“Miliband booed.” How many more times do we want to see that headline?

October 23, 2012 9:37 am

Yesterday Mark Ferguson suggested that it might be the time to bring Alastair Campbell back to Labour. He’s right that we need someone with Campbell’s skills, but perhaps not to guide Labour’s social media strategy, as Mark suggests; rather, someone who will reliably raise their hand and get involved, whenever there is a potential media disaster to be avoided.

Campbell’s great strengths were always his instinct for good and bad press; and his willingness to challenge his boss. To say: don’t do that, they will kill you. And perhaps, just perhaps, Miliband could use someone with similar antennae.

One clear problem with Saturday’s march, like the previous one in March last year, was the lack of clarity of the objective. Many were there for different reasons. While “cuts, but not so far, so fast”  is Labour’s official, defensible, position, “No Cuts” banners predictably dominated the march.

It is a respectable position: but it is not Labour’s official position. So Miliband, if he went, was always going to be forced to defend a distinct position in front of 100,000 marchers. It was never going to end well.

And another predictable result of this divergence in aims was that it was easy for others to take the “no cuts” element and brand the whole TUC with it. In the process of trying to bridge that gap, we make the normally semi-bonkers Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers Alliance sound positively rational:

“Most of the public accept and understand that, well, we can debate what needs to be cut, we can have a debate at the margins about the timing and the extent, but there do need to be serious cuts in public spending”.

The irony is that this Sinclair has pinpointed exactly what Labour Party policy is: a debate with the government about the timing and the extent. It is also what the majority of Britons think: YouGov reports that 55% think the way the government is making cuts is necessary, versus 32% unnecessary. These are the facts, however much we might dislike them. And they are roughly in line with what Miliband said, rather than what the marchers did.

But the real issue, perhaps surprisingly, is more important than the misalignment of basic objectives between Miliband and marchers. Some have even argued that he does this kind of thing on purpose, that to gain strength by distancing himself from the unions. But it is a weak argument, because he does not.

It is weak because most viewers will not have even noticed the fact that he was arguing a different case. They will have just heard the boos.

The real reason Miliband’s presence at the march was unhelpful for Labour is not about the fundamental contradiction between Labour’s position and that of, we must suppose, the majority of the marchers.

It is simply in the squandering of scarce media coverage for the Leader of the Opposition that it represents.

Look at it this way: imagine you are an adviser. Your leader is a political jewel, whom you must make sparing use of, build up as a statesman-in-waiting and shield from political harm. Also, as Leader of the Opposition, you are afforded a small slice of media coverage every year (and in this unusual case of coalition, even less, because the junior partner gets more coverage than normal).

In those precious seconds of video-clip, you reach out directly to the public and have a brief chance to convince them that you are fit to be the next Prime Minister. You either make a good impression or a bad one and, very often, viewers are not even listening to what you are saying.

They are looking at generalities: the non-verbal communication, the tone, the atmosphere. It’s a primeval human instinct transplanted into a world of short attention spans; you follow the person who looks like they know what they’re doing. You want to see someone who is in charge; someone in control of the situation.

A party leader who is being booed by a crowd of people, whom onlookers might reasonably judge to be his own supporters, is none of these things. The message the scene sends is, “this man is not even in charge of his own lot”.

It’s unfair, but the media are not about being fair, they’re about getting a good story. And it’s not enough to say, “these people were probably a mixture of Trots and far-left activists, most of whom probably never voted Labour in their life”. These are distinctions which we forget that only the in-group – us – even has the information to make.

People see marching. They see Ed. They hear booing. They see a man embattled. They see disunity, not debate. They put two and two together and make five. The cruel irony is that things are not actually that bad; Miliband is unchallenged in his own party, a party which has a consistent ten-point lead in the polls, despite its potential softness.

It was just not like that out there on the march, you say. But just as on the March 26th demo last year, the reports depend largely upon whether you are part of the in-group (marchers: positive) or the out-group (those watching it on TV: negative). Appealing to which group will win us the election? The second.

