David Miliband risks dividing moderate opinion in the party

February 6, 2012 1:55 pm

David Miliband was right to say in his New Statesman article last week that Labour needs “comradely and serious debate”.

He made a thoughtful contribution – perhaps too thoughtful, abstract and analytical when we probably need ammunition and a visceral call to arms rather than an overarching theory.

My problem is that I don’t agree with all his thoughts.

Roy Hattersley has already responded but as my position is a not identical to his I thought I’d give it a go.

I’ll take David’s points one by one:

First, the premise that there is a body of opinion or faction called “Reassurance Labour” is a bit of a debating trope. There isn’t, David’s just invented it as a straw man to attack. It looks as though this article may have been written before the New Year and Ed Balls and Ed Miliband delivering some hard truths on economic policy, because after that row it would be difficult to accuse anyone around the leadership of seeking to keep Labour in its comfort zone. To the extent that there ever was a “Reassurance Labour” I plead guilty that one of my motives for campaigning for Ed Miliband in the leadership election was that I feared that David and his team were complacent about the fragility of the Party. I was worried that they had a cavalier attitude to the union link and to the health of the party grassroots, and at a time when Labour was deeply traumatised by election defeat, the difficult choices we had made in power, and 16 years of Tony vs Gordon psychodrama, the patient needed a bit of chicken soup and TLC, not the political equivalent of brisk 10 mile runs and cold showers that I feared David heralded. I worry that many of our current leaders don’t have an intuitive feel for how to nurture, manage and grow Labour’s volunteer machine or its relationship with its affiliates because they haven’t personally been office holders in a CLP or union, or councillors, and this absence of a sense of what the Party in the country is like is present throughout David’s article. If a concern for the morale of Labour’s “Poor Bloody Infantry” in the CLPs makes me part of “Reassurance Labour”, so be it.

Regarding David’s specific proposals, he firstly says we need to be “reformers of the state and not just its defenders”. That would be fine if he meant that we should constantly reform public services to ensure they are of the highest standard. But at the end of this piece of his article he does the “reveal” of his agenda by saying it’s about a government which “mobilises people, whether as patients or  parents or employees or citizens, to make choices and take decisions that reshape their own lives.” This is code for a revisiting of the “choice” agenda of late-period Blairism in public services which basically implies marketisation and a variation in standards (unless things are different, what’s the point in choice) and combined virtually no electoral resonance with the ability to massively alienate lots of public sector workers. It also presumes an electorate that want to be actively involved in running public services when the busyness of most people’s personal and work lives means they understandably usually just want to elect other people to do this for them. Most people don’t want to choose a school or a hospital, or take decisions about how they are run. They want to elect governments and councils that will ensure that their nearest school or hospital is so good that “choice” is irrelevant. I’m worried that David is stuck in a policy area, which he has tellingly put first in his list, which was an unpopular waste of vast amounts of ministerial time, energy and political capital when we were in power.

David’s second point is that “We need to be the champions of local political change rather than sceptics, not least because local government is going to be our area of greatest strength in the next few years.” As a local councillor I agree, but this has to mean devolving real powers to the one set of people who can legitimately exercise them, elected councillors, not the “bucket with a hole in it” concept of “double devolution” promoted by David at CLG and in this article, where you simultaneously force councils to cede control of previously democratically accountable services, developed through public investment, to unelected and unaccountable “community leaders”. This is a prescription for the tyranny of the activist and the loudest, who by their nature of having the spare time and articulacy to be activists are likely to be older and wealthier than the bulk of service users or residents. It’s also a prescription for removing party politics from the delivery of local services, which is an odd thing for a political party with self-belief about its ability to lead communities to propose.  The missing layer David does not mention is devolution to regional government, which had we created it rather than gone for a logically flawed model of asymmetric devolution (where Scotland and Wales have different powers, and the English regions none) would have left us controlling swathes of public policy in our strongest parts of the country and would have conclusively answered the West Lothian question.

Next David says “We need to be clear how equality, and what kind of equality (including of what), services our notion of the good society.” I agreed with this bit of his article, but the tone of it is all a bit theoretical. For me, my notions of social justice – indeed the reason I am a Labour member – derive from raw anger about the low pay for hard work I saw my parents experience, and how much poverty, want and deprivation I see in the council ward I represent. We
shouldn’t need a theoretical “four-part scaffold” as described by David to define social justice – we should feel it in our guts when there is injustice. The language in David’s piece felt worryingly detached and would have benefited from some references to what he sees on the ground in South Shields and how this, rather than theory, guides him.

