He may be gone – but here’s why Miliband’s legacy will continue to define Labour

13th May, 2015 8:03 am

On the day of Ed Miliband’s resignation, I texted one of his closest aides to ask why he wouldn’t stay on as caretaker while a new leader was chosen. The reply came back fast: “He was just too tired and had taken on too much for his family. He’s a really good man, Sunny. The likes of which we just don’t see in politics.” They were right. You could see it in Miliband’s eyes – despite the deep anguish at losing, he felt a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

A few years ago, Miliband had joked at a party at the annual Labour conference that the only endorsements he had when running for leader were from a magazine (New Statesman) and a website (Liberal Conspiracy). The audience laughed along but he had a point: the former Labour leader was always painfully aware his allies in the media could be counted on one hand.

Now that he has gone the knives have come out faster than at a cooking show. His detractors want to bury Miliband’s time as leader and move on. His ideas had been repudiated by the public, they say. But this won’t prove as easy as they think and he may end up casting a bigger shadow over the future than they hope.

Despite the predictable Blairite cliches (“the politics of aspiration”, “aspiration, aspiration, aspiration”, “aspiration with a cherry on top please”) – the world has changed since 1997. For a bunch of politicians who advocate moving with the times, Blair and his coterie have a remarkably stagnant vocabulary.

ed miliband scotland referendum

Ed Miliband’s central argument, that the British economy no longer lifted the working class, is more true today than it has ever been. Social mobility in Britain has become a joke and worsened over the last five years. The Tories claim they had fixed the economy, but merely offered an illusion of recovery with low paid jobs topped up with a housing bubble.

Miliband may not have been able to communicate it well, but we all knew he had a point. Even dyed-in-the-wool Tories such as Fraser Nelson and Charles Moore accepted that. “The Conservative answer to rising concern about inequality has been to ignore it. This has been a grave error. Michael Gove has been fighting a lonely battle for Conservatives to develop a response; he now describes inequality as ‘the great social and political challenge of our time’,” wrote Fraser Nelson just a few weeks ago.

The intellectual strength and confidence of Miliband was such that he forced many on the Right to recognise he had a point, even if some of his own colleagues refused to accept it. As the BBC’s Robert Peston wrote:

“He isn’t resorting to the traditional left-wing solutions of nationalisation, significantly increased state spending, incestuous deals with trade unions or penal increases in tax rates. What he is attempting to do – perhaps naively, perhaps clumsily – is encourage competition, give more power to consumers, nudge up the minimum wage and take on vested interests.”

Miliband may be gone, and his style sound rejected, but the economic problems that underlined his politics haven’t gone away. And they won’t go away however much Blair hopes. The ‘cost of living crisis’ still exists, despite the election.

Economic populism is on the rise across Europe and the United States (Warren just defeated Obama on the TPP trade deal) because of real structural problems that most economists now recognise. It was this populism that obliterated Labour in Scotland, not just nationalism, and it is very likely UKIP will try and seize the opportunity in England next. Bland cliches about “aspirations” won’t make those problems go away, or quieten the simmering anger that many working class Labour voters feel. They will come back only if we address their frustration at being left behind at a rapidly changing world.

Admittedly, a key reason why Labour has difficulty reaching its white working class base is cultural, not economic. Ed Miliband was always uncomfortable with the debate on English identity, even as many of us urged him onwards. Furthemore, he was was not an effective communicator nor a charismatic leader. His team made a fair amount of mistakes that were ridiculed even before the election, and were blind-sided by the SNP coalition scare-mongering.

But Miliband had the courage to firmly put his finger on the biggest challenge facing the Labour party this generation. The next leader may choose to ignore this challenge and take us in a different direction, but sooner or later someone will have to confront it. He may be gone but Miliband’s legacy will continue to define the party.

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  • NT86

    ‘Despite the predictable Blairite cliches (“the politics of aspiration”,
    “aspiration, aspiration, aspiration”, “aspiration with a cherry on top
    please”) – the world has changed since 1997. For a bunch of politicians
    who advocate moving with the times, Blair and his coterie have a
    remarkably stagnant vocabulary.’

    Didn’t do them any harm, winning three consecutive elections. Not sure why aspiration is such a dirty word or a source of irritation among the left. It relates ambition, self-improvement and even self-worth through one’s own efforts. The left have allowed the Conservatives to claim that mantle, because most if not all the former’s solutions rely on the state trying to determine outcomes and act as a panacea for every minute detail in society. Aspirational voters don’t need nor want to be breastfed by some all powerful nanny state their whole lives.

    It’s hardly unsurprising that Chuka Umunna chose Swindon to launch his leadership campaign. I don’t rate him, but at least he gets the extent of Labour’s problems.

    • Paul Richardson

      To answer your question, I would suggest that to concentrate on aspiration has the habit of focus on those people that can and do aspire rather than the ones who get left behind. Maybe a more balanced focus on helping those with aspirations to get on as well as “picking other up by their boot-straps” is what is called for to address inequality. Achieving that balance is the tricky bit me thinks.

      • Matthew Blott

        I agree but the point is there hasn’t been any focus on those not left behind. You can’t build a winning coalition that way – especially in a FPTP system.

        • Mike Homfray

          I’m not sure that it will be possible to build that sort of coalition again. Too many diverse views and requirements

          • Matthew Blott

            I fear you may be right which is why I favour PR – at least then you don’t have to pretend you agree. I don’t see any way back in power though unless some sort of coalition is assembled. Me and you have quite different views, you think I’m some sort of Tory and I think you’re a far left loon – how do we square this?

