, it’s the abandonment of One Nation Labour. At the time, I thought that this was the game changer. A genuinely inclusive and unifying offer with which we could change the country for the better.

I was wrong.

It wasn’t a genuine offer or an ideological framework. It was a cheap parlour trick. One that was designed to win a few headlines and embarrass the Prime Minister by taking a conservative idea and claiming it for Labour. That’s what makes me angry about Ed’s leadership.

It could’ve been so bold.

Instead, the idea fell up against the ‘predistributing’ instincts of Miliband. The instinct that the rich weren’t really part of Miliband’s One Nation. They were just there to foot the bill. He fell into that worst Labour tradition of implying that being rich and wanting to be rich was something to resent.

Not that there is anything wrong with the rich paying their fair share. Far from it, it’s the only way that a society can function in harmony. As the brilliant Senator Warren argues “no one gets rich on their own” and it’s there duty to give “a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid that comes along”. And that is right.

And it wasn’t just about the rich.

He forgot about the traditional working class; those who UKIP are trying to woo. We treated their concerns about immigration and benefits with suspicion not understanding. Suspicion that meant that the white van in Rochester was only the tip of the iceberg. Suspicion that meant they stayed at home or put their cross in a different box on election day.

And this is what cost us the election.

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The Uncuts: 2015 political awards (part I)

31/12/2015, 12:56:58 PM

Politician of the year: David Cameron

It’s easy to overlook David Cameron. The political news is dominated by Labour’s travails while the Conservatives seem more pre-occupied with their leadership succession.

But there David Cameron sits in Number 10 as prime minister, with a Conservative majority and a wide lead over Labour in the polls.

During the general election campaign, he was virtually written-off. Even Uncut, one of the few sites that consistently predicted a triumph for Cameron’s Tories over Ed Miliband’s Labour (here’s one, from almost exactly a year ago), did not see the Tory majority coming.

David Cameron defeated the last vestiges of New Labour when he beat Gordon Brown in 2010. He’s now beaten the soft left alternative in Ed Miliband and played a central role in driving the Labour party over the edge of electability with the hard left Jeremy Corbyn.

The Prime Minister dominates the centre ground and has put the Tories in their strongest position since the early 1980s. Several Labour MPs privately talk of the prospect of Tory rule until at least 2030 as a likely prospect.

And now, as David Cameron enters the New Year, he is ideally placed in his final major battle: to keep Britain in the EU. The polls are tilting his way with all of the evidence pointing towards a decisive break in his favour among undecideds when he claims to have secured a significant reform deal.

Despite the grim Tory expectations at the start of the year, the doubts of most of the media and his own avoidable missteps, such as pre-announcing his own resignation before the general election campaign, 2015 will go down as David Cameron’s annus mirabilis.

Media disaster: Edstone

Every general election has one of those moments that defines the losing  campaign.

In 1992, it was the row over the Jennifer’s ear party election broadcast for Labour. In 1997, it was the Tories’ doomed Demon Eyes poster.

In 2015 it was the Edstone.

It is hard to describe just how blood-chillingly awful the idea of carving Labour’s key pledges on an 8-foot granite tombstone was.

The metaphors were obvious, so blatantly obvious, in fact, that the idea should have been strangled the moment it fell out of the mouth of the person who proposed it. For good measure, they should have been strangled too.

Like everyone else coming to this a bit late one drowsy Sunday morning, I saw #EdStone trending on Twitter and assumed it was some metaphorical remark he had made about his word ‘being like a tablet of stone’ or some such.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech will have confirmed voters’ worst fears about Labour

29/09/2015, 03:33:36 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Expectations are now so low for Jeremy Corbyn that anything short of a full nervous breakdown at the microphone is regarded as a success.

He delivered his speech. He didn’t collapse. He didn’t promise to nationalise the top 100 companies and troops did not ring the auditorium as a prelude to the revolution.

Given the unbelievably low expectations going into this speech, it was a case of job done. Certainly within the bubble of Labour conference.

But step outside of the bubble for a moment. Step into the shoes of the general public. Look at this speech from their viewpoint. Think about what they saw.

A decent man. A passionate man. A man who should be kept as far from any position of power as is humanly possible.

Jeremy Corbyn is an uber-Miliband.

An agitated academic who rehearses his protest points with vigour but fails to describe any alternative.

