Ed Miliband’s great clunking balls – facing down the boos

20th October, 2012 4:56 pm

Ed Miliband stood up today on a stage in Hyde Park, and was booed. Quite vigorously. And quite loudly. That may well be the story of today’s march. But what we saw today from Ed Miliband what that he has massive balls. Huge, great clunking balls.

First – a note about the march itself. It was a different beast to the last major TUC march held last year. That was a much larger event, with what felt like quite a large number of – for want of a better phrase – “ordinary people”. This march felt like the more traditional lefty march – lots of obscure placards and banners from obscure leftist groups. As one shadow cabinet member who I bumped into early on the march said to me “they’d probably rather be protesting against us, wouldn’t they?”. I’m afraid there’s no probably about it. For a significant chunk of those present at the march today, Labour are as much an enemy (or a greater enemy) as the Tories and their yellow stooges. And those crowded at the front of the stage seemed to be largely anti-Labour, with many of those marching under Labour banners having not even reached Hyde Park by the time Miliband spoke.

So perhaps it’s best to consider Ed Miliband’s treatment at the hands of a vocal few in that light.

That said – Miliband’s speech today was a solid enough one. Rhetorically it wasn’t much different to him widely praised conference speech – although, of course shorter – but it dwelled, deliberately, on the fact that Labour too would need to make cuts. Or as Ed Miliband euphemistically phrased it – hard choices. But to stand in front of a partially hostile crowd today (who would have frankly booed him if he’d announced plans to renationalise the commanding heights of the British economy) and plough through his speech with confidence – despite the catcalls – showed real balls. It would have been easy to stand up today and give platitudes about Tory cuts (which he did) but by going further, he was speaking to the country as a whole, standing by what he believes – not merely pandering to some of those implacable souls stood directly in front of him.

Two years ago, Ed Miliband would have been distracted by the catcalls, but a new more confident Ed Miliband is emerging. In the shape of “One Nation” he has a terminology he’s comfortable with, not just as a framing device, but as a set of ideals that he actually seems to be wedded to. Today will have taken balls to do, and balls to get through. Those who have sometimes doubted Ed Miliband’s bravery and consistency – myself included – got their answer today.

Ed Miliband has balls. And now just in a shadow Treasury sense. And today’s boos will have bounced off him – as they should.

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  • It’s a shame that the few boos will be what the media focuses on (although it’ll be interesting to see how they continue the “Unions are Labour’s puppet-masters!” line whilst discussing the booing) but it wasn’t unexpected. Anyway, if he’d gone up there and said they’d reverse every cut made then that would have been derided as well since it’s never going to happen. He’s sticking to his desire to not make promises he can’t keep, and regardless of how popular the things he says are, it’s the right way to go if he wants to help restore trust in politics. Okay, it’ll only help a teeny bit but it means we won’t be seeing any auto-tuned pledge making apology videos any time soon. 

    Tenner down that Cameron will work the boos into his PMQs somehow next week? Ed, buy a train conductor’s outfit for Balls. 

  • Good piece, Mark, but I really hope the story is the 130,000 who marched today, and not the reception to one man’s speech. Write off ‘obscure’ lefty groups, but if Labour can harness their activism, then we’re already halfway home for 2015

  • Amber_Star

    What an offensively sexist headline; a really horrible way to ‘spin’ what was an honest & politically courageous speech.

    Mark, I’m asking you very politely: Please change it. Changing it would show consideration for -& solidarity with – the huge number of women who support Labour.

  • Amber_Star

    What an offensively sexist headline; a really horrible way to ‘spin’ what was an honest & politically courageous speech.

    Mark, I’m asking you very politely: Please change it. Changing it would show consideration for -& solidarity with – the huge number of women who support Labour.

    • PaulHalsall

      I agree, Mark, this headline is offensive.

      As Betty White is reputed to have said : “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina. Those things take a pounding.”

      • AlanGiles

        Mark, I have to agree with Amber and Paul – a most inelegant, crude and rather offensive turn of phrase to head your article.

        I heard the speech late last evening, and suddenly a wet October evening in 2012 suddenly became the Spring of 1997 again – Ed had borrowed a favourite phrase of Blair : “Hard choices”. He said it twice in quick succession – a phrase which means everything and means nothing. We also had the “cutting too far and too fast” catchphrase.

