A pretty bad year

23rd December, 2011 9:58 am

Things are not all fine on the good ship Labour. For all the soothing words, the reassuring mood music, the relaxing atmospherics, the party is facing its biggest existential crisis for two decades. In 2011 it has got worse if anything – because the party has stopped pretending its in trouble when clearly it is.

But wait, there’s the pretty consistent poll lead, the by-election victories, the local council gains so the evidence is the opposite, surely? I’m afraid by-elections and local elections are pretty meaningless in terms of the national picture. Labour had some spectacular wins prior to defeat in 1992. And the by-elections it has faced have been gimmes. The poll lead doesn’t exist – in a choice between a Cameron-Conservative government or a Miliband-Labour government the former option is preferred by around 7%. Say it again: Cameron is ahead in the polls.

Labour is suffering on three counts: society has changed, its organisation is a bad fit for the needs of the moment, and, it’s failing to meet the demands of the political time.

Let’s start with society. Both old Labour and new Labour had a similar view of society. There was a Labour core and swing middle. For old Labour, you motivate your core and show leadership to the rest and that then secures your victory. For new Labour, you bank your core and then reach out to the centre. New Labour’s was the more successful electoral strategy but both old and new Labour looked at the nature of society in strikingly similar ways.

That old model no longer works. Society is a series of bubbles and tribes – lifestyles, values, economic position, culture and location all intersect in a myriad of ways. You no longer win by putting blocks of support together. You do it by combining a nuanced conversation with authentic leadership. People are willing to agree to disagree with you to a certain extent – within certain parameters – as long as you are clear about why you believe what you believe. There are some bottom lines and non-negotiables, eg on economic competence, tax, crime, the NHS, welfare and immigration. Beyond these, it is up to you to craft a resonant story for our times. It’s leadership, stupid.

The left now accepts that society is not secretly socialist and just waiting for a leader or mivement to make it happen. Instead, they now argue that politics has to change society. It’s stark raving mad, frankly. But at least they acknowledge a common starting point – social change. Modern society is too complex for the old models of the left. It’s why Cameron seems like the most likely winner in 2015 on the current trajectory – people don’t really agree with him but they get why he’s doing what he is in these times.

When Labour’s deep organisational malaise is added to social change, the challenge becomes greater. The upper echelons of the Labour party is dominated by brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends. They are a group and tribe of their own and they don’t speak to or for modern Britain. Or maybe they do but in the wrong way – the insider’s nation. But we need heavyweight statesmen and women; not former advisers.

We have arrived at this point as a result of the way the party has been run for two decades. It’s a disaster. It’s who you know not what you know. It is a guild – a nepotistic one. Diversity is so important. Yet we have a party that interprets diversity in purely gender or racial terms. You end up with even less diversity as a result. Without diversity you have group think and an absence of creativity. And you seem weird. That is the state of the modern Labour party.

Then there is the current state of the party. Ed Miliband’s problem this year hasn’t been that he’s got it all wrong. It’s been that when he’s got it right it has either been in quieter moments or there’s been no follow through – with the exception of his leadership on phone hacking. His big failures have been in the spotlight: the TUC march speech, his weak response to the riots (‘it’s complex’), his conference speech and his embrace of Occupy. Rather than pretending these things were triumphs or ‘set the terms of political debate’ just because Cameron talks about some similar things, his team and he should just learn from them and move on.

It’s not all down to the leader – and we shouldn’t pretend it is. The highest value within Labour is now loyalty and unity. This isn’t serving the party well. There needs to be more (constructive) disruption at the top and throughout the PLP and party – including the NEC. There is no point uniting around defeat. In fact, it’s dumb. I’m afraid one or two or the party’s officer class are going to have to be braver in 2012. The party is struggling. So is its leader. Neither will be resolved by a phoney unity. Neither leader nor party is served by the silent suffering of those who can see where things aren’t working and need to be put right.

A new General Secretary and a new chief of staff for the leader are two optimistic notes to acknowledge at the end of the year. Unfortunately, it requires more than even these two talented individuals to reset the course. This has been a pretty bad year for Labour – worse in some respects than 2010 because it should have been better. Like the economy, Labour has failed to recover and is facing its own political double-dip. Next year may be final chance to do what needs to be done to make Cameron a one-term prime minister. Has Labour got the brutal self-honesty to do it?

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  • Luke Akehurst

    Can you spell out what you think “needs to be done”, so I can tell you whether I agree with it? Luke

    • Anthony Painter

      If you sit and consider the type of society we now live in, you think about the Labour party and how it seems to most on the outside looking in, and then think about the type of leadership we need to address one to the other then I’m happy at this stage. If you conclude all is fine then we can’t proceed to the next stage. If you become very anxious then we’ll have the next conversation. That’s it- nothing too taxing at this stage.

      • Anonymous

        “A new General Secretary and a new chief of staff for the leader are two optimistic notes to acknowledge at the end of the year”

        With respect, this will only be of interest to, or of relevance to, the anoraks in the Westminster village. It won’t make a halfpennyworth of difference to the ordinary man and woman in the street.

        What is the answer?. Balls seems to have taken a little dig at Ed Miliband for having a photograph taken with his baby son (“I would never, ever do that” says the man who exploited his expenses). Perhaps Mr Balls thinks he has the answer to the party’s problems. Well he hasn’t. All he can do is dream of a Lib/Lab coalition that will never happen. He is arrogant enough to see himself as a new party leader.

        A return to the ghastly old Blairite waxworks?. Far too late for that – they have been rumbled , and even though David Miliband won’t have to wear quite as much make-up as his mentor to hide the lines, is there a market for a blurred carbon copy of the original.

        I don’t have the answer, but of one thing I am sure: While you have Labour offering more-or-less what the Conservatives and LibDems are offering, you are going to have three rival products all aimed at the same disinterested customers.

        If you give up on the idea of changing society, if you think such an idea is “stark raving mad” you are really accepting the status quo. In which case does it matter if it comes in a blue or red packet? It will not be a winning formula

  • Ah a nice confrontational post to get us all thinking. Agreed, the results this year have been mixed, not great. In the local elections we did well in Labour areas but not so well in the south, we gained over 800 councillors, but still overall the Tories net gained seats too. Scotland was a disaster, and the Conservatives managed to portray Wales as a mixed bag too. 

    Clearly opposition for the sake of opposition doesn’t work, people want to know what we’d do, and question our alternative when they hear it. We’re failing to land punches on the PM at PMQs and he’s getting away with it. 

    Ed needs to be brave, and take a big risk. It was risky taking on Murdoch, but he did it, and it paid off. Now he needs to be bold again. 

  • Hannah

    “The poll lead doesn’t exist – in a choice between a Cameron-Conservative government or a Miliband-Labour government the former option is preferred by around 7%. Say it again: Cameron is ahead in the polls.”

    I’ve seen this figure touted as the authentic measure of the relative electoral chances of the two main parties, over and above headline voting intention, many times, mainly, it seems by people who want to dismiss Ed Miliband and Labour’s gains, under his leadership.  This is a flawed, not only because  the party leader isn’t the sole factor in people’s voting intentions, but for the very prosaic reason that it simulates a straight two-way choice, in a multi-party system.  If you look at the cross breaks within that figure, you will see that Ed Miliband is overwhelmingly preferred amongst Labour voters and David Cameron amongst Conservatives, as you would expect, but that Lib Dem prospective voters favour David Cameron, but still intend to vote Lib Dem, although Ed Miliband is preferred by Lib Dem 2010 voters.   Then you have to factor in UKIP as well.  

    Whilst it’s important to have a serious discussion about the political direction of the party, and to acknowledge that it could be doing better, it should be recognised how far it’s come from its position in 2010.  Labour supporters should also remember how much media narrative influences politician’s success or failure, and in boosting the narrative of Ed Miliband as failed leader and inevitable electoral flop they’re doing huge political damage to Labour.

  • Anonymous

    Worrying this comes out now, if you do not have Unity within a political party what do you have. Loyalty for a leader you have to be able to back the leader, otherwise you will end up like the Tories after Thatcher picking leaders to suit the moment not the future.

    But this I suspect is about getting dearly beloved David back on the Throne and new labour again, be it in the guise of Purple Labour or Black labour.

    I suspect if you did get David back in as leader, then you will lose a lot of people who are hoping Ed will be a Labour leader with labour values, problem for Ed he’s worried about upsetting  both the Blair-ites and the Brown-ites, and unless he stamps his own values on the party by saying what he thinks should be the direction of the party, he will disappear next year.

    The Blair-ites are waiting and they are not  going to wait much longer

    • Anonymous

      Icouldn’;t agree with you more.

      I strongly suspect that if Ed wins the next election, unless it is by a landslide (which I doubt it would be) there will be his brother and the disgruntled Blairite malcontents  outing him very soon after an election. You just get the feeling that Ed will not be allowed to succeed because there are too many of the old has-beens routing against him.

      Do you ever read Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday?. the slightest excuse to slag off EM, his only  topic of conversation apart from trying to justify Blair’s Iraq adventure. Of course you have Paul Richards on this site clearly wanting to return to Blairism just like the ancient Tories who still want Mrs Thatcher.

    • People need to get over Miliband D, he wouldn’t have necessarily been any better, the party would’ve probably just been more right wing and been closer economically to the Conservatives. 

      • Anonymous

        I’ve a feeling Miliband has been waiting for this, now we will see how good he is, we will also see who really supports him, and how many supports the ideology of Tony Blair, the third way

        It will be an interesting few years, the problem is will this force labour to think of winning the election after next.

        Labour is now in the same position as the Tories found them selves after Thatcher….

      • Anonymous

        I’d like to see them working together for the benefit of the whole party eventually Jack; but also- there are many more who could contribute in prominent roles.


  • Ghj

    I think the staggering thing is the state of the Polls..Labour are the ONLY opposition..the opposition vote is not split..we have a Coalition including one party whose vote has totally collapsed..the Tories and the Lib Dems are having to make unpopular decisions..cutting..the general global economy is on its knees..and yet the polls are neck and neck…

    I don’t know how much the boundary changes will affect Labour’s in-built bias of 8-10% in the electoral system but that won’t help either.

    I think the underlying message of this article is to get rid of Ed Miliband.

  • So anyone who thinks politics can change society is “stark raving mad”….. hmmmmm

    So the point of politics is? Chase the latest fad? Out Tory the tories? A clever leadership would work out all these alleged tribes you describe actually have a great deal in common. One of these is an appreciation of credible leadership that seems to have a plan in mind. Ed et al are certainly not this. Childish behaviour in PMQs,  sod all vision of what the party is about and nepotism plus. The old model of Metropolitan focussed, Oxbridge led Labour has failed. In the North of England it is astonishing how disillusioned with Miliband people are. Few know what he stands for, and whatever it is less believe him – another posh kid who never had a proper job mouthing soundbites and platitudes.

    If, as was reported this week, the big idea is a coalition with the Lib Dems I for one would finally give up on the party as it would show Labour as simply another right wing free market party who claims to manage it better than others. There are a lot of ideas kicking around in politics at the moment but very few come out of the Labour Party.

    A decent leadership would proclaim the limits of the market, the social benefits of greater equality, the need for collectivism and limits of individualism, Social responsibility, Secularism, Multi culturalism and the environmental limitations of economic growth. They would have the balls to face down the internationally wealthy who dominate business and our media, keep out of foreign military adventuring but look to be involved in global co-operation of a more positive nature. They would espouse a practical non religious morality and aim to achieve a better society, not accept that we are heading for a low wage low hope economy dominated by bastards. They would express the idea of change.

    But that is politics changing society so you would be against it. Nuanced conversation. pah.

    • Rob Sheffield

      The point of politics is to win elections; the point of economics is to create jobs and raise individuals, households and communities incomes. Failure of the former prevents the latter.

      It seems the point of the ‘change society’ mob is to huddle together and make each other feel better. It won’t leave a pin prick on the world. By 2015-2016 the weak centre of the party- currently indulging the left- will have had its fill.

      But it will be too late by then.

  • derek

    The political geeks and think tanks have to stop believing their inner inflated egos hold the answers. In truth it’s another bad year for politics across the world, politicians and politics has failed and if anyone thinks that Cameron’s lot is some new age icon that is shinning a bright light into failed politics is sadly mistaken, it may not happen in 2015 but it will surely follow that at some point this new admin will burn out just like the rest.   

  • Redshift

    I don’t really see the point of this article. 

    You want us to accept all isn’t well (although you seem to be unclear about whether or not we are moving in the right direction) but you aren’t constructively suggesting anything. 

    It seems to be just a negative rant – Merry fucking Christmas to you too!

    You aren’t even picking out examples of success. Best practice we can adopt. My reaction is to ignore your article as an attention-seeking exercise and continue to organise along lines that I believe have demonstrated success. 

    • Totally agree Redshift.
       This article offers nothing. It doesn’t even pretend to offer anything. Instead it alludes to some vague positive advantages that might be gained from an internal fight around the leadership. We know from our experience in the 80s and from watching the Tories that this course of action would be disastrous.

       We should follow the leadership on this one and ignore this kind of garbage and move on. 

  • This is a really spot on piece. As someone who did his MSc on the demographics and values of social democratic party’s voters (albeit in the Netherlands and Denmark, though there are important parallels) your paragraph about voters now being a series of bubbles and tribes struck me as totally true, and I have been thinking along the same lines for some time.

    • these bubbles tribes etc are a long standing cliche of population studies. Look at any of the post war Butler and whoever reports on the election results and we will see this kind of stuff. We fool ourselves by thinking this segmented marketing approach is useful. Stand up for what we believe in and the persuade a diverse group of people it is what they want. Otherwise it is a pathetic chase after what we think people want.

  • Anthony Painter

    This point about politics and social change is fundamental. (i) Social change is too complex for politics to determine it; (ii) There are huge unforeseen consequences of trying to change society; (iii) You uproot many important institutions in seeking to do so. It always ends In tears.

    So what is politics about? For me, it’s quite simple. It’s about acting collectively to give people more power over their lives. In an open, democratic society you have to do that by persuading people of your proposed collective action.

    If your aim is to ‘change society’ in a certain way then you will both fail and cause harm. That’s why it’s stark raving mad. (whether it comes from the left, right, religion or wherever)

    • Anthony Painter

      And, as a quick addendum, the left continually falls into the trap of thinking that because it can see the past it understands the future….as the ads say ‘past performance is not a guide to future success’….

      • Anonymous

        Well new labour against the New Tories should be interesting.

    • derek

      But surely your only advocating the localism that’s so prevalent in today’s society, where pockets of council have low employment and fewer homes.Seems to me that we’ve been doing this kind of thing for the last 30 years, giving affluent areas the power to maintain their position, while stocking up the poor areas.If we continue with the idea of each to his own then the net result will surely be the society you have alluded to.  

      • Mike Homfray

        Exactly. You understand that the proposals Painter advocates would simply strengthen the status quo. They are both conservative and Conservative. They should be firmly opposed and seen for what they are – fundamentally and irrevocably against what Labour should be about.

    • Your three points are a counsel of despair and a rather neat summary of the old school Tory approach to politics a la Edmund Burke. The vague statement/aim to give control over people’s lives means what exactly? A chance to do better than their neighbours? A chance to make as much money as possible whatever the social/environmental consequences. Again it reminds me of an old branch of the tories – Thatcher.

      Society is not a given and it gets changed on a fairly regular basis. Of course you have to recognise that whoelsale tearing down the walls is damaging – watch the tories ripping into public services at the moment to see how – but you need a vision that goes a little bit further than platitudes about control over your life.

      And what do you want to persuade people of? I gave you a list below, what would yours be?

      • Anthony Painter

        Yep, Edmund Burke- another richly insightful philosopher who we have just conceded to the right because we don’t understand the difference between conservative and Conservative.

        If I’m honest David, it’s difficult to engage with this ‘Blairite’ v authentic left dualism. It’s dull and not constructive so I’m going to leave it.

        If you want more then you’ll be pleased to know that this is not the only thing I’ve written over the last few years. It’s all out there.

        • Burke may be a hero of yours but he is certainly not one of mine. If you cant be arsed to debate neither can I.

        • Anonymous

          The problem is, Anthony, that there are still Blairites ready to rock the boat. Blair is now busy spending more time with his money and his directorships and “advising” despots etc, to make even more. That’s fine if he can live with his conscience, the problem is there are still too many in Labour who would like to see his mini-me as leader, and won’t rest, like the ardent Thatcherites, until they see their “old values” restored. Just as those hankerers after Mrs Thatcher  ensured that the Conservatives stayed out of office for a decade, the same thing will happen if the David Miliband naysayers try to foist the discredited Blair years on the public again. The “purer than pure” government now looks pretty grubby.

          Why is it “not constructive” to point out that there is a great gulf between the majority of people on the left and the little Blair clique.

          I would respectfully suggest to you it is hardly “constructive” to pretend that those who want to see changes in society are “raving mad”

          • Anthony Painter

            Alan, if people want to live in the past, that’s entirely up to them. Blairites are wasting their time if that’s what is motivating them. In my experience though it’s anti-Blairites who have more of an obsessive relationship with the political past than anyone else – see my exchange with David Clayton. I’m interested in the now and where next.

            You subtly shifted the sense of my argument with your final sentence. And changed it as a result. Wanting to see changes in society and believing in a politics of ‘changing society’ – ie people- in a determined direction are two entirely different things and create two very different impulses and approaches. The first is humble; the second is terrifying. And boy are we at a moment when humility is required – instead we seek to get bolder and bolder…..

          • I’m interested in the now and where next.”

            All well and good but you appear to limit your own purview and this, to me, suggests an agenda is ready and waiting to be brought out from beneath the table when no one is looking. (You mention Ed’s “embrace of Occupy” – it didn’t look like an embrace to me. But anyway, given the outrage in every quarter of the country, though I know it’s not fashionable within Labour,  why shouldn’t the thinking emerging from Occupy be given consideration? After all, they’ve won the support of Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman and a great number of distinguished scholars including Manuel Castells).

            In the New Year, as the situation deteriorates, Cameron will flip-flop and eventually his policies will be indistinguishable from those proposed by Labour at the G.E. So what then for Labour? 

            There is no place for the Blairite approach, Cameron is trying it and it is not succeeding. And a nostalgia for the ideals of Old Labour are as a dream unfixed from flesh, now that the industrial base on which it was built is no more.

            In current extreme circumstances, where events, more than ever before, determine policy, the success of Labour will depend on a preparedness to re-think politics. Ed, in his late recognition of the Iraq disaster, has shown some promise in this, and with his considered response to the riots, Ed showed the vast non-rioting majority who live in deprived areas that they were more important than making a grab for demonising tabloid headlines.
            There can be no trundling out of yesterday’s ideals nor yesterday’s heroes. For better or worse, Ed is the only show in town.

          • you cheeky git – first you decline to debate with me and then dismiss my arguments by a cheap characterisation of them as from someone who has an obsessive relationship with the past. Always difficult to debate properly on this kind of forum but given you know sod all about me, where i live and what i do it is slightly rude of you to ignore substantive points and try and fit me into these ancient ideological groupings you have in your head.

            So go on give us some substance to this statement…..an actual policy or even ideological approach would do.

