Ding dong merrily on high

27th December, 2011 11:53 am

Being a glass-half-full sort of person when it comes to the state of the Labour Party I thought I should respond to the glass-half-empty blog post by Anthony Painter, backed up by Peter Watt.

Anthony says the Party has “stopped pretending it’s in trouble when clearly it is”. This is clearly nonsense, everyone I know in the Labour Party spends their entire time full of angst about why we lost and what we need to do to win again.
He says “I’m afraid by-elections and local elections are pretty meaningless in terms of the national picture”. How come then that by-elections and local elections were a perfect indicator of the national picture in predicting we would win in 1997 and lose in 2010?
He says Labour’s “organisation is a bad fit for the needs of the moment”. An odd time to mention this when we just finished spending a year debating structures in the “Refounding Labour” review, made some radical changes in terms of opening up the Party via the supporters’ network, and we have a General Secretary making the most radical changes in living memory at Party HQ. It’s no use making a statement like that without suggesting specific reforms, and the time to do that was in the summer during the Refounding Labour process.
He says “You no longer win by putting blocks of support together” but anyone who runs campaigns at a local level knows that’s exactly what you do – segment the electorate based on socio-economic data (Mosaic codes) and previous voting behaviour from canvass returns, and target your message at the different groups.
It is correct to say there are more groups, a more splintered society, and the big blocks of Labour support are smaller because society has changed, but the idea that economic class isn’t the primary determinant of voting behaviour is nonsense, if it wasn’t why would inner city and former industrial areas be predominantly Labour, rich areas predominantly Tory and mixed areas marginal?  The way the two parties have acted in government shows that they remain basically vehicles for the aggregation and advancement of class interests – Labour improves life for people in places like Hackney, the Tories make it worse.
Anthony says we need a “nuanced conversation” with voters. Yes, with a minority who follow politics very closely we do. But most voters have very little time to think about politics. They don’t want a “nuanced conversation” they just want to know they can trust us to run the country and once we pass that bar they will think about very broadly sketched visions of the future and what our priorities might be.
He argues that it is “stark raving mad” to think “politics has to change society”. Maybe it is. Maybe I am mad. But you won’t get people to sacrifice their spare time to run a voluntary political party by just accepting society as it is and making politics just about electing the most attractive candidate or most competent team. And British society needs changing – it is grossly unfair and unequal – who is going to change that if it isn’t Labour? If it can’t be changed by politics we might as well all emigrate or slit our wrists. Surely the whole point of even the most rightwing versions of social democracy is about fundamentally changing how society works to make it fairer?
He calls for “heavyweight statesmen and women; not former advisers” to lead Labour. I can’t decide if that is a straightforward attack on the current leadership, most of whom were advisers before being MPs, or just naïve – changing the way we recruit our leaders would bear fruit in 20 years time not now.  I’m not aware of a “heavyweight statesman” sat in the wings waiting to lead Labour. And what’s wrong with being a former adviser? I wasn’t one, I don’t have the patience or self-control to only advise or speak for other people rather than speaking for myself so went down the path of elected political office, but why would we have a downer on people who spent Labour’s period in government working full time helping Labour ministers? A) it’s a commendable thing to do and involved a lot of financial and personal sacrifice and B) it means when they become Ministers they already know how to make government deliver our policies.
He also complains that “the upper echelons of the Labour Party is dominated by brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends”. Errr, yes, because if you work together in the common endeavor of getting Labour elected and then governing successfully for two decades, you will end up being friends with each other, and maybe even marrying each other. Does Anthony want people dropped into Labour’s leadership who haven’t got a history of hard work for the Party? I confess I trust people more and tend to vote for them more if I canvassed with them in 1990s by-elections or sat with them at NUS and NOLS conferences 20 years ago. It means I know what I’m dealing with.
He says “we have a party that interprets diversity in purely gender or racial terms. You end up with even less diversity as a result.” There’s an implicit attack there on measures that do address gender and race representation. There’s also a failure to show any recognition of the training scheme the party is currently running to help people get selected from all sorts of non-traditional backgrounds that are under-represented in the PLP, or the high profile example of us running ex-army officer Dan Jarvis in a by-election.
If Labour is a “guild” as he says, it’s one anyone can join by getting a reputation for campaigning hard. That’s the basic criteria – party members will select people with very diverse political views and personal backgrounds if they know they are grafters who have done the hard slog as volunteers on the doorstep, ditto in terms of who gets appointed to jobs within the party staff.
As for Anthony’s critique of Ed’s leadership, I simply don’t agree with it. Listing things you don’t think Ed has done well is not massively helpful. It would be more useful to set out things you think he should do.
Anthony says, implying this is not a good thing, “The highest value within Labour is now loyalty and unity.” I wish it was.  It should be. We’ve tried disloyalty and disunity throughout our history, particularly in the recent past. It never helps.
He calls for “more (constructive) disruption at the top and throughout the PLP and party – including the NEC.” I’m one NEC member who won’t be heeding that call. If I am constructively disruptive you won’t hear about it – it will be in arguments made in private at party meetings or face to face with the people I disagree with, not grandstanding.
If you want to read a more straightforward, upbeat assessment of where Labour is at, read this by Michael Dugher.
It might help you have a merrier Christmas.
This was originally posted on Luke’s blog.

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  • Alex_sobel

    I do agree with a number of points here but you’re out of touch with ordinary people’s lives if you think SPADs are making a financial sacrifice on their wage levels.

  • Anonymous

    One look at Blair MP’s you will notice that many only became members maybe a year or two before the parachute was used to put them into nice cosy seats, advisors who are hired by labour to play major rolls within Labour were in fact Tories, Lord Freud or fraud as he is known in my area.

    Of course a lot of us do not live in Hackney.

    The fact is labour is slowly moving away from the working class towards the middle class, the problem is of course many in the middle class are heading for the working class as the Tories and labour would have demanded cuts to wages and pensions.

    It will be interesting to see where Miliband ends up in three and a bit years, if labour is to win I suspect it will be due to millions upon millions not voting at all.

    The question is of course if Welfare is not labours any more
    Social housing is not labour.

    We know the NHS is a knock about political tool,

    we know that education education education is also a tool, sadly labours slowly turning towards the Tories on private education, with my MP thinking Grammar schools should be allowed.

    It’s getting harder and harder to find a reason to vote labour.

    • Dave Postles

      Sale of 3G ‘phone licence by UK government is expected to bring in an income of £3bn.  Labour should announce now that it would use this funding for social housing and other infrastructure projects.  There is also £1bn+ to be received from the sale of 632 Lloyds branches: announce now that Lloyds should establish an industrial bank with the money.

      • GuyM

        3g network sales came and went a decade ago.

        You mean 4g, which is a year or two off yet.

        I also think you’ll find that the telecomms companies who had their fingers burned so badly with the inflated cost of 3g licences don’t get conned by government again next time around.

        • Anonymous

          I do think they will have a battle and that means prices will be high, sadly when these prices go high it means it costs more.

          • GuyM

            I doubt it, I was at Orange at the time of 3g and all the telecomms got fleeced by the government on licences that would never have the ROI advertised.

            I suspect once bitten twice shy will be the maxim in the current economic climate when 4g comes up.

            Personally though I’d rather the money was spent constructively rather than chucking it all at “social housing”.

      • Anonymous

        Next year will see a very tight year spending will be cut back to the bone, because from 2013 will start the great give away by the Tories. They will ensure the voters who will vote Tory will be given I suspect tax cuts, and to be honest if it was labour in power the middle class would be given as labour did tax cuts, but of course labour took from the poor and gave to the well off.

        So for me to say I see no differences in the parties it will be interesting to sit and watch the next election. 

