Posts Tagged ‘David Lammy’

Labour’s minority problem

13/01/2015, 03:24:53 PM

by Henry Engler

Just one week after the major political parties launched their General Election campaigns, depressingly little headway has been made to cut through the cynicism of the electorate.

And voters aren’t the ones to blame. Their apathy is reflective of a much wider problem.

Seven years of austerity are taking their toll and none of the major parties have reached out far enough and wide enough to engage with real people in order to deliver their message.

And that’s before you take the ethnic minorities into account. While far from ignored, Labour has rested on its laurels in recent years and seen its traditional voter base eroded.

Bradford and Tower Hamlets should have been the wakeup call that the party needed but sadly the lessons have not been learnt and CLP’s around the UK are either being hollowed out, or failing to take advantage of the significant number of ethnic minority voters in their constituencies.

What’s worse is that this is often happening without the party noticing, especially in Labour-led authorities, or where the majority is superficially large.

Take Edmonton constituency in north London. This is a seat that has delivered large majorities for Labour. And why wouldn’t it, given its “traditional Labour” demographic. However, as recently as 1997 the seat was held by the Conservatives.

Let’s not forget that Clacton (formerly Harwich) was Labour until 2005. And Heywood & Middleton, which only remained Labour by a whisker in October’s by-election.


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Inequality matters: Labour will shift the balance of power in favour of the consumer, the citizen and the worker

19/12/2014, 04:03:03 PM

by Stephen Timms

Ed Miliband has set out the central challenge his government will need to address: “This country is too unequal.  And we need to change it.”  Our task is to make this change in a radically different landscape then when Labour took office in 1997.

Ed has acknowledged that inequality will have to be tackled in a period when there won’t be much extra money around.  The government’s oft-proclaimed economic plan has fallen disastrously short of its deficit reduction target.  We were promised the deficit would be ended in this Parliament.  In fact, it won’t even be halved.  That means we will be able to shift spending priorities, and to alter regulation, but big new spending programmes – beyond a small number of key priorities with specified funding – will not be on the cards for some years.

With the tools that will be at our disposal, we will need to tackle seriously long term unemployment, especially among the young; to raise real wages; and to tilt the balance of power in favour of the consumer, the citizen and the worker.

Everything points strongly to devolving power.  There is, of course, strong impetus in this direction from the Scottish referendum.  Powerful economic arguments for devolution were set out in Andrew Adonis’s growth review in July.  And the work I have been doing on employment support points to a much more localised approach too.

Andrew Adonis’s review calls for a “bold and simple offer of devolution”, ending the excessive centralisation which has held back economic growth in England.  He argues that: “spending on economic development is trapped in departmental siloes that do not sufficiently reflect economic realities”.

His case is well illustrated by the poor performance of the coalition’s approach to employment support.  Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on the government’s Work Programme, and hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on skills support – for example by increasing the number of apprenticeships.  But there has been a complete disjunction between the policies directing them.  The programmes have worked at cross purposes.

They have been overseen by two huge Whitehall departments with different agendas.  For example, the criteria set out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills make it almost impossible for an unemployed person on the DWP’s Work Programme to start an apprenticeship.


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Labour is dangerously complacent about winning back London post-Boris

14/08/2014, 11:32:25 AM

by Samuel Dale

It was the worst kept secret in Westminster but Boris is finally on his way back.

After years burnishing his profile as Mayor of London, he is looking for a Commons seat next year.

Inevitably the focus has been on the implications for Cameron, Osborne and the battle for the Tory leadership.

But it also confirms – almost certainly – that Johnson will not run again as Mayor of London in 2016.

This is leading to a dangerous complacency from Labour.

The theory goes like this: London is a Labour voting city that has been twice charmed by the charismatic Boris but when he goes the mayoralty will slip back to its rightful owners, Labour.

This belief is fuelled by electoral successes.

Labour did surprisingly well in London in the 2010 general election, costing the Tories a majority.

In the intervening years, it has also won back control of councils and had record breaking results in areas such as Camden in May.

But the mayoralty is different. In their own ways Ken Livingstone and Boris have made the Mayor Of London a big job.


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Is the Labour leader’s office spinning for Nigel Farage?

21/05/2014, 09:19:01 AM

A strange story in the Guardian this morning: “Labour and Conservative attacks on Ukip backfire,” booms the headline. Mention is made in the first line of Labour and Conservative polling that shows “attacks claiming  Nigel Farage is a racist have backfired.”  The piece is neatly set up. But then something strange happens.

