By Paul Burgin
Okay I admit it, I didn’t vote for Ed and was a tad disappointed when he won and clearly that goes for a number of activists and some delegates at this year’s party conference. But one thing we certainly do not think, is that it is a catastrophe as the Conservatives are keen to portray the result.
For one thing Ed was my second choice, and the second choice of many others – that’s partly how he got the leadership. If any of us thought Ed was a raging Marxist as some newspapers are keen to make out, then he would never have been in the top three preferences.
Yes there was the union support, but are the Conservatives really so dumb as to think we are seeing a return to the 70’s and early 1980’s? As Lord Healey stated on BBC Radio Four yesterday morning, the unions are not as they were and Ed Miliband is no Bennite. Most union members are ordinary everyday people who have no ideological axe to grind, indeed I have one or two non party political friends who supported Ed out of genuine feeling of wanting a change along social democratic lines, and they were Liberal Democrats until recently.
As for the Mail On Sunday’s article yesterday, all they have shown is that they are not only nasty, but nasty and irrelevant, insulting many twenty to forty-something voters, some middle class and middle of the road in their politics.
Lets not forget that the Conservatives are desperate deep down. The coalition is potentially fractious, the Conservatives have no majority on their own, they couldn’t even get 200 seats in 2005 and that was in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. They know they could probably lose the next election unless they play a very careful game, so it is in their interests to see a fractured and divided Labour Party taking a lurch to the hard left.
Well it isn’t quite happening the way they are fantasising about it and it isn’t going to happen.We have a leader who is experienced, pragmatic, and tough when needed if the last two years have anything to go by. He will work at attracting both middle class and working class votes and draw on the best ideas his former rivals have to offer (I hope one of them will be his brother’s Movement for Change idea).
When the coalition fragments and the electorate tire of the Thatcherite spiv culture around the Conservatives (which they are wary of already), and the willingness of the Liberal Democrats to roll over, then they will turn to a leader who they can relate to and whom they see reflecting their concerns and desire to see a better society. This happened in some respects thirty years ago when there was a need for change. Unfortunately the centre was unable to offer it which caused a political polarisation, but one thing did happen. The Labour Party wrote off Margaret Thatcher as a a Tory provincial housewife and a right-wing demagogue who was unelectable. We were right to view her politics with contempt but we underestimated her – badly. The Tories are clinging and are doing the same thing. Lets work at giving them eighteen years in the wilderness