  • I like your article Luke, but I fundamentally disagree with you on local election and by-election results. We got some fantastic results just before 1992, we still lost, and even pre-1983 we did well locally and got hammered at the GE. All the by-elections so far have been in Labour seats that we even managed to hold last year at our lowest ebb. 

    By all means in 2004 our local election results were dire- we got a poor 26% and the Tories 38%. Had I based my 2005 prediction on 2004 local elections, I would’ve suggested a hung parliament. I dislike relying on local results or by-elections for reassurance.

    • Felixfeneon

      That’s still not to say they can be dismissed out of hand as potential indicators. And you overlook exceptional one-off national events occuring after those local elections, like the Falklands war, which swing the electorate the other way.

  • Dave Postles

    Apologia: yes, it should have been 4G.  Regardless of the amount which accrues – and the reports are still £3bn – Labour could make a pre-emptive stance that the income would be used for social housing and infrastructure.

    • Anonymous

      Labour had 13 years to do something on social housing. It did nothing.

      If you think talking social housing is a vote winner.. well with Labour’s record it is unlikely.

      • Dave Postles

        I’ll just reply to this one.  You are new here madasafish.  You should not make accusations about people when you have not read their years of comments.  The one thing which we on the left have been consistent about here is the failure of Labour to build social housing.  They had ann investment policy for £1bn for social housing at the end and the Thames Gateway project was completed (Dagenham and Barking).  This crap was begun by Thatcher who flogged off the houses but would not allow capital receipts to be reinvested in new housing.  This Coalition now wants to flog off more council housing with a £50k discount, expecting all the same to use the receipts to build more social housing (well, that sums up Grant Shapps – he needs a new calculator).
        Have fun here.  I’m off.  This list was supposed to be for the Labour-minded.  I once was a member of Labour, but it has surrendered to venal interests.

        • Anonymous

          Dave, it’s always good to take a break- but keep an open mind.

          Hope you have a change of heart in the new year.

          There’s always a danger of getting wrapped up in the politics of blogging
          instead of main points of article, which sometimes happens when spending any length of time in the comment section?

          I know it’s difficult to keep a clear head when thinking through ideas
          and dealing with a lot of antagonism, but I personally think your contributions here are vital to the debates, and I greatly value your presence here.

          Just engage with those who you feel comfortable in dialogue with!

          Have a good break, but please do come back and post when
          you feel inclined.

          I do think 2012 is going to be an important year.

          Best wishes as always,


          • Dave does have a point though. generally, I don’t bother to respond to the Tory troublemakers and trolls

    • Anonymous

      Sadly it’s what they did in the last thirteen years which people will remember not what they may or may not do in the future.

      Miliband has to do a lot to make people believe he is different enough for people to trust, problem is of course we remember him being part of new labour and browns labour.

  • Dave Postles

    4G auction.
    The regulator expects the auction to occur in late/end of 2012, it seems.

  • AmberStar

    Ed Miliband takes a stand on a currently ‘unpopular’ subject: Europe. It has the desired effect on opinion, given that the % of people for staying in Europe markedly increased.

    But Cameron gets a populist poll bump because, well he stood up for Britain.

    And that dead cat bounce for Dave causes some Labour bloggers to go into meltdown, casting aspertions on Ed, the Party structure, the narrative etc.

    Some of us need to get a grip; & thanks Luke for pointing that out in your gentle but firm way!

    So what will the rest of us be doing, whilst the nay sayers are carping? We’ll be delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, listening to local people’s ideas & having ideas of our own about how to make our communities better because we have the 2012 Council elections coming up fast.

    When we stay focussed & work hard, we win.

    • Anonymous

      Good luck one day it will dawn on you……

      • AmberStar

        You’re going to have to be less cryptic, treborc, because your overly nuanced comment has failed to communicate anything at all to me…

        • Anonymous

          I have the same feeling about who the hell you have been talking to.

    • GuyM

      Slightly dishonest analysis of the EU vote positions.

      Firstly in most polls there is a clear lead for the “out” camp (could you direct me to the evidence for a “marked increase” in support for staying in the EU?).

      Secondly Milliband didn’t take any stand whatsoever, he continually refused to say what he would have done other than repeat the inane “it would never have come to this” line.

      But at the bottom of all of this, Labour has economic policies that would send this country into a financial meltdown in pursuit of that “dead cat bounce” you talk about. A large stimulus based mainly upon increased borrowing that would melt away after a year at most and leave us with just the pain of financing the increased debt and deficit payments.

      All Labour stands for is welfarism and public sector non jobs, you have absolutely nothing else to offer.

      • AmberStar

        Oddly, my reply to you is out of sync. Hopefully, folks can work it out.

        • GuyM

          Your part reply, as I note you say nothing about Millibands vacuous non position on the EU treaty/veto issue nor link evidence the UK population is falling in love with the EU>

  • AmberStar

    You Gov’s latest poll on the in/out of Europe debate is at neck & neck. Prior to Ed’s speech, a plurality were in favour of ‘out’.

    Ed Miliband did take a position on Europe. He would not have walked out of the negotiations, nor would he have signed up to the treaty ‘as is’. A sensible, pragmatic approach: Minimum show-boating, maximum potential for arriving at a workable solution to the issue.

    Your [mis-]understanding of the Labour economic plan seems to be rooted in media soundbites. When will you think for yourself? When Osborne admits sometime next year, as he surely will, that the deficit will take 2 parliaments to clear – exactly what Labour (Alistair D & Ed B) have both said all along.

    You have swallowed the myth of non-jobs – so how do you explain the cuts in nurses,  police & other front-line workers? Why are they necessary, if there were so many non-jobs all begging to be cut?

    As to welfarism, the bill for this is rising rapidly under the Coalition, so what’s your point? 

    • Anonymous

      As to welfarism, the bill for this is rising rapidly under the Coalition, so what’s your point?

      Welfarism is that like New labourism.

    • GuyM

      I’ve swallowed nothing.

      If you truly believe hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs created under Labour were all nurses, teachers and firefighters then we are all living on the funny farm.

      If you truly believe some northern areas really did need 60% and 70% plus of the workforce employed in public sector jobs then I am at a loss.

      Councils are full of pen pushers and jobs that are simply there to justify increased public spending. Childrens play officers, diversity administrators, toothbrush advisor, roller disco coach, walking co-ordinator, cheerleading development officer, nuclear free local authority policy officer, breastfeeding peer support co-ordinator, composting supervisor are all classic examples. All jobs that are a waste of taxpayers money and we could well do without.

      That’s the problem with the public sector, they will always increase activity to match funding, whereas in the private sector funding should go up if business value and ROI result.

      As for the deficit, Labour clearly said htey wold reduce spending at a lower rate, that would not have kept the benfit bill down as wages for a public sector worker costs more than a benefit bill. You would have had us with higher interest rates and all the misery that goes with larger number of mortgage defaults.

      Labour is nothing once you take away spending on benefits and the public sector, it has no policies, no ideas and is lost unless someone can hand it a large amount of cash to throw about aimlessly.

      • What do you suggest will happen in these northern areas, then, Guy? You have already said more than once that you would never work up north or start a company here.

        So, given that the private sector appears so reluctant to move here, it makes sense for the public sector to be largely based here. Its much cheaper in terms of rental costs, many of the workers have the skills needed for the public sector (which aren’t necessarily the same as for private business) and as your alternative appears to be mass unemployment, given that you don’t believe in social housing and there’s no affordable housing down south, I think the public sector employment rates (no higher than 50% in any area, please note) were perfectly acceptable and will become so again

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Why should anyone think that the north is less well equipped for success than the south?  I don’t understand it.  I spent 5 very happy years working in Darlington.  I’m not an expert on the north, but Darlington seems to me  to be a fine town, and the people full of spirit.  The national education is the same in Darlington as it is in the south.  Of course, it has taken a hit in the last 30 years with the loss of industry and mining, but any business starting or expanding into Darlington would find among everything else a strong public spirit and community, and a pride in many traditional values.

