Week 5 of the campaign: the good, the bad and the ugly

Uncut’s weekly review of the campaign looks back at the events of week 5.

The good

Labour’s sharpened up its act in Scotland

Labour nationally finally focuses on the SNP threat, and zeroes in on the exactly right message against nationalism: its fundamental pettiness.

As Tom Harris MP, sometime of this parish, put it:

While the best line of the Glasgow rally from Miliband reflected the same theme: “Nationalism never built a school”. A genuinely superb encapsulation of all that’s wrong with the SNP.

New arrivals

Uncut sends our congratulations to Lisa Nandy, Labour’s candidate in Wigan, and her partner Andy Collis on the birth this week of their son, Otis. A Wigan party spokesman has said that the shadow minister for civil society, “is incredibly grateful to the NHS staff in Wigan for their amazing care and dedication. Lisa would also like to thank people across Wigan for their kind words and support during a very busy time.”

For better or worse, Otis won’t generate the same volume of media coverage as the Royal baby. Whether this torrent of national and international reporting will have any impact on the 2015 election remains to be seen but at least Labour should (hopefully) have a future voter in Wigan, ready for the 2035 election.

Celebrities for Labour

Labour is winning the celebrity war. Where the Tories have Katie Hopkins, Labour has Stephen Hawking. Tom Watson will be taking Steve Coogan campaigning in Battersea, Croydon Central, Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Brentford & Isleworth, Harrow East, Ealing Central & Acton and Hornsey & Wood Green on Monday and Tuesday. I’m sure Coogan used to mock Ross Kemp as part of his stand-up routine but that didn’t stop Kemp giving Wes Streeting’s campaign to re-take Ilford North for Labour a boost.

The celebrity intervention to generate most headlines was, of course, Russell Brand interviewing Ed Miliband. As Brand reflected on the compatibility of capitalism and democracy, Miliband’s mind might have wondered back to discussions around the kitchen table as he was growing up. Nonetheless, he seemed more at ease in a video released by the Labour Party akin to something from Question of Sport. Simon Hattenstone painted Miliband well in a Guardian interview in March, which revealed Miliband’s eagerness to converse with Ronnie O’Sullivan. The video shows that Miliband has not only had his chat with O’Sullivan but used it to win him over to Labour.

It may be that Labour needs snookers to get back into government. In which case, Miliband could have uncovered a new guru at a most opportune moment.

The Bad

Expectations management

Within Labour circles the conversation has turned to what happens if Labour lose? What is the threshold for Ed Miliband to stay? Today’s Sunday Times brings us a taste of the debate to come if Labour falls short on Thursday,

“He [Miliband] will be ­desperate to stay — if he has got one more vote than Gordon [Brown] did in 2010 or anything he can claim as progress,” one shadow minister said.”

So, if Labour wins a single vote more than at the last election, when the party hit rock-bottom at 29%, Ed Miliband will consider that a mandate to continue. Hmm. Good luck with that.

Gareth Thomas on manoeuvres

The short campaign is, well, short, certainly compared to the long haul that preceded it. So, how odd then, that as pitched battle between Labour and the Conservatives ensues over the detail of each policy area, Labour’s shadow minister for Africa, Gareth Thomas, wanders off topic to talk about what the next Mayor of London should be doing.

Last week Gareth popped up on Labour List talking about a minimum target for affordable homes.

Then there was this little missive in the New Statesman a couple of weeks ago, calling for London to be the next city of culture.

And what about this from late March, in the New Statesman again, calling for the Mayor of London to have new powers over rent and wages.

Surely this slew of pieces on London wouldn’t be because Gareth is actually concentrating on the Labour Mayoral selection rather than the general election?

No, couldn’t be.

Must have been some terrible mix up in the subbing and Labour’s shadow minister for Africa was actually just opining about the future for the South African town of East London, on the Eastern Cape.


Setting Labour pledges in stone: the biggest hostage to fortune since Sheffield? Discuss.

The Ugly

Len hearts Lutfur

Barely a week after Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman was booted out of office by Judge Mawrey for corruption, who should ride to the disgraced Mayor’s defence? The leader of Britain’s biggest union and Labour’s biggest donor: Len McCluskey.

At a rally in support of Lutfur, which also included Labour NEC member Christine Shawcross as a speaker, Len’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray, took to the stage to throw Unite’s backing behind Rahman, saying,

“I am not speaking in a personal capacity, I am speaking on behalf of the union … and I am sending a message of support from our general secretary, Len McCluskey. Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman.”

And naturally, Ken Livingstone, also an NEC member, got in on the act, sending a video message condemning the judgement as “politically motivated.”

What does it say about the Labour party that the leader of its biggest affiliate and two prominent NEC members can simply disregard the due process of law and condemn the judge’s decision out of hand?

There are many faults with Britain’s legal system, but we are not Venezuela. It’s a sad reflection on the Labour party that its upper echelons include people for whom trivia such as the evidence and the rule law are subsidiary to the student slogans and hard-left politicking.

Strange goings on in Pendle

The Lancashire Telegraph reports on Labour campaigning on messenger network, WhatsApp, where Labour councillor Mohammed Hanif sent a series of contentious messages, including one urging voters to “select ALL ASIAN candidates.”

Labour’s candidate Azhar Ali denies any knowledge of the messages and the party line seems to be that it is all a case of misinterpretation. Councillor Mohammed Iqbal defended them saying,

“Mohammed Hanif sent three text messages in Brierfield relating to the town and parish council elections, where the candidates are independent and not running on party political platforms.

In one of those messages he was backing five Asian candidates and to put all of their names on would have added another 60 or 70 characters, so he simply said vote for the five Asian candidates.”

Councillor Iqbal might be right, but in an election, these types of messages just look awful, particularly for wavering voters reading them in news reports in the local newspaper.

Not good. Not good at all.


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4 Responses to “Week 5 of the campaign: the good, the bad and the ugly”

  1. Heidstaethefire says:

    the only people. In Scotland talking about a referendum are Jim Murphy and the rest of the desperate cases in the branch office. They are doing it for one reason.; the previous. ” vote labour to keep the Tories out… ” mantra is patently failing.
    For the record, winning another referendum would require that process to be an expliciît manifesto commitment, a. Winning majority in that election, and a winning vote in the subsequent election. Tweets by M.Ps in a blind panic should be disregarded

  2. Tafia says:

    Heidstaethefire – For the record, winning another referendum would require that process to be an expliciît manifesto commitment

    Yerp. The SNP would have to stand for Holyrood next year with that as a firm manifesto pledge, and then win the Holyrood election. Then win the vote on the Act in Holyrood then bring it into being A second referendum then becomes the will of the people and London will have to accept it or enrage the Scottish voters even more.

  3. uglyfatbloke says:

    And of course the SNP government has built schools and hospitals on time and under-budget and without new Labour PFI rubbish..not to mention the new Forth Bridge being well on target and they have done it despite having the daft tram programme forced on them by Labour acting in concert with the tories and the lib-dems.
    What’s wrong with attacking the gnats where they are weak – civil liberties for example? which have not improved one whit under Salmon and Sturgeon.

  4. Madasafish says:

    Meanwhile Lucy Powell, says about Ed’s policy pledges – the stone engraved ones—

    “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he’s carved them into stone means, you know, means that he will absolutely, you know, not going to break them or anything like that.””

    http://tinyurl.com/k6ffq3p (radio interview)

    I take it this is a belated April 1st or she’s decided to smash Ed’s obelisk?

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