The nice party isn’t going to get into government

by Dan McCurry

Ed Miliband has never attended the Cenotaph in his donkey jacket, nor has he screamed from a podium, “Yeeeaaaar alright”. But the difference is that those leaders existed at a time when Labour was ungovernable, or they made Labour governable, and it took everything out of them. Ed, on the other hand, was gifted a benign set of circumstances, but has led us into decline.

If there is a plot against him, then I’d hardly be the first to know. But if there is, it won’t happen until May. With the London elections such a knife edge business, no one wants to rock the boat. This means one of two things: either Ed has the chance of being the turnaround kid, or the Labour party (on the national stage) is in for a lame duck period.

Maybe it is too late for Ed Miliband. I’m not ruling out a bolt from the blue that will reignite his leadership, but I think luck tends to hang out with those who have chutzpah. And if Cameron can be admired for one thing only, he knows how to brazen it out.

Nor am I saying that Ed has failed to develop as a leader. If he knew then what he knows now, he’d have been able to take the party where we need to go. But he hasn’t, and that’s the point. He hit the ground standing still, and told everyone that this was a strategy. He believed he was more vulnerable if he adopted a position, than if he didn’t, and that was a mistake.

When Cameron was getting radical with the big society and the abolition of gaol, Ed believed that the public is put off by confrontational politics, so stayed quiet. Since Cameron dumped the loony ideas, he has grown in stature. We’ll never have that opportunity again. It passed us by.

Yes, he took up hacking, but only after the Milly Dowler story broke. He was good on the riots, but so was Tony Travers when he said that the time for reflection will come later. Ed never quite burnt bright enough that he could avoid being extinguished by David Cameron in the veto PMQs. “What would you have done?” Cameron unfairly asked, and in that moment we all knew the earth had moved.

There’s a scene in a Simpson’s cartoon, where they have a car-chase past two political rallies, and the parties have truthful slogans on their hoardings. The Republican’s have, “We’re just plain mean”, while the Democrats have, “We can’t govern”. To me this represents the change of fortune for the two main UK parties. The Tories used to suffer from being labelled as “nasty”. We now suffer from being labelled as “nice”. People want a government that can take the difficult decisions.

The question is whether Ed is a big enough character that he can carry the party forward and overcome this? Sunny Hundal recently wrote well in comparing politicians with a big voice and those who seem to whisper. His point was that Ed tends to whisper.

If we are to have a new leader, then we don’t need to change course, we just need to have clarity on spending. It was always a mistake to believe we could benefit from attacking cuts across the board. We did well with the “too far, too fast” slogan, but didn’t go anywhere with it. A future leader needs to make the distinction between the Tories’ savage and indiscriminate cuts, compared to our intelligent and targeted cuts.

The Tories are considered tough, but not nice. We’re considered to be nice people, but a soft touch in difficult times. The people don’t hate us. They just decided it was time for a change. The question is whether they’ll think it time for a change in 2015? The leader we need is the one who makes that decision for them.

Dan McCurry is a Labour activist whose photographic and film blog is here.

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11 Responses to “The nice party isn’t going to get into government”

  1. Nick says:

    Nope. We do hate you.

    There is 7,000 billion worth of debt as a reason to hate you.

    170K a year to benefit claimants (other people’s money) is a reason to hate you

    Lots of your MPs were stealling. That reason to hate you.

  2. john p reid says:


  3. Madasafish says:

    If we are to have a new leader, then we don’t need to change course, we just need to have clarity on spending. It was always a mistake to believe we could benefit from attacking cuts across the board.

    As I have just listened to Ed Miliband on the A Marr show attacking cuts this Sunday, then Labour does NOT have clarity.

    It has a policy for Fridays (Balls) and one for Sundays (Miliband) and no doubt another one on weekdays.

    Anyone think the avearge voter is impressed? Or understands what is going on?

    I have no idea.. I assume the Muppets have taken over and this is a new satire on Labour.

  4. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    Its not about being seen as “tough” lol, that got Labour nowhere before 2010 beyond short term poll leads its not about being cuddly either, what then Dan do you think it could be about? Cameron knows…you clearly do not.

  5. AmberStar says:

    Ed Miliband will be PM & he’ll be a good one.

    He’ll be running the country, you’ll be writing a blog – they might even let you blog in the Telegraph, if you can be a tad nastier about Labour in general & Ed in particular. 😈

  6. Rallan says:

    “The people don’t hate us. They just decided it was time for a change. The question is whether they’ll think it time for a change in 2015?”

    Wow. No, seriously, WOW! You don’t think the economic disaster was a factor? You don’t think that the electorate blames Labour for appalling, wasteful government and condemning the nation to a blighted future? You also reckon that there was no particular problem with illegal wars, feckless incompetence, institutional corruption, Gordon Brown as unelected PM, loss of liberties, unfettered immigration, democratic abuse, and so much, much more?

    You’re honestly hoping that the people will simply decide that it’s Labours turn again in 2015….?

  7. Ralph Baldwin says:

    I observe Labour has now lost Luke Bozier, I did not always agree with him but this is not forming a coalition.

  8. figurewizard says:

    The problems go a lot deeper than Milliband. His much derided focus on the ” squeezed middle” at least recognises how much the electoral landscape has changed since the old days of the likes of Attlee and Bevan. There are very few ‘workers’ in the traditional sense any more and the injustices that were so successfully addressed in the past are now largely resolved.

    Worse still, Labour’s traditional focus on public services towards a better way of life has been wholly discredited. Brown’s recklessness with the public purse at a time when public expenditure had pretty much reached its limit saw to that.

    Labour needs new people untainted with that past but if they come to the table with the same old ideas they will fail to change anything. If your party cannot lay radical new policies before the people that can deliver plausible opportunities for prosperity, allied to commitments for the responsible management of public expenditure the Tories will do the job for you.

  9. swatantra says:

    Labour should be working on a timeframe of ten years not 5 years of getting back into Govt. 2015 is likely to return another hung Parliament and the Coalition could continuing avoc on the economy and Europe. I doubt whether Ed will stay the course and he knows it.

  10. Keith says:

    Labour perceived as nice! Your joking surely?
    With the way that Blair and Brown are presently lining their pockets and the sucking up to the filthy rich by New Labour, I can tell you that from those that I converse with perceive Labour to be every bit as nasty as the Tories.

  11. K Mendoza says:

    Incredible. Labour didn’t lose the core vote, or fail to tempt it back, because you are too nice. It was because of Iraq, academies, PFI, control orders and the disconnection with the Labour you claim to represent. To join the chorus that public service cuts are the only option we have right now, is more of the same and you will never get us back. No talk of increasing revenues, no talk of ending the PFI scandal, no courage to be a party of the left. You have sold your souls in the name of neo-liberal consensus, along with the Tory party and the Libdems, leaving the electorate with a monochrome, empty politics. For your people to criticize the Occupy Movement, when they have done the job your party should be doing i.e. being the advocate of the majority over the whims and powerful minority – you would see your voters return. I despair of this party. Bevin must be turning in his grave at the disgrace you are to his legacy.

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