      • Carole

        While not disagreeing with the concept of helping both those who aspire and those who get left behind, the real question that has to be addressed is why do they get left behind in the first place? Until we know as much about the reasons for that as we can, how do we address the problem?

        Part of the problem is economic. Plenty of people live in areas where economic activity is stagnant and where jobs are few or poorly-paid. Other people lack skills and flexibility, others have fallen by the wayside at school. There are also other issues that need to be identified and examined. This is not a simple one-size-fits-all question. Like most problems, it is complex and the causes are many. We need to stop looking at generalisations and broadbrush explanations.

        • Jonathan morse

          For many ther parents or grandparents moved to where the work was but when the work dried up they stayed. A home owning democracy is part of the problem.

          • Carole

            Exactly! Housing is just one strand of the problem.It is an important one and there are others. If you own a house in an area with no work, how can you sell it and move, even assuming that you want to move away? If you rent, how can you afford to rent in an area with work but higher rents and possibly fewer rental properties. These are some of the questions that have to be addressed. The answers are not going to be simple.

          • Jonathan morse

            In theory if employers can’t get the workers because housing too pricey they up their pay or move somewhere housing is cheaper, only that isn’t happening. Equally if u can’t afford to live on your wages you find an employer willing to pay more. It’s the market. We could do with many more houses but the ideal would be to move businesses out of SE. One way would be to move Parliament out, Westminster is already in need of much repair. That is the sort of original idea Ed might have come up with if he was half as brainy as he claims he was.

          • Carole

            I’d love to see Parliament moved away from Westminster. You could maybe keep the ceremonial stuff there, but the building isn’t fit to be a modern seat of government. It like to see it relocated to somewhere more central. Somewhere north of Birmingham, perhaps?

            A purpose-built government and civil service complex would be a good idea. Think of the jobs boost. Think of the opportunities for new infrastructure and economic growth. Conference buildings, an IT centre, a modern chamber, MPs offices etc.

          • Alan Ji

            I suggest next to a high speed 2 station in Stoke on Trent

          • Patrick Nelson

            I can’t help suspect that if you move Parliament and you risk loosing the unwritten constitution and stability that goes with it. What the north, midlands and south need are their own devolved mini-parliaments, like those in Wales and Scotland. That would be enough to reduce the problem of London centrism.

          • MarkPolden

            Where is the old fashioned rigour of wanting to work instead of being a burden on others through claiming benefits even if you have to move to do so. Being able to live where you want is a privilege not a right

          • Kathy Fletcher

            Moving requires assets which not everyone has: at least a few thousand pounds for the deposit/first month’s rent; money to move possessions, or buy new ones; travel costs; money to live on while looking for work etc. If a partner works, do they give up their job or split up the family? If all your skills are in a declining industry, why would anyone give you a job in another field for which you have neither qualifications nor experience? The low paid can’t afford childcare and rely on family & friends to enable working. Do you abandon elderly relatives for whom you are a part-time carer?

            More to the point, why should someone who has paid NI for decades be regarded as a burden if they make a claim? I assume that MarkPolden would not dream of claiming on his house or car insurance.

            Finally, no one claims that the number of vacancies meets the number of unemployed. If they all move, it just moves the problem.

          • MarkPolden

            So ok take benefits and retrain, but my point being there is no excuse for sitting on your arse doing nothing

          • Dave Postles

            JSA and unemployment benefits account for just over 3% of the welfare bill, I believe.

          • Patrick Nelson

            yes the biggest welfare is corporate “welfare” by a large factor.

          • Kathy Fletcher

            I totally agree. I used to work in FE. I’ve lost count of the number of students in tears because, as soon as they signed up to retrain, their benefits were stopped. They were especially angry because they had neighbours who got away with signing on and doing nothing.

          • leslie48

            Meanwhile Southern and outer London Middle class ‘A’ Level kids were not just voting for the Tories some were campaigning for a conservative victory. I wonder how many F.E. kids even knew what was going on. The Russell group universities beckons for 1000’s of Southern kids yet again this summer and happily as they say in classes parents will not have the mansion tax to pay ad they will not have a geeky PM which Labour put forward as their PM.

          • Kathy Fletcher

            Loads of my students went to Russell Group universities, mainly the adult returners, and they were politically aware but cynical. Most of those whom I’m still in touch with voted Labour or tusc. On the whole, they were savvy enough to make up their own minds about Ed rather than lazily accept the verdict of the tory media. Do I detect the attitude of looking down on FE which fed their cynicism? I’d love to see your average middle class kid go from zero qualifications to a 1st class honours degree from a Russell Group university in 5 years, let alone while functioning as a single parent with 6 kids. Or cope with growing up under the Taliban, be denied any education until the age of 10, move country twice, get qualifications in 2 other languages (Dutch & English) & aim for medical school, all by the age of eighteen. Mind you, this government is determined that no others should have the same chances.

          • leslie48

            I take your point – I guess my point is these southern middle class A Level kids are very politically aware whereas often FE kids on Voc courses in tech. colleges will have had little political awareness as they do not get much education anyway in politics etc especially away from the London area., The class war in this country comes from the top and dominates the media and ensures those at the lower end know least both through their consumption of schooling and press and TV media. I found most students had no confidence in Miliband as a future PM.

          • Kathy Fletcher

            As Warren Buffet said “there is a class war and my class are waging it & they are winning”. Or words to that effect.

