Posts Tagged ‘one nation’

Thanks to Corbyn, I might not vote Labour. Here’s how the Tories could win my vote in 2020

05/02/2016, 03:06:31 PM

by Samuel Dale

I have a confession to make. If David Cameron was Conservative leader in 2020 fighting an election against a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour then I would have no choice. I’d vote Conservative for the first time in my life.

I wouldn’t duck the choice with a vote for Tim Farron’s ludicrous Liberal Democrats. Farron has done nothing to build on some of Nick Clegg’s smart, centrist positioning while detoxifying the party from its shambolic U-turns and dreadfully naïve politics when in coalition.

Nope, it’s Tory or Labour at a general election. It’s about choosing a prime minister and there is no doubt that Cameron is better than Corbyn.

We are all familar with how Corbyn has gleefully abandoned Labour moderates and centrists. His pacifism and masochistic foreign policy, opposition to Trident renewal, business policy, monetary policy, income tax levels and much more beside, make him unpalatable to me.

So how can the Tories capitalise. Cameron won’t be leader in 2020 and Corybn may not be either. The real question for Conservatives is, how much do they want my vote and thousands like it. Blairite, pro-EU liberals comfortable with high levels of immigration and capitalism but worried about inequality. Corbyn has opened the space, can they take it?

The Conservatives have made no secret of their desire to (occasionally) pitch to people like me since their May election victory. It’s not easy to prise away Labour tribalists but are making good progress.


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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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Labour is lost, here’s the way out

31/07/2015, 02:10:02 PM

by Brian Back

The Labour party is lost. It has lost its way, its purpose and identity. Its MPs and members are fighting amongst themselves, rather than fighting against the Tories, or for the people it is supposed to represent.

The Labour party is really struggling; struggling with internal conflict and confusion, struggling with the issues of how to remain relevant and how to appeal to the whole nation (rather than just 35%), whilst remaining true to its core principles. The recent Welfare Bill debacle clearly demonstrates the level of confusion in the Party regarding the problem of reconciling its core principles with the need to become more electable.

Labour desperately needs to find itself; to re-discover its purpose, to re-focus and re-brand, to re-connect with voters and regain their trust, so as to once again become the ‘natural’ Party of ‘the people’.

The way to achieve this is not through a ‘what’s in it for me?’ manifesto, with a shopping list of policies; each aimed at a separate section of the electorate. The election proved this to be not only uninspiring, but also unsuccessful.

Labour needs a powerful, straightforward and clear ‘brand’ and promise. It needs a grand narrative that is not only distinctive and true to its values, but also appealing to the whole nation.

In order to do this, to show that it is the Party of the people- of all the people, Labour needs to step back and take a wider view of our society, in order to develop a true ‘one nation’ approach and message.

Labour needs to ask itself; what cares and concerns are shared by all voters?

What is the universal need and desire of every member of the population?

What does everyone want, that only Labour can provide?

What should be our promise to the nation?

The answer is security.


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Ed Miliband’s narrow political strategy is a failure

01/05/2015, 03:31:24 PM

by Samuel Dale

The Labour party is in a state of emergency. Rather than fighting this election with real momentum and confidence, we are in retreat across large swathes of the nation.

In the last five years of opposition Labour has drastically shrunk its core and failed to reach out to new voters. Ed Miliband has been outflanked on the left, right and centre leaving a party creaking at the seams.

If you design a 35% leadership strategy that aims to benefit from boundary anomalies then this is what happens. He talks the talk on One Nation but he has not done much else.

Whatever happens this week, the long-term consequences could be immense.

Scotland has been lost to the SNP in disastrous fashion. The independence referendum that split the nation is clearly the catalyst but Miliband must share some blame.

He is ultimately the leader who oversaw a huge defeat in the 2011 Scottish parliament elections and failed to respond. When she left in October, Johann Lamont famously compared Scottish Labour to a “branch office” of London last year.

Miliband is more unpopular in Scotland than even David Cameron. In February a Survation poll put said just 19% of Scots wanted Miliband as prime minister compared to 23% for Cameron.