            “instead we seek to get bolder and bolder….. “

          • Anonymous

            Anthony  you rightly say “hiumility is required”. Sadly this was a quality conspicuous by it’s absence fromn the Blair circle. I nearly laughed out loud once when thirty-something James Purnell loftily started a reply on Radio 4’s PM programme. with the words “In my judgement”.

            it begged the question “What judgement”

            The reason I keep mentioning the Blair tendency is because you know and I know they are still there waiting for Ed to fail (Mandy the master of unctuousness gave his little opinion on the EU treaty on BBC1 last week, in a year when he had said originally he wanted to do his shimmy on “Strictly Come Dancing” on BBC1). Why is this figure of the past still courted for interviews, and more importantly why does he accept. Blunkett will turn up on R4 at the drop of a hat.

            The public have fairly long memories and despite what the Paul Richards types think, a new Blair would not be welcomed with open arms, but that doesn’t stop some of the suicide squad for wanting David Miliband to take over the reins: he is just Blair repackaged.

            It rather annoys me when people like Mr Richards slags off the Labour leaders of the past, if only because they hadn’t been born when Harold Wilson refused to join Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Vietnam war. there was a man with character who stood up to the blandishments of a US President, unlike the fawning Blair went in for.

            My problem with so many Labour commentators is they think the public would be naive enough to be taken in by a rerun of the Blair era, which is all the likes of D Miliband has to offer.

        • Mike Homfray

          If you seriously regard Burkean conservatism as in any way relevant it just says yet again that your way is not the way I’d want to go. And if you are about giving people more individual power over THEIR lives then that’s Thatcherism in one sentence. Labour just isn’t about doing that.

    • Anonymous

      I find this fascinating Anthony.

      But I’m also minded to hark back to the 80’s in particular- and how much those politics did in fact have a huge effect on people’s lives; I do believe we are living with that legacy directly now, and explains so much about “wrong” direction and wrong priorities.
      For example, decimating the manufacturing sector and putting so much sway into financial services to fuel our economy; that has led to a long cycle of “boom and bust;” but with little foundation for growth.

      A very similar pattern has been seen in USA since the 80’s, in many respects.

      I think it’s all those factors that need re examining and confronting.

      Thanks, Jo

      • Anonymous

        (I was responding directly to Anthony’s point earlier- but comment
        has been shifted around, and I can’t find thread of dialogue.)
        Never mind- there’s some good input on this page.

    • happy.fish

      Your last paragraph is just wrong. Society is always changing and politics plays a part in that. The problem is that often A) the change will take a lot longer than the political memory can cope with (more than a week) and B) often the changes it makes are either unintentional or consequential rather than direct responses to your policies.

      If you want to see the real way back to power or Labour, look at how many people vote. Labour has to give those people a reason to vote. These non voters are generally from poorer backgrounds, or younger people. Both are being hit hardest in these times. The younger vote is key, the regular voters are getting older and more conservative, the reason why Cameron became a ‘friend’ to the NHS is because many of the core voters are getting shit scared of getting old and needing the NHS. It is not recket science, but Labour are going to have to take a risk and step away from the narrowing chase for those ‘swing voters’, if we are ever going to get a majority government in the next twenty years.

  • It’s a really good post Anthony.

    My only question, which in might go before Luke’s, is this: what should the purpose of politics for the political Left. 

    You call the aim of societal change ‘stake raving mad’ but you don’t say why? But if not that, what? The alternative is, as a party, to adapt to reflect society, or aspects of society, as it is. But that isn’t leadership or vision. That is faddish politics and, like fast food, it is ultimately bad for your health. 

    Or we can push for societal change, which is slow and difficult.And you can frequently get it wrong.

    The Right’s “power by any means” which sounds nice and can be effective but is just flawed.

    P.S I like the riff about society as ‘bubbles’, we should look at how we incorporate that kind of honest thinking more into our politics. 

    • Anthony Painter

      Thank you Vincenzo. There is little point in me going further down the road until we are honest about where the journey is starting. What Luke and others want to do is turn this into a back and forth about particulars when actually the debate is not there yet. We are at a more existential level and need the type of debate we had in coming to terms with Thatcherism – why it happened and what it meant.

      If you are policies I’ve put bucket loads out there….but that’s not what this piece is addressing- we need this debate first.

      • Mike Homfray

        You mean capitulated to Thatcherism? That was the mistake we made and why we left no legacy that will last from 13 wasted years of government. If we have any reason to exist it is to provide an alternative to the sort of society we are heading towards

    • Anonymous

      what should the purpose of politics for the political Left. ”

      The betterment of the country? 

  • It’s who you know not what you know. It is a guild – a nepotistic one. ” This in particular resonates with me. I’ve started to get involved with the labour party over the last 3 months after being a non-active member for a couple of years. It feels incredibly difficult to get “in”, and that those getting somewhere have the right connections rather than any great political insight or intellectual ability. The whole thing feels rotten- I don’t expect to see it change.

    • Anthony Painter

      Alan, it’s really important that people like yourself continue to speak up. It’s not acceptable for a modern party to operate in this way. Thank you for commenting.

      • Anthomy Painter

        Alex even……apols…..iPhone commenting.

    • Peter Barnard

      @ Alex Bee,
      I certainly recognise the kind of CLP that you describe. It seems to be in the nature of the beasts in the political jungle, combined with a human weakness that some people seem to regard information as something to be hoarded (“sense of power, importance and authority”), not something to be disseminated for the greater good.
      In my CLP, when I joined the Labour Party in December, 2004 :
      (i) the CLP secretary was a district councillor and did paid work for the MP, and
      (ii) the MP had a paid (part-time hours) assistant, who was also a district councillor and the CLP Campaign Co-ordinator ; his wife was also a district councillor and the MP’s secretary.
      I can hardly think of a goulash more designed for “conflict of interest.”
      The Labour Local Government Committee never met. Real communication between district councillors and the membership just did not occur. Although the LGC had the right of observers to the Labour Group meetings, this just did not occur either. The district councillors operated as a body quite separate from the CLP.
      In fact, as a general rule, I would suggest that too many elected representatives, at all levels, soon forget “where they came from” and the CLP recedes from their minds.
      The Labour Party’s Rule Book certainly has the framework for (i) accountability, and (ii) doing things properly. Refounding Labour also has good ideas that can enable CLPs to be more open, transparent and accountable. However, in a lot of CLPs – if my experience is anything to go by – there are an awful lot of people who have been around “since God was a boy” and inertia and ossification is rife. Not to mention nods and winks, nepotism and all the rest that you allude to.
      One rule that the Labour Party could introduce is that no elected representative should be a member of the Executive Committee …
      I was elected CLP secretary in February, 2006 – due to no great personal qualities, I hasten to add ; it was more a case that no other bu~~er volunteered for the post. Coming from the world of project management in the oil industry, it was “chalk and cheese.” The previous incumbent had been in the position for eighteen years, and that says a lot about Labour Party members in this particular neck of the woods.
      I well remember being informed by the then Campaign Co-ordinator (MP’s paid assistant) back in November 2006 that she really wanted the CLP to pay for, and members deliver, some (about 30,000) Labour Party Christmas cards. It was almost, “The MP desires this and the CLP shall therefore do so.” I had to inform him that the MP did not have the authority to spend the CLP’s money. I guess that was my first move towards membership of “the awkward squad.”
      The way that some CLPs operate seems to copy the way that the Labour Party operates at its highest levels – decisions taken by people hidden from the spotlight. Since I became secretary, there has been no “hidden from the spotlight” : CLP decisions are taken either by the Executive Committee (with distributed minutes) or the General Committee – which will be no more in 2012 as we have shut down the “delegate structure” and all members will be “equal” at our monthly meetings after 1 January, 2012.
      Turning round a CLP is a long haul, I guarantee. If you feel that you would like to try to do this, Mark Ferguson has my contact details and please feel free to contact me.

      Four likes should soon be five …

  • Anonymous


  • Chris

    Anthony are you saying that the British electorate think that the NHS, education, police should be destroyed and the rich should get tax cuts? Because that is what the Tory party stands for. The deficit is an excuse for cutting public services.

    • GasMan

      I like this one.  We cannot be clear about what the Labour Party plans to do but we certainly know what the Tories want to do.

  • Stuart

    Meh, reads to me – like too many articles do and no doubt like my own would if they existed – in the large part as a bit of pesudo-analysis with opinions tacked on. The only thing true enough is that people are saying they like David Cameron more than Ed Miliband, and I agree with you that the PLP – like all the parliamentary parties – do seem like a weird club, fair enough. The prescription, more creative disagreement among the top-dogs, seems a lame one though. I imagine, though I may be wrong, that the phoney unity is due to a relatively sensible biding of time; 2011 was always going to be a bit of a crap year as far as I see. 2012 will be much more interesting.

  • Simon Landau

    I am making a New Year’s resolution to ignore articles that comment on Labour’s position unless they fulfill the following criteria
    1. The author has done something in life other than comment on politics or work in politics
    2. The article makes positive suggestions on policy
    3. The article uses language that the majority of Labour voters understand and use

    This article does not meet any of the above criteria.

  • Pete Cresswell

    There are other, more significant factors, I think.  First of all we’re still in the wake of one of our worst ever defeats; second, the voters still(unfairly)  blame Labour for the economic crisis.  This is  hard to counter without reffighting tha last election.  And see above for how that went.  As far as the polls go, we’re doing about as well as we did in the wake of the 1979 defeat (pre Falklands) but the Tories are doing much better than then, partly because they’ve managed to put most of the blame on Clegg.  Loads of people say we ‘should’ have a huge poll lead but this is a fantasy, comparing the present situation with the time that Blair was fighting the fag end of an exhausted Tory party that had been in power seemingly for ever.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t worry. Legend has it your heart is going to grow three sizes in the next couple of days.