        The only thing missing (unless the tape hd been edited in the version I heard) was the other Blair catchphrase “for the many, not the few”.

        If you want to stop an audience from getting bored and starting to boo, you need, at least in broad terms to say what you mean – “Hard choices”. Define the choices you mean, and instead of the too far too fast, but we would have to make cuts too routine, indicate where these cuts would be made. The Trident replacement, a useless comfort blanket would be an excellent place to start.

        It all comes back to the lack of substance – the feeling the party is taking an extended gap year until Crudas finishes his review. So rather than say or offer anything tangible, just repeat the threadbare old cliche’s that we have heard so often in the past.

        No wonder the audience were restive. All credit for EM in attending – something Phony Tony would probably, no definately,  have shied away from. But where was the substance, the ideas to inspire the audience there and listening on radio and TV, where was the “new society that will be forged in the white heat of this technological revolution” message of hope for the future.

        Ed’s speech offered nothing new and nothing inspiring. Meanwhile, elsewhere, just to show New Labour is dead but won’t lie down, we had Mandelson offering more heartfelt “advice” in a newspaper, this time arguing against a referendum on EU membership.

        In all honesty, is anybody any the wiser after Ed’s reheated stock speech yesterday?

        • telemachus

          No Alan
          He is backed up by giant clunking Balls
          Mega superstar Build for Growth Ed Balls
          Balls would have known to emphasise the positive in this forum not say something to trigger boos from Militant and successors

        • aracataca

          What the hell would you know you never went?

          • AlanGiles

             Bill, the speech was broadcast on radio and there is a transcription of it on THIS SITE.

            You really do make yourself look silly sometimes

        • aracataca

          ‘ All credit for EM in attending – something Phony Tony would probably, no definately,  have shied away from’. 
          What in the way that you shied away from it?

          • AlanGiles

            Bill. If I were you I should read the comments before making asinine remarks. I have explained, in very simple langauge, so that even you could understand it, what I was doing on Saturday, so I suggest you read and absorb them.

            You are just making yourself look a complete fool, and yet again you seem to be in a silly trouble-making mood. Perhaps it’s best to ignore your nonsense till you grow up.

          • aracataca

            Thanks once again for the abuse. The fact is that the march was organised months ago and you failed to participate. At the same time you speculatively suggest that Blair would have followed your example and not turned up. 

          • AlanGiles

            Bill, stop pretending “victimhood”: I have received quite enough abuse from you in my time, as have others, which probably explains why you changed your screenname from “William” to “aracataca”.

            It is a question of priorities. The organisation I work for is short of volunteers, especially so at weekends. Problems don’t stop just because it is the weekend.

            There were many thousands of people who marched on Saturday but where I was there was just TWO of us, had I joined you there would have been one holding the fort for nine hours.

            I explained why I couldn’t be there twice to you yet you still come back with these puerile little asides – I am afraid your somewhat rancourous and mischevious behaviour just grates.

            As I said before I could have pretended to be there, but that is not my way.

            I have no regrets for doing what I did on Saturday, and I am neither going to apologise or explain myself further just to appease your silly little tantrums. The fact that you have so much time on your hands to obsess about this say more about you than it does about me.

            Now could you just go and annoy somebody else who gives a damn about what you think.

          • aracataca

            No but you slagged off Blair for speculatively suggesting he would have done something that you did yourself. Can’t see the idiocy of that?

          • AlanGiles

            Frankly, Bill, I can see only one idiot here.

            Blair rarely attended anything to do with the TUC,  or individual unions, so I don’t think that was “speculative”. Wht don’t you go an badger him about why he wasn’t there as it, and he are so important to you?

            As for myself, how I choose to live my life is my own affair. Had I, for example, pleaded illness as an excuse for not attending, while at the time  I was enjoying myself at a football match (Ed Miliband 10th March), you might have a point, as it is, you are just being a boor. I felt what I was doing on Saturday was more useful. End of.Now I have got other thinbgs to do even if you haven’t. Good morning.

    • postageincluded

      Agreed. Mark should be ashamed of himself.

    •  Saying someone has ‘balls’ is mysognistic now?

      Beyond parody.

      And I say that as a feminist.

    • Have you even watched the Daily Politics! If that is the case the entire BBC, all of politics and basically society as whole is saturated in the utmost sexism, including women. Come off it!