David’s point 4 is “We need a politics of economic growth, not just redistribution and regulation.” This again I agree with. In fact I’d give every spare penny we can find if we got into government to investing in manufacturing industry, because until we can grow the wealth creating bit of the economy, any other increases in public spending are unsustainable.

Point 5, “We need to resolve how to make our internationalism work for Britain”, avoids really saying anything other than some vagueness about reforming the EU. How about restating our commitment to NATO and to renewing our Trident strategic nuclear deterrent, so that we have a national security insurance policy in a dangerous world? How about saying which of the emerging world powers (one would hope the democratic ones) we should be building trading, geopolitical and military alliances with so that we have allies beyond the US and EU in what will become a multi-polar world? How about a defence of liberal interventionism, given the choices that need to be made soon about Iran and Syria?

Point 6 “We need to continue to modernise the party itself” is odd in that it is written after we have completed a comprehensive review of the Party through the Refounding Labour debate. David is to be commended for sticking with the Movement for Change project and bringing it closer to the party since his defeat in the leadership election. However, his advocacy of primaries and implied advocacy of mayors illustrate his lack of feel for the Party’s pulse. I’m personally relaxed about Mayors because I’ve been a councillor for 10 years in an authority with an Elected Mayor who has a great relationship with his Labour Group, but they are anathema to a very large number of the councillors we rely on to deliver election campaigns, and David’s article doesn’t show a flicker of recognition of this. As for primaries, I would be delighted if David could show me as an NEC member where the hundreds of thousands of pounds to run them are to be found in Labour’s empty coffers. I also believe that there is a contradiction between David’s concern about expanding the party and a proposal that would remove one of the few rights reserved to members, the right to select candidates, further dis-incentivising people from joining.

Point 7 is the bit I like best “We need to establish far more clearly what needs to be defended about Labour’s record in government, not just join the blanket Tory denigration.” I don’t think we’ll win the next election on our 1997-2010 record, elections are about the future offer, but I do believe there’s something insanely masochistic about not celebrating the huge achievements of what was a fantastic, solid, social democratic government.

At the tail end of the article there are some good points – this paragraph for instance:

“Our defeat in 2010 was disastrous, Labour’s second-worst in 70 years. We hold only 12 seats out of 210 in three southern regions outside London. Since then we have avoided the most obvious mistake of 1951 and 1979, namely disunity. That is very true, and strongly to Ed’s credit and that of the wider party.”

And also some total randomness, such as the concern that “the professions are under-represented in the Parliamentary Labour Party”. I don’t have my copy of the figures on composition of the PLP from “The British General Election of 2010” to hand but from memory there are rather a lot of lawyers, PR men, teachers and lecturers in the PLP, and the missing sociological component is the working class people we were set up to represent.

A better point is David’s defence of New Labour’s choices in 1994-1997 as being motivated by principle rather than electoral expediency. This is correct. I was an activist in this period and supported what Blair was doing because I believed in his policies. It was  obviously a magnificent collateral benefit that so did such a large slice of the electorate that we won by a landslide, and this helped us persuade people in the Party centre-ground that they should go along with the project. But for the core of Blair’s support it was about doing what we believed in, and Blair himself was always more of an ideologue than a pragmatist, hence his honourable preparedness to back the Iraq War for moral reasons rather than take the more popular route of leaving it to the Americans.

My concern with David’s position when it comes to the wider electorate is that they don’t share his analysis that the central state is a bit of a busted flush. They want urgent answers to the tough lives they are living, whether because they are in poverty, in the squeezed middle, or just insecure about their jobs and living standards, which only a strong state can supply. Other actors, be they NGOs, co-ops, community groups or socially responsible businesses can tinker round the edges and achieve alleviation of people’s needs and fears on a micro level, but the kind of big, sweeping, fundamental changes that are needed to address the massive inequality and structurally weak economy we have in the UK can only be delivered by the state.

On the level of the Party, I am worried that David’s rejection of a core social democratic analysis about the role of the state in delivering equality risks dividing moderate opinion within the Party; reinforcing a narrative from the left that New Labour was alien, rather than an evolution of earlier revisionist thought stretching back through Crosland, Gaitskell, Bevin and Morrison; denigrates the contribution of Kinnock and Hattersley to making Labour sane, without which Blair could never have become Leader; and tries to harness Labour’s right to an outdated obsession with public service reform that is wrong, irrelevant in an era of cuts and so unpopular in the Party as to cede control of it to forces to our left, thereby throwing out the baby (all the genuinely electorally popular and grounded in reality aspects of Blairism on tax, crime and defence) with the think-tank inspired bathwater.

  • http://www.pickledpolitics.com Sunny H

    Very good article Luke. 

  • Anonymous

    This is brilliant Luke.

    I haven’t agreed with what you said about the unions in another article;
     also I have some questions about choices over state expenditure-
    but otherwise, I think completely sound and pragmatic.

    You have an amazing ability to translate theoretical constructs
    into language we can all engage in, as well as give extensive
    real life examples.

    To me, this is what grassroots politics should be all about,
    combining theory, ideas and practical action;
    addressing directly examples of social inequality and injustice.

    In the current climate, as you say- it’s now more relevant than ever
    to connect with Labour principles and reinforcing areas of success,
    whilst also rejuvenating ideas and activitism.

    Perhaps there is a gap between what happens at local level/grassroots
    and frontline politics- in terms of staying grounded and in touch
    with the members and public?

    That’s one of the reasons the Refounding initiative could
    bridge some of that gap; galvanising a wide range of ideas
    ground upwards, and connecting people, not just within
    organization- but also looking out more broadly.
    I don’t think closed circles or think tanks are the best way
    to formulate policy; it has to be by democratic process-
    perhaps aiming to be more of a movement than just a party?

    David’s “movement for change” could be one model-
    I’ve heard excellent, but not looked into closely;
    but am sure there are many fantastic examples
    of community working that could add to a whole mix
    of ideas in years to come?

    Thanks again, and wishing you luck Luke-
    your hard graft and commitment is highly impressive.


  • Alex

    We need a visceral call to arms?

    Do you know what ‘visceral’ means?  According to the dictionary it means:

    1) not intellectual : instinctive, unreasoning  2) dealing with crude or elemental emotions
    The left’s celebration of anti-intellectualism, lack of reasoning and promotion of crudity continues.  ‘Emotion’ clouds judgement in my view.   Labour will win the argument by being intellectual with sound reasoning.  It will lose the argument by being ‘visceral’.

    • Anonymous

      Alex you can be over-intellectual. David Miliband is a great example of this. Never use one word when you can use two dozen, the result is some people just thinks he talks a load of twaddle, and they lose concentration (you can almost lose the will to live when he is holding forth), other people think he is too cerebral and out of touch, and I think that latter critisism is valid.

      People resent being spoken down to, and DM comes over as very condescending (and in my view) smug, bumptious and bogus.

      • Alex

        I understand that he comes across as quite professorial, which of course will put some people off. 

        I also agree with treborc that clear definition and policies are important.

        My point was that by calling for us to be visceral, Luke is actively calling for us to be ‘not intellectual, unreasoning and crude’.  Which I  think is self defeating.  Some think we need to be all about brains.  Others think we need to be all about passion.  I think the road to success is probably somewhere inbetween the two taking the best bits of both.

        It was an interesting article mind and I enjoyed reading it.

      • Anonymous

        Alan I’m not sure about how or why certain politicians express themselves in particular ways, eg via media.

        It’s often in the unscripted moments that people sound so much more human and convincing.

        I do wonder why it’s believed that the best way to communicate message
        is to appear so controlled, almost robotic in speech and body language;
        it’s actually counter productive and puts people off listening or believing what’s being said.I realise they have to be guarded to some extent; but in other areas of public life people don’t always behave in this way, and can in fact speak their minds more freely, and particularly act in a more spontaneous fashion.

        I’ve noticed that when they interview eg ex ministers or veteran
        politicians-they are much more visible and rounded;
        far more compelling.

        It surely just needs a bit of common sense for someone to realise
        that the less PR, less prepared speeches, less an appearance of professionalized politicians- more qualities of humility, humour,
        openness and real interest in human beings/ability to connect-
        would rally people around to listen and engage more? 
        It wouldn’t cost a penny to adjust style!

