There’s still time to win, if Miliband can stop the rot

13th May, 2014 10:16 am


After 27 months without a Tory poll lead, one poll showing a Tory lead would have caused headaches in the Labour ranks. Two in the same day? It’s hard to overestimate how debilitating that could be for party morale, especially after so many months with an (albeit dwindling) lead.

No-one can say that this hasn’t been coming through. Poll leads have dipped from double digits to single digits. Labour’s poll share has fallen from the relative comfort of the low forties and the high thirties to the uncomfortable territory of the mid thirties, and now downwards into the low thirties – nearing the Gordon Brown zone.

Two months ago I wrote about a Labour Party that was calm, but should be “deeply anxious”.

If these dreadful polls achieve anything, I hope it’s to shake the party – politicians, staff and activists alike – out of the torpor which appears to have overcome it. Two years have poll leads have led to drift, a lack of energy and a deficit of imagination. These polls show that Labour cannot coast to victory – in fact, they show that defeat, and a painfully crushing one, is possible.

And yet there still remains a “keep calm and carry on” brigade in the Labour Party who are happy to embrace the low-energy, low-turnout world of modern politics. There are those who note, without concern, that Labour could still have the most seats with only 32% of the vote and a 2 point Tory lead. Putting the Democratic in “Democratic Socialism”, evidently. Such a government would face questions of legitimacy from day one. And then there are those – including at least one senior party staffer – who’ve told me that “if we draw we still win”, which seems complacent beyond belief.

Last night as I struggled to sleep, I wondered if there could be a worse time for the Tories to take a poll lead. Ten days before a major national election – Labour’s last national test before the general election – is awful timing. But worse, perhaps, would be if the party had managed to retain a poll lead until March 2015, only to find it evaporating once the campaign began, with no time left to stop the rot.

One thing that can be said for the position we find ourselves in today is that we do, just about, have time to stop the rot if we change course now.

Firstly, that means realising that we are in a fight for the future of the country, and acting like it. That means if we do better than expected next week, or if our poll lead returns to a relatively comfortable level, we can’t assume we’ve cracked it and everything is ok again. We need to be throwing the kitchen sink not only at the opposition, but also at pushing out our own bold agenda.

Recently Miliband has begun to hit his stride with policies that are both radical, but practical and popular as far as the voters are concered. But a fear of explaining – for example – how radical Miliband’s recent rents pledge is, the party hardly talked about it. And when it did, it talked down the radical nature of the policy – meaning that Labour supporters yearning for a big pitch from Miliband din’t hear one, even when it appeared. That can’t happen again. Campaign messaging and leadership messaging need to be more closely aligned, so that we don’t get messages on Rents, corporate takeovers and beating up on Nick Clegg tripping over themselves – with the positive message being almost forgotten before it’s even out there.

And while we’re talking about the Lib Dems – our relentless week long attack on them has seen them go up in the polls, whilst UKIP remain unchallenged.

Did we not learn the lessons of Bradford West – and Scotland – that you need to take on the party that you’re facing, not your preferred foe? In both cases Labour attacked the Tories, only to see ourselves outflanked by Galloway and the SNP respectively. It’s incredibly hard to fight an election from the left on negativity, especially when the positivity of your message is obscured. And whilst a shift in focus to the NHS is welcome – as it’s more positive ground for Labour – it’s still neither a local nor a European election issue. There’ve been a plethora of message leaflets issued by Labour HQ lately. The issue of the elections we’re fighting has been largely absent.

Whilst Labour people will be feeling down today though, it’s not too late to turn things around. It’s not even too late to turn things around in time for next week’s election. If our poll ratings can plummet, they can also rise. Polls are not bound by the laws of gravity – fortunately. If those in charge of Labour’s campaign grab the bull by the horns and shift towards positive messages that enthuse Labour voters, a good result next week is still possible. The candidates, organisers and capacity building work that the party put in place early on could also mean that Labour outperforms the national polling on the ground, where it matters. If so, the complaints of commentators like me will be forgotten, and the strategists and campaign chiefs will rightly reap the rewards and the praise.

But there is another scenario – where Labour comes second, or perhaps – unthinkably – third in the European elections, and underperforms in the local elections. If potential Labour voters are unmoved by our campaign, our messages and our leadership that could happen – and if it does, Miliband would face the toughest test of an already tough and tested leadership.

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  • Peter Hutchinson

    I would hope that these results encourage Labour to focus on putting out a positive message. We have good policies, let’s explain and discuss them.

    • Holly

      For four years the Labour front bench have been the epitome of doom & gloom.
      Balls doesn’t seem to be able to keep shake it off, and the Labour backbenchers are ‘fed’ their questions from god knows who.
      The public are not daft, and any ‘sudden’ switch will be spotted as a ‘con’, or that Miliband & Co have been made to ‘lighten up’ on the doom & gloomery by an Americal spin bod.
      Will tomorrow’s PMQ’s end up the same as Labour’s offering of the shadow education minister’s ‘urgent question’ yesterday, or Alexander’s ‘defence’ of the two campaign ads?

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  • Absolutely, we need to put out a stronger message, a real alternative rather than sitting on our hands seemingly scared of upsetting people and hoping that we can shade it. I think that to win in 2015 with a decent majority and a proper mandate we need to do so on the back of a real Labour manifesto. We are already developing the manifesto, we need to work on the message.

    • Graham Barker

      Whistling in the dark, probably. No matter how good the manifesto is – and on present form it won’t be good at all – very few people will be persuaded to vote for a weak leader and a cabinet of lightweights and has-beens with form.

      • Yes Graham, but less of the Tories we are talking about the Labour Party here.

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Whilst I would prefer it not to be so I must say I entirely agree with the vast majority of the comments above.
    There is still legacy of Blairite “markets rule and let the good time rip” which has clearly failed the vast majority of society BUT then there is the terror of “If we say anything other than toned down Blairism the Daily Mail voters will be cross.
    Time for Labour to grow a pair. Forget the Daily Mail voters – they don’t vote Labour anyway and never will. By the mealy mouthed, sticking plaster policies being offered apologetically Labour is loosing core support.
    Even the middle classes have learned that for public services markets don’t work. They have learned that free schools and academisation is a recipe for fraud and directorships for cronies.
    I wonder how many more people feel like I do. As a now almost ex-Labour voter I want the Labour party to stand up, be bold and stick two fingers up to the Tory press’s squealing about “socialism” and offer a real alternative to “more markets”, “more academies”, “more subsidies for private pockets”.
    The alternative is that we get a pasting in the GE and we call it a day and start over again with a trades union led party where “accusation “of …’it’s the unions”…can be met with “YES IT IS …. IT SAYS SO IN THE NAME!!!”
    Time to put up or shut up Ed.

  • Michael Bater

    I think the timing is just right, as we have a year to go polls show there now good support progressive, radical Social Democratic policies & I have heard a few being muted.

    A Federal United Kingdom, which would also solve the 2nd Chamber problem, by turning it into a Federal Senate.

    Diverting QE from finical support, to infrastructure development support, such as HS2 & CL2, are both good examples.

  • RavenRandom

    The class war party political said nothing good about a positive, inclusive, one nation message. It fact it said nothing adult at all.

  • Grytpype

    ‘…nearing the Gordon Brown zone’.

    Wrong man at the top again, I’m afraid.

    • glassfet

      A Party Election Broadcast that doesn’t feature the party leader shows just how much of a drag on the ticket Ed Miliband is.

      Never mind a core vote strategy, are Labour pursuing a floor vote strategy?

  • Doug Smith

    “where Labour comes second, or perhaps – unthinkably – third in the European elections”

    Third place would be a disaster for Labour. But the only policy on the EU to come from Labour (that I am aware of) is the refusal to have a referendum – the same position as the LibDems.