          • Dave Postles

            What part of in-work benefits do you not comprehend?

          • Mukkinese

            Same old Tory nonsense.

            The long-term unemployed are only a tiny minority of people who claim benefits – 2% according the DWP figures. Most benefits go to pensioners and the next biggest group of claimants are in work, but not paid enough to live on.

            While this “jobs miracle” is supposed to be going on, more people are in work than ever and unemployment is falling, the OBR estimates that the rising benefits bill will break the government’s cap this year.

            Low-paid, insecure jobs that have to be subsidised by the taxpayer are not a “Jobs miracle”, they are a con…

          • Dave Postles

            In-work benefits. JSA is about 3% of the welfare bill. So you move to a place where there is work and are successful in obtaining a low-paid job; it might indeed give you some dignity (not much though), but you will still receive in-work benefits of a considerable amount, probably more in housing benefit because the rents will almost certainly be higher in your new location. Bring back the RDAs and have a decent investment bank. It’s possible to transform these places with new technology and new industry – such as Hull’s development as a centre for renewable energy.

        • Mike Homfray

          Capitalism needs losers. There will never be enough well paid, high status and secure jobs for everyone in the private sector. And not all are destined to be successful high flyers

          • Mukkinese

            Not everyone wants to be a “high flyer” or “aspires” to be anything but an ordinary worker and capitalism does not need “losers”.

            Whatever happened to the concept of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work?

          • Matthew Blott

            Gosh. I was saying that, nice to hear that phrase from someone else. Don’t worry about Mike, he wants the Labour Party to become some sort of Chavista movement.

    • leslie48

      Indeed, it is vital to realize the shock of not gaining those Southern marginals like Stevenage or Hendon and East Midlands ones too like Derby North. ‘Middle England’ stayed with the Tories in our key marginals, the swing to the Tories remains last Thurs’ nightmare.

      However clearly the Nationalism of UKIP/SNP did massive damage too , so while I agree with Tony Blair et.al I do not see it as just that cause unless you argue the UKIP working class vote was also a rejection of Lab’s policies which I doubt. More a rejection of Ed as a potential PM and anti-immigration etc., Those working class UKIP votes were coming off Labour votes.

      The Tabloid fear factor against Ed was massive, savage and unending. If you ignored the 85% Tory press so be it. I take the few if Labour can not combat that media tirade we will remain weak and powerless. The next leader will have to be charismatic, quick speaking and TV appealing like Cam who was chosen way back with focus group enthusiasm. The Media is everything, rightly or wrongly.

      • Tommo

        Sensible immigration controls is not nationalism.

        • leslie48

          I really meant the ‘Nationalists’ and of course Labour had immigration controls in its offer. At the end of the day UKIP’s policies will never solve the UK’s wealth and income inequality, housing supply, high value jobs, productivity and economic growth issues as they are focused on narrow nationalist solutions which will lead to EU exit and isolate us from everyone.

    • Mike Homfray

      Only won 3 times because the Tories were unelectable

  • SimonG

    A well thought out article and I tend to agree. I believe the core problem was twofold – firstly Labour was still suffering from the fact that the crash happened on their watch, and that there was little positive messaging targeted at people who are in or aspire to middle class. it’s not that people are purely driven by self interest, but there has to be at least some benefit – and if there isn’t a clear narrative on how there will be some benefit, then scare stories about NHS etc aren’t enough of a driver for most people.

  • Jonathan

    It was striking to see that even Chuka Umunna, amid all the clichés about ‘aspiration’ and ‘wealth creators’ and being ‘pro-business’, stated yesterday that he aimed to create a ‘more equal’ society. Finally, inequality is back on the agenda for Labour, even for the Blairites. It has to be, no matter who is leader.

    • Paul Richardson

      What are people’s opinions of Chuka?

      I have only read his article in last Sunday’s Observer, which was making the right kind of noises. He is of course articulate and photogenic which helps, although he has walked out of an interview or two which points to media able to get under his skin, maybe.

      • Ian

        Plausible, eloquent, likeable but he’d completely fail to connect in the North and Scotland where we are in trouble.

        • sonic

          It was hard for Labour to compete with the SNP’s squalid nationalist rhetoric, something Labour rightly avoided.

      • Matthew Blott

        I saw that interview and the interviewer was being a jackass. I thought it reflected well on Umunna.

        • Michael Murray

          Umunna would never be able to tolerate the bucket loads of excrement that were poured on Ed every day of his leadership. The difference between a man of iron and a man of straw.

          • Matthew Blott

            Not really, I think in most instances they’re pretty fair. They’re professionals at the end of the day who care about their reputations. But Dermot Murnaghan chose to ambush Umunna about a subject he (Umunna) said he knew nothing about when the subject of the show was supposed to be about something else. Murnaghan effectively accused Umunna of lying because he said he couldn’t give an answer as he didn’t know the details. Murnaghan continued to persist and came across as obnoxious and Umunna seemed pretty reasonable. Again, I thought Umunna did the right thing and I think most watching would have drawn the same conclusion.

      • Neuron Therapy
    • That’s fundamentally what I want from a government. One that addresses inequality, but doesn’t insist on trying to nationalise everything for no good reason.

  • Simon Haydon

    Its never been of the agenda

  • Tommo

    Social mobility will never return while we continue to import labour at the expense of our own workers.

    • A bit of common sense

      Is that what the Toffs told you?