It’s not just the clips and the headlines this time, where Miliband was probably rather lucky that the Sundays had Mitchell’s and Osborne’s troubles to focus on. It’s the monotonous regularity of the heckling by his own side:

TUC march, 26 March 2011: Miliband booed (luckily lost in the greater disaster of the speech footage intercut with rioting). TUC conference, 13 September 2011: Miliband booed. Labour conference, 27 September 2011 : Miliband booed (at mention of Blair). TUC march, 20 Oct 2012: Miliband booed.

In short, since his election, he has probably been booed at most major gatherings of party or labour movement activists. Why, exactly, did we think that this one would be any different?

It is not the same, by the way, as Andrew Lansley being jeered at the Royal College of Nursing. Lansley had to go there, he was representing the government. Incumbents expect to get booed every now and then. But the Leader of the Opposition does not have to endure these things.

And here is something that Campbell would surely at least have raised: whether it is a good idea, on balance, for the Leader of the Opposition to have to endure such headlines, where they can be clearly anticipated and avoided.

And if, that is, we genuinely want him to be something other than that: the Leader of the Opposition.

  • AlanGiles

    “Campbell’s great strengths were always his instinct for good and bad press;”

    Really?. A bit like Mandelson, who thought taken undisclosed loans would generate good press, Campbell thought “good press” would be generated by tampering with a 12 year old PHd thesis?.

    I see. If you say so…..

    I think Mr Campbell might be better off going back to “Forum”

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      I’m sorry Alan but do stick to the subject of the blog post. I thought you’d have gathered this seen as you do it all day and night. Perhaps, you could try talking about the march and your experience rather than shouting the odds about Alastair Campbell which people aren’t interested in whatsoever.

  • DanMcCurry

    It’s a live and learn thing for Ed’s team. The message at a demo is always a binary message. In this case, “No to Cuts”. If you have to be there, and don’t want to deliver a binary message, then just  slag off the Tories, get your cheers, go home. Don’t start making speeches that are thoughtful or multi-layered, or you will get booed, and that came across on TV like a bloke who doesn’t know how to control of the rabble. That’s not doing the unions any favours either. 

    We don’t seriously need AC back. He’s had his time. 

  • http://twitter.com/RF_McCarthy Roger McCarthy

    Seriously – this is the best you’ve got?

    There is all the difference in the world between being booed by a crowd and being booed by a scattering of Trotskyist numpties

    And as both the march and the audience at the rally end in Hyde Park were notably thin on the ground compared to last year these were considerably more in evidence than then – I saw not just leaflets and papers but stalls set up by factionettes I thought had died out decades ago – there was even someone selling the News Line.

    Plus being booed was clearly part of the strategy – what better way to illustrate your willingness to make ‘hard choices’ than being booed for saying it?

    In fact if that line hadn’t got a boo from that audience God knows what he might have had to say to elicit one. 

    And painful though it may be for you to admit it in September 2011 it was not Miliband who was being halfheartedly booed by a couple of idiots in the audience but Blair.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      “There is all the difference in the world between being booed by a crowd and being booed by a scattering of Trotskyist numpties” – well, as the piece points out, Roger, you might see this. But the average viewer will merely hear booing.

      Do you honestly think that people uninterested in politics will distinguish between Labour supporters, Labour members, union activists and Trots? Seriously.

      I don’t believe being booed was part of the strategy, either. But if it was, it was a dumb strategy.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      “There is all the difference in the world between being booed by a crowd and being booed by a scattering of Trotskyist numpties” – well, as the piece points out, Roger, you might see this. But the average viewer will merely hear booing.

      Do you honestly think that people uninterested in politics will distinguish between Labour supporters, Labour members, union activists and Trots? Seriously.

      I don’t believe being booed was part of the strategy, either. But if it was, it was a dumb strategy.

