Thursday News Review

Weak, divided and old fashioned

The challenge facing Labour’s next leader is laid bare in a poll published today, showing that disillusioned former voters view the party as weak, divided, out-of-touch and old-fashioned. Demos, the left-of-centre think tank, said its findings demonstrated that the Labour brand had become “toxic” among previous supporters. It warned that it would take more than just a change of leader to tackle the party’s severe image problem. The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that 73 per cent of people who voted for Labour in the 2005 election but not this year thought the party was “weak”, with 72 per cent believing it was “divided”. – The Independent

Shadow Cabinet

The new shadow cabinet will not start to be elected until the week of the Conservative conference, starting on 4 October, with the results announced on the evening of 7 October. The new Labour leader will then have to distribute portfolios including the vital role of shadow chancellor before the spending review. Ed Balls and to a lesser extent Ed Miliband have suggested that the deficit programme proposed by Labour at the time of the election should be revisited since it proposed too rapid a deficit reduction, and too harsh public spending cuts. David Miliband has been less specific, and has focused on how Tory plans require £30bn more cuts than Labour had proposed. – The Guardian

Right to strike

Since the Labour leadership contest kicked off, the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaision Organisation, which goes between the party and its 15 affiliated unions has been sending questions to the candidates, including on industrial issues. Many of the answers have been, well, inconsequential in the wider context of the party’s future. But not this time. Ed Miliband’s camp has (belatedly) responded to a question about the UK’s trade union laws, often called the strictest in Western Europe […]The questioner asked: “What one restriction do you think most urgently needs lifting and why?”  Ed Miliband’s reply was received today, and in it he says: “I am determined to make sure that the Trade Unions are able to fairly represent the interests of their members and the wider workforce. Of course industrial action is a last resort, but the right to strike is a fundamental human right which must be protected and I will make sure it is. The British Airways dispute showed that the rules governing strike ballots are in urgent need of reform.” – Tribune

Miliband Snr has the centre ground appeal

He is widely regarded, even by those who don’t support him, as a clever man who thinks strategically and has an intellectual pragmatism. Despite various attempts to distance himself from his past as Tony Blair’s big thinker David Miliband is still regarded as essentially a Blairite. While all the candidates try to shed those definitions it still means David Miliband is one least likely to tell the unions and the left of the Labour Party what they want to hear. Yet he could also be the candidate most focussed on those voters who were attracted by New Labour, but have now deserted the party for David Cameron’s Conservatives. – Channel 4 News 

Tory homes plan

An election leaflet, reproduced in yesterday’s edition of the Labour newspaper Tribune claimed that “the Tories want everyone to be on an ‘assured shorthold tenancy'” so they could be evicted under the rules that already apply to tenants of private landlords. That leaflet provoked an angry denial from Grant Shapps, the Housing minister, who claimed: “These are unfounded and baseless scare tactics by an increasingly desperate Labour Party trying to frighten social tenants… Conservatives recognise the importance of social housing and the security it provides.” – The Independent

Deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes led a furious backlash yesterday against plans to kick council tenants out of their homes. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday he wants to end contracts that give families a “home for life”, forcing them to move if they get a job or earn more. But Hughes said it was not discussed with his party. And Labour claimed it had been ruled out by Tories during the election. Charities also warned the plans will see more homeless families after they are forced into the private sector. – The Mirror

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