Corbyn’s jumble of unhappy reflection on past foreign policy and declarations of long held positions will have seemed utterly esoteric to the practical issues facing most people in Britain today.

Problems such as Syria and Iraq were listed, but solutions? Not so much.

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John McDonnell is fermenting Special Brew Milibandism

28/09/2015, 01:47:30 PM

by Atul Hatwal

John McDonnell might have a history of ranting radicalism, but he offered a different approach in his speech to Labour conference.

The florid attacks on austerity and business were familiar but the policy content wasn’t quite as red in tooth and claw as his previous rhetoric might have suggested.

Talk of paying down the deficit, briefings to the press on signing Osborne’s fiscal charter and new caveats on implementing Peoples Quantitative Easing (also known as printing money) show how sails have been trimmed.

At conference, there’s been some head-scratching. What’s McDonnell doing?

Labour’s shadow chancellor is fermenting a Special Brew version of Milibandism.

Harsher, more pungent and stronger than the beverage offered by Labour’s last leader, but a version, nonetheless.

Ed Miliband clearly didn’t like the idea of cuts to public services, John McDonnell committed to avoiding any cuts altogether.

Ed Miliband spoke in abstract terms about predators and producers, John McDonnell named Starbucks, Amazon, Google and Vodafone.

And Ed Miliband worried about welfare cuts, McDonnell promised there would be none.

However, in common with Milibandism classic, McDonnell’s speech left a trail of questions unanswered.

He talked blithely about using funds from economic growth and crackdowns on tax avoidance and corporate welfare to avoid austerity.

This might sound good in a Labour conference speech and offer up some easy clap lines but Ed Miliband’s position unravelled on the specifics.

John McDonnell is just as vulnerable.

Seema Malhotra, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, went on the Daily Politics with Andrew Neil immediately after the speech and endured a painful dissection of Labour’s missing policy detail.

How would tax avoidance be stopped? How much could be recovered? Which corporate taxes would go up to reduce the deficit? How much deficit reduction would be from these sources?

She tried to respond but the cupboard was bare.

This is why McDonnell is offering a punchier version of Miliband’s economics, not something fundamentally different.

He’s dodging the same questions.

Just like Miliband, McDonnell seems to be worried by the response of the public to higher taxes and borrowing, so he falls back on intangibles like growth and tax avoidance.

And as with Miliband, the Tories will skewer McDonnell on the lack of specifics and confirm public doubts about Labour and economic competence.

The key difference with McDonnell’s Special Brew Milibandism, is that the hangover is going to be that much worse.

Labour will soon be perceived as being even more anti-business and even less trustworthy with the public finances than at the last election.

Welcome to the new politics. Not so different to the old politics.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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The soft left made Corbyn leader. They’re Labour’s swing vote and need to be won back for the centre

24/09/2015, 10:06:42 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Jeremy Corbyn’s been in post for 13 days. It still doesn’t seem real. On Tuesday he will give his inaugural conference address as Labour leader against a backdrop of splits on unilateralism and talk of mandatory reselections for MPs.

The party has been bundled into a DeLorean and now we’re back in the 1980s.

During the leadership campaign I wrote a couple of pieces predicting doom for Corbyn’s candidacy. When YouGov published their first poll I was pretty disparaging. Surely the majority didn’t want to go back to 1980s Labour?

Clearly I was wrong, wrong as it’s possible to be. YouGov were right, the Corbynistas were right, the earthquake happened and everything came crashing down. The Tories are jubilant and privately looking at a majority in 2020 that could tip over into three figures.

In the past fortnight, since Labour’s election results I’ve spent time speaking to members, registered supporters, CLP office-holders, MPs and candidates to understand the answer to two questions: who switched to Corbyn – because this level of support for the hard left in the party is unprecedented – and why.

Back in August, Mike Harris articulated the scale of change at a local level in this excellent post. As Mike says, it’s like an entirely different party has been created.

However, this new party isn’t an entirely unfamiliar party.

CLP chairs and secretaries are uniformly clear that most new members and supporters have been involved with the party before.

The defining characteristic of the majority in this group is that they are from the soft left. Not the hard left from where Corbyn hails, nor Trotskyite entryists or Stalinist tankies from fringe groups outside the party (the far left in the declension of the British left).

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