Where normally there would be evidence, some figures from the aforementioned polling, maybe some quotes from a focus group, there is nothing. Just a lacuna at the heart of the story. The only hard numbers referenced in the piece are from the published polls, which tell quite a different story. One where Ukip’s ratings have clearly slid backwards over the past fortnight.

So how to explain such a story? Certainly, the way its written would seem to treat Joseph Pulitzer’s three rules of journalism – accuracy, accuracy, accuracy – as merely the vaguest of guidelines.

But there’s a clue. A big fat fingerprint. It’s a quote from the ubiquitous “source,” which pops up in the third paragraph: “Calling people names does not work. It confirms the old politics.”

Given the story refers to private Labour and Conservative polling, it’s clear the quote is from someone in one of the two main parties.

And in the absence of any actual evidence to stand up the assertion in the headline, the person giving the quote would need to carry some political heft. No major news outlet could run such a big story, without any facts, on the word of a normal MP or adviser. This would have to come from the top.

Which prompts the obvious question, cui bono: Number 10 or Ed Miliband’s office? In whose interest is a piece saying that attacking Nigel Farage as a racist doesn’t work? And who would frame it as confirming, “the old politics.”

The culprit becomes clearer.


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Well done Yvette Cooper. Well done David Lammy. Shame on you Ed Miliband

19/05/2014, 02:32:47 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another shambolic intervention from Labour’s leader. This time it was about Nigel Farage and racism.

When asked the inevitable question on the Today programme, Ed Miliband said,

“I believe what Nigel Farage said a couple of days ago was deeply offensive. I said it was a ‘racial slur’. I think, though, our politics is disagreeable enough without political leaders saying about other political leaders ‘They’re a racist’.”

It’s excruciating. Ed Miliband might have been dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that Farage’s comments were a “racial slur,” but his refusal to follow through on his own logic and say that Farage was being racist is ludicrous.

The implication of Ed Miliband’s interview is that Nigel Farage can say whatever he likes, no matter how prejudiced or bigoted, and it still won’t be enough for the Labour leader to call him a racist.

It’s almost as if the Labour leader finds the act of calling someone a racist more disagreeable than the racism itself.

Contrast this with two interventions this lunchtime.

First, David Lammy on the Daily Politics. Same question, different answer.

“What Nigel Farage said over the weekend was racist. So I’m clear, he’s a racist.”

And then there was Yvette Cooper on ITV News,

It’s not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls, but it is racist to some how stir up fears about Romanians living next door. So Ukip should say they were wrong on that.”

Both Yvette Cooper and David Lammy are absolutely clear on condemning Nigel Farage’s racism. No caveats, attempts to soften the criticism or shy away from the ‘R’ word.

On the central issue in the European election campaign, Ukip’s racism, the Labour leader is now hopelessly isolated. Senior backbenchers like David Lammy, and senior frontbenchers like Yvette Cooper are both taking a very different line from him. His authority and judgement are in question on this, and a raft of other issues, as never before.

If Ukip beat Labour on Thursday in the European election, expect much of the dissent currently rumbling just beneath the surface across both the right and left of the PLP, to explode into public view.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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Sunday review on Thursday: The not-the-London-Labour-mayor hustings

28/11/2013, 01:14:49 PM

by David Butler

When is a husting not a husting? When it is a Progress Campaign for a Labour Majority event on winning in London. That all the invited panellists, including the curiously absent Sadiq Khan, are considered potential nominees for Mayor of London was just pure coincidence.

The event was less a tale of two Londons (or One London Labour or whatever today’s vogue is) but of two de Blasios. David Lammy and Diane Abbott sought this mantle both through reference to New York’s Mayor-elect and through the language and policies on offer. Lammy provide a toned down version of de Blasio’s message, whilst Abbott raised the rhetorical and policy stakes, offering a clear left-populist platform. This, and her potential support from the remnants of Ken’s old machine, makes her a serious contender within a party and electorate to the left of the national norm. Even Andrew Adonis and Tessa Jowell, neither of whom particularly fit the de Blasio mould, referenced “two cities” and “One London” respectively.

