The narrowing polls are a worry – but worse, Labour MPs fear there’s a sense of “drift”

July 31, 2013 10:27 am

Today’s ComRes poll for the Independent has the Labour lead over the Tories down to just 3 points, down from 6 points last month. Labour’s vote share has actually increased by a point (from 38% to 39%) but the Tory vote has risen by 4 points, narrowing the gap as UKIP’s stellar polling over the past few months begins to fade.

Of course we should never focus too heavily on a single poll – it’s foolish to extrapolate based on a single data point as I’ve noted recently – but the polling trend is undeniably towards a smaller Labour lead in recent weeks. YouGov might have the lead at 6 points this morning, but that’s down from consistent high single/low double figure leads just a month or two ago. ICM’s poll that showed Labour and the Tories tied still looks like an outlier, but it showed us that the two parties are polling close enough together that such anomalies can be within the margin of error. And of course Ed Miliband’s personal poll ratings are still poor, which becomes an increasing concern when the party no longer has the luxury of a double digit poll lead to fall back on.

Unsurprisingly, Labour MPs have largely returned to their constituencies for the summer with a palpable sense of apprehension.Whereas a few months ago the default setting in the PLP appeared to be a relatively calm sense of confidence, the mood seems to have shifted. Several MPs have spoken to me about a sense of “drift”, and a lack of clarity from the party leadership. And whilst only a handful of MPs I’ve spoken to are opposed to Miliband’s plans to reform the union-link, I’m not sensing any confidence from within the PLP that Miliband a) has a plan to fund the party’s election campaign post-reform or b) that they sense this is a real vote winner.

There’s a fear that we’re turning inwards to talk about ourselves with an election already on the horizon. As the economy picks up and the Tories feel bullish enough to try and attack Labor on our traditional strength (the NHS) some MPs have begun to fear that the party’s broader strategy isn’t working.

I have some sympathy for that.

What Miliband and his team would doubtless argue is that we are in a unique situation – a five year parliament. As the economy is in flux and we don’t know where we’ll be in 2015, the decision has been taken to hold back most of the major policy announcements until the last 12-18 months of the parliament. That means the party must do a certain amount of holding its nerve as the leadership – to be blunt – treads water in policy terms, only revealing tiny policy morsels when it is deemed necessary. The policy will come, we are told. And it will be bold, and radical (think house building, control of energy prices and – perhaps – public rail ownership), but it won’t come yet. Perhaps something along these lines might be introduced in Miliband’s conference speech this year. But maybe not.

Whilst this strategy has merit – and takes no small amount of guts to execute – it’s not without flaws. It’s hard not to feel that the policy process has stalled, or is at least in hibernation, when now is exactly when we should be rolling out the broad brushstroke policy themes that the general election campaign will be based on. Labour Party members have been waiting for three years now for what an Ed Miliband led Britain might look like and how it might be different. We cannot be saying the same after this year’s conference. (To be honest, the party should be taking advantage of the quiet summer season – as Jonathan Freedland rightly notes, the party can’t afford to rest). Labour Party members can’t continue to go naked onto the doorstep, as I first warned 15 months ago.

The polls are concerning – sure, that’s obvious – but more worrying is the sense of drift, the fear that Miliband’s radical, bold manifesto might remain a dusty tome confined to a bookshelf, never to be seen in public. There’s a realistic fear that some in Miliband’s circle want to re-run the 2010 manifesto – and electoral strategy – again, and expect a different result. That’s the very definition of a party that is drifting. And that, without a doubt, would be a recipe for returning David Cameron to Downing Street.

  • david trant

    These days the percentage of the vote is much more important than the difference. In that Labour’s percentage has hardly moved, the movement is between the Tories and the others, mainly UKIP. However it is unlikely that Labour will win a majority, as it is the Tories. Labour does have a geographical advantage in that it takes less northern votes to win a seat than southern ones, Ed. should send a thank you card to Howell.
    We are heading for another Coalition, who the largest party will be is the only thing open to debate.

  • swatnan

    The Dog Days of August coming up; expect the Polls to go up and down like a yoyo.
    Who knows, without the interference of politicians, the British Economy may right itself.

  • RedMiner

    A Labour Party that can’t enthuse its own membership and rally opposition to the privatisation of the NHS, the destruction of the Welfare State, mass unemployment, lobbying scandals, and tax cuts for millionaires amongst the general public is a Labour Party in deep trouble.

    So many Tory policies are unpopular, yet the shadow cabinet is largely invisible. I’m afraid to say the current front bench is the weakest in my lifetime; it palpably lacks enthusiasm for the day to day, nitty-gritty of domestic politics, and is frequently left flailing by a Tory Party not too fussy about truth and accuracy. It’s fairly obvious the problems start right at the top. A Labour leader that can’t do better that reheat a 19th century Tory one-nation slogan that sounded out-of date thirty years ago is not only in deep trouble, it’s one that’s going to lose the next election.

  • Carolekins

    Yes, there is a sense of drifting and while we drift, the Tories continue to do awful things and we do nothing about them. I can see the point of not letting all our policy out now but there must be zero tolerance of the worst Tory excesses. Our approach is too inflexible: we must react and rebut all the time and get them on the wrong foot.

  • Lorraine Hardy

    I agree. Labour appears to be accepting what the Tories are doing and in some cases actively supporting. We don’t need detailed policies 2 years before an election (Thatcher had few pre 1979) but we do need to talk about the ethos of the party on broad-brush issues. We have finished apologising for mistakes in government. Let’s get on with “why” we are here and what the party is “for” – job creation, housebuilding, NHS, a proper rail “service” run for people not profit, providing support for those in need (not dividing into skivers/strivers etc) …. And yes we need to react, rebut and highlight the Tories appalling actions.

  • http://my.telegraph.co.uk/members/jp99 jp99

    Miliband is useless. End of. There is NO way anyone but committed Lefties will vote for such a weird human being. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I can’t bear to listen to him speaking, with his repeated “what i say”. Ed – nobody give a flying duck what you say, mate. Tho’ you are doing a great job with Unite. Keep working on that one.

    • aracataca

      Any suggestion that you’re a Tory troll is, and must remain, pure speculation despite the fact that your link to ‘My Telegraph’ and your details being kept ‘private’ may suggest otherwise.

      Any danger of blocking tw*ts like this Mark?

      • RogerMcC

        Also look at the 39 + votes he’s got (has anyone ever got 39 thumbs up down here?).

        28 are ‘guest votes’ and the others are names I’ve never seen on a Labour list comment before.

        Has Grant Shapps’ online alter ego finally managed to automate Tory trolling?

        • aracataca

          Well spotted Roger. We had a long monologue from Mark yesterday about trolls doling about abuse-Next day we get this from an obvious troll with orchestrated support but he’s unchallenged.
          Maybe a case of cleaning thine own house first.

        • RogerMcC

          + votes now magically up to 47! – surely the most popular comment ever recorded on LL?

          And the upvoters who are named rather than auto-generated by some Shappsian virtual alchemy seem to be people who are customarily found commenting at the Telegraph and Spectator.

          We really need to think about having a login system that makes it possible to exclude these obvious trolls.

      • RogerMcC

        And now +53 votes – Go Shappsbot go…..

        • aracataca

          We may have been listened to Roger-the comment has been deleted. Hurrah.

    • Graemeyh

      What a mature and reasoned response! I think the Mail and Express more your usual stomping ground?