  • Andrew McKay

    I was glad that Miliband was booed. I couldn’t help but notice the Communist party flags at the march. 

    If Labour is to win in 2015 Miliband and Balls have to set out a credible economic strategy which involves deficit reduction.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Agreed.

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

    Admiration for the “positively rational” sounding Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers Alliance – how long before he gets a chair at the top table alongside Sainsbury?

    But when it comes to economic advice I think I’ll stick with Krugman. The pursuit of austerity, according to Krugman, is “fundamentally mad”, hence his criticism of Labour’s “weak” opposition to austerity.

    But hey, why allow rationality to interfere with ideology? As with badgers so with cuts…

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      What happened to your support of Ed Miliband?

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Two points on which you are not really listening to the facts:

      1. I did not show admiration for Sinclair, simply said he said something sensible. Referring to someone as semi-bonkers does not usually imply admiration.

      2. David Sainsbury, as far as I know, has very little to do with the current Labour leadership.

      But hey, why let facts interfere with your comments?

      • http://twitter.com/conradlandin Conrad Landin

        Strange. I hear you can clock up quite a few Nectar points at these Progress events.

  • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

    I think it was a good thing that Ed Miliband got booed actually, even though Rob Marchant argues otherwise. The reason why is because he told the audience what was right, what most people agree with, what the public agree with but what some of those who marched did not want to hear.  The fact he got booed put some distance between him and the trade unions, clearly showing that though there is rightly a link between the unions and the Labour Party, Labour is not in the pockets of unions.  

  • http://twitter.com/johnringer John Ringer

    I’m with you on this, Rob. Why subject our leader to this kind of treatment and negative publicity? When people think of a PM, they think of someone who can unite an audience – and the nation- with a commanding message and presence. Every time he gets booed, no matter how nuts the people doing the booing are, it puts a dent in his credibility as a PM in waiting.

    Now, one difficulty is that these marches have been organised by the TUC, and Labour are meant to be bosom buddies with the TUC, though obviously not in any official way. So Ed not showing up to the TUC’s big bash looks a little churlish.

    Of course, the march itself is visually dominated by non-TUC, far-left groups like the SWP and the Socialist Party, so the fact that it’s organised by the TUC kind of gets lost in the fray…

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Thanks John. Yes, part of the problem is the fairly well-documented increase in numbers of far-leftist in the ranks of the major unions (especially those not affiliated to the party, which still of course form part of the TUC).

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

        reds under the beds….

        • Brumanuensis

          Witch!

          I mean, Entryist!

    • DavePostles

      The largest presence on the march – to repeat myself ad nauseam – was Unison, which was also the most visually prominent, in purple, not red, vests. These comments are losing a sense of proportion.

  • PeterBarnard

    For a communications wallah, Mr Marchant, you certainly have a loose way with words, eg “…. monotonous regularity of the heckling by his own side.”

    Four times in twenty-five months is “monotonous regularity?”

    ” … he has probably been booed at most major gatherings of party or labour movement activists.” I doubt that (i) you know how many major gatherings he has attended in the last twenty five months, and (ii) at how many he was booed. Pure speculation on your part.

    Still, style always trumps substance these days (and bulls*it baffles brains), so it is said … Mr Blair had “style” by the sackful, and received less Labour votes in 2001 than Neil Kinnock did in 1992.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Peter, you may think that you’ve been quite smart in your observation, but have you any idea how many events involve, say, more than 2,000 people for a senior politician in opposition? As someone who’s been involved with quite a lot of party events, I’d say surprisingly few.

      • PeterBarnard

        Yes, Rob, but you are the one stating that EM has “probably been booed at most major gatherings.” The onus is on you to substantiate your statement, not ask me if I have any idea how many events he has attended.

        For sure, he wasn’t booed at the Wales NPF gathering last year, to which many members were invited. I wonder how many Regional NPF sessions, with similar attendance levels, he has attended? .