          GuyM does make some arguments that anyone on the left has to take seriously (even if Guy sometimes goes too strong on the class business or is too extreme on stereotyping), but maybe Guy should get himself to Darlington, not to live as he says he never would, but just for a few days to see that the people of Darlington are every bit as good as his Surrey East, or anywhere else in the country.  I say this from my home in Cambridgeshire.  I didn’t leave Darlington because of any faults it had, merely an opportunity I was offered.  It could equally have been the other way around.

          • GuyM

            Sorry Jaime, but I’d rather not go anywhere near Darlington or the north ever. I wouldn’t even holiday there, far rather the US or Caribbean with people I can relate to.

            I remember as a child watching a World Cup in the 80s and supporting Scotland in one of their group games, much to the horror of my parents and grand parents. At that time I hadn’t been exposed to the anti English crap the Scots so love. My parents had and that was why they were at best indifferent. Now of course I support anyone playing Scotland and hope they lose everything they enter.

            The same with the north. Endless years of anti southern and anti London crap mixed with a bunch of public sector dependent numpties happy to take the south’s taxes mean I am at best indifferent to the north and its problems.

            I truly would split the country in half and leave Scotland and the north to it as I am totally devoid of any interest in the area and the sheep who live there.

        • GuyM

          I have no problem with public sector jobs being in the north where location makes no difference, so long as they are REAL jobs, not the joke jobs I listed.

          You are right though that I’d not move north to work under any circumstances, I have nothing in common with the attittudes and opinions of the majority of the north. I’d not like being there and you’d not like me being there in return. So if you don’t mind I’ll keep my Surrey house, London job and work and spend my pennies down here.

          If you want more private sector business in the north perhaps get the environment and attitudes that would make it thrive. All the crap about “greed” and the like in London is just a cover for the fact that ideologically too many northern Labour supporters see making a profit as something dirty and slightly evil.

          As for public sector employment rates of 50% plus, no I think that they are just a method of fleecing the south to pay for non jobs in your area. If you want that level of public sector jobs, pay for them yourselves.

          Of course you won’t do that, so luckily a few hundred thousand of them are going to go. Whatever that causes is tought really, I fail to see why I should be taxed to subsidise non jobs simply because the north isn’t attractive enough for private business.

  • Anonymous

    Luke, you make the point that “Army officers” are being encouraged to become Labour M.P.s to get people from “non traditional backgrounds”. It rather says something about the party A) that people who have done “real jobs” are now a novelty and B) that an army officer is regarded as non-traditional. Heaven knows whatg you would say if a lowly Corpral or Seargent had political ambitions.

    We have only had media types like Tristan Hunt (parachuted into a safe seat on the eve of the 2010 election, at which Erith & Thamesmead nearly had the 22 year old daughet  of Philip Gould foisted on them who had not worked at all)) and the endless chinless wonders from think tanks and reasaercehrs down from Oxford in more recent years. Not that many years ago you had people who had worked in factories (admittedly not many factgories left now), but at any rate from what might be called the “everday” world – somebody the ordinary person can identify with.

    At least this is slight progress from 1997 when Mandelson told the Labour Party Conference that “horny-handed sons of toil” were not required when one of the unions proposed making it easier for blue collar workers gto become prospective MPs. A pity really, because those horny handed men and women would probably not have fdorged mortgage application forms and to take undecalred loand of £330,000. Still, the progress is pianfully slow considering that was nearly 15 years ago now.

    • GuyM

      Just a quick question but why would I regard an NCO or lowly corporal as having the intellectual capacity to represent my views in the HoC?

      I’ve always wondered why the left think that having those who are not the brightest or cleverest in politics is such a good thing. I wouldn’t want someone who droppe dout of school at 16 with no educatoin or qualifications and a low IQ as my political representative, but I get the impression some of you actually believe it wold be a good thing.

      • “the left think that having those who are not the brightest or cleverest in politics is such a good thing.”

        You’re setting up a straw man here, Guy. This, in my experience has never been proposed (or thought) by anyone from any section of the Labour Party nor even any other party.

        To pretend that it has is to disengage from focused debate and embark on an excursion up Fantasy Alley.

        • GuyM

          I’m afraid the track record of dull union leaders getting safe Labour seats and examples like a certain Lord Prescott are evidence enough.

          I don’t doubt that Labour leaders have all been men of intellectual substance, but some of the foot soldiers, back bench MPs and councillors are not the brightest sparks.

          Personally I have trouble with someone representing me who is not that bright as I have no confidence in their decision making on intellectual issues.

          • You’re on a sticky wicket there, me old son.

            Having worked in a range of very challenging situations and having set up a business over thirty years ago it quickly became obvious to me, on many occasions, that ability or distinction doesn’t always come with a certificate attached.

            The late Jimi Heselden (founder of Hesco Bastion) provides a good example of un-certificated ability.

            Of course, you regard such people, along with “lowly corporals”, as being unable to represent you.

            But, no doubt, you won’t hesitate to take advantage of the services provided by the tax they pay.

          • GuyM

            There’s a difference between relying on people for good judgement and relying on a service based upon taxation of all.

            And my experience is graduates 9/10 are a better bet to recruit than non graduates. If this was the case why have a target of 40% plus graduates in the first place?

            Why bother educating to under graduate level, hell have everyone leave school at 14 and then pick those rough diamonds out. Only in the bonkers world of the UK can you get the sort of crap where a party in power for 13 years both pushes more and more into degrees then has many of its adherants state the degrees provide few advantages.

            I don’t like people of low intelligence representing me in any area that requires a high level of intellectual ability. So a postman is perfect for delivering the post and I thank him for it, I don’t however want him in control of local or national economic policy.

          • “Why bother educating”

            Because everyone can benefit from education. Nothing is more important than education. But this doesn’t mean that those who haven’t been formally educated are uneducated, they may have to resort to other forms of education in which they may achieve considerable expertise, occasionally with regrettable results.

            From your comments my guess is that you operate in a sheltered corporate environment, where the risks/mistakes you take/make are at others expense – i.e. with someone else’s money. But there are safeguards etc.

            These safeguards will prevent your own snobbishness from impairing company performance, though, as with your declared enthusiasm for class war, you may give it free rein here and only embarrass yourself.

            But, to focus, intelligence is limitless, it can be applied everywhere and, indeed, is found everywhere. This is why the Labour Party should have all sections of the population represented at every level.

            You, Guy, do not vote Labour so your persistent concern, expressed on a pro-Labour blog is bordering on the perverse – you are addressing the wrong people. Might I suggest that it is not the best use of your intelligence, such as it is?

          • GuyM

            And you’d guess completey wrong where I operate.

            Last 10 years has been a mixture of corporate with a majority of consultancy often for SME consultancy firms where the wrong team or even individual can cost a huge % of turnover.

            I prefer a position where my pay is performance related rather than a fixed lump sum. If I do well then I’d like the reward to be largely mine not others, so SME consultancy has suited me well.

            So far my policy on recruitment has proved succesful and I see no reason to change it anytime soon.

            I trust that in all likelihood, someone in front of me at interview who holds a degree is more intelligent than a 16 year old school leaver with no qualifications of note. If you seriously think background academics are not a strong indicator of intellect then you recruit as you see fit, as will I.

      • Anonymous

        But of course there are Officers and officers,  you can have an officer who standfs with his men  in the falkland who will walk acor

      • Anonymous

        Guy,  It is just this sort of snobbishness that has led us to where we are. Somebody who left school early may not have a first class honours degree, but more than makes up for it in intelligence and commonsense. Don’t fall into the common trap of equating examinations and degrees with great understanding, knowledghe or even honesty.

        The examination system (especially now) really is a test of memory more than an indicator of ability.