  • matt

    What the polls tell us all is that the Tory policies that Labour most hate, such as the Welfare Reforms for example, are popular with the voters whereas Unite taking control, or being perceived so to do, of the Labour party is not.

    Labour can have all the policies it wants but if they are outdated hard left ones, such as those favoured by Mr McClusky, then they will not win any elections with them.

  • dave stone

    “There’s a fear that we’re turning inwards to talk about ourselves.. ”

    Can there be any surprise? The Falkirk farrago was as avoidable as it was pointless. That sorry episode, of itself, is indicative of a craving for irrelevance.

    Throw in the surrender to Tory policy* and one may cannot help but wonder: what’s the point of Labour? This is a question that must surely be on lips of many who hunger for opposition to the Tory war on ordinary people.

    * http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/16/austerity-uturn-ed-balls-mistake

    • Trevor Rowley

      If there was some real leadership most of the comments here would be irrelevant. We mostly appear to be double-guessing what the absentee leadership is thinking and going to do. I am a life-long supporter of Labour, but I despair at the pathetic show that Ed is giving. Very reluctantly I think that if he is not going to lead he should resign and give-way to someone who really wants to fight the Tories and become Prime Minister.

  • John Ruddy

    While the lead is down – the level of support for Labour is not. Its consistently at the 37-40 level, and that will give us an overall majority. The tories will need to be 40+ to even be the largest party.

    • John Devon

      Yes, if Labour do get a majority Ed should open a bottle of bubbly and toast Nick Clegg, whose petulant refusal to support fairer constituency boundaries after he lost the AV vote will have handed him that victory. Labour could well scrape a narrow seats majority, or be largest party but with no overall majority, with fewer votes than the Tories.
      If I was a betting man I’d put my money on another hung parliament next time around.

    • kb32904

      Frustrating isn’t it that so many overlook this simple fact ? I don’t know how many times I have pointed this out across many different sites – the message still doesn’t seem to be understood.

      • RogerMcC

        The corollary of which is that we do benefit greatly from electoral anomalies and if we do win may well do so with considerably fewer votes than the Tories nationally.

        And if we don’t win in 2015 the boundary changes will be implemented and its effectively game over for Labour and pretty much everything that made this country even semi-habitable.

        Which should – but doesn’t seem to be – concentrate minds wonderfully.

        • reformist lickspittle

          No, the Tories will need to win a majority for that.

          Even if the result is almost identical to 2010 (highly unlikely) it is unlikely the LibDems will stomach formal coalition with the Tories again, whatever Clegg and the “Orange” clique might want.

    • i_bid

      Actually the level of support is down – only a year ago Labour were polling consistently in the forties.

  • IAmCabal

    I think that Miliband’s instincts are largely correct, but he is hampered by a Shadow Cabinet that does not pull its weight and it seems as though Blairites looking to sever the union link have damaged the party’s unity at the worst possible time. Ed’s leads of around 15 points have come when he has been bold, such as over phone-hacking and his confident speech at last year’s conference. I’m sure others have noticed that the lead has decreased each and every time he has pledged to match Coalition spending plans or accepted the austerity narrative. This is not ‘being tough’, it is being weak. If austerity is draining confidence from the economy under the Coalition, then it will continue to do so under a Labour government. If the Bedroom Tax is immoral and should be scrapped by the Coalition, then Labour should pledge to repeal it. The ‘drift’ Mark identifies comes from accepting arguments that the public sees have been proven wrong. They want a genuine alternative, not more of the same but with pained expressions. Andy Burnham and Tom Watson are two of our best campaigners and we need more like them in the Shadow Cabinet and less anonymous technocrats. We have the European elections next year and I still haven’t seen us adopt a position about the EU/US Free Trade Agreement that will make the Health and Social Care Act effectively irreversible: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/linda-kaucher/real-force-behind-nhs-act-euus-trade-agreement

  • RogerMcC

    As I’ve said in previous comments that’s the nature of UKIP – their core support are Tories and their ‘support’ fluctuates hugely according to when and where we are on the electoral map and cycle.

    In opinion polls between elections, in Tory safe seats, in local elections (assuming they can find candidates at all) and above all in the Euros their vote surges.

    At GEs and in seats that are even mildly marginal for the Tories it all but disappears.

    So next spring we can expect the UKIP vote to surge again and for them even to come first in the Euro Parliament elections – and for Labour’s polling lead to jump again as they siphon support away from the Tories.

    But a year later even if they double their pathetic 2010 vote of 3% they’ll still lose almost every deposit in the marginals that alone matter (although there may still be a few where even a couple of thousand diehard UKIP votes will cost the Tories the seat).

    The worry is that after the spring conference (which will and must be fixed-up to be a triumph of some sort for Ed) and UKIP’s Euro election triumph, Labour will take their rising lead to be a sign that everything is hunky dory only to see the lead disappear again as UKIP falls back to its natural single digits and its supporters return to the Tories.

  • Brian Dôoley

    The reason there is a drift, is because Labour have abandoned Socialism, and become part of of a right wing trinity along with the Tories and the Lib Dems. They offer no alternative, and are beholden to market forces and big business, after 40 years of voting Labour I won’t be be voting for them next time round, unless they revert to Socialist polices.

    • reformist lickspittle

      So you voted Labour during late period Blairism – which is FAR to the right of anything Miliband has espoused or is likely to – but won’t now??

      Sorry, but I smell a rat.

      Oh, and the hard left remains as utterly unelectable as it has ever been.

      • Brian Dôoley

        I did vote for Blair because I expected Change after the Thatcher years, I was bitterly disappointed, I don’t intend to make the same mistake, you talk about lefties (Tory Talk) proves my point

  • johndclare

    Your comments above all assume a paternalistic party model whereby the policies for the next manifesto will be declared from on high.
    In fact, in a democratic party, they should be being grown, organically, from below – i.e. we should be discussing/developing the manifesto policies in our branches and CLPs at the moment.
    To be fair, a start has been made on this with the Your Britain campaign, but it is largely window-dressing. The key statements – economy, education, welfare, relationship with the unions – are all still de facto being imposed from above.
    The ‘sense of drift’, therefore, is partly reflective of a lack of meaningful engagement of the party leadership with the party membership.

    • http://couloumat.co.uk/ David Parker

      Absolutely right; alas in this respect the Labour Party has not really recovered from the damage done during the Blair years nor indeed from a much longer tradition of inward looking branches where little political discussion actually took place. The leadership (collectively) also does not appear to understand that if it intends to implement a radical and progressive programme it will need massive public understanding and support. Ed Miliband has said on several occasions that ‘the direction of travel is clear’ but this far the case and the leadership seems positively scared, for no good reason, of flagging up even the obvious vote winners like some form of public control of the railways.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Yes and no. I think a manifesto has to be developed and owned by those who are going to implement it (the plp). However you are right that discussions should be happening in the branches with the mp or prospective candidate involved, i’d also suggest the conferences could be opened up as a listening, discussion forum. Then the party’s manifesto could be drawn up reflecting the spirit of these discussions although details may differ due to the reality of the environment. What we cannot afford to do is put together a manifesto based on focus groups and marketing strategies, these have a place but only in selling the manifesto and policies not on the content.

      The key is that members should see at least a majority of their values reflected in the manifesto, while the leadership still feel they have ownership and can push it.

