The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, has discovered how nasty Britain’s ‘nasty party’, the Tory Party can be. The splenetic, spluttering anger of Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, that man of multiple identities, demonstrated beyond doubt that if you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. Shapps hilariously has written to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, to complain about a Rapporteur who met with by Ministers, but didn’t come up with the right answers. Given that the UN Secretary General is now heavily involved with deadly serious attempts to resolve the Syrian civil war, I suspect answering Shapps’ silly letter will not be a priority.
The barrage of insults against her was joined by sections of the Tory media and the usual suspects from the puerile, boys-own, social media. Ms Roinik gave as good as she got and more. She also claimed that the reaction she has received in this country was the most hostile of anywhere. Perhaps she hadn’t realised that Britain is pioneering the process of becoming, in UN parlance, a ‘less developed state’.
In some ways, the treatment experienced by Ms Roinik in recent days is what is being doled out every day to the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. But this is only the beginning. What has yet to be unleashed by the Tory attack dogs, the Lynton Crosbys’ and the low-life of the far right blogo-sphere will dwarf the opprobrium now being heaped in order to intimidate. The trouble is that too often, instead of fighting fire with fire, Labour has ended up either abandoning the barricades – over alternatives to austerity for instance – or needlessly turning its fire on it’s own side, as with the frankly unworkable plans to end the collective voice of the unions from the party. But then neither does it help, when a succession of former Ministers, from John Prescott to David Blunkett, are wheeled out as ‘grandee critics’. In the case of Blunkett, he thinks that in order to win Labour needs to join the war party over Syria and ditch the party’s links with the unions.
According to Fraser Nelson, Editor of The Spectator, quoting – of course – from an unknown ‘source’; the Tories had been planning to make speeches attacking him [Ed Miliband] over the next few days; these have now been shelved. “Why should I bother,” asks one Tory minister, “when Labour does it so well?”
It is high time that Labour came out fighting on all cylinders. The party needs to be as bold as it should be confident. The response for instance to the new Newsnight Editor, Ian Katz’s highly unprofessional and frankly juvenile tweets, directed at front bencher, Rachel Reeves, is how it should be done. But now we need that toughness and direction of purpose from Labour’s front bench on a whole range of domestic policies, that toughness for instance that we saw over Syria.
Ed Miliband and the Labour Party were right over Syria. The stalling of the Prime Minister’s bombing plans has given a real opportunity for a peaceful diplomatic settlement now to take place that would not have existed. In this the party reflected the mood of the country as a whole.
What better fight to pick with the Tories then than their extreme plan to sell off the Royal Mail? This policy is deeply unpopular with the public and defies any grounds of rationality. Yet at the moment, Labour front benchers are effectively running a Twitter commentary on a privatisation they appear to think is inevitable. It isn’t.
If Ed Miliband and the Labour Party really want to trounce David Cameron and Vince Cable, the apparently progressive Liberal Democrat Minister, responsible for this outrage, they should pledge immediately to re-nationalise the Royal Mail. Let’s then see what the city vultures circling over the not so prone corpse of a profitable, publicly owned Royal Mail, do then.
Flap away, I suspect, and left hungry.