  • Andrew McKay

    I noticed a few Communist Party flags on the Scottish march. Good on Ed for speaking – he is right to highlight that any Labour Gov. would have have to cut public spending.

  • Dave Postles

    I didn’t even stay for his speech.  There’s not much he is saying that can encourage me.

    • Nor I. I’m off to join the National Health Action Party. I think there’ll be good mileage in a mainstream oriented, unambiguous single issue party and after all, the chips are down for the NHS.

      • AlanGiles

        ” I think there’ll be good mileage in a mainstream oriented, unambiguous single issue party”

        Good morning Dave. I agree with you and that is one of the reasons I have great sympathy for the Greens. I really don’t know if there will be the choice of a Green and/or a NHAP candidate in my constituency in 2015 (though I think there is a chance of the latter since one of our two hospitals is to lose it’s A & E and maternity departments, and will stretch the already overworked survivor even further, together with an increase in housing making demands on essential services)

        The mainstream parties have, perforce, to have a scattergun approach – something for everybody and nothing for long. One of the most bizarre examples of this being back in 1989 when the Greens did well in the European elections in the UK and Mrs Thatcher than had to pretend a great  interest in enviromental matters, which was as genuine as a nine bob note.

        Similarily the Dutch auction between Labour and Conservative on who can be “tougher” on crime, welfare claimants etc.

        I think they time is ripe for more Independent minded MPs whose main focus is on a single issue, but can judge the policies of the major parties on their merits (or demerits). For example, last week in the Gary MacKinnon case, I was much more in sympathy with Mrs May than I was with Alan Johnson and other Labour right-wingers.

        In most things in life it is better to be a butterfly than a drone, but there are some issues that are so serious, so important, that we need highly motivated individuals who will concentrate on such issues rather than flit from issue to issue, as career politicians do, to the extent of voting against their principles, just to advance their careers and ingratiate themselves with the “right” people. Dilitanttes who know too little but pretend to be experts is one of the prime reasons that Britain finds itself in the state it now is.

        • Hi Alan. I agree, the career politicians are a problem – many of them have never had a proper job and seem incapable of thinking beyond back-room skulduggery and individual ambition.

          Within Labour the problem seems to have become institutionalised. But it won’t be a problem of direct concern to me anymore! I won’t be having my good efforts in the political sphere hi-jacked by those with furtive ambitions – and what a relief!

          The main problem for Labour is a lack of trust. Even as a member (rejoined following Ed’s admission of Iraq ‘mistake’ – left, never to rejoin, this weekend) I felt/feel Labour couldn’t be trusted. Though I think Ed is a good chap but hamstrung by the institutionalised deceit of New Labour.

          Just take Burnham’s (when in government) NHS Global initiative – recently spun by him as international benevolence but, to me, it seems to be the first step toward integration of the NHS into a privatised international health care market.

          Here are the objectives of the Burnham initiated NHS Global:

          1. Identifying commercial opportunities in the NHS.
          2. Generating demand in international markets.
          3. Brokering partnerships between NHS organisations and overseas customers.
          4. Identifying potential legal issues and risks.
          5. Providing advice on Intellectual Property management and Marketing & communications.

          They been found out and, rightly, no one trusts them. And I’ll have no more of it.

          • AlanGiles

            I agree Dave. Ed Miliband is a perfectly nice and personally honest man, but my feeling is that – a bit like John Major – he is somewhat out of his depth, and can never be himself, simply because he has to keep looking over his shoulder  and saying things to mollify the right wing – interesting the way David Miliband, Peter Mandelson and Alan Johnson all chose to come out of their political coffins in the same week, giving interviews and making statements calculated to get press coverage. As a result all EM could do on Saturday was to make another of those “autocue” speeches made up of hackneyed one-liners, which were ambivalent.

            The “hard choices” phrase was straight from the Tony Blair School of Dissembling. If you are proposing cuts at an anti-cuts rally, it might be best to at least indicate where you think those cuts should come. Nothing was said about welfare, and it will be the sick, unemployed and disabled who are going to suffer the worst from current policies.

            You get the feeling that Labour is in a state of limbo, simply because they are indulging in a long-winded “policy review” and Crudas is in no hurry to report.

            It seems incredibly complacent and arrogant just for Labour to wait for the Coalition to self-destruct, nd in the meantime to tread water.