    I understand that the pro-EU Blairite zombies in the PLP would probably join the LibDems if Ed suggested the EU was anything less than perfect but, sadly for Ed, there’s a large section of the population who hold a contrary view.

    • MarkPolden

      I think even with those who support the EU it has come down to a matter of sheer democracy and about just letting people make the choice. The Labour party is on the wrong side of that

  • RogerMcC

    One has to ask whether the rent policy is popular – and with whom.

    If there are 4 million private renters there are a great many private landlords (although of course given the rise of a new class of slumlord battening off housing benefit not anywhere like 4 million).

    And a great many (is there are any solid analysis?) of those landlords are not bourgeois rentiers but ordinary voters renting out a room or a flat to eke out their income.

    Many more of us who own their homes but don’t let out are all too aware that we may be forced to do so at some point – or have their whole retirement plan based on that assumption given that property has increasingly replaced pensions.

    So that’s a significant slice of the electorate who see making three year contracts the standard as problematic and who are moreover more likely to actually vote than their typical tenant is.

    And even tenants do include significant numbers who genuinely are not interested in a 3-year commitment – student’s being the most obvious example.

    So the ideal policy would be one that allows for 1- and 2- as well as 3-year contracts – with 3-year being standard for the letting of whole properties and 1- or 2-years for multi-occupancy.

    Some variation based on ownership with 6 month contracts still allowable for landlords who are actually resident in the same property would also be reasonable.

    But the real solution is of course a) BUILD VASTLY MORE SOCIAL HOUSING and b) RESTORE REAL PENSIONS.

    Which won’t however happen overnight so we do indeed need to do something to regulate this sector.

    But a one-size fits all policy for a complex market is not the answer (or at least not a sensible socialist answer) and we are fooling ourselves pretending that it is.

    • keith

      also by capping rent rises this does not take into account when houses or flats need work carried out on them for improvements or to fix damage, the costs of labour and materials to do this wont be capped, two things can happen, the work wont get carried out so housing will deteriorates, making living conditions worse or the houses or flats will not be put on the market for rent.
      Labours failing to expand social housing in 13 years in government is a stain on their record, that they haven’t explained why it was so bad.

      • RogerMcC

        But to be fair capping means setting an upper limit to how high rent can be raised in a 3-year contract period – not banning any rise in rents.

        And if major repairs have to be made the cost is unlikely to be recouped by a short-term rent increase anyway.

        If I rent out my house and the roof collapses requiring £10,000 repairs which for some reason my insurance won’t cover I really can’t expect to recoup all of that from my tenant by suddenly doubling or tripling his rent – that is just a risk of doing business that I have to accept.

        But part of the problem is that the language is tricky – and patiently explaining that capping is not the same as freezing is something the Tory media has every interest in not allowing us to do.

        • Hugh

          It’s not that hard to explain, but Miliband has made it harder by announcing the policy without giving any idea what the cap might be. It would not have been impossible to consult first and then announce Labour would prevent rents increasing more than 3% a year, for example. I think most people could understand that – Tory press notwithstanding.

          One suspects the reason he failed to do so is it fits with his constant desire to have it all ways: with no level specified he can present it as a radical policy to one audience while elsewhere implying it will do little to disrupt most tenancies.

          The other problem he might have had in mind is that once you start discussing where the cap might be set, people might start comparing it with what we’ve actually seen in practice: rent increases that actually have lagged inflation, according to the ONS.

          • RogerMcC

            If only it were that simple.

            To cover the multiple types of landlord and occupancy and the huge regional variations you really need to have multiple caps.

          • Hugh

            Yes, I suppose that’s probably true. I’m not sure that’s what he’s proposing though, and I certainly don’t think it will happen

    • Matthew Blott

      I’m one of them. I have another property I rent out and I’m not rich by any stretch.

      • RogerMcC

        Out of our CLP officers I know at least 3 of us rent out properties.

      • Quiet_Sceptic

        Richer I suspect than those families who can’t afford one property.

        • Matthew Blott

          I don’t deny that at all. That still doesn’t make me rich. I’d be more than happy if house prices crashed and we had a more sensible level of housing prices so younger professionals could afford to buy somewhere.

  • Jimmy

    My election leaflet from Labour barely mentioned the EU election. Obviously deliberate, but strange. Oh, and it had a big pic of Ed on the front. Probably not a great idea given his (unfairly) crap personal ratings.

    • Tom

      Why is it unfair? Ratings are ratings and he his crap.

  • markmyword49

    Where are the Shadow Cabinet? You don’t see them on the TV, hear them on the airwaves or read their proposals in the press. Are they being muzzled by headquarters or are they waiting to knife Miliband.
    Voters aren’t stupid. They look at what Labour proposes and see it as Coalition lite. Why turn out to vote if all you’re going to get is more of the same only dressed up in caring language. That’s why sections of Labour are likely to vote UKIP. Their policies don’t stand up to proper scrutiny but at least they aren’t the Establishment waiting for Buggin’s turn at the trough leaving 90% of the electorate no better off.
    All the major parties look like they’ve accepted UKIP will top the polls at the EU elections. At least the LibDems have nailed their colours to the mast and are prepared to go down fighting. All Labour can offer is lukewarm praise for the EU. Why would anyone who thought the EU was a good thing for the UK vote Labour?
    Listening to Miliband being interviewed yesterday by Nick Robinson was soul destroying. He didn’t look or appear enthusiastic about his policies. It was almost as if he was repeating by rote.

  • Ann Black

    Please can we drop the dreadful Hardworking Britain Hardworking Families Hardworking People Hardworking Hardworking Hardworking, repeated 12 times in one recent mailing – no normal person talks like this, and it causes them to run out of the room screaming.

    • BusyBeeBuzz

      Well said Ann! Why should I vote for a party that only represents “hard working people”? Why should I vote for a party who defines “hard working people” as those in receipt of a salary. I am a very hard working person but I am not in receipt of a salary. It is a mistake to expect unemployed disabled people to vote Labour if the party doesn’t do anything to help them and does everything to harm them.

      Most MPs these days strike me as having a “deficit of imagination”. Ordinary folk are no longer impressed by the be-suited marketing man handing out leaflets with empty slogans and uttering statements that have the same structure as Coca-Cola adverts. Labour should dump its corporate marketing strategy and start imagining what vulnerable people want to hear e.g. a bit of hope that Labour really can make a lot of difference. Labour should also focus on the current erosion of democracy and the people’s democratic right to challenge bad laws.

    • Monkey_Bach

      Blair’s favourite cliché, “Hardworking Faimlies”, has been overused so much as to merit it’s own Wikipedia entry! Which is kind of funny you have to admit.


    • MikeHomfray

      I don’t know anyone who doesn’t agree with this. Its painful.

    • Ben Symak

      Young unemployed people like myself are hardworking, too. Some people have no understanding how arduous it is to be looking for a job that doesn’t exist. Well said, Ann.

      • treborc1

        Tell me about it, in fact tell MPs they might listen some how I doubt it.

    • Ben Cobley

      Besides not being an actual word, ‘Hardworking’ is such a negative message – a reduction of morality to how hard you work. If it was serious then we should surely ban washing machines and dishwashers in order that we could all work even harder – not exactly a positive vision for the future.

      • Chris Anjuna

        Well said Ben! I keep making this point at branch and CLP meetings 🙂

    • kb32904

      This & One Nation grinds my gears – they are so nonsensical.

      We sit & laugh when the Cons speak & count the ‘long term economic plan’ mentions & much as I hate to admit it, ours are just as bloody bad !