    Merry Christmas.

  • Anonymous

    Poor. This piece fails to recognise one fact. You cannot bank your core #It’sthecorestoopid. Labour lost 4 million working class votes, most of them to X-Factor and Big Brother. Ed Miliband understands that the cost of living crisis can act as conduit for these people to come back to Labour.

    The other major weakness of the piece is to misunderstood how society has changed. For it has changed. We are all going to be very poor for a very long time. 

    La Senza 2,600 jobsComet 3,600 jobsBarrat’s 127 jobsThorntons 180 storesT J Hughes 1,072 jobsMillets 208 storesCarpet Right 27-94 storesHabitat 30 storesThomas Cook 200 storesHMV To be sold off 

    Are all gone. This is evidence that disposable income is shrinking (and we know it is). People have a lot more in common than this piece recognises. Pity.

    • Anthony Painter

      An old turkey just in time for Christmas…a lump of 4 million voters just waiting to be inspired by Labour and pointed in the direction of their true economic interests…magic.

      • Anonymous

        Anthony, your response was vacuous and reductionist in the extreme (intentionally so of course). Evidence might I suggest that you simply have no credible response.

        Lament unity at your peril but no party achieves power without it.

        Warmest regards at Xmas.

        • Anthony Painter

          Warmest regards to you too. And all the commenters on and readers of this thread. Hope you all have a great Xmas break ….

          ….. and we’ll pick it up in 2012 🙂

        • Mike Homfray

          I don’t think there is anything new here which hasn’t been said before. The fact is there are people who joined Labour in the Blair years but have essentially become ideologically closer to
          The Toroes. They don’t have the connections to make it in the Tory party so they continue to cling like a sick and infected limpet on to us. They have their own entryist organisation which really ought to be proscribed : it’s laughingly called Progress even though they don’t know the meaning of the word.
          The thing is they are not really interested in actually changing society for the better and don’t believe it is possible. This is why they and their tainted Sainsburys money must be resisted and rejected. It would be better to have a smudging of credibility and lose than to go down this path. Painter and his colleagues are essentially happy with the coalition government in the way Blair was happy with Thatchers. That is why he will have virtually no permanent legacy than the Itaq war and why his government was ultimately such a failure ( and why millions of Labour voters stopped voting for it)
          This sort of extended whine is typical of those who think we should chase Tory voters in the south. Get used to it – those seats will largely stay Tory because the Tories are doing what they voted for them to do. Our priority should be to engage with and win those who don’t agree with the Tories. Many live in marginal seats but The Blairite ultras in the south never meet them. We won’t be looking for a big majority next time but a majority is possible – and better a majority of 30 with a will to do something than a 164 majority committed only to tinkering around the edges. We’ve done that. It was largely ineffective and just followed the Thatcher template. I don’t think that is what Labour should be about

          • Anthony Painter

            Oh Mike, Blair, Blair, Blair…….

            As it happened I joined the party under Kinnock. And yes, I was influenced by that.

        • First L

          I look forward to your comments in 2015 when you attempt to justify why you lost the election by 4 million votes, minimum.

  • Anonymous

    You will if you stop being in hock to the unions, stop the anti-Englishness, that money should be hated and the lazy supported then you have a hope. Labour used to be proud of this country. Now Ed tells us the French are right! Foolish and wrong.

    • Anonymous

      You just appear to be anti-French. You appear to be anti-welfare state.

      You are the editor of the Daily Express and I claim my £5

      • Dave Postles

        Jeremy Hardy is starting to get a wee bit anxious about his place on The News Quiz.

        • Anonymous

          Oh I doubt it. Being a Leftie “comic” guarantees you a job with the BBC for life!

      • Gasgasgas

        The idea that the lazy should not be supported does not necessarily mean you are anti-welfare state.  Similarly, being pro-welfare state does not necessarily mean that you support the idea of supporting the feckless and workshy.

      • Anonymous

        Well, when the cost of the welfare state exceeds receipts from income tax, you have to admit we have a problem. Regardless of the disabling effect it has had on millions. Beveridge wanted “malingerers” to go to re-training camps. Not a lot of people know that. Wonder what reception that would get today, regardless of the Sainthood bestowed (rightly) on Beveridge. 

        • Anonymous

          Jeremy, My problem is that a lot of the people who constantly jump on the “welfare state” like to pretend (like the Daily Express) that everyone who is in receipt of state benefits are “workshy” or “malingerers” . THis of course isn’t true but it doesn’t stop people from using terms like that. The interesting thing is that those “hardworking” people who are so ready to jump to judgement would expect a totally different response if they had the misfortune to lose their jobs or become ill themselves. Then it would be  misfortune or disaster or tragedy. They have different values when judging others.

          • Anonymous

            Sure. But my ex worked in Job Centres in Bristol for some years and can tell tales of three gens of families working the system magnificently. The welfare state was intended as a safety net – not a lifestyle. Indeed, our next door neighbour’s son, living elsewhere, claims carer’s allowance for his Dad, and for his wife, who has the same condition as a neighbour two doors down the other way, and is coping fine on her own. Quite happy to tell us he is screwing the system as well. 

            And the other matter is what I also mentioned – the ever-increasing cost. How do we deal with that? 

          • Anonymous

            I agree Jeremy. You will always get a proportion of dishonest claimants – just as you will always get a proportion of MPs who fiddle their expenses, or businessmen who play tricks with their taxes, but nobody should assume it is the norm.

            As to how we pay for it, I don’t have an answer as I am not an economist, but there is little point in wasting money on “job creation” schemes, where no jobs exist, and I really think we need to leave the retirement age as it is, even though people are living longer, that is not to say they are all fit to work into their 70s, at the expense of younger people.

            I think it ill behoves any government though (and Brown and the Coalition are equally guilty) of flattering a know-nothing like David Freud into letting him believe he is a “welfare expert” when he is nothing of the kind. Perhaps they should have got a group on unemployed people to write a report on ageing investment bankers touting for a knighthood.

          • Anonymous

            Agreed. It’s not good. I was made redundant at the age of 55, after 20+ years in IT, and have been unable to find any work at all. Not even part-time admin at local charities. I’ve had to draw down on my – Brown & Balls savaged – pension to survive, and were it not for the fact that we scrimped like crazy to pay off our mortgage, we’d be hard pushed – me after 30+ years of hard work, and my wife as a self-employed worker. 

            I think the reality is that we need to turn the political process on its head. The Coalition’s “Localism” is a name for it, but not their implementation, whatever that is. Simply, we need much more control at the local level, much more control of how our money is spent at the local level, and then I think people would become more involved and engaged in the political process. Something akin to what happens in Switzerland. I’d like to be able to say NO to my council’s budget, for example.

            Sadly, I don’t see any of the main three parties able to reckon with this, in any permutation, and I see the UK condemning itself to a slow (to maybe not so slow) decline. 

          • Anonymous

            Problem is that for the unthinking or the lazy whenever anyone challenges the status quo on benefits and the welfare state it is a very easy thing to do to shout “Daily Mail Reader” and the like without giving any serious thought to the points being made. Jeremy Poynton makes several good points in this thread.

          • Anonymous

            artin, I didn’t say he didn’t make good points, and I tried to be honest by saying I didn’t have answers as I am not an economist. I wasn’t having a go at Jeremy, what I was commenting on (the Daily Express comment) was this (from “DixieOne):-
            “You will if you stop being in hock to the unions, stop the anti-Englishness, that money should be hated and the lazy supported then you have a hope”

            That is a typical response from somebody who thinks that everyone who is ill or unemployed is shamming (I wonder he or she didn’t drag in that favourite word “feckless”, much beloved by people who take this view (what a pity they don’t feck off).

            Jeremy himself tells us he became unemployed at 55, so there is no way I would suggest that he was prejudiced in this regard since he has personal experience.

            What I object to is the way certain of the new Labour shower tut-tut at the antics of Grayling and Duncan-Smith, aided and abetted by David Freud when it was one of their own – Purnell – who introduced Freud to government in the first place. Therefore their croccodile tears are worthless. They are being unthinking and lazy – not me

          • Anonymous

            My problem is that a lot of the people who constantly jump on the “welfare state” like to pretend (like the Daily Express) that everyone who is in receipt of state benefits are “workshy” or “malingerers” . 

            Recent research says one third of those on unemployment benefits are convicted criminals.. so the Daily Express may well have a point.


          • Anonymous

            It is just this sort of crap that the Express dishes up that really annoys me – and of courseit’s readers tut tut without considering that 

            1) Anyone with a criminal conviction is going to find ikt hard to get a job even at the best of times. With severe unemployment as now….

            2) If we refuse to pay them and their families benefitr what will they do to get money to live?

            The answer, of course, is that they will return to crime.  Would you prefer that?

            This is what I meant about “DixieOne” s post. People who drag up this codswallop always do so, because of their own prejudices ( like the people who dissaprove of immigration, for example, always wanting “a debate” on the subject.

            The really trying thing about the Express (and Star) is that they are owned by a pornographer. They pretend to be so straight-lced but they are financed by somebody of very dubious morals (have you ever seen a copy of the Star with it’s “babes” (babes is presumably  aeuphanism for whores)

          • Anonymous

            yep- a lot of ex soldiers turn to drink drugs and crime wonder why.

            But  I was once asked to try something out, I was looking for a job and I had filled out 189 job applications and had no replies, so my job centre asked me to send out the next twenty six with no mention of disability, just send my CV.

            the 189 application I had sent out received no replies, the twenty six with no mention of disability I had 22 replies asking me to attending an interview, I turned up for the interview with my disability advisor for the job centre, I did not get through the door, being told I should have told them about the disability, out of the twenty two I was refused any interviews.

