Losing faith

February 17, 2012 5:58 pm

Dear Ed,

I do wonder how often you receive letters from party members and whether they all start by saying how long they have been party members. In my case it is 21 years. As a 15-year-old I was going to be part of a tidal wave sweeping Neil Kinnock to power. I was optimistic in those days.

Since then I have been a parliamentary candidate twice, a school governor and a councillor – generally what you would call an activist. I grew up in the party; my parents were councillors, my mother was a parliamentary candidate three times, my grandfather was a party agent and my great grandfather was the chair of Poplar Labour Party. I’m saying that this party is in my DNA.

All of this makes my current concerns very hard to resolve; mainly that I no longer have any faith that the Labour Party will make a better society – or even wants to do so. This is a feeling that I have been trying to ignore for some time, but I think it is time to raise it with you.

Firstly, the party’s attitude to democracy is pitiful. Internally, it’s a joke and the people and factions competing for power seem to despise party members. I had hoped your review led by Peter Hain would tackle this problem but what came out of that was not a meaningful change from the current state.

It might be forgivable if this rejection of democracy were just an internal thing, but the party’s approach to democracy for the public is just as qualified. After the expenses scandal, Gordon Brown let a lot of basically dirty MPs off the hook and then offered the weakest possible reform to parliamentary accountability (AV) as a sop to the electoral reform movement.

After the election, all it would have taken to have shown some vision and understanding would be for one of the putative leaders to say how ridiculous AV is and have proposed an amendment to the Bill to allow for a third option of STV. But no candidate was willing to upset one third of the electoral college – the MPs – by suggesting there was anything wrong in principle with safe seats.

Your election as Leader also upset me because the party was so desperate to elect someone who would recant the sins of New Labour that they refused to consider whether you actually meant it or whether you would be any good at the job of leading. It shocked me that anyone believed your proclaimed principles when at no time in your career had you espoused them before standing for the leadership. It shocked me that party members, unions and MPs would back you regardless of the fact that you were so clearly not up to the job, have no vision for Britain and can’t communicate very well. That said, I hoped I would be proved wrong once you had won.

Your leadership has shown me how lacking in vision you and Ed Balls are in particular but your team is in general. You talk nonsense about good companies and bad companies as though companies can have ethics. It’s not about companies, it’s the people who make decisions who are, or are not, ethically driven. And your confusing position on austerity is simply small minded.

Austerity may be a necessity but our party, with our values, ought to be standing up for people. And if that means “embracing” austerity, that should be conditional on an outright mission to attack the cost of living for the people who will have to pay for austerity. You know that the major cost of living is housing and that’s driven by a perverse, ever-inflating housing market. But you won’t push for real, meaningful policies that would reduce this overweight cost because any such policy would take the heat out of the housing market and lead to house price deflation. You won’t countenance policies to help the many if the few who will pay are Daily Mail reading swing voters in marginal seats.

This is the core of your problem. Because you believe in power over principle, you can’t tell the difference between vision and triangulation. You think you can keep the left just enough on side through pointless attacks on individual bankers’ bonuses or honours and that you can win the centre ground by attacking the unions and embracing austerity. This ridiculous lack of vision means that I have to wait to see what your latest quote is to know whether – this week – the party’s left wing or right.

While I don’t believe you are any more left wing than Blair or Brown, I don’t particularly care if you’re left or right wing. Leaders have to take a direction and it’s reasonable to ask party members to support the vision – the destination – even if the course isn’t the one those members would prefer.

My problem is that you are not a leader. You are not articulating a vision or a destination, you’re not clearly identifying a course and no-one’s following you. You’re simply coming out with unintelligible guff in response to the latest headlines and seemingly hoping that we’ll think its impenetrability is down to our lack of understanding rather than your lack of coherence. The nonsense you say isn’t even well crafted and your “something for something” speech at conference was simply embarrassing.

I have come to fear that you might actually win the next general election. Your absolute lack of a vision for Britain or any leadership qualities, and in particular your willingness to dissemble about your beliefs to win the Labour leadership makes me fear what you would do if you had any actual power. I don’t believe you know what you would do with power and I fear what you would do to keep it. It’s a formula that would lead to a government with a similar inertia to that of Gordon Brown. Except that you don’t have Gordon Brown’s talents.

People try to tell me that it would be a problem replacing you, but if we excluded the outright mad or bad MPs there’s at least a hundred Labour MPs who couldn’t do a worse job than you.

It is all about talent. I’d love us to have a leader with the articulacy of Emily Thornberry, the intelligence of Stella Creasy, the easy charm of John Woodcock or the tangible decency of Hilary Benn. But somehow the Labour Party seems to drain the talent from its people.

Our shared history and values imply that we will stand for the people who need us most. Right now that’s more than half of the population of this country. But it’s disproportionately people who don’t vote and it’s not swing voters in marginal seats. So we don’t stand for them. Nearly any Labour MP you speak to wants to stand for them but collectively we are incapable of doing so.

The Labour party stands for its leader and his interests first. Then it stands for its MPs and securing their jobs as best as possible. It stands for the union general secretaries (but not their members) just enough to keep them affiliated. After that it stands for swing voters in marginal seats and the media proprietors who can influence them. After that, if we’re lucky, we get to do something for the people for whom the party was created.

And it’s not that we’re any worse than the other parties, who operate just the same. We’re just supposed to be better than them and so our failure is more disappointing. Whether you think we’re a democratic socialist party or a social democrat party, you’re wrong. We’re an illiberal elitist capitalist party with no taste for democracy and a misplaced belief that the masses are better off in our care than that of other parties.

I’m not sure whether your departure would really make a difference to this. Would the next leadership election deliver us a leader or just another functionary fearful of his or her vulnerability and incapable of inspiring?

For all his faults, Blair had a real vision of a Britain that was better and fairer than the nation he inherited. And he had the leadership skills to keep the party together even when we didn’t like the details.

So what am I asking you to do? To prove me wrong maybe? To resign? To be honest I don’t particularly care anymore. I’d like it if you were honest and told us who the Labour Party’s going to help, and how, and set your policy direction consistently with that declaration. And then if we didn’t agree with you, we could just leave rather than persisting with vain optimism.

Alex Hilton

  • Johndclare

    There are whole swathes of truth here, Alex, but overall your assessment is too harsh – things are looking up a bit.
    http://bit.ly/ylinR5

    And did you see Owen Jones on bbcqt, showing how the public *does* respond positively to a clearly-put left-wing message?
     
    There is no doubt that the Party needs a great degree of reformation –
    but rather than just railing against the problems (which are glaring enough), we need to be
    constructive and edifying in any criticism.

    Meanwhile, I am coming increasingly to the opinion that we members need, not so much to turn our frustrations inward, upon the Party, but to set about doing for ourselves what we are so desperate for our leadership to do … to get on with opposing this rotten Tory government.

    We need to turn all that rage upon the REAL enemy.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/W5NFU2OG4GJE5MBUQQ3ATE2ABI DonGately

      rage doesn’t win elections -it’s inarticulate and it turns voters off

      it’s fine to be passionate but labour still needs to do some thinking – it has needed to since blair went but brown and now miliband have failed to articulate anything like a progressive vision to cope with a changing political environment

      • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

        @DonGately

         I agree 
        Maggie , Maggie , Maggie … out ..out …out .   Won’t do the trick .

        • Dave Postles

           Direct your anger in a positive way, perhaps.  I am angry and I am not ashamed to be angry.  When I see photographs of young people at soup kitchens in Greece, I am infuriated and saddened.  I hope that we never see the like in this country, but we are are approaching that situation.  We can channel our anger through extra-Parliamentary activities. 

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/16/taxpayers-alliance-social-justice

          (Taxpayers Against Poverty)

          We can shout about the injustices.  Anger can be used. 

          BTW, free movement of labour is simply the corollary of free movement of capital – blame globalization.  To eradicate the scourge of unemployment and under-employment in this country, buy goods and services assembled or provided within this country.   Reduce the cost/tax of/on diesel for freight/SMEs/agriculture (red diesel); raise VAT compliance for SMEs to £150k; allow them the space to recruit that extra person now.

          • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

            @506b766cc7416a497caa1bdaa81c3b1f:disqus 

            Capitalism is the only workable game that we have. No one nowhere is proposing anything new.

            The British Labour Party are for and were the invention of the British people.
            If  you want to heal Africa  you can , but you will have to pay for it.  If you want to right the wrongs of this world you can. Good luck.  

            The Labour party is not fit to govern until it apologises for uncontrolled mass immigration.

          • Dave Postles

            It’s just as relevant to criticize the free movement of capital, the export of jobs, the connivance of all governments since Thatcher in the decline of manufacturing and excessive reliance on financial services, and the failure of British people to support their neighbours by buying goods and services assembled or offered in this country. 

          • Dave Postles

             BTW, where does Africa come into the equation.  Taxpayers Against Poverty relates to taxpayers who positively wish their tax to be used to support the poor, dispossessed and disadvantaged in this country in opposition to the mealy-mouthed attitude of this Coalition.

            ‘Thank you for signing up to TAP. I floated my own
            thoughts wondering who might feel the same as I do. I am encouraged. I
            am about to set up a website, facebook and a blog. Meanwhile I am
            relying on you all to use face book and twitter to maximum advantage.  So the more twittering of the email address and my letter in The Guardian the better.   

            I am Chairman of a charity called the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust; which can be found on www.Z2K.org.
            But this is a personal initiative separate from Z2K because our staff
            and volunteers are already very busy working with the most vulnerable
            debtors struggling in the welfare system. I am attaching our description of hardship. 

            TAP
            currently has no rules. I am collecting as many emailed names in support
            as we can so I can have some idea of the numbers involved. I will
            eventually move signing up to a website.  

            I
            am looking for well informed thoughtful 1000 word pieces about taxation
            and the common good  to put on the website; and maybe publish in some
            form or other. 

            I am very much open to suggestions as to how we move forward. 
            I
            see TAP working without allegiance to any political party but
            influencing national  policy from well informed thinking about taxation
            and the common good. 

            I was asked recently what I meant by justice. I replied as follows; Allowing
            creative talent to flourish in the market to create wealth for
            themselves, their families and the common good, which should be divided
            equitably though practical governmental polices. They could include;

             affordable housing of all  tenures, progressive taxation, which would include all land in the UK and registered overseas, and all tax havens robustly
            researched minimum income standards (MIS) which provide government with
            a guide to the level at which unemployment benefits and the living wage
            should be set to provide healthy living.  JRF are currently researching
            MIS so the information is already available.the health service and the
            primary and secondary education services should continue to be free at
            the point of delivery; and so good that private is not necessary 

            the courts should abide by the principles set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a British Bill of rights. the enforcement of debts should continue to allow remission in cases of hardship, debt relief orders and bankruptcy . 
            Sometimes you have to dream before you can act!! 

            So far I have replied to 141 e-mails of support. 

            With best wishes

            Paul Nicolson

            02083765455.’ 

            Please sign up

          • Joanne28

            That’s more like it Dave- fire in the belly about things that matter.

            Jo

    • Ol’ Blue Eyes

       You shouldn’t confuse the Question Time audience with the general public. I’d wager at least 75% are political activists of one kind or another. The one time ordinary folk did feel inclined to book tickets was after the expenses scandal and the difference in tone was startling.

    • FonyBlair

       I’m not sure a BBC QT audience is really representative of the nation no matter what teh BBC tries to make us believe.  It’s generally full of Left wingers!

    • Once was red

      Sorry, but this is typical of a “rose tinted specs” attitude that does not help Labour.  Don’t you know that BBC’s Question time has a selected vetted audience and is most definitely not representative of the public viewpoint.  The truth is that Labour has abandoned it’s heart -the white working class  and that’s why it has no policies.  It’s really sad to see  “socialists” upholding the right of someone to receive £100,000 a year in benefits, or union leaders on £100,000 + £40k in benefits lecturing bankers on ripping people off, while their members are losing their jobs in their thousands to international corporations’ globalisation policies (offshoring British jobs). Go and have a pint in any pub in a working class area and listen to what ordinary people are saying. You will be very shocked.    Hard working couples receiving thousands less than those not working and on benefits.  I’m no longer a member of Labour because ordinary people have been abandoned by the party that came into being to improve their life.  Is Ed speaking up on behalf of the working class in Greece?  Whatever happened to international solidarity.  Would he speak up for those on minimum wage if the EU demand a £1.20p reduction in our minimum wage? ( a not impossible scenario) Why do you think so many people say all the parties are the same?  There needs to be a lot harder words said than Alex Hilton’s piece.  “Better the painful wounds of a friend than the flattering kisses of an enemy.”    What I want to know is who is going to stand up for ordinary people in this country?  At present they are getting well and truly shafted.  Where is the vision, the passion, the courage, the conviction? 

    • robertcp

      I agree John.  Labour has improved a lot since the depths of New Labour from 2003 to 2007.

    • AlanGiles

      I agree with nearly everything Alex wrote. I have one reservation, but that I’ll mention later.

      Sadly, I cannot agree with you about not turning frustrations inward and opposing the current government.

      How can Labour credibly oppose the Welfare Reform Bill, for example, when it was that gave the country David Freud, whose ignorance is now used by the current government. Every time Liam Byrne opens his mouth he exposes himself as the oleaginous hypocrite that he is, for example.

      As has been proven after the expenses scandal, there were just as many rotten corrupt Labour politicians as there were Tories, and many of them remain often in fairly senior positions.

      When I think of the home flippers, the £2000 TV sets bought only because the old pensioner concerned suffers from OCD (though at 80 he remains an MP, God help us), a certain lady signing every remortgage application put in front of her by her husband, without thinking or questioning, all this behaviour followed up by a whinging “I’ve done nothing wrong” defence, I am reminded of somebody I regard as a friend who was dismissed by the Labour Party because he was too honest, and questioned the dishonesty going on around him.

      Where I disagree with Alex is where he talks about Blair wanting a better society. But for whom? – mainly people like himself, and his cronies. A few crumbs might have been thrown downwards, but Blair was complicit in the personal greed and turned a blind eye to the corruption going on around him amongst his most trusted acolytes. 

