Posts Tagged ‘CBI’

Labour used to know how to win elections. We need to re-learn. Fast.

09/05/2015, 04:01:27 PM

by Ian Moss

We, who came into the Labour party in the late 80s and early 90s thought we had built an invincible election fighting machine – after laying the foundations to get Labour back in contention and become an electoral force again the New Labour project embraced the changes in society and was the only party that looked in touch with modern Britain.

In reality, when we look back in 2020 the last 41 years of our endeavours will have seen only 13 years of Labour government. Labour is back into its natural state – as a party of opposition. The only virtue to make of letting the Miliband leaderships run its course to the election is to say that the left had another go, and again it failed. We have tried this plan enough in my lifetime now and it needs to stop.

Cameron has now got the opportunity to be PM for as many years as leader as Blair was, although I suspect he will happily retire after 2 or 3 years. Think about that. Blair, the all-conquering, was PM for 10 years. Cameron could do the same, happily, given this election result.

But he won’t find it easy. The majority is thin and his party will only stay becalmed for a while before its inevitable tensions start showing – over Europe and social liberalism – and he’s not a man noted for knuckling down to the hard business of government or has the soft skills of wooing back benchers. His style of party management means he could be in for a rough ride.

Labour has the power in opposition given this result, to make life difficult for the government, but only if it joins forces with exactly the political groupings that the public were frightened it would. If Labour spends the next 5 years voting down measures in alliance with the Greens and SNP it should prepare itself for a long time in opposition.

The Labour party should not see the way out of this result as building a coalition of Green voters, left wing Liberal Democrats and various fringe campaign groups. The only connection to the non-metropolitan world they have is as they drive through it on camping holidays. Labour does not need to appeal to the drivers of motor-homes; it needs to appeal to the car mechanics that fix them.

The Labour party core vote is urban and liberal. It also needs to be suburban and blue collar. People who run small businesses, work in trades and, yes, drive white vans. Empathy with their issues was notably absent from the team around Miliband which was full of the types of people who spent their Saturdays in Fabian Conferences. Real people don’t spend their weekends in seminars. Labour need to appeal to aspirational and entrepreneurial voters.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Reverse the child benefit cut and the politics of the 50p rate become irrelevant

29/01/2014, 12:46:12 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Of all Gordon Brown’s decisions – both good and bad – the most questionable, perhaps the oddest, and certainly the most irritating, was to award a peerage to Digby Jones and invite him into his government as trade minister.

What on earth was Gordon thinking? Jones – a corporate lawyer and former head of the CBI – is also a blowhard’s blowhard and has snapped at the hand that once fed him ever since. He can be relied upon as a rent-a-quote Labour basher these days and was at it again, jowls a-quivering, at Ed Balls’ pledge to restore the 50p top tax band for those earning over £150,000 a year. Reaching new heights of self-parody, he claimed:

“In the last few months we’ve got, oh, ‘if it creates wealth let’s kick it’ – really go for energy companies, really go for house-building, bankers, this time it’s going to be the high-earners.

“I am amazed he’s going to keep it at 50[p]. I’d expect if he [Balls] becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer we could be looking at 55, 60 on the excuse he gave today.”

But the outriders for the wealthy like Diggers can’t have it both ways. If raising the 45p rate to 50p is an inefficient way of raising revenue, the contention of august institutions like the Institute for Fiscal Studies, then the well-heeled clearly aren’t losing out very much, so it can hardly be catastrophic.

The economics of making those with the broadest shoulders pay the most to reduce the deficit, Ed Miliband’s phrase to describe the move, is sound enough, but the politics of tax rates are, of course, tortuous stuff for Labour.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Can Ed find prime ministerial credibility in selling the case for Europe?

20/11/2012, 12:16:37 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Making a new case for an old ideal. In a nutshell that’s the job of all Labour leaders down the years. But Ed Miliband also thinks it’s the challenge for those who still see Europe as the solution to our national problems rather than the cause of them.

In his speech to the CBI yesterday he warned that fellow EU countries are “deeply concerned” because they sense Britain is “heading to the departure lounge”. A febrile mood on the Tory backbenches reflects the latent hostility among the British public with latest polls showing 56 per cent of Brits would vote to pull out if a referendum is held on the issue.

To his credit Ed stood firm against these siren calls saying he would not let Britain “sleepwalk toward exit from the European Union”. This is as strong an assertion of the importance of the EU as we have heard from any frontline political leader for some time. But even he only managed faint praise.

For he too recognises the EU’s focus is on the past not the future. It is still committed to propping up an insular, agriculturalist ancien regime rather than equipping Europe with the ability to withstand the challenges of the new century.

As he pointed out, farming subsidies still eat up 40 per cent of the EU budget while contributing just 1.5 per cent to economic output.  The focus should instead be on “public goods” for the EU economy like infrastructure, innovation and energy.

In a prescient section of his speech, he conceded that for the post-war generation, including his Jewish parents, “Europe was a murderous continent”. For them European unity was “a noble ideal” with the countries of Europe “seeking to put peace and prosperity in place of war and destruction through economic and political co-operation” (or in former SDLP Leader John Hume’s phrase, the EU is “the longest running peace process in the world”).


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon