Posts Tagged ‘Westminster bubble’

Labour desperately needs a soft left revival

23/09/2015, 10:05:24 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The Labour leadership campaign was a traditional selection process, despite extraordinary features.

While the Corbyn surge and the tripling of numbers entitled to vote flowed from changes made in the procedure, the thinking behind the leadership selection has lapsed behind the constitutional changes made and being made by the coalition government and its Tory successor, most importantly the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

This meant that the new leader has to spend the best part of five years in opposition. By the time the conference season is over, by October 7th, the leaders of all the opposition parties will be facing four years and seven months in opposition. Pledges to do this and that in government are marginal at best. As Fiona Millar has said, the duty of an opposition is to oppose.

The Labour leadership election was thus de facto not about electing a possible future prime minister. It was about leadership in opposition. This reality vanished from the selection process, which produced a series of policy initiatives for a manifesto which is in the remote future.

If there is no successful opposition, then the policies to renationalise rail, bring schools back under local authority control, or whatever are irrelevant. Labour remains, as it has been since it was set up in 1900, a vehicle for representing Labour at Westminster, but there is no strategy for doing this in a way which derails the government and build support in the country.

A key lesson set out by Professor David Runciman in the London Review of Books immediately after the election (10th-21st May 2015) has been missed. Runciman argued “For Labour it is finally time to abandon the idea that its primary purpose is to secure majorities in the House of Commons and that it should do nothing to put that prize at risk. It needs to become more like a typical European social democratic party, which recognises that nothing can be achieved without forging alliances with others.”

Runciman accepts that this will be difficult, but is himself behind the curve of European social democracy and other centre currents which are clearly in trouble.


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Politicians in the Westminster bubble don’t understand how real people feel

03/01/2013, 07:00:01 AM

by Peter Watt

There are a lot of clever people who have recently been analysing the relative merits of the political parties and their respective political fortunes.  Over the Christmas and new-year period pundits have written article after article about the ramifications of the latest polls, changes in demography and so on.  I even penned a piece myself although I certainly wouldn’t put myself in the “clever” bracket!

The consensus seems to be that the Tories are very unlikely to form a majority after 2015 and that the most likely outcome is the formation of a government of some sort lead by Ed Miliband.  There have though been one or two siren voices.  These are saying that Labours position is less certain and that it needs to watch its economic polling numbers which appear to be going in the wrong direction following the chancellor’s autumn statement.

Just before new year I tweeted that:

“@PeterWatt123 I always hate the last few days of the year. Makes me feel sad.”

It was meant as a slightly maudlin reflection on the emotional highs and lows of the festive period.  But in response, Ian Austin MP, who I respect and occasionally joust with on Twitter, quipped that:

“@IanAustinMP Surely you could write piece for Labour Uncut about how end of year is all Labour’s fault, proof of unfitness to govern etc.”

It was a good riposte and I guess indicates that Ian is not a fan of my blogs!  But Ian does make a fair point that on the whole I am not comfortable with some of the direction of travel of the Labour party at the moment.

I worry that most of our poll lead is solely down to current government unpopularity, that Ed is still not seen as prime ministerial and that our stock with the electorate is dangerously low when it comes to the economy, welfare reform and immigration.  And I honestly think that our economic message is disingenuously trying to look both ways on the central issue of deficit reduction and the scale of cuts required whoever wins next time, regardless of whether we have economic growth.

But most of all I worry that no political party is seen by voters as having the answers to their worries and concerns.  Because at its heart, current political discourse is still being conducted between the political parties inside the rarefied world of the political bubble.  It certainly isn’t being conducted with voters.


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