      Harold Wilson said that the Labour party was a moral crusade or it was nothing – despite his real or alleged great personal “faith”, Blair forever put power before principle, bending the truth to satisfy his whims. He started the rot and it would take a very big figure to start to rebuild the decaying structure, and I honestly cannot think of a single current figure who would have that ability, or evn, sadly, the desire

    • Winston_from_the_Ministry

       But it’s empty rage John.

      Owen is the proverbial empty vessel making the most noise. He had no ideas or solutions, only complaints about everybody from the Coalition to the labour party.

      As venal and self-serving as our politicians can be, it is still in their interests to run the country as well as they can. If they can’t do it very well then I can only blame our party political system for delivering inadequates, not the individuals themselves.

      Think about the changing nature of our social and economic system, do you really think it is feasible that there can be one correct way of running the country that will produce the best results all the time?

      We have stagnated politically, forcing our range of options ever towards the centre by demonising each others political viewpoint as immoral and therefore evil.

      If Owen Jones had practical socialist policy ideas then he would recognise that it is not capitalism, or conservatism, or the demonisation of the dwindling, romanticised working class that are the problems. But globalisation, over population, and a political system that for all it’s lauded democracy, might as well consist of two families fighting over hereditary power.

    • milliboot

      Owen Jones is a nightmare, he instantly alienates people whith his aggressive, know all manner.I have heard him frequently on Radio 5 live on friday night and he is rude and lives in a world of his own.

  • S K Lee

    ” For all his faults, Blair had a real vision of a Britain that was better
    and fairer than the nation he inherited. And he had the leadership
    skills to keep the party together even when we didn’t like the details.”

    You know, I don’t believe that’s really true. Blair had the leadership skills to divest the Party of millions of members and to make many more supporters, like myself, feel utterly disenfranchised by the political system. The Party stayed together because it was in Government and, having spent 18 years out of office, noone wanted to rock the boat.

    Yes, the Blair and Brown Governments left behind a fairer country than that of 1997 – but how much of that was down to Blair’s vision and how much to more old fashioned Labour virtues is debatable. The ‘modernisation’ agenda wasn’t at essence about fairness, but about managerialism. Blair’s vision was in some respects that of Margaret Thatcher, with it’s light-touch regulation, belief in the fundamental virtues of markets, passivity before corporate power and distaste for collectivism.

    Fact was that Blair won elections, whether I liked him or not. I was massively disappointed in his Governments, but they were at least a little better than the alternatives would have been. Your very personal attack on Ed suggests you wouldn’t be mollified even by an election victory.

  • Steve Anderson

    SPOT ON !

  • Paul

    WOW….

  • Joanne28

    I’m about to sign off for a while, but spotted this article.
    I’m sorry to say I find unbelievably unfair and harsh.

    Criticism needs to be constructive and aimed at the
    party as a whole, not individuals- especially on such a personal level.

    It contrasts greatly with what’s been written by Luke A on LL,
    which I’m far more inclined to take on trust.

    If anything was going to induce me to leave the Labour party,
    it would be this kind if attitude and approach.

    I’m really sorry to say that.

    There’s nothing wrong with fair criticism,
    intended in good faith- but not an out and out “attack” on someone.
    That’s how it comes across- just angry and accusatory.

    Surely it’s necessary for all to be working together,
    and seeing the bigger picture ahead.

    The party probably has a long way to go, but there’s
    a lot of history attached to that as well; it’s not surprising
    reform is going to take a long time IMO.

    Jo

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      I think Alex Hilton has it about right.  There are times Jo when you have to face facts, in this case that Ed Miliband is an 5 tonne anchor around the neck of Labour when the Party is swimming in a 5 mile deep sea.  The sooner he is history the quicker Labour may begin to make headway.  It is all about actually gaining votes.  Ed Miliband’s personal polling is a disaster.

      There is no-one on the Labour front bench who has the capacity to win the next election, apart from possibly Andy Burnham.  Alastair Darling and Hilary Benn both have gravitas (more Alastair than Hilary).  The rest are all damaged goods, Ed Balls in particular.

      Stick with Ed Miliband and the next major event is another Labour leadership election in June 2015, with 5 more years of tory government for the next Labour leader to oppose.  Alternatively, dump him now and let a credible figure carry the fight, with a good chance of winning.

      Ed Miliband makes Neil Kinnock look statesmanlike.

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

        “I think Alex Hilton has it about right. ”

        But you’re a Tory. Anything negative said about any Labour Party leader by any Labour Party member will be supported by you.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Lib Dem at the last election, Blair supporter before.  Didn’t like Labour derailing itself on civil liberties, Iraq, or Gordon Brown’s primary school approach to the economy. May well vote Labour again if it is sensible.

          You may not detect a difference.

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

            Thanks for the clarification. My opinion remains unchanged.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

             There were a bloc of Tories willing to vote for Blair, hence the rather large majority in 97 and 01. Jaime’s politics reflect that group – essentially centre-right Christian Democrat, but Blair-supporting, not Labour-supporting

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

             There were a bloc of Tories willing to vote for Blair, hence the rather large majority in 97 and 01. Jaime’s politics reflect that group – essentially centre-right Christian Democrat, but Blair-supporting, not Labour-supporting

    • robertcp

      I agree Jo.  The article had some good points about the Labour Party’s faults but most of it was just a personal attack.  The only positive suggestion was that Labour should support proportional representation.  I agree but the referendum suggests that this is not exactly a vote winner.

      We shouldaccept that Ed Miliband will be the leader at the next General Election and concentrate on suggesting policies for the manifesto.   My suggestions are progressive taxation, a democratic and comprehensive education system, proportional representation (STV) for local government, a welfare system that protects people when they lose their job or health, lower unemployment, more social housing and, of course, a National Health Service.  Unfortunately, these policies will be limited by the need to reduce the deficit sensibly. 

      Labour should also make clear that it will be willing to work with progressives in other parties either in a coalition or as a minority government.  This will be sensible because a hung parliament looks very likely at the next General Election.

      • Joanne28

        Robert, I did reply above, don’t know why it hasn’t come through here.

        Good to hear from you!

        Jo

    • http://twitter.com/CllrJonSHarvey Cllr Jon Harvey

       Jo – of all the comments and commenters on here – I like what you say
      the most. Thanks for posting it. Like you, I think, I am determinedly
      optimistic and would rather roll my sleeves up and try and make a
      difference rather than plunge into despair.

      I have met Alex and I
      believe him to be good chap. Something has got to him though. Whilst
      his analysis make uncomfortable reading, it is uni-dimensional. The clue
      perhaps is in the title – his faith has been deeply rocked and he is
      desperately trying to recalibrate his beliefs. Perhaps his crisis of
      failth has been transferred (in the psycho-analytical sense) onto Ed?

      But where are you going to go now Alex? You suggest others will press on in ‘vain optimism’ – where will your vanity take you?

      • AlanGiles

        Oh  please Cllr: Not the “make a difference” cliche’. That is so 1998 Blair. Certain expressions like that and “for the many not the few” and “hard-working families” remind you that for all his own trumpet blowing, the real difference Blair made was in making us George Bush’s poodle, and the lives that were squandered because of his stupidity.

      • Joanne28

        I’ll try again.

        Thankyou Jon.

  • MikeyK

    John D Clare.

    The BBCQT audience is representative of the public? The BBC?  Dear me, how delusional. Owen Jones impressing the average BBCQT audience is akin to…. sorry, got to break off to control my laughing fit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

    As an ex-Labour supporter who left over the sequencial , twisted, self serving and inarcticulate goings on of Labour’s Scottish Region – I empathise with the author.

    Some told me I should stay and fight for my beliefs but it is as this author has stated as waste of effort. Labour in Scotland first got shot of members who asked awkward questions, then the got rid of constituence officers who asked the wrong questions and now they are getting rid of councillors because either they do not ask any questions or were asking embarassing questions. Now constituency candidate selection is run by London by boot boys and girls sent in by Murphy and Alexander to ensure their pet poodles are put in place.  Ian Gray was a disaster for Scottish Labour hiding in Subway from three pensioners and a Labour councillor but he is now loking like a towering intellect in comparison to Johann Lamont.

    A few years ago I wrote my last piece for Labour List predicting that if Labour in Scotland did not change it was heading for disaster. In 2007 in the elections for the Scottish Parliament the vote held yet the SNP still outperformed them, I think that 2010 was a stop the Tories blip that Labour stupidly thought meant business as usual in Scotland, 2011 confirmed that suspicion and Lord Robertson is now looking a shade daft with his claim in 1999 that devolution would kill the SNP stone dead.

    Labour’s West of Scotland area is now in open civil war Glasgow, as is South Lanarkshire. They managed to vote down their own budget for Stirling yesterday – Lamont has not yet addressed the accusation of bullying by a Glasgow Labour Councillor threatening to sack another’s disabled son from his apprenticeship if she didn’t do what he wanted.

    The SNP are now firmly entrenched in the centre left of Scottish politics, we have a real left wing option in the Greens and the Scottish Socialist party (if they haven’t split yet again) and on the right in Scotland there are the Liberals, Labour and the Tories – all of them indistinguishable in their lemming like rush for the neo-liberal, capitalist abyss.

    I would suggest that Lord Robertson was prescient about devolution killing political parties stone dead but as usual he got it wrong about which parties. Labour in Scotland 23% in opinion polls and falling. If a general election was held next week, the SNP would take 43 Westminster seats.

    The problem is not Dave or Ed or t’other Ed – its is the party itself which is no longer fit for purpose, as are the Unions that continue to waste their members money bankrolling the party –  Labour is now a party of political pygmies.

    • Getjimhere

      And the council elections in May will probably mean labour will be tossed out of Glasgow and maybe a few other places too.

    • Dave Postles

       Peter T.  Good to hear from you.  Hope that you are coping alright. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

        I had a big problem with PTSD in 2009 and am hoping the Psychiatrist will finally sign me off in March. It was a biggy and just one too many for my wife, so we seperated in summer 2011 on very good terms – so good the lawyers waived their fee  – as they did b’all except check the agreement fitted Scots law.

        • Joanne28

          Wishing you all the best Peter, hope things are a bit more peaceful in future years and you get some quality time for yourself.

          Jo

          • treborc

             Why not answer his comment people who are ill would rather you answer the question then speak about the illness it looks like you saying OK we know your ill.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

            Its OK – I used to be a regular on LL. I now only occasionally visit when Scottish related stuff comes by or someone draws my attention to something like this.

            Unlike New Labour, I remain social democrat in my orientation, luckily I now have a party to vote for in Scotland that thinks the same way which in the aftermath of the Westminster Scotland Debate and the hyena like approach to any SNP MP who spoke – I became one of the 8% of new SNP members in the week following.

          • Dave Postles

             The future looks Scottish: soon Scotland will be exporting water and energy to parts of England (and parts of England could be relying on other parts for the supply of water – irony).

          • treborc

            Liverpool flooded a whole village in Wales, did not even empty the grave  yards, pumped the water out free.

            Still doing it

          • treborc

             That is the big problem in Wales labour England still controlled to much of labour Wales, people still associated Welsh labour as English labour and it stopping Wales labour from winning an election out right, we now only have a minority Assembly.

            Welsh labour have stated the welfare reforms carried out by Labour are totally wrong.

          • Joanne28

            You’ve obviously misread my comment.
            What question was this?
            I’ll allow Peter T to speak for himself.
            I think Dave P has articulated better.

        • Dave Postles

           Peter, I remember that you suffered from PTSD because of the military experience.  I am sorry that it has led to these consequences.  None of us can comprehend what it is like, either as sufferer or supporter.  Hoping for better times for you.

        • treborc

          It’s an evil dam illness with so many doctors not having a clue about it.

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

      “pet poodles are put in place”

      We’ve got them south of the border as well.

    • TomFairfax

        Hi Peter,

      I suspect the SNP would do quite well south of the border as well.

      It’s dfficult to convey how flat footed Cameron appeared this week when
      faced with someone who can think and talk at the same time.

      Labour currently appear to be acting like rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming car north of the border.

      It’s  like watching a slomo car crash.

      P.S. Did you ever get the hydro power plant installed?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

        No SEPA were wanting to charge a silly amount for water ‘extraction’ and I just gave up fighting the jobsworths  –  I have a life … now if I wanted a windmill or solar cells – it would take a rubber stamp.

        A good pal of mine is well on the way to getting a community hydro scheme for Nasst near Gairloch with the COINPEG group. It appears they have a different approach in the Highlands and Islands Council.

        • TomFairfax

           Shame. Another obstacle. I remember you mentioning their sudden concern for fish not having a hard enough time against the current initially.

          Planning permission for windmills have the some lack of obstacle here, but you’d probably face a lynch mob around here if you wanted one.

    • Johnbdick

      The Labour vote appeared to hold up in 2011, because votes lost to SNP were replaced by anti-tory votes gained from LibDems. The LibDems were no longer a suitable vehicle for anti-Cons. More than a few in the North went to Labour, gaining them nothing in seats, but the LibDems had little to lose in the central belt, and the loss of Labour votes to SNP was not accompanied by a loss of seats because of the large majorities. 

      In that way all three parties became less regional making fewer excessive LibDem and Labour majorities, where these parties had Highland and Glasgow over-safe seats.

      For the LibDems, this meant they lost some seats, while Labour majorities were hollowed out leaving almost all the remaining 15 seats marginal. The SNP got  foothold in the West.

      That means that the marginal battles are now Lab/SNP in former Lab strongholds.

      What people tell posters they are voting SNP is “competence”. Competence should be the norm, a given. Where is the vision, the flair, the inspiration? The SNP are working on that, and it will gel round people like Richard Lochhead, but it isn’t quite there yet.

      The ordinary man is a giant in the land of the pygmies, and the SNP have it too much their own way for all the reasons above. Where are the successors to Dewar, Smith and Cook, to say nothing of the generation of Shinwell, Maxton and MacLean?

      What Scottish Labour needed, almost as much as the other two UK parties, was Bavarianisation. The party that rejected it had most to gain, but independence will do just as well. Then a very small number of people with ideas can inspire others.