    • RogerMcC

      I am as depressed by the imposition of Leninist democratic centralism (which has evidently now reached the Stalinist stage of ‘one leader – one vote’) as anyone – but we should remember that every step of the way this was the result of union block votes.

      However we really can’t crowd source a manifesto from the 10,000 or 20,000 members (I’ve never belonged to a CLP where many more than 10% of members were active so doubt it can be many more) who attend branch meetings across 600 CLPs having a nice chat about schools or defence over tea and biscuits.

      The old system made sense when a CLP wasn’t even supposed to exist unless it had 1,000 individual members, there were branches in every ward and CLP General Committees that included professional union reps and councillors who knew the rules and how to produce motions that could survive even the compositing process.

      And like it or not we had real national factions with supporters in every CLP and union who could co-ordinate that whole process and engage in meaningful negotiations with each other when it came to CAC, conference and the NEC.

      The Policy Forum broken as it was from its very birth at least was a recognition that the old policy generation system could not operate once the mass party it was founded upon disintegrated in the 1980s.

      So if we are to re-democratise Labour we need either to magically find several hundred thousand new members and tens of thousands of new activists to raise the old party from the grave – or given that this will never happen create a new structure altogether.

      • IAmCabal

        While I respect your knowledge and research in this matter, times have changed drastically since the 1980s. The free market has come under intense scrutiny after the banking collapse of 2008 and people’s living standards are being squeezed by large hikes in the prices of privatized utilities and public transport. The main complaint I hear from people is that all the major parties are the same; none are offering any hope of a better future, so why vote for them, let alone join and campaign for them? Given the huge popularity of 38 Degrees, which has several times more members than all the political parties in the UK combined, people can and will rally around causes they believe in. Expecting members of the public to head out in their free time to sell a party whose policies are for the most part unclear seems rather unreasonable and blames the public for a failure of Party leadership. Andy Burnham has continuously campaigned against the Coalition’s marketization of the NHS, which no one voted for, and has tapped into genuine outrage at what is being done to a valued institution. If we had more senior political figures with such a clear message then it would be easier to recruit members and give them a message to get behind on the doorsteps. Ed is at his best when he is fighting against vested interests, so we need to use this to build a vision of a UK in which people can have some hope that life will get better.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Nah let’s just get the posters on labourlist to knock it together. We could have a draft get comments on it, then redraft.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          If the Labour Party wants to get elected,it would be better off running “a country mile” away from LL comments and posters. Of course,that would not be popular on LL with lots of cries of abandonment. But, power or pleasure? Only one butters the parsnips.

    • RAnjeh

      Yes John. That’s fine when you are the Green Party where you have prospect of ever becoming the Government. We have the NPF but leaders should lead and put forward policies to the people. That’s their job, not ours.

  • Daniel Speight

    If we apply Ockham’s razor to what we see, doesn’t the decline in the lead pretty well follow the Ed Miliband’s and Ed Ball’s move to the right on the economy and on the union relationship. To me it suggests that oft-repeated idea that if you position yourself as Tory Lite then the real thing better make a real bad job of it.

    What the Labour leadership needs is courage to take on the right wing media instead of caving in to them. Unfortunately the one guy who showed some balls in this regard, Tom Watson, has been fired by Miliband.

    • RogerMcC

      Labour does private polling and seriously would not be moving to the right if the public were in fact moving to the left.

      I hate this but in the end it is the electorate – and very specifically the English electorate – that are the problem.

      And they are a problem because the mass media which forms their opinions is massively dominated by the right.

      According to the British Social Attitudes in-depth survey of media usage only 40% of adults read a newspaper and of those only 17% (that is to say 7% of the adult pop) read papers that are in any sense at all progressive.

      One would like to imagine that the 93% of adults who do not even read a vaguely progressive newspaper are all avid readers of labourlist and follow Owen Jones’s every tweet but you’d be fooling yourself.

      And this is the underlying problem – we could have the most perfect suite of progressive policies imaginable but there is now no way they would be fairly presented in the media.

      So in a sense our only hope is a doubly negative one – that the Tories continue to be so vile and incompetent that even their media lie-machine can’t entirely compensate for them and that Labour if it did squeak back into power would be able to engineer (or just benefit from a global) recovery which means that none of those me-too austerity promises the Eds have been issuing will actually need to be implemented.

      Both are slim hopes but the only ones we have left.

      • Hugh

        “I hate this but in the end it is the electorate – and very specifically the English electorate – that are the problem.”

        That made me chuckle. Your contention that it’s down to the media and support from the British Social Attitudes isn’t very convincing, though.

        People tend to prefer papers they agree with; such papers exist for progressives – both tabloid (Mirror) and broadsheet (Guardian, Independent); they’re available in practically every outlet that supplies the “dominant” right wing papers. Yet very few buy them. A more logical explanation would be that it’s the fact the electorate are right wing that causes the right-leaning papers’ dominance, rather than the other way around. I don’t particularly believe that either (I just think right wingers are more interested in current affairs, particularly politics) but it fits the facts better.

        As it is, 60 per cent don’t read a paper at all, and polls tend to show most people are pretty ignorant of the policies that parties propose. On what little they do know, though, couldn’t it just be that the disagree with you?

        • RogerMcC

          Of course they disagree with me and with socialists and progressives in general.

          Crunch the numbers: if under two thirds of the electorate can be arsed to vote at all and only a third of those that do drag themselves to the polling stations vote Labour that’s nearly 80% of the electorate who disagree with me and presumably you as to who should govern the country.

          And its not necessarily lack of clarity and passion that’s the underlying problem – give them the clearest practical (at least in British terms) choice between left and right as Michael Foot and Margaret Thatcher did in 1983 and Labour loses even more massively.

          The BSA being a biggish annual survey that has been running since the mid-1980s shows that the electorate has moved further and further to the right on key economic issues since then – so I have very little confidence that a left programme would win voters even if (as I don’t believe it now can be) it were communicated fairly to the voters by a mass media that will lie, lie and lie again.

          And I have no solution for this.

          Thirty-odd years of relentless neoliberal propaganda and the gradual marginalisation of any and all alternative narratives has changed everything and can’t be wished away.

          • i_bid

            They lost even more massively in 1983 because a new plausible alternative popped up to syphon much of their votes away. Not forgetting the SDP platform makes most New Labour manifestos look deservedly Thatcherite.

            Thirty odd years haven’t made the public neoliberals though, as any polling on privatisation, or higher taxes on the rich show.

          • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

            Very good points – those disagreeing with you are sticking their heads in the sand. Shifting attitudes on welfare and economics is a monumental task that would test the skills of the best communicators. We did have one (Tony Blair) but he wasted his political capitol on Mesopotanian misadventures and the task has now been taken up by Ed Miliband. He has his qualities but also some obvious shortcomings as a leader and if he takes the advice offered by most on Labour List I think we’ll be looking at another 1983 style drubbing.

      • Mike Homfray

        I think we should start with some facts. We won’t be winning many seats in the south. However that won’t stop us winning a majority of say 40-50. I’m fine with that but it will have to be on the basis of some very .clear policies and some people are not going to like it. You can’t please all the people all the time. Neither should you try.

        • RogerMcC

          I am not totally pessimistic but really can’t see a 40-50 seat majority – more like 4-5.

          Another factor we have to take into account is that the primary beneficiaries of a Lib Dem collapse will be not us but the Tories as they are second placed in a lot more LD seats (by my quick count 30 to 18) than we are.