    • Jonathan morse

      In the past whenever a new country has joined EU its workers left to the successful countries but after a while most return home as their own industry begins to benefit and need workers. May not be happening so much now as EU economy suffering from Euro mess but may yet happen.

    • Carole

      Perhaps we need to ask why employers seem to like imported workers? What distinguishes them from British ones?

  • Ben Gardner

    In democratic politics the perception is the reality. It doesn’t matter if Miliband was ‘right’ about our economy not working for average people, what matters is how these people view their economic interest. Last week the majority of people in the middle decided that they were better off continuing with the status quo, that even timid attempts to restrain business and increase tax on the wealthy might one day feed down to them.

    Labour has a choice, either follow the Blairite approach of acquiescing to free market ideology or find a better way of campaigning for an alternative.

    • A bit of common sense

      If it is the former, then it will be the collapse of Labour as a major party, as Unions will desert and much of the progressive membership decamps to the greens.

      • Mike Homfray

        Exactly. No point in winning if we have no vision to do anything

  • Harry Barnes

    I felt that Ed Miliband gave Labour hope to slowly advance the best of our ideals in very difficult circumstances. But even if Labour had won the election he had the problem of dealing with a crowd of Blairites in the parliamentary party. He would only have had the power and influences of patronage on his side. I feel, however, that his major weakness was one that we are in danger of repeating. He had only been an MP for five years when he was elected leader. Names are now being flouted for the leadership who have a similar lack of parliamentary experience. People are bounced into front bench positions whilst having little knowledge of how the peculiar institution (and the Departments they shadow) actually functions and operates – both officially and unofficially. A Labour Party that had come to believe in the importance of people serving apprenticeships, never applied this principle to its own new MPs. Even progressives (if any can be found) need understandings and background.

    • Michael Murray

      Completely right Harry. We don’t want any inexperienced, self serving, Tory Johnny cum Latelys

    • MarkPolden

      Problem being anyone who was elected pre 2010 is tainted by association with Brown & Blair and historic scandals. The party leadership needs a blood change.

      • reformist lickspittle

        Yes, I agree 100%.

        Burnham would be very well suited BUT for that.

      • Harry Barnes

        Numbers still remain who were not tainted and voted and campaigned against the worst aspects of New Labour and were not subject to the expenses scandal. They have important experiences and knew and still know how to move Labour in worthwhile directions.

        • leslie48

          There was nothing wrong with New Labour and there are millions of voters and supporters who genuinely believe that. Fact Harry this was Labour’s worst defeat for nearly 30 years. Get real. Blair was totally correct in Sunday’s observer about what progressive politics is about.

          • Harry Barnes

            Well perhaps it is time to sort out once and for all if we are to be New Labour or at the very least to be a moderate but open Labour Party in the tradition of, say, John Smith which will at least not automatically ditch everthing democratic socialists come up with. If any form of democratic socialist influences are to be placed into the box of just coming from the “usual suspects”, then it will then be time to move on -as the Party will clearly have become a vehicle only for a privatised “dynamic” economy. It is our New Labour image which has lost us masses of traditional working class Labour votes to the SNP, UKIP, non-voting and non-registration. If the purpose of the Labour Party is to please the Sun newspaper then heaven help us. It will be a sad state of affairs for someone who initially joined the Labour Party in 1957.

      • leslie48

        Labour’s greatest victories in History. You are deluded and need help.

        • ClearBell

          Everything before you read this is history.

          • leslie48

            Including the loss of 99 Labour seats despite 5 years of austerity, cuts, growing inequality and crises in all areas of our public services. Something seriously went astray and we did not see it coming (except SNP fear ) in England and Wales.

          • ClearBell

            And as importantly – how can the truth about austerity affecting us all, inequality affecting us all and the deliberate destruction affecting us all be turned into something that attracts voters – and encourages those who have got out of the habit of ticking a box? Has the Tory grooming of the public effectively created a self-hating electorate who don’t like people like themselves?

  • sonic

    I’d agree that Ed’s legacy will define the party, but disagree with what that legacy will be.

    A demolition at the election is Ed’s legacy, and it will not be forgotten.

  • A bit of common sense

    Ed was decent enough, ok not so photogenic, but the major problem was the acceptance of the Blairite legacy and the Coalition view of the world.

    We heard plenty of bash the immigrants and echoing of Tory austerity retoric and very little about decency and progress until the Green / SNP threat loomed large early in the New Year.

    Lets face it. Labour is afraid of its own shadow and runs scared of every nasty headline in the Dail Hate, Daily Depress and Torylaugh. Labour allows them to set the agenda. Forget the headlines for a few years please!

    If Labour’s message had been about social progress, pro-European and addressing climate change with economic overhaul from the day Milliband had been elected, then it would have been derided in the Tory press from day one but it would have resonated with the electorate.

    Is it any wonder Labour keeps getting called red Tories?

    • sonic

      I’ve read this a lot, and I’m not sure it’s right. How did Ed accept the Blairite legacy, and what does that legacy comprise of?

    • denise clendinning

      Why do people worry about one,s looks Look at Winston Churchhill he was ugly

      • martivickers

        If you think Winston – a serial floor-crosser, with a horrific (pre WWII) record on military and defence matters, a number of seriously unpleasant racial views, and a well known battle with mental illness for the press to lampoon – would stand a chance in todays environment, you’re off your head.
        Remember, Winston WASN’T elected PM in 1940. He took over, just, because of the Chamberlaine miscalculation and the needs of war…and the first chance they got, the electorate gave him an absolute kicking, even as a war hero.
        Elections are not fair, and they are, to some extent beauty contests – more so now than ever.