            Fine the fact is you have to do something to get people jobs, not forgetting somebody without legs cannot climb steps

            But if you can work you should not get benefits, fine then open up camps for them

          • sagitarius

            One in five of the population has a criminal record and most of the rest of us have done things that could well have given us a criminal record  had we been reported and/or caught. And once you have a criminal record you are barred from …  

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    At the end of this year, I find myself even less impressed with Labour than at the start of it.  A year ago, Labour had a fresh new leader, and there was every anticipation of some fresh new ideas.  But not much has changed in the last year, apart from a synchronous decline in the national economy, and in Ed Miliband’s ability to look or sound relevant to anyone at all in the UK (no direct link, they happened at the same time).

    We know that Ed Miliband is not Prime Ministerial material, we know that his political judgement in appointing Ed Balls to Shadow Chancellor is deeply flawed, and from later evidence we can see that the whole Refounding Labour movement has produced literally zero of any interest to people outside of Labour whom the Party needs to woo.  Instead, the initiative seems to have completely fizzled out, no doubt because what was put forward in the consultations was not to the taste of the hierarchy.

    There are no policies, there aren’t any concepts or vision, apart from some useless and quickly forgotten ideas on good and bad companies.  There’s a significant rift with the unions over mass action, which in itself was pretty much a damp squib.  Labour Party finances are going badly wrong, so that rift had better be repaired, but doing so will probably irritate the electorate enormously if the price is increased support for the union dinosaurs in the public sector.

    The economy is flatlining, or worse, and yet the Government is increasing in the opinion polls, and Labour retreating.  After the biggest rift with Europe since Maggie lost her temper and handbagged some German in the early 80s, Ed Miliband still cannot tell us what he would have done a couple of weeks ago.  He hasn’t got a clue on international relations, nor on home affairs policy, no positive ideas about anything at all, apart from a poorly put across petulance about what he wouldn’t do.  Well then, if you want to be Prime Minister, what would you do?  No idea.  His Shadow Chancellor is wedded to a policy that every sensible person in the UK knows is total nonsense, because to backtrack would be to implicitly admit his personal and central role in overspending by £534 billion in nine years, and under-regulating so that our banks have now cost us £126 billion in three years.

    At the current rate of progress, 2015 is going to be a disaster of an election, despite the tory austerity drive and everyone in the country having only the same money in their pocket that they had in 2008.  You’ll get rid of the twonk and his ludicrous economic sidekick, but who will come forward to take their places?

    • Mike Homfray

      But your politics are so far from Labour’s, this actually encourages me. I would be seriously worried if you thought we were going in the right direction

      • Anonymous

        Thus spake the one-man arbiter of what it means to be Labour.

        • Bill Lockhart

          Don’t be too harsh. He’s been a committed Labour activist for, oh, months now.

        • Anonymous

          Is that not the problem, I have no idea what it means to be labour, or what labour thinks it means to be labour…

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas


        your view could also be expressed as my views are so far from the Labour Party that you would like, but not necessarily automatically belonging to any other party.  Having voted Labour 3 times in 4 elections – but not being a member of the party – I don’t feel discouraged in offering a view so long as the editor is happy for non-party members to do so.  It’s his choice.

        In fact, having looked at several party manifestoes, and done some other research, I’d be happiest if there were an election next month in voting SNP.  Not for their stance on the union – I am in favour of the UK remaining as it is – but for their very slightly left of centre economic stance, and equitable balance between civil liberties and the judicious and restrained stance on necessary and limited state powers.  Look at the Political Compass website for a graphical view.  But I recall we had this debate a few months ago, and among others you self-declared a -4, -5 view, which puts you firmly into anarcho-green territory.  That’s a respectable place to be, but you are such an old tribalist that despite your own views, you support a party firmly in the +4,+4 quadrant, which is a considerable distance from where you declare you stand personally.

        Of course, in rural Cambridgeshire, the SNP don’t stand too many candidates, so I’m still stuck on giving the LDs another vote, or standing myself on the unelectable “Cambridgeshire Supports the SNP Economic and Social Policies, but not their Desire for Independence” banner, or maybe not even voting at all.  Perhaps I’ll give my uncle in Milngavie my postal vote, and ask him to vote SNP for me.

        • derek

          Shouldn’t you be taken care of the Duke of Edinburgh?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Not me, sir.  Papworth is about the best there is in the world for heart and thoracic cases.  They wouldn’t need me lunging at him with a defib set to 7.  And he was unlikely to be drunk or overdosed on arrival, nor need triage according to severity but interfered with by half a dozen also drunk frineds claiming he has to be seen immediately.  I suspect he came in by helicopter with a seamless path through to one of the best specialists in the UK.

          • derek

            No need to go all technical on me! any how’s enjoy your time in Edinburgh and if you get the chance go up Chamber street, cross over to “BoBBies statue” and go into St giles Church just doon the slope, there a certain Marques of Montrose signed the covenant, he was the first to sign it, didn’t considered himself a royalist but he had a change of heart. Wishing you and your family all the best for 2012 have a fantastic Nerday, O and you’ll probably go past Murrayfield on your way to the Zoo, sacred sole!!!

          • derek

            O’ just another plug! the twins beating the retreat 2010 Edinburgh Castle, Boys nearside to Cam, third and fourth in nearside row!!!! enjoy.


    • Peter Barnard

      @ Jaime,
      “Refounding Labour” was a project that was for Labour Party members only ; essentially, it was a discovery project on how Labour could – more accurately – should re-organise at the CLP (local) level. It was also a two-way project, with the Refounding Labour document presented to Conference for approval in September. That document included suggestions that members had made during the consultation period.
      Since you aren’t a Labour Party member, with no sight of the Refounding Labour documents, I would suggest that you are unqualified to make any comment on Refounding Labour.
      Refounding Labour has many positive ideas for CLPs – and councillors and MPs – but the basic is, “Get out there and talk to the electorate,”  ie it’s up to CLPs to organise themselves to do this.
      Having said that, I fully appreciate that for many (most?) members today’s Labour Party isn’t to their liking and so I see an unproductive circle : “I don’t feel like campaigning for something that I don’t like,” and member motivation is consequently difficult.
      The solution to that difficulty, to begin with, is for the leadership is to make a serious challenge to the economics of the last thirty years or so (“It’s the economy, stupid”) and show that the “conventional wisdom” is inherently incapable of working for the common wealth. German manufacturing (Siemens, BMW, VW-Audi, Mercedes, SAP, Bosch  …) hasn’t been hurt anywhere near the degree that UK manufacturing has since 1979 (“it’s all due to globalisation”) and we really should be asking ourselves, “Why?”
      Perhaps the answer is, at least in part, contained in that quote of Robert Bosch that I posted a couple of months ago : “People think that because I am rich, I can afford to pay high wages. They are wrong. I am rich because I pay high wages.”

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        @ Peter B,

        you are of course correct:  I was wrong on Refounding Labour.  I muddled it up with another policy initiative which was more focussed on voters, not on internal party organisation.  As I’m not a member of the Party, I don’t comment on your internal matters.  It’s not my place to do so.  However, whatever did happen to that wider consultation?  It was heralded last year by Ed Miliband as “our chance to reconnect to the ordinary voters, to listen and to change”.  My broad point still stands, I hope.

        • Peter Barnard

          Thanks, Jaime.

          I’m afraid to say that the “wider consultation” passed me by – and I’m a CLP secretary. I do hear that “the Labour Party met two million people,” but there weren’t many around CH4 9DS (nor CH1 to CH8, inclusive), I guarantee.

          I believe Hazico went to such an event in the East Midlands. It would be unkind to suggest that the “wider consultation” concentrated on the marginal areas, and by-passed the “safe” North West – especially Liverpool and Manchester. Mike H will be able to fill in on what occurred in Liverpool.

          • Anonymous

            Hi Peter, thanks for mentioning.

            I seem to remember I got a great deal of flack
            for describing events in a positive light;
            but the Refounding forum was indeed excellent
            and very well received by about 2000 people on the day.

            Ed M also posted a video on youtube, as did Mark on LL,
            but I haven’t kept a link.

            It would be useful to look back and compare
            with how things have transpired now;
            as far as I’m concerned, not a great deal has moved on.

            But I am worried some would like to see Ed M fail.
            (Not Anthony- but there is a feel of some “waiting in the wings”
            judging by what has been written in some sections of the media.)

            Signing off very shortly, but have a lovely Christmas and peaceful 2012 Peter; let’s hope there will be more happening next year!

            Thankyou for all you do locally for the party too.


  • Anonymous

    This is excellent and thought provoking Anthony.

    But when I got to the paragraph about what Ed did right or wrong,
    I have exactly the opposite view.
    He was right to address the rally in March,but he did need
    to follow though on other issues rather than appearing
    to sit on the fence.

    Also, I thought the conference speech had more of a personal feel,
    and  was far more successful than previous speeches.
    And  it has been praised in retrospect by some respected
    media commentators; and certainly by comparison to
    the uninspiring speeches by NC and DC.

    I think he was right to embrace the aims and spirit of Occupy,
    if not every example of how it transpired.
    The problem for me is that he never takes it any further,
    when it could be a good opportunity to engage with the big issues.

    I might agree on your point about response to riots- but surely no one could come up
    something clear and credible in the immediate aftermath- with so many unknowns?
    It has taken time for analysis to unravel.

    The only public figure that seemed to resonate and make
    any real sense was the Archbishop RW I think.

    I do agree on the point about leadership and the need for clearer objectives;
    also reform of the party as a whole.
    We might all have different views about what that might entail.

    My personal vision would be something much more pluralist
    and outward looking; a wider movement on the centre left.
    Also less hierarchical and genuinely more democratic;
    none of the top down authoritarian feel of what was NL,
    or what it became.