    • PoundInYourPocket

      Population 63 million, people in work 30 million. So the majority don’t “work”. Also I read with interest that the Tory proposed “British” Bill of Rights, set to replace the EU Human Rights Act, is linked to “responsibilities” on which those rights will be conditional. Of course one of those responsibilities is that citizens must always be chasing “work”. Hence welfare sanctions become perversely enshrined in a Bill of Rights. Society needs to be about much much more than just “hardworking” people who make up the minority of citizens, and I expect would rather be working less “hard”.

      • Doug Smith

        Miliband covered the same ground and offered the same Tory solution after meeting a man who, following an accident, was on incapacity benefit. Miliband (never had a proper job in his life) thought the man should be working. So Miliband mentioned this in his 2011 speech on ‘responsibility’:

        “And there is a link between the man on incapacity benefit and those executives at Southern Cross [and asset stripping entity].

        “What is that link?

        “That these are people who are just not taking responsibility – and the rest of us are left picking up the pieces.”

        And some people on this blog wonder why I left the Labour Party…

        • jaydeepee

          So, what do you do know?

      • Mouch

        I don’t think ‘hardworking’ is a proxy for ‘deserving’

        The majority don’t ‘work’ because (I suspect):
        1) They are retired and have been ‘hardworking’ in the past (deserving?)
        2) They have not yet reached working age and will be ‘hardworking in the future (deserving?).

        Personally, I don’t have problem with Bill of Rights that is explicit about my responsibilities. I am grateful to live in a democracy and believe that comes with responsibilities.

        However, having said that I can appreciate others might feel different about this

    • RogerMcC

      If you are (and forgive me but this being the internet one can never be 100% sure) the Ann Black I vote for every NEC election is this really something Labour’s NEC has no influence whatsoever on?

      If so why do you bother standing and we bother voting for a body that has seemingly no control over what the party says and does?

      • Ann Black

        Hi Roger
        Yes, the very same. The NEC has less influence than it deserves, but more than none. Why do I bother standing? Partly the triumph of hope over experience, partly the occasional achievement, mainly the opportunity to talk directly with members about what is being said and done. Why do you bother voting? Same reason as voting in any election: the right to vote should always be exercised. And vote for whoever says the things that you would say, to the leader or the general secretary, if you had the chance. (To continue this discussion, you’re welcome to mail me at [email protected])..

      • Ann Black

        Hi Roger
        Yes, the very same. The NEC has less influence than it deserves, but more than none. Why do I bother standing? Partly the triumph of hope over experience, partly the occasional achievement, mainly the opportunity to talk directly with members about what is being said and done. Why do you bother voting? Same reason as voting in any election: the right to vote should always be exercised. And vote for whoever says the things that you would say, to the leader or the general secretary, if you had the chance. (To continue this discussion, you’re welcome to mail me at [email protected])..

        • RogerMcC


          Thanks for replying and I will vote for you again for all the reasons you list.

          But judging by the 2012 election the effective turnout for the CLP section will probably be only around 25% (i.e. last time only 282,000 were cast out of 1.14 million possible votes).

          So a large majority of Labour members do now see little point in using the ballot papers that the party spends a considerable amount of money sending out.

          That is an absolutely fundamental issue – 75% of individual members are now so disengaged from the party that they won’t even vote to be represented on its governing body.

          And 267 CLPs have been effectively abandoned by the party because like mine they are neither Labour-held or target seats and many are (again like mine) largely moribund.

          52 district councils (including again my own) have not one single Labour member and 21 have just one – so many of us do not have even the dubious solace of being represented in local government.

          And (albeit in the context of Labour’s wider ‘Southern Problem’) the NEC has formally recognised these issues by commissioning John Denham’s Southern Taskforce report – but months after it was delivered to you we’ve yet to see any sign at all of its recommendations being implemented.

          For example it recommended that as all Labour votes have an equal value in the EU election that all CLPs should be given targets and supported in meeting them – and yet certainly nothing has been done by our regional office to implement this.

          Indeed with an actual election less than two weeks away some of us members in no-hope seats were mass e-mailed by Douglas Alexander on Friday – but not to encourage us to vote and get others to vote on the 22nd but only to instruct us which target seat we should be volunteering to help out in a year from now.

          So if Labour does come a humiliating third in the EU vote the failure to maximise what Labour votes there are in all of those no-hope seats will have been a factor.

          Yet as far I can see no current candidate for the NEC has in their statement addressed these issues – or seems to have any understanding at all of the problems faced by Labour’s forgotten army out there in shires and the suburbs.

  • leslie48

    Some of us having been saying for some time that UKIP was /is being given an easy free run -as one journalist put it the other day the two main parties have left the battle field. And wow look at those right-wing boys now. Confront them full on for goodness sake,.

    • RogerMcC

      Confront them?

      The UKIP bubble not bursting again (as it has in every general election since 1997) and significant numbers of Tories voting for them next year is in fact our main hope now of scraping a victory.

      Discredit them and the majority of their voters will return to the Tories.

      So grit your teeth and cheer every time Farage pops up grinning on our TV screens.

      • leslie48

        That’s too high risk as the research suggests their voters are also coming from Labour and the unskilled working class especially some of the more worrying later opinion polls. Moreover when ever has the centre left / democratic socialists simply retreated in the face of a Right Wing party offering crude solutions of isolationism, retreat from our 28 European trade partners and a crude Neo-Liberalism of regressive taxes and massive cuts. Once the barbarians have shifted the consensus further Rightwards the UK will look appealing to the Tea Party.

        • RogerMcC

          What research?

          And when you have 13% or similar claiming they will vote UKIP in a 1000-sample poll that’s just 100-odd of whom the former Labour voters will be in very low double or even single figures which is not statistically worth that much.

          To pick one at random the April 2014 Ipsos Mori political tracker has 110 UKIP voters of whom in 2010 32 claimed to have voted Tory, 10 Lab and 13 Lib Dem.

          So if you think that poll is significant over three times as many UKIP voters came from the Tories than from Lab and they get more support from Lib Dems than us.

          And recognising this sampling issue Ipsos Mori looked at all their 2012 polls and concluded:

          Looking across everyone in 2012 who told Ipsos MORI they would vote for
          UKIP at an immediate general election, 43% of them had voted for the
          Conservatives in 2010. Therefore almost half of the support for UKIP is
          coming from former Conservative voters (note of course , this does not
          mean half of 2010 Conservative voters are switching to UKIP as we
          discuss later). Around a quarter are loyal UKIP supporters having voted
          for them in 2010. The rest is made up of handfuls of Liberal Democrats,
          Labour and BNP voters as well as people who did not vote in 2010.

          As for class there have always been working class Tories – whole books used to be written about them by the likes of the late Bob Mackenzie – and it is probable that much of UKIP’s ‘working class’ support comes from these working class Tories (as well as from the lumpenprole morons who voted BNP in significant numbers before 2010).

        • RogerMcC

          Also ‘high risk’ implies that ‘we’ have chosen to have our fate decided by whether the dumbest and most bigoted people in Britain choose to vote UKIP rather than Tory in 2015 – or that we have any ability whatsoever to change what I suppose one must call their minds.

          • So, ppl who are thinking of voting for UKIP are dumb are they?. If you start saying stuff like that you will wind up a lot of ppl who will see your bunch as a load of snobs

      • Matthew Blott

        LOL, you’re probably right here!

        • RogerMcC


          It’s no laughing matter.

          The only chance for progressive politics in 2014 is that the right vote is so split that Labour sneaks through to victory with as low as 32% of the vote (which would equal about 20% of the electorate).

          You have to weep for this country and what it has become.

          • Bruce_K

            “You have to weep for this country and what it has become.”

            Funny, that’s exactly who so many people support UKIP.

          • RogerMcC

            The past is another country – they do things differently there….

