Posts Tagged ‘Labour leadership’

Chuka the unready

15/05/2015, 01:49:34 PM

by Atul Hatwal

In politics, you’re either on the way up or headed down. Chuka, unfortunately, is headed down.

After the shock at his withdrawal and the sympathy at what politicians have to put up with in terms of intrusion, one view will linger: he has suspect judgement.

And that will blight him for the rest of his career.

If there is a scandal about to break, of sufficient scale to force him out of the running, the question will be why he ran at all?

If there is no scandal, then in a way, it will be worse. To have jumped in, and then out, within days hardly suggests decisive leadership.

Chuka has a point about the difference between expecting and experiencing greater scrutiny, but the job he was running for was not some minor office, ultimately it was to be the prime minister of Britain. It’s right that there should be scrutiny and lots of it.

Chuka’s team are briefing that he might seek the leadership again one day, but this is fanciful. Despite his many skills and his ability as a communicator, questions over his judgement will hang silently unanswered, over all that he does from now on.

Many things are forgivable in politics. Bad judgement is not one of them.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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We’re looking for a new CEO who can take us to the next level

12/05/2015, 05:56:07 PM

Overview:

We are a progressive organisation with a great heritage and we’re looking for a new CEO to regain past glories and take the organisation to the next level.

They will also be charged with setting in place a compelling new results-based strategy and developing a dynamic new narrative for the organisation.

While we retain an excellent product portfolio and a loyal and professional sales force, our recent growth figures have been unexpectedly disappointing.

We have just undergone a challenging period, which has seen several key executives leave the organisation.  It is anticipated that this post-holder will refresh the team, embedding a new high-performance culture.

Are you the person to meet these challenges head-on and take us to the next level?

Job description:

To position the organisation as the undisputed UK market leader by 2020

To begin a process of rapid and aggressive expansion, ideally leading to early market dominance in Scotland and London by 2016

To play a key role as a champion for the sector during potential market turbulence in 2017

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Ed needs to earn the public’s respect

11/11/2014, 04:53:07 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The key to a successful political coup, as Mrs. Beeton would probably have pointed out if she wrote about politics instead of household management, is “first find your assassin”. Labour’s chatterers and plotters are as reluctant as ever to plunge the knife. Hands tremble on the hilt. MPs turn to pacifists when it comes to matters of political murder.

Next, find your replacement. Attempts to press-gang Alan Johnson as an alternative to Ed Miliband amounted to nothing. It was lazy, wishful thinking that he would even entertain the idea. As one of our more human politicians, Johnson knows only too well that you need to be crazy to want to lead a political party and, if you’re not, you’ll soon be driven crazy by trying to lead one.

And, so, here we are. Ed Miliband is weakened by cack-handed internal attacks, but remains in situ – and will do until the result of the 2015 general election is settled. But what has this last week been about?

Unlike most other flare-ups in Labour history, it hasn’t been about policy. Slow and sometimes incoherent, policy development under Ed Miliband has thrown up many interesting ideas and a few genuinely head-turning policies. This is not 1983. Labour is not a lost cause ripping itself apart because of pledges to pull out of Europe, scrap our nukes or nationalise the top 100 companies.

No, this is personal. Miliband’s own performance was the reason for this week’s failed putsch. In moving forward, it is important that he and his team accept this. Many MPs and party figures, spooked by the yawning deficits around leadership and economic credibility, wonder how election victory is possible against such a backdrop.  (Add in jitters about Scotland, UKIP and even the rise of the Greens and the mood quickly becomes febrile). Frankly, he should have been expecting trouble.

Many also cite his inconsistent performances. Again, lessons need to be learned here. How on earth do you make a set-piece conference speech and “forget” to mention immigration and the deficit – the two defining issues of our contemporary political debate? It was unforgivably stupid. (He should have made a second speech closing the party conference and rectified the mistake).

Then there are those who think their leader has a tin ear when it comes to courting swing voters in Middle England. Or those who say the same of him when it comes to working class voters in the party’s heartlands. Others are worried about the lack of support coming from the business community. Or southern voters.  Or even, now, Scots.

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Why is Miliband struggling where Kinnock prospered?

04/11/2014, 04:40:09 PM

by Jonathan Todd

On 4 February 1975, Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath in a leadership ballot among Conservative MPs. The Spectator showed the way the wind was blowing four months earlier. It would seem to be of the first importance; it reported on 2 November 1974, that Mr Heath’s successor should be someone who is not ashamed of being a Conservative.