          Indeed we probably need to persuade half of the 2010 Lib Dems to defect, for two thirds of them to go Lab and for those that go Conservative to be cancelled out by UKIP defections for us to get even a bare majority.

          Which means that its not enough to assume that former Lib Dems come to us (and in any case many of those tactical LD votes are in seats where the main other party are the Tories and so count for nothing) – we also have to generate at least some swing from Tories to Labour.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            “…we also have to generate at least some swing from Tories to Labour.

            Do you think that is possible? I think the breakdown is possibly less favourable than you calculate. The Lib Dems seem to me to be two parties uncomfortably together: those left of Labour, and the Orange Book supporters to Labour’s right (and thus quite central). If someone voted tory in 2010, I think it not so likely that they would vote Labour in 2015, when the Orange Book Lib Dems are closer to them.

            Of course among 45 million electorate, there will be some tory to Labour changes, but perhaps not enough to make any notable difference.

            I must also apologise to you and indeed to Mike Homfray for my very bad-mannered response to you a couple of days ago. We may differ politically, but there was no need for me to be so rude. I am sorry.

          • i_bid

            That’s incorrect. Lab/Con marginals which Labour would win with an influx from a Liberal collapse utterly dwarf the number of seats the Tories could win from said Liberal collapse, and Ashcroft polling has shown where Liberals are the main bulwark against Tory policies, they retain their supporters.

          • RAnjeh

            Well at the moment, with Ed’s strategy and all this talk of ‘faux radicalism’ coming from parts of the party, we won’t get a majority or we’ll get something very small.
            Labour will be the main beneficiary of the Lib Dem collapse but that comes a problem. Some in the party (some high up) clearly think that we will win by getting non-voters, first-time voters and disaffected Lib Dems and that will 35%. Fabians talk about it all time. That was clearly nonsense. Reality is that UKIP people will go back to the Tories, disaffected Lib Dems will come to us, first-time voters (well most will vote Labour but they are less likely to vote) and non-voters will be non-voters. Now he’s come to common sense Labour politics (which a lot of people have been advocating) and now we get the situation where even biggest Labour blog attacking Ed’s policy on welfare, the economy and his position on the unions. That is the problem.

        • RAnjeh

          My word Mike. We have target seats in the South that are essential to a Labour victory. You’re cavalier attitude towards the South is astounding (and not in a good way).

      • Daniel Speight

        The problem is Roger that the move to the right hasn’t seemed to help.

        • RogerMcC

          Being on the left myself I passionately wish that were the case.

          But we don’t actually know where we’d be if we were pushing a much more radical programme.

          In a country with as fundamentally right wing and reactionary an electorate as England’s has now become (and look at the in depth attitudinal polling as well as the election results), left-wing party leaders cannot afford the luxury of principles and socialism by stealth is the only sort we are going to get.

          • Alexwilliamz

            I think radical isthe word. Not left or right but different. We are currently the opposition party and that is how we should be playing it. Where problems are screaming out for radical socialist ideas we should be hitting that message. Elsewhere we may need only advocate opposition to radical tor plans. People are far from in support of many things the tories are doing but labour seem unable to put together a cohesive joined up narrative. Policy is now going to be needed in terms of what the labour party is for/about

          • Daniel Speight

            Yet an appeal for example to bring the railways back under some sort of public control would find support I suspect. As would a policy to force the oil and gas companies to pass on drops in their buying price faster. I could list all sorts that would fit nicely into a radical manifesto that I think would still find support in the country.

            I’m not even a militant socialist; I don’t want open borders or mass nationalizations; I’m not that fond of the revolutionary left and don’t want to declare war on Israel; but the PLP and Labour leadership is so far to the right of me that I wonder why they even kept Labour in the party’s name.

          • dave stone

            “I’m not even a militant socialist”

            I feel your pain! I think your comment conveys the sense of bewilderment that many must feel at Labour’s unanchoredness. There seems to be nothing but drift, only occasionally checked by furtive and blundering sectional interests.

            I view myself as being a middle of the road moderate. I ran my own company for many years, I employed people, I am well connected within my community – active in local volunteer organisations and with friends and associates in the business community and trade union movement. Perhaps just the sort of person Labour would want to recruit. But I’m lucky if my comments are accepted even on a broad platform like LabourList.

            The proposals you mention would be well-received by many, including many who have voted Tory, and there are strong and very reasonable arguments in support. But would they find support within Labour’s PLP? We all know the answer.

          • RogerMcC

            I agree there are multiple left policies that are popular if you ask the right question in a poll.

            But although a majority (and I am pretty sure a big majority of everyone who has to use trains with any regularity at all) support rail renationalisation, last election next to nobody voted for parties that had that in their manifesto.

            (In fact AFAICS the only MPs elected with rail renationalisation in their manifesto were Caroline Lucas and I presume the Plaid Cymry – or whatever the proper Welsh plural is).

            The art of leading a social democratic party in a neo-liberal plutocracy is getting those measures passed without terrifying the electorate and the elites that rule over them.

            And New Labour was not 13 totally wasted years and did do a lot of good within precisely those constraints – but so much of it was by stealth or proved hopelessly compromised due to the methods adopted (above all PFI).

  • Andy McCormick

    Y’all need to get on the door and talk to real people as per Mark’s previous post. That’s where elections are lost or won, right kids?

    • RogerMcC

      By my estimate only about 10% of Labour’s 187,000 members are active enough to knock any significant number of doors even in a general election.

      And there are approximately 25 million doors to knock.

      So even if we generously round up Labour’s potential army of door knockers to 25,000 that’s 1,000 doors we need to knock and 1,000 conversations we need to have per activist.

      Even in the best organised marginals where members from other no-hope neighbouring seats pitch-in to help it is unusual for CLPs to have really contacted more than a fraction of voters personally.

      And as Eastleigh showed in fundamentally hostile territory (i.e. the whole South of England minus London and a few urban enclaves) it doesn’t matter how many doors you knock – they just won’t vote for you.

      • Andy McCormick

        Eastleigh used to be Labour territory, had Labour councillors until quite recently, and even came a close second in General Elections at one time. I’m from Hampshire and we saw council seats taken from the Lib Dems on 21% swings in 2011. The reason we came fourth in Eastleigh (and I was there) was we didn’t maintain dialogue with the electorate in the years preceding the by-election whereas the Lib Dems did.

        And the 2010 General Election report presented to the Labour Party Conference said much the same thing: those seats with the highest contact rates (e.g. Southampton Itchen / Test) bucked the trend.

        We have many council seats in the south where the contact rate is over 60% of the electorate and this has been achieved by a handful of members, in some cases even just the councillors themselves.

        Finally, Labour now has more members than the Tories and Lib Dems combined. A knock on the door is worth 3 phone calls or 10 leaflets, and I have spoken to thousands on the door, thousands more on the phone, and personally delivered many tens of thousands of leaflets.

        So any Labour supporters not active who are reading this:
        contact your CLP or Regional Office and get stuck in!
        And if not already a member, join!

        • RogerMcC

          Well aware that there are wards with very high contact rates and have tramped the streets of Hastings (not even my constituency) to increase them.

          But I was talking about constituency level contact rates which are inevitably much lower other than in a relatively few marginals (of which Hastings is certainly one).

          And it is rather dubious whether we now have more members than Tories and LDs combined as the former don’t publish their numbers and you clearly can’t back calculate from the subscriptions they report.