          • Matthew Blott

            Sometimes you have to laugh – or you’ll end up crying instead!

  • Dave_Costa

    We are the message – when Labour activists get out on the doorstep or phone voters, people see us as a living movement of real people, willing to stand up for our beliefs and listen to their views. Very few people will read the manifesto and it will be hard to get our messages out through the media. Yes the leadership and headquarters can do more but the rest of us need to focus hard on campaigning to demonstrate that Labour can win and is therefore worth listening to. The more people we talk to, the more votes we’ll get.
    How would talking more about Europe change our prospects? The important EU decisions are taken by representatives of national governments and that’s the way most people in Britain (and I suspect across the EU) want things to stay. We’re electing a very big “users’ consultative committee” and no-one has ever been very excited about that. Even the UKIP voters I meet on the doorstep aren’t interested in the EU – they are wholly fixated on immigration. When you’re fighting an election no-on cares about, you have to make it a referendum on the issues which do matter to voters – and every winning European election campaign has been built on that. When you’re fighting a party like UKIP which offers bogus solutions to real problems like lack of jobs and housing, it makes sense to focus on offering people positive answers on those basic issues rather than attacking them for being stupid enough to support a party of the hard right.

  • Hamish Kennedy

    People like you should vote Labour because otherwise you would face five more years of warfare attacks from a majority Tory government. If you have not learned what that would be like over the passed four years you just are not looking. Do not expect a bidding war the Torys do not care at all, and will be happy to put the burden of recovery on your back. Perhaps you think UKIP will be on your side? Just remember the improvement to warfare brought in by the last Labour Government.

    • glassfet

      “Just remember the improvement to warfare brought in by the last Labour Government.”

      Those were ‘paid for’ by borrowing. Stealing from your Grandchildren is not a sustainable economic model. It’s a pyramid scheme by any other name

      • leslie48

        Economists have shown Labour’s deficit was quite normal during its 13 years- you are confusing what happened post 2008 after the global financial crisis when all the major countries of Europe & America suffered recession.

        • glassfet

          Running a deficit at the height of a boom was not normal in any sense. It was economic madness, and it ended very badly for all concerned. Trying to pretend it didn’t happen is one of the main reasons Labour are polling so poorly.

          • leslie48

            Where is the body of economic literature which claims Blair’s governments were spendrift. Spending more on education, health care, infrastructure, reducing child poverty, more for poor pensioners, were all generally applauded after years of Tory decline and neglect. Moreover our tax revenues increased especially from financial services, we also had less inflation, less unemployment , more growth than most competitors. The global financial crisis and its aftermath changed all western nations and the impact is still with us.

          • glassfet

            ok, you’re right. Gordon Brown’s handling of the economy was flawless, and Ed Balls assistance can only be an electoral asset.

            If only Bust had indeed been abolished, he would be a Saint by now.

            Quick, get that on as many billboards as you can and romp home to victory.

      • Hamish Kennedy

        No so it is Twenty-first Century Capitalism that is a failed economic model. When we are returned to power we going to impose 80% Tax on capital wealth so your grandchildren we grow up in a more equable society. How would you like that then? (I will leave the less radical rebuttal to Leslie48)

        • glassfet

          France just tried that. For equable, read bankrupt.


    • PoundInYourPocket

      “Just remember the improvement to warfare brought in by the last Labour Government.” I assume that’s not a typo, but Labour made quite a mess of he Iraq war so did they really improve “warfare”.

      • Hamish Kennedy

        OK you you got me. By the way I have views on the Iraq wars that are not quite yours I guess but I save them for another post.

      • Doug Smith

        Labour certainly put a lot of profits into the cofferes of the war industries. With cruise missles costing £750,000 a pop and various security contractors (i.e. Blackwater) experiencing a profits bonanza I’m only surprised Labour hasn’t approach defence industries for donations.

  • Carolekins

    Where to start? Get off the back foot and onto the front foot. Couldn’t believe that we were pledging to match Tory spending pledges – AGAIN! We must concentrate: if we lose this election, it will be curtains for the NHS and much of what’s left of the public services.

  • FonyBlair

    Labour need a more sensible message. (Just to declare up front that I have no intention of supporting them!)

    There isn’t a Cost of living crisis but there will be some people who are struggling. That is not a crisis that’s something that affects some people and could be dealt with via some intelligent thought.

    Despite Labour saying the NHS will disappear under the Tories in every single election, it still carries on albeit run in different ways. That’s change as with everything in the world and so Labour should talk about how they would run it….and that doesn’t mean just spending more money.

    Labour also need to realise that everyone who works in a business in the UK knows how business works so all the anti business talk and the mad cap ideas to destabilise investment in energy, rail, buy to let etc. doesn’t help and loses Labour credibility.

    Finally they must surely recognise that if we don’t get the structural deficit eliminated we’ll just continue to add to our huge national debt. There is only so long you can keep piling up debt before a day of reckoning comes i.e. enormous public spending cuts or interest rates through the roof. A sensible policy is to make it clear to Labour members that it isn’t right wing or a wicked Tory plot to cut back spending and get value for money…it’s a national necessity!

    Good luck!

  • keith

    you are right on one thing, there is rot in the labour party and unfortunately Ed is part of it, he is so out of touch with the electorate, how is surrounding yourself with champagne socialists and American millionaires going to help, what none of them have realised that the working class electorate in England as in Scotland (see labour strongholds for years going to the SNP) are fed up being taken for granted, by people who can only parrot sound bites and talk down to them but never listen. saying sorry for the mistakes that were made over 13 years of government, that hurt the core continuance of the party is not enough, why and who made those mistakes and do they still have a hand in party policy now and if so why, i ask for just one of the many questions i would like answered, how did we end up having such an appalling record on building social housing, sorry just one more, how many on the labour front bench have done a manual job and not two weeks work experience, the answer might explain how they seem to speak a different language to the rest of us

    • MikeHomfray

      Its not as simple as that, though
      There aren’t the number of typical ‘core voters’ to win a majority any more so an appeal purely to one section of the community won’t work

      • keith

        oh how nice it would be if they did anything to appeal to the core voter and answered only the couple of questioned i asked, but i get the feeling they wouldn’t know their core voters if they stood in front of them

        • MikeHomfray

          There certainly needs to be more in the way of definites – but purely focusing on one social group isn’t sensible. I don’t entirely disagree, though – we definitely need more boldness!

  • kb32904

    “If these dreadful polls achieve anything, I hope it’s to shake the party – politicians, staff and activists alike – out of the torpor which appears to have overcome it.”

    Perhaps some of those activists should have a look in the mirror & stop moaning about stuff on social media & get behind the party in a way that shows they have the parties interests at heart & want a Labour govt, not more of the same crap we currently have !

  • treborc1

    Labour or One nation party new catch word is simplistic and very annoying.

    There is a cost-of-living crisis facing hardworking people.

    So if your not hard working or as was said last night on Have I Got News for You, what happens if your like me and bone idle.

    Once these shows highlight the silliness of this catch phrase what is labour offering the nation and I mean all of us, frankly sod all.

    When labour and Progress stated New labour is dead, what the really mean is the labour party has passed away, and look here is the One Nation party, which is like New labour a Tory Light party from the period of the Victorians, we all saw Gordon Brown talking about work houses for single mothers what next work houses for those that do not work hard.

    The real question is not that New labour is dead, but where is the labour party, the party that once spoke for the working class the poor the people in poverty.
    And the fact is it’s dead.

    The Tories now have a free hand to destroy the welfare state, and labour mumbles we are the party of the hard working, while pensioners and the sick the disabled and the unemployed ask who speaks for us labour mumbles we are the party of the hard working.