      Labour is not the only party to lose interest in ideas. The LibDems also sacrificed any interest in ideas in a search for power. A leadership with an insoucient attitude to Highland casualties to rial WW1 generals has brought the number of MSP’s down to the point that they are technically not a party any more.

  • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

    Uncontrolled mass immigration has been a total success for the Labour party.Well hasn’t it ? Working -class people  have had to shoulder the arrival and see their communities change without warning, debate or vote 
     The Labour party should have been , past tense, for the people of Britain. Instead  , the Labour party has  taken the white, yes white, working-class vote for granted. 

    The fact that Ken Livingstone has been allowed to run as Labour candidate in London tells you how far and how low Labour has sunk.

    • Franwhi

      Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous. Why the race element ?? We have Asian Muslim communities in Glasgow whose vote sLabour take for granted and I’m sure in other parts of the UK there are other BME communities who are represented by elected members who go off to Westminster and forget all about their constituents. Up here in Scotland we’ve had  Labour MPs who’ve taken us for granted for decades – its nothing to do with race or nationality. Voters in the UK get taken for granted because our electoral system isn’t democratic enough – we have a system where even a poor quality MP can sit for decades in a seat and be unchallenged and returned on a handful of votes. Don’t blame the easy targets  – follow the money and you’ll find all roads lead to the Palace of Westminster.  

      • Jouno

        This hits the nail on the head. It is largely the political system that makes such things possible, but Labour’s own democratic processes (which to be honest, I don’t think deserve the name democratic) are a part of that system.

        I’ve been mulling over this stuff quite a lot over the past weeks and months – that, when it comes down to it, we have a lot of very poor MPs who don’t really seem to do anything useful for their constituents or the wider world, yet they just sit there for election after election wasting theirs and everybody else’s time. That is not good enough, and creates a huge block on prospects of real positive change.

        Is there any prospect of real change? There have been a few positive signs, but as ever once the vested interests start throwing their weight around behind the scenes we always seem to end up stuck in the same stink. In the inebriated words of the great Jimmy McNulty, “Nothing ever changes!”

    • PeterJukes

      From the 39 likes above, and the UKIP talk below, looks like Labourlist is having a bit of  troll infestation. 

      • Winston_from_the_Ministry

         Either that or you’re in denial.

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

          Can’t see L.L readers converting to UKIP. Some may feel that things are desperate but the situation won’t ever get that desperate.

          • Winston_from_the_Ministry

             I wasn’t really referring to the UKIP stuff, I’m with you on that one.

          • PeterJukes

            It’s the 37 likes for an irrelevant comment about immigration. Maybe not UKIP then. Maybe EDL

          • treborc

            UKIP, EDL, BNP, all about control  not much difference is there.

        • PeterJukes

          In denial about an unrepresentative sample of motivate obsessives? I don’t think so. I’ve seen this before with climate denialists. A tiny motivated minority trying to create interference on a Labour site: it’s obvious. 

          • JackyTreehorn

            Have you ever thought that it’s not trolls, just more people that have common sense

          • PeterJukes

            Nope. 

          • JackyTreehorn

            Well from what I have read by you,
            I’m not surprised.
            Climate denialist? who uses that language?
            It’s not about denial,it’s more to do with cause.

          • Winston_from_the_Ministry

            Ah yes, it must be the inflammatory headline that attracted them.

      • Joanne28

        Hi Peter, glad you got to read.

        It’s been an interesting thread and good debate also.

        In process of signing out for a while, but will continue to read.

        Hope all’s well……Jo

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

        Peter: this has been the case for a while – why do you think its been largely abandoned by Labour supporters and members?

        • PeterJukes

          Well if that’s the case I’ll write to Mark. If nothing is done to moderate the disqus comments, I might think twice about my financial support

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            Nothing is being done, and look at the names – all the Labour folk have gone

      • Eton Mess

        That is because this article is prominently linked to from the home of far-right nutjobs, Conservative Home.

        It’s how I got here… it also means that this article will be getting lots of people signing off with slightly loopy names, such as:

        John Smith, ACOUNTRYTHATUSEDTOBECALLEDENGLAND, EUSSR, SOVIET UNION OF EUROCRATS, etc. etc. etc.

        [normally writing from Singapore or South Africa)

        • PeterJukes

          Thanks Eton. Mystery explained. Wonder why my other respondents were less than forthcoming about this? 

    • ros clyde

      “Working class people have had to shoulder” – what do you mean, in terms of taxes etc’?
      Westminster signed a deal with the EU under the last Labour govt that they’d open the floodgates and admit each asylum seeker for X amount of Euros.
      What the British state spends on them is superceded by the change that’s left over from what they’re given by the EU to take them in.
      It would be less damaging “in one sense” to be straight up with the people and tell them: ‘you’re not paying for them to be here'; but what type of stories could we expect to see when it’s printed that out of all the countries round Europe, England are the country that opens hers (floodgates) up the widest so she can fit more in?

      • treborc

        So why not tell it to UKIP or the BNP, I have no problems with Asylum seekers coming here, or are you talking about immigrants, yes labour did have an open door policy. But Immigrants openned up my local shop which had been shut for ten years, it’s the post office it’s the life blood of my local village, thank god.

        The BNP site is that away……..

  • Jouno

    It’s painful to read this because of the truth contained. We must continue to fight though, because this is all there is. However I think it is crucially important that we ditch the dreadful contorted identity politics that bedevilles our processes.

    We claim to be the party of fairness, but we consistently discriminate against individuals in favour of artificial group identities that seem to benefit only the chosen few and not people on the ground. This alienates and discourages good people on the inside and baffles those on the outside.

    There is a lot of lame thinking going on – just check out Seema Malhotra’s dreadful article here on attracting women’s votes. This is from our newest MP. I find it frightening how bad it is. Not just that she could sit down and write such a thing, but that there was no one around to question it.

    Is this what we are all about? Is this all there is? Is this where the Left has ended up after all these years of struggle? And Johndclare talks about how we should just focus on fighting the Tories. I wish we could, but fail to reform ourselves and we will surely die from within. The Tories are in a state too, as are the Lib Dems, so maybe we can re-cast this as a general crisis of democracy. Some people need to start standing up for it, but it will be a struggle of many years because receptive ears are few and far between.

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

      But what else is available to those like Seema as a foundation for solidarity? She is, after all, a bright young professional, ex of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

      Many at Labour’s top table seem to be primarily concerned with divvying up scallops and celeriac purée around the dining rooms of the City of London.
      Probably, for the more ‘radical’ among them, Seema offers the promise of a re-connection with opposition to injustice even if it is of a form known only to ambitious professionals.

      • Jouno

        Hi Dave, I prefer to judge words and actions and not individuals. It doesn’t matter to me whether Seema Malhotra is a bright young professional or a manual worker or whatever. She and the rest of us can choose whatever we like as “a foundation for solidarity”, whatever God on earth that means. I would just like it if at least some of our elected representatives (and thankfully there are some) talked a bit of basic sense once in a while instead of getting tangled in meaningless gobbledegook that no one really understands.

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

          By “foundation for solidarity” I was referring to shared experience – the common horizons within which we live an where we develop our values.

    • Joanne28

      Hi Ben, I’m interested what you say about “identity politics.”
      Could you explain?

      Does it imply splitting off into factions
      and competing against each other- instead of working as a team
      and respecting differences?

      Much as I think there are some good insights and observations within
      this article, for me it reaches the wrong conclusions and suggests the wrong
      kind of process for “rebuilding” and reforming.

      I actually would like a radical party that strongly defends values and principles;
      has good solid pragmatic ideas for policy, and is filled with vibrant and enthusiastic people. But I see that as a wider movement- not a narrow party or agenda.

      And the key for me is also to bring in people- not repel them.
      The public will not be interested in watching on the sidelines
      internal divisions and squabbles- that will only weaken the position of the party
      and its standing.It’s surely about pulling together and working hard;
      most of all- connecting with the people on the ground; building from that base-
      but starting again, not reinventing the wheel perhaps?

      PS I’m not exactly saying this is what Alex appears to advocate,
      but these are my thoughts in response.
      Jo

      • Jouno

        Hi Joanne, I’ve actually written a big piece on identity politics with another to follow. Unfortunately I’m struggling to find the first one a home – Mark here rejected it for being too controversial since part of it deals with the Diane Abbott “racist” tweet.

        Identity politics is, forgive me for just inverting, the politics of identity, so it is a politics that defines people by their social class, gender, sexuality, race etc, and usually looks to use policy instruments to favour one type of identity over another. The Nazis, slave-owners, colonialists, Communists etc all practised a politics of identity. And so to an extent did those fighting these forms of oppression like black power movements and Suffragettes.

        My concern is that forms of inverted racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination have lingered on and become institutionalised, especially in the Labour Party. People are being selected for positions on the basis of skin colour, gender and indeed sexuality plus of course due to certain affiliations that are sometimes no more than having signed a piece of paper and handed a few quid over. All of these artificial, non-merit-based forms of selection give advantage to the well-connected who know how to work the system and put off those who are prepared to put a decent shift in, of whatever identities they may be defined as (and I have always hoped we could get beyond defining people by skin colour, gender etc).

        In these processes lie our downfall. The more we fail to select on merit, the more we set up dangerous precedents that actual achievement is not so relevant to achieving office. As a white middle class male I feel the sense of disadvantage acutely in the Labour Party (even though I have not sought a major position), and it sometimes makes me angry that people like me are being judged for nothing other than having these certain disfavoured forms of identity.

        I am completely with you in wanting a “radical party that strongly defends values and principles; that has good
        solid pragmatic ideas for policy, and is filled with vibrant and
        enthusiastic people.” Hear hear to all of that, but especially the last part..

        What I see though is something different though – the politics of patronage and cronyism, all over the place. It is ingrained habit clearly. Thankfully we still have a great many good people still with us but they always seem to be isolated, disappointed and generally disillusioned. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing in a party that is so careless and (sometimes) unprincipled about the way it does its internal business.

        I joined because I thought we were the good guys, committed to good things like accountability, transparency and democracy. I still hold out that faith that we can be, but it’s probably gonna take a long time and lot of work and a lot of arguing. Sometimes I wonder whether I am prepared to put that work in when the party shows every sign of holding people like me in contempt.

        And that brings us back to the definition of identity politics. I am now talking of “people like me”. The practice of identity politics is in fact throwing me back on to forms of self-definition that I see as barely relevant to who I am. That is very sad, it’s such a waste of energy – but when you have interest groups pursuing their interests against you this is what happens.

        The second article which I have not finished is more widely about identity thinking – which goes into the roots of identity politics; it frames so much of how we think about the world, by making definitions, categorisations and separations, building up antagonisms and divisions that are often unjustified but hugely damaging.

        • derek

          Identity politics? and self definitions, Jeez! all this squak talk from the zen gang isn’t calming anyone down. Why don’t you take up Yoga or some-other practice, your not making much sense here.

          • Joanne28

            Evening Derek, Ben was just responding to me asking about this! We’ve had some good discussions in the past.

            Goodnight too, hope all OK; signing off for a bit Derek.

            Jo

          • Jouno

             “derek” is a nasty piece of work who likes abusing people on here – I see nothing has changed!

          • TomFairfax

             Hi Jouno,
            I’d disagree.
            I think he tends to take the pee out of wonk speak. It’s not exactly abuse as I’d understand it.

            I’m not sure he actually disagrees with the content, I know I’m inclined to agree with much you’ve written there. But boy it’s hard work working out what it is sometimes.

            Why complicate things with made up labels that are devised to get attention but mean nothing to anyone else?

            In reality I think you’re on the same side in your views with the ones Derek has expressed in the past.

            BTW If you want real abuse, turn up for a meeting with production engineering in the North East and tell them you don’t know what the problem is and have no plan to fix it. Given the accent, generally the words that are recognisable begin with ‘f’ and ‘c’.

          • Jouno

            Hi Tom, yeah fair points about my pretty poor use of language at the end of that post – is not devised to get attention though, is just poor use of language. And I am offended at any suggestion of “wonk speak”, though maybe deserve it. On relativity in abuse, this is mild compared to what this charming individual has thrown at me in the past. My main problem with him is he just wastes so much time and effort making things up, probably just for kicks. But there you go, takes all sorts I guess.

          • derek

            Behold the change maker, for he shall change just to blend in?

            Wasn’t it the change to new labour which started the fall and discredited the last new labour government?

            Your wrapping yourself up in a words-worth fashion, while the public are screaming out for protection in their jobs the NHS and the benefits they receive.

            Calm down Ben, there’s enough nasty stuff going on for everyone. 

          • Jouno

             Q.E and indeed D.

          • derek

            Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
            Adeste fideles!

          • Joanne28

            Hi Derek- I think there’s a lot more common ground between some of us that would appear by use of language etc.

            Personally I enjoy reading Ben’s ideas as much as I enjoy your humour and puns; but know there’s a serious and good natured side too in your blogs.

            I don’t think he was in any way trying to offend or provoke, in fact- responding to my query about “identity politics.”
            We need to support each other!

            I meant to sign off last night for a while, but found a load of comments in response on the disqus, so just wanted to say bye for a while again.

            My feeling is that there are precious few genuine Labour minded people left on forums like these- so let’s stick together and try to reach an understanding?

            I’m sure we’ll catch up again in the next few months Derek- but take care for now.

            Jo

          • derek

            Hi Jo, maybe Ben could be more open and say what he wants from the labour party? Does Ben support the welfare reforms?Does Ben support the changes to the NHS? Fine words maybe be pretty but there useless if there only directed to a certain group.

            All the best Jo!

          • Joanne28

            Hi Derek,
            you must have read very differently to me.I’m sure he’d be willing to explain.
            Box is shrinking- wishing all best too Derek, I’m sure I’ll be back at some point.

            Jo

          • derek

            Jo, Benisanuber Blairite

          • Joanne28

            Derek, re post below, I don’t mind as long as people are civil and willing to explain points.
            Must go now,(again!) Jo

          • Joanne28

            Hi Ben, just to explain, some of us have been around for a while on LL on and off and got to know each other a little.