  • Dave Postles

    ‘This march felt like the more traditional lefty march – lots of obscure placards and banners from obscure leftist groups.’
    The most conspicuous presence there was Unison, as far as I could see.  Unison did its membership and public services proud.  Unison was also towards the front, so would have been in Hyde Park by the time Miliband spoke (or moved on out of lack of interest).
    BTW, why were some of the police in attendance along the route demonstrably carrying night sticks?  It was obvious from last time that the march is non-confrontational. 

  • Dave Postles

    ‘Ordinary people’ – well, no, the marchers are extraordinary people because they made the consummate effort.  OTOH, members of Unite, Unison, PCS, RCN, etc etc are all just ordinary folk.  Sue Marsh gave an impassioned plea for the cause of people with disabilities – we should see them too as ordinary people.  Of course there were special interest groups vending their wares, but no more so than last time, IMHO.  Please do not dismiss these marchers and allow/encourage the print media to denigrate them.   The only issue which we confront is ‘demonstration fatigue’. 
    BTW, congratulations to the Unite brass band – terrific stuff. 

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Indeed we are “faced with hard choices”.

    The tone of this offering is symbolic of  party apparatchiks who appears to label anyone who does not doff their cloth cap to their Labour party masters as the reviled “lefties”.
    The ranks of the the public sector and 6 million trades union members are indeed facing “a hard choice”.
    It is whether we should bother voting “Labour” and indeed continue funding it!!
    Perhaps Ed and his Balls need to consider their positions…..the political fence must be very uncomfortable.

  • boos? Mark, please, why should any one care about the tiny, tiny number of unuseful idiots. Who cares what they think. The vast overwhelmingly number of folk at the rally were really pleased at Ed speaking at the rally. While we would not all agree with everything he says we want nothing to do with the 0.001% morons.

  • markfergusonuk

    I must say I’m taken aback by the response to the headline. It’s a widely accepted turn of phrase – and more to the point, it was a phrase used by Blair to describe Alastair Campbell. That’s why I used the phrase, because it’s one that should have resonance in the party.

    There was absolutely no intent to cause offence, and I’m afraid I won’t be changing the headline – because I don’t think that it IS offensive…

    • I was about to make the same points but you’ve beaten me to it. Some people (disappointingly they are more likely to belong to the left) seem to make a real effort at finding reasons to be offended.

    • AlanGiles

      ” it was a phrase used by Blair to describe Alastair Campbell”

      But, Mark, Labour is supposed to be under new management now. Blair is history, hopefully Campbell will stay history, touring the theatres with his one man show rather than getting himself parachuted into a safe seat in 2015. That was the Dear Leader trying to be all macho – Tony rather than Lionel, if you see what I mean 🙂

      The thought of having to dwell on the private parts on any politician is unpleasant though, to say the least, not to say stomach churning.

      • markfergusonuk

        So I should ignore phrases that resonate in the Labour movement? *sigh*

        • AlanGiles

          Well, Mark, Blair was no Oscar Wilde was he?, and the crudity of such terms from one of yesterdays men doesn’t resonate with everybody. It’s hardly up there with “a week is a long time in politics”, or “events, dear boy, events”  is it?

        • AlanGiles

          Well, Mark, Blair was no Oscar Wilde was he?, and the crudity of such terms from one of yesterdays men doesn’t resonate with everybody. It’s hardly up there with “a week is a long time in politics”, or “events, dear boy, events”  is it?

    • Thinking about that I’m inclined to say it’s not size that matters but what you do with them. Blair followed the consensus economically and, supported by Campbell, followed the Republican Right militarily.

      No balls there. Big dicks, more like. And not swinging.

    • Amber_Star

      @ Mark

      It’s a widely accepted turn of phrase…
      I’m surprised you didn’t tell me to: “Calm down, dear”

      That’s a ‘widely accepted turn of phrase’ too.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        What is so sexist about Mark’s original phrase?  I see immediately what is sexist about the “Calm down dear”, but I am baffled by the displeasure with Mark’s phrase.  Mark is a man, referring to a man, men have testicles, and for centuries reference to bravery has for reasons I do not know, but I would guess to do with power and fecundity, referred to sexual or digestive organs.  There is the phrase “he has no stomach for a fight” – is that also sexist?

        I ask this genuinely, not to elicit a reaction or provoke anger.  Please also understand that English is a second language to me, so I do not immediately see every nuance.  I just don’t understand the displeasure it has caused.