Similarly, during summer 2010, it was felt of the first importance that Mr Brown’s successor should be someone not ashamed of being Labour – except Brown has rarely been so ashamed. He was invariably more unashamedly Labour than his predecessor, Tony Blair. The ex partner that the Labour lover wanted to get out of its system had been playing the international field for three years by the time the opportunity came around to do so.

When Neil Kinnock reacted to Ed Miliband’s election as leader by saying, “we’ve got our party back”, we might presume that Blair was the primary kidnapper. But Miliband was himself a minister under Blair and new Labour was not an imposition on an unwilling party but something that grew out of its belly. As no kidnapping occurred, Kinnock was confused.

Nonetheless, reflecting on who the “our” in “our party” are may tell us something still relevant. In the view of David Marquand, Kinnock’s “skill in manipulating the symbols of tribal loyalty made him leader”. We might speculate, therefore, that “our” are those who recognise and value in these symbols.

“Labour needs its soul back,” I was told in 2010 by someone now working for Miliband. Kinnock connected with this soul via the second of the two dimensions that, as Marquand recalled, Henry Drucker saw as forming the ideology of the British Labour movement: ‘doctrine’ and ‘ethos’. “That ethos,” Marquand observed, “is almost indefinable … Perhaps Richard Hoggart caught it best with his famous evocation of the world of ‘them’ as seen from the point of view of ‘us’”: (more…)

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Why has Labour been so slow to react to Rotherham?

28/08/2014, 09:04:05 AM

by Kevin Meagher

No-one can plausibly say they didn’t expect Professor Alexis Jay’s report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham to be ground-breaking. The signals have been there all along.

There was the damning Ofsted report into the council’s children’s services in 2009. The conviction of a gang of five Pakistani men for child abuse in 2010. Times’ journalist Andrew Norfolk’s further expose in 2012.  The Home Affairs Committee’s report in 2013. Then Rotherham Council commissioned Professor Jay to investigate and provide recommendations on what went wrong.

So, given it was nigh on inevitable that her report would identify grievous mistakes were made by public agencies in dealing with child sexual abuse, why was Labour not ready this week to dole out suspensions for those who had manifestly failed in their roles as Labour representatives?

Why was Roger Stone, the leader of Rotherham Council, not pushed out as soon as it was clear the scale of the abuse in the town was far worse than previously thought?

Why was South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, not also told he would have to go, given the gravity of the offences on his watch as cabinet member for children’s services, when key reports alerting the council leadership to the problem were not actioned?

Why were Rotherham’s four MPs not out there from the start, reassuring the town that they too shared the anger of local people? Why were journalists complaining this week that they had to chase them for a reaction to the report?

Indeed, why was it hours before Labour’s frontbench responded? And why does Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper’s statement skate around the central issue: that the main perpetrators of this abuse were Pakistani men?

And in a week when the party announced a new frontbench portfolio for violence against women and girls, why was Seema Malhotra not immediately despatched to Rotherham to show solidarity with the abused young women of the town – and to engage with Pakistani women who told Professor Jay that the problem facing their community was being ignored?

Ultimately, why has Ed Miliband simply not demanded action? To show leadership, reassure core Labour voters, show he is in touch, or even just to defend Labour’s battered reputation?

And so we are left with Shaun Wright quitting the party in order to hang on as police commissioner and ride out his term, trousering £85,000 a year as he does so.

By dawdling, Labour, has now deprived itself of the opportunity to send him packing.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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If Yvette wants to be leader she needs to tell us what she stands for

12/08/2014, 08:10:46 AM

by David Talbot

What else is there to do in the long summer months than speculate on the next leader of the Labour party? Last summer, of course, events in Falkirk consumed the body politic. This year, with nowhere near as much excitement to hold the nerve during the month of news-austerity that is August, commentators have turned their eye to much more familiar ground; leadership speculation. As Boris Johnson confirms that he had been fibbing all this time and is positively squeaking with ambition to become the next Conservative leader, so too the next roll-call of Labour leadership hopefuls is being sized up. This is predicated, of course, on a Labour loss next year. But that argument is for another day.

Step forward one D Hodges, formerly of the Uncut parish, and now musing from his perch at the Telegraph. Hodges has written a blog suggesting that Rachel Reeves has utilised her ‘boring snoring’ credentials to propel herself into the position of a credible contender for future leadership of the Labour party. Reeves , we are told, for no one actually noticed at the time, launched the latest salvo in Labour’s “the choice” summer campaign last week. Reeves no doubt has a serious and illustrious career ahead of her in the Labour party and, when she genuinely is not being quite so boring, could one day make leader. But the secondary, and all the more intriguing, observation was the slow demise of Yvette Cooper.