        Look at some of the “great brains” who went to Oxford or Cambridge and have infested both New Labour and the current shower. Some of them are naive, (they can’t even fill out their expenses forms without making little “errors” – always to their own advantage of course) some are downright dishonest, and most of them find it hard to empathize with the ordinary voter because he has come froma rarified background which has meant he/she has never faced ordinary day to day problems.

        • GuyM

          After years in business and recruiting a lot of people I’m 95% plus sure that anyone with a 2:1 degree is more of an intellectual star than your average failed to get 5 GCSE grade C passes dropout.

          But then I also don’t like recruiting teenagers, working class oiks and anyone who can’t be bothered to dress, speak and act properly.

          So therefore I don’t like the idea of idiots representing my interests politically.

          • Anonymous

            Guy, Thank goodness you have such a strong grasp of moral fibre – you sound like an especially condescending captain of industry from 1946.

            I, too, employed people (I am now retired and had no wish to plough on till my 70s), I had to recruit people, but I tended to look at them as individuals, and look beyond the university degree, or the list of GCE (Grade C or anything else), to the person behind them. Would they be hard-working, loyal, good time-keepers etc.

            For fifteen years I worked in an academic department and I have to say that some of the best brains were some of the most impractical and lazy individuals it was ever my misfortune to try to assist. Many seem to think thjeir great learning was a get-out clause for normal courtesy.

            Some of my best appointments were of people who had been unable – for whatever reason – to go to University, but were prepared top work hard and study in their own time through day release or evening studies.

            It ill becomes anybody to suggest that “X” is “better” than “Y” (define better) simply because he has a degree and a few letters after his name (or hers).

            I find your arguments a little odd -p you spend a great deal of time badmouthing former Labour ministers and nearly every one of them was an Oxbridge graduate.

            I have to say, with your prejudice against teenagers and the “working class”, I hope you are not in a position to influence recruitment in youjr company these days.

            You speak of “idiots”. isn’t your old fashiolned prejudices somewhat idiotic?

          • GuyM

            Standard recruitment requirements I work to:

            1 Graduate calibre.
            2 2 to 3 years minimum relevant experience.

            That pretty much ensures I don’t get anyone under 24/25 years old and will only get those with an academic background.

            My experience is that placing those requirements means I end up wasting less time mentoring staff who lack either soft business skills or the intellect to do the job I ask of them.

            I expect a candidate to be in a suit/business attire, decent haircut, polished shoes, no visible tatoos or piercings (other than ear for women), make eye contact, speak clearly, able to express themselves and have done the background.

            In other words look the part, act the part, be the part… else why the hell would I want to put them in front of internal or external clients?

            I was at a Tory business forum a few weeks ago, lots of local business people all saying the same thing. To many of “youth” are near unemployable, including many graduates.

            Or to put it another way for you, in the private sector in the corporate world, you fit in with the company not meet in the middle. If you can’t dress, speak and act the part, nor show the intellect required you don’t get the job. I don’t fit in with applicants they fit in with me.

            And yes a graduate is already head and shoulders above a non graduate else why the hell bother having graduates in the first place. A degree teaches you how to think and structure your views, it trains a level of academic self reliance that marks a good graduate out. Damn right I’d chose a graduate over a non graduate most of the time.

          • Anonymous

            If everyone is as rigid as you, no wonder British companies have so many problems these days.

            Just think Guy, you were a teenager once, and under 23.

            You cannot generalise. You can get some good graduates, but you can also get some very poor ones, but I suspect that your snobbery would make you overlook any shortcomings in a graduate and you would find every fault imaginable with somebody  who wasn’t so gifted.

            I really think that if it were left to people like you we would still be stuck in 1950.

            In your world it’s Festival of Britain year next year Guy. Now I won’t detain you any longer from your wireless set and the Third Programme

          • GuyM

            35% of the UK do a degree, that’s a large enough pool to pick from, plus I’ve taken half of my recruits from overseas in the last few years.

            I simply am not going to recruit business consultants from candidates with a couple of GCSEs and a BTEC.

            I’m sure there are plenty of other roles they are suited for, but working for me isn’t one of them.

            As for teenagers, I pretty much loathe the current generation and their behaviours. So keeping to candidates who can show soft business skills through some career experience is my choice. I’d far rather recruit a good 50 year old than a 19 year old with a poor attitude.

          • Anonymous

            If I may be honest Guy, I should think only a supercilious snob would want to work for you, given your attitude.

            For every badly behaved teenager there are dozens of normal, polite honest teenagers, well bought up – you don’t hear about them of course because they do nothing to merit news coverage.

            I wonder if you have children yourself, and if you do, and they happen to be teenage, if you wouldn’t rather resent some pompous middle-aged gentleman, who feels himself superior to everyone else, suggesting they are unintelligent oiks with appalling manners?

          • Anonymous

            I am sorry but when we recruited school leavers we employed the same basic rules – with appropriate changes= as Guy.

            Obviously dress was different but an ability to speak , write and do sums was  basic.

            It was appalling how many could not even do the basics.

            We reckoned about 50% were unemployable.

            You are living in a different planet.

          • GuyM

            Exactly, that 50% mark is roughlt what I keep reading and hearing first hand.

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t say al;l teenagers were paragons, BUT  I am saying that are not all the illietrate oiks that Guy would make them out to be.

          • Anonymous

            I have in the past had two teenage sons.. so I tend to agree with what you say.

            BUT there is an undoubted underclass – badly educated, not brought up correctly at home  and really just a real pia – and they ARE unemployable.

          • GuyM

            As I’ve said elsewhere, at the business forum I was recently at the opinions pretty much mactched comments from CBI and business leaders that there is a real issue with the current generation of school and university leavers.

            They often don’t turn up on time, take lots of sickies, expect £30k starting salaries and have the “soft skills” (dress, eye contact, clear speech, ability to listen) of wayward chimps.

            So many people are saying the same, so many employers having a hard time with them that I think you’ll find it’s a major reason for the NEET epidemic.

            It’s no good waxing lyrical about them being our “future” etc. if in the present they are a royal pain in the arse.

            If hiring a 50 year old means less wasted time hand holding than hiring a 19 year old then the 50 year old wins for me as time is precious.

            In terms of being “superior”, yep I am superior to each and every teenager who might appear in front of me for an interview. I have the degree, post grad, professional exams, 15 years commercial experience and senior position. In that relationship I am the superior one and they join on my terms not vice versa or somewhere in the middle.

            The problem is people like yourself teach them in schools etc. of their rights but never explain to the poor souls that work isn’t a democracy and not all are equal in terms of position and authority. As a result they often can’t hack the discipline.

          • Anonymous

            “The problem is people like yourself teach them in schools etc. of their rights but never explain to the poor souls that work isn’t a democracy and not all are equal in terms of position and authority.”

            Guy I think you have been taking too much of the cooking sherry.

            I am not a teacher. have never worked in a school, so I don’t have anything to do with teaching.

            I repeat you cannot generalise (well YOU can but you appear, if you will allow me to say so, as a nasty little snob of the worst type) – not every teenager is lazy, dirty, untidy, ignorant, uneducated or workshy or any combination of these things. It’s like suggesting all Scots are tight-fisted, all Irish are thick and all Welsh people have lovely voices.

            Get out of your ivory tower, stick your prejudices to one side and take a look at some of the normal, well behaved and hard working kids that are around. If you can be bothered to open your eyes you will find them.

            Do you allow yourself to have all your opinions formed by the Daily telegraph and the CBI?

          • GuyM

            Yes I’m afraid you do have to generalise, especially if you don’t have the time to deal with the problems that teenagers often bring.

            On older worker is invariably a safer bet and therefore why I only got for plus 25s

          • Anonymous

            Sheer unadulterated prejudice. It is a great shame such a myopic man is in a position to exercise his prejudice.