            I can honestly say in my experience, Derek is a good egg.He can be very mischeivous and a bit persistent in making points sometimes- including on one or two occasions towards me on the welfare reforms debate.But he is kind hearted and has good intentions- also great humour- try to win him round!
            He’s also a committed Labour person- a rare species I think on blogging forums.
             
            Maybe he just misunderstood what you were saying; I think Dave Stone has challenged some of your points for clarification;
            but you’ve also returned by explaining very well, and personally I can understand both sides of debate.

            I think it’s been a great dialogue, and to me, what LL should be all about….but yes, it gets difficult sometimes, and I do think communication online can be impossible.

            (Enjoyed reading through most comments today.)

            Hope this makes some sense.

            Cheers, Jo.

        • derek

          Identity politics? and self definitions, Jeez! all this squak talk from the zen gang isn’t calming anyone down. Why don’t you take up Yoga or some-other practice, your not making much sense here.

        • Joanne28

          Hi Ben, thanks so much for your thoughtful and intelligent insights.
          I think it’s incredibly important to have people like you airing these issues and constantly questioning- and as part of the Labour movement.I want to hear more of these debates, and people getting involved, not just academic arguments or policy wonk stuff.

          I won’t respond in too much detail to what you say about identity politics, other than- you’ve argued a brilliant case, but I think I only partially agree.For example- I know how empowering it can be when groups with common experiences and identities join up together, for common causes.It’s possible to fight and challenge injustices and imbalances in the system collectively.But that doesn’t mean it has to be wholly exclusive.

          I also happen to favour positive discrimination for women in boardrooms and politics, although I dislike the term.

          The reason being is nothing much else has worked to equalize numbers which represent the population- and that’s essential in Parliament, and the workplace.It’s also about merit- that should apply across the board; I don’t see it as either/or.
          It probably just needs the sheer numbers of quality candidates to choose from.

          I read somewhere this method of selection is accepted and working well in some countries; hasn’t Norway recently been quoted, by DC of all people?!(Considering the lack of women on the front benches.)
          But good on that front anyway.
          Fawcett Society is also fantastic.

          I also heard it’s about 60% of male audience listening to Woman’s Hour- which I thought great!

          Anyway, much to think about, and sorry it’s late.

          Will look out for those articles Ben, please stay passionate,
          and involved when you’re able.
          Your articles are included in those on LL which I’ve felt able to connect to the most.

          Sorry am planning to have a break for a while;
          (how often have I said that?)
          -need to recharge the batteries a little and focus on
          family life.

          But will continue to read.

          Anyway, bye for now, and thanks Mark too for
          bearing with me on the longer posts!!

          Jo

          • Jouno

            Hi Joanne,thanks for your interesting thoughts and yes I agree with you in most of what you say. I am not arguing against positive discrimination per se – really just about the way it has in many cases become institutionalised; once these things become part of systems of preference, they lose their original reason for being and end up becoming vehicles for individual self-interest. As we see all the time, those who come through these processes tend to be insiders; outsiders are lucky to be even aware what is going on.

            I think it is generally a good thing that 31% of Labour MPs are now women – but the means taken to achieve this have been blunt and crude and about as undemocratic as you can get. The problem here is that we have a system whereby an MP is representing a local area – but selection by gender, race or class or whatever completely goes against this. This makes me uncomfortable – we marginalise local members like this at our peril. What are they there for? It is contemptuous.

            As for other countries like the Scandinavians, I am just speculating here really but from what I have witnessed they are just generally a lot more open-minded up there, and well-educated. Their societies breathe easier than ours does.

            I agree that ours needs a little artificial stimulus here and there, but a lot of problems that get identified by the Left through the use of statistics cannot be solved by manipulating a few things like we do; they are cultural issues. You are not going to change a man on the street from being racist and sexist by giving preference in jobs to black females. Though this gives an opportunity for black females to gain greater respect, it also causes resentment on the other side; even worse if the person given preferment is not up to the job. I have heard so many quiet anecdotal stories of this sort of thing happening, from good people.

            In my view these practices, once they have achieved their basic aims (as with AWS now), should be ditched as soon as possible. They have the potential to do as much harm as good, since that harms goes on in the minds of people rather than in easily measurable stats, we are more than likely to ignore them though.

          • Joanne28

            Hi Ben, thankyou for explaining again.

            You’ve written a thoughtful and detailed post,
            it’s one of those- would need to reflect on.

            I think what you are saying is that by adopting practices that address institutionalized imbalances
            and inequalities can become too entrenched and defeat their original purpose?

            Perhaps more flexibility and imagination needs to be applied to the way systems work?
            This may just be the beginning.

            I’ve not had direct experience of setting this kind of thing up, or internal workings of the party at all.

            But I do support 100% in principle- especially lack of female representation  in big business, Parliament and more senior roles in organizations.

            I think this country is still behind in many ways;
            also class ridden; power elites dominating and controlling agendas; this could include mass media,
            business corporations, financial institutions,
            structure of status and hierarchy in some public services; political structures.It’s about power and vested interests; also lack of democracy, lack of representation, and not addressing the real and pressing issues which surround us I think.

            Labour should be one of those at the forefront of this struggle for social justice and helping communities
            to help themselves- in all areas IMO.

            Thanks again, and have really enjoyed your blogs!

            Jo

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

          I find your contribution more than a little bit gob-smacking.

          In a party where white middle-class males are well established (some would say disproportionately represented) you complain that as  “a white middle class male I feel the sense of disadvantage acutely in the Labour Party”.

          By Jove! I never thought I’d live to see the day…

          • Jouno

            Dave, you are not seeing the point here, which is about cronyism. In a system where selections are as centrally controlled and subject to special considerations and contortions as Labour’s are, it is generally the chosen few that get through.

            You describe “white middle-class males” as being “disproportionately represented” – but who are they representing? And is that what they are supposed to be doing? Frankly I would rather not be represented according to my race, social class and/or gender. I don’t want to have any part in any process that does that. It stinks to high heaven.

            All those middle class warriors that you refer to are not getting where they are getting to because of being white middle class males but because of their connections and, hopefully, ability. They certainly don’t get any leg up from these identities, and thank the Lord for that.

            As with so many people you seem to be putting a whole load of interpretations on these definitions when, alone, they are pretty meaningless, just as the terms “black”, “working class” and “female” say very little about someone. That people think these things are so important is sad – I would hope that we could get beyond such things but generally it seems not. We remain stuck in the mud.

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

            You ask: who are they representing? Very often they represent values derived from their own experience (which may be localised or sectional) or at least they perpetuate such values. This was my point re Seema.

            For better or worse, at present, it is impossible to escape your ‘race’, social class and gender.
            Why is it that no managers of Premiership football teams are Oxbridge educated? Why are so many people in the top jobs in politics Oxbridge educated?

            Both occupations require identical capabilities yet the distribution of opportunity reflects the compelling presence of the categories you don’t like: ‘race’, social class and gender.

          • Jouno

            Hi Dave, yes interesting points and thanks because you have actually led me to my own end point on this – that the apparent impossibility of escaping from class, race, gender etc is actually created by us ourselves. It is in the way we think about ourselves and the way we think about others. The identities that we hold on to so dearly are almost completely mental constructs, burnished and added to in society (if we accept them). Start to think a different way (or rather, stop thinking about it in that way), and the world takes on a completely different aspect. It is called freedom.

          • derek

            And what kind of freedom does one have if their constrained by poverty?

            Class isn’t just a “word” it’s a state of being, engineered and created by wealth.

            Words wont resolve “Class” actions will.

            Blair talked so much tosh and introduced so much legislation that in the end no one understood what the hell was going on a-part from those under-class individuals.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            Whilst discrimination continues to exist, people will continue to find their minority identities important, whether you happen to approve or not

          • Jouno

            Hi Mike, you misunderstand what I am saying (apologies perhaps for not explaining it right). I agree completely that my approval or non-approval is irrelevant to this – I am not interested in judging people for their identities.

            In fact my whole point is that it would be a good idea if we all started drawing back from judging people on the basis of these things – defining people is a form of control. I think we should hang back and let people breathe and think for themselves rather than putting them in a straightjacket defined from above.

            Of course we all believe (I hope) as Labour people that poorer people deserve support and redistribution from the richer people in society. But we should not neglect the mental side of things.

            As people, we are creatures of habit; if the system treats us as passive recipients of wealth and favour, it is natural that we get used to that and become more passive. I believe in people being active, questioning and angry where they should be angry. A lot of Leftist thinking wilfully ignores this.

            The old “working class” is now disengaged and not doing what it should be doing according to the class warfare narrative. They, and indeed most of the rest of society, are passive. I believe in people becoming active – but that can only come about my some mental and emotional activation. In my view that means, fundamentally, shedding assumed identities and becoming something different – not shedding solidarity at all, but starting to, actually, do it. It worries me that our society relentlessly tries to enforce different visions of how people should be – and the liberal-left of which I am part is massively guilty of this. It is exhausting to be on the other end of so many competing accounts of who we should be, and as I see it most people just take the path of least resistance.

            What I am arguing is something very simple – that we gather around over what we believe in rather than who we “are”. Who we “are” is so heavily mediated in this world that it has almost lost any meaning. To achive change, we need to show solidarity; anyone who agrees with the fundamental principles should be welcomed, and not shunned because of accidents of birth.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            But for me, being a gay man is important – its a key part of my identity and why I am who I am. And despite changes in the law I still get discriminated against because some don’t like who I am

          • Jouno

            Hi Mike, yes I don’t have any problem with people feeling their sexuality is important and relevant in their politics. But, in terms of political practice, how much can the state actually achieve beyond what has already been done? 

            People are nasty to each other and say bad things. I don’t want to underplay the discrimination you suffer, but sh*t happens to all of us. Tis life and life ain’t perfect: the point with these things is to change attitudes, and it takes a lot more than legislation and affirmative action to do that.

            The first step for me is to institute a simple respect for the individual in law: rumours and reality of preference sow some very bad seeds.

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

            Ok, if you’re right (and I don’t think you are) then as the author of your own identity you must also be responsible for the disadvantage perceived by that identity.
            You said as: ” a white middle class male I feel the sense of disadvantage acutely in the Labour Party”. So why not go for the freedom option you describe – change your mind and refuse to be a white middle class male?

          • Jouno

            Hi Dave, thanks for the response. You misunderstand what I am saying. I am not the “author of my own identity” as you say I am. I haven’t said anything here to define anything about my identity. I don’t want it and don’t need it.

            I argued in some threads here that I resent being forced back upon the identity of a “white middle class male”. That is what identity politics does though. It forces people into mental straightjackets, restricting their freedom and distracting them from real issues. It is a road to nowhere; a black hole to bury ourselves in. A sad place to be. The death of individual freedom.

            Solidarity can only arise from people thinking for themselves and realising for themselves that they have something in common. The Left has failed miserably in trying to achieve that (and before any bullsh*tters go around saying I am some kind of Blarite bot, I count myself as being solidly on the Left).

            It is the next stage of Leftist politics, to move on from concentrating on money and wealth distribution to what is good for people, and what a good society can be and how we can try and create it.

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

            We were having a discussion here!

        • Joanne28

          Ben, just returned briefly and re read some of your posts here.

          If I could suggest regarding your written article, would it be an idea to negotiate editing out the bits that might be in question
          with Mark? It might also help to have some guidelines
          on content for pieces on LL Mark?

          I think it would be a shame to lose an article that might otherwise be useful and generate debate; also I personally think Ben has some very good ideas and writing style.

          Maybe one of the problems can be generally when things get a bit personal towards individuals; perhaps stick with the issues.
          (That goes for all; I think we’re all a bit guilty of letting off steam
          sometimes.)

          Personally I don’t like all the “anti Ed” stuff, but I don’t mind
          genuine debate or constructive criticism.

          I’m probably guilty referring to “Blairites” as a glib term,
          but I don’t know how else to describe when some of these
          ex ministers come out of the woodwork in unison via media platform etc! I suppose we’ve all got our preferences and observations, but it would help things to flow more smoothly to avoid personal insults
          or blame tactics in any dialogue- which many of these guys seem to adopt.

          Fat chance in politics hey?

          Sometimes it’s all a bit macho for my tastes too in politics,
          a bit PMQ’s style.

          There’s been some very good balance on LL though over time;
          prefer the more thoughtful stuff.

          Anyway, was just mulling it over again.

          Thanks, Jo.

          • Jouno

            Hi Jo, it is a real pleasure conversing with you here – you read and think and agree and disagree with things and discuss them – exactly as it should be. However big our differences (and as you have pointed out, they aren’t that big!) it is an essential part of being political to have respect for your compatriots/adversaries in debate.

            There is certainly what you might term as a “macho” way of speaking on here and elsewhere online where it is all about which ego is biggest and who will win the argument.

            Of course, that is completely irrelevant to anything but to itself. The achievement of ‘winning’ an argument is illusory – maybe the ego gets a kick out of it but nothing is achieved.

            As for my article, it has been with Labour Uncut since Thursday and I haven’t heard nowt. I did suggest an alteration to Mark that would remove the controversy (albeit after saying I would not do that!) and got nothing back. If you really care, maybe write to him and say you want it to go out.

            I do think that Part II may be the better and more interesting element, cos it gets more under the skin (I hope) of the way we think. Part I is more about Labour politics, and according to Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy has already been covered to death.

            Cheers and best wishes
            Ben

          • Joanne28

            Hi Ben, I’ve signed out for a while, but got your reply here.Thankyou for giving this all sincere thought
            and receptive feedback.

            My personal feeling is, and has always been, that it’s vital- people at the grassroots who are genuine about
            constructive dialogue need to air and share views,
            even if that involves criticism. In fact, if it doesn’t come from those who value and support
            “Labour values” but only top down- reform will not be possible- or only partial.

            I think there is a general malaise in the whole party political set up across all; the mainstream have become too big, too institutionalized, too managerial, perhaps too used to being in power?

            It doesn’t listen enough or connect adequately to the ordinary public, the very people who are potential voters or supporters, even campaigners in future years on specific issues.

            But I’ve actually been heartened and learnt a lot from many of the articles written on LL, usually the ones that come from a local or practical perspective;
            also many inspiring- like Owen Jones, and the trade union pieces.I also like hearing from ordinary members; it’s a lot easier to engage with.