          In any case its active members like you and me who are the only numbers that matter and here we are talking often mere handfuls in many if not most CLPs.

          As for Eastleigh I have access to the Plymouth University local elections database and as far as I can tell the Libs and SDP really started overtaking Labour as far back as 1982 and by 2003 there were only 3 Lab councillors left representing the Eastleigh South and Bishopstoke West wards – all of whom seem to have fallen since (the Plymouth Uni data stops at 2003).

          As for the Parliamentary elections Labour only came close second in 1964 and 1966 and moved to distant third after the Liberals as far back as 1983 (which is consistent with the local election trend).

          So we are talking an electoral sea change that happened 30 years ago and I don’t think can be ascribed to just a failure to maintain a local dialogue (although that is always a factor).

          • Andy McCormick

            Basingstoke had a “sea change” back in the other direction in 1997 and Reading overturned two Tory seats with 10,000+ majorities that year, a campaign that I was proud to be a part of. You can turn a council seat or even a parliamentary seat round in a year, starting with a contact rate as low as 15%, but it needs a lot of hard work.

            Local dialogue IS key, there are no “no-go areas” for Labour viz Cornwall and even Dave’s own constituency of Witney. You can’t expect other parties to give their seats away and don’t always believe the media, they were bigging up the Tories’ chances in 1997 and they fell to their most crushing defeat since 1832.

          • RogerMcC

            So easy to say ‘no no go areas’ so difficult to make it mean anything at all across the numerous southern constituencies without a single councillor ( I recently checked my own districts past results and we literally have only been represented once in 40 years of its existence – and that only because back in 1973 the Tories only nominated two candidates in a three seat ward and the Labour third candidate got in with no contest) and where we come a very distant third in parliamentary elections.

            And if it were more than empty rhetoric it would be electorally suicidal – we don’t need swings in Tory safe seats like mine but to win the few southern marginals that do exist – and every active member who can get to one needs to devote all their efforts to such seats.

          • Andy McCormick

            A Labour vote is a Labour vote irrespective of where it’s cast. Better an activist is active in East Grinstead than sit on their backside doing nothing because they’ve been told they can only work in Hastings. Sure, marginals get the priority, within constituencies and within regions. What would really help is coachloads of people from the North going down to the South to help out in places like the Thames Valley and Kent, but I really would be deluding myself if I thought that would happen.

          • RogerMcC

            No.

            A Labour vote in Hastings or Brighton is a vote that will elect a Labour government – a Labour vote in East Grinstead is a wasted vote.

            Still worth casting such votes (one of which is mine) but not worth spending a minute or a penny on winning them when that minute or penny can be spent in a marginal.

            I don’t like it any more than you do but that is the electoral system we have.

            And would shunting around coachloads of activists be an intrinsically bad idea?

            Hiring a coach is not hugely expensive and most Labour marginals should have people who can offer free accommodation for the odd day.

            And unlike previous elections we know when the next one will be and people can plan well in advance.

            Indeed if Labour was serious about winning it would be setting up such a scheme right now.

          • $6215628

            And it doesn’t t matter if the greens don’t win there as they can go to the lords now,

          • Andy McCormick

            “a Labour vote in East Grinstead is a wasted vote.” That’s exactly the argument the Lib Dems used in Eastleigh. And the logical extension of that is CLPs becoming moribund and Labour struggles to even find candidates. It was all going so well for the Lib Dems until the Great Betrayal of 2010. I pity the electorate in areas where the only real choice is Coalition A vs Coalition B. Where there was no active Labour presence in 2013, UKIP walked in, and rightly so. Where there was high levels of activism in parts of Kent, Hampshire, and Devon, we picked up seats. And in Derbyshire, Notts, Lancs and Warwickshire UKIP was nowhere to be seen. Much as I agree that it’s a good idea that we should transport members to areas where they’re needed most, they need to be active in the first place. And it’s not just me making this argument: Southern Comfort, Southern Front, people on the South East Regional Board. People you will see just a few miles down the road from you at Party Conference if you can be bothered to go RogerMcC

          • RogerMcC

            Have been to last national and last SE regional conference, have represented the CLP at multiple other meetings and two years ago was strongly arguing for ‘no no go areas’ myself.

            What’s changed my mind this year is precisely the experience of being in a small but dedicated CLP who’ve worked their butts off doing all the right things for three years to show that we are precisely a no no go area.

            And the net result of all this Herculean or rather Sisyphean effort? – bugger all.

            Plus the national stakes have never been higher – if we lose in 2015 the NHS, the welfare state, in all probability the United Kingdom itself as we know it will all be finished.

            So playing at what can only be ritual pretend politics in safe Tory seats like mine is right now a luxury we literally cannot afford – everything has to go into the marginals.

          • RogerMcC

            1997 being the worst year to argue from given that we got a landslide precisely by rebranding ourselves so as not to frighten middle class voters in Basingstoke and Reading.

            And 2010 saw the last of those desert back to their natural party with Basingstoke and Reading West recording two of the largest swings from Lab to Con at 12%.

            As for the media in 1997 several rabidly right-wing newspapers flipped to Labour (above all the Sun) so were hardly lying and the polls throughout showed massive Labour leads so no sane person had any doubt at all what the outcome would be however much the Tories whistled in the dark and the media colluded in pretending it was a horse race rather than a coronation.

            However I accept your Pollyanna-like optimism is much more pleasant to listen to and may actually be more useful than my Eeyore-ish pessimism…..

          • reformist lickspittle

            Seriously mate, you almost sound clinically depressed.

            Gramsci mentioned optimism of the will as well as pessimism of the intellect, you know ;)

          • Andy McCormick

            Tories don’t need to work hard for their votes, that’s why they did so well in their core areas in 2010 and less well elsewhere and failed to pick up a majority. And it explains the UKIP surge: Tory voters who trot out and vote like Fido trots out to the newsagents to pick up the Daily Mail, only this time they voted UKIP, the Fido equivalent would be coming back with The Sun. It also explains the dismal turnout for Police Commissioner elections – the only areas which had 50% first round votes were Labour, these guys actually had people actively campaigning to get less-inclined-to-vote Labour voters out to vote.

    • Quiet_Sceptic

      And when you’re talking to them what do you say?

      When they ask “What’s Labour’s alternative?, what is Labour offering?” What do you answer?

      We need an offer, not necessarily a detailed portfolio of policies but at least some well defined principles which would have guided what we’d have done and what we would do.

      Not just for the easy stuff but for the difficult issues – what would Labour have cut? Which services, which departments? In an era of limited resources and constrained spending how would Labour’s principles inform the spending decisions we’d make and what we would prioritise. Something to help build credibility.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Yup

      • Andy McCormick

        Well Quiet_Sceptic I see you have little or no experience of talking to the electorate. The first trick is to ask them what their issues are, and from multiple conversations build up a picture of what resonates with the local electorate by seeing which issues are mentioned most, even if it is fixing a nearby pothole in the road (which it often is).

        Having spoken to quite a few people these past two months in the North (including rabid Tories) I have yet to hear “What’s the Labour alternative?”, which makes me wonder where you’re coming from as the question looks like a plant. However I have heard plenty of tosh about the deficit from them, and reinforced prejudices about immigration and benefits, even approval of sacking nurses if it’s “Government policy” (until they need treatment on the NHS, that is). There’s a great article here that explains it perfectly http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong.