          • Anonymous

            “So therefore I don’t like the idea of idiots representing my interests politically.”
            Guy. What is your opinion of selling off Northern Rock at a knockdown price to Branson?. That nice Mr Osborn and his pal Cameron. Are you telling me that they were “working class oiks” and they only had a few C Grade GCSEs?.

            HOnestly |GUy – are you naturally pompous or do you have a First Class Honours Degree in pomposity?

          • GuyM

            If selling to Branson was the best commercial option no the table then so be it.

            I would imagine the key requirement was to bring extra competition into the high street banking options which meant an organisation with the size to run it as such.

            So a UK company, with a track record in business sectors. Seems a good choice to me.

    • You raise some good points there Alan.

      I’m all in favour of people from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds being brought to prominence so as to gain a more equitable forms of social representation. But in the Labour hierarchy such an intention now seems to be interpreted as meaning we have to accommodate an overwhelming number of youthful Oxbridge types in positions of authority.

      This, of  itself, need not be a bad thing – it’s great to have talented people who want to serve but if their only experience of life’s difficulties is queuing for the ski-lift on a winter holiday then they may be socially inexperienced.
      And when this inexperience is combined with the cold, dysfunctional elitism sometimes apparent in those from a privileged background then we run the risk of becoming the lions who are led by asses.

  • Luke Akehurst

    Hi Alex

    You know that I meant a relative financial sacrifice compared to the equivalent private sector jobs (or indeed public service ones) those individuals would have. One SPAD I know took a 50% pay cut when they left the private sector to go into government.


    • GuyM

      One reason why anyone with a good private sector career would be mad to go into politics. Hence why so few do.

      When you look at the available people for candidate selection you realise how few are willing to put themselves forward and how small the talent base is.

      In local elections I know it is often hard to even get enough paper candidates and as for national for a country of 60 million plus the numbers willing to stand are miniscule.

  • I think this is an interesting debate, the process of which is more telling than the outcome.  However:

    “because if you work together in the common endeavor of getting Labour elected and then governing successfully for two decades, you will end up being friends with each other, and maybe even marrying each other.”  –  Please, come off it – completely the wrong way round…it is because they are related that they group at the top of the party.  How many realtions are at the top of BAE systems, or Whitbread, or GSK?  Answer: not nearly as many as at the top of our party.

    ““The highest value within Labour is now loyalty and unity.” I wish it was.  It should be.”  No, the highest value at the top of our party should be knowledge, ability, talent, expertise, leadership…..take your pick.

  • felix

    “You no longer win by putting blocks of support together”. This is an odd remark by Painter considering that just about the only evidence he ever adduces to support his criticisms are the opinion polls and their socio-demographic breakdown.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s very important we hear from people like yourself Luke- directly involved;
    and seeing clearly day to day actual process.

    I find what you say reassuring and pragmatic; but the problem I have as a member is that I’ve heard so little since the end of those Refounding forums; it has felt like vaccum in terms of communication and encouraging participation from the public.

    Also, I’ve heard little about direction of policy or “vision” apart from Ed’s excellent speech
    at conference, and a few statements from Ed B here and there.

    I sense from what I have read on LL there is much going on behind the scenes,
    but mostly vague to those not involved.
    I do think there has to be clearer lines of communication.

    Thankyou very much for taking the trouble to inform us
     as to what is actually happening on a practical level.

    I don’t think the wider members and public are too interested in
    internal debates about positioning of party or too much theoretical
    output, eg the Purple Book etc.

    I don’t care what colour it all is so long as it’s about core values
    and applying practical and workable ideas;
    taking on board the reality of problems out there; and focusing on priorities
    such as jobs, health, education and housing; diversity of growth areas in the economy.

    As far as I’m concerned, politics hasn’t been working that well or going
    in a satisfactory direction for the past 30 years; we are living with a legacy
    of wrong headed decisions.It’s the “fundamentals” which have not
    been addressed sufficiently- ie centred on the fabric of society;
    not just those few who can generate wealth superficially.

    This is a bit sketchy, but hope you have a sense of where some of us are
    coming from.

    Best wishes, Jo.

    • GuyM

      Only the last 30 years Jo?

      Those 1970s were such a fantastic time weren’t they…….

      • derek

        You could say that 38 pence in the pound direct tax was well over a third of a commitment to funding society but hey ho what do you know! Thatcher came and stealth was born council tax, parking tax, bank tax and the rest.

        • GuyM

          Marginal rates of tax in the 90% band, a ban on taking currency out of the country, wages policy, power cuts, mass strikes, low productivity and going cap in hand to the IMF?

          The 1970s, fantastic time that we’d all like back eh?

          • derek

            No, not quite? but the idea that today’s society has been served better by the right to buy, stealth tax and filthy rich attitude is some how better but quite reason.

            There’s isn’t a single reason to suggest why tax direct shouldn’t rise by at least 6 pence in the pound.  

          • GuyM

            I’m better served by society today than the mess of the 1970s and these are many reasons why tax shouldn’t rise, the best being “it’s my income and you don’t deserve anymore than you already get”.

          • derek

            My Father served in Italy 1945, my community was a whole community in the 1970’s, I measure by the people betterment, not by the individual scale.

          • Dave Postles

            Saw this in passing.  My dad was in the 8th army and fought through N. Africa (El Alamein, Tobruk) up through Italy (Monte Cassino – blimey).  Later on, he told my sister how disappointed he was after the War – the working class got nothing.  He did a good imitation of Monty, though.

          • derek

            Thanks Dave, great read, yeah, did all those brave men fight for themselves? I think not, they fought for us and our today, when will we receive it?

          • Anonymous

            They did receive it, it was called the Labour party welfare, social housing, NHS, problem is of course we must now fight it again to keep it, perhaps we should ask Germany to attack us again.

          • derek

            Thanks Treborc, yeah to a certain degree your right but we didn’t quite go far enough. 

          • GuyM

            Whereas I couldn’t give a rats arse about “community” to be honest, certainly not how “whole” it is or isn’t.

            I prefer to earn what I can earnn in a free market and keep much of it myself, not see my market value subsidise others and the government steal a large amount of the income as well.

          • derek

            I don’t believe you? I think you care about who you recruit and why you do the job you do? I guess your smitten by the fear factor and I hold out my hand to you, for together we are stronger.

          • GuyM

            Of course I care about who I recruit, but from a get the job done.

            I couldn’t care less about what local “community groups” are in existence or not, nor do I care to see my income lessened in order to subsidise less succesful individuals in the name of “cohesion”.

            The only fear I ahve Derek is the fear of being left to depend on state services in years to come, whether that be state pension, nhs or old age care. I don’t trust the state in the slightest therefore my “fear” drives me to look after my and my wife’s future wealth, hence I prefer to keep as much of it myself rather thsn fund services I don’t trust any more than I already do.

          • derek

            I can understand that but it’s only self services in a sense and serves only two, I don’t doubt your knowledge nor experience, in fact I embrace and only ask that you embrace others. I’ve no doubt many don’t trust the political system, why would they when it works against so many but it isn’t a reason nor a solution to go it alone?

          • GuyM

            The solution I find best fits is very much to go it alone.

            That’s the only way I can see where I am able to safeguard my future and my wife’s.

            I don’t trust the state or public services, so I’d rather keep my income and be more self reliant.

            If that means I don’t subsidise other as much as some may like then so be it.

          • derek

            GuyM, it’syour choice? just a little upliftandit’sBraw!!!


      • Anonymous

        Socially, culturally, educationally- probably yes, by far.
        I recall far more social cohesion and community spirit,
        also a simpler way of life.

        Possibly too the creativity and music of the 80’s
        was inspired by that generation, characterized by
        individuality and independence of mind.