            Personally I think you have struck a chord here Ben,
            and I particularly enjoy hearing your ideas and style of writing.My suggestion would be- stick with the issues alone; avoid anything personally directed.

            (Although there’s been a lot about Ed M- this article is a case in point.I’m hoping criticism is not being restricted to one “side” or person over another.
            There’s been a whole raft of it.
            I think possible to be critical about general sense of leadership and direction/party workings without attacking people in a personal way.)

            I can’t judge Ben as I’ve not read your piece.
            But I’ve always enjoyed your writing and perspective-
            I think it stands out, and would stimulate debate.
            So I’d ask Mark if he was able to discuss with you and explain what might need tweaking; also editorial
            guidelines for future reference?
            Maybe it would be better to discuss in person, by phone, instead of online communication- which can be so limited? I’d envisage too Mark may be very busy, so it could take a while.
            But please persevere Ben- it is important for all of us to be heard, and I would like to read your article.

            At the moment, I’m a bit focused on any news about the health debate; all I’ve heard so far are a few clips
            on news radio from DC making platitudes and generalizations; it strikes me as pure spin and highly selective.Apparently it’s all running smoothly and GP’s and nurses are delighted with the prospect of these reforms! The complete opposite of what is actually true.It’s interesting watching this process unfolding, knowing full well how much fragmentation
            and disintegration is likely to occur to basic services;
            most people on the frontline have not been consulted along the way and are are being sidelined today IMO.

            This is an exercise in power and control of agenda,
            ideology, and party politics- over the interests of public and most professionals.It’s also a continuation of what was started in the 80’s- only this time they have come to finish it off.We also know their views on public sevices in general;all part of the “state” which they wish to roll back- as they see it.

            I believe they would like to emulate USA models;
            and it could become a 2 tier system, with the most complex cases being at the bottom of the rung.

            GP’s will be faced with several referral providers
            for different problems; it will be messy and probably unmanageable-leading to great stress and disruption.

            I predict an exodus of staff and many people retiring- which is not good news; it would be a huge loss of experience and expertise.

            I get the feeling only people in favour of these changes,(few) are involved in consultation.
            That is NOT a democratic process.

            How can reform be successful if it doesn’t bring people along who will be delivering it?

            It also brings into question how this administration is operating; it seems to be more about PR and looking bullish, leading the agenda etc rather than actually stepping back and considering something which has monumental importance for the long term.
            It sould not be a party political issue either I believe;
            it is for professionals and patient groups to make the final call.I think I heard DC accusing people of playing politics- and yet that is exactly what they are doing:
            it’s “divide and rule” divisive tactics.

            If Labour is worth its salt this is the moment to challenge head on.

            Good luck Ben with the writing; don’t lose faith-
            ideas are so important.

            Jo
            .

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

          If Labour has no time for respecting the diverse identities of people, even if they don’t happen to coincide with your prescribed categories, then they wouldn’t be a party I would feel happy with.

          • Jouno

            Again Mike, you don’t understand what I am trying to say (and I take the blame for that). My whole point is to ditch the “prescribed categories” that you say I have. I think we should respect people for who they are and for being human, and not for whatever externally defined identities that reduce us to something lesser than who we are.

            Of course we should respect people who have identities – I am just saying that is a good thing that individuals think for themselves and do not necessarily go along with who they are told to be. Let’s be honest, the Left does a lot of telling people who they should be. We should let society breathe a little; do that and people will (over time) start to see for themselves what is going on. Our identity politics reduces life and politics to a competititon between the relatively powerless, meanwhile the powerful quietly get on with, indirectly, shafting us.

          • derek

            I told you that the other day? Hmmm! now your saying it?

          • Jouno

            Hey derek, you told me what? Evidence please. If I’ve done anyone a disservice, I’m more than happy to admit it. The whole point of hanging out here is to learn…

          • derek

            OK, comrade! just ease up on the clever talk, It’s difficult to break down your intellect. Cheers Derek.

          • Jouno

            Hey Derek, cheers to you too.
            Apparently you are clever yourself and good with puns and the like. I confess I haven’t seen that. I should assume that you are being sarcastic with any talk of my own cleverness and “intellect”, but for the record for me it’s mostly about hard work, going down a road and trying to deal with the obstacles on the way (debate here helps with that).

            Hence I do not pay so much attention to those things that plenty of other people are doing. I have a “Keep the NHS public” poster in my window and do work locally, but fundamentally I think I can be of most use digging down in the depths of the Left and trying to make changes to the way we do things based on solid principles.

            We are in a state at the moment, and it ain’t good. In my view, the way out of it is for our people – our most valuable resource – to start to see things differently and come together rather than dividing themselves against each other.

            I may come across as being high-minded and arrogant and full of bullsh*t, but I believe in what I am saying. Nuff said.

          • derek

            You must have been at work. LoL, Ben, you’ve a fine tuned mind and collectively very sensible and of course  labour has always had a division, some may argue that’s a healthy thing, others are sick to the back teeth of it.

            To be honest I’ve never been aware that the left is some dark place that need a lite up.Apparently Thatcher once carried a torch and in the midst of a cabinet meeting, there was a blackout and Thatcher, shown her torch for all to see? problems was,the light never reach out to many others.

            I’ve never thought it wrong to argue the case for better pay and condition, I’ve never been shy in adding my voice where possible for those less fortunate, if that is a description of being on the left, then I stand guilty and proud.

            Ben, I’m not trying to compete with your intelligence? I’m merely putting a layman version of response.

            And on that note I believe that the right-wing status on this nation has always been irresponsible, I didn’t get new labour and I never witnessed the full distribution of wealth under new labour, for me that was sad and un-inspirational.

          • Jouno

            Hey derek, I am not arguing against any of those things you are supporting. I re-joined Labour after the election, and the whole New Labour-Old Labour, Blair-Brown, whatever arguments have little meaning for me personally in my politics.

            I find it disappointing that the likes of you like to brand the likes of me with defintions like “Blairite” when it has little relevance to me.

            I think it would be better for everyone if people forgot all their grievances and debated on the basis of principle rather than historic rights/wrongs.

          • derek

            Fair Dues! we can debate the delivery and policy but I believe that it’s odds on that the debate will always return to the policy of whether it’s left or right?

            HoweverI accept your point! and look forward to your ideas but reserve my right to questionwhen I disagree.

          • Jouno

             Cool!rek. 

          • treborc

             You mean I might not be a work shy scrounger for being disabled, and if Ed knocked on my door he might not think by looking at me I was not cheating.

            Labour the party of the people, not the hard working middle class, na.

    • Franwhi

      sounds like you need the SNP too – the only credilble left of centre political force in the  UK who are set to make history in Scotland and just might reinvigorate politics across other parts of these islands as well 

      • Jouno

        Funny you say that because the thought has occurred! The more I look at Labour and see how it has gone so stale, the more I think the party may have just run its course. I quote Bob Dylan far too much but can’t help it often: these lines really resonate at the moment.

        Señor, señor,
        Let’s overturn these tables
        Disconnect these cables

        This place don’t make sense to me no more

        Can you tell me what we’re waiting for, señor?

        Alas I am going to stick it out for now. As Nick Cohen said a while ago, the battered old Labour Party is pretty much all we have – especially in the current political system.

  • http://twitter.com/_garrilla Garry Haywood

    On the basis that you don’t know what to do Alex I have a suggestion: Perhaps Ed can start that ‘national conversation’ he promised all those months ago. He should make a truly national conversation about some big issues about work and retirment, about sickness and health; about meaningful things for the rest of us. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Barker/1546990341 Paul Barker

    Granted, Ed is Odd but to blame all Labours problems on one man is to lose your balance.

    I can set your mind at rest about Ed becoming PM, he wont. Youve probably been confusing Polls with reality. Look at the the Local Byelections that happen every week – over the last 3 Months the Parties Vote shares were –
    Con                                           33%
    Lab                                            22%
    Libdem                                    26%
    Thats Voters actually Voting (5,000 of them) not answering questions about what they might do someday. Lets see what happens in May.

    • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

      @PaulBarker:disqus 
      LibDem’s –      26%   in a general election –  no chance 

        Still, Ed  has no chance  of winning mind. Too out of touch with the core Labour Vote –   white working -class voters.

      • robertcp

        Monkey, I agree that the white working class is one of many groups that was alienated by New Labour.   We should try to appeal to that group through positive left of centre policies rather than appealing to prejudice.  Labour has always been an alliance of the progressive middle class and the working class.

        • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

          @robertcp:disqus 

          No Robert, the middle-class go their cheap labour and indigenous white people lost their housing. 
          Wakey fucking Wakey, Robert. The vast majority of the people of these Isles are white , and of them the vast majority are white. Labour imposed multiculturalism on the poorest areas of the UK .They imposed  this  failed social experiment.
          There are areas of South London that are now unrecognisable  to the people who have grow up there. 
          Immigration was a big mistake for Labour, for Britain and for the white working-class . Until and unless Labour acknowledges this ; it it not fit to govern .

          • Joanne28

            Immigration has been around for a long time;
            there have been waves of it from parts of the globe at various points, usually depending on specific areas of employment.
            NHS would be a good case in point.

          • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

            @Joanne28:disqus 

            Numbers.

            Thousands of people  over thousands of years .Not tens of thousands of
            people in a decade. 

            Not ghettos and no go areas. Not 13 year old white
            girls getting gang raped by Pakistan gangs and the police to frighten to
            say anything for fear of being accused of racism.  

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

            You’re getting hysterical. Have you been drinking?

          • Joanne28

            (Glad that wasn’t for me Dave!)

          • Joanne28

            I think you’ve raised some complex points there monkey for sale, no simple explanation.

            Perhaps some of the background issues could be described as ghettoization of any group, and in particular poorer towns and neighborhoods.I saw a piece on Newsnight not long ago about separation of 2 white and Asian communities, that had become entrenched over decades.They were trying
            to break down prejudice and suspicion by mixing up 2 schools.It was risky in some ways- and an experiment- but hard work went into it and at that stage had some good results.
            One of the factors seemed to be housing; but also- a cultural divide, and expectations of the “other;” a lot of fear and ignorance.
            I live near 2 cities that are thriving multicultural areas; many nationalities living side by side, many faiths on display via festivals etc- everyone joins in- it’s a big party during times of celebration like Eid or Diwali.
            Also, many different European communities- probably generations that migrated here post WW2.It’s just a way of life and accepted.

            The last point you mention about violent gangs of men trafficking youngsters I agree is vile- but applies to white men also- in fact any form of violence should have a zero tolerance approach in my view.Again- there was a documentary about this recently- and the police and communities involved appear extremely proactive.It’s about attitudes I think- but that has to be tackled on so many fronts.

            Anyway, it’s getting a bit off topic- but clearly very serious issue, no room for complacency.

            I don’t agree it comes down to increased immigration, but would agree there has to be management of resources, like housing and services.

            J   

          • christof_ff

            Labour will always appear compromised on issues about the Asian community as long as it relies on quasi-feudal block-votes delivered by patriarchal ‘community leaders’. Certainly the case in most northern industrial towns. Stinks to high heaven, but accepted without question under the win-at-all costs mantra.

          • Joanne28

            Thanks, but I’ve no idea what this means.

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

            It’s anyone’s guess but Tories used to say stuff like: “quasi-feudal block-votes delivered by patriarchal ‘community leaders'” when talking about the union vote at conference.

          • christof_ff

            Sorry, what I mean is that whilst the party benefits significantly from and turns a blind eye to the routine and systematic harvesting of postal votes in some Asian communities (more often than not at the expense of women) it lays itself bare to taunts such as those from ‘monkey for sale’ (above), and makes it’s opposition to the BNP/EDL etc sound hollow and self-serving.
            It’s another manifestation of the power over principle ethos that Alex alludes to.

          • Joanne28

            Thankyou for explaining; it’s hard for me to comment on this as I’ve no experience in this area.I hope you can find some people here who could discuss in more detail.
            I just feel somewhat uncomfortable hearing specific comments about the Asian community etc.

            “monkey” did also get back to me and I think has made an attempt to explain where he/she might be coming from.
            Sometimes it helps to try to understand what people might be thinking, if in good faith.

            Cheers, Jo.

          • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

            Joanne28

            Thanks for the reply
            .I’m afraid that when it comes to immigration we will have to agree to disagree. There are literally millions of people who would love to come to the UK. 
            And who can blame them – leaving behind no prospect of getting a job . And should they get a job , having to spent a large % of that wage on educating their children 
            . Immigration into the UK  has been at the the expense of the worst off in the UK. The difference between the poor white people of the UK and the poor Blacks + Muslims is that , unlike the Blacks &Muslims, no credible mainstream political party speaks for them.
              That’s why in the space of a generation the white working-class has  gone form the ” salt of the earth” to being called ” chav scum”. 

            Have a pleasant evening . I get the impression that you are one of the good guys.  

          • Joanne28

            monkey for sale,
            thanks for explaining; I definitely don’t see on your terms, but acknowledge different views.
            I think the fundamental issue is about poverty and economics, and affects all groups.Also housing is a major factor; eg issues like over crowding.
            I would agree maybe not anough planning went into the way influx of immigration was handled, but it’s certainly not the fault of people that came to live here in search of better opportunities.

            I agree with your point about lack of representation- but I think that applies to a whole section of society at the poorer end- and this has to be treated as a matter of urgency.

            PS my Dad was a Hungarian refugee in the 50’s, following the ’56 Uprising, and I’ve heard a great deal over the years about what it’s been like for him and others like him to adapt to British culture and society; also langauge barriers.
            He loves this country, and I think views himself as dual nationality; has always worked extremely hard and contributed an enormous amount to the economy and society- as have millions of others from all over the globe; it’s part of the economic success story of this country;
            also I’m proud of our tradition of being tolerant and pragmatic.

            I also think now we are all living in a global economy-
            eg in business and technology/
            cultural links-there are opportunities everywhere, and I think people in 50 years time will be working and interacting in very different ways than past generations.