        • Quiet_Sceptic

          So when you’re talking about the issues with them, at some stage you must start discussing what Labour stands for, what Labour would do about these things, how it’s different from the other parties, essentially what Labour is offering? Otherwise you might just be any old stranger off the street having a chat about politics.

          Taking an interest in getting the local pot holes repaired isn’t something unique to Labour, I doesn’t really serve to put any clear gap between us and the other parties.

          • Andy McCormick

            Except I usually have ID and a big red rosette so it’s pretty damned obvious I’m not just any old person off the street having a chat about politics. And with the CLPs I’ve been involved with, we follow up on the casework, as well as put thousands of leaflets a year through doors saying what we’ll do, and informing the electorate when we deliver on it, which we usually do.

          • Quiet_Sceptic

            The point is that if there’s nothing to clearly differentiate what you are offering from the other parties then you could be wearing any colour of rosette.

          • Andy McCormick

            Which is what the Lib Dems tried until they got found out.
            I refer you to my previous answer. We follow up. People are in no doubt as to who we are and what we do. Casework spikes after a calling card or leaflet drop. If you have ever been a Labour candidate or elected representative you would know this, it’s Politics 101.

  • Guest

    I think that Miliband’s instincts are largely correct, but he is hampered by a
    Shadow Cabinet that does not pull its weight and it seems as though Blairites
    looking to sever the union link have damaged the party’s unity at the worst
    possible time. Ed’s leads of around 15 points have come when he has been bold,
    such as over phone-hacking and his confident speech at last year’s conference.
    I’m sure others have noticed that the lead has decreased each and every time he
    has pledged to match Coalition spending plans or accepted the austerity
    narrative. This is not ‘being tough’, it is being weak. If austerity is
    draining confidence from the economy under the Coalition, then it will continue
    to do so under a Labour government. If the Bedroom Tax is immoral and should be
    scrapped by the Coalition, then Labour should pledge to repeal it. The ‘drift’
    Mark identifies comes from accepting arguments that the public sees have been
    proven wrong. They want a genuine alternative, not more of the same but with
    pained expressions. Andy Burnham and Tom Watson are two of our best campaigners
    and we need more like them in the Shadow Cabinet and less anonymous
    technocrats.

  • rekrab

    Ed, will only get one shot at winning an election and as labour positions itself as a centre right party in the vain hope it can form a coalition with the liberals, you can see the fresh paint sliding off the walls and labour becoming an irrelevant political movement, lost in the chaos of no- identity.

    It’s far more serious than a sense of drift, labour is in terminal decline and unless someone steadies the ship, it’s likely that the labour party will sink and be gone with.

  • poppy2009

    Miliband is unworthy and distrustful to be PM to run the country, plus showing
    how his popularity with his own party is poor. He is trying to be a big man and
    resolve the union problems within his party and him personally but that’s too
    late the union’s have always been involved and always will be, even more
    at the next parliament if labour get in power, ask Len McCluskey, see if Miliband
    can dispute that fact.

  • Andylabour AlltheWay

    we need some easy to understand policies.

    Scrap income tax up to the minimum wage.
    Freeze fuel duty for 5 years of parliament.
    Cut VAT to 15%.
    Let councils borrow to build affordable houses which they could pay back from future tax intake.
    Have a EU in out referendum.
    Give 16-17 year old the right to vote.
    Tax incentives for paying living wage.

    These are easy to understand and easy explain policies which would appeal to most voters.

    Andy Edinburgh

    • reformist lickspittle

      We will hear some of this in the autumn, hopefully.

      Maybe you could add repeal of the bedroom tax, as well?

    • RAnjeh

      They will but just one thing: where is the money to pay for it?

  • Andy McCormick

    Cameron is clueless, if this is the best Eton/Oxbridge can do for the Tories then we have every chance of winning 2 terms.

  • Emily

    How about actually listening to people?? I cancelled my membership at the start of July because they were taking unauthorised amounts of money out of my account and wrote a detailed (perhaps ranting) explanation about why I was leaving… I haven’t had a reply or even an apology for taking money out of my account without permission. Labour are offering no alternative whatsoever to austerity and doing nothing to campaign against the awful things this government are doing. We should be seeing fury over the privatisation of the NHS and the racist van. Where is the fury? I’m voting Green next time, if I vote at all. But I’m starting to think that violent revolution followed by self-governance is the only way we can only get out of this mess of corruption that most politics has become. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Miliband and Burnham have made DOZENS of passionate statements about the NHS – the latest only this week. Are you deaf, blind, or both??

  • driver56

    Labour has to offer the British people a vote on our membership of the EU, a straight yes or no vote and we must live with the consequences. Ed needs to start beating cameron at pmq’s so far he has been thrashed. we need to offer protection for the NHS, in reality we need to return to labours basic principals. If the above are not on the agenda, we might as well pack up as we won’t win the next election. If we are to change leader, who could replace him now?

    • reformist lickspittle

      Most people don’t share your obsession with the EU.

  • John McEvoy

    Haven’t you heard? Young people are against benefit scroungers, a Nanny State and Big Government. In every other area of life they have real choice – and they’re not choosing the Welfare Party.

    • reformist lickspittle

      That myth – based on partial, cherry-picked polling stats – has already been exploded. Do try to keep up, brainwashed Tory troll.

      “Welfare party” – is that what Crosby told you to say?

  • John Smith

    Onto Plan B! What was Plan A?

  • RAnjeh

    “There’s a realistic fear that
    some in Miliband’s circle want to re-run the 2010 manifesto – and electoral
    strategy – again, and expect a different result.”

    I don’t see that it is even possible. Times have changed so much in the last 5
    years. Wasn’t that entire strategy or manifesto based on Labour being a party
    in government for about 13 years desperately clinging onto power? How could that even work for a party trying
    to become a party of government again?

    I think the problems are deeper than renationalising the railways or not. At the moment, the public don’t see Ed
    Miliband as a Prime Minister, they don’t trust us on the economy, they don’t
    think we are in touch with their concerns (such as on welfare) and the party
    has been lacklustre in its attitude towards getting back 2010 Tory voters. Now that Cameron has brought in Lynton Crosby,
    the party is feeling the heat. Miliband needs to do several things. Firstly, we
    need to be more open about our record on the economy even on the deficit and we
    need to have a Shadow Chancellor who can deliver our economic message with credibility. We then need to be go further in showing the
    tough decisions that we’ll make (a £100m cut in the welfare budget is not going
    to get rid of the deficit). Secondly, we need to fill in the contents of One
    Nation. It’s a great message but its
    need umph. We need clear policies about how a Labour
    government is going to challenge vested interests, reform the economy, radically reform the state and the market,
    redistribute power to people and support people’s aspirations. Thirdly, the shadow cabinet needs to be reshuffled.
    Bring in people from the 201o intake who are brilliant (like Stella Creasy) and
    big beasts from the past (like Alistair Darling. It cannot be the ‘most popular Labour MPs’
    but a serious alternative Cabinet. The Labour Party needs to start getting
    disciplined and start talking as if it is a party that will be in power in
    2015. It also means taking advantage of our best communicators and policy
    thinkers. Fourthly, we need our own
    Lynton Crosby. I think Matthew Taylor from the RSA, would be the best
    choice. Finally, this article gives some
    criticism of the strong decision from Ed Miliband to reform the union link. Ed
    Miliband needs to go further and faster on that reform and he has to show the
    public that he has shown leadership. He
    needs to start using it as evidence that he can take the tough decisions to
    lead the country.