        I think there is a feeling now of less autonomy
        for people and communities, unless priveleged and having
        greater means/resources; it’s harking back to a 2 tier society,
        more entrenched than ever.

        I’ve noticed on visiting other countries like Denmark and Holland,
        those characteristics I recalled still exist and produce an atmosphere
        of trust and calm- where all are actually in it together, and people do value and look out for each other- it’s just the norm.
        Also, I think statistically in Nordic countries, far less crime
         and socially advanced; excellent education and services.

        I do have faith that humans inherently  have resources to survive,
        and that we are “social animals;” but from choice, I’d like a society
        that bases itself on values like generosity, building communities,
        uses potential and talents of all individuals, not just a few- and providing structures to enable people and meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

        Economically- ideally should be mixed and diverse, and galvanized from the bottom up; innovation in communities, mutual set ups, co operative trading etc.

        That to me is civilized, and based around people, not objects or abstract things.

        Also- values, principles and ideals motivate people;
        having autonomy in their lives and enviroment.
        That applies to all, from every corner of the country and globe.

        In my life experience of working and travelling, I have found “people are people” and share very similar characteristics; therefore my conclusion is that “needs” are universal.

        Politics is just a means to an end, but just a small part of the whole picture.

        Hope this explains a little more of my perception.


  • Anonymous

    As a party we have wasted incalculable energy, unity, time and political capital on undermining our last two leaders.

    We cannot afford to do so again.

    We need to have a sober understanding of the strategic problems
    facing Labour and how tough it will be to get from our 2010 position to
    winning in 2015.

    We need to grasp that there is no quick fix that will suddenly make
    us wildly popular again. This is about slowly, steadily restoring the
    public’s trust in us to govern.

    We should be a bit more upbeat about the remarkable progress we have
    made under Ed Miliband’s leadership from a very low point in May 2010.

    And we need to put all our political energy into helping Ed Miliband with his task of rebuilding Labour.

    The right of the party have a particular responsibility in this
    regard. It is our raison d’être and our historic task to provide Labour
    leaders with the stable political base they need to do their jobs.

    I do not think our Luke has moved to far from New labour yet……

    The right of the party are the problem…

    • You’re generalising too much.

      I’m as suspicious of the Blairite ultras as you are, but the traditional Right of the party have a place and always will have, right at the centre of our party

  • Daniel Speight

    The right of the party have a particular responsibility in this regard.
    It is our raison d’être and our historic task to provide Labour leaders
    with the stable political base they need to do their jobs.

    I can see you had reasons to preach at the far right of the party Luke. There is no doubt we are seeing extreme disloyalty from those supporters of David Miliband who cannot stand the idea of a ‘Brownite’ being leader, even though the differences between Blair and Brown seem to have been more personal rather than political.

    However your our historic task doesn’t stand up that well to any historical analysis. At the best you will find only a 50/50 split in loyalty/disloyalty the right has shown, and either no better and possibly far worse than the left. So a quick history lesson for you Luke, although I hope you don’t need it and that you were just trying to make a point rather than quote facts.

    Let’s leave the pre-war years alone and just take the Ramsay MacDonald betrayal as a given. With the 1945 election win we can see Ernie Bevin not supporting Herbert Morrisson’s, (that’s Madelson’s grandfather), attempt to unseat Attlee.  Bevin was definitely not of the left of the party so this supports your statement. We can also more support for your idea during the Gaitskell years where the predominately right wing unions held off any challenge from the predominately left wing constituency vote. (How things change don’t they Luke?)

    Off the top of my head I can’t think of the right being called to answer major loyalty questions in either the Wilson or Callaghan years. George Brown was always a maverick from the right, but then much could be blamed on his alcohol problems. Maybe you can think of some Luke? Then we hit the ‘Gang of Four’ where leaders of the party’s right did the most disloyal action we can possibly think of. They split and formed a new party. This is right up there with MacDonald. Jenkins, Owen and Williams should be pariahs, but that wasn’t so as the new right wing, those who had stayed, seem to have been in constant contact with them. Not much of a stable political base there Luke.

    And now we are seeing something rather similar. The far right of the party didn’t get the candidate they wanted so they get into a tiss. This time the difference is that they have to lesson of the SDP and its failure. They know without the name Labour and its core vote they can never get into power so unlike Roy leaving the party to form something that better fits his views, David through his cronies and followers will snipe from the background in the hope of winning back that leadership spot.

    Luke you seem to have found yourself in the position Roy Hattersley did being regarded as of the left without changing your views one iota.

    • Anonymous

      yes and we must remember who fought like hell for Blair, then when he went,changed to Brown when he went became a Miliband man  going from the right to the left, but can a person do that of course not Luke is New labour  to the core.
      As for Miliband he’s seen as being the left, if that’s the left we are dead.

    • I think Luke is from the traditional Right of the party, rather than new Labour per se. Plenty of good solid social democrats in that vein in the northern constituencies. They understand that the market isn’t their to serve, are not ‘reform for reform’s sake’, and believe in the union link.

      I’m further to the left particularly on defence, but I have no problems at all with our traditional Right.

  • Anonymous

    To be honest I think that the Coalition is in far more trouble than the Labour Party. It’s flagship Welfare Bill was recently DEFEATED in the Lords – funny how there has been no mention of this on LabourList – and pretty much all of its other plans are beginning to slowly fail and drift towards the rocks. There is a whole slew of poorly drafted and inadequately scrutinised legislation pending that looks set to get tangled up in all sorts of ways and a plethora of promises – from stillborn Big Society concepts to deficit reduction, economic recovery, growth, and falling unemployment – whatever – look set to be broken or at best inadequately realised.

    Most voters are politically naive and forge political allegiances based on partial, second-hand information gleaned from British, often biased, media outlets and current attitudes of their friends, families, colleagues, workmates and other contemporaries. People cast their votes and then, generally, simply trust the people who have been elected to “get on with it” . If you ask the “man or woman in the street” who the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is or who the Secretary of State for Health is let alone who their Shadows are you will often draw a blank: if you quiz “Joe or Jane Bloggs” about the Coalition’s policy agenda you will sadly often draw another blank. This sublime ignorance concerning the activities of British lawmakers has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence or wit amongst the general population. Busy people trying to get on with their lives simply do not have the leisure or the energy to keep abreast of politics or the legislative programmes of government, which of course is why governments of all stripes are able to get away with murder, in some cases literally.

    However, the Coalition is now looking more and more as if it is going to fail so spectacularly economically and socially that even the most uninterested, disconnected, and politically uninformed citizen will notice. As time passes and things currently circling the drain go down the plughole and down into the sewers absolutely everybody will be forced to realise exactly what is going on; our nation’s precarious state really couldn’t be more serious.

    Although I have little admiration for Ed Miliband as the leader of the Party representing the only alternative to Coalition government I fully expect his stock to rise as failure upon failure is heaped upon the shoulders of the current administration. Labour’s fortunes are almost certain to rise simply because they represent something other than the status quo.

    • Anonymous

      Yes but again Miliband did offer his help with welfare reforms if the Tories accepted his view on welfare.

      In his speech at 2:15pm today, he will say: “The hard truth is that
      we still have a system where reward for work is not high enough, where
      benefits are too easy to come by for those who abuse the system and
      don’t work for those who do the right thing.” His ambition is for the
      entire country to emulate the Manchester model: “Our first duty should
      be to help the person who shows responsibility, and I say every council
      should recognise the contribution people are making.”
      bid to put the contributory principle back at the heart of the welfare
      state hasn’t been welcomed by all on the left. It is viewed by some as a
      reassertion of the crude distinction between the deserving and the
      undeserving poor. Buth both Lloyd George and Beveridge regarded the
      contributory principle as essential to preserve fairness, increase work
      incentives and maintain public support for the welfare state. Neither
      believed in a “take what you can”

      Of course to get IB you have to have paid National insurance hence I worked for thirty one years, the problem with ESA is of course the WCA brought in by Purnell and Freud, Miliband moans about the Tories while the Tories use the New labour method.

      removing pain, getting breathless, not being able to walk from the medical, stating being blind is not a disability as is deafness.