      • leslie48

        The age of Television dear.

    • leslie48

      Absolute piffle. Middle England did not vote Tory or UKIP because we were progressive or not; they felt threatened and rejected LIbDems and Lab all over. The Left candidates always lose because they are chosen for the wrong reason like Ben, Foot, Roy and possibly Ed.

  • Jack

    Sunny, Ed Miliband is as you say a decent man and I didn’t want the Tories or the Blairites to have the satisfaction of seeing him resign. He should have stayed until the atmosphere calmed down.

    I can feel his frustration, he was battered in the Tory media including the BBC who were threatened by the Tories and he was forever having to watch his back for attacks by the Blairites who even now are sticking the knives in. The Tories had made a decision before the election that because they didn’t have enough members to mount a conventional honourable campaign as Labour did, they would buy the election, which is exactly what they did. Check out HOW BIG MONEY AND BIG BROTHER WON THE BRITISH ELECTIONS on Google.

    • Dave Postles

      ‘ including the BBC who were threatened by the Tories’
      Didn’t work for them, either: John Whittingdale OBE. Murdoch is being rewarded.

  • Gigglesbot

    Why am I getting the sense that the top of the Labour party do not want to win the next election? I had a similar feeling when they elected Ed as leader.

    • Matthew Blott

      I grew up in the 80s in a leftwing household and I can tell you some are never happier than when they’re in opposition.

      • Gigglesbot

        Very true. I suppose being in Government is messy and difficult. It is much easier to moan and complain from the opposition benches.

        • Jonathan morse

          I don’t follow football, but their supporters never seem truely happy unless their team has lost. I don’t understand why they don’t suport either their local team, even if it is in the bottom league, or the team that wins the most, currently Chelsea, used to be Man U.

      • denise clendinning

        i grew up in the 80s and it was hell Thatcherism ruled and the people protested hard wecome back to the 80s.

      • leslie48

        That’s why so many ignore the elephant in the room: the savage right Wing tabloids which a week ago today pleaded with voters to save Britain and then on Saturday thanked middle England for saving England.

  • Jonathan morse

    He saw how not arguing about policies, letting Tories say what our policies were and letting them blame us for collapse, worked so well for Gordon his hero and did same, with the same result. He knew last year he was failing but did nothing. If he cared about peasants he could have resigned and let someone else have a go. But no, like the worst of Labours politicians, and union leaders, he saw politics as a game for insiders not something that affects real people who should matter to him but obviously didn’t.

    • Ian

      I think that’s rather harsh. Ed may not have been suited for the leadership personality-wise but he was a genuine enough guy who tried to do what he believed was right.

      • Jonathan morse

        He could have resigned and been a Sec of State again, something irrelevant like Energy maybe, rather than losing GE for him and us peasants Labour allegedly exists for, not as a vehicle for him to go play politics in who cares about poor oh and he gets £65k a year + a taxpayer funded second home.

        • leslie48

          In most of outer and wealthy London 65K is peanuts most couples are on over 100k. Most private sector specialists would want a lot more than 65K chiken feed salaries in the South East. Anyone in the public sector or politics gets crucified by a savage press here in England so why bother especially if your not Tory.

  • swatnan

    The path to No 10 is littered with ‘decent men’ from the Labour side.
    Can we have for once someone who’s not decent and can actually win the GE for us, like Tony.

    • Jonathan morse

      Tony was a decent man. Not sure Ed was, whatever his friends say, surely if he was a decent man he’d have done all he could to win election to protect poor. Instead he knew he had lost last year, didn’t care, didn’t pass job to someone who could.

      • bikerboy

        *cough* Tony was in it for himself. Evidence: no one has ever coined it from the old address book like Tuscan Tone.

        • Jonathan morse

          Tony wasn’t in it for himself. This is the problem, if u despise Tone it is because u dispise all who seek to benefit themselves and their families, who make up a big chunk of those we need to vote for us. But hey, better to be ‘right’ than able to help those who can’t help themselves?

      • swatnan

        I’d agree that EdM should have thrown in the towel Xmas 2010 because he knew and everyone else knew that he couldn’t possibly win. But Tony … well Tony’s legacy is Iraq and the rise of Islamic Terrorism, and for that I for one will never forgive him.

        • Jonathan morse

          Xmas 2014? What happened with Blair was 9/11, having to accept Bush as US President and the mess he made of Iraq. I don’t blame Tony for that.

          • martivickers

            You might not. Most of us do, and we outnumber you.

          • Jonathan morse

            Doesn’t mean u r right. Of course glorious opposition is great, isn’t it?

          • reformist lickspittle

            Yawn.

            Going back 20 years is not the answer to our problems.

            Your type is becoming as rigidly inflexible – and delusional – as the hard left was when I was a young ‘un.

        • leslie48

          Internal Sectarianism of Arab on Arab came from fanatical groups in the Middle East not the western capitals.

          • swatnan

            I guess then that we shouldn’t have supported the Mujehedin in Afghanistan and the Rebels in Syria and Libya and Iraq, and supplied them with money and arms and trained them to kill, only to have those guns then trained on us and killing our boys. Funny old world.

  • Jonathan morse

    At the next GE things will be different, fixed term Parliaments Act may be scrapped, boundaries will be different, we will have had a vote on Europe, UKIP may be irrelevant, we may have had continuous growth or we may have had a recession, we need a leader to fight that election not any of the last ones.