    It’s a shame that most of the labour party front bench did not seem to have tried hard work themselves.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      ? “So if your not hard working or as was said last night on Have I Got News for You, what happens if your like me and bone idle.”

      ………..go into politics?

    • fran cullen

      trborc 1. You are just so right. I depend upon DLA, which Labour want to
      continue to restrict by continuing with reassessment for PIP. I have been
      a lifelong Labour voter/supporter (have voted in every single bloomin’ election
      to date).
      Whenever I hear the blah di blah ‘hardworking families’ , ( I am a single female of 61 years) I clutch my hard, distended, miserably uncomfortable belly – the result of abdominal surgery, rub my arthritic lumbar spine with the other hand and stand shouting at the tv or the radio (I can rarely sit in any chair because of these two conditions.)
      In addition, this part of my body has to cope with lichen sclerosus/planus in the very private female area (euphemisms must abound here), – a couple of the symptons of which are chronic itching and fusing + splitting of skin/tissues. Also, I suffer from Hyperacusis ( a breakdown of tolerance to everyday noise/sound, and must pay a substantial sum of money – that I can’t spare – to live in a very quiet area. Result – I have very little for food, absolutely nothing for petrol or anything else.
      I have other health problems too …. but never mind.
      When they take my DLA away, I won’t even be able to afford my home.
      Who do I vote for in the crucial 2015 election?
      I’ll be screwed by all the main parties. Whenever I have written of my
      situation (and voting record ) to Labour bigwigs/representatives I receive
      only content free acknowledgements or no reply at all. (My MP is
      Andrew Stephenson – waste of space Tory) but I have done the rounds
      with Labour’s lot.
      A few days ago, I received an email from Labour’s election team asking
      for comments. I replied, including my huge worry about DLA. They
      mailed me back, saying I would get a quicker GP appointment under
      Labour and asking me for a donation (again). How strange the
      thing most relevant to whether I will put food on the table was ignored?

  • HuwD

    Help me out here – I read fantastic, witty, well-informed critiques of govt. policy
    on Twitter but all we get from EM’s team is irritating and patronising slogans.
    DC has time to comment on all aspects of British life, we’re a Christian
    country etc. yet EM is silent in riposte. Currently, we have Gove diverting
    money to save his dogma, and a tax-avoiding Tory donor, avoiding censor because
    he’s rebranded PR as charity work and EM’s silent. All we have is a series of
    mistimed policy announcements that suggest all the Labour Party is now is consumer
    champion – fixed rents, more choice, 48 hrs to see a doctor – who’s making
    policy is it Which Magazine? Where’s the vision?

  • FonyBlair

    Labour need a more sensible message. (Just to declare up front that I have no intention of supporting them!)

    There isn’t a Cost of living crisis but there will be some people who are struggling. That is not a crisis that’s something that affects some people and could be dealt with via some intelligent thought.

    Despite Labour saying the NHS will disappear under the Tories in every single election, it still carries on albeit run in different ways. That’s change as with everything in the world and so Labour should talk about how they would run it….and that doesn’t mean just spending more money.

    Labour also need to realise that everyone who works in a business in the UK knows how business works so all the anti business talk and the mad cap ideas to destabilise investment in energy, rail, buy to let etc. doesn’t help and loses Labour credibility.

    Finally they must surely recognise that if we don’t get the structural deficit eliminated we’ll just continue to add to our huge national debt. There is only so long you can keep piling up debt before a day of reckoning comes i.e. enormous public spending cuts or interest rates through the roof. A sensible policy is to make it clear to Labour members that it isn’t right wing or a wicked Tory plot to cut back spending and get value for money…it’s a national necessity!

    • MikeHomfray

      As you say, you don’t and won’t vote Labour so your view is irrelevant. No point in having Labour if it is a carbon copy of the Tories

  • Kevin Turner

    Where to begin? He might be a very clever well intentioned individual but his public speaking is dreadful with so many ticks that it is painful viewing. Listening is also quite difficult with focus group directed phases. Who isn’t sick of “Hardworking people” being trotted out at every opportunity or the obligatory mention of “cost of living crisis”? Lets face it Labour made serious mistake in electing Miliband (E) instead of Millband (D). Whether we like it or not politics in the UK is heading towards a USA style personality driven beauty contest and Miliband is on for a good hiding when the Tory’s cut up rough as they surely will under Lynton Crosby. Cameron is a PR professional and will save his own skin next time round by getting the majority they so desperately want.

    • MikeHomfray

      I would have never voted Labour if DM had been elected and the party would have split in two – if it is heading in that direction then we may as well all pack up and go home as you cannot pursue left wing policies if that is the case. Only the right can ever benefit from personality driven politics

      • Kevin Turner

        Can’t see a move back to conviction politicians in my lifetime. It’ll be personality led. Shame but true. Miliband doesn’t connect with ordinary voters. Labour isn’t being bold or brave enough. It’s perpetually trying to occupy the middle ground it thinks it needs to win. That ground goes to the incumbent ie the Tories or at least that’s what their pitch to voters is? In reality we know the objective is to shrink the State under the pretence it’s necessary to clear the deficit. A con trick but it worked once and will probably work again.

        • MikeHomfray

          In that case I wouldn’t bother to vote, or I’d opt for the Greens. There is precisely no chance I would have stayed in the party with DM at the helm because it would have had absolutely nothing worthwhile to say. Personality led politics by its nature is conservative, or detached from the mainstream (like Ken Livingstone, and even that didn’t last)

          • Kevin Turner

            Mike, you’re right I might vote Green or spoil the paper with “None of the above”.
            I’m in a very, very safe Tory seat so my vote is always wasted. I try and hold my right wing, war mongering MP to account but he holds the constituents in contempt if it’s anything other than local issues or it gets his face in the paper. Won’t get drawn on policy issues and toes the line.
            Back to Labour, maybe we aren’t ready to govern. If we win the talent pool is thin IMO and we could cock it up. God knows this lot are an easy target but they know the PR stuff works and of course they have the right wing press behind them.

  • swatnan

    Whatever happened to Neal Lawson’s excellent post? Was it pulled for some reason?
    Neal suggests what Labour and the Left should do next to win.

  • NBeale

    It doesn’t matter whether people like some individual policies Ed proposes – mostly they do. He has to convince people that he can be trusted on the economy and that he is up to the job of being PM.

    Every week that produces more good news on the economy makes the first job more difficult. And every fiasco like the appalling PEB and the shambles of the VAT poster makes the second job next to impossible.

    • Matthew Blott

      I’ve been saying this for months and told it doesn’t matter!

      • MikeHomfray

        But thats because we all know you are a cheerleader for David Miliband and taking New Labour even further,to the right and that would split the party in any case.
        Sometimes all you can do is say what you believe – we haven’t done that clearly enough and there has been too much hesitation for fear of upsetting southern voters who aren’t going to switch to us anyway

        • Matthew Blott

          Yes Homfray, you keep saying this – Labour under Ed Miliband are a mainstream conservative party. So what were we under Blair and Brown, the BNP? You of course see yourself as on the “mainstream left” even though by any measure – and as an Islamist sympathiser who doesn’t think Israel should exist – you are stuck firmly on the lunatic fringe with Galloway, Andy Newman et al.

          • MikeHomfray

            Now, Matthew, dearest, reverting to using surnames just shows you up as a nasty macho bully, and we wouldn’t want that, would we? Listing an active gay rights campaigner as an Islamist sympathiser is hilarious for even a blinkered Zionist like you! And unlike you, I support the leadership. You never have.

          • Matthew Blott

            Do you have evidence I’m a Zionist (whatever you mean by that)? You on the other hand regularly denigrate Israel and are on record as saying you don’t support a two state solution and wish Israel didn’t exist.