    It’s all too distant at the moment, more effort needs to made
    to connect with members and the public; eg via debates
    or community initiatives.

    Barriers that I have perceived are factions within the party,
    particularly ?the right wing element constantly publishing articles via the media
    and being extremely derogatory about individuals and direction of party;
    it’s almost as if a fixed agenda, but talking amongst themselves, almost like a cabal;
    but not widening the discussion or explaining in clear terms, dealing with constructively.
    I don’t know what this agenda is, but it’s completely mystifying to me.

    Also- the biased right wing press, almost rendering the current leadership as
    invisible or on the sidelines; and yet DC has such favourable coverage,
    no matter what he does.It’s completely one sided and imbalanced.
    I don’t think the power of that should be underestimated;
    it’s like a “drip drip” effect- background wallpaper ingraining public consciousness. 

    There has also been too much of a stop start approach, eg to the Refounding
    initiative.It got off to a great start; then we heard virtually nothing for months on end?
    It gives the impression the members are surplus to requirements and not taken seriously.
    Also- far too long for formation of policy; and impression of vacuum is given,
    when that’s probably not the case; it’s just that none of us know what is happening.

    As for Ed M, I’ve always supported, but I think he could do so much more,
    in other directions; needs to be bolder, along the lines of his conference speech.
    Also more himself, and braver to speak out more, unhindered by
    constant criticism and backbiting over every tiny detail.

    I agree, it’s a crucial time with so much at stake,
    but some things can’t be forced or rushed.
    DC had about 4 years to prepare for office?

    Anyway, much has been said elsewhere, and I’m certainly no expert;
    can only offer my own perspective and observations.

    I do agree radical changes are needed, but maybe along slightly different lines?

    Thankyou- the debate will continue to be interesting in 2012!

    Wishing all best, Jo.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mike, I generally agree with a lot of your political perspective, but I strongly disagree with this idea of north/south divide.

    There may well be particular characteristics of geographical areas,
    but it’s not uniform; from my experience living in different areas of the country- a very mixed and more nuanced picture.

    I think the danger is of making wrong assumptions and stereotypes

    I have tried to explain elsewhere, but hopefully ongoing discussion in 2012!

    Wishing you too a merry Xmas Mike.


    • Anonymous

      Again, sorry Mark- but this appears to have been moved from my original response to Mike’s comments about the “south.”

  • Dave Postles
  • Dave Postles
  • Anonymous

    I’ve consistently thought there are two things going wrong for Labour: we’re losing the argument on the big political issue of the day (i.e., the debt crisis); and the voters don’t like our leader.

    At the end of 2011, I think we’re making ground on the first of these problems. Ed Balls is beginning to win the argument on the economy. Commentators across the political spectrum are now saying that Balls is right, but will have difficulty persuading the voters. If he is right, I’d back him to find a way to get the message across. I expect the gap between us and the Tories on economic trust to close over 2012.That leaves the problem of leadership. Ed Miliband needs to: improve his debating; look more decisive, particularly by showing he can make tough decisions, like identifying areas for painful but necessary cuts; project a tougher, more determined persona, because he is seen as feeble by floating voters; raise his profile more generally; stop backing silly causes like Occupy and the Hyde Park rally that align him with shrill, superficial political protest; get a haircut that flatters him, instead of making him look weird; and lower the pitch of his voice a couple of notches so that he sounds less squeaky and adolescent. If these last couple of points sound daft, well, I’m afraid some people’s votes are swayed by such details.If he can’t raise his game as leader, we will lose the next general election – for the simple reason that many people treat it as a presidential contest, and will effectively be choosing whether they want Cameron or Ed Miliband in No. 10. 

    • Anonymous

      “Ed balls is winning the economic argument” ha ha ha ha Have you ever met anyone in the reality based community? Ed Balls is an idiot and the  mass of working people know he is, that is entirely Labour’s problem NIL credibility at the top

      • Dave Postles

        Not caught up with the IPPR report then, I guess.

        • GuyM

          Not caught up with the bond markets then, I guess.

          My mortgage rate > public sector non jobs

          • spot on – that’s what it’s down to! 

            If we borrowed more to spend on the public sector, the bond markets would murder us, as we’re already so over-borrowed. Interest rates would go up, as would mortgages, the pound would drop and then inflation would do the opposite. So everyone loses, except a few people counting paperclips in some government office somewhere.

            The voting public would rather keep low mortgage rates than slightly low(er) unemployment; selfish yes but that’s the truth all the same…

    • GuyM

      Ed Balls winning the economic argument?

      Did you see his interview with Andrew Neil? The only person I’ve seen really go for the detail on his 5 point plan. He could barely answer a thing.

      His “plan” involves suggesting a VAT cut, the opposite to what Darling suggested”, pushing a tax that does little apart from please the anti banker movement and borrow an undisclosed amount (which the markets would love).

      He’s spent 18 months telling us he’d cut the deficit, then oppose every single coalition cut whilst not explaining any single one of his own.

      He’d be ripped to shreds if he ever had to discuss the detail of his own plans rather than bleat on about what the coalition are doing. As a result he is well suited to a long period in opposition.

      • correct – he is all at sea on the economy. The public know that, too. And despite the economy tanking in the UK, they still blame Labour for it, and/or the Euro. Ed Miliband has failed to land so much as a fingerprint on the Tories regarding the economy, and this is the root of Labour’s problem.

  • Anonymous

    To end the “pretty bad year” here is the editor of the Blair fanzine, with his last desperate scribbling of the year:


    I don’t know if he writes this stuff because he really believes it, or just to annoy people

    • Rob Sheffield

      I don’t usually read rentoul as I find he tends to grate with his Tonyphilia.

      But thanks for this link.

      A wonderfully interesting and enjoyable read 😉

      Good to see so many exEdM ‘fans’ have stopped drinking the Kool Aid.

      A shame that some on here are so insistent on blind faith.

      Ed is a disaster- lets get CU or RR in there sharpish: or a caretaker AB leadership

  • Daniel Speight

    There’s nothing new here. No specific policies. No reasons why we would be different to the Tories. Just more verbal masturbation from the right.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sure you can accuse the right on this point: “no specific policies” outlines the problem for both sides of the party right now.

      IMO, what the PLP should be asking Santa for are, if you will forgive the expression, a large pair of hairy ones…

  • Hannah

    “The poll lead doesn’t exist – in a choice between a Cameron-Conservative government or a Miliband-Labour government the former option is preferred by around 7%. Say it again: Cameron is ahead in the polls.”

    I’ve heard this a lot, mainly from people who seem to want to write off Ed Miliband and any gains the Labour Party has made, under his leadership.  However, it’s a specious argument, not only because leadership isn’t the only factor in how people decide to vote in general elections, but because it simulates a straight two-way choice in a multi-party system.  If you look at the cross-breaks, David Cameron is overwhelmingly preferred by Conservative voters, and Ed Miliband, by Labour voters, as you would expect, but prospective Lib Dem voters prefer David Cameron, whilst still intending to vote Lib Dem.  Then you also have to take into account UKIP.  

    It’s important to debate  the political direction of the party, and acknowledge that there are improvements to be made, but it should also be recognised that it’s come a long way from it’s position in 2010.  It’s also important to remember that the media narrative is increasingly a significant factor in political outcomes.  Ed Milibands opponents should be very careful about feeding the narrative of Ed Miliband as inadequate leader and inevitable electoral failure, lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Hannah

    “The poll lead doesn’t exist – in a choice between a Cameron-Conservative government or a Miliband-Labour government the former option is preferred by around 7%. Say it again: Cameron is ahead in the polls.”

    I’ve heard this a lot, mainly from people who seem to want to write off Ed Miliband and any gains the Labour Party has made, under his leadership.  However, it’s a specious argument, not only because leadership isn’t the only factor in how people decide to vote in general elections, but because it simulates a straight two-way choice in a multi-party system.  If you look at the cross-breaks, David Cameron is overwhelmingly preferred by Conservative voters, and Ed Miliband, by Labour voters, as you would expect, but prospective Lib Dem voters prefer David Cameron, whilst still intending to vote Lib Dem.  Then you also have to take into account UKIP.  

    It’s important to debate  the political direction of the party, and acknowledge that there are improvements to be made, but it should also be recognised that it’s come a long way from it’s position in 2010.  It’s also important to remember that the media narrative is increasingly a significant factor in political outcomes.  Ed Milibands opponents should be very careful about feeding the narrative of Ed Miliband as inadequate leader and inevitable electoral failure, lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • AmberStar

    I joined Edinburgh North & Leith CLP after the 2010 election defeat. Everybody was very welcoming & there are lots of opportunities to get involved but nobody makes you feel bad, if you are too busy to volunteer for everything.

    If you want an executive position, paid position or to be chosen as a candidate, of course you have to ‘prove’ yourself first. It would be ridiculous to have great candidates who have done loads for the Party excluded because they have family who have succeeded &/or they have built up a network of contacts by turning up to do Party work! I mean really, what sort of arrogant people think they can join up & within months leapfrog over members who have been working hard for the Party for years?

    I actually feel like my ‘rise’ within the CLP has been meteoric. I was picked as a delegate to go to conference in September & to the Scottish one day conference. I have met & spoken with shadow cabinet members, all the candidates for Scottish leader etc. I have been amazed by how friendly & open to new comers the Labour Party is.