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

      He certainly didn’t get booed at Conference where his openness and willingness to directly talk to party members was refreshing

      • PeterBarnard

        I can’t speak for (any boos at) EdM’s  Q & A session, Mike H, because I didn’t see it from beginning to end, but all commentators seem to think that he made a notable Conference speech.

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

          The Q&A session was one of the best things at Conference. Straightforward and honest answers to questions.

  • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

    Progress is not the Labour leadership. In fact, I’m not sure Sainsbury has much time for the current leadership, testament to which is that he has stopped funding the party directly. You are quite badly-informed.

    • Brumanuensis

      ” I’m not sure Sainsbury has much time for the current leadership, testament to which is that he has stopped funding the party directly”.

      Which is precisely why many object to Progress taking his money in the first place. 

      • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

        That is probably true. And quite irrelevant to the point being discussed.

        • Brumanuensis

          Well if you feel comfortable about taking money from someone who appears to be practising a slightly more sophisticated form of entryism…

          • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

            Entryism? That is scandalous. Lord Sainsbury is a Labour peer and a former Labour minister.

  • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

    I understand your point Renie, but think that the problem is that viewers at home don’t reach that level of comprehension of the situation, especially those not particularly interested in politics. They just hear booing, and associate it with Miliband. I think his position is essentially the right one, but this is not the way to get that message over to the public.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      I see your point but it shows strong leadership. I mean the news bulletins would say why Ed was being booed and if the public realise he was being honest, they’d like that. Polls show they already see him as being the most trustworthy political leader.  It will also give ammunition for Ed Miliband to say that the unions tried to make me do the easy decision which is ‘no cuts’ but refused because that was the wrong thing to do and promise I could not make. It will stop the main Tory attack which is that we are in the pockets of the union.

    • AlanGiles

      If getting booed is a sign of disaster, it is worth remembering that Mrs Thatcher got booed everywhere she went. Didn’t like the woman or her policies but the constant booing didn’t harm her for many years. Even your beloved Blair got booed – by the Womens Institute – hardly the most “far left” organisation, those organisations that give you such an attack of the vapours. Just take your smelling salts along to any political meeting or rally just in case those nasty men make you swoon again)

      All politicians – regardless of party – get booed on a regukar basis – have you ever heard “Any Questions” on the radio?.

      Many of the politicians who get booed are still very successful and popular with those who support them.

      Perhaps in the case of Ed Miliband he might be wiser to  learn the art of oratory.?:

      Have you seen the written transcript of his speech?

      Have you noticed every statement is in one line?

      Or two at the most?.

      Is that a wise thing to do?

      I put it to you –

      If we all corresponded in one line responses

      Here on Labour List

      Just think of all the space we would take up.

      Each thread would go on for ever

      It would look as if we couldn’t make up sentences.

      It would be very boring for readers.

      And they would give up reading

      “sigh” :-)

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

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

    Hi Renie. He’s a good chap but hamstrung by the Blairite inertia of an unbalanced PLP.

    So, for me it’s the National Health Action Party – and a sharply focused campaign on a concern of great importance to the majority of this country.

    BTW, I’ve enjoyed our exchanges. Won’t be posting much on here anymore. Good luck to you.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Right…
      NHAP. You are backing a party which has no influence on health policy or no hope of getting a seat but could end up splitting the centre-left vote in key marginals that Labour needs to take. Btw, it was a Blairite who has been attacking the Health and Social Care Act every step of the way and the leader of NHAP has got a very dodgy voting record.

    • Brumanuensis

      Dave, the NHAP is a cul-de-sac. Single issue politics is what is destroying mass-movement organisations, by uniting people in brittle, narrowly-focused coalitions that have no long-term stability*. It won’t save the NHS and has a strong chance of going the way of  Kidderminster Independent Health Concern. For God’s sake, don’t leave us in here alone with the likes of LabourUncut for company; I’ll top myself by 2015 at that rate.