  • MrSauce

    ‘It’s the economy, Stupid’

  • David Battley

    The Sun outlined where it stood on a huge number of issues yesterday: why can’t our political parties seem to do likewise?

    • David Battley

      I can only assume the person who “down voted” this comment prefers a life of being told what to believe from day to day, and that we were always at war with Eurasia.

  • RogerMcC

    Its gone now but by clicking on their names you could see that the commenter and those who pressed like’s normal hunting grounds were actually the Telegraph and Spectator.

    And this I think is another reason to hate the disqus system used here – do I really want everyone to be able to track all my previous comments?

  • RogerMcC

    I register the apology but I still don’t see why you are wasting your time here.

    Labourlist like Conservativehome and wherever the hell the few remaining Lib Dems hang out are websites made by and for active supporters of a political party.

    You are not a Labour supporter, believe our leaders are criminals who should be in jail and have stated that you will only even consider voting Labour if it adopts what you call ‘centrist’ but we would call right-wing policies diametrically opposed to the principles and values most Labour members hold dear.

    This is a perfectly legitimate position held to varying degrees (at generally much lower levels of sophistication) by millions of people in the UK.

    But I can’t for the life of me see why you think the constant re-iteration of this message will be welcomed by or even interest anyone on a website for Labour activists.

    We are in fact well aware that a significant segment of the population share your views.

    This is why our leaders are triangulating like mad to try and ensure that as many as possible do vote for us.

    I myself regularly and I am sure irritatingly point out here that the English electorate are in fact not horny-handed proletarians who only refuse to vote Labour because we abandoned Clause Four.

    So Labour doesn’t actually need outsiders to come and tell us all this in our websites comments sections because we actually pay professionals to run polls and analyse those published by other people.

    Plus to be frank epistemic closure may have been coined to describe the American Right but pretty much goes with serious political acitivism of any sort.

    We – even a dismal pessimist like me – are here because we believe.

    So you are simply not going to persuade me or any of us down here that everything we believe is wrong and that we are wasting our lives.

    There are literally countless general political forums online where you could express your views to people who represent a wider spectrum of political opinions and where you might actually find some who agree with you.

    But Labourlist is as the name tells you is not such a site.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Do you really believe that you represent Labour voters? You might be a member of the Party, but that is not the same.

      I have voted for Labour in 75% of the General Elections that I have been able to vote in, and if Labour become sensible, see no barrier in doing so again.

      And so I won’t be told by you what I should or should not do. If you want to turn Labourlist into an “echo chamber” of your views, you will find that many normal people do not agree with you.

      Whatever you and other very committed Labour Party members “believe”, it is not ever going to be delivered by a Labour Government in your or my lifetimes, so it is not really worth believing in the power of the Labour Party to deliver it, is it? If you really do believe in what you advocate, there are always other parties, or you can stand for yourself. What you seem to have done is to join the wrong tribe (for you), but feel loyalty to them for little intelligent reason. The Labour Party is no longer socialist, if ever it was. Do you not understand that?

      The nasty and uncomfortable reality is that for you, even though you pay your subscriptions to the Party, and possibly also union fees, what I represent is more important to your Party. Your vote is guaranteed (and as you point out in other sensible comments that you make, quite totally useless, as it is in tory Sussex), mine is not. Even though I am also living in a tory seat, my vote is a swing. Yours is not as it stays the same. And, so I get much more value from Labourlist than you do, and you deliver much less value to the Labour Party than I do. It is strange how this centrist independence works.

      So, if Labourlist wishes for a future Labour Government, which of course it does, it will allow people like me to make comments on here, and indeed does as the editor sees a bigger picture than you appear to. Your prescription is for electoral oblivion.

    • Daniel Speight

      Very well put Roger. There’s a nasty smell (virtual of course) when this guy starts commenting. In get the feeling there is a nasty extremist under the veneer of being just a plain conservative. Maybe having lived most of my life in the third world from Africa to Asia I have become more sensitive to the rhetoric.

      When the word socialist or socialism is used as an insult or spat out with such obvious dislike and the wrongs of communist Russia are thrown in to justify it, I usually start looking for a uniform, official or otherwise. Maybe a give-away is his attitude to Argentina which has little to do with the Falklands, but seems based on a Chilean nationalist agenda.

  • Pingback: Labour MP: I Don’t Know What Ed Stands For or Believes In - Guy Fawkes' blog

  • RogerMcC

    I am sure Labour MPs will be following the Australian election very closely and will draw the appropriate conclusions if Kevin Rudd conjures victory or even just a marginal defeat out of the mess Julia Gillard left him.

    However unfortunately the nearest equivalent figure to Kevin Rudd in the UK is Gordon Brown which sadly isn’t quite the answer we’d be looking for.

  • RogerMcC

    I feel much the same way but your choice if enough people also made it means another Tory government and the end of the NHS, of the welfare state and quite possibly of the United Kingdom itself.

    All we get in this dark age are choices between lesser and greater evils.

    And those who refuse that choice doom themselves and the rest of us to suffer the greater evil.

    And who can doubt that the Tories are a greater evil?

  • RogerMcC

    Sorry to be pedantic but you meant ‘energise’ – enervate means the exact opposite! (but does describe very well how some of us feel after the last few weeks….).

    • RedMiner

      Thanks. Don’t know how that slipped in. Have edited it.

  • RogerMcC

    While usually I disagree with Hopi Sen this is a strong argument on how we may be too optimistic about 2010 Lib Dems flooding back to us:

    http://hopisen.com/2013/why-labour-shouldnt-only-rely-on-a-yellow-tide-to-victory/

    And I’d hypothesise that even where they do convert so many former Lib Dems are tactical voters in seats where actually Labour has no hope (which is why they went Lib Dem in the first place) that having them vote Labour will probably hand more former Lib Dem seats to the Tories than they gain us in 3-way marginals – of which there are actually not very many.

    • Monkey_Bach

      Actually I believe that you’re right.

      To many people preventing the Tories from securing a working majority is the most important thing and where Labour cannot win voting Lib Dem is a sound tactical move. Even if post 2015 another coalition government results formed by an unholy alliance between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, there is some hope that the worst Tory excesses and cruelties, e.g., stripping housing benefit from all under 25 year olds, might be watered down or blocked by Liberal Democrat influence.

      Lib Dems might be more like Oskar Schindler than Philippe Petain.

      Eeek.

      • RogerMcC

        That may be the worst historical analogy I’ve seen in a very long time.

        • Monkey_Bach

          I try to please. Eeek.

          • RogerMcC

            You didn’t.

            Listen to the Cookie Monster:

          • Monkey_Bach

            My Linux Flashplayer plugin forbids me access to YouTube and such like but I appreciate the thought.

            Eeek.

          • RogerMcC

            I am sure you guessed it’s the ‘one of these things is not like the other song’.

            And you live utterly without youtube?

            Eek indeed…..

          • Monkey_Bach

            It’s all to do with SSE2! C’est la guerre. Life is short but Ronnie Corbett is shorter. Eeek.

  • RogerMcC

    As a former CLP Membership Secretary I can well believe they screwed up your subscription…..

    But I’m starting to think that violent revolution followed by
    self-governance is the only way we can only get out of this mess of
    corruption that most politics has become. I don’t think I’m alone in
    thinking this.