        Also- the problem of working within a bubble for so long,
        or being in a position of power for prolonged periods;
        it must be hard to “de role” and adapt.

        This isn’t applied to one person- but I do think
        frontline politics can probably be a rather artificial world,
        which is also ironic, as meant to be public service.

        Perhaps the whole culture and roles need to be redefined.
        I think too- people with a lot of life and working experience
        coming late into politics is far more desirable than
        going straight to Westminster from uni!

        • Anonymous

          Hi Jo, I think they go in for too much media training. Remember Pat Hewitt?. When she was in government she always spoke like the Queen, but she would start a sentence, and then swallow before finishing it.  Since she left office (on the rare occassions when she is heard on radio) she has dropped that affectation.

          Earlier politicians didn’t have intensive media training, so were themselves (in fact Churchill, shortly before he retired in 1955 was asked to make a TV PPB, and was none too pleased “a damned tuppeny Punch & Judy show” was his description).

          I think on the whole politicians either try to be “entertaining” (Stephen Pound, Louise Melsch), or try to be commanding and masterful. When Blair tried that he sounded camp, Osborne sounds as if his voice has’nt quite broken and David Miliband merely sounds stilted and laboured (no pun ended)

          Polonious comes in useful for advice again “To thine own self be true”. They should just be natural

          • Anonymous

            Thanks Alan, in general I think the public will not warm to anything over acted or mechanical; a lot of politicians across all parties switch into this mode in interviews-
            and I think offputting; distracts from message.

            My least favourite is when there’s so much PR and gloss,
            almost like listening to a sales pitch.

            Perhaps deliberately distancing, but also patronising.
            I can’t see how this will bridge the gap between people and frontline politics?
            It’s not going to work with abstract lofty articles,
            or photo shots in supermarkets either!

            Perhaps it’s ultimately a fault of the media,
            but I think the 2 groups spend far too much time talking to each other instead of incorporating wider public discourse.
            Perhaps that only happens at grassroots and local level;
            also forums like LL?

            As you say- all they need to do is be themselves, in an ordinary and familar setting.

            Anyway- signing off shortly- I seem to have yet again spent more time here than I intended….

            Cheers, Jo.

          • Anonymous

            But of course politics is about more style then content these days, we laughed at Brown’s smile but he was only copying Blair paste a grin, if somebody asked a telling question Blair smile went and he would return with his teeth showing.

            Politics have moved on from the day when politician at least tried to tell you the fact.

          • Anonymous

            But of course politics is about more style then content these days, we laughed at Brown’s smile but he was only copying Blair paste a grin, if somebody asked a telling question Blair smile went and he would return with his teeth showing.

            Politics have moved on from the day when politician at least tried to tell you the fact.

    • Anonymous

      Labour wants to win the next election , tell us what we will be voting for, at the moment it’s mostly agreeing with the Tories, agree with cuts, education, and not a lot said about the NHS only we will return it back to what it was, well problem is like we all know if the private sector get contracts they can be for very long period.

      So I will need to know  what is in it for me, we know what is in it for the hard working middle class, but what about the low lifes like myself.

    • Luke Akehurst

      Yes I do know what visceral means. Have a read of this to see how most voters make decisions: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Political-Brain-People-Emotion-Deciding/dp/1586484257

      • Anonymous

        Concentration camps for those that do not work.

        Bloody hell mate you changed from classing your self to be on the ultra right of Labour to now that Brown and Ed came into being a moderate.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always understood it to mean tangible.

      I don’t think emotion and intellect are separable;
      also politics is about human experience-
      and connecting with people.

      I think theory has its place in academia,
      but possibly of little use unless able to apply
      in real life situations.

      Communication is also surely a big part
      of politics- especially if trying to create
      a wider dialogue and public discourse?

      Sometimes I think abstraction can be used
      to distance oneself or create a kind of mystique.
      Maybe in academia too- a kind of status attached
      to different forms of knowledge and mode
      of expression.

      I think Luke manages to combine all elements
      extremely well- and that’s why it comes across
      so clearly, for me, at any rate.


  • Anonymous

    Luke you’re mostly spot on.

    You won’t be surprised that I disagree with some of your proposals under point 5 (as you and I have agreed to disagree on Trident).