        • AlanGiles

           I like Mark, and admire his willingness to say what he thinks  (yesterdays piece about MPs fiddling again was a splendid example of his integrity) – but there is a danger, if you are an editor of anything from a radio programme or magazine to a blog, that if you yourself use vulgar colloquilisms you are opening the door to listeners or readers to use any other vulgar words or phrases.  Then it is only one step towards allowing effing and blinding.

          It makes it more difficult to delete a post for reasons of taste or decency if you have used such  terms  yourself.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            You may be correct, but the original displeasure was on the grounds of sexism, not profanity.  I did not see immediately (or subsequently, or even now) what was sexist, so I enquire.  

          • postageincluded

             “Balls” is being used as a metaphor for “courage”. “Big clunking balls”  means “lots of courage”. No balls, by implication, means no courage, weak and feeble, and female.

            All languages use metaphor, and that metaphor would have the same implication in any language. Don’t play the ingenue, it doesn’t suit you.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            That may be your interpretation:  it is wrong for you to assume that I have the same.  So do not.

          • postageincluded

            It’s not a matter of interpretation. It’s a matter of fact.
            As it is, you’ve acknowledged that you are associating bravery with physical masculinity in your post above; “for reasons I do not know” you say. Well I’ll tell you why – to aggrandise men and diminish women. 

          • Yes I am sure Mark would love to take your advice on journalism and being an Editor seen as you have a lot more experience and can tell him how to do his job.

      • markfergusonuk

        ….clearly we disagree…

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      I thought of the “great clunking fist” of Gordon Brown that Tony Blair also used.  Truly, “clunking” was a good description, not of the fist, but of character and competence.

      • rekrab

        Are you raising the standard for the “Pleb” attack next?

        Why go to an anti cuts demonstration and suggest cuts? very odd.Kilts up!!!!!!!!!!!

      • That’s not a bad point, Jaime, though he did get his act together during the crisis – so, not irredeemably clunking.

    • It’s really pretty well-understood that a woman or a man can equally be described as having “big balls”. It’s a figure of speech. 

      Honestly, can we take issue about Mark’s argument, where we might have a decent debate, rather sterile outrage about his turn of phrase?

      • Amber_Star

        Wow, such hyperbole!

        I made a polite request which is being spun as ‘sterile outrage’ & ‘a demand’ which is ‘beyond parody’.

        So what’s with the mockery? What’s with the attempt to close down debate about Ed Miliband being a leader for all the Party, not just the part which admires Blairite rhetoric & Campbell style “balls”?

      • Why not try it out with a woman then – congratulate a brave woman on having big balls or even great clunking balls. But make sure you’re wearing your running shoes first.

  • What Ed said was absolutely consistent with his statements at Labour conference and elsewhere.

    I don’t see how he could say anything else. The reality of what we are likely to face should we be elected are unknown but the idea that we could just recreate 2010 is naive – and is it really what we want?

    • Goodness, a dose of reality from Mike Homfray – are you feeling okay today?

    • aracataca

      Totally agree  Mike. 

  • On the balls I am pretty sure I heard at least one female front bencher use it in a policy seminar  in Manchester a couple of weeks ago.

    Yes its not the most felicitous phrase – but this is a blog and not an essay for the London Review of Books or New Left Review – blogs are closer to spoken than formal written English and we say stuff in them that we would say in a pub or in our own homes. 

    That we have people that will waste time demanding that something as ephemeral as a blog post should be corrected rather than addressing its argument is precisely why the left are screwed and even now can only hope to regain power (if you can actually call it that) because we are so now self-evidently the lesser evil.

    • Amber_Star

      I did not demand. I made a polite request. I took the opportunity to convince people who I consider to be my comrades that women have honesty & political courage too. We women are no longer ‘Blair’s Babes’; we are political equals.

       The fact that this is a blog, makes it a simple thing for Mark to change it. He chooses not to. That’s his perogative. But I greatly appreciate the support I’ve received from people adding comments & all who ‘Liked’ my comment.

  • joelock85

    Not sure the boos were as wide spread as you think, I was there at the rally near the front and as ed came onto the stage the SWP and the likes rushed towards the stage to boo I would say there was no more than 50 of them. The effect however was that the boos could be heard on the mikes so sounded worse than it was.

    I agree the speech was brave, but was a little flat. Generally it was well received having spoken to a few people around me…

  • Serbitar

    Replace “great clunking balls” with “cojones” and only Spanish readers could be offended. Adiós.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      It is not offensive in Spanish either.

      • Serbitar

        Just as well or Mr. Ferguson might have to ban himself from his own site.

        • Proving the clunkiness of his own balls…

          • Serbitar

            I bet they stick together like toffee apples in hot weather…

      • ¡Ole a tus cojones Jaime!

  • I though his speech was astoundingly lazy, a short cobbled together list of previous shallow soundbites. Since we had all bothered to go to central London to clomp along protesting about our jobs, pensions and housign opportunities n all going down a privatised tory sewer, he could have managed an original and heartfelt address for us.
    His balls – small medium or huge – are not of any interest to me. I’d have liked some evidence of a brain, some compassion, some intelligence. I’d have liked a leader’s  interest in the public sector, the impact of the cuts on our clients, patients and service users, and  failing that, some understanding and acknowledgement of the fear many of us are curently enduring about our prospective old age lived in poverty .

  • aracataca

    A good piece Mark although the bit about the balls was unnecessary imho . One of the most worrying factors about the march was the diminished numbers taking part and the strong prevalence of the fringe groups, the Maoists, Trotskyists etc. Strangely the boos from these assorted groups  are likely to raise EM’s standing among the average voter.
    One may not like the fact but the election is going to be determined by our capacity to win over the aspirant working class vote in the South and East of England and it was to this segment of the electorate that EM spoke yesterday above the heads of the booing Trotskyites and Maoists. It was brave to plough on in the face of this disenchantment and with Grant Schapps saying that EM wants to drag Labour back to the era of Michael Foot and with the Revolutionary Communist Party booing him it may well prove that he is indeed doing something right.

    • Dave Postles

       The ‘fringe’ groups were no more prevalent, in my perception, than in the first march.  What is correct is that there was an immense diminution in the numbers marching.  The major constituency consisted of unions.  At Wembley coach park, the coaches were predominantly union coaches.  The number of coaches was probably less than half the number for the first march.  There are many ways to interpret these aspects.  I’m inclined to consider that people feel that no one in the formal political sphere is fighting for them.  Without Unite, Unison, PCS etc, the march would not have existed or occurred.  I repeat my accolade and gratitude to Unison: a sparkling performance.  There is no denying, however, that this march was a remnant compared with the first march.  There is dissatisfaction, but no sense of optimism. 
      FWIW, no one on my coach stayed for Miliband’s speech.  When it was remarked that it was understood that he was booed, the reaction was: ‘good’.

      • AlanGiles

         “FWIW, no one on my coach stayed for Miliband’s speech.  When it was
        remarked that it was understood that he was booed, the reaction was:

        Having both heard a recording of it and read the transcript here on LL I have to say that if Miliband’s speech can be summed up in one word – and it can – that word, surely is trite.

    • Dave Postles

       ‘One may not like the fact but the election is going to be determined by
      our capacity to win over the aspirant working class vote in the South
      and East of England…’

      That’s of no consequence if you lose the rest of the country.  We came down from Birmingham, Nottingham, Coventry, Leicester, Northampton, last time and this time.  Whether we bother next time is another matter.  We’ll come for the solidarity of the unions, but for the Labour Party? … not sure.
      Besides, a large section of the Unison and Unite membership marching came from the metropolitan area, as was evident from their banners. 

  • Amber_Star

    Christy Quinn

    Saying someone has ‘balls’ is mysognistic now? Beyond parody. And I say that as a feminist.
    No; Saying our leader, Ed Miliband, is a bullying macho man who can be likened to Alistair Campbell (when AC was at his worst) is offensive. To imply that giving an honest & politically courageous speech is a butch, manly thing to do; that is offensive.

    And I say that as a woman who is, according to you, beyond parody. I”m wondering why you didn’t simply say that you disagree with me.

    I’m wondering why you felt the need to insult me; & then emphasise your feminist credentials. Perhaps you are self-aware enough to realise that the first doesn’t sit very well with the second?

    • poppycockfuss

      I absolutely agree. And Christy, where are the women who share your view? Or are you the sort of person who only accepts the view of white men when it comes to racism?

  • aracataca

    Whole heartedly agree with this. There was a large number of Trotskyists and other assorted Communists who got to the park in time to hear Ed speak. History shows that the vast majority of people in Britain have consistently shown the revolutionary left  (from Derek Hatton to Gerry Healey) the contempt it so often deserves. 

    • Dave Postles

      ‘ a large number of Trotskyists and other assorted Communists’

      Unite and Unison arrived there first as they were at the head of the march.  I was behind the Unite marching band and just in front of Unison.  We entered Hyde Park at 1.30 approx.  I listened to the first section of speeches before the interlude of live music.  What exactly is ‘a large number’?  Any such group was dwarfed by Unison. 
      There were no more left, specialist groups than on the first march. 

      • aracataca

        Sorry Dave but from where I was positioned there were lots and lots of  Trotskyists. Socialist Worker had every entrance to the park covered with one of those tent kiosk efforts and at speaker’s corner there was some bloke from the UK shop stewards something or other ranting about the Labour hypocrites. There was some bloke from the  Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist selling the ever popular broadsheet ‘Proletarian’ and the International Bolshevik Tendency were selling the pearls of wisdom contained in the no doubt erudite publication ‘1917’. At one point I inadvertently got caught up with the anarchists by outpacing my union section. There was the bloke dressed up in the leprechaun’s outfit dancing to some mock Irish jig music in the middle of Piccadilly. These groups often represent nobody other than themselves and in some instances contain people that are mentally ill. In political terms they are not serious.
        You may not like it but the only realistic alternative to the current government is the Labour Party. Failure to recognise this is the route to despair of anything ever changing. As Aneurin Bevin once said- ‘It’s the Labour Party or nothing’. It’s time to get real.

        • Dave Postles

          Did you participate on the March for the Alternative in March 2011?  These small groups were as prevalent then, as I recollect.  The occasion of the marches gives them an opportunity, but that causes me no heartache.  There’s no ostensible change between 2011 and 2012 in respect of the peripheral groups, except that the anarchists were not floating about this time in their black uniforms and with black flags as they were in 2011.

          • aracataca

            Yes I did and you’re wrong I’m afraid the anarchists were also there yesterday dressed in black, masked up and carrying their red and black flag. I along with some CWU people got caught up with them.
            2011 was much larger and while these fringe groups were there they were outnumbered by more mainstream people.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘2011 was much larger and while these fringe groups were there they were outnumbered by more mainstream people.’
            That’s a different argument.  They may have been more conspicuous, but that makes them no more influential. 
            There were no anarchists in my vicinity and I joined the march at 11.45 and walked from the back to the front.  I also walked up Oxford St to the tube station at Bond St.  Their presence mus have been pretty concentrated.  In 2011, I noticed swarms of groups of them, defiantly walking along the embankment.  The police presence along Oxford St was minimal compared with 2011. 
            All of that is pretty immaterial, anyway.  For some of us, Labour needs to transform itself.  On that, we will continue to disagree.

          • aracataca

            Sorry Dave wrong on both counts. The anarchists were there for sure. Secondly we are  engaged in a process of transformation most notably away from New Labour. Every section of the party should be involved in that transformation.

          • Dave Postles

            You saw them; I didn’t see any.  You say, I say. 
            I don’t understand your second point.  I left Labour.  There is, at present, no prospect that I will return.  I see no perceptible transformation.  This focus on the ‘squeezed middle’ is, IMHO, regrettable; it panders to the selfishness and lack of compassion of the last thirty years. As I see it, only the unions are proposing any distinctive change.  Yesterday was a union event, not a Labour event.  Labour is conspicuously absent.   There’s no more that I can say.

        • Dave Postles

          IMHO, the Labour Party ought not to be promising to protect the ‘squeezed middle’, promoting the cause of those who already have something, even if they are under some pressure, at the expense of assisting those who have nothing or only something tenuous.  IMHO, it’s time for those who have that something of reasonable substance to consider: o.k., right now, I’m not the priority; the priority is to maintain public services provided by public authorities through public servants for those who need them and to concentrate efforts on the most disadvantaged. 

          • aracataca

            They are. But if you are on a middle income you are also getting seriously shafted by this lot and we need to offer policy help here too.

          • Dave Postles

            >> ‘They are’.

            Not as I see it.

            On your other point, well, the ‘difficult choice’ is to assist the disadvantaged first and foremost.  IMHO, what Labour needs to offer is this advice: our priority now is to assist those most in need; we will all benefit from that in the longer run; we ask you for the immediate future to consider the serious plight of others; times are indeed tough, but you have resources which are denied to others; we need to reverse the economic culture of the last thirty years. 

          • Excellent points, Dave. If, as Ed says, those with the broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden then those with the greatest need should be our first priority.

          • trotters1957

            It’s the age old conundrum. No-one agrees with everything their party does or says. But do you have more influence inside than out?
            I have no doubt that Ed Miliband and most Labour MPs, members and voters would like a more radical approach, I would too.
            But to win an election needs 40% plus of the electorate to vote Labour and the constituency outlined above are not 40% of the electorate.

          • rekrab

            Dave, You’ve got my vote!

        • “every entrance to the park covered with one of those tent kiosk efforts and at speaker’s corner there was some bloke from the UK shop stewards something or other ranting about the Labour hypocrites.”
          The “tent kiosk efforts” can be erected/maintained by a small number of people. And the shop stewards network is a front for the Socialist Party, hoping to attract recruits by a deceitful route.

          Of course, they set up their kiosks prominently to give an impression of significance and to get the best chance of attracting new recruits, this doesn’t mean they are omnipresent. One thing you must also remember is that the trot groups hand out lots of placards, many of which will be taken up by the unaffiliated (I’ve witnessed this happening at a number of major events). Also, they work to achieve a presence at the front of every march, this can give an initial impression (at least to the unknowing eye) of ownership of the march. Their true membership is no more than couple of thousand, probably considerably less, for each of the two main groups. A good number of these are home counties, wet behind the ears, undergraduates who will quickly become disillusioned and be replaced by another cohort soon after freshers week next year.

          I arrived at Hyde Park in the same section as the other Dave. And on arrival I waited at the gates for an hour (the march was still flooding in strongly when I left) and my observation corresponds with Dave’s account: very large union contingents, a large number of apparently unaffiliated people and a smattering of the far left.

          • aracataca

            We may have different perspectives on the march. Personally I would endorse Mark’s observation that it had a distinctly different feel and was markedly smaller than the 2011 march. Don’t recall stating that  the SWP were ‘omnipresent’.
             Serwotka and Matt Wrack both engaged in a huge deluded rant threatening all manner of militancy secure in the knowledge imho that there is no chance whatsoever of this militancy being delivered by its grassroots membership.  Love it to happen but the fact is it won’t and everyone knows it. These rants themselves have a deceptive feel to them.Thanks for the info about the shop stewards network — did not know this.

        • Not in Scotland !

  • philbc03

    Good stuff. You underestimate EdM at your peril.

  • Using a phrase like that one just shows either a lack of  vocabulary or a need to get thee article written in a hurry.  However, you have to sympathise – Ed just doesn’t get the knife out!  He needs to stick it to Cameron and his rich list.  He should get sharp about lost jobs, too many immigrants, crime, the uber-rich (now being taxed highly in France – why are our polticians so wimpy?), the banks…..oh my, yes, the banks and their shameless continuing bonus culture where they do nothing except keep an eye on the algorithm.  For the sake of us all, Ed, get tough!!!

  • Caroline Molloy

    What utter macho bollocks.  I don’t want any Labour leader to prove how big his balls are by ‘bravely’ cutting services – services that are mostly used by, and mostly employ, women.  Urgh, urgh, urgh. Just no. Have I made my feelings clear?

  • MarkHoulbrook

    Mark, The the courage of any leader is marked by their actions and not by their words. Another phrase (One Nation) that has been manufactured will have little significance unless there is meat on the bone. The Labour Party that you aspire to is not reality. The propaganda machine is in full flow.

    A leader or Prime Minister who has balls needs to recognise reality. An exercise of power is best seen by a strong leader when reshuffling his pack, in this case his shadow cabinet. It is not good pretending that everything is on track when Blairites are continuing to scheme and build their networks for a return of a New Labour Messiah.

    If he his got the balls that you suggest than he needs to bury the ghost of Blair and quickly. This a good piece of advice. If he doesn’t they will bury him into the dustin of history. Such action will show true courage and commitment to change.

    I really really hope he gets this message. Open your eyes Ed. You know it makes sense.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Say “Ed Miliband” to me and I say “wanky” without a second thought. Freudian, eh? Eeek.


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