    • Matthew Blott

      Doesn’t the Fixed Term Parliament Act require a two-thirds majority to overturn? Which makes it all but impossible to change as one party will always be more keen on an election than another at any given time.

      • Jonathan morse

        I believe any Act can be repealled by however small the quorate is in Parliament as long as the reppealing Bill is unopposed.

        • Matthew Blott

          In normal circumstances but I think this is different as it was a constitutional change.

      • sonic

        Two thirds majority needed to call an election under the FTPA, but can be repealed in the normal way.

        • Matthew Blott

          Thanks for the clarification 🙂

    • Ian

      Boundary changes have to be accepted as part of the democratic process. It was embarrassing that we opposed them last time for party political reasons as it made us look undemocratic. I’m not sure why you think it would be in Camoron’s interest to scrap the fixed term parliaments act. That too would be seen as very undemocratic by the electorate.

      • Jonathan morse

        Fail to see how a fixed term Parliaments Act is democratic. You know there already was a limit on the lengh, 5 years. I would prefer a PR lower house and a constituency based revising chamber.

        • Ian

          I meant that Camoron scrapping it for his own Party political purposes would be undemocratic and perceived as such. I think the fixed term takes a bit of the incumbency advantage away from the ruling party, which has to be good. 5 years is too long though, most countries have 4.

      • Jonathan morse

        Sorry I’m not saying he will scrap the FTPA he just might, eg to hold election anytime he wants, not at a time we can prepare for.

  • bikerboy

    Austerity: a bit less spending than the largesse lavished by Brown.

    Progress(ive): a term that (as far as I can see) means either the Labour Right (bad) or the Labour left (good), the latter seeking to seed the idea that the opposition must therefore be regressive.

    The electorate didn’t agree.

  • Patrick Nelson

    “Ed Miliband’s central argument, that the British economy no longer
    lifted the working class, is more true today than it has ever been.
    Social mobility in Britain has become a joke and worsened over the last
    five years. The Tories claim they had fixed the economy, but merely
    offered an illusion of recovery with low paid jobs topped up with a
    housing bubble.”

    He was 100% correct on this and it’s a pity that the media (from tiny little Private Eye to the witch who “interviewed” him on the leaders non-debate) succeeded in projecting a false and distorted image of him an incompetent nerd, when in fact he is quite the opposite.

    • sonic

      “Witch”, what lovely misogynistic language!

      Blaming the media is a convenient excuse, one that Ed himself doesn’t use.

      • Patrick Nelson

        In my experience the term is used, nearly always, by females to describe a hateful woman, almost never by males. The misogyny is all in your overly active PC imagination.

        • sonic

          Are you a male?

      • leslie48

        He and his team were too soft with the savage media and you do not achieve power if you do not give it back and expose it. Recall Salmon in the referendum never stopped denigrating the London establishment media. Nicola of course had the (Scottish) Sun on her side thanks to the foreigner manipulator one Rupert Murdoch. Even school children ran around talking about Miliband and the Sun distorted almost anti-Semitic picture of him eating. Savage media is too polite.

        • returner

          Yes. The Sun’s choices won on both sides of the border, to the detriment of Labour in each case (which was presumably the plan).

          The next leader needs a strategy on how to deal with Murdoch, which wasn’t in place this time.

          • leslie48

            absolutely

    • bikerboy

      Ed is a quasi-Marxist, incompetent nerd. People saw that (amongst other reasons) and rejected him.

      • snowright

        Typical Labour – just don’t listen to the public – always wrongly assume they are always right.
        Such arrogance!!!

        • denise clendinning

          The true arrogance are those sitting at the table yesterday at No 10 waiting to take this country down to the pits its early days yet iv seen a tory government in action wait for the ride of your lives

          • leslie48

            I agree ideologically but arguably the economy has come back to a certain degree and in the metropolitan areas the 4*4s traffic is busy, new jobs are there, restaurants and Costa’s are packed, shares are up, private schooling is booming, 2nd foreign holidays common , house prices are up and so for many life is quite comfortable and these people are in many marginals.

          • returner

            Ed relied too much, especially at PMQs, on “the cost of living crisis”. Perhaps he was unlucky, but the plummeting oil price and zero inflation undercut that line of attack, especially — as you say — in middle england marginals.

          • bevinboy

            I have said it before here.

            For families in work with two working, lower taxes, lower mortgage rate, cheaper food, cheaper good but second hand cars and lower fuel prices and a strengthening pound/euro for cheaper foreign holidays, the so called “austerity” does not exist. banging on about it was pointless..

            There are millions doing OK not rich but OK, their biggest worry being can their kids get a job when they leave school. Create jobs and hope and you have those people.

            For all those people the Labour campaign had nothing to say. It was overwhelmingly negative and coupled with fears of higher taxes it worried people.

            Those people might vote Labour, they might not, they are “strivers”. Like him or not, Blair got to those people. The new leadership has to again

            What they are not, is “core vote” so a “core vote” strategy was never going to be enough.

            It is to be hoped who ever gets picked as leader understands this, In England anyway, the “core vote” is disappearing and fragmenting through social change and the impact of UKIP.

          • returner

            I agree it’s vital to reach the “doing OK” who might or might not vote Labour.

            Blair reached them (with Murdoch on-side). I can see that this Labour campaign _wanted_ to reach them (endless repetition of “hard-working families”) but there was a disconnect in middle England. And it won’t be solved if the next leader just says “aspirational” a lot.