    I’m not sure that a defence of liberal interventionism is what is necessarily called for. More a reevaluation of it in a post-Iraq world. Several people – like myself – were completely in favour of liberal intervention in Afghaistan, but not in Iraq at that time, under those circumstances (I’ve written about this at length here: http://scarletstandard.co.uk/?p=459).

    As you say, there are at least two potential battlefields in the middle east – and that’s ignoring several other potential trouble spots around the world such as Burma and North Korea. An examination of the principles, limitations and therefore priorities of liberal intervention would seem to be essential to me.

    • Alan Giles

      It is amazing how gung-ho right wing Labour types can be – like their counterparts in the Conservative party. David Miniblair has often suggested he would like to take on Iran – Luke seems to want to take on Syria as well.

      Luke remember what Liam Byrne said “there is no money left”

      We cannot afford to throw more money away on pointless wars – quite apart from the death and destruction they cause.

      If David Miliband felt like being a military man he should have joined up instead of taking the soft option of goping into politics.

    • Anonymous

      How about a defence of liberal interventionism, given the choices that need to be made soon about Iran and Syria?” (Luke)

      Just how many more  military adventures do the right-wing of the Labour party want to prosecute?

      • Peter C

        Alan surely …Given the Syrian massacres of its pitiful  people for several months how could anyone in our party politicalise such horrors. If we are political on this – I for one would exit the party. At the French have still got balls.

        • Anonymous

          Peter Our interventions are frequently counterproductive. Besides that where do you draw a line?. Mugabe is an old monster but nobody has ever wanted to get rid of him.

          We cannot be the world’s policeman – we don’t have the resources – the military are already stretched beyond capacity

          • Anonymous

            Come on Alan that’s what they said with Hitler, look at the next stage from that, you know we helped out Libya without a single death top  our people and it gave the people the chance, mind you what comes next may well be worse, but at least we did not sit back, Syria deserves the same help you cannot just say nothing to do with me.

            we are not the police of the world but we dam well tried to own it all once up on a time

          • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

            Assad is no more a Hitler than was Saddam or Gaddaffi. When Britain stood against Hitler, Germany had the most powerful military forces in the world.

            Let’s not diminish the resolve and achievement of that time with over-blown comparisons.

          • Anonymous

            we are not the police of the world but we dam well tried to own it all once up on a time”

            Yes that’s true, but that was long ago, and I don’t see ehy the present younger generation(s) should suffer for the actions of the generations passed.

            We honestly don’t have the military personnel to launch any further adventures, especially now even the military are being made redundant

          • Anonymous

            Libya is Syria and we have to help otherwise Hitler wins again simple as at that, imagine what would have been saved if somebody had bothered to take Hitler out of the loop. And I’m half German, I do agree that others have to do more then just us, but in the end you have to ask what will happen to the people of Syria if this lunatic is allowed to stay.

            As for not having the Troops oh we do not need troops to help Syria just planes. do the same as we did with Gaddaffi.

          • Peter C

            Sometimes we just have to  & no matter what we say about D. Cameron, William Hague  and  Sarkozy we applaud their determination not to ignore the Syrian horrors ; of course we can not intervene everywhere but nor are we a non-interventionist bunch of little Englanders; When faced with massacres leading Western democracies do not crawl into a hole and preach isolationism!

          • Anonymous

            Were you in the military yourself, Peter?

          • Peter C

            I stand by the original point; on Syria our Labour Party leaders  and Union Leaders and Church leaders are “the dog that did not bark in the night” If we ditch our morality we ditch everything.

          • Anonymous

            Peter as you didn’t answer my question, I take it the answer is no?.

            It is so very easy for people to sit in the comfort of their armchairs saying what “we” should do, but the point is we don’t have the manpower to engage in the trouble spots of the world – as you must know they are making redundancies in the services. Where are all the personnel going to come from?. It’s not what “we” would do, Peter – it would be what “THEY” would have to do.

            To this day our young servicemen still die in Afghanistan, and for what? We heard yesterday that civilian deaths increased there last year.

            It is easy for D Miliband to want to “take on” Iran, just as it was the repulsive Blair Iraq, but they don’t have to do the fighting. If DM favours military adventure he should have had the guts to join up when he was younger, or at least join the TA.

            If people like that – and – if you’ll allow me to say so, you, want to involve us in military adventures, they should be prepared to fight themselves.

          • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

            Good point Allan.

