Posts Tagged ‘2015 election’

Harriet should know better. Loose lips sink ships – and election prospects

17/07/2014, 09:51:16 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Is Harriet Harman the victim of an unfair Tory attack for seeming to suggesting that middle-income earners should pay more tax?

No, she is not. Neither, for that matter, has she been misquoted. She did say that middle-income earners should pay more tax. Labour’s deputy leader was guilty of a clumsy circumlocution, telling LBC radio on Monday that:

 “I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes”.

Let’s be clear, if she was making a general point about the desirability of a progressive taxation system, then fine. Indeed, she seems to have meant:

“I think people on middle incomes should contribute through their taxes”.

But that’s not what she said. She is guilty of committing an unforced error, using unforgivably loose terminology in a broadcast interview. For a senior frontbencher of her experience it was an amateurish thing to do and has played straight into the Tories’ gleeful hands.

Last night she wrote to David Cameron accusing him of telling fibs:

“You claimed at Prime Minister’s Questions today that ‘yesterday Labour announced – in an important announcement – that it is now their policy to put up taxes on middle income people’. This is not true. It is a lie.”

Tory party chairman Grant Schapps has also been busy. He has written to everyone he has an email address for, launching a poster campaign that the Tories must have been itching to release.

Tory poster


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Poor Ed is stuck between two marauding elephants

29/04/2013, 07:31:39 AM

by Kevin Meagher

There’s an old African saying that when the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. If that’s the case, these past couple of weeks have left Labour’s lawn fit for a spot of crown green bowling.

First to start a ruck by waving his proboscis about was Labour’s emeritus leader Tony Blair, chiding via the pages of the New Statesman, that Labour risks settling back “into its old territory of defending the status quo” and blowing the next election.

A couple of weeks of tit-for-tat followed before Len McLuskey, tusks a-gleaming, charged headlong at Tony’s hindquarters also telling the New Statesman this week that if Ed Miliband listens to Blairites in the party he is consigning himself to the “dustbin of history”.

Both hulking mammals have the same motivation; to bruise but not wound Ed Miliband and make it clear their respective herds are not to be taken for granted as we pass the 60% marker for this parliament. They are both concerned about the shape of Labour’s offer to the voters in 2015. McLuskey denounces any prospect of offering “austerity-lite”, claiming it will lead to certain election defeat. Blair, in stark contrast, warns that to “tack left on tax and spending” will lead to “strategic defeat”.

Yes, Labour’s got to be pragmatic in how it approaches the next election (Blair) but it’s got to win for a purpose too (McLuskey). This is the age-old conundrum for the democratic left. It’s one that pits those with a simplistic (and now outdated) assumption that the party can offer the bare minimum to core Labour voters because they have nowhere else to go, with those who are reluctant to countenance the bloody business of compromise at all. Despite the dust that has been kicked up these past couple of weeks, both sides are sketchy about details.

On spending, McLuskey urges Miliband to “create a radical alternative” to austerity in order to remain “the authentic voice of ordinary working people”. Does this mean no cuts? Some cuts? Cuts to bits of public spending we don’t like? (The trouble is that a private sector union like Unite has many members in defence industries and won’t want to see cuts here which other unions might happily countenance).


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Talking to the Liberals and doing murky deals sends a defeatist message for 2015

11/01/2013, 08:35:58 AM

by Pete Bowyer

To the charge of opposing the Liberal Democrat Party, I plead guilty. I am proud to do so. Since being elected in a former Liberal council seat 10 years ago, I have steadfastly stood against the opportunism of a party that says one thing and does the opposite.

But my loyalty to Labour stretches further, much further, back. Thirty years ago, in 1983, I may well have been the only person in the country to have actually joined the party as it launched the longest suicide note in history. It took fourteen more painful years of struggle before we formed a Labour government of which I am immensely proud.

So, despite what David Clark says, nothing, including my intense dislike of the Liberals, should detract us from the urgent need to get rid of this terrible government and to replace it by a progressive Labour one. But as contributors to these pages have noted, much work is still needed before we can be confident of doing so.