            On the other hand, one of the key questions is how the “doing OK” in 2015 will be doing in 2020. How vulnerable are they to a significant rise in interest rates (and inflation)? What will the state be of the public services that they use? How much will austerity affect them?

            Personally I’d like to see a campaign which speaks to both the struggling _and_ the strivers.

          • Fred Worthy

            The tories have gerrrimandered social change for decades that’s why we are still chasing their agenda, look at Dame Porter in Westminster in the 80’s for an example. is Scotland the nemisis for this social change that has been built on easy credit and debt for families to get put in a corner and work for peanuts, big labour market low wages.

      • leslie48

        The attempted coup in November never happened and no one had the balls. Labour too nice.

      • Gerald Allen

        What a load of cobblers; Just repeating the line that the yellow press/media started in order to undermine him from the day he was elected. They had to, they knew what was coming from the coalition. There is nothing in Ed Milibands career that labels him as anything but a (maybe) slightly left of centre social democrat, in the mould of Gordon Brown or maybe Harold Wilson in their younger days. Any sort of Marxist would never have had the shower of Blairites Miliband found himself surrounded by in the Shadow Cabinet and the Parliamentary Labour Party, knifing him in the back and slithering to the press and media at every opportunity in the hope that they would undermine him and force his resignation and one of their own replace him. All this treachery against a background of the the most ferocious attack on living standards/wages/salaries that hasn’t been since the 1930s.
        After the most vicious/evil personal attacks and character assassination on a good, decent and honourable man, the likes of which has not been seen in politics for a very long time, is it any wonder that he has been seen as an incompetent nerd.But when the election campaign got underway Ed managed to show the world that he was a man of steel backed with a decent personality so different from the chicken livered and U-turning Cameron, who hadn’t the guts to go on tv to debate with the so-called incompetentt nerd So mu

        • Gerald Allen

          Sorry; slip with the wrong button there so I wasn’t able to finish the post. Ah welll now that Chicken Cameron has got his majority and his Aussie attack dog can slither back to Australia, I keep re-calling the words of Neil Kinnock just before the 1983 election when he said “I warn you not to be ill, or unemployed or to be dependent on benefits”(forgive me if word for word)prophetic words then, which I fear will be recalled many times over the next five years, as they have over the last five years.

          • bikerboy

            Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

      • Matthew Blott

        What a silly comment. Could you even tell us what a quasi-Marxist is?

        • bikerboy

          Exactly what it says. A Marxist some of the time. Who knew?

          We didn’t get to find out how much.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member’, in response to the invitation to join the Bullingdon Club. Is that your reference?

          • bikerboy

            That would sum me up perfectly

    • denise clendinning

      i really liked ED and he really had some good ideas What i did not like as soon as he out of the country his own mps and his brother stabbing him in the back i have renewed my membership but i woud like to see ore solidarity in the party

      • Matthew Blott

        I’m all for solidarity which is why I was muted in my criticism of Miliband before the election. But blind faith is another thing and I feel I should be free to say what a bloody disaster Ed predictably turned out to be.

    • Jonathan morse

      I thought he came across well in leaders debates. Problem was he had lost it by then, if he had put the effort he put in inthe last few months in during all the time he was leader he might have won.

      • denise clendinning

        How could he when that baboon cameron was lying his face off and everybody believed everything he said.and frightened the people to death over the SNP

        • Jonathan morse

          So why didn’t Ed say something, eg all parties r coalitions, my (his) MPs won’t let him in coalition with SNP esp after they did dirty in 1979, why not point out that Dave’s policy was like that of the Republicans, talk about gun control and get in and do what u like. Ed claims to like America, and he has a 2.1 in politics.

          • denise clendinning

            Are you a ukipper by chance

          • Jonathan morse

            No. Are u one of these people who think Labour should be pure rather than able to help poor even if not pure?

          • denise clendinning

            THEY DID HELP THE POOR THEY BROUGHT IN THE MINIMUM WAGE THEY GAVE PENSIONERS HEATING ALLOWANCES THEY BROUGHT IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS BILL IN 1998 AND THE TORIES ARE TRYING TO TAKE THAT AWAY SO I AM NOT PURE I CARE ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE TO GO TO THE FOOD BANKS AND I HAVE HELPED AND I HAVE CONTRIBUTED

          • Jonathan morse

            And maybe if Ed had said the same more often maybe we would have done better.

          • Jonathan morse

            I’m not anti-Labour, I see Ed as lazy and useless.

          • Jonathan morse

            I believe Ed was lazy, and/or thought as Labour leader he was entitled to be PM, and because he didn’t work, didn’t defend even his work at Energy in last gov, let alone good points under Blair/Brown, he not only took away any hope I have of not being shafted by gov he helped any member of Labour who wants to argue his polices were wrong, any of his policies, ensure they r never seen again outside of some irrelevant think tank.

          • ClearBell

            Lazy? Entitled? Where on earth do you get that from?

          • Jonathan morse

            Blair had a rapid rebuttal unit that dealt with Tory lies. I think EdM and Brown had things called the same but they didn’t do anything useful.