However, in many ways, it felt like a London housing policy seminar that happened to have a different title. Both Abbott and Lammy announced support rent regulation, albeit with Lammy obfuscating by calling for “fair rents”. Lammy subsequently redeemed himself with an eminently sensible proposal to build housing on the Green Belt. Jowell warned about the impact of the mansion tax on “asset rich but cash poor” families, a rather surprising move in the circumstances; worrying about those who do well out Britain’s over-inflated housing market should not be high up her priority list. As expected, Adonis had the more innovative ideas proposing to explore shared equity schemes and a “housing bank” to take a stake in future developments in order to prevent land banking.


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Rumours of Lammy vs Mensch for the London 2016 mayoral election

01/05/2012, 06:53:17 PM

After a long and bruising London mayoral campaign, what is the last thing that anyone on either side should want to think about?

Hint – the operative word here is ‘should’. But after all the vitriol, the debates and the wilful sacrifice of thousands of activists on both sides to the grip of the perma-cold – the sniffling hallmark of day after day knocking doors in the rain – thoughts are turning to the next cycle.

Difficult as it maybe to believe but already senior figures on both sides are beginning to wonder who will be the mayoral contenders in 2016.

Come what may, next time round, Ken and Boris will not be involved and potential wannabes will be manoeuvring for prominent London roles in the 2015 general election.

Within Labour there is a working assumption that David Lammy will move early to establish front-runner status. Having seriously considered throwing his hat into the ring this time, he eventually opted to chair Ken’s campaign and inherit the campaign organisation.

His political calculation is that in 2016, most of the 2010 intake of London Labour MPs will be either in government or battling over the future direction of the Labour party. Allying with Ken minimised his risk of losing the selection this time and maximised his pool of support within the party machine for 2016.

One former party aide, who worked on the London mayoral candidate selection process and advised Lammy to run was phlegmatic, “He would have killed Boris if he had been the candidate but the politics made sense to wait”.


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Sunday review on Monday: “Out of the ashes: Britain after the riots” by David Lammy

19/12/2011, 07:30:19 AM

by Anthony Painter

There is a new moralist movement in British politics. It binds red Tory and blue Labour and even Ed Miliband and David Cameron from time to time. The latter was at it this weekend in his “Christian country” lecture. This new moralism emphasises traditional values, family, responsibility, community, right and wrong, security, good and bad. A judeo-christian thread runs through it. David Lammy’s Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots is, in part, a significant centre-left expression of this new moralism.

The definitive argument of the new moralism is that Britain has faced two liberal revolutions in the last fifty years: social liberalism in the 1960s and economic liberalism in the 1980s. Both were disastrous and explain why our society faces its current travails. It’s why people are rioting.

This “two revolutions” marker is there in red Toryism, blue Labourism, and it’s in Out of the Ashes:

“The problem is that we can never have enough. The revolutions that shaped modern Britain – the social liberalism of the 1960s and the economic liberalism of the 1980s – have schooled us to think of ourselves as individuals living lives free from each other”.


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RIP the “progressive majority”?

17/05/2011, 12:00:51 PM

by David Lammy

RIP the “progressive majority”? So said many following the recent election results.

Two years ago there was a plausible argument for a “progressive moment”. Many thought the economic crash had changed politics irreversibly. That after a crisis of capitalism, voters had moved to the left. That a new generation, without the scars of the 80s, could simply move with them. That Obama’s victory in the States proved all this.

I had some sympathy with this and still do. In government, we never grasped the opportunity to shift the terms of debate beyond managerial concerns about better regulation. Because we allowed ethics and economics to remain strangers, the conversation quickly moved on from the causes of the crash to the size of the deficit.

However we interpret the history of the crash, the world has moved on. As others have both pointed out, the left now finds itself in electoral meltdown across Europe. The “progressive majority” argument did not wash with AV (which I supported), with many Labour voters ticking “no” precisely because they rejected that label. In the local elections, we regained ground we should never have lost in 2007. As Ed Miliband has acknowledged, there is an awful long way to go.


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Shadow cabinet: team Lammy wants your vote

24/09/2010, 09:09:34 PM

Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 6:21:51 PM

Dear colleagues,
As a broad group of MPs from across the party, we will all be voting for David Lammy as one of our 19 choices for the Shadow Cabinet elections. We believe that he would be an asset to our party in the Shadow Cabinet and we urge colleagues to lend David one of their votes.


Karen Buck
Gerald Kaufman
Frank Dobson
Dennis Skinner
Gisela Stuart
Natascha Engel
Chuka Umunna
Pamela Nash

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