            And Being gay and an Islamist sympathiser are not mutually exclusive – the oddball collection of Trotskyists, Islamists and assorted nutters that make up Respect have plenty of gay rights campaigners (or former ones at least). You should join, you’d feel right at home.

            Finally, it’s true I didn’t support Ed Miliband but I’ve been pretty restrained in my criticism – Indeed, I’ve regularly castigated Dan Hodges for his overtly partison and personal attacks. I like Ed Miliband and would be happy if he was Prime Minister it’s just that it isn’t going to happen.

          • Doug Smith

            ” it isn’t going to happen.”

            Ah well, every cloud has a silver lining.

            If Miliband fails he’ll resign then the Party will be in a position to abandon the jettisoning of the trade unions, opt for a more Labour-minded leader like Andy Burnham and enact much needed internal democratic reforms.

            There could be a lot to look forward to.

          • MikeHomfray

            Andy Burnham is excellent

            But he wouldn’t agree with you

          • Doug Smith

            But perhaps I would agree with him.

          • MikeHomfray

            Not true. I have said that I don’t think a two state solution is now likely or possible owing to the extent and spread of settlements. I have also said that I would not have supported the establishment of Israel in that area because, without any sort of land given to the Palestinians, the expectation that they would just go was unrealistic, and the likelihood of peace was small. However, we are where we are, and I think only a single state with rights for all is likely to be feasible.
            As for Respect, they wouldn’t touch me with a bargepole. Your problem is that because I am anti-Zionist, you automatically assume I have a whole set of other beliefs which I don’t. And of course you are a Zionist – why shouldn’t you be? Only a Zionist would react so intemperately and bring the subject up every time you respond to anything I post, even if its totally irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

            There is a year to go before the election, and plenty can happen between now and then. Ed Miliband can still be PM, and I think what we will see (and I have said this for some time now) is very different results in different parts of the country

            I certainly think we need to do a lot of sharpening up of what we want to say, and we need to be bold, but as I have heard two separate Shadow cabinet ministers say, the shadow cabinet still includes people petrified of saying anything which might stop us winning back seats in Hertfordshire and Kent. We aren’t going to win them in the main, so not enthusing those in other marginals who are much more likely to vote for us makes no sense electorally or in principle.

            If Ed had the support he should dispose of the weak links in the shadow cabinet (Byrne, Murphy – both marginalised but should go – Flint, Hunt, Alexander) – and replace them with people willing to take a few risks.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Ed is up to the job. His personal ratings are actually quite good with the public (Ref Populus poll, March). He is not seen as arrogant or out-of-touch as many politicians are. The problem is not Ed as such but the lack of bold policies and the truly awful and incompetent campaign. The campaign team needs clearing out ASAP as they are losing votes with every utterance. Watching Douglas Alexander trying to deceive (actaully lie to) the public and Andrew Neil on the Sunday politics show was an appauling spectacle. Claiming that the £450 extra VAT cost was the total since 2010 and not the annual cost was Alexander showing ignorance of his own campaign claims and resorting to blatant lies to protect his tiny ego. Shameful display. Of course the other problem Ed has is the unflinchingly hostile opposition he faces from within his own party.

  • derekemery

    I suspect the public mind as usual will not really focus on the election choices until it’s quite close. The EU election is not seen as important because the European parliament is just a rubber stamping machine for new rules and regulations generated by the 30,000+ lobbyists there to make sure the rich do not lose out in any way.
    If there was a party that was looking to the future with a view to seriously improving the public’s lot in life they would win the vote easily.
    Today’s clones cannot offer that whatever dogma they represent. I think they should break the clone mould and let real people in.

  • Bruce_K

    With a year to go, Labour should be at least 10 points ahead.

    Things can only get worse.

    • RogerMcC

      In Feb 1949 we were 1 point behind the Tories but won in Feb 1950 (admittedly not by a landlside but still with a small majority of seats).

      In Oct 1963 we were 12-points ahead but failed to win a majority at all in Oct 1964

      In Mar 1965 we were +3 points ahead but won a 100-seat majority in Mar 1966.

      In June 1969 we were 16 points behind but in June 1970 the Tories won by 3.4 points and 43 seats.

      In Feb 1973 we were 11 points ahead but the Tories actually got more votes than us in Feb 74 (but fewer seats).

      In May 1978 we were neck-and-neck with the Tories who won in May 1979.

      In June 1982 we 20 points behind the Tories and did lose massively in June 1983.

      In June 1986 we were 5 points ahead and still lost in June 1987

      In Apr 1991 we were 3 points behind and lost in Apr 1992

      In May 1996 we were 30 points ahead but our actual lead in May 1997 was ‘only’ 13 points.

      And so on (stopping in 1997 as I don’t have a book with 2000-2010 polls to hand).

      Polls a year ahead really don’t tell us reliably who will win the next election.

      Even double digit leads do evaporate (see 1963-4 and 1973-4 – also arguably 2009-10 where a long string of 10+ point leads did not deliver a Tory majority) and single digit leads can be reversed completely (see 1986-7 and 1991-2).

      • RavenRandom

        Good points. But averaged I read somewhere that a 5%+point drop in the opposition poll number is the norm. The trend has been fairly clear. I struggle to see what wheeze Miliband can come up with to reverse the trend. Of course unknown unknowns might change the gathering narrative, but that’s wing and a prayer stuff.

        • RogerMcC

          Depends how far back you go and the British electoral system is so bizarre that you don’t need to have more votes to win a majority anyway.

          If you fiddle about with the electoral calculus model you can produce a Labour victory (i.e. us as the biggest party if not a majority) with just 32% of the vote and the Tories 2% ahead of us.

          • RavenRandom

            Good point again. I do feel that the electoral system where either party might get a majority in Parliament with under 35% of the vote needs work. Arguably any system that allows rule with under 50% needs work.

          • RogerMcC

            Unfortunately the great British electorate massively disagrees with you and voted accordingly in the AV referendum.

            But I really can’t see Labour winning on 33% and quite possibly some seats short of a majority not offering electoral reform again.

          • MarkPolden

            But you need to understand that AV was the wrong question. It was the LibLabCons way of keeping the status quo. If full PR had been offered i believe the outcome would have been different

          • i_bid

            Yep, AV was a self-serving fix.

  • Rex Hale

    Mark, you are in denial. The change of direction that is needed is impossible to engineer in the time left – and Miliband isn’t capable of doing it. Plenty of people within the party have seen this coming – but the Miliband cheerleaders have kept on cheering. There’s no time to do anything about this now – and Ed is incapable of responding with a vision for the country that might energise people, so the best you can do is just cross your fingers that the Tories bugger it up over the next year. Unlikely though – the polls have shown decisively that the public don’t see Ed as a leader while Cameron seems like PM material to most. The election is lost. We need a new leader.

    • Kevin Turner

      Rex, you’ve just about summed it up. At least if we changed leader now there’d be a chance next year. As it stands we are heading for a big defeat and then lose time choosing another Leader after May ’15. God help us if the country gives the Tories a majority.

      • Rex Hale

        We need the crises – we’ll lose, and the party will be forced to take a hard look at itself. Miliband has never had the guts to tell the party the difficult truths – maybe he genuinely thinks that he can win with retail offers but no big vision (and no economic policy). Ok, well May 2015 is going to teach the party that that isn’t true, and that there is no substitute for being credible on the economy. We deserve to lose in 2015 – the party isn’t ready for government because it backed away from tackling the difficult issues, choosing instead a ‘same-old-Tories’ song sheet, and some clever, but shallow, retail gimmicks. That’s not PM material, and the country knows it – they feel it, they know it in their bones. Some people seem like they have what it takes to run a country. Ed, despite his many talents and his undeniable brilliance in so many ways, is not one of those people. Let’s get on with the necessary change.