Where I, and other activists in the party, diverge from David and his intellectual cabal, is the signal of defeat we will send to the electorate if we hoist up the white flag now and start collaborating with our erstwhile political enemies in getting rid of this murky coalition only to end up compromised by a murky coalition of our own!

Our position, on the other hand, is simple and straightforward. Up and down the country, we must target the most vulnerable seats of whichever political persuasion, as the party rightly indicated only yesterday, to bring us a clear victory at the next election. We should do so openly and plainly without entering into a grubby alliance with a party that I do not believe shares our core, progressive values.

If we are not victorious, so be it.  Let us then examine the arithmetic in the House and plan accordingly. It is difficult to imagine though that the Liberals will be much more than half their present strength, so unlikely to hold us hostage in the event of a minority Labour government.

By going quickly back to the electorate on the question of “who governs?”, we should be able to produce a more decisive outcome, as our predecessors have done before us. And on that basis we can legislate a progressive Labour agenda that both David and I want delivered without needing to compromise with a declining, marginal party.

Pete Bowyer is a councillor in Lambeth

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Getting Labour into government is more important than a tribal urge to kick the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 07:25:55 PM

by David Clark

I’m pleased that the call I and others made today for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to begin preparing the ground for a possible coalition in the event of another hung parliament has started a debate. That was our aim.

My own priority is to get Labour into government, preferably with a majority. But Pete Bowyer and others seem to attach more importance to kicking the Liberal Democrats out, even if it means a weak minority Labour government unable to pass its own legislation or another election that risked a Tory majority. I can’t pretend to understand that mentality. I can only assume that the people who share it have different reasons for being involved in politics from me; perhaps a deeply felt need for tribal belonging or a zealous attachment to the colour red.

I want Labour to be in a position to put its ideas into practice because I believe they are best for the country. If the most effective route for achieving all or most of what we want is an arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, then so be it. It’s the policies that matter and all this talk about “Lib Dem betrayal” strikes me as trivial by comparison.

Only a fool imagines the next election is “in the bag” for Labour, a view Pete wrongly attributes to the signatories of our statement. I believe that Ed Miliband’s approach gives us the best possible chance, but the prospect of another hung parliament is real. In those circumstances I want a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats to be a realistic option. The right time to start creating that option is now, not the day after polling day when it will probably already be too late.

David Clark is editor of Shifting Grounds

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Labour must overcome its resentment and deal more maturely with the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 06:22:03 PM

by David Talbot

In the aftermath of the last general election Labour found themselves unable, or simply unwilling, to countenance a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Instead a “big, open and comprehensive offer” was made, and the rest is history.

Two and a half years later, Labour cannot repeat the failures of the dying days of the last Labour government. The party must overcome its resentment and disappointment at the ending of our 13 years of power to at last build a tolerant relationship with the Lib Dems. The current bitterness between the two parties serves no purpose in an era when majoritarian politics is seemingly irrevocably on the decline.

It will take compromise, not a trait that readily identifiable with the Labour party.  The Lib Dems, rightly, resent the way Labour behaves as if it owns their voters, and the machine tribalism that predominates within the party.

Rather than giving the Lib Dems reasons to hesitate about the Conservatives, Labour’s behaviour to date has simply galvanised their determination to stay within the current coalition. The party was taken aback when the Lib Dems showed the capability and determination to enter coalition with the Conservatives. Nothing suggests that they wouldn’t do it again if the political climate is right. In response, Labour needs to have a strategy for making itself an attractive suitor.

David Talbot is a political consultant

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Attacking the Tories is our priority but we shouldn’t be afraid of finding common ground with the Lib Dems

10/01/2013, 04:37:04 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The Conservatives are the fundamental barrier to a Labour government, capable of correcting the division, injustice and incompetence that they have brought us. David Cameron and his party is our enemy. We should target our fire upon him and them.

He must be made to accept responsibility for his misguided decisions, instead of blaming his failings upon the past government, and the gulf in values between our party and the Conservatives should be consistently emphasised.

Attacking the Liberal Democrats is a distraction and suits Cameron. We should call his bluff.

This means focusing our attacks on Cameron and the Conservatives in public and below the radar building bridges and back-channels with the Liberal Democrats. A mature politics should not be scared of acknowledging that many Labour members – like me – share common ground with many Liberal Democrats on issues like the EU, an elected second chamber and wealth taxation.