            There a few enthusiasms worse than the enthusiasm for fighting to the last drop of someone else’s blood.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            And on that point, Dave Stone and I will finally see eye to eye.

            My brother-in-law was (now retired) a Royal Marine Commando, hugely proud of his service and also intensely involved in his soldiers’ lives.  He served in lots of places, but 3 times in Afghanistan and once in Iraq.  He wrote six letters to bereaved families, telling them about their son / husband / loved one.  He said it was the hardest thing he ever did in his service.

          • Anonymous

            I can’t imagine anything worse than having to tell the parents of a 19 year old that he died a violent death – what on earth could you say to them?.

            A couple of weeks ago a now thankfully ex LL contributor when reminded of Iraq told me that “only a handful” of our servicemen died as a result of the Iraq war.

            Each one of that “handful” left behind friends and relatives whose lives have been shattered, and for whom life will never be the same again

          • Anonymous

            I can’t imagine anything worse than having to tell the parents of a 19 year old that he died a violent death – what on earth could you say to them?.

            A couple of weeks ago a now thankfully ex LL contributor when reminded of Iraq told me that “only a handful” of our servicemen died as a result of the Iraq war.

            Each one of that “handful” left behind friends and relatives whose lives have been shattered, and for whom life will never be the same again

      • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

        An attack on Iran will be the big one. And probably the biggest test of Ed’s leadership.

        As Robert Fisk said in Saturday’s Independent: “An attack on Tehran would be madness. So don’t rule it out.”


  • Martin Yuille

    Luke:  When you say “big, sweeping, fundamental changes… can only be delivered by the (central) state” you are either stating the bleeding obvious or you are falling into the trap of Labour electoralism (‘vote us in and leave it to us’) or you are denigrating the efforts for  change that people seek in their workplace and professions, their community and local services, their culture and lifestyle. 
    If you are stating the bleeding obvious, then you are picking a silly squabble with David M.

  • http://www.futureeconomics.org Diarmid Weir

    ‘Most people don’t want to choose a school or a hospital, or
    take decisions about how they are run. They want to elect governments
    and councils that will ensure that their nearest school or hospital is
    so good that “choice” is irrelevant.’

    I guess this is true – but should it be? Representative democracy and fair markets require an informed and active citizenry, and we should be asking ourselves how we achieve that.

    ‘We shouldn’t need a theoretical “four-part scaffold” as described by
    David to define social justice – we should feel it in our guts when
    there is injustice.’

    I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Because unless we can connect people with how this ‘injustice’ impacts on them, despite an industrial-scale rubbishing of the very concept by capital interests and a captive media, no-one else will be interested in our tummy-troubles.

    ‘…the kind of big, sweeping, fundamental changes that are needed to
    address the massive inequality and structurally weak economy we have in
    the UK can only be delivered by the state.’

    And of course this is the big question. David Miliband’s point is that this just isn’t possible electorally. In a sense he is right. As currently constituted, the power of concentrated capital will always beat the state hands down. But if DM is right to say big state politics is a ‘dead end’, so is money power economics.

    • Anonymous

      Politics of the rich.

  • Peter C

    I am glad to see a mention of Syria; if I may just say the Labour Movement’s silence on the slaughter there is a measure of how far we have shifted in our internationalism. It is beyond comprehension that The Labour Party is turning away from the slaughter by a dictator of his own people including today young children. This army is  firing shells into houses and people’s apartments. We need to go on record and condemn this and the Chinese and Russia veto too; otherwise what has changed since the Nazi period? 

    • Anonymous

      sadly as we know they have the wrong type of Oil, as we know labour only attack people when the USA advise us. On the other hand Libya and Syria you do not need troops on the group to stop this,  Saddam this Gaddaffi  look alike sound alike and act alike from killing just knock out he artillery  and his tanks and you will even up the fight, how is OK in Libya and not in Syria and the simple answer is Oil

  • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

    “I worry that many of our current leaders don’t have an intuitive feel for how to nurture, manage and grow Labour’s volunteer machine”

    This is my biggest concern for the party at the moment. The already established momentum (or what’s left of it) won’t last forever and when its gone there’s not going to be anyone around to build it up again.

    Today, on another blog, a Labour ex-minister enthusiastically proposes visits to the dining rooms and boardrooms of the City of London and beyond, on what she calls a “scallops and celeriac purée’ offensive” – in the hope of generating the policy ideas that will lead to electoral success.

