Posts Tagged ‘opposition’

I’m a Conservative and Britain needs a credible opposition. Are we likely to get one any time soon?

09/02/2016, 05:53:16 PM

by John Wall

I was as surprised as many when the exit poll result was announced on election night although I’d experienced negative feelings towards Labour on the doorsteps.

It’s disappointing that elections have become presidential but Cameron consistently polled better than Miliband who reminded me of the earnest students I encountered at University, those for whom “out with the trots” didn’t mean an upset stomach. They burned with zealotry to right some perceived wrong and always seemed to be campaigning, protesting or expressing “solidarity”.

Despite claiming to support the many rather than the few, sufficient of the many, as Lord Ashcroft found considered that Labour “no longer seem to stand up for people like me”. Against a confident incumbent “Blair’s heir” who had a growing economy and falling unemployment Miliband’s failure is understandable.

Despite some glowing character references, largely from lefties (!), in Corbychev I see a cold, humourless lefty and there is a good reason for that – he is a cold, humourless lefty! He has the wearisome attitude of someone who wonders why he needs to explain his self evident “truths” to lesser mortals.

It’s difficult to see a fundamental difference to Miliband, the polls indicate that the more the public see of him the less they like him, and again he’s appealing to the few rather than the many.

From my perspective, and, yes, I’m “Tory Scum” who, come the revolution, will be first against the wall, I believe that a credible opposition is essential.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour desperately needs a soft left revival

23/09/2015, 10:05:24 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The Labour leadership campaign was a traditional selection process, despite extraordinary features.

While the Corbyn surge and the tripling of numbers entitled to vote flowed from changes made in the procedure, the thinking behind the leadership selection has lapsed behind the constitutional changes made and being made by the coalition government and its Tory successor, most importantly the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

This meant that the new leader has to spend the best part of five years in opposition. By the time the conference season is over, by October 7th, the leaders of all the opposition parties will be facing four years and seven months in opposition. Pledges to do this and that in government are marginal at best. As Fiona Millar has said, the duty of an opposition is to oppose.

The Labour leadership election was thus de facto not about electing a possible future prime minister. It was about leadership in opposition. This reality vanished from the selection process, which produced a series of policy initiatives for a manifesto which is in the remote future.

If there is no successful opposition, then the policies to renationalise rail, bring schools back under local authority control, or whatever are irrelevant. Labour remains, as it has been since it was set up in 1900, a vehicle for representing Labour at Westminster, but there is no strategy for doing this in a way which derails the government and build support in the country.

A key lesson set out by Professor David Runciman in the London Review of Books immediately after the election (10th-21st May 2015) has been missed. Runciman argued “For Labour it is finally time to abandon the idea that its primary purpose is to secure majorities in the House of Commons and that it should do nothing to put that prize at risk. It needs to become more like a typical European social democratic party, which recognises that nothing can be achieved without forging alliances with others.”

Runciman accepts that this will be difficult, but is himself behind the curve of European social democracy and other centre currents which are clearly in trouble.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

3 years on: Ed Miliband has one of the most experienced shadow cabinets’ since the war

30/05/2013, 07:00:10 AM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Kevin Meagher looks at a battle hardened shadow cabinet.

Like many of you, dear readers, I vividly remember watching the 2010 election count, taking heart from every morsel of comfort on a losing night (‘we’ve held Birmingham Edgbaston!’) and cheering on every small advance (‘Simon Danczuk took Rochdale – even after the Mrs. Duffy incident!’) It was bad – we were out; but it could have been worse.

The share of the vote was abysmal – the lowest since 1922 – but the Conservatives hadn’t won. This was undoubtedly a rejection of Labour, but not a sea change. It was becoming clear gazing at the goggle box in the wee small hours that there would have to be a coalition government and, at that stage – and against all expectations – Labour was still in the game.

The rest, of course, is history, but it seems this sense of relief that the result was not as bad as it could have been for Labour averted any exodus of talent from the top of the party.

