Posts Tagged ‘Conference’

Smug self-satisfaction blinds Corbyn’s Labour to the reasons the last election was lost

19/09/2017, 10:44:02 PM

by David Talbot

As the Conservative party trudges towards Manchester and its party conference this year, fresh with Boris Johnson’s timely four thousand word intervention, you would be forgiven for thinking the conventional wisdom of politics has been suspended. The Conservatives, wrought with angst and anger over the general election, are pouring over why its seemingly insurmountable political prestige crumbled over seven tumultuous weeks. The Labour party, meanwhile, is becalmed in glorious general election defeat. Its third, in a row. A better than expected defeat, but a defeat nonetheless. Not that this fact has seemingly been acknowledged by the body politic of Jeremy Corbyn and his fervent supporters.

For the Conservatives the post-election fog is only just lifting, but the gloom remains. The Times reported at the weekend that Sir Eric Pickles and Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, are set to release their report on why the Tories lost their majority on the first day of the party’s conference. The scale of its findings have levelled criticism at the traditional boogeyman and woman of Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, but it is also highly critical of the party’s data operation. Jim Messina, no doubt hired at ludicrous expense, devised a target seat operation that saw May visit 43 ‘marginal’ constituencies. The party went on to win just 5.


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Conference Notebook

01/10/2012, 01:19:30 PM

by Jon Ashworth

An eminent philosopher gave us an exhilarating, thought provoking and at times brain aching lecture on the floor of Conference yesterday. It was certainly a departure from the usual Sunday Conference afternoon though I concede the jury is still out on twitter as to whether it succeeded. But it was definitely popular in the hall. Just fancy, a party Conference discussing big ideas, whatever next?


For ten years I spent the Sunday evening of conference locked in soul destroying conference rooms in, often, soul destroying compositing meetings. Usually these gatherings would go on till the early hours of Monday morning but I’m told this year they were all done and dusted in a few hours, it was never like that in my day!


Freed from any need to be in an arid room trying to hammer out a political compromise,  I’m able to explore the Sunday night receptions. Deciding to give the rival Compass and Progress rallies a miss I head to Labour Friends of India where I’m joined by many friends and colleagues from Leicester. Brent MP Barry Gardner excels as the compere without compare and I get the chance to say a few words. Sadiq Khan joins us and tells an anecdote about a senior shadow cabinet member who addressed this gathering a few years ago with the opening line “it’s great to be here at Labour Friends of Israel…” Moments later a shadow cabinet member arrives to address us and makes the same mistake.


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Monday News Review

27/09/2010, 07:56:19 AM

Ed’s first move

So it’s all over, is it? Labour has lurched to the Left, handing the next election to David Cameron. The selection of “Red Ed” Miliband will doubtless have been toasted in illicit champagne by Conservatives on Saturday night. For the Tories, brother Ed is an easier opponent than David, and his victory by machine politics – Charlie Whelan having persuaded six union-backed MPs to switch their second preferences – supports the idea that Ed owes his position to the bruisers. But, in the sober light of Monday morning, the Conservatives should file away their excitement under C for Complacency. For it would be a big mistake to underestimate the new Labour leader. For a start, he is no fool. Like his brother, Ed is intelligent and politically astute. He is hardly going to join a picket line against Coalition cuts. If anything, he knows that he now has to sound tougher on the unions than David would have done. – The Independent

Ed Miliband has sought to convince voters he is not a puppet of the trade union barons, who helped secure him the Labour crown, by insisting: “I am my own man.” He branded the label “Red Ed” as “tiresome rubbish” yesterday and made clear there would be no lurch to the Left under his leadership, declaring: “I am for the centre ground of politics.” – The Herald