            Social inequality and poverty is the scourge of modern life though, and cannot be ignored- it is inhumane.I think that got so much worse from the 80’s onwards, and economic/social policy far from addressing
            what really matters.
            Dave Postles has just posted a wonderful description above
            on thread which gives a great illustration I think.

            Thankyou for your genuine
            comments here.

            Jo  

        • Joanne28

          Well said Robert.

    • Joanne28

      Hi Paul, I disagree “Ed is odd.”

      He’s no odder than any other politician in my book-
      and it’s probably an odd profession!

      I don’t think this will be about just Ed’s leadership;
      it’s what the whole party does over the next few years,
      and how it actually engages with the big issues
      and brings people in.

      I also think it’s a confidence thing with Ed, and that’s improved
      greatly.

      He’s also up against what appears to be a strongly biased
      right wing media, and a powerful well funded party;
      also couldn’t be more difficult economic times.

      Also, possibly a right wing faction in the party
      that is extremely vociferous and apparently influential
      in the media, some of whom may assume a higher moral ground.

      I would agree much more has to happen yet and we are a long way off.
      But I don’t think it would be drastically different with say,
      Andy B or Ed B at the helm.

      I think much more important aspects like integration of people
      and talents within the party, and building a strong base
      at grassroots and membership level.Also unity of purpose.

      Jo

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        @ Jo,

        while I’d never question Ed’s personal humanity, you have to face facts that – to the person on the street – Ed actually is “odd”, if they ever get forced to think about him.  You may well be right about media portrayal, possible bias etc.  But that does not matter.  He’s odd, he’s a geek, he’s got no charisma, and he’s got zero chance of changing any of that in the next 200 years.  In dog terms, Ed is the runt of the litter, and without trying to attract Pets R Us criticism, we all know what normally happens to the runt of the litter.

        You’ve got a choice.  You can support Ed to the 99th degree, because that is loyal and expected of a Labour Party member.  Or you can rub the scales from your eyes, and think of alternative solutions that may well see a Labour Government elected in 2015.  What you won’t have is a Labour Government in 2015 led by Ed Miliband.

        Ed should have stayed as a SpAd.  He’s got a good brain, and his heart is in the right place.  What he does not have is any ability to be an effective politician.

        • Joanne28

          How do you know Jaime- have you ever met him or been present directly at any of his speeches?

          I really dislike your descriptions also and don’t feel much like discussing further.

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

            Best not to bother with him, Joanne.

            He claims to have hacked this website to obtain an I.P. address and then threatened libel action on the grounds of protecting his “professional reputation”.

            Even though his “professional reputation” appears to extend no further than a sock-puppet profile.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            He’s a total joke. I don’t engage with him. A fake if I ever saw one

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Well, that’s quite a fancy comment.  Ask a question, then declare you don’t want to discuss further.  I don’t need (or want) to meet him, because the only impression that counts is the one he makes in the media.  That is what decides elections.

            Ed Miliband is a temporary leader, a nonentity going no further.  He’ll either be dumped in this year, or in 2015 after he fails to win an election.  His only practical impact – which you support – is to damage the Labour Party by remaining in place.  Under his leadership, the Labour Party is held back from active and positive opposition leading to a solid chance of victory in 2015.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

          Same old record – you only want a Blairite clone, and that would be a pointless exercise as the policies would be identical to what we have now. If we are to have a genuine change in policy – that means the end of the sharp, slippery salesmen like Blair and Cameron. If the country isn’t ready to ditch that, then they’re not ready for different policies either

          • AlanGiles

            Sadly Mike,you are right. In this country it seems to me our TV/Showbiz obsessed public prefer the box to the chocolates, even in something as serious as politics. Nothing illustrates  better  the obsession with looks than the case of the late Robin Cook. Forever castigated for his physical appearance he proved in 2003 to be the only cabinet minister with integrity when he resigned over the Iraq war (Clare Short followed and she always said she had been promised certain guarantees after the war by Blair, which she  knew would not be honoured). I always remember the long applause for RC after his resignation speech which is almost unheard of in the HoC. Now there was a man who would have commanded respect but he “didn’t look right”.

            Harold or Clem Atlee would never have won a beauty competition, but when you look at their achievements, compared to the “glamorous” leaders of the recent years, it is as well the public were not so shallow back then.

            I don’t know the answer – perhaps if politics became less a branch of entertainment (no PM popping in to sit on the sofa on some chat show), more substance over style, we would have men and women with integrity. It is this public obsession with what somebody looks like rather than what they stand for that has allowed all parties to become diluted and populated by shallow lightweights. Perhaps we  should all remember Keats: ”
            ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ 
             

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’  But I won’t hold my breath – Grecian urns don’t really go with todays TV and Twitter political world!

          • Joanne28

            Hi Alan, I think you have a talent for comedy!

            On your points though, I too can’t bear the celebrity aspects either.Call me old fashioned, but I want Parliamentary politics to be about substance, values, principles- and connecting with public issues and people- nothing else.Especially PR etc.
            I think politics is far too wrapped up in the media also; and a career in politics has become too professionalized.I don’t see it as the fault of individuals, but the way the sytem has evolved- for whatever reason.

            This whole celebrity culture/circuit thing got much more pervasive in the 80’s onwards, and in some ways New Lab did little to challenge it, rather reinforced? Hopefully Labour is a wide church-
            and there are still some of those “diamonds” left!

            I liked John Smith very much, and agree R.Cook
            was exactly the kind of politician we need now.
            B.Castle, T.Benn,C.Short, M.Mowlem also- to name a few.People not afraid to speak out honestly
            and not giving a damn about populism.

            I can’t stand the smooth talking PR obsessed brigade-
            from any party or public institution.

            May catch up later Alan- all the best for now.

            Jo

          • AlanGiles

            Hi Jo. The Grecian Urn reference ties in with the Keats quote (Ode To An Aforesaid). I don’t think Liam Byrne would qualify when he is “three quarters in favour of the Welfare Reform Bill” – he knows well enough you vote for the bill as a whole and at the final whistle he must decide is he genuinely opposes it, or accepts it. Saying different things to different audiences on the same subject was Tony Blair’s best trick. Politicians should say what they believe, not what they think will get them good press. This was one of my biggest complaints of the first Blair government (and it only got worse)

            You hit the nail on the head: whenever I am confronted by bumptious D Miliband or M Gove on TV talking down to their audience, I have to stop and remind myself I am old enough to be their dads (thank God I’m not!) and I am have worked with many different people to the ones they have come up against at the Carlton Club or Ivy’s or wherever they hang out. Like most of us on here, I know more about real life than they appear to – aand they show no wish to learn as it might drag them out of their ivory towers. I thoroughly resent the schoolmasterly approach they take (on the lunchtime news I saw Cameron, jacket off gesticulating like an orchestral conductor in front of a hospital sister and other members of staff). These people have an outsize ego when they assume to lecture people who know what they are doing, and have been doing it for years.

            To counteract this, Blair in particular liked to sachay on to a TV chat show, to wild applause for an audience, pretending he was a sort of entertainer.

            People like Barbara Castle and to their credit the likes of Alec Douglas-Home would never have taken part in that sort of freak show even if they had been round in their time. People may not have liked them, but at least they commanded respect and attention without spurious gimmicks

          • Joanne28

            Hi Alan, sorry can’t stay long-
            but just to say, perhaps it’s possible that some of these individuals are more rounded than they appear in the media LOL?!

            As for the issues, well yes, people are bound to take positions.
            I think there is a lot to question, and personally am quite shocked how this whole health bill arena of politics have played out compared to the reality of the situation; politics has taken over-
            not the substance.

            I agree with your premise about “commanding respect” by honesty and sticking with principle- even if people don’t agree.
            Ken C could be a good case in point.(Although 100% against his views on NHS.)

            On another note, it would be interesting to consider wider public perception about what they want and expect from politicians and public figures; also the gender differences.
            We are fed a daily diet of news stories
            with more or less the same people
            inhabiting prime time radio and TV,
            and yet I wonder what the real reactions are out there?

            For example- gender differences in reaction to DC compared to Ed M or NC? Polls have shown big differences.

            I can only say from my perspective and many women I know, they would not be impressed by any of the smooth talking shallow rhetoric and PR obsessed imagery; also the patronising talking down to, as if we are about 3 years old.

            Most are far more practical and tend to think beneath the surface; also respond better to a blend of intellectual and emotionally connected dialogue; more nuanced thinking.

            Issues have to be about the here and now; things that relate to families for example- but that doesn’t mean ridiculous lectures about
            “family values” etc.

            I think we tend to have antennae and can immediately work out who’s for real and who’s not! (And what’s not.)
            PR, spin, gimmicks, advertising,
            rhetoric, overly abstract language-
            all unappealing.

            What I think would really help is having far more ordinary people and for me- women- in frontline politics.
            Also- reforming this whole style of PR presentation and soundbites;
            politicians and media not being so enmeshed.There are many ways to communicate, and this could happen at a local level for starters.

            Anyway- have gone on for too long-
            and words appear now to be being chopped in half; I can’t read back easily.Hope I’ve not said anything too untowards!

            Bye for now- good debate on this thread anyway.

            Jo

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

      The vast majority of vacancies have been in rural Conservative areas over the past three months

      • Joanne28

        Hi Mike, hope all is well with you.

        Just having a break for a while, but will continue to read.

        Jo

  • Estherpage

    I agree with some of your issues Alex,but what upsets me most as another life long Labour supporter is that when I was growing up Labour really did stand for the disadvantaged in
    every way, now the weak and vulnerable are being attacked on every front and the
    opposition are silent. Much more fuss should be being made about the Welfare Reform Bill
    I havn’t heard a peep from them especially as Cameron had a disabled son and made good use of DLA and the Health Service and now wants to destroy these for other disabled children and the sick. Where is the Labour Party I knew that would have fought tooth and nail to stop them
    from doing this. At the moment I feel very sad that the party I have been proud to represent
    does not represent me anymore.

  • Rhymer

    The UK party has real problems as they are losing against D.Cameron
    and in Scotland Labour is collapsing at MP, MSP and Council level.
    If the upcoming council elections in Scotland show major reductions
    in labour votes then the die is cast for Labour’s demise.

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  • Robert_Eve

    Lovely post – vote UKIP!!

    • treborc

       yes think I will

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

        Plaid won’t be pleased…

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

    Error – See reply to Robert Eve below.

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

    Error. – reply function not working.

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

  • J Wil

    Quote, “As a 15-year-old I was going to be part of a tidal wave sweeping Neil Kinnock to power. ”

    That’s funny. It was a relatively minor wave that knocked him off his feet.

  • http://twitter.com/northernheckler nilsinela boray

    As a long standing football supporter, this reminds me of the people who when the team loses a couple of games, says in a loud voice that everyone can hear “I’ve been coming here for thirty years and I’ve never seen ‘em play as bad as this !”

    Nobody listens to them much

    • http://www.facebook.com/imjoshuabtw Joshua Dixon

      And its that attitude that wont help Labour. They refuse to listen.

  • Joanne28

    Re your points Robert- in total agreement.

    I personally think there will be an unexpected turn of events
    in some way, but the foundations have to be put in place now.
    For some reason

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

      Jo the chances of getting more proactivity in the current New Labour set up ( I presume your are talking about a proper OMOV rather than Labour’s shady ‘electoral college’ MP’s / Unions know best) are about the same as me being the first President of a Scottish Republic.

      The last thing the New Labour Party apparatchiks want is us plebs contradicting them and pointing out they are, in socialist terms, stark, bollock naked.

      No, no – that will never happen; as long as the Oxbridge political elite and their pals want to carve up England for their own benefit.

      Scots have wised up, the growing discussion in Scotland is about the sort of Scotland we want and it is a very different place from the one the Oxbridge Elite’s are willing to offer Scotland, bestrewn by the wreckage of the 1948 Welfare Reforms in the way is currently happening to the NHS in England. The Scots do not want what Westminster is offering – a Medicare light / US, sorry you can’t pay, your not insured, so go away and die. This is a big reason why the pro-independence numbers are on the rise.

      Even at this late hour New Labour could have given itself a chance in Scotland, but no, Ed was seen nodding in agreement alongside Cameron there should be no ‘devomax’ option it should be a straight yes / no and supporting Cameron’s lame duck Scottish Secretary during the Westminster ‘debate’ on Scotland which was rendered meaningless by 5 pm as the SNP announced the timing of the referendum on independence in Edinburgh. The impact of the Westminster ‘debate’ in Scotland was the membership of the SNP went up 8% in the following week to over 23,000. there is now a humorous term for the Westminster Parties pronouncements on too wee, too poor, too stupid Scotland – Unionist Scare Stories for Dummies.

      Its time to wake up, New Labour was the vacuous, miasmatic creation of Blair, is a centre right, authoritarian party and with out Blair is dead on its feet and just a ‘me too’ like their Oxbridge bedfellows at Westminster.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

      Jo the chances of getting more proactivity in the current New Labour set up ( I presume your are talking about a proper OMOV rather than Labour’s shady ‘electoral college’ MP’s / Unions know best) are about the same as me being the first President of a Scottish Republic.

      The last thing the New Labour Party apparatchiks want is us plebs contradicting them and pointing out they are, in socialist terms, stark, bollock naked.

      No, no – that will never happen; as long as the Oxbridge political elite and their pals want to carve up England for their own benefit.

      Scots have wised up, the growing discussion in Scotland is about the sort of Scotland we want and it is a very different place from the one the Oxbridge Elite’s are willing to offer Scotland, bestrewn by the wreckage of the 1948 Welfare Reforms in the way is currently happening to the NHS in England. The Scots do not want what Westminster is offering – a Medicare light / US, sorry you can’t pay, your not insured, so go away and die. This is a big reason why the pro-independence numbers are on the rise.

      Even at this late hour New Labour could have given itself a chance in Scotland, but no, Ed was seen nodding in agreement alongside Cameron there should be no ‘devomax’ option it should be a straight yes / no and supporting Cameron’s lame duck Scottish Secretary during the Westminster ‘debate’ on Scotland which was rendered meaningless by 5 pm as the SNP announced the timing of the referendum on independence in Edinburgh. The impact of the Westminster ‘debate’ in Scotland was the membership of the SNP went up 8% in the following week to over 23,000. there is now a humorous term for the Westminster Parties pronouncements on too wee, too poor, too stupid Scotland – Unionist Scare Stories for Dummies.