That puts a spanner in the works of those calling for Labour to move to the left to win back Scotland.


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Labour HQ is the place where political narratives go to die

15/10/2014, 10:03:50 AM

by Alexander Shea

Last month’s Conference represented a nadir for Ed Miliband’s Labour party. It was a graveyard of narrative, an abandonment of the political.

Labour relapsed into ‘itemised politics’, presenting a praiseworthy plan for the protection of the NHS yet failing to encompass it within a wider coherent and compelling narrative of what is fundamentally wrong with this country and how Labour proposes to put it right.

As the shock of the Heywood and Middleton by-election has shown, an electoral strategy comprised of a single-issue focus on the NHS is not going to cut the mustard. Narrow, itemised politics is not the way forward. To win in 2015, Labour needs to think big.

Establishing a clear and firm policy line on the NHS was necessary. As polls have shown it is the most important issue in the upcoming election to 34% of voters, making it the leading issue for 2015.

But it is precisely in these polling figures that the sheer lack of ambition or political message that Labour conveyed by making the NHS its marquee policy, is able to be sensed. It smacked of a 35 percent strategy: a timid desire to play it safe politically- to score on ‘open goal’ policy issues such as the NHS- in the knowledge that due to an electoral quirk, Labour will win a majority in the next Parliament if it breaks the 35 percent threshold. What better way to implement such a 35 percent strategy than by banking on an issue that 35 percent of the electorate prioritise.

Pursuing such a timid approach, however, is the height of folly. John Prescott is right. Rather than scoring an ‘open goal’ on the NHS, by pursuing itemized politics Labour has sacrificed the potential for a broader political message, and consequently scored a massive own goal.

They presented David Cameron with a gilt-edged opportunity at his party conference in Birmingham. At a time when Cameron should have been on the back foot over Brooks Newmark’s sexting and Mark Reckless’ defection to UKIP, Labour effectively presented Cameron with the opportunity to use his party conference speech as a platform from which to project a narrative of British politics, that of ‘economism’ in which the twin gods of economic growth and welfare cuts are reified at the expense of humanistic politics, the latter focusing not on objective economic data but the subjective experience of living in austerity Britain: the cost of living crisis, the bedroom tax, childcare allowance and so on.


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Ed Miliband should reclaim Adam Smith for the left

24/09/2013, 11:26:26 AM

by Rob Williams

Last year in his speech to the Labour conference in Manchester, Ed Miliband laid claim to rebuilding Britain as One Nation. The Labour leader cited as his inspiration a former Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who made a famous speech on One Nation Conservatism in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which, reflecting the spirit of the times, is now a luxury hotel.

Miliband has hit the nail on the head on a number of big ideas. He understands that the squeezed middle, as well as the low paid, are feeling increasingly insecure, whatever claims of economic recovery there may be.

So this year, Miliband should go further. It is time for the left to reclaim the economist Adam Smith as one of their own. Adam Smith, of course, is usually considered to be the founding father of right-wing free market economics. In the UK, the Adam Smith Institute is reliably one of the most outrageous think tanks, an outrider of Thatcherism before it was invented.

Adam Smith was born in Scotland in 1723, and is usually seen as the founder of modern economics. The usual modern conservative’s view of Adam Smith is similar to the average 1970s socialist’s approach to Karl Marx. They probably haven’t read any of his work, but simply regurgitate someone else’s description of his writings. There is a persuasive argument that the Right have stolen Adam Smith’s identity in an audacious coup.

An increasing number of thinkers believe that Smith was a radical critic of the establishment of his day. They argue that, for Smith, prosperity was measured by a rise in living standards for the working class which sets Smith apart from other free market advocates who believed a low-wage economy was the key to economic development. Smith believed that economic policy should be secondary to moral and ethical concerns such as equality.


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Labour must look forward, not back, to win in 2015

28/05/2013, 09:51:49 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Peter Kellner reminded us in his recent hard hitting analysis for Progress that the Tories’ central message in 1992 was that Neil Kinnock was a dangerous man who would lead Britain down the road to ruin. He also recalled that the same trick completely failed in 1997. This was because, he argued, Tony Blair had reassured voters that their jobs, homes, pay and savings would be safe with him.