  • Alister Voltaire

    Labour make me laugh, against the hereditary principal BUT Prescott wanted his son to succeed him, as did Michael Martin, the Kinnocks had the whole family involved, not to forget the brothers Milliband, the husband and wife team of Balls & Cooper, the brother and sister Alexanders (the sister was so out of her depth as Scottish leader)

    Labour’s other problem is that it has tried & failed to bring equality by levelling down rather than bringing everyone up. “squeezed till the pips squeak”, meant anyone with brains or the means to escape did, so we lost all that talent  & wealth,

  • Therealguyfaux

    You say,  “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know,” but I propose that in more cases than we’d all like to admit, success in politics has been down to “What you know about who you know.”

  • Anonymous

    The sound that you hear while reading these comments is David Cameron pissing himself laughing.  There seems to be an absolute determination among those commenting under no circumstances to get a grip and start opposing the coalition.

    • To win a battle you first need to choose where to fight it from. To oppose effectively, you first need a position to oppose from. What we have at present is mixed up confusion.

      I blame whoever planned the leadership election – it went on for far too long, and during that time every Labour MP went around defending their favourite pot of money from cuts. When Ed came in he was in a very difficult position in that the party had already decided policy for him – we oppose everything basically. He was also probably in desperate need of a holiday after slogging his way all around the country with his brother and the others for all that time. It was utterly insane.

  • Absolutely spot on. The Labour Party is talking to itself and no one else. Blair was clever inasmuch as he bolted on a ‘user-friendly’ front end to the old clunky machine that was the Labour Party, to make it electable, but nobody else was/is able to do that now. So Labour’s only option is to change itself from within… 

    What’s needed is – as you so rightly say – real diversity. No just along gender/race lines. Labour needs white middle aged male business leaders as much as it does black female social workers – or any other colour/gender/age of business leaders – the point being it needs business leaders and not solely ex-trade union officials, public sector workers, teachers and lawyers. Labour needs people who can connect with all parts of society through shared, lived experience. 

    It’s so plain to see that the current Labour front bench is full of well meaning but utterly inexperienced (in the big wide world) people. Voters aren’t stupid, and recognise this instantly. At least the Tories – despite being utterly unrepresentative of the British people as a whole (21 millionaires, etc.) have actually made their money in business. Voters know this and see it as proof of competence (even if it is no such thing).

    Right now, Labour’s biggest problem is Labour itself. The Tories had precisely the same issue a generation ago – with loads of tired, out-of-touch, elitist political hacks. Now the Tory back benches are populated with a generation of capable, socially diverse new MPs from a vast range of backgrounds/genders/races/classes/ages – their one common thing being that few of them have come from the public sector; they’re all self made with a wealth of life experience.

    Of course the public sector is immensely valuable and important, but it’s not exclusively so; Labour needs new blood from across *all* parts of society. The British people, most of whom don’t have a public sector background, won’t vote Labour until this changes.

    • David, I like some of what you say; you hit the nail right on the head. Especially this (edited down a little):

      “Labour needs white middle aged male business leaders as much as it does
      black female social workers – it needs business leaders and not solely
      ex-trade union officials, public sector workers, teachers and lawyers.
      Labour needs people who can connect with all parts of society through
      shared, lived experience. 

      “It’s so plain to see that the current
      Labour front bench is full of well meaning but utterly inexperienced (in
      the big wide world) people. Voters aren’t stupid, and recognise this

      Yes with bells on. I was shocked to hear that none of the Labour leadership candidates had ever even worked in the private sector. We shouldn’t blame the individuals, but clearly there is something in the culture of the party that is badly in need of change.

      • Hi Ben – yes, I think so. That’s why I think this article is so refreshing. Warp back 40 years and you had Labour front benchers who were ex- World War II pilots and sailors, historians, businessmen, economists, journalists, medical doctors, etc. These days you’re lucky if you’ll find someone who hasn’t only ever been a SpAd (special advisor to another MP). That’s where the rot is. The party has to be a microcosm of society in general rather than a niche interest group trying to pretend it’s mainstream. Voters can see past this sort of deceit now.

        • Anonymous

          I think that goes for the whole of Westminster though; perhaps more “professional politicians” than those with years of experience
          from other working backgrounds such as engineers, teachers, nurses, business people.

          Ed M made some reference to the gap between people and politicians
          at the Refounding forum I attended, which I think he attributed in large part to members previously coming up through the union link before in our party.

          This is one of the reasons I believe that “link” should be strengthened;
           it’s a great opportunity to reinstate to a very large group of
          workers that have massive experience to add to the mix,
          to “ground” the party; refocus priorities; connect with the public;
          look outwards, dealing with real and prescient issues.

          Thanks, Jo.

          • You’re right about it being a malaise of Westminster in general, but Labour suffer from it far more than the Tories – have you seen their new intake? They’re very diverse; not your old fashioned hang ’em and flog ’em blue-rinse brigade you used to see in the eighties!

            Labour desperately need more diversity, and I’m afraid that – worthy as many trade unionists may be – these are precisely the wrong people to resonate with the electorate at the next election, unless of course you want Labour to poll 20% forever more. 

            Labour have to bring in businessmen, entrepreneurs, soldiers, doctors, explorers, academics, designers, engineers, innovators, industrialists, bankers – no more trade unionists, council leaders, human rights lawyers and teachers please!

          • Anonymous

            Tory home close seem we have been invaded.

          • Anonymous

            But are they wrong?

          • Anonymous

            But here on this site what is right or wrong does not count, only that the public were wrong to blame Labour and Blair and Brown who saved the world, here  right and wrong does not matter.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks David, sorry only just returned.

            I would say “all of the above” and more.

            Members of trade unions and the professions
            in public services for example have a great deal of experience and contact directly with the public and involved in community working etc- so just as valid contribution as those from “classes” you mention.
            I’m curious as to why you distinguish between academics and teachers for example?

            I definitely agree we need a much more representative mix in Parliament, but somehow this
            “professionalized class” of politicians appear to be the new breed; eg emanating from media circles, or research posts?

            I don’t know how this has evolved historically, but I do remember B.Boothroyd talking on BBC Parliament saying how it used to be very different, with ordinary working people able to become MP’s.

            I think a whole raft of reforms would be desirable.
            I’d like to see the whole culture and atmosphere of the HOC appear less regimented and couched in long winded language etc; eg addressing people constantly as the member for this that or the other….  
            I think it should resemble a modern workplace or working forum, made up of a mix of people from all backgrounds.

            Thanks, Jo

    • Ian Nicholson

      “The Public Sector Is immensely Valuable and important”-actually it’s a leech on the taxpayer,wasteful,a monopoly which urgently needs reform. High levels of Council Tax plus Govt Grants pay for good salaries,excellent pensions and large numbers of paid Councillors with no regard to the public.

    • M Cannon

      The present Labour front bench has far more experience of government than the present government.  That is a bad thing in two ways.  First, they have little, if any, experience of anything other than Westminster.  Second, their experience is associated with the last government.

      One unusual feature of the last 32 years is that there have been 2 long periods of single party government, one of 18 years and the other of 13.   The result has not been good for either of the main two parties.

    • Anonymous

      You mean bankers of course seeing as they earn the most money … Alan Sugar of course, Digby Jones, ah yes we need the business people …..none of them saw the banking crises, none of them saw the housing market over heating but all of these people saw a way of making a few quid working for Labour, like Freud , this countries  model for business people not been that great of late.

  • I was led to this article by a post from Peter Watt on the Iain Dale website. The passages he quotes from here about the Labour Party as a nepotistic guild of brothers and husbands and wives and other insiders are powerful and hit the spot. As is the description of the value placed on loyalty and unity. It is one thing that has been on my mind a lot recently – the way that the party seems to have fallen out of the habit of actually doing politics (excluding the internal sort of course). There is argument and debate going on, but my impression is the bulk of members are not engaged in the slightest, and certainly the party is not set up to encourage it. The reflex instinct seems to be to avoid disagreement – which is a very worrying sign which I have been hoping the powers that be would seek to correct.

    The criticisms of Ed himself in this piece are also generally correct – he has successfully appealed to some thoughtful people who have bothered to listen to what he has to say – but on the big issues of the day he has not projected any signs of strength which could counter the prevailing view that he is weak and impute some direction.

    Where I disagree, and disagree strongly, is this, about “the left”:

    “Instead, they now argue that politics has to change society. It’s stark raving mad, frankly.”

    This is a staggering thing for anyone anywhere on the wider left to say – saying that, basically, politics is not worth doing. I would actually define the left in terms of the belief that politics is about trying change society rather than letting other powers do it (including what is often called “the market”, which is itself an agglomeration of powers). It is the End of History argument all over again. Everything that needed to be done has been done so we can all just go home, focus on our private lives and leave it to the professionals to manage on our behalf. Like I said, I find this account extraordinary, but especially coming from someone who defines himself as on the wider left.

  • Anonymous

    Painter’s pessimistic view tends to be vindicated by the predictability of the opposition to it in these columns.

    “The True Left” exists only in diminishing cadres within an increasingly centre-right populace. The chilling Bob Crowe and Ken Livingstone exemplify and sully it in the majority of minds. Ed hovers between it and the realist Left groups, unable to commit fully to either, unable to lead forcefully the one, or to follow consistently the other.

    New Labour built the bridge, perfectly located and structured, but lacked the courage to cross it. Then saboutaged it anyway.

    One day, we in the Labour Party will realise, with the public, that there are now no basic differences between the main parties. The best-run ship will reach harbour. No one, save obsessives, cares any more what colour it is.

  • Stephen Wigmore

    The upper echelons of the Labour party is dominated by brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends. They are a group and tribe of their own and they don’t speak to or for modern Britain ”

    Lol.  What could you possibly be talking about?  A Party where the only serious leadership contenders are a pair of brothers and a husband and wife team, both of which are composed of rich, upper-middle class liberal intelligentsia who have spent their entire lives in politics sucking up to Gordon Brown or Tony Blair.  People who couldn’t be more divorced from reality of ordinary working class or middle class life if they tried.

