Blair warns Labour not to pander to party base, as Miliband responds – Media roundup: April 16th, 2013

16th April, 2013 10:45 am

Blair warns Labour not to pander to party base – as Miliband responds

“Blair has renewed his call for Labour leaders to have the courage to stand up to their party base, as Ed Miliband told his MPs that his party had to move on from New Labour and heed Blair’s own advice to change. Blair’s tentative interventions in Labour politics, followed by further criticisms from other former Labour cabinet members, also prompted his former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott to round on the critics as crazy, and accuse them of sowing divisions just three weeks before the county council elections on 2 May. The in-fighting follows an article in the New Statesman by Blair urging Miliband to be more specific about policies, and not to imagine that the electorate has shifted to the left. He also warned there was a danger that Labour would “settle back into its old territory of defending the status quo”. It emerged on Monday that Blair renewed his criticisms last weekend, telling a university audience in America that electorates on both sides of the Atlantic did not want partisan politics. Speaking at Judson University in Illinois, he said: “At the very time that the public has come to a position of wanting you guys to get on and fix it, the political parties have become more partisan. It’s the same over our way as well.” – Guardian

“Ed Miliband is to meet with Tony Blair this week in an attempt to heal the rift which threatens to split the Labour party. The tense showdown comes after Mr Blair wrote a damning critique of Labour’s strategy, warning against relaying on being a ‘repository for people’s anger’ to win votes…The secret meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Miliband was revealed on live TV by Dame Tessa Jowell, an arch-Blairite who stood down from the Labour frontbench after the London Olympics. It is understood the crisis talks could be held on Wednesday, the same day as Baroness Thatcher’s funeral which both men are expected to attend.” – Daily Mail

“Ed Miliband last night rapped Tony Blair over his claims Labour was drifting too far to the left. The party leader said New Labour was “two decades old” and could not fight the next election on a Blairite agenda. At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party last night, Mr Miliband said: “Tony Blair taught us the world changed – and the world does change,” He added that Labour was “not a party of commentators” and would only win if it remained “disciplined and united.” Former Deputy PM John Prescott also turned on his former boss. He angrily told the meeting it was “crazy” for the party to start “dividing” three weeks before the local elections. “Let’s stop complaining and start campaigning,” he said.” – Mirror

Labour calls for “Banker Licenses”

“Britain should issue licences to bankers to help stamp out the kind of scandals that have hit the City of London in recent years, the opposition Labour party proposed on Tuesday. Labour will seek to amend a banking reform bill in parliament to strengthen existing checks on people working in the financial services industry. “The Libor rigging and mis-selling scandals were not the product of one or two rogue individuals but fundamental failures of standards within the banks – and we need to raise professional integrity with a stronger licensing power as a result,” said Labour MP Chris Leslie.” – Reuters

Other highlights

  • Labour politician appoints Labour politician (Tories predictably cry cronyism) – The Times(£)
  • The Tory spanner in the defamation works – Sadiq Khan, PoliticsHome
  • Ed Miliband should be pitching a bigger tent – Rachel Sylvester, The Times(£)
  • Ex-Countryfile presenter wants to be a Labour MP – Independent

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  • AlanGiles

    I find it incredible that the old has-beens who want to keep the Blairite flag flying tend to be amongst the most scandal-ridden of them: Lady Remortgage (a.k.a. “Dame” Tessa) Mandleson, who was lucky not to be prosecuted for uttering a forged document back in 1998, David “Pants down” Blunkett etc etc etc.

    If I were Blair, or one of his latter day fans, I would be very worried that my hero was promoted by some of these sleazy individuals. Where’s Jacqui Smith, she hasn’t said or written anything for a week or two?

    As Mark Seddon pointed out earlier it is time Thatcherism and Blairism were consigned to history.

    The danger for both the main parties is that with vocal groups pleading for a return to Thatcherism in 2013 and Blairism it makes it appear that the current leaders do not have any marketable ideas of their own, and have just got to copy the former leaders – a bit like still, in 2013 there is a Glen Miller ghost orchestra.

    Ed Miliband would be well advised to tell Blair to go back to America and make more of his expensive speeches.

  • NT86

    If it wasn’t for Labour’s party base, they would have suffered a far worse defeat in 2010 than they actually did. Does Blair think that by being a mirror image of the Tories, that they’ll automatically grab votes in Weybridge or Amersham? Is he suggesting that Labour should pledge to support austerity despite going “boo evil Tories”? That strikes me as accepting the status quo and looking like a hypocrite.

    The thought that they’re drifting to the far left is one being cooked up by fantasists. I don’t see any evidence of it. Ed should be spelling out coherent policy of course, but this charge that the party is being taken back to the bad old days of the 80s is hyperbolic, at worst, deceitful crap.

    Blair, Blunkett, Reid and Jowell have made some noises but haven’t even given any policy suggestions of their own. I’d love to know what they’d do on spending policies, personally.

    Britain has lived through 30+ years of neoliberalism and has seen its economy sink on more than one occasion. Full on socialism will never win the argument, so there has to be another direction surely. Germany manages well with a social market economy for example.

    • Dave Postles

      That’s very thoughtful and thought-provoking. I hope others will respond and expand.

  • Alexwilliamz

    tbh the left he speaks of has long since left the party base in many parts of the country!

  • Monkey_Bach

    Several political corpses have begun twitching in their coffins in Blair’s family vault recently: Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell, Alan Milburn, David Blunkett, John Reid. Can’t be too long before Charles Clarke gets his oar in I would imagine. This tirade of oblique criticism seems a little too concerted and orchestrated for comfort and is in any case to no good purpose. What can these individuals be thinking? How can such people be deceived into believing that sniping at the living like this from their political graves can possibly be helpful to the Labour Party or further its interests?

    What vain, egotistical, and foolish people.

    Eeek.

    • AlanGiles

      The local elections are in 16 days. It is somewhat similar to the way several people all started to have “concerns” about Ken Livingstone this time last year when the Mayoral election in London was just a couple of weeks away.

      No doubt before too long Ms. Smith will serve up another tasty celeric whatnot while hubby plays pocket billiards 🙂

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