The “Demon Eyes” poster just seemed daft next to the reassurance that Blair had provided. Labour’s “Demon Eyes” football team, founded in 1997, plays on, but the need for reassurance from Labour has returned. Ed Miliband is, according to the Tories, the menace that Kinnock once posed. He must convince that his sums add up on the big challenges facing the country: the economy, welfare, immigration, public services and the cost of living.

While Miliband must seek to reassure, his capacity to do so is not entirely in his control. It can be argued that the tentative economic recovery of 1992 was a harder context in which for Kinnock to provide reassurance than the more upbeat economy in which Blair campaigned in 1997.

Taking a chance on an opposition party seems less of a risk in a stronger economy. Which is why a tepid recovery by 2015 may be the best backdrop to David Cameron’s “don’t let Labour ruin it” message.

Labour’s opposing message, of course, will be “it’s time for a change”. But why? We might say that it’s time for a change because if too far, too fast cuts had not been implemented then we’d now be better off. Unfortunately, this invites the Tories to remind the country why they deemed the cuts necessary: Labour’s profligacy. And there is evidence that this argument increasingly convinces the public.

As the opposition party, Labour has to argue for change in 2015 but this should be an argument about the change that could be achieved from 2015 under Labour, not the change that might have been achieved had Labour been in office from 2010. This might seem obvious but placing an attack on the depth and speed of the government’s cuts at the centre of our economic argument has us looking back to 2010.

Labour can only win with a positive argument for how things will be better from 2015. Yet not only is our main economic argument backward looking but it is backward looking in a tonally negative way. The implicit message of much of our rhetoric is fearful: the government shrinks and the economy collapses; the immigrants arrive and society implodes.


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The folly of defeatism

24/05/2013, 12:06:56 PM

by Alex Shattock

Whenever we talk about Labour’s chances of winning the next election, there is always an elephant in the room that nobody wants to speak about. We thought it would go away, sort itself out. It hasn’t. Frankly, we can’t ignore it anymore, because it’s beginning to hurt our chances of success in a very visible way.

The elephant is the vocal minority in the Labour party who don’t believe we can win with Ed Miliband as our leader. It’s time to talk about the problems their defeatism is causing, and why it is misguided.

The MPs in our diverse shadow cabinet have done an admirable job in maintaining party unity. Their success is not, however, reflected by everyone in the party. The vocal minority who don’t believe in Ed Miliband are making their presence known, whether it is an unnecessary intervention by a former leader, or a (not so) subtle swipe at a pressure group conference. Their murmurings are becoming louder, and the media is starting to hear.

Their main criticism is that Ed has a “charisma” problem: but we all saw Ed’s fantastic One Nation speech. He can give a great performance when it counts. I suspect their discomfort runs a little deeper than that. The charisma problem is really an ideological problem: We’re not polling better because of the direction Ed is taking us.

It sounds to me like the defeatists don’t believe a centre-left platform can ever win a UK election. Perhaps they don’t believe it ever should. “Labour just isn’t connecting with business”, someone told me last week. “I mean, look at Ed’s speech about predators… He isn’t showing businessmen he wants to help them make money.”

Well, good.

The Labour party wasn’t created to help businessmen make money. There is a place for business in Labour’s vision, of course there is: but our primary concern should be building a better society.

Labour politics is about businesses as employers, the poor as deserving, inequality as a problem. We should not sacrifice our beliefs on the easy altar of populism. We should make the case for our beliefs in the public domain.


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Miliband’s Progress speech was virtually ignored. That’s a worry.

14/05/2013, 07:00:57 AM

by Ben Mitchell

Ed Miliband made a speech over the weekend that literally dozens of people will have read. More were there to see it live. I was one of the former. Opposition leaders make speeches. That’s what they do. That’s what they’re expected to do. Some get labelled as “keynote,” i.e. this is quite important and will probably form the direction of policy X so pay close attention. The leader’s address at conference fills a few column inches for several days. Either we have a Prime Minister in waiting or it’s back to the drawing board. Saturday’s speech falls into the “strictly for diehards” category.