Cooper has long been seen as the one serious contender to take on the might of the Umunna machine. Her abstention during the last Labour leadership contest, with the announcement that it wasn’t “the right time”, was rightly seen as the barely-disguised motions of someone who given the chance would run for leader. The reasons for her prominence are well known, and her CV reads like so many of her current Labour contemporaries; First Class degree in PPE at Oxford, Harvard, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, Harriet Harman’s office via the Independent and emerging as Labour’s Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.

Her rise through the ministerial ranks was systematic and impressive; from underling at the Department of Health to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Given New Labour’s obsession with reshuffles, Cooper was a member of the government in no less than 6 departments holding 8 positions. The depth and breadth of her experience is enviable. As shadow Home Secretary she has at times forensically dissected the arguments and machinations of her government counterpart, Theresa May, who is widely regarded as one of the Conservative’s best performers and strongly tipped for their throne.

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Fear and loathing in the PLP: what really happened in Labour’s reshuffle

17/10/2013, 12:25:45 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The cracks are beginning to show. Over the weeks since Ed Miliband reshuffled the shadow cabinet, Uncut has been contacted by a range of different sources, seeking to tell their side of the story about what is going on beneath the slowly fracturing façade of PLP unity.

Piecing together the various accounts, a rather different picture emerges of the reshuffle, to the one commonly reported.

At the heart of it is a leader’s office dominated by fear.

Not fear of what the Tories are doing to the country, or for the electoral battle to come, but a fatalistic conviction that Ed Miliband will either be toppled as Labour’s leader before the next election, or so destabilised as to be incapable of fighting effectively.

This fear framed the reshuffle as Ed Miliband attempted to deal with Blairites, Ballsites, the new hero of the soft left, Andy Burnham and even the young pretender, Chuka Umunna.

The cull of the three Blairites – Jim Murphy, Liam Byrne and Steven Twigg – has been widely discussed, but what is less well known, Westminster sources suggest, is that when faced with Ed Miliband’s concerted move against them, the three discussed their options.

Collective resignation was the first impulse but two factors are said to have changed their minds: the sense that this was their party too and they could still exert some influence on policy; and that any resignation would simply have been written up as sour grapes from the snubbed.

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Labour history uncut: Return of the Mac

11/04/2013, 04:24:23 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

After the general election in November 1922, Labour had a lot to feel good about. It broke three figures for the first time with 142 MPs – 27 more than the total for Lloyd George and Asquith’s Liberal factions put together and firmly established itself as the second party of British politics. Not the first party, true, but one step at a time eh?

Even better, the wave of Labour gains had seen the return of many of the party’s big beasts who had been swept away in Lloyd George’s landslide of 1918.

Returnees included acerbic left wing orator Phillip Snowden, Poplar’s most popular socialist George Lansbury and, the battling pacifist Ramsay Macdonald himself.

The character of this new parliamentary Labour party was quite different to its predecessors. Two, not entirely unconnected, changes marked the 1922 intake: increased representation for the left and the arrival of a number of middle class Labour MPs (including one Clement Attlee, so don’t mock).

The rise of the left was best illustrated by the increased influence of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). In 1918, 3 MPs had been sponsored by this socialist society. By 1922 this had grown to 32.

Although the centre and centre-right bloc of trade union sponsored MPs was still the largest at 85, for the first time the left had a broad caucus to challenge the right.

The ILP mob was sufficiently large that it even had its own left-wing. This was led by the so-called red Clydesiders, part of the contingent of 30 notably left-wing Scottish MPs. The name may sound like a playground torture (“Sir, that bully just gave me a red Clydesider), but these were committed and uncompromising socialists who weren’t averse to the idea of a workers revolution.

Leading lights included the former school teacher Jimmy Maxton (admiring biographer: Gordon Brown, who clearly failed to absorb every lesson this teacher had to offer) and self-made businessman John Wheatley.

With school teacher Jimmy Maxton in the house, inattentive Labour colleagues lived in fear of the well-aimed blackboard eraser

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David Miliband – a geek tragedy

29/06/2011, 03:30:50 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Let me save some time and skip straight to my conclusion: the vicissitudes of David Miliband’s political career do not amount to a tragedy. He is a man who stood for the leadership, lost, and the world moved on. As he, of all people, does not need reminding, there are no silver medals in politics.

Yet here we are, nine months on, with Labour still haunted by the rupture in the hitherto relentless rise of David Wright Miliband. The reverberations continue to ring out. Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s book, Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader is but the latest instalment in what has already become a tiresome soap opera (to the less charitable, it is simply a “geek tragedy”).

Enough of this emotional spasm. David Miliband proclaimed that he was “fine” when he spoke after the result had been declared at last year’s party conference. So we can put away the black armbands. There is no need for a period of official mourning. But if this saga is to drag on a bit further, then perhaps there is a need for an inquest into why David Miliband finds himself where he is.

Intelligent, optimistic, hard working and decent: David Miliband’s appeal should have spanned right across the Labour party. Despite also being a bit grand and stand-offish, he really could have personified the post-Blair and Brown generation better than anyone else. He should have been the logical choice, the unifying figure that married free-flowing Blairite pragmatism with Brownite social democratic moorings.

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Sunday News Review

26/09/2010, 07:00:09 AM

And the winner is…

It began with a first round showing in which the younger Miliband had done better than most expected. A murmur began which spread around the room. “He’s going to win,” whispered some. It turned into a whistled gasp when the second round of results were announced and he had almost caught up with his brother. When they realised that Ed Miliband had won, many delegates jumped to their feet and howled – but others stayed straight-faced, clearly disappointed. It seemed unfair that David – the frontrunner for so long – was in the end defeated by a margin so tiny it seemed almost insignificant. – The Guardian.

For Mrs Marion Miliband, days don’t come more bittersweet than this. Son Ed is ecstatic after pulling off a stunning victory. Son David is distraught, his political career suddenly plunged into turmoil. – The Mirror.

It was over breakfast with his older brother David at his Primrose Hill home in mid-September that Ed Miliband finally realised how close he was to becoming Labour’s new leader.
 – The Telegraph.

We lost the election and we lost it badly. My message to the country is this: I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour, a new generation that understands the call of change.” – Metro.

As the odds on an Ed Miliband win fell dramatically in the course of 24 hours before he was finally declared Labour’s new leader on Saturday afternoon, one leading bookmaker was prompted launch an investigation into the sudden shift. – The Telegraph.

During the first week or two of his leadership he will be faced with the allegation – promoted by cynical Tory newspapers and garrulous Labour ancients – that he wants to take Labour back to the days of wholesale public ownership and subservience to the trade unions. – Roy Hattersley, The Guardian.

It was on a knife-edge. It looked like Labour was getting ready for power again, and going for David Miliband. But when the unions’ votes were counted, Red Ed just made it. And this could very well be Labour losing the next election. – NOTW.

We spend a lot of time criticising politicians so it behoves us to praise one when they behave with as much dignity as David Miliband has today. He has lost the Labour leadership election by the narrowest of margins and despite winning among both party members and MPs, but there has not been even a hint of bitterness or irriation in his behaviour. – The Spectator.

For Ed Miliband the initial challenges are perhaps even greater than those that would have faced his brother, because of the nature of the campaign he fought and the sections of the party from which he drew much of his support – the unions and the left. The rightwing press is loading up its heavy ammunition to rain down on “Red Ed”, whose campaign was seen as being to the left of David’s. – The Guardian.

The dramatic result, which saw Ed Miliband – dubbed ‘Red Ed’ – win with just 1.3 per cent more votes than his brother, was hailed as a ‘disaster’ by supporters of Tony Blair who had backed David. They claimed Ed, 40, a former adviser to Mr Brown, will be controlled by the trade unions, whose votes proved decisive in securing his victory. – Mail.

“We were all stood there, the five of us, with Harriet Harman and Ray Collins, and Ray said, ‘You have all done brilliantly. Ed Miliband, you have won’. In a sense it was a relief for everyone to know the final result – and David and Ed hugged straight away.” – Ed Balls, The Mirror.

The man chosen by key trade union leaders and many union members is now the leader of theLabour Party. And the one chosen by Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair isn’t. – Socialist Worker.

“If you turn on your television or open a newspaper you will not find me once, not ever, doing anything other than supporting the Labour leader” Gordon Brown, – FT.

With Coldplay’s Viva La Vida – the one with the lyrics ‘the old king is dead; long live the king’ – playing out, there was definitely a feeling of a re-birth for the party as it took to its feet. – Manchester Evening News.

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