          • leslie48

            This would be basic to any meaningful modern party machine. It beggars belief that we could have money to pay for Axelrod but not have a media response team led by a figure like Campbell or Crosby etc.,

          • bikerboy

            A 2:1 in politics doesn’t mean you are a politician

  • Colin Gordon

    1. The equality issue is not going to go away as a central issue of the age, therefore neither is Ed Miliband’s fairly historic initiative within Labour to recognise it as such. Any attempt to ditch this emphasis now must be exposed and resisted. Unlike Mandelson, D Miliband and the new contenders, Tony Blair at least had the grace to acknowledge this, along with his own past shortcomings in this area. When Miliband is ready to return to the front line, he might be given some responsibility to help ensure that the work done on this topic during his leadership is developed and not abandoned.
    2. Possibly the most useful service Chuka Umunna can provide in the coming time would be a (self-) critical review of Labour’s business strategy, for which he has had responsibility since 2011. How is it that Labour was not able to present a more convincing offer at the recent election of a strategy for growth, investment and skills, which could enlist support from the productive and innovative business sector, and could have provided some rebuttal to the predictable Tory trolling? What assurances can we have that this will be done better next time?

  • Jonathan morse

    U have Blairites and Brownites, New and Old Labour, but u also seem to have arguers and non-arguers, those who justify their beliefs like the Blairites sem willing to and those who won’t, like neither Brown of Ed M would. I don’t know if this is a Blairite or a New Labour thing but maybe if Ed had made the case for his policies, some of which were new to me in Sunny’s article above, and dsfended better what Labour had done, maybe he’d have done better in the polls. As it is he and his set of viewpoints are now linked with failure, in not arguing his case he has consigned them to the dustbin at least for those Labour supporters who want to win. As someone who hasn’t a Trade Union leader or leftie dad to get me a safe seat, the only way I’ll benefit from Labour is if they win elections.

  • Mike Homfray

    This social mobility myth. The only real expansion of the middle class was postwar woth the growth of professions and white collar jobs. That has stagnated and with it, social mobility

    • leslie48

      No the South East is booming – the M25, M1, M4, M40, A1M packed every morning with commuters in expensive cars travelling to service sector jobs in ICT, BioSciences, Technology parks, Finance, etc…The UK since Blair’s time has done well in higher level knowledge jobs. By expanding our 6th forms and A levels and growing our universities Blair did a lot for the UK human capital endeavour which has paid off with more and more graduates many from lower middle/working class origins.

  • Angela Sullivan

    Tony Blair would NOT win an election if he stood on his 1997 platform tomorrow. When I celebrated back then, one of the things I was happy about was that my job (with British Rail) would not be privatised. I thought that the BR privatisation would be stopped by the incoming Labour government. it proceeded under Blair, and I was TUPE-transferred to a private firm in 2000 and redundant (thankfully, on BR terms) in 2001.
    Then there was PFI – my Union thought it a lousy idea at the time. The bills will be with us for years to come. No-one thinks those PFI contracts which did get new hospitals built, but which saddled the NHS with unaffordable debt are a good idea now. Or being intensely relaxed, not only about the filthy rich but also about the increasing gulf between rich and poor. An education policy which obliged people with aspirations to go into debt to obtain a degree. The others were considered to merit nothing beyond a life-time of flipping burgers on minimum wage. Training for practical skills was non-existent and plumbers, electricians carpenters, etc had to be imported from Poland and Lithuania. And did I mention Iraq?
    A lot of genis have popped out of bottles since 1997. Would Scotland re-elect Labour if it took a Blairite turn? Would the North of England stay loyal? Would even the trendier bits of London?

  • new_number_2

    It’s worth remembering that a lot of Miliband’s policies were individually very popular. It suits the Blairites, who are the sort of people who couldn’t get into the Tory party because it was full, to make out Labour had veered too far to the left.

    • leslie48

      Clap trap – New Labour won three elections in a row and helped many families. The old Labour is over now. We have to address a UK which has changed and where class consciousness is long gone. We are post crisis, post industrial and post-modern and have to form a progressive party which can win back marginal seats we lost to the Tories. People did not vote Cameron because he was a toff but because he convinced them the Tory way would be secure for many voters.

  • MrSauce

    So Miliband’s ‘legacy’ won’t be Scotland?
    In the same way that Blair’s won’t be ‘Iraq’ I suppose.

  • IndependentEngland

    Labour are uncomfortable with the English and the English are uncomfortable with Labour. Until Labour stop trying to destroy England that will be the case.

  • John Mitchell

    I think Ed Miliband is the best leader the Labour party has had in years in terms of message. Inequality mattered to him and he wanted to leave the legacy of New Labour behind. Now after a defeat, Labour, wants to go back to 1997 and hope that things turn out better.

    Ed Miliband didn’t connect with some but I found him to be a good leader that had some conviction in his thinking. I wouldn’t call Ed Miliband an out and out ‘conviction politician’ either, but I imagine plenty were against him from the start and he stuck to his core beliefs. That wins my respect. I’m genuinely saddened and somewhat disappointed that Ed Miliband did not win the election and has subsequently stepped down.

    It is my view that Labour would be mistaken to return to New Labour but with Ed Miliband gone as leader after a defeat on a centre-left platform, the Blairites have the power.

    I’d agree with Sunny and the danger for Labour in 2020 is a repeat of the nationalist surge in Scotland, but this time in England and Wales. Granted, UKIP’s message is not presented with the same skill, but following an unsuccessful referendum on Europe (from a Eurosceptic standpoint), and if the economy continues to stagnate alongside huge cuts, I can see UKIP making a bigger impact at the next general election campaign.

  • I think perhaps he did have quite clever, pragmatic policies. But he really wasn’t that good at communicating them.

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