        • Matthew Blott

          I remember people saying exactly these things in 1983 unfortunately.

        • MikeHomfray

          So what are these policies you want to see? These ‘difficult issues’? And all this sounds terribly like you want a saviour to lead us into the light. I don’t require ‘leading’, as I am not a sheep.Some intelligent positive ideas might be a start – but as yet all you have done is provide us with a barrage of negativity

          • PoundInYourPocket

            ” if we want decent public services, then we have to pay for them.”
            Well said. It’s time we stopped flirting with this “magical thinking” , “third way” bo11ocks , that somehow we can have a good public services and a decent society without socialism or redistributive tax. It’s the fundamental argument that we need to take to the public. It’s time the politicos stopped being afraid of the press barons and faced the issue head on. Why are labour councils promising voters 0% council tax rises ? Because Labour has given up the fight against capitalism and has accepted that to get the vote they have to abandon socialism.

          • Rex Hale

            Are you serious? A critique of capitalism and public services? You think that’s a prospectus for government?

      • PoundInYourPocket

        It’s not the leader it’s the campaign team. Although if these come as a single package, then yes , they both need to go. Ed as a leader comes across as a decent honest trustworthy chap who could win the public over. An asset to the party in times when the public are tired of incincerity. But, we need bold policies, a narrative to support them and a half decent campaign. the present campaign is a toe curling embarrasmet. If the LP got behind the leader… with a competent campaign team …job done.

    • RogerMcC

      I wouldn’t say it is lost as should UKIP keep even half of the support they currently have in polls, Labour can scrape through with just 3% more votes which we should get from disgusted Lib Dems.

      And a big survey from earlier this year suggests that 57% of people who say they will vote UKIP in the Euro election are saying that they will vote UKIP in the general election (in past elections UKIP’s percentage vote has been on average only a fifth of their previous Euro election share).

      But yes it is probably all down to whether the Tories and their media are able to burst the Farage bubble again rather than to anything we say or do.

    • MikeHomfray

      If you are relying on the cult of leadership, then you end up with people like Cameron and Blair. Cameron has no real vision but does just enough to keep his rancid elements happy. Blair was probably placed in the job by the CIA. There can be no other explanation for how a ‘Labour’ prime minister could ignore basic labour ideas for so long. he is, in hindsight, judged a failure – wasted many opportunities, and utterly failed in terms of foreign affairs. The policy direction is far more important in terms of actually making some real change – no point in wining to do the same as the Tories.

      • Holly

        Blair was a Fabian.
        Once you ‘get that’, the reasons he stuck around for so long until fulfilling his ‘Fabian’ desire will make perfect sense to you.
        In short, he didn’t give a stuff about you, me, the NHS or Labour, we/they were just a means to an end., as far as Blair was concerned..
        Bods like Campbell, and all the other entourage were used by Blair to keep any scrutiny away from him.

        • MikeHomfray

          That contribution has shown quite clearly that you haven’t a clue what a ‘Fabian’ is .
          I don’t bother to converse with trolls, but wanted to point out that you know nothing about Fabianism, either historically or their contemporary activity

        • treborc1

          I think you have been on the Gin again, for god sake the Fabians have changed over the years and today they are more a think tank, but they were once known as I remember the Fellowship of the new life or something like that.

          They were the group which made labour socialist and put in place many of the priciples which sadly new labour ignored .

          Blair was not a socialist he was not Fabian and he was in the party for his own reasons.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          Oh dear , it’s those words-without-meaning again.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        Sorry to be pedantic , but was “cult” a miss-spelling

  • glassfet

    Ed miliband has just told the Guardian he is “more personally competent” than David Cameron to be Prime Minister.

    Problem solved!

    • Holly

      What I’d like to know is, who the heck told him to say that?

      More of the Westminster arrogance.
      My Auntie Mabel is more ‘personally competent’, and humble enough never to say as such to other folks.
      Maybe if he repeats it, (till we are sick of hearing yet another meaningless ‘sound-bite’) will never make it true, or persuade the public to believe it either.

  • ButcombeMan

    “Its the economy stupid”.

    The next election ought to be won on economic competency. That is the electorates worry about Labour.

    Milliband still has the Ed Balls rock, tied to his leg, as the country and Labour, tries to climb out of the economic swamp to which the Balls/Brown team so dismally contributed.

    Balls needs to be replaced, he should be nowhere near the business or economic portfolios. He was not Milliband’s first choice & for obvious reasons. he is a totally contaminated brand.

    Milliband’s first instinct was correct. He needs to show some guts and follow his instincts. Maybe Alistair Darling would come back if asked nicely?

    • RogerMcC

      Er…Miliband’s first instinct was to make Alan Johnson Shadow Chancellor – and while Alan is a substantial figure who really should be back on the front bench he knew nothing about economics and was totally out of his depth in that post.

      Balls does however understand economics and can talk plausibly about endogenous growth theory.

      Ed Miliband himself would be the best shadow chancellor and even Balls would probably be a more plausible leader…..

      But as I said at the time we probably chose both the wrong Ed and the wrong Miliband…..

      • RaymondDance

        “Balls does however understand economics”

        OK, Balls has read some books – but what Labour really needs is someone with some kind of direct experience of starting or running, or even working in a small or medium-sized business. This is the sector that has to be developed and encouraged if we are to tackle inequality in this country – and no-one in Labour knows anything about it. The Shadow Business Secretary is a lawyer, for God’s sake.

      • ButcombeMan

        “can talk plausibly about endogenous growth theory”.

        So could the creator of “The Big Brown Mess” and look where that got us!

      • Danny

        Do me a favour. If David Miliband was leader of the Labour Party, we’d be dreaming of 30% polling. An acolyte of Blair? Jesus, I’d been wondering what it would take for me to consider UKIP…

  • matt

    Labour’s problem is that it is increasingly obvious to everyone but the Leadership that the voters don’t want a radical left agenda, however much the activists and unions do want one, and won’t vote for a party that appears to be dominated by Unite. This is then compounded by Ed Milliband’s utter inability to connect with real people living in the real world.

    Then there is a complete failure to move on politically into the 21st Century that is as damaging as the complete failure to accept that the concerns of the electorate are not the same as those of the Westminster bubble in which the party now appears to make all of its decisions.

    • MikeHomfray

      I would hardly see the current position as ‘radical left’. However, if the public does want right wing policies, then they won;t vote Labour.

      • matt

        It isn’t necessarily the case that the voters want a right wing agenda on everything, although on immigration and welfare reform they certainly seem to, but equally they don’t appear to want a radical left one either. Much as everyone involved on the ground in politics does very much want clear blue water between the parties and very different electoral offerings it doesn’t appear that the wider electorate do. Mind you the one thing that unites the mass of people across the political spectrum is a dislike and distrust of all politicians and all political parties.

        • MikeHomfray

          If that is the case, then its unlikely that Labour will be elected – so all we can do is to state what we believe and offer some firm ways forward. There really is no point in replicating current government policy, or watering everything down so much that no-one is satisfied

    • Holly

      ‘Real’ people living in the ‘real’ world, shop at Bright-house.
      Mr H has just been going on about some buyer’s charter Labour bods are touting, where once someone has bought something on the never never it is theirs and it can not be taken off them even if they do not keep up with the HP payments???
      Anyone else know any more about this?

      Would that play into unscrupulous bods hands, and loads of folks might go get loads of HP, then say sod off I’m not paying, it’s mine?
      Will it cover mortgages?
      Dastardly chortles….

      • PoundInYourPocket

        Isn’t there a video game you could play instead ?

  • MikeHomfray

    I agree about the slogans – thoroughly irritating.