      *Just like the government

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

        You reckon you’ve got it bad?! Just think what it must be like for Ed in a PLP largely captured by Blairites hankering after a pro-privatisation/pro-austerity national government!

        We’re still on the same side. Just think of me as part of an irregular outfit going in uncompromisingly against the opposition on their most exposed and vulnerable flank – if a couple of Sainsbury-funded pro-NHS privatisation Blairites (who wouldn’t dare place their policies before the electorate without the cover of the LP) get taken out along the way at least it will diminish cuckoo/entryist pressure on Ed.

        Stay strong brother.

    • PeterBarnard

      Sorry to read that your future visits to these pages will be few and far between (if that), Dave.

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

        Cheers Peter. Your carefully organised arguments are always an inspiration and a delight.

        • DavePostles

          Take care, Dave. Still hope to hear from you. Enjoy that return to formal learning. It’s been exceptionally interesting to read your comments. Stay strong on the NHS.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Indeed

        • PeterBarnard

          Thank you for your kind words, Dave S.

          Comments like that make the effort worthwhile.

          Best wishes!

  • Serbitar

    I’m surprised you didn’t flag that one Jiminy Cricket.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Flagging? What are you talking about? If I am Jiminy Cricket then you are Pinocchio!

  • Serbitar

    Boos? Cheers? Nobody is listening. Nobody cares: no one remembers: that is the problem.

  • Brumanuensis

    “A party leader who is being booed by a crowd of people, whom onlookers might reasonably judge to be his own supporters, is none of these things. The message the scene sends is, “this man is not even in charge of his own lot”.

    TUC march, 26 March 2011: Miliband booed (luckily lost in the greater disaster of the speech footage intercut with rioting). TUC conference, 13 September 2011: Miliband booed. Labour conference, 27 September 2011 : Miliband booed (at mention of Blair). TUC march, 20 Oct 2012: Miliband booed”.

    —————–

    1). The CentreLeft, 14th September 2011: http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/boy-miliband-done-good.html

    ‘So, Ed got boos and catcalls at the TUC – as it happens, catcalls which are, rightly or wrongly, likely to be very useful indeed for his standing in the country, as Jack McConnell points out, showing as it does that he is standing outside of what is likely to be a very unpopular and widespread program of strike action. In fact, although the media has tried to make a big deal of this, as usual, in the end it seemed almost uneventful. What they didn’t really focus on is that the heckling largely came from non-affiliated unions, which have chosen not to take any part in the Labour Party’s structures, and the fact of the heckling may have had as much to do with an increased militancy on the part of these non-affiliated unions as it has to do with any serious falling-out between Labour and unions’.

    2). The CentreLeft, 29th September & 1st October 2011:

    http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2011_09_01_archive.html

    http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/vision-and-denial.html

    Those were your two main reaction pieces to the 2011 Conference address. In neither of them did you mention Blair’s name being booed. The same was true of your reaction pieces to the TUC demonstration last March.

    http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/aftermath.html

    http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/demo-good-media-bad.html

    —————

    In short, why, having not mentioned it in any of the articles referred to in 2 and having explicitly stated that the booing in point 1 was a net positive for Miliband, are you now suddenly executing a volte face and insisting that actually these episodes are terrible for Miliband’s image and Something Must Be Done?

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      I am truly delighted that you read the Centre Left so much. But don’t really see the relevance of whether or not something was mentioned in a particular piece, sorry. You seem to be looking for an “gotcha!” moment which is not really there, I’m afraid.

      In short, the first time was ok. After four times, it’s becoming something of a questionable habit.

      • Brumanuensis

        The relevance is that you look like a hypocrite. If this is something so transparently important, why is it only now that you have decided to flag it up as a matter of concern? As Peter has pointed out, four times in 25 months is not exactly a regular occurrence. If being booed by militants at the TUC is ‘good’ because it shows we’re not on the side of unpopular strikes, why exactly does it become a negative 13 months down the line? Most normal people, to borrow a trope from your own writings, have probably forgotten about the TUC speech and likely didn’t even notice it the first time. 