Labour will be confident in setting out a prospectus for governing the country from 2015. In the event of a hung parliament, however, we would be well-served by having openly acknowledged, well in advance and in a spirit of mutual respect, our points of agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Jonathan Todd is Labour Uncut’s economic columnist

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The Lib Dems have betrayed the country and we must wipe them out

10/01/2013, 03:53:25 PM

by Andrew Sumner

I’m with Pete Bowyer on this one. The Lib Dems behaviour over the past few years has been shameful. Actions must have consequences. Their betrayal of the British people must not be rewarded with a cosy coalition with Labour. What will the public think to see the apologists for Osborne’s austerity climbing into bed with Labour and securing their own jobs while thousands have lost theirs?

If we are serious about opposing this government then the Lib Dems are every bit as much to blame as the Tories. Those who back a Lib Lab pact can talk about issues like House of Lords reform or constitutional change but these are for the chattering classes. On the things that really matter, on jobs, the health service, education and welfare, we couldn’t be further apart from the Tories’ current partners.

Besides, in practical terms, it’s difficult to see how they walk back from the disgraceful policies that they have done their level best to pass in the House of Commons. So no, we shouldn’t be playing nicely with the Lib Dems, we should be fighting them and doing our best to wipe them out.

Andrew Sumner is a Labour activist

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Let’s not risk coalition part II

10/01/2013, 03:33:05 PM

by Kevin Meagher

In 2015 I want to see a majority Labour government. I certainly don’t want to see a majority Conservative government. I can live with a Labour-Lib Dem government.

This, in essence, needs to be the calculation as Labour approaches the next general election. Opening up a dialogue with the Lib Dems around themes of mutual attraction is an act of utility; a contingency in the event of another inconclusive election result.

After all, a valedictory Tony Blair warned that the age of tribal politics is behind us with “rampant cross-dressing” increasingly the norm. There is plainly more that unites Labour and Lib Dems around issues like Europe and House of Lords reform than divides the two parties, so why not look for areas of overlap?

Especially when it has the potential to drive a wedge between the coalition partners. So an insurance policy for the future and a means of peeling the Lib Dems away from their cruel suitors in the bargain. What’s not to support here?

The alternative – sitting and waiting for the outcome of 2015 – risks repeating the mistake of 2010, as Labour’s team went naked into the chamber to negotiate with Clegg’s people, before a better-prepared Cameron swept in with his “big, open and comprehensive offer”. The rest is history.

Surely we aren’t going to risk a repeat?

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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Labour needs to wake up to the threat of Nick and Dave’s very civil partnership

14/03/2012, 12:00:50 PM

by Kevin Meagher

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” remarked Bert Lance, the former Carter-era official. His homespun phrase, much emulated since he coined it in 1977, is intended to ward off the siren demand for change for change’s sake.

That very same advice now rings in the ears of Liberal Democrat ministers as they ponder what state their party will be in at the next general election. Don’t change what doesn’t need to be changed.

Frankly, as most Lib Dems must realise, it would be easier to sell the Sun in Liverpool than hold many of their marginal seats. How can their ministers hope to stay in the style to which they are undoubtedly now accustomed riding a dying horse into the 2015 election?

Let’s fast forward three years. David Cameron will surely – and reasonably – hope to win a big working majority at the next election; this is his obvious Plan A. But continuing with the coalition will be his close-run Plan B. His worst of all worlds would be to win with a small Tory majority. The last thing he wants is to be reliant on his party’s backbenches or, even worse, his rank and file, as John Major was following his general election victory twenty years ago.

For the Lib Dems – trailing in single digits in most polls – their very salvation lies in preserving the status quo. Their worst of all worlds is to see a return to binary politics with Labour and the Tories carving up British politics once again. That appears a distinct possibility with the Lib Dems now seriously looking over their shoulder as UKIP threatens to usurp them for the third party slot.

They should seek payback for holding their collective noses and backing Cameron over issues like tuition fees, austerity and NHS reform in the shape of a semi-formal electoral pact. Their candidates go into the next election with their nominal Tory opponents defending a joint record, so why not a joint ticket as well?


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