      Its time to wake up, New Labour was the vacuous, miasmatic creation of Blair, is a centre right, authoritarian party and with out Blair is dead on its feet and just a ‘me too’ like their Oxbridge bedfellows at Westminster.

      • Joanne28

        Hi Peter, sorry, didn’t see this earlier- and now it’s got very late.
        You sound like you might be very involved with local party politics, or have been in the past? I’m afraid I can’t comment on all the inner workings and technicalities.Eg what’s an OMOV?
        My comment about democracy was pertaining to things like the Refounding initiative; but also anything that gets ordinary members and public supporters involved and interested, and in a meaningful way.
        I’d like to see things like big debates, community projects, and discussions within the party across all levels.I think politics should be accessible, much like LL.Also- shared experience and ideas- it doesn’t cost a thing; it’s just about people communicating and doing stuff that’s useful.
        I’m also very pro union, having had very good experiences in the past
        with UNISON and professional groups.
        I’d like to see many strands coming together, not polarized as separate entities; also a pluralist approach on the centre left.
        Have said much about this in the past, as have others.
        I also like Compass, the Greens, and the Co Op!

        Anyway, my views are not as one from working directly in party politics,
        more as a public view but also long term Labour supporter.
        I also have a lot of related experience in my working background;
        I think politics can apply anywhere- especially in big organizations
        and working in challenging settings.

        Good to hear your views Peter, and good to hear you back on LL-
        your old fiery self!

        Good luck with all you are doing, and hope things improve on the political front.I’ve actually got great admiration for the Scots, and am often highly amused by hearing some of the reactions to DC.

        I do actually favour keeping the union- but agree it should be a democratic vote for the Scots to decide their own destiny.

        Cheers, Jo.
         

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  • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ monkey for sale

    I don’t think that the Labour party fully realises what it has inflicted upon their core vote. Uncontrolled immigration and a one-size-fits-all  multicultural  gag.

  • S K Lee

    Spent some time and effort putting up a response earlier but can’t see it here now.

    Essentially this article is simple Blairite whinging.

  • old_labour

    It could be worse. At least David Miliband is not the party leader. 

    • treborc

       Is their a difference

  • Brumanuensis

    There are a number of perfectly valid points – such as the one about the party order of hierarchy and the continuing fondness for political trinagulation – within this piece, but I’m inclined to agree with Joanne that this is a bit too personalised for my liking. If you’re going to accuse someone of ‘dissembl[ing]‘, you better have damn firm proof rather than just a supposition. The truly odd thing is that you denounce the set-up of the party (“The Labour Party stands for the leader and his interests first”) and the lack of internal democracy, but then go on to centre your complaint around Ed’s alleged lack of leadership: “My problem is that you are not a leader”, etc.

    The entire piece is built upon this seemingly unrecognised internal contradiction: you bemoan the lack of democracy, as well as excessive elitism, and then spend half the article blaming Ed Milibands personal deficiencies – as you see it – for the problems in our party. The whole premise is leader-centred at the same time as you condemn the party for being too leader-centric! Maybe you should practice what you preach and start trying build the kind of collective action you rightly identify our party and country as needing. God knows it would do more good than whingeing on a website.

    For God’s sake comrades, let’s pull ourselves together. This kind of narcissistic self-obsession is what wil lose us the election in 2015, not Ed Miliband’s own personal failings.

  • Daniel Speight

    I can understand Alex’s frustrations with the party. Most of what he says is right and the question of house prices is one that will eventually have to be tackled. I suspect that all the parties would prefer to let inflation nibble away at the excessive levels, but in the meantime remember that, and government spokesmen are being quite open on the subject, we are allowing mortgage rates to be the deciding factor on keeping interest rates low. (Sure industry would like to keep the rate low but if it was a choice between paying a higher rate on loans or the present situation of low rates but no banks being willing to lend I suspect they would take the former.)

    Maybe some of us were more cynical than Alex during the leadership election. We knew Ed Miliband was talking left to win votes while his history showed him to be yet another New Labour apparatchik. The fact that he beat his brother, who was the Blair anointed one, was a victory for those that were no longer enthralled by the New Labour ideas and the sleaze that accompanied it.

    New Labour has had more than fifteen years to consolidate its power in the party, often by using far from democratic methods. The PLP with its one third power in the election has been stacked over these years with clones of the New Labour leadership. That this enormous power could be beaten in the leadership election showed just how far the disgust with New Labour sleaze permeated the party, which itself is just a weak reflection of the disgust felt by the public.

    In another post from yesterday Hopi Sen, surely a former pin up boy for New Labour apparatchiks, (in fact a bit like Luke Bozier being a pin up boy for New Labour’s flirtation with business); Hopi says how disappointed he was that the electorate didn’t give Labour another chance in the general election. Of course we are all disappointed, but some of us think we know why the public turned their backs on us, and the fault was mainly to do with the party, not just with external events.

  • http://www.libertarianview.co.uk Murray Rothbard

    Interesting, I think something very similar could be written by any free market supporting,  member of the Conservative party about David Cameron. It is a very valid criticism of democratic party politics and the leaders of all the parties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Rastall/578093215 Keith Rastall

     Why is being a  “a school governor” being an “activist” ? 

  • Mark M

    Sorry, you lost me at “As a 15-year-old I was going to be part of a tidal wave sweeping Neil Kinnock to power”
    .. I still haven’t stopped laughing

  • Paul Hubert

    I feel for you, Alex, at least more than I did when I was tramping the streets of Canterbury for you in a feeble attempt to dent the Tory majority.  But what we need is a vigorous alternative to washed out Brownite New Labourism instead of its more etiolated continuation. Your feeling of despair doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, or to any political conclusion.  In a sense the whole problem is that you should think that there was even a rhetorical point in addressing the leasership of the party, when what we need is (whether it’s within the shell of the Labour Party or outside it) a new kind of party built from mass action at the base. Without that, talking about the leadership is irrelevant. I would have hoped that the mainstream of the party would have learnt something about that from not only the leadership campaign after the last election but the one before.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Thomson/704963884 Peter Thomson

      Paul – whether you like it or not the answer to the lack of democracy in England will only come with Scotland’s withdrawal from the political treaty that gives Westminster (as it is currently) legitimacy. Have a read of Cameron’s me, me, me speech in Scotland on Thursday because that is what the New Labourites have signed up to.

      The idea that New Labour gave Scotland devolution is now ‘busted’.  The reality is if Blair had not the UK would have been kicked out of the Council of Europe. The reason Cameron is good at talking up the ‘Union’ but constantly out manouvered by the SNP, is the SNP and others are in contact with the Council of Europe and keeping them informed of Westminster’s attempts to once more pervert the upcoming referendum on Scotland’s withdrawal from the Treaty of Union – something all the vested interests at Westminster are seeking to do.

      There will be more ‘concessions’ by Westminster on this issue and the sovereign Scottish people will get the referendum on the issue they elected the SNP to deliver at our sovereign parliament in Edinburgh.

      The genie devolution let out the bottle is that Scotland, by law and constitution, is a representative democracy and has been, in effect, since 1328. The Scottish 1689 Claim of Right statute reasserted this position and is the basis of the Scottish Crown’s relationship with the sovereign Scottish people – Liz rules because we say so, not ‘God’ as in the English ‘sovereign parliament’ tradition.

      Blair’s back of a fag packet UK Supreme Court stated as part of a recent judgement ( AXA Insurance and Others vs The Scottish Parliament) that it could not set aside the contested bill (as it should have under the legal pretence of Sections 5 and 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act) because the bill expressed the will of the (sovereign) Scottish people.

      Until England shrugs off its almost feudal, self serving  ‘parliamentary democracy tradition’ nothing is going to change. England will remain controlled by the political elite and its backers (that now includes the Unions), at the expense of its people – just as it always has.

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  • Daniel Speight

     I’m sure Alex could answer for himself, but I don’t think he could be described as a Blairite. Maybe you should read the article again.

  • Daniel Speight

     There’s an interesting post  on the Guardian talking about eugenics and its appeal to some of the middle class Fabian leadership in the pre-WWII years. I think welfare reform holds a similar appeal for some of the modern Fabians.

  • Chris Millman

    There’s a home for you inThe Green Party.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1557475545 Jack Bonner

    May elections will be a good test. If we fail in London and fail to make headway in Southern councils, something will have to happen. 

  • Winston_from_the_Ministry

     He got a few cheers for some hollow posturing a the start, but by about halfway through the program it was clear he ahd been sidelined while the grown ups talked.

    Ken Clarke was particularly engaging. He actually tried to explain things to the audience, and you know what? They listened, they wanted to hear how their NHS really works, how their police force really works.

    • Joanne28

      I respect K.Clarke, and think he shows far more nuance than most of his counterparts- but on the NHS I’ve heard his ideas- and was working in health care in the 80’s whan things like GP Fundholding were put in place.
      I think that was the beginning to what they are proposing now, and the vast majority of professionals disagree with.

      • Winston_from_the_Ministry

         Do they?

        It’s been happening for years? Why all the (aparent) fuss now? Seems political to me.

        Like Ken said, there are already GPs getting on with it.

        • Joanne28

          Yes- check out the long list of professional bodies that have signed up to dissent; it is unprecedented historically.
          Espcecially organizations like the RCN- traditionally acquiescent and non complaining, despite changes over the years.

          The “fuss” now is because of scale and extent of reforms- and in the wrong direction, wrong areas and via wrong process IMO. It’s also combining massive cuts to budgets with massive change- very risky.

          Ken C is mostly excellent in my view as an MP,
          and I think he’s contributed very important things to the debates- eg on penal reform recently.

          But-  he is a traditional Tory, and bound by ideology;
          eg market reform etc.

          He was the health minister in the 80’s and 90’s that introduced this mode of reforms, like GP fundholding.
          It was no great shakes- and created a postcode lottery for example.
          But nothing on the scale of what is being pushed through now; I think just the testing ground; these are their ambitions.

          One of my biggest objections is also the process by which this has been implemented- and the way in which the public appear to have been duped at the election.
          Also they have no mandate to carry out this scale of reform.
          Once the damage is done though will be likely impossible to reverse, with limited funds and resources, and greater demands. 

          If it’s not curbed now or re thought- great damage could be done to our most valuable public service.

          That’s all I can say for now.

          J

          • Winston_from_the_Ministry

            Can you give me any actual details about all these “wrong” things. It’s hard to get a grip on your argument when you’re so vague.

  • outsideratdisqus

    Dear Mr Hilton, As an outsider, the part of your letter that appeals to me is your focus on housing as a visionary policy area. The country needs to build new homes of all kinds at about 350,000 a year, roughly double the recent rate. Working out how to do this, using experience in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s is a key test. At the same time, your party needs a vision about urban and suburban open spaces, parks and recreation grounds.
    Elsewhere, your party needs some kind of vision about national relations with the EU and its creative aims at EU level, rather than the current crude position that “Europe” must be good because right-wingers hate it. The simple, post-Delors acceptance is no longer adequate. Why does your party unthinkingly back Turkey joining the EU? Is that in the interest of British working people?Most of all, your party needs to remember that its purpose is to promote the well-being of  people in the bottom half of the income distribution doing ordinary jobs at ordinary pay, rather than over-emphasise social mobility. However many rise, 50% will always be in the bottom half.   And this must be a dynamic vision, not about static redistribution but  about how to improve  pay and social conditions (such as safe streets) over time.  Subsidising everyone from taxation, your recent policy in government, is neither sustainable or  desirable. This is where immigration comes in. If the NHS depends on immigrants, as it does, that should tell the Labour Party that NHS  productivity, and therefore pay of NHS workers, is too low. Why did your party favour closing more Post Offices than any in history? And having approved much of British industry being sold abroad and run down as a result, why does your party back the Royal Mail following this route? Apologies for intruding but these things are important to all voters.        

  • JoeDM

    QT sends out invites to local councils,  schools, trade unions,  charities, various local associations, political parties, religious groups, etc.

    Most of those organisations contain people who have a general left-wing &  state orientated view point.

  • SR819

    monkey for sale’s comments on this post have been pathetic, but if you check out his comments on the Telegraph blogs, and the website he’s provided “thereligionofpeace.com”, you won’t be surprised. The Labour Party should be the party for the working class, but concepts like indigenous and “white working class” are BNP territory, and don’t reflect our values in any way.

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  • DaveCitizen

    Well said Alex, I agree with most of what you’ve written.

    Apologies if others have already said as much, but for me the real issue is not so much with Ed Milliband as it is with current Labour thinking. AS you say, Labour has become what it should not be. I think this has happened because alternative politics was largely extinguished by the apparent success of free market globalised capitalism in the late 90s and early 2000s. The free market economy appeared the undisputed champ so people put faith in the likes of Blair and equivalents who who promised to tame it in everybodies interests. This has of course turned out to be dillusional but it made sense to many at the time.

    Now, we can all see that a much more radical approach is required if the majority interest is to prevail but no one on the left has quite worked out what such an appraoch would look like – and certainly they haven’t thought of one capable of breaking through the popular myth around free market capitalisms inevitability.

    So, we have Ed. Heart possibly in the right place, but as you point out so well, completely out of his depth amongst a bunch of careerists and vested interests. For what it’s worth, I think at the current time we should all be thinking about the alternatives and worry about leadership once we have one!

  • Joanne28

    Hi, I’m a regular watcher of QT, and think it’s a good mix.
    Personally I think it’s refreshing to see interaction between
    the public and politicians/public figures- but much more is needed
    to get people engaged and involved.Eg big public debates, like the
    ?London Citizens, rallies, and forums in local communities on
    specific issues.

    I think one of the problems in this country has been apathy;
    also a professional class of media and politicians very separate
    in discourse, as if they are talking to each other and creating
    their own agendas and platforms? It can become distant
    and bland, with a whole separate language.

    I like the idea of ordinary people and grassroots in local
    communities organizing themselves creatively to effect change
    or challenge the status quo, but that activity should also
    be intergated into wider party politics if it’s to remain relevant.