        So if Miliband is booed for advocating a position that you support, in response to a rally that you regard as electorally-inadvisable, what is the problem? You give the impression of someone rummaging around for something to criticise Miliband for.

        • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

          Well, that’s your opinion. You’re welcome to it.

          • Brumanuensis

            You can’t have it both ways, Marchant. You can’t attack Miliband for taking the easy way out and avoiding hard choices, and then complain about image problems when he confronts supporters with those same hard choices. My opinion has nothing to do with it; it’s a matter of consistency.

          • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

            You’re just not listening to the argument in the piece. I am not saying he shouldn’t hold those views. I’m saying it is counter-productive to attend rallies like that. That is perfectly consistent.

            You seem, on the contrary, to assume attendance is unavoidable. It is not. You have made an assumption and then said that my argument is inconsistent with your (incorrect) assumption.

          • Brumanuensis

            Well where else is he supposed to advocate them? Lower down the thread you claimed these mass attendance events were rare. If we follow your logic, then it makes sense to use them for all their worth. The alternative is Miliband annoucing it at some fringe event at conference, or perhaps he should have done it at Progress’ Annual Conference, where the number of views on YouTube for that speech is 1290 (oh yes, we’re giving Gangnam Style a run for its money aren’t we?). This is hardly ‘not talking to ourselves’ is it?

            Given a choice between a guaranteed slot on the 6 O’Clock News, albeit with a few disagreements from the crowd – but then again, if the crowd’s views are in the minority, what’s the harm from opposing them? – or five minutes at the back-end of the Daily Politics, I’m going for the 6 O’Clock News. 

            Where should Miliband have said what he said, if not at the rally?

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

            What this all comes down to, Bru, is that Marchant hates Ed Miliband, dislikes his politics, and is still in a filthy strop about his preferred poster-boy being defeated, and much of his outdated ‘modernising’ politics with it. Its such a relief that you now rarely hear that meaningless term from the party leadership.

            Ed is not going to pretend he isn’t part of the Labour party, which was the Blair strategy – do you remember that ridiculous statement about new Labour being the ‘political wing of the British people’? But he isn’t going to give a different message to different audiences either – something else which distinguishes him from Blair

          • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

            I think that is just pure nonsense. Marchant is closer to Ed Miliband’s politics, than you are.

          • John Reid

            Ed’s not tackling the fact that Swing voters, Middle england ,the Aspiring working class .whatever you call them, {most stopped supporting us by 2005 as well as the  old left (Not becuase of Iraq, they didn’t start supporting the Tories till 2010)} aren’t coming back to us now and won’t till we admit we were wrong on the economy,

            SO he may have got back the traditional working class union members, but I feel also he’s ignoring what he’s got to do to win,

  • aracataca

    Trouble is Renie he didn’t go on the march. He just slagged off those like myself who did go.  

    • AlanGiles

      Off you go again Bill. Can’t resist it can you?.

      I was actually WORKING on Saturday – as many Labour politicians have pointed out over the years work does not necessarily have to be PAID work.

      I’ve told you this four times now, so perhaps it will eventually sink in. Get yourself a piece of chalk, and work it out. You can’t be in two places at the same time. There were many thousands of you at the march whereas there were only two of us where I was. Get it now?….take your time.

      Still nice to see you and Renie have resumed your double act – Laurel and Hardy for the 21st century.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Well he just slags off people who disagree with him. He thinks he is better than everyone else and is probably the rudest person I have encountered online. He should do us all a favour and leave LabourList.

  • DavePostles

    So what’s the point of not defending and maintaining public services? Local authorities are shredding their care services because of centrally-imposed cuts. Did public services cause the financial and fiscal crash? Public services are paying the price of the financial service’s folly, whilst financial services have been supported with public funds throughout the western world. Most private sector firms depend on public services for the health and welfare of their employees, including housing credit. Remove those services and the private sector will experience the impact. There is an alternative.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Your point seems to be that if you do not attend one rally, whose principal message you don’t even agree with, that you are not defending public services. That’s just wrong. One rally is neither here nor there.