    I think you need to be careful with regard to what you respond to, though. The stuff about a Christian country I think we were wise to leave well alone. Given that Ed is a Jewish atheist it would have appeared rather silly to comment

    • HuwD

      Yes I agree – but we’re not a religious monoculture DC shouldn’t be allowed to say so without being pulled-up on it – characterising the country as such allows the Tories to for example divert public money to faith schools. It just frustrates me EM is not offering an alternative vision.

  • RogerMcC

    So here’s a fun graph:

  • wycombewanderer

    You are in a fight for the future of your party not the country, Britain will do fine without you thanks!

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Neon Nigel UKIP?
    True Blue Cameron Tory?
    Yellow Nick Liberal?

    And Ed offers “Beige Labour”.

    But what IS “Beige Labour”?
    Socialist? ……oh no.
    Free market?….Errm yes but no but…

    A party can’t define itself other than by reference to the social and economic landscape. Trying to define a political party in terms of WHAT IT’S NOT is unappealing to anyone (literally).

    Policy elements need to sit within an ideology. “Clever” Blair didn’t understand this. He pulled a Beige rabbit out of his “third way hat” which fooled but did not engage the audience until the illusion began to fall apart.

    Ironically the term “ideology” is what scares Ed and the suits most. It’s not media friendly and sounds complicated.

    But ideology underpinned Labour rise and people are smarter than the marketing brigade think they are.

    If Labour presents a “manifesto” which is no more than an eclectic bag of bits, give-aways, sticking plasters, gimmicks and slogans ….it will fail to engage the electorate and it will deserve to fail.

    • JoeDM

      But Blair and his ‘beige rabbit’ proved to be remarkably successful.

      • MikeHomfray

        Only because your party was unelectable.

      • Mr Arthur Cook

        Do that again then.

  • RaymondDance

    Don’t be so defeatist. Everything’s absolutely fine and Ed’s doing brilliantly – but he needs to come up with some more real socialist policies. Maybe re-instate Clause 4 and follow Hollande’s magnificent example of a 75% top rate of tax. That should do it.

  • kle4

    There are those who note, without concern, that Labour could still have
    the most seats with only 32% of the vote and a 2 point Tory lead

    I note it without concern, mostly because I am not a Labour voter, but recognize it as a very real possibility. It would do Labour much more credit if they were to really put in some effort now, but with such an easy route to victory possible, I’m not yet convinced they will, although clearly some are feeling the victory should be assured rather more convincingly.

  • Sheila

    Ann Black, I love you!! There is one person in the Labour Party who is in touch with ordinary people!!!

  • Mukkinese

    I agree absolutely. People are hungry for some hope and all sides are merely promising more, but slightly different versions, of the same.

    To say that Labours campaign has been low-key to date would be an understatement. If it were not for the panic of the Tories attacking what they see as popular policies and the press going into hysteria, the wider public would be largely unaware that Labour were saying anything at all.

    They are becoming the invisible party, a silent opposition that barely even opposes, nevermind proposes alternatives.

    A positive message of hope, something better than we have and a fairer country is what is needed. The “Un-credible shrinking man” was amusing, but did it get us anywhere?

    People generally believe that message, but then shrug and say, “You’re all the same”.

    Time to stand up and shout “NO WE ARE NOT!”

    Fairness and inequality are the keys. shout about the inequality and promise, – demand, fairness, something Labour are more trusted on that the Tories…

  • steven_green

    Get a life! So UKIP takes some Labour votes ahead of the European Election. Why would we think that would not happen? That not the same as Tories moving up. And it is not likely to be sustainable towards 2015. We are gradually unfolding our 2015 message and it is beginning to sound ok-ish. But a year to go folks – so keep the powder dry. My feeling is that the Miliband call for a rebalancing of wealth and power (and responsibility) is vital. He just needs to get clearer and more radical. In fact, he just needs to link it more clearly to the day to day experience of the majority.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    My personal take on all this. I am an archetypal Labour supporter. I grew up on a council estate in one of London’s poorest boroughs and could not contemplate voting anything other than Labour.

    I remember clearly the palpable sense of optimism the morning after Blair’s victory. However I was unable to support Blair in 2001 and 2005. The optimism soon faded to despair at his warmongering of dubious morality/legality, the cynical spinning of the media including the dodgy WMD dossier, and a state that shifted from benign to scary eg with CCTV on every corner, DNA databases and a summary execution of an innocent man in broad daylight on a public train. Not to mention the MPs expenses scandal (no party blameless but it broke on labour’s watch), and the mocking “no money left” note left by the outgoing finance minister – the recession has not been a joking matter for the many millions left worse off.

    Many will support Ed’s pledge for private rent controls, but private tenants were getting a raw deal before Blair came to office, and in 13 years Labour did little to help them and little else to help its natural supporter base. Does the rent control policy signal that the private sector will continue to house the poor? Or is it just a step to restoring council housing for those who need it? Like I said I grew up in council housing and always considered it a home, I doubt I could ever feel that way living in the house of a private landlord with threat of eviction after 1 year (or 3).

    Emerging Labour policies are positive, but need to go further. But it’s not just about policies. To have a chance of winning power Ed needs to convince people he understands and cares about their situation. He needs to convince us that he’s sincerely on our side not a personal ego trip.

    Did Ed support public sector workers over pension rights? Did he fight to keep Royal Mail in public ownership? Is he going to reverse student fees so the most able get the chance of the best education regardless of daddy’s wealth?

    I voted for Brown in 2010 and will vote Labour next week and in 2015, but how many more natural Labour supporters like me are still disinclined or even attracted to something different in the form of UKIP?

    To be fair to Ed whoever “won” the Labour leadership was on a hiding to nothing after Blair. Labour can still win in 2015, but for me it has to convince its natural supporters that it really does represent them, and will do so radically and fearlessly, and that it definitely will not be a re-run of the Blair years.

  • JoeDM

    Cameron’s modernised Tories cannot win !!!

    As was pointed out on Con Home yesterday:

    “… It is also that if at the next election UKIP wins more that the three per cent of the vote they won in 2010, and continues to win more support from former Conservative voters than those from other parties, and
    Miliband retains a grip on left-wing defectors from the Liberal
    Democrats, the Tories won’t win a majority. This combination is not
    unlikely. …”

    I’d estimate that UKIP will be in the 6% to 10% range at the next election.

    Add to that the unbalanced constituency boundaries and you understand why I made that point above.

  • Pingback: Labour’s poll hiccup | Left Futures()

  • It is not the good poll leads which generated a lack of imagination and boldness. Unfortunately the cause of this lies i deep in the political psyche of the labour leadershlp who with the rarest exceptions show little sense of what will restore the enthusiasm of its potential supporters and bring back to the polls those that have given up on political parties altogether. The consequences of drawing that leadership from a narrowing group of career politicians from a party never renowned for the quality of political debate and whose internal democracy was stifled during the Blair years are plain for all to see. The simultaneous collapse of Communism and the arrival of unfettered gloabalisation has also proved to be just as much a crisis for reformist social democracy as as for the Socilaist and Communist Left. In face of the Tory drive to reduce the role of the puiblic sector/state and create a world in which only shareholders count whilst the social fabric is torn apart ‘Reforming the Markets’ hardly passes muster as a sufficient strategy and still less as a rallying cry for the millions the disaffected, disillusioned, angry and powerless.

  • Paul Hughes

    Isn’t it true that a fish rots from the head? Milliband is the rot. He can’t stop it and Labour hasn’t the mechanisms in place to stop him.

  • Chris Anjuna

    I run a business and resent the implication that you can compare state investment in Rail via private for-profit companies with private investment by the companies themselves.
    Anti-business? More like anti unsustainable business models based on debt-fuelled acquisitions! But that’s the “free” market myth for ya!

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