    It’s that gap which you seem to be referring to that needs
    addressing?

    Jo

    • H.Hemmelig

       “I’m a regular watcher of QT, and think it’s a good mix.”

      You’ve got to be joking.

      According to the opinion polls, 35-40% of the electorate are Tory voters.  In the QT audience you’re lucky if 1 in 20 responses from the audience are recognisably right of centre.

      The QT audience is disproportionately full of teachers, lecturers, social workers, lawyers and “community activists”.  It is no more representative of public opinion than asking Donald Duck.

  • Joanne28

    Hi Jon, good to hear from you, and thankyou for supportive comments.

    With regard to your attitude towards working, I agree with your approach.
    Would  like to say more, but for some reason comments now being curtailed.

  • Joanne28

    Hi Jon, I have replied, and am attempting to find where this is.

    Thankyou, Jo.

  • Joanne28

    Mark- why are my replies not getting through?

    I really appreciate you bearing with the blogs here, but sometimes it’s like being placed on the naughty step.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-McLoughlin/569361749 Aaron McLoughlin

    alex, thanks for saying what so many party members and voters  are thinking, aaron

  • Chilbaldi

    The vast majority of Labour members, whilst committed to working hard for Labour in the present, are already looking at what we can do from 2015. I.e. what to do in the aftermath of our general election defeat and who should be leader. Thank you for articulating this Alex.

  • Pingback: Labours of Letters: the Alex Hilton & Hopi Sen correspondence… writes Stephen Tall « Steve Beasant

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

    It’s an anti-British conspiracy perpetrated by the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation. No doubt about it…
    (sarcasm)

  • SR819

    Labour have abused their core vote, and we should be the party representing working class interests, but that doesn’t mean surrending to the sort of prejudice on display here by posters like monkey. There are many issues facing the working class, and to act as if immigration is the biggest problem is simple scaremongering. I am NOT saying we shouldn’t control immigration or get the numbers down, but there is a large body of people who are not simply talking about immigration, they are also talking about the established British-Asian community in this country, many of whom were born in this country and have  lived all their lives in this country. We shouldn’t pander to these types of views. The BNP claim to be the “Labour Party that your grandad voted for” and claim to represent working class interests, but all these parties are the same. They don’t care about the working class, or trade unions or socialist values. They love to set the working class against each other by focusing on immigration, claiming that this is the source of all the problems faced by the working class. Labour shouldn’t fall for these divide and rule tactics.

  • SR819

    And it’s quite sad that Monkey’s comments seem to receive the most “likes”

    • Daniel Speight

       I suspect that the likes are organized and it’s up to Mark to moderate if he feels there’s a bit of entryism going on;-)

  • Holly

    What an honest summary of today’s Labour party.
    Power for the sake of it, with no direction, and the belief that only Labour can govern us.
    Sometimes it takes a step back to see the bigger picture and well done to that man for doing so…However unpleasant.

    Will Labour take any notice?
    NUP!

  • Matt McCarthy

    “You know that the major cost of living is housing and that’s driven by a perverse, ever-inflating housing market. But you won’t push for real, meaningful policies that would reduce this overweight cost because any such policy would take the heat out of the housing market and lead to house price deflation. You won’t countenance policies to help the many if the
    few who will pay are Daily Mail reading swing voters in marginal seats.”

    You’re two key points I can make out from this are…

    1) House price deflation would only affect Daily Mail readers.
    If you devalue the entire market from it’s current point. Anyone who has bought a house in the last 7-8 years would likely end up in negative equity. Regardless of what paper they read. (No, I’m not a Mail reader. I stay clear of all the dead tree’s. Even at their best, they are still too politically and morally corrupt.)

    2) This would help the housing market.
    Nothing stops an economy dead in it’s tracts more than tens of thousands of people owing vast amounts of money that they may never see back. Which would result in those looking to enter the market would being so scared. (I was looking to by my first home the last time prices collapsed, what I saw happening made me wait another 2 years.)

    So you’re cunning plan is to cause another debt crisis followed by stalling the housing market again.
    I take it I don’t need to explain what happens then, being that we’re still paying for the last time.

    Overall I don’t disagree with much said in this post. It just such a shame you spoiled it with you’re one policy suggestion, which is beyond stupid.

  • Joanne28

    I think he’s written some brilliant pieces on LL;
    also always seems to generate the most debate and interest.

  • Joanne28

    Editing out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Perhaps you could ‘go away’ and join a party whose leader you won’t have to complain about then, Alex.

    You won’t be missed

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Anyone claiming to be Labour and then calling for our primary concern to be white people – as opposed to non-white people – should be regarded with the utmost contempt

    • H.Hemmelig

      And snooty comments like that explain why large numbers of traditional Labour supporters in white working class areas now regard the Labour party with “utmost contempt”

    • Once was Red

      Dear Mike,  I think you’re projecting your own prejudices.  I did not say that Labour’s prime concern should be white people, I said that Labour had abandoned it’s heart – the white working class and that’s why it has no policies.  I’m a libertarian so I don’t believe anyone should be treated with the utmost contempt – but then you’re probably not as old as I am.    I prefer to listen and respect someone’s right to hold a viewpoint, no matter how outrageous.  Why don’t you answer the points I raised instead of trailing the red herring of race?   

  • ArchiePonsonby

    That would be Owen Jones, the ubiquitous, lefty, rent-a-gob?  Well, that’s one set of opinions that I’ll duck out of, thank you very much!

    • Joanne28

      He got the most applause on QT by far last week- and I’m not surprised-
      he’s brilliant. We need many more like him.

      • ArchiePonsonby

        Applause on QT?  Stalin would get applause on that crypto-marxist propaganda machine! As for Jones, you can have him!

  • salamisausage

    LabourList censor,

    Can we please see the post from “Guest” that so many people liked?  If not, please give your reasons for deleting it.

  • Dave Postles
  • Scandalman

     Sadly I think you could have written this for any of the three leading parties.

    Our backgrounds differ; I am an employer and have run a small business for 25 years. I often feel righteous indignation at the ever increasing ways the government finds of extracting more more from my company, my staff and I and and the appalling waste and misuse of the monies collected (by menaces).

    In short, I think I am far more efficient at deciding where my money should be spent. I want small  efficient government acting in this nations interests creating a simple and effective environment  where the private sector can flourish and provide rich, diverse and skilled employment for as many people as possible.

    Having set the scene for our obvious ideological differences, now we come to our similarities.

    I don’t expect to be at best misled  or worse plain lied to by those who are collecting punitive taxes and purporting to act on my behalf by making promises subsequently ignored or broken.

    We should have fair laws honed for our needs, effective policing &
    healthcare available to all, cheap energy based on sound far sighted
    clean strategies and a great transport and communications infrastructure.

    My point is there is general political consensus in the commons, disproportionate influence by lobbyists and an adoring and sycophantic press lobby (hello Nick Robinson). The Lords seems to be largely populated with a bunch of peers drafted in by each successive government, convicted criminals and politically biased Bishops who stand in the way of necessary change. Our two executive bodies are no longer fit for purpose; They neither listen to the populace, feel a need to listen to the populace nor act in the national interest.

    So it’s not just the labour party, you have the liberals trying to get the population to pay for their energy agenda and fiddle the voting system so they stay in power, the conservatives being- well, conservative and doing nothing and labour sounding like someone who dearly wants to be in power, doesn’t know how to do it and would cock it up (again) if it succeeded. They are all in agreement that they want to be ruled by someone else, have our laws made by someone else – and yet still want to have their expenses paid and be paid by those of us who pay taxes.

    It may sound like a French farce or a comedy of errors but I’m not laughing, no wonder the Scots want to leave. Why does the political elite hate and disrespect the populace so much, particularly if you are middle income/working and contributing?

    On a lighter note thank goodness for politicians like Daniel Hannan who at least have honest straight up commitment. If labour want to differentiate themselves they should end the comfy consensus,  stand up for Britain and occupy their traditional ground of euroscepticism; They would severely wrongfoot the Heath party. Perhaps they might avoid trying and failing to bribe a foreign government to win orders. A bit obvious, n’est ce pas? A bit sad we have come to that.

    The current government is such a shambles, house of cards I don’t see how Ed could fail to hit a  target and mortally wound, he has so many targets at which to shoot; Unless what we see is like orchestrated wrestling, play acting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550961942 Steven McCarthy-Hunt

    Ooof. Harsh… very harsh. But fair….

  • Jeremy_Preece

    What strikes me about Ed’s leadership is that I couldn’t tell you what he stands for. If as a Labour member I can’t tell, then much of electorate couldn’t care. Suicidal!
    St Paul was “all things to all men”, while in politics trying to run in opposite directions to appease different groups lands you in the position of being nothing to anyone.
    The issues of the moment seem quite clear really. Labour has deep core values which make us naturally the party which should step up. Austerity is one weapon in dealing with deficit, and it is very ineffective if it simply causes recession/depression, as economically there is no chance of repaying if there is no revenue coming in as less tax payers generate income. The Tories should be getting no credit for shrinking the economy for no verall benefit, and even threatening the tripple A credit rating of the UK due to the shrinking economy.
    Where cuts have to be made, Labour must be seen to be showing that the burden is being shared, and that the rich and megga rich are paying their share. Instead the Tories are using the deficit as a cover for their policies of concentrating all of the wealth into the hands of fewer super-rich. It is not difficult surely to state how we could really be all in it together. Clearly we are not all in this together and there are some companies who are doging millions in corporation tax. The Tories are only interested in recovering money from single mothers, those made unemployed and generally those least able to carry the burden.

    It seems that the country is crying out for Labour to lead the way, but instead Labour has indulged in “refounding itself”. Labour is trying to become bland and acceptable to Tory votors etc. There is no clear posisiton that Labour stands for. This is the major fault of Ed’s leadership.
    The second problem is that he does not lead, has no charisma and cannot project his ideas into the media and out to the electorate.
    Thirdly he has allowed the Tories to estabish in the minds of many, the idea that the whole world-wide recession was Labour’s fault. It certainly was not, but Ed has allowed the Tories to get this mantra into the public mindset.
    Finally, the balndness has made much of electorate (and apprarently membership) feel that there is no difference between Labour and the rest. So many do not vote as there seems no point. Why? because people cannot see why Labour would make a difference.

    I actually think that Ed should now resign and that we should have a much shorter leadership election, that allows the conference to start with the new leader in place with his or her front bench team up and running.

  • 1biggles2

    I whole heartedly agree with Alex Hilton. The Labour Party no longer stands for the common man and socialism. It has now become the Tory Party in disguise, with its leadership almost as rich as the Tories hierarchy. For the Labour Party to return to its roots, it will need to cut off the head and start over again. The Shadow Cabinet need to be removed, but I fear that as they are the leadership they will never vote for such action. The  saying ” Turkies won’t vote for Xmas” clearly applies here.
    To regain disillusioned voters, having passionate labour politicians of the ilk of Frank Field would be a good start, but I fear such happenings are only a pipe dream.

  • Lumbkoz

    At the end of the day history showed that the party had to choose between adhering to its intrinsic values or being electable. They (Kinnock and the Cool Gang) decided it will have to be the latter and since then we’ve had a social democratic party more concerned about mediating within a liberal economy than addressing real justice and sound democracy for its grass roots. Many people with 60 years + as members have been shouting what you are claiming for many years but they remain loyal to a party that is the only conceivable reality to oppose the Tories et al, in spite of subjective judgements on leaders and policies. I don’t like your personal accusations as I don’t think anyone else could do better at the moment, although I agree with some of the sentiments expressed here. Alas we no longer have a socialist party and it is regrettable – perhaps we should try and create what the French ‘Front de Gauche’ have managed to do, but when it comes to elections in France, we all know whether it is the so called ‘Socialist Party’ or Sarko, it will be same old same old. For us in the UK, perhaps we should show a little more loyalty whilst in opposition and more discontent when (if?) in power again.

  • Joanne28

    Totally disagree.

    Check out their twitter site for example.

    I’ve been watching this for years;
    if anything- the format should be extended
    to build bigger public debates in all communities
    up and down the land IMO.

  • Major Plonquer

    Nit-picking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Congratulations, Alex, for being quoted by Cameron today as an attack on your party leader.

    Perhaps this might tell you that members of other parties appreciate your stance and might appreciate your presence 

  • A disgusted hard working MP

    How often have I come across poor quality ex Labour representatives (usually ex councillors) who are eaten up by their failure to get chosen for a bigger role in the party, who spit bile at anyone who gets chosen rather than them, or their surrogate.  Too often, and their own contribution and lack of diligence usually failed to live up to their pretence at  objective analysis.  I have just read another one from Alex Hilton.  No wonder the Tories love the traitors among us.

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  • LabanTall

     Why don’t you tell him what you REALLY think…

    I agree with you about housing though. Fifty years ago someone on average wages could afford to buy a house and support a family. We’ve gone from the Great Prosperity to the Great Regression.

    • LabanTall

       But leadership is the least of my concerns – it is and should be policies. And on that there’s little to choose. The Tories are doing nothing that hasn’t been pioneered in the previous 13 Labour years.

      Let’s see …

      Printing money, importing inflation as sterling falls.
      Banking – privatised profits, nationalised losses.
      Keeping wages down via mass immigration (and as social solidarity declines, what future the welfare state?)
      Juicy State contracts for the outsourcing mates
      Farewell to pensions
      Spiralling rewards for the few, spiralling bills for the many.
      Idiotic energy policy.

      I could go on … but the point is that all three parties share these policies.

  • LabanTall

    Don’t worry, I don’t love him. A nasty piece of work IMHO. But then I’m not a Tory. At least, unlike Blair, I had no illusions about Cameron to be shattered. 

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  • Ted Powell

    I wonder if Alex would be saying this if he had been selected for a safe Labour seat.  He does make some fair points I admit about the Labour Party, but the main reason I believe that Alex is not happy with the Labour Party is because it didn’t select him as a candidate for a winnable seat.  The reason why he didnt get selected is because he isn’t very good.  As least Blair could fake his sincerity, and unfortunately Alex can’t do that.  Him leaving the party will be no loss.  It will simple mean one less, shallow, self obessed person trying to be an MP

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