      • Dave Postles

        The general context is that Miliband and Balls decline to commit to reversing any of the Coalition’s stringent cuts in local government, yet two successive Tory chairs of the LGA have complained against the effects of Coalition policies on local authority services, suggesting dire consequences.  Care services are in an appalling situation, but Miliband and Balls sit on the fence.  They have ammunition from the Tory leaders of the LGA.  There are services which Miliband and Balls should declare now to be priorities for restitution, with ot without the approval of the Tory leaders of the LGA.   The rest is mere obfuscation.

      • DavePostles
  • AlanGiles

    It is “seeing as” not “seen as” – you’ve made that mistake before.

    We are all entitled to our opinions – even those of us who were babes in arms and toddlers when Campbell started his mendacious work for New Labour. I have told you before, but I will tell you once again – don’t try telling me what I may or may not talk about.

    If you don’t like it – don ‘t read it

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Instead of being a cantakerous person, try and engage with what is being said. I am not telling you what to do, I am suggesting that you actually comment about something relevant rather than continuing your patronising nonsense which does you no favours.

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

    If Ed does not go, then he will be accused of cowardice.

    Its firstly, up to him, and given that he is making a clear and reasonable point, he needs to continue to make it.  Ed is not going to try and place himself above the party: that won’t work again.

    As for Progress, the sooner they are dealt with the better – a disloyal bunch of has beens and never-was’s

    • John Reid

      why are progress Disloyal,Mike and Didn’t you leave the party a few years ago, So Maybe I don’t understand the view of Loyalty,

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      They are disloyal which explains why Ed Miliband is  a member of Progress and most, if not all, of the shadow cabinet are also in Progress. However, LabourLeft has got people who attack party policy on the economy and some shadow cabinet ministers. That’s disloyal, is it not?

  • http://twitter.com/LUCKYCUNARD MICHAEL KENNY

    I bet he was cheered plenty during hi years in Amerika with bro David. Mo Mowlam too, etc etc

  • Alexwilliamz

    Change the record.

  • Daniel Speight

    Sit back children for Rob’s lectures on the art of spin. Please do not look for any truth or principle in these lectures.

    I asked Mark the other day whether Campbell was the sort of person he really admired. I do not need to ask Rob that question as the answer is fairly obvious, although I suspect he admires Malcolm Tucker just a bit more.

    I will add a *sigh* to save Rob the trouble.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      No, no. Have one for free. *Sigh*

  • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

    Just for the record, I’ve been a party member of the party for almost twenty years this year. Continuously.

    Just thought I’d mention it.

    • AlanGiles

       Cue the applause! . 20 years. An aeon. I  only wish it was in our gift to  offer you a gold watch.  I was there 29 years before you. But in those days of course, there was a great deal of difference between the Labour and Conservative parties…..

      • John Reid

        Yes the difference
        between the Tories and Labour 30 years ago was that the Tories won elections
        and labour didn’t

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

      Well, some of us follow our principles, and when we recognise that the party has supported things that are fundamentally opposed to what we believe, withdraw – rather than stay in, carp, and complain, which seems to be your only function

      • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

        So therefore you are not as loyal as Rob Marchant – a Progress man. Therefore, you should not be lecturing to him about loyalty to the party.

    • Brumanuensis

      Christ, someone give the man a medal.

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

    Some of them won’t come back to us because they support the Tory view on the economy. Maybe you do too.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Mike, to be nice, you do often make statements of comfort that you do not seek to entice “lost” voters back to Labour because they are not really Labour (you make that argument to me, and also in more general terms).  But what of the electoral calculus?  Unless Labour is in power – perhaps as “mild Labour” – it achieves nothing at all.  Or would you prefer permanent opposition, achieving nothing, but remaining ideologically pure?  I am afraid that to me, that seems a little selfish.