    Labour like to go on about Cameron and Osbourne being toffs, and fair enough, they are.  But they should perhaps take a look at the incestuous, nepotistic, rich utterly cut off from normality circle their own beloved leaders come from and live in.


    • Spot on – and you forgot to mention that most of the Labour shadow cab. did PPE at Oxford and/or went to public school, too…

      Hearing Evette Cooper do her dreadful fake glottal working class accent in constituency interviews, then hearing her speaking like the Queen’s favourite aunt when she’s in the House of Commons cracks me up laughing – and shows the Labour front benchers for the inauthentic frauds they are. 

      At least the Tories are authentically posh and/or rich!

      • Alanradford

        The suck-up-to-the-workers fake glottal stop is quite prevalent in Westminster.

    • GuyM

      Surely Islington is the perfect representation of life everywhere is it not?

      All those leftie intelligensia dinner parties and book clubs being the perfect founding for understanding the “common man”?

      It does make me laugh when you see Labour “toffs” trying to attack Cameron on priviledge. Just get on with the policies and leave the faux moralising about who is most “representative” out of things.

      • Anonymous

        ,,,,so says the man who dislikes teenagers and the working class, and it seems, everybody who doesn’t share his narrow-minded views

    • Anonymous

      This is why the “out of touch” attacks from Ed M and co just do not work. You have one class of political elite from the same sort of background attacking another class of political elite from the same sort of background.

      John Golding, not the most popular person here I am sure, spoke about exactly this sort of thing happening at the Labour Party Conference in 1975 and he was spot on.

  • Dave Postles

    I hear the sound of distant kettle drums.

  • Dave Postles

    The first six months of 2012 will be dreadful.  The consensus for the whole year is 0.3% growth (i.e. half the last OBR prognostication).  The IPPR report expounds that line too.  That’s the time for Labour to make a strong move.  It will become evident that Osborne has cocked it up, just like Osborne & Little have.

    • GuyM

      Because the alternative of spending money you don’t have and increasing interest rates will be a winning position.

  • Dave Postles

    Bond markets
    Yields are being constructed as a sign of weakness in the economy and the expectation of another £100bn of QE.  Much has been written on those lines in the press.

  • Dave Postles
  • Anonymous

    Ah yes, Good old Neil Kinnock. Implacably opposed to the EU. Implacably opposed to the House of Lords. Another good Socialist working class boy (Hello Mick Martin), principled till they saw a flash of those Ermine knickers.

    How many pensions will we be stumping up for the Windbag? Three is it? Four? I hope he can manage. 

    • M Cannon

      Quite right! But is there a lesson to be learned from the onward march of Neil, Glennys and their children? 

      • Anonymous

        That politicians are entirely bereft of principle, and that the disconnect between the political classes, the strands of media that hang with them, and us, “the governed” is total. The EU itself personifies this, is its cuddly version of tyranny, Mandelson’s “post-democratic” era. 

  • Anonymous

    Unfairly? For pretending a government sponsored debt-fuelled housing bubble was an economic boom? I don’t think so.

    Listen. The IMF warned Brown, more than once in some cases, about the following.

    1. Unsustainable Public debt
    2. Ditto for private debt
    3. As above – a debt-fuelled housing bubble does not an economic boom make
    4. Sub-Primes and the City’s involvement in them.

    And they are not to blame? Good re-write of history, I have to say.

    Not to mention the FSA. 

    • Pete saying ‘unfairly’ is also key to the Labour malaise. A great many Labour voters (myself included) believe Labour over cooked the economy and burnt the cakes, so to speak. Trying to deny responsibility for it makes them/you appear dishonest and untrustworthy. 

      The next generation of Labour leadership after the two Eds will have to go around apologising for their (mis)handling of the economy like there’s no tomorrow, before ‘closure’ can be attained on the part of the electorate. All the polls show the electorate thinks Labour screwed up and is as a result untrustworthy on economic matters.

      Sadly the current generation of the leadership were largely responsible for the problem in the first place – from their own minds came ‘The Iron Chancellor’, ‘an end to boom and bust’, etc., all risible nonsense that’s now been completely discredited.

      In simple terms, Brown deregulating the banking system turned on the money tap too much and the bath overflowed, flooding the floor and bringing down the ceiling. The electorate know this, but sadly much of the Labour party membership can’t see it.

  • One of the great disappointments for me was that, after all that talk of the third way, Labour never followed it…

    Untrammelled statism doesn’t work (a la Soviet Union); untrammelled capitalism doesn’t work (Royal Bank of Scotland, take a bow), but there was a third way of running state-owned assets (railways, roads, utilities companies, etc.) as if they were private companies, but with the ability to raise finance on the capital markets, and to plow profits back into the state.

    This would have been a brilliant model that Labour was perfectly well able to follow in 1997 – instead that idiot Brown just threw all his (our) eggs in the one basket that was making money at that time – finance. Just look at how the Chinese economy grew with ‘third way’-style economic management over the same period, compared to the boom and bust that Gordon delivered.

    The 1997 Labour government did some good things, but made some epic, monumental mistakes too – that we’ll be recovering from for many decades to come.

  • Rob Sheffield

    As Glenda Jackson telegraphed- after Neil had wiped the floor with the predecessors of the ‘we have to change society rather than fitting in with how society has changed’ tendency (in Bournemouth 1985):

    Thank You Thank You Thank You !

    Now: let us see whether this year our current leader can show a similar level of leadership…

  • Anonymous

    I think this is sensible and insightful Hannah.


  • I don’t think the narrative about Ed being rubbish is prophecy; it’s already the case and that’s why the Tories are [a] doing so well in the polls despite their terrible economic situation and [b] they’re all smiling like Cheshire cats. Basically they know that as long as Ed is leader, they’ll have a majority government in 2015, simples!

  • Alanradford

    Goodbye labour.

  • Anonymous

     Labour are in a terrible mess after the disastrous Brown Blair years and the current leadership will have to disassociate themselves from the New Labour years  if Labour is going  to be elected again. Thanks to the legacy of the Brown Blair spin machine, everybody in the shadow cabinet seems terrified to say anything at all about the excesses of capitalism any more and in the current economic climate that will quite simply not do.  
    After all,
    when the banking crisis broke in 2008,  Brown did not even have anything to say about bankers bonuses. It was only when the then Tory shadow chancellor, criiticised the bonuses that Gordon Brown thought it was safe to do so. New Labour’s founders were so obsessed with snuggling up to the super rich that nothing was ever said, or allowed to be said, which could have been construed as being socialist or even social democratic during the “on-message” years of New Labour.  Let us not forget that it was Gordon Brown who awarded Fred the shred,  a £750,000 a year pension and a knighthood for all the misery that this man has heaped on the British public. He clearly didn’t realize that even capitalists should not be rewarded for failure. Yet, even now, it is hard to find anyone in the current shadow cabinet who will have the courage to say that this model of capitalism is failing the nation badly. That is why it is the Right, through people like Peter Oborne, who is now questioning the current model of capitalism. What a turnaround! No wonder many long time Labour voters are disillusioned.

    Brown and Blair have turned Labour, this once great party, into a timid, spineless, nonentity whose only purpose seems to be power itself. This obscene greed from the super-rich happened on their watch, as did the decline in social mobility.  Labour will only be elected if they clear out many of the supine ex-ministers who got Labour and show that they are driven by principles, not self-seeking power for its own sake.

  • Jonny Cavendish

    What difference does it make?

    Suppose this Labour elite did win the next election, would that make it alright? Is winning everything? Surely you have learnt from the Blair/Brown experience that victory can lead to disaster.

  • Anonymous

    ‘It’s the Leadership Stupid’ is absolutely correct. Recent polls have shown the Tories scoring higher on economic management and handling a crisis. Considering we are in an economic crisis that’s appalling. The leadership needs to improve and obviously appeal to the centre. Unfortunately for many leadership is judged on image rather than actual competency. Ed M needs to work on his overall image before he loses all credibility.

  • ConservativeForLife

    From a right wing Conservative its a change to read a good piece from a
    left wing blog. Very concise and to the point, and not drooling over the few
    things Labour have got right, not that there are many as you point out.
    Accurate to point out the many issues and deficiencies the party has, and
    ideas of what they should be doing.


    It is partly the left wing press, especially The Guardian who are
    particularly bad at making everything that the Labour party does appear good
    and beneficial to the country and its fellow countrymen, even when it clearly
    isn’t. People are not stupid and know that when a political party have done
    wrong, and are wrong, no matter how the press try and spin it, they will still
    be wrong.


    I’m not a toff, I’m not rich and still class myself as working class
    but I still won’t ever vote Labour. Not only because of the damage
    they have caused this country over the last 13 years, as this far outweighs any
    good they did, but because I just don’t agree with the socialist model. The
    champagne socialists that rule the party, with public school upbringings and millionaire
    lifestyles they are as far from working class reality as ever. As Orwell
    stated “All animals are equal, but
    some animals are more equal than others.” Until the Labour party rectify
    this they will get nowhere.

    But still a good piece of writing.

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  • James J

    Very good article.

    I would add that in the medium term Andrew Neather et al
    were wrong: it is diversity or equality. Open borders did not and will not rub
    the noses of the right into multiculturalism and destroy it, it will destroy
    the left. Labour has lost the trust of the white manual working class and can’t
    win without its support.

    Cultural Marxists theories on everything from education to
    criminal justice are also subject to only one test: do they work ?This
    judgement is made  by assessing whether
    the primary purpose of these organisations are achieved ,such as a better
    educated  workforce, equipped for a
    modern economy and reduction in crime. Not whether young people’s self worth is
    maximised or we don’t imprison too large a proportion of our population.

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