      I suspect Miliband will be having secret meeting with Blair soon..

      • Anonymous

        I agree. 

        The last Labour manifesto, much of which was drafted by Ed Miliband, was pretty dreadful stuff, e.g., withdrawing the right of single teenage mothers to welfare benefits unless they agreed to be sequestered in “Foyers” with others in the same boat. Miliband’s preferred choice of the arch scoundrel James Purnell as his Chief of Staff  (which Purnell thankfully declined) was also astonishingly ill judged. Every one of Ed Miliband’s speeches since being elected as Labour leader also leave much to be desired, none more so than the 2011 keynote “Responsibility in the 21st Century” speech in which he claimed to have met a good man “with a genuine injury” who nonetheless Miliband instantly diagnosed (didn’t know a PPE degree covered anatomy and medicine but there you go) as being fit for work (doing what, where, for how long, and for who not being revealed) who through his act of “responsibility” saved the rest of us from having to “pick up the pieces” in his wake, financially speaking, as it were.

        Dreadful squalid stuff unworthy of David Cameron ranting at his worst. 

        Ed continued: 

        “For too many people at the last election, we were seen as the party that represented these two types of people: those at the top and the bottom who were not showing responsibility and were shirking their duty to each other. From bankers who caused the global financial crisis to some of those on benefits who were abusing the system because they could work – but didn’t.””Labour – a party founded by hard-working people for hard-working people – was seen by some, however unfairly, as the party of those ripping off our society. New Labour did a lot to change the fabric of the country. But it didn’t do enough to change the ethic of Britain. My party must change.”Hurrah! Seeking to appeal to his favourite constituency of the “squeezed middle” in a few sentences Miliband manages to conflate global financial failure (caused by the banks and a failed model of capitalism) with benefit claimants. Not one single mention as per tax evasion and avoidance. Not one shred of concern expressed about the yawning and widening gulf that separates the wealthy from the poor. 

        So, as I say – I agree with you.

        Ed Miliband IS a p*ss poor excuse for a Labour Leader.

        But the Coalition is even worse.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          @ Jeff Hardy,

          I think you neatly bring together several tricky arguments, for which I individually have no answer, nor – to their discredit – do any of the political parties.  I’m an individual so can’t be expected to have a systemic answer for the nation, but political parties seek to govern and therefore should at least have some more than half-formed ideas.

          Beveridge did have the contributory principle in mind – his maths only works out on a contributory basis.  Modern day advancing of benefits on a needs basis ignores any or no previous contributions.   Not a single party  is prepared to grasp the nettle and come down on one side of the fence.  As a nation, what do we want to do?  Pay useful and sufficient benefits to those who have previously contributed, in the hours of need?  Or provide care and assistance to all, irrespective of previous contributions, and at a rate that barely covers the basics of life?  Not an easy question to answer.

          What we are currently doing is paying a very generous rate of benefits to many on no previous contributions basis, a parsimonious rate of different benefits for some based on a poorly defined previous set of contributions, extending the benefits for all seemingly indefinitely, and requiring little in return apart from a few signatures or low-hurdle requirements for attendance.  And most shockingly of all, we require people with some very demonstrable incapacities – such as TreborC and Sue Marsh – to suffer additional indignities beyond their conditions to jump through further hoops.  While that happens, at the other end of the spectrum work definitely does not pay for a small minority who work the system.  Not all of them as the Daily Mail seems to claim, but a small minority.

          The whole thing is a shocking mess.  It’s beyond politics.

          • Anonymous

            My own view, Jaime, is that fit, able-bodied people who have the opportunity to contribute through gainful employment offered to them and refuse such an offer do deserve to be penalised but people who are doing their best to do what they can given difficult or challenging situations who are not offered such opportunities should not suffer for misfortunes beyond their control. In Beveridge’s day the world was much more certain than the world in which we find ourselves these days. If a man or a woman entered a profession or acquired a trade he (or she) was set for life and could earn sufficient monies to support himself (or herself) and raise a family unaided by the state. Most people spent their whole lives living in or around the city, town or village in which they had been born;  in such a stable and predicable world the “contributory principle” is applicable because everybody pretty much enjoyed the chance to do something for the greater good. 

            Whenever enthusiasts start talking about the “contributory principle” and welfare reform they almost always prefix their argument by talking about the past, e.g., John Humphries during a BBC television programme about welfare said something like “… my father earned his living as a self-employed French Polisher…”, implying that some kind of equivalence exists between pre-1980 Britain with modern Britain. This is conspicuously not the case. The opportunities to earn a living doing skilled manual work are no longer open to the hundreds of thousands of able non-professional men and women who need such employment  because industries that needed armies of such highly skilled craftspeople no longer exist.

            Emphasising the “contributory principle” in a world with permanently high unemployment can only ultimately result in a more fractured and divided society in which people who are lucky enough to secure paid work will pull away from the unlucky minority condemned to face a future without work or patchy part-time employment; in time you end up with a society of contemptuous “haves” riddled with contempt towards a minority of “have nots” who they blame for all of their own miseries and fell angry about the direct taxes they pay to keep such despicable people in (what they think is) comfortable luxury.

            In my view this is a very strange thing for any Labour leader to aspire to do if given half a chance and I am afraid that the puppet masters pulling Ed “Pinocchio” Miliband’s string have cynically decided that they can win a few more votes from “middle England” by promising to hammering and scapegoating benefit claimants à la our current Prime Minister.

            All pretty low stuff really from any political Party but from the junior Miliband and the Labour Party generally it really is lamentable. 

            The bald truth of the matter is that more secure and better paid jobs reduces welfare better, faster and more permanently than any regime of threat, penalties, and sanctions. 

            Everything should be about growth, education, and re-skilling of the work force to gain competitive advantage in the world giving as many citizens as possible the chance of a better standard of living.  

            Penalising the excluded is pointless and cruel.

  • GuyM

    In reply to the accusation of “sheer unadulterated prejudice” comment directed at me below (I can’t reply there as space has run out), I’d ask my i am obligated to take nicreased risks during recruitment?

    If I know from past experience that applicants below 24/25 carry a significantly higher risk of difficult work behaviours and attitudes, why would I put myself out by hiring them when I have no need?

    Browse the internet and you will see endless comments for industry groups and business people saying the same. The Daily Politics had a guest of the day on recently who as a female CEO of an SME said exactly the same thing: she wished them well but didn’t have the time to waste training them how to behave in a workplace.

    If you want to recruit a teenager, take the risk and invariably waste time “training” them then go for it. I haven’t needed anyone below graduate skill level in the last few years and I also don’t wish to waste time on teens with attitude when I have other more important responsibilities. I am not a charity tasked with engaging with teenagers thanks.

    • Not sure this is place to address your recruitment concerns. Don’t you belong to a professional body which, perhaps, has a website including a forum where such matters can be raised?

      Run along now.

      • GuyM

        I’m replying to a post that attacked me, I note you don’t tell that poster to “run along”.

        Last I checked human beings were able to control their eyes, so if you don’t like a discussion topic you could always try and not read them….. do you also struggle with the channel change and off button on your tv?

      • Daniel Speight

        Roderic I think some are being a bit unfair to Guy. I know at times it sounds like listening to someone who has a few too many in the golf or yacht club bar, although fortunately these people seem to be gradually disappearing. I guess UKIP must be the last hold out of the blazered brigade.