  • AlanGiles

    ” the leader of NHAP has got a very dodgy voting record. ”

    Yes. He was against the Iraq war!.

    Terrible, isn’t it? :-)

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      He was also voted for the legalisation of cannabis and voted against gay rights measures including on civil partnerships and the Equality Act. That is terrible.

  • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

    Indeed John. I’m very interested to see how those on this thread pushing for a swing to the left react to the hard facts in Peter Kellner’s “Lost Voters” analysis here: http://t.co/GyupXKRw

    Expect ad hominems about Kellner, problems with the methodology, etc.

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

      I’m not interested in winning a huge majority by moving so far to the right that convinced Tories vote for us. Large majorities do not make good government 

      Rather look towards a working majority meaning that some seats stay in Tory hands but we have a programme worth winning with, which wouldn’t be the case if your views prevailed

    • Brumanuensis

      What, by adopting policies that your friend Hopi Sen described as ‘a total disaster’? http://hopisen.com/2012/a-political-problem-labours-lost-voters-are-wrong/

      I’m sure we’ll romp to victory at the next election by adopting such aspirational, forward-thinking policies as zero net migration, leaving the EU, capping pay at £1 million and doing less to help the poor. And I’m sure the membership will line up behind this inspiring programme. Membership? membership?…

      I’m not in a position to dispute Kellner’s psephology, but I am in a position to comment on his recommendations and it’s good to know that we can rely on him for clarity and precision. Like here:

      “This means rejecting the language of ideology, class and social division, and reviving the appeal of national purpose. If that is a bitter pill for some party activists to swallow, it comes with a coating of sugar: done successfully, the politics of national purpose stand a chance of reaching beyond the ranks of the post-1997 defectors, and winning over at least some people who did not vote Labour even in 1997 – not to mention a large slice of those who weren’t old enough to vote at all when Blair first led his party to victory”.

      The politics of national purpose! I mean, hell, predators vs producers was a model of clarity compared to this. But at least Kellner knows who Ed Miliband should be:

      “his own man”.

      Thanks Peter. Glad we sorted that out. I was thinking Ed should try and approximate Norman Wisdom in his approach to leadership, but apparently being yourself still counts for something. There’s hope for the rest of us, thank God. 

      So, shorter Kellner: ‘here is some polling data and now here are some vague suggestions I have that I already possessed before running the opinion poll’. At least we can console ourselves with the observation that ‘this does not mean that Labour should abandon its quest for a fairer society’. Mind you, fairness. A bit anti-aspirational innit?

    • Brumanuensis

      Mind, he also thinks we should abandon triangulation, which puts you up statistical creek with us lefties eh, Marchant? 

  • Brumanuensis

    We already have enough support to win an election John. Whether or not we can hold onto the gains by 2015 is another matter.

  • Brumanuensis

    So why isn’t he donating to the Party? If joining a Party to influence its views is entryism, then what do we call solely funding an organisation that operates as a pressure-group?

    I’m not saying its completely illegitimate, but the fact he no longer gives money to the Party is suspicious and I suspect if a union did the same, Marchant would be up in arms about how we’re all being taking over by Trots and the Party is going back to the 1970s, etc. etc.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Some unions who do fund the Labour Party give to CLASS.
      Lord Sainsbury does give to the Labour Party, but as  a member not a donor. He has the right to keep on giving extra money to Progress who have come clean about all thier financial records. The idea that a pressure group with popular support within the party and the support of almost everyone in the leadership, is entryism is just foolishness.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Sinclair is not always wrong..in fact even Gordon Brown was not always wrong (except on the economy of course) ,

    Ed’s chief problem with getting to No.10 is going to be the lack of policies that people like and – of course – Ed balls. As someone so totally involved in and associated with the Brown government Balls is a millstone. The Tories just need to point at Balls and say ‘Do you really want him back again?’.

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