    You may not be alone in thinking it – I used to think the same way myself 30-odd years ago and have to continuously ask myself whether my younger self was right.

    But you are in a very small minority indeed – the total membership of revolutionary left sects is probably no more than the low thousands (whereas in 1978 or so it was in the low tens of thousands) and as the recent shenanigans in the SWP (and previous shenanigans in the SSP, WRP etc) display they are at best utopian fantasists and at worst clowns, charlatans and criminals.

    And voting Green is an utter waste of time unless you happen to live in Brighton (and even there Caroline Lucas may not be able to survive the ill-will generated by the Green council).

    Supporting Labour all too often seems to be choosing a lesser evil – but sometimes that’s what you have to do because there really is a much greater evil that will triumph if you don’t hold your nose and do it.

  • RogerMcC

    Shame your formatting is screwed up and its difficult to read without paragraphs.

    To go through your five points:

    1) This openness about the economy should include a complete admission that the biggest failure was to firstly allow the banks to destroy the economy, Secondly that we erred terribly in not jailing the bankers responsible and thirdly in not fully nationalising them when we had the opportunity….

    2) One Nation does indeed need to be filled in but ultimately the British voter doesn’t read manifestos and polling shows most of what they think they know about politics (or indeed almost everything else) is demonstrably wrong anyway.

    So sadly simply listing policies (which your obsession with paying down the deficit means there won’t be any money to pay for anyway) will not help as much as you think it will.

    3) Actually agree we need some more substantial figures in the cabinet which is currently rather PPE Clone City.

    But wanting Alistair Darling or Alan Johnson back will not make them come – and there are surprisingly few other former front benchers who are still in Parliament and have not utterly discredited themselves.

    And can I just point out that the two very worst communicators in the current shadow cabinet are also amongst its best known Blairites….

    4) I actually agree (sort of) we need our own Lynton Crosby

    But even if we had Alistair Campbell et al back working their dark arts it matters nothing when the newspapers read by 83% of the 40% of the population who still read newspapers at all are our sworn enemies (as opposed to the Blair days when the Sun, Times and even for a while Express were on ‘our’ side) and even the BBC has become a mendacious propaganda organ for the coalition.

    5) For someone who is rightly concerned about where the money comes from for our favoured policies can I ask where you think the £ millions we need to fight a general election campaign will come from if not from the unions that you (and it seems Ed) want to cut loose from in a misguided attempt to display ‘toughness’?.

    Toughness is indeed a key quality in a politician but actually knowing who will pay for the next general election campaign is an even more important one (and one which Tony Blair for instance never forgot).

    • reformist lickspittle

      Miliband does *not* want to “cut loose” from the unions.

      Apart from that, decent post.

      Whilst I think your posts are a tad pessimistic in general, at least you appreciate being leader of the opposition is BLOODY HARD.

      Too many of Ed’s critics seem to think it is a piece of p*** ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

    Seconded. You’re also forgetting the cavalier attitude too many having regarding the seats furthest north – Scotland. Too many assume Alex Salmond will lose the independence referendum and it will be business as usual. But whatever the outcome the status quo cannot continue – either Scottish MPs will no longer be able to vote on English affairs or there number will be drastically reduced (and possibly MPs in Wales also). Labour has abysmal polling in the South and that drastically needs to change.

  • RogerMcC

    And what happened to Gramsci again?

  • RogerMcC

    Not strictly true – the changes are on the statute book implementation has just been delayed til 2018 and as long as there isn’t a majority for repealing them and for starting a new process the Tories may not need a full majority to get them through for 2020.

  • aracataca

    This could have come from the Tory troll at the top of this piece but he probably would have avoided the ‘we all know’ clause. The point is we don’t ‘all know’ and the future is unwritten.

    • dave stone

      “the future is unwritten.”

      And Labour’s PLP are refusing the opportunity to write it.

      As Labour MP George Mudie said yesterday: “I remember before we won, the five years to 97, this place was bubbling, we were energetic, we were at them, we thought we had all the answers. We’re not at them and we’re slightly hesitant and we’re slightly confused and I deeply worry about that.”

  • Monkey_Bach

    These days political parties just toe the line with an agenda set by papers owned by Daker or Murdoch. Polls and the media rather than professional politicians determine policy. When media says “Stoop” the politicians ask “How low?”

    Eeek.

  • RogerMcC

    I agree and am actually crunching the numbers using 2010 GE data and Ashcroft and other polls (which as Hopi Sen points out also consistently suggest that nearly a quarter of 2010 LDs will stay at home rather than vote at all next time and that a tenth will vote Con) myself.

    Admittedly its complicated to model as you can’t apply just one swing (or rather several swings: LD to Lab, LD to Con, LD to not vote) but really need different ones for each class of seat with LDs holding onto more votes in the seats that they hold and fewer elsewhere.

    But the crucial factor is the stay at home LDs who indeed feel betrayed (or more likely disappointed as most people do not actually care as much about politics as we obsessives do) by Clegg but either won’t vote Lab on principle or because they are in one of the 222 mostly Southern seats where Lab have no hope of winning because the Tory majority is 10% or more and unassailable other than in very special circumstances and there is really no point other than a moral one in voting at all.

    And its because of this that we won’t see a landslide and will be lucky to get any majority at all.

  • RogerMcC

    Just did a little graph (attached as icon below) showing ICM polling over the 38 months after the 1992 and 2010 elections – and it is not very heartening for Labour.

    (Admittedly both the 29% lead we had in June 1995 and the 0% lead we got in the last ICM poll this July were both outliers compared to other polls…).

    It should also be noted that if you overlaid GDP growth rates for the same period 1992-5 showed fairly strong and consistent growth while 2010-13 has of course been hovering not far from 0% – so Labour’s commanding lead under John Smith and Tony Blair was despite the Tories delivering a real economic recovery.

    So compared to the last term the Tories were in power Labour are incontrovertibly doing far worse.

    Indeed over the whole of Ed’s leadership Labour’s polling lead averages at just 3% – which is below Neil Kinnock’s average 4% lead in the 1987-92 parliament – and we all know what happened to Neil in 1992…..

    • RogerMcC

      Corrected graph.

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  • RogerMcC

    Actually I have a higher regard for Ed (in fact both Eds) than the Blairite Ultras who are currently cheering them on and it is they who want to break the union link.

    What will actually happen is a messy compromise dressed up as a Miliband triumph but which may prove to be utterly irrelevant if the Tories use the lobbying bill to turn off the tap of union contributions anyway.

    And I am a pessimist because I’ve lived long enough to see the broadly social democratic Keynesian world I grew up in turn into an increasingly hellish plutocratic dystopia (albeit one that is more Brave New World than 1984).

    Now in some countries like this one lesser evils can still be chosen and sometimes even turn out to be genuinely less evil (who could doubt that comparing the last three years to the 13 before?) – but that’s all we can hope for.

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  • David Andrews
  • pete3867

    Sorry but , the present Labour party is a joke. They introduced ATOS , and do sod all as far as opposition goes. Ed Milliband couldnt lead a drunk to the off licence never mind a party.. And actually i think this article is quite right , if Labour cant lead by a substantial margin , mid term , with the worse cuts in living memory what chance have they got come the election ? Its Ed Milliband he is insipidly droll and wet , no matter how much you want to like him its impossible to see him as a leader

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