    I’m hoping, when they sober up, they’ll have enough energy and enthusiasm left to be able to get down to some serious thinking and the hard graft of party-building in constituencies across the country.

    • Anonymous

      Today, on another blog, a Labour ex-minister enthusiastically proposes visits to the dining rooms and boardrooms of the City of London and beyond, on what she calls a “scallops and celeriac purée’ offensive” – in the hope of generating the policy ideas that will lead to electoral success.”

      It’s deja vu. It is the old Blair City schmoozing routine all over again – it is as if Labour think it is 1996 still, and just to complete the illusion there is David Miniblair popping up on the radio again. The poverty of imagination, the pretentiousness,  makes you despair

      • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

        She did approvingly cite St Tony as the leading example.

      • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

        She did approvingly cite St Tony as the leading example.

        • Anonymous

          Guiding light nope, reincarnation of   the messiah. After all Blair went and told the pope he was back.

  • Stuart

    Always enjoy your articles Luke, though I’m sad to say that I struggled past point four and onwards (I think this a fault of the original article, where I also seriously flagged halfway through; no offence to David but he’s really not all that interesting a thinker or writer. Also had to laugh at ‘four-part scaffold’ when I read it, pure David Miliband, almost endearing).

  • Anonymous

    Alex, I think you are being very kind in suggesting DM comes over as ”
    quite professorial”. To me he comes over as a pretentious little prig who has never spent a single day in the real world, and attitudenizes about things that are beyond his imagination. The windy verbiage  the smug superior attitude just tries (unsuccessfully) to disguise his lack of empathy with ordinary people. At least his brother tries.

  • Anon

    Its sad to see Luke has gone native to prop up the failing leadership. This is why I will not vote to re-elect him to the NEC.

    • Josephine Bacon

      I certainly will vote for Luke for the NEC, he has the clarity of vision that is needed when the “Milliblair” faction will lose us the next election. Luke just posted the results of the Newcastle-under-Lyme bye-election with its massive swing from Labour to LD, in one of the most deprived areas of the country! What is necessary is what Dave Stone describes as” the hard graft of party-building in constituencies across the country.” We won’t be able to do that either with all the entryists from the Hard Left among Labour Party activists. They are also the reason for silence about Syria and the rest of the so-called Arab Spring, which is just more of the Arab Same, dictator A being replaced by dictator B.

  • Pat McIntyre

    In point5, Luke talked of  ”our internationalism” and then went on to say that we should renew our nuclear deterrent, and defend our ‘liberal interventionism, “given the choices that need to be made soon about Iran and Syria”. When I joined the Labour Party at age 15, internationalism had a different meaning. We looked back with pride at those who fought against fascism in Spain, and we opposed the production and testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere which we realised,(unlike the ‘scientific experts who were wheeled out to ridicule us)  would cause millions of deaths from cancer. We marched against the American war in Vietnam, where napalm and Agent Orange were used against civilians, and protested against the American slaughter of civilians in Cambodia. We were active in our solidarity with those living under apartheid, living under fascist powers in Chile, Nicaragua and so many other countries where the civilian death toll, encouraged and financed by the U.S.A.,  was horrendous. We learned then that the American government doesn’t do ‘liberal interventionism’ but does do economic imperialism brilliantly.
    Tragically, it was a ‘Labour’ P.M. who took us into an illegal war, on a raft of lies and double dealing. Those of us who protested, tens of thousands of whom had never been on a march before,  were totally ignored not only by our hubristic P.M. but by his hangers- on , including David Miliband. Ordinary Americans were in the same position as us– powerless to stop the warmongers.
    All M.P.’s knew at the time (and if Luke did not know then, he knows now) that 42% of the total population of Iraq were under 15 in 2002. The U.N. General Assembly resolution that demanded “protection for children in the event of conflict” was totally ignored by the Shock and Awe brigade.
    So thousands of children died. We don’t know exactly how many because they were, in racist language, ‘collateral damage’ . And now we are being softened-up for a repeat performance. In Iran and/or Syria? Why stop there Luke? Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated lately against the Chinese government and have been dealt with most brutally. And as for the Russian government, well we all know from our own newspapers that the people want another revolution. Lets hear it for Labour ‘liberal interventionism’ in action.


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