        As far as I can see, and I apologize if I have missed it, Guy seems to be some sort of functionary in a small or medium company’s management, either middling of possibly higher management rather than an entrepreneur along the lines of say an Alan Sugar or a Bill Gates. I’m taking it that he isn’t what the right tend to refer to as a ‘wealth creator’, more of a salaried employee. Again my apologies if I’m wrong. I do know enough about small company start ups to understand the difficulties that real entrepreneurs face.

        Of course Guy’s company’s hiring policy would definitely have missed a budding Sugar and am I correct in thinking that Gates didn’t finish his degree? Still that’s their concern and I don’t think I will worry about them. Still as much as we may feel there are significant problems in the capitalism that Guy defends so well, it’s not much good arguing on the morality of the system. Capitalism is just the most recent economic system in Britain, probably coming to prominence after the English Civil War.

        Capitalism is basically amoral although those running various companies can behave in a moral or immoral manner. The latter has many recent examples although the present day banking management being unwilling to invest in small businesses and growth while taking state money stands out. I always thought Heath’s ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’ summed up some companies morality very well. As to the former, a more moral management of companies, this seems to have disappeared pretty well along with Quaker ownership.

        The system would obviously find it hard to exist without the likes of Guy in the middle class being prepared to throw their bodies on the line to protect it. It does need an attitude of greed and does this by rewarding these people with titbits from the table, much like family retainers in the feudal age. Fortunately we can look back and see changes in the past that suggest there will be more changes in the future. Capitalism itself will have to change and may well change into something that is no longer capitalism. The mixed economy we have today, even after the Regan-Thatcher years of trying to turn back the clock to the mid-19th. Century, is hardly similar to those earlier times. In fifty or a hundred years we would be foolish to expect the same as we have today.

        So to finish off this long rambling comment, we shouldn’t really attack Guy himself for his beliefs although quite why if he is what he says he is he finds time and the inclination to comment so much on a Labour blog I can’t figure. Maybe there’s a bit of Walter Mitty around.

        • GuyM

          Nothinhg like another socialist knocking the only political structure to have delivered the levels of growth and living standards that capitalism has realised. I suppose you’re just waiting for the “right” form of socialism to come along.

          As to my position in the great scheme of things, yep it is obscure, quiet and not at all noteworthy. Just how I like it. I dropped out of politics as I couldn’t stand the thought of representing the public. I turned down the chance to be involved in two business start ups as I don’t want that level of work and I have no desire at all to ever be CEO, COO or CIO of any company, hence why consultancy suits me (and it is quite senior consultancy mind – big bluechips as well as SMEs, but never too much responsibility).

          I get paid a lot for little personal risk, not many hours and no need to play office politics (like I avoid national politics). So Daniel i look forward to you reaching the heights in whatever field you enter…. well actually I don’t as I’ll not be paying any attention as I’ll be relaxing enjoying a living standard facilitated by capitalism and delivered by my chosing the course of least resistance.

          I remember taking psych tests at the start of my career and being marked out as a “leader”… the only problem is I have absolutely no interest in leading f all, least of all anything that involves the public.

          Good luck in finding your Gates and Sugar, personally I’ll continue avoiding teenagers, working class oiks and other undesirables when it comes to recruitment. You of course can do whatever you like in whatever role you hold… so go enjoy the noteriety, I prefer to live quietly in the shadows and I intend to keep it that way.

          • Daniel Speight

            I read something in the Guardian today. (Now Guy I’m sure that causes some sort of Pavlovian reaction, but do try to hang in there.) See http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/dec/28/betfair-customers-legal-action-race-void

            It was about the company reneging on some bets to the tune of £23M. Apparently they allow bets on horse races after they are already running and it seems their customers bet against each other. (I’m guessing this some sort of online gambling. You will have to forgive me because it’s a long time since I’ve had a bet.)

            As a race gets towards its finish and if the winning horse becomes obvious the odds will fall until only a fraction of a percentage of the bet will be paid as out as winnings. It also seems that sometimes customers make mistakes and bet on a horse not winning rather than winning even when the chance of this being the outcome is entering the region of miracles. This is what must have happened along with the system screwing up and giving the customer far too much credit.

            So then I look at Guy and then look at history. I can see that there is very little chance of anything staying the same. I can see capitalism has already changed so much in the last hundred years and to bet against it changing some more would be like a bet against that winning horse that has caused Betfair so many problems. Now the guy that owes that £23M probably has the excuse that he pressed the wrong button, but what could be the excuse for the Guy who bets against capitalism being different in fifty or a hundred years?

          • GuyM

            I’ve never placed a bet nor been in a betting shop in my life and despite my love of near all things sport, horse racing is one of the few (along with symchronised swimming and darts) that bores me senseless. So your analogy is of no interest really.

            As to capitalism, it’s been going for hundreds of years and will likely continue for hundreds of years. As to what it’s like in 50 years, why should I care? I won’t be working and likely won’t be alive either.

            I am a happy underachiever. I earn enough for me, with minimal effort and I do what I can to keep as much of it as possible. I don’t have any debt beyond a mortgage that is currently 1.1 multiplier of income and I see no point in empathising with idiots who take on debt they can’t finance, whether that be individual, corporate or national.

            My sole voting point of interest is the party that will keep my taxes down, leave me in peace with little state interference and keep the “do-gooders” from my door. I don’t trust any state service so I work to provide private cover where I can.

            Sorry to dissapoint you Daniel, but your amateur analysis has fallen flat. I feel no loyalty to you or anyone else beyond paying what taxes I have to and keeping the peace. I don’t want to lead anything or anyone and i cerrtainly don’t want either fame or fortune.

            I am however totally bored with humanity, so if I could wish the species away I would be very tempted. So good luck with your Gates, Sugar and betting scams…. so long as you keep it all a long way away from my bit of quiet countryside.

  • Why i and the majority of the poor, weak, vulnerable, elderly , disabled and working class WONT vote for what is called  new labour is very simple, we are sick to the teeth of self-serving, careerist, elitist , privileged shit who use us as an excuse for their politics when in 13 years they betrayed every principle of what once was a labour party for all groups mentioned above. Just listen to the so-called left wing “academics” , [ how working class] vote labour you get tory, we need to reclaim the labour party for those whom it was originally formed to serve.  At this rate Blue Labour havent a snowballs chance in hell of winning an election, those of blue labour should f off and join the tories.. 

  • Anonymous

    As a new member it appears that many equate criticism of Ed M with Blairism. I’m not a Blairite and believe his mistakes were not to take on the City and Media from day one. However you can only deal with the current situation and not reminisce about the past. Labour are currently losing in two key areas ‘leadership in a crisis’ and ‘economic management’. That’s a pretty poor performance. The topic of image and public perception of Ed M seems to be largely ignored. My friends tell me ‘he doesn’t look the part’ and ‘he’s not getting the hits in’. Such comments may be simplistic yet I imagine many others feel the same. How long can his current performance and public image continue for?

    • Two key areas?, i think your missing one massive “key area” the 4m working class  labour voters who abandoned what is now blue labour, packed with self-serving, elitist, careerist, privileged m.p.s  vote blue labour get a tory, their 13 years proves that.

      • Anonymous

        Because working class voters don’t think leadership or economic management is important?!!! The rest is diatribe.

  • Glad I read this. I agree with much that you say and particularly that:
    “…you won’t get people to sacrifice their spare time to run a voluntary political party by just accepting society as it is and making politics just about electing the most attractive candidate or most competent team. And British society needs changing – it is grossly unfair and unequal – who is going to change that if it isn’t Labour?”

    • Daniel Speight

      So Chloe lets bring these words, fairness and equality back into the party’s conversation. I just commented on another thread that the measurement of the gap between the richest and poorest, the Gini Coefficient,  has widened consistently since the 1980s. You can find a goodly amount of data at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality. Go down to the two OECD charts and compare us with the Swedes or even the Germans. (The higher the number, the more unequal the country.)


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