To sum it up: it wasn’t very good. That’s the charitable conclusion. Being brutally frank, it was actually pretty dire. Or maybe that’s the charitable conclusion. Speaking on Saturday, to the Blairite think-tank Progress (not exactly on home territory for Ed), Miliband said….something. To be honest, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what he said.

It was a hotchpotch of his responsible capitalism vision; the usual to be expected attacks on the government; listening to voters; learning lessons from New Labour – where we got things right, where we got them wrong –  more listening to voters; with sprinklings of One Nationism added for extra flavour.

One Nation: the slogan that just will not budge. Still being drummed home to death. We may have tired of it but we’re not going to forget it. The mark of a successful slogan? Not really. I still don’t understand what it means. Or more accurately, what we’re meant to do with it. Alone, it’s meaningless: Labour has broad appeal? It will unite the whole of Britain?

But, all parties profess to do this. Besides, One Nation fails the “elevator pitch:” able to be summarised in one elevator ride. Which isn’t 100% accurate as I’ve just summed it up in a sentence. Unfortunately, the summary alone is so vague it requires several more elevator rides. Heck, it might be easier just to get in one, hit the emergency alarm, and hope the rescue takes several hours.

I couldn’t help but feel I’d read/heard this speech several times before. Probably because it’s been delivered several times before. Ed’s conference address last year (rightly hailed a triumph) has been regurgitated more times than should be humanly possible.

“One Nation is about everybody having opportunity and having a responsibility to play their part.”

Sounds very Big Society to me.

“A country that acknowledges the difficulties, accepts the anxieties, knows that times are going to be hard, but that is confident that change can come.

“A country that knows that we work best when we work together.”

See above.

“All the lessons of our history, from the industrial revolution to the post-war reconstruction, are that we need a recovery made by the many.”

This is David Cameron speaking.


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Labour’s performance last Thursday simply wasn’t good enough

06/05/2013, 02:09:32 PM

by David Talbot

Amid the breathless, endless, commentary on the rise of UKIP, scant attention has been levelled at the only other serious contender for 10 Downing Street come May 2015. Whilst Conservative losses, and substantive ones at that, were long-foreseen they did of course have the furthest to fall, having swept the previous cycle in 2009. The true test was for the much-heralded one nation Labour. Heavy caveats were potted throughout the media by Labour personnel in the days leading to polling day; these elections are taking place in rural, affluent Tory-dwelling shires, eighty percent of the counties holding elections are represented by a Conservative MP, and control of four Councils and two hundred net gains is the target. Well, in their heart of hearts Labour’s strategists will know that last Thursday was not the triumph needed.

Despite matey assurances to the contrary, last Thursday’s results do not readily translate into the sixty seat Labour majority the party is seemingly on the cusp of securing. Although Labour picked itself up off the floor following the dark nadir of 2009, final national voting projections put the party on a mere twenty-nine percent – which is, ironically, exactly the polling figure Labour slumped to in the annihilation of the 2010 general election. That this appears to not be causing considerable alarm amongst the party faithful is troubling, and to say it is not enough for an opposition in mid-term should be so obvious as to be insulting to highlight.

There is no disguising Labour’s underwhelming performance. Despite sporadic advances in battleground seats such as Hastings, Crawley and Stevenage the results do not suggest that Labour will outright win the next general election. Gaining a mere two councils in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, only just, represents a worryingly poor return. Many party activists, somewhat rightly and understandably, are so consumed by the immediacies of their locale that they have swapped the instant gratification of publicising the fruits of their labour for any nuanced analysis of Labour at large. That the party now enjoys a sixty-two seat majority in Durham is indeed joyous, but that it failed to win in Staffordshire or Lancashire, and is still represented in the low single digits in vast swathes of the south, should temper that cheerfulness somewhat.


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