Even Ed Miliband’s triumphant supporters will feel nervous awaiting his first speech as Labour leader. Having been selected in the controlled party show room, Tuesday’s appearance will start to tell us how he will perform on the open road of public opinion. A welter of post-victory punditry is pulling him in many directions; he must defend Labour’s record but explain what went wrong; land a blow on the coalition but appeal to disaffected Liberal Democrats; and rally the troops while appealing to the nation. To top it all he must display authority, show humanity, speak to the heartlands and woo middle England. – The FT

MPs and constituency members backing David, union members handing him the crown, is a handicap. The unions whirred into action to Stop David not Get Ed. And the relationship will be fraught – but trade unionists have a right to be heard. The block vote disappeared in 1993 and it was individual workers who voted for Ed. A leader championing fairness and social justice should promise better rights at work, job security and a living wage. To run away from employees because of flak over union support would be the worst of all worlds. Predictions that Labour will lose the 2015 election are silly. Anything could happen. Labour expects Ed to prove his doubters wrong. And will be merciless if he doesn’t. – The Mirror


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Sunday News Review

26/09/2010, 07:00:09 AM

And the winner is…

It began with a first round showing in which the younger Miliband had done better than most expected. A murmur began which spread around the room. “He’s going to win,” whispered some. It turned into a whistled gasp when the second round of results were announced and he had almost caught up with his brother. When they realised that Ed Miliband had won, many delegates jumped to their feet and howled – but others stayed straight-faced, clearly disappointed. It seemed unfair that David – the frontrunner for so long – was in the end defeated by a margin so tiny it seemed almost insignificant. – The Guardian.

For Mrs Marion Miliband, days don’t come more bittersweet than this. Son Ed is ecstatic after pulling off a stunning victory. Son David is distraught, his political career suddenly plunged into turmoil. – The Mirror.

It was over breakfast with his older brother David at his Primrose Hill home in mid-September that Ed Miliband finally realised how close he was to becoming Labour’s new leader.
 – The Telegraph.

We lost the election and we lost it badly. My message to the country is this: I know we lost trust, I know we lost touch, I know we need to change. Today a new generation has taken charge of Labour, a new generation that understands the call of change.” – Metro.

As the odds on an Ed Miliband win fell dramatically in the course of 24 hours before he was finally declared Labour’s new leader on Saturday afternoon, one leading bookmaker was prompted launch an investigation into the sudden shift. – The Telegraph.

During the first week or two of his leadership he will be faced with the allegation – promoted by cynical Tory newspapers and garrulous Labour ancients – that he wants to take Labour back to the days of wholesale public ownership and subservience to the trade unions. – Roy Hattersley, The Guardian.

It was on a knife-edge. It looked like Labour was getting ready for power again, and going for David Miliband. But when the unions’ votes were counted, Red Ed just made it. And this could very well be Labour losing the next election. – NOTW.

We spend a lot of time criticising politicians so it behoves us to praise one when they behave with as much dignity as David Miliband has today. He has lost the Labour leadership election by the narrowest of margins and despite winning among both party members and MPs, but there has not been even a hint of bitterness or irriation in his behaviour. – The Spectator.

For Ed Miliband the initial challenges are perhaps even greater than those that would have faced his brother, because of the nature of the campaign he fought and the sections of the party from which he drew much of his support – the unions and the left. The rightwing press is loading up its heavy ammunition to rain down on “Red Ed”, whose campaign was seen as being to the left of David’s. – The Guardian.

The dramatic result, which saw Ed Miliband – dubbed ‘Red Ed’ – win with just 1.3 per cent more votes than his brother, was hailed as a ‘disaster’ by supporters of Tony Blair who had backed David. They claimed Ed, 40, a former adviser to Mr Brown, will be controlled by the trade unions, whose votes proved decisive in securing his victory. – Mail.

“We were all stood there, the five of us, with Harriet Harman and Ray Collins, and Ray said, ‘You have all done brilliantly. Ed Miliband, you have won’. In a sense it was a relief for everyone to know the final result – and David and Ed hugged straight away.” – Ed Balls, The Mirror.

