Labour’s Mr Micawber Election Strategy

7th October, 2014 7:56 am

Last week I wrote about Labour’s chances in the Rochester & Strood by-election.

Things have moved on.

First, the good news.

The local party, candidate and South East Regional Party seem to be attacking this with great vigour. I got an excellent email from candidate Naushabah Khan telling me exactly how to help. To quote:

“the Rochester and Strood Campaign Centre at 73 Maidstone Road, Rochester, ME1 1RL will be open from 10.30am every day until polling day. To let my campaign team know when you can come and help either: email [email protected], telephone 01634 814566 or visit my website at

Rochester is really near London and easy to reach by train for those of you based there, and if you live further afield they need donations to the regional party to fund the campaign, which can be given here.

Second, the even better news is that there has been a Survation opinion poll for Rochester & Strood which shows Labour is still in the game. It puts UKIP on 40% (+40 since 2010), the Tories on 31% (-18), Labour on 25% (-3) and the Lib Dems on 2% (-14). If people who did not vote in 2010 and are therefore highly unlikely to vote in a by-election, where turnout is almost always lower, are excluded, the Tories and UKIP are on 34% and Labour only 6% behind, on 28%.

So there is everything to play for.

Sadly, now the bad news. Whoever at Labour HQ briefed this website’s editor decided to do so last week based on their own gloomy prognosis, rather than waiting for an opinion poll that proved that far from being barking mad I was actually right.

According to Mark Ferguson:

“… for those hoping to see a Labour assault on the Kentish seat, they are likely to be disappointed. Senior Labour figures have sought to dampen expectations that Labour could win the seat, which lies at 129 on the party’s list of targets (outside the 106 that Labour are focussing most resources on). A win for Labour would, the argument goes, require the Tory vote to split with half going to UKIP, and for Labour to gain support without losing any 2010 votes to UKIP. Whilst that’s possible, it’s a tough task.

Don’t expect Labour to be throwing resources at Rochester and Strood in the coming by-election.”

Hey guess what? Survation’s poll does show the Tory vote split with half going to UKIP and Labour holding onto almost all of its 2010 support.


And isn’t the job of party high-ups be they officials or senior politicians to devise strategies, tactics and messages that stop our vote going to UKIP and attract additional support to Labour, rather than issuing defeatist briefings that undermine the CLPs and candidates in the frontline? If they don’t have the audacity and self belief to win, they need to resign and let people with some fire in their bellies give it a go.

The analogy here isn’t lions led by donkeys, it is lions being briefed against by chickens.

At the moment we seem to have an electoral strategy designed by Mr Micawber. “Something will come along” (the tooth fairy?) to gift us a narrow victory on a 35% vote share thanks to flaws in the voting system. We might actually still achieve that but will either have no real mandate to take tough decisions in government, or need to auction our souls and our manifesto commitments to Nick Clegg to get a majority.

And “might” achieve it is the operative word. There are now a lot of “might not” factors out there: a surging SNP taking Scottish seats off us, the Lib Dem defectors we have bet the house on dwindling in numbers, the Tories showing their usual reluctance to roll over and die and instead chucking every bribe they can at the electorate, and last but definitely not least UKIP eating chunks of our core vote and of the anti-government protest vote we should be hoovering up.

The basic strategic problem to me seems to be this:

A) People at the top of the party think you can win by cobbling together a coalition of the minority who voted for us in 2010 (people on benefit, public sector workers, inner city dwellers, BAME voters and what the Americans would call the rust belt of former industrial areas) plus half the minority who voted Lib Dem (Guardian reading liberals, students, people who hated Labour because of Iraq). This is flawed because as George McGovern discovered in 1972, minority plus minority equals minority, and we are up against Tory opponents who are every bit as focused on winning as Richard Nixon was. It is even more flawed because we haven’t even held on to all of the base we had in 2010 – lots of ordinary folk in the North and Scotland and on council estates across the UK think UKIP, or in Scotland the SNP, are making a better fist of articulating their rage against the Tories and the political and economic system than we are. Hence the insanity of tweets I saw this weekend suggesting Labour people in Rochester might like to consider tactically voting Tory to stop UKIP. Why would they do that? They are far more likely to vote tactically for UKIP to teach the Tories a lesson.

B) Culturally you do not have to look far in the Labour Party’s senior ranks to find comrades who whilst they can cope with the idea of idealised working class voters with union cards and regional accents ( the kind that don’t intrude on your bien pensant dinner party lifestyle in one of the handful of boroughs that demonstrated its political correctness by voting for AV in the 2011 referendum – and yes hands up I am a hypocrite as I’ve lived in two of those places and voted for AV), get extremely nauseous when confronted with real life working class people from Clacton or Rochester and their real life views. They don’t actually seem to want to win the bellwether seats in Kent and Essex that have historically decided General Elections as the voters