Thursday News Review

Unison backs Ed M

Unison has declared it's support for Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband has won the backing of Britain’s second biggest union, Unison, in his campaign to become the next leader of the Labour Party. Yesterday’s decision suggests that the younger of the Miliband brothers is emerging as the favourite candidate of trade activists, which will boost his vote but will be used against him by the Tories if he wins. – The Independent

Ed Miliband’s odds were cut by three bookmakers, with Ladbrokes trimming him to 2/1 from 9/4, Paddy Power 7/4 from 9/4, and William Hill from 2/1 to 13/8. He is also backed by the GMB union, while his brother has the support of two unions – Community and Usdaw. – The Telegraph

The leadership contest is now seen as a two-horse race between Mr Miliband and his brother David, who remains ahead on nominations from MPs and constituency Labour parties. Ed Miliband’s supporters claimed that the backing of Unison, the country’s largest public sector union, now puts their candidate in “pole position”. – The Mirror

Are we nearly there yet?

This may be the right choice for Labour but it makes life difficult for outsiders. It’s rather like watching a Wimbledon final between the Williams sisters. Once one has marvelled at the remarkable feat of both sisters making the final again it is a short leap to shoulder-shrugging indifference. To the casual observer, news of an all-Williams final is a signal to grab the remote and hope a rerun of Antiques Roadshow is on. I mean honestly – does anyone actually care who wins? Seriously, how does someone who doesn’t really obsess about tennis decide who to back? Same with the Labour leadership. How do voters work themselves up into caring at all? Quite remarkable – two brothers, eh – which one’s which, did you say? Which is the one with the banana? Even their mother is apparently struggling to form a view. – The FT

The current Labour leadership contest is attracting poor reviews in the national media and among the party’s MPs. With a hint of despair, some MPs note that this is the first proper campaign since 1994. Surely it should be bursting with life and a sense of fresh opportunities. The criticisms are largely misplaced. The contest was doomed to seem peripheral, and would only have come alive at this stage of a parliament if civil war had erupted. Indeed some of the critics in the media were confidently and joyfully predicting meltdown in the Labour Party after the election. Now they complain that the contest is too dull because the candidates are not tearing each other apart. – The Independent

LABOUR must avoid becoming an opposition party of “heroic failures”, which marches against job cuts but fails to offer any economic alternative, David Miliband said last night. Mr Miliband, the favourite to take over the Labour leadership, is one of a number of senior figures concerned that the party lacks a coherent policy on addressing the national debt. Since the General Election Labour has concentrated its fire on attacking the Lib Dems for joining the coalition with the Conservatives, while trade unions have led the assault on the threat government plans pose to jobs. – The Western Mail

Uncomfortable silence

Anne McElvoy’s report for the Today Programme on the Labour leadership this morning is well worth listening to. It featured all the usual suspect and some classic moments—Tessa Jowell damming Ed Miliband with faint praise and Ed Balls’ henchmen Charlie Whelan going out of his way to praise Andy Burnham—but the really memorable bit came when McElvoy asked Abbott about her decision to send her son to private school. As with her infamous interview with Andrew Neil, Abbott simply refused to answer. There was just a period of dead air. Abbott’s refusal to answer this question, a not unreasonable one, is even more bizarre when you consider that at a Labour leadership hustings on Friday she herself brought the subject up, describing it as the hardest political decision of her life. – The Spectator

The candidates

Ed Balls, one of the Labour leadership contenders, has suggested it may be “uncomfortable” for audiences to watch brothers David and Ed Miliband battling to succeed Gordon Brown as the party’s leader. Balls said he and his wife, Yvette Cooper, a former work and pensions secretary, had decided they would not both stand for the leadership because it would be “weird”. – The Guardian

According to Roy Hattersley, deputy leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992, the process is much too insular. “Too much time has been spent fighting the battles of the past and talking about the cuts,” he tells me. “The candidates need to start saying: ‘Listen, this is what I would do if I became leader.’ They need to start speaking about what they would do in new circumstances in the future, not what they would have done in the past or what they would be doing now in opposition to the Conservatives.” – The New Statesman

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One Response to “Thursday News Review”

  1. Harry Barnes says:

    Dear Ed Miliband,

    On 17th June I emailed you asking you to issue what I called a “Manifesto of Intent” concerning your leadership candidature. I posted a copy to you at the Commons the following day. The matter is explained here –

    Four requests on this matter have been emailed to you at the Commons. Others have been sent to your campaign’s email site. Comments have followed you around on other blogs and web-sites when you have made contributions. The matter was also raised with you at one of your public meetings.

    I hope that you will at last respond to the request I am making. Hopefully you will use my blog to respond, if you can’t find my email address.

    So far Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott have agreed to issue such Manifestos.

    Please just let me know one way ot the other what the answer is. You can outmatch you brother on this as I personally handed an extra letter to him at a meeting on 18 June, when he greeted me like a long lost brother – well on that wasn’t in a contest with him. He knew me from when I was a Labour MP, but that was before your time.

    All the best,
    Harry Barnes

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