The man chosen by key trade union leaders and many union members is now the leader of theLabour Party. And the one chosen by Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair isn’t. – Socialist Worker.

“If you turn on your television or open a newspaper you will not find me once, not ever, doing anything other than supporting the Labour leader” Gordon Brown, – FT.

With Coldplay’s Viva La Vida – the one with the lyrics ‘the old king is dead; long live the king’ – playing out, there was definitely a feeling of a re-birth for the party as it took to its feet. – Manchester Evening News.

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Friday News Review

17/09/2010, 07:00:28 AM

Miliband: 'winning support'

For the first time in thirty years, the Labour Party is electing a new leader without knowing in advance who it is likely to be. There are other parallels with 1980: Labour has recently been evicted from office, and its successors are turning out to be radical remakers of the state. – The Economist.

“I went into a briefing on a white paper for children [as chairman of the council’s children’s services scrutiny panel]. There was nothing in there for the children of the borough or anywhere else in the country. They are going to put the weakest to the wall. That was the last straw” – Barnsley councillor Lynne Brook on defecting from the Lib Dems to Labour BBC News.

With delegates heading to Liverpool for the annual conference of the Liberal Democrats, the challenge for Nick Clegg is to keep his party behind him as the government begins to flesh out what will be cut from its budget. His party is tanking in the polls and the mood among rank and file may not have been lifted by an interview he gave defending cuts to welfare. – The Guardian.

‘I’m winning support from MPs, members, unions and people outside the party, so I think all claims should be taken with a large pinch of salt. It’s my ideas for the future that have put me in the lead in this contest. I have been a candidate standing for what I am for in the future and not what I am against in the past. – David Miliband, Metro.

Admit it, Clegg, you’re in love. You rise each morning with that ache of uncertainty in your breast. You choose that tie, that suit, those shoes with him in mind. You scurry early to the office, practising the phrase that will please him, the gesture he will notice. When you first see him in the corridor … you can’t help it. The knees go. He is adorable. – Simon Jenkins on Nick Clegg’s leadership love The Guardian.

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Rob Carr recommends a rest

18/05/2010, 09:47:01 AM

Now is a time for recovery for election activists.  Whether from dog-bites, worn feet or just our general levels of sanity.  There are no more major elections for a year.  Party conference isn’t until September.  Now is the time for us to get together in committee rooms, pubs, and around kitchen tables. To enjoy each other’s company.  To be refreshed.  A time to share our tales from the campaign.  Whether it’s stories of ever-larger dogs we have faced down in our mission to deliver leaflets.  Ever smaller letter boxes snapping on our fingertips.  Ever soggier leaflets falling apart in our rain-soaked hands.  

Or memories like the man who told me and a roomful of campaigners that he was going to break into his old house to retrieve his postal vote so he could cast it for Labour.  (We talked  him out of it, in case you’re wondering. He went to his polling station.)   There was the voter who answered his door naked while I was canvassing one evening.  An unpleasant experience, but a confirmed Labour vote all the same.  Or the moment when Labour Party nobility, Sir Jeremy Beecham, popped his head round the corner as I was canvassing and started miming at me.  Surreal then, but hilarious in the pub later. And – my personal favourite of the 2010 election – the Labour promise whom,  on election day,  I had to convince hadn’t cast her vote the previous week via Facebook.  I’ve no doubt we all have a good collection of similar stories and experiences to tell,  and now is the time to relax,  reflect,  and enjoy them.

But not for too long.  Just long enough to ready ourselves for the battles to be joined. Because once we’re done resting and reminiscing about the various characters, the incidents tragic and comic, and the madness of polling day, we have to start thinking about what comes next.  Gordon Brown has returned to the back benches for the first time in 20 years. With the loss of the election, we’ve come to a natural time to pause and review. Now is when we think about new direction, new policy, and new leaders.

Read more from Rob Carr

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