After all, here you had a bunch of experienced ex-ministers, many in their early 40s, who could easily have transferred their talents to the worlds of business or academia. Why hang around with no guarantee you will ever sit round the cabinet table again – and even if you do is it worth slogging through five years of opposition only to do a job you’ve already done before?

After all, the immediate effect of losing ministerial office is a fifty per cent pay cut, closely followed by the realisation that your retinue of officials, drivers, security people, diary secretaries and assorted hangers-on are no longer trailing behind you. You are back to running a shadow operation from your pokey Westminster office.

It’s a big psychological readjustment and they could be forgiven for for facing an existential crisis about what they were doing with their lives.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The twelve rules of opposition: day 12

05/01/2012, 01:30:48 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Rule 12 Understand how a mirror works

And so as the twelve days of Christmas finally end, we come to the last rule of opposition. Unlike the others, this is not about the presentation of policy, improving the leader’s image, tactics against the government or party management.

It’s not about any of the conventional areas of political action.

Instead, it’s to do with honesty. Specifically the leader being honest about what they see when they look in the mirror.

A stroll down the high street of any British town after eight in the evening on a Saturday night reveals a strange phenomenon.

Most men and women out and about at this time don’t understand how a mirror works. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The twelve rules of opposition:day eight

01/01/2012, 02:09:52 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Rule Eight: Play the man not the ball

The man in question is the prime minister.

As 2012 dawns, for Labour to be a successful opposition, the party will need to change its approach to David Cameron.

Elections revolve around two issues:- the economy and leadership. A central battle in every campaign is the contest between the parties to define each other, in the eyes of the voters, on these twin topics.

Currently, the Tories have a clear story that addresses both economy and leadership. In their narrative Labour are a party addicted to spending, oblivious of debt and led by an ingénue called red Ed who is in the pocket of the public sector unions.

Labour’s response is that the Tories are dragging the country back into recession, condemning a generation of the young to long term unemployment because they are cutting too far and too fast.

Spot the missing link?

Beyond the question marks on Labour’s economic critique (see rules 1, 2 and 3), half of the party’s argument is missing.

The public are hearing nothing from Labour on Cameron’s leadership. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The twelve rules of opposition: day two

26/12/2011, 12:01:56 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Rule 2: Use the government’s tax and spending plans as a bridge back into the argument

All oppositions start their lives with a trust deficit on the economy.

Defeat at a general election is the most stark demonstration of voters’ lack of faith. It is the public sending a clear message that they do not believe that the party has either the policies or the capability to deliver on their promises of a brighter tomorrow.

The pre-eminent requirement for an opposition is to bridge this trust gap, as quickly as possible.

But deprived of power, and the ability to demonstrate how alternative policies would have been more effective than the government’s, the options are limited.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

A three point plan for opposition

10/11/2011, 02:35:08 PM

by Peter Watt

Being in opposition can be thankless and getting the tone right can be tricky. Right about now it is doubly so. Which is why I was taken by an interesting article over at Labour List penned by Mark Ferguson. In “Labour can’t afford to look smug“, Mark argues that Labour risks looking smug in the face of the current dire economic situation if they appear to take every bad headline or statistic as vindication for their proposed approach. As he says, if we look smug:

“…then all we do is ensure that at best the public think ‘a plague on all your houses’ and at worst, we end up looking smug about a crisis that many people think we caused”.

Now I didn’t agree with some of the underlying assumptions in the post, but on this central tenet he was spot on. We do sometimes and inadvertently sound quite pleased at the poor economic outlook and the public hate it. And so I started thinking about what exactly the strategy for opposition should be for Labour right now. And I have come up with a cunning three point plan. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

That high risk economic policy again: ours

13/04/2011, 12:00:11 PM

by Rob Marchant

Recess. Time for us all to reflect on where we’re at before the elections are upon us. And what will people be wanting to hear on the doorstep this month? That the cuts are awful, and that we’re with them. Right?


The idea that we might be taking a risk with this line seems particularly wrong-headed, as the Tories are wrong and we are right on the pure economics of the cuts. KrugmanStiglitz, and other luminaries agree (hmmm, which should we trust, two Nobel prize winners or George Osborne? Let’s think). The trouble is, we are taking a risk. As I have observed before, it is often not so much the economic policy itself, which is essentially right, but our positioning on that policy – the politics – which is risky.

Our approach is risky, perhaps as much as the Tories’, in its way, because it is predicated on the potential for economic disaster from cutting too far, too fast. And, of course, that disaster may not happen or worse, may happen, but not in a way which we can prove. It may be a little early to assume, as Liberal Conspiracy’s Sunny Hundal seems to, that we will be incontrovertibly proved right.

By allowing the two sides of the cuts narrative to dominate our thinking – the negative effect on people on the one hand, and on growth on the other – we miss the future impact. We forget that, while the first is undeniable, it will pass, and that the second may turn out be difficult to prove. And, when faced with the fait accompliof the policy, what then?

Two golden rules of politics, or any struggle for that matter: choose your battles carefully and play for the long-term, not the short.

One problem with opposition is that you campaign heavily against something, which later comes to pass. And, after a short while, it is as if things had always been that way, as the Tories found to their cost. They campaigned against everything: gay rights, an independent bank of England and devolution. Things that nowadays no sensible Tory would dream of trying to reverse, but for which dire consequences were nonetheless predicted. They were then faced with the gritted-teeth reality of looking on, impotent, as these policies were comfortably put in place. They were the perceived losers of the argument. And the dire consequences, of course, never materialised.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, opposition. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Oldham win lifts Labour out of relegation zone

14/01/2011, 07:00:32 AM

by Atul Hatwal

It’s a tough stage of the season in both football and politics. The threat of relegation stalks struggling teams. Managers are desperate for some breathing space. Only one thing can help: a win. Every game is like a cup final.

Last night Ed Miliband lifted the coveted Oldham East and Saddleworth cup. For once, the morning’s newspapers provide decent reading for Labour. There will be no need for hastily arranged media interviews to stamp on rumours about losing the dressing room. Victory has bought the Labour leadership time.

The question is: how will they use it?

Learning from a win can be difficult. The temptation is to take it as a vindication of all that has gone before. But booking the open-top bus would be premature. There is plenty of cause for caution.

Recent polls paint a picture of an electorate that has not changed its mind on the fundamentals since the election. 40% of people think that the cuts are Labour’s fault. 52% think that they are necessary.

The most relevant polling is on the impact of the cuts. 51% believe the cuts will only affect their family’s income a little and 16% not at all. 63% do not think their job is at risk.

Two-thirds of the electorate think that it’s all going to be ok. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

There’s no crisis and no division, just a duty to oppose

29/11/2010, 11:30:20 AM

by Michael Dugher

Only the Labour Party, on attracting 40,000 new members and going five-points ahead in the opinion polls – for the first time in what felt like living memory – could be written up as being in real difficulty. The (mainly Conservative-supporting) newspapers have talked of “growing rumblings” about the Labour leadership and “mounting criticisms”. Ed Miliband’s speech to the national policy forum was described by yesterday’s Sunday papers as a “fightback”’ and a “relaunch”, and even a move “to avert a leadership crisis”, according to the Mail on Sunday.

But we can’t just blame the journalists for this mischief. They are just filing copy, filling space in the paper, doing what they are paid to do.  Too often, the negative stories are the result of “friendly fire” from our own side – ill-judged remarks (if you are feeling forgiving), “public diplomacy” (if you are feeling cynical). Or they come from the whingeing briefings and bar-room gossip that are all part of the trade.

Commentators, too, have been quick to say where we are going wrong. Our own Dan Hodges, contributing editor of Labour Uncut, is usually a saint of reason. He offers both insight and wisdom. But his recent piece in the New Statesman that Labour is on the brink of a “new civil war” was as wild as the jungle. Some stories are written to generate more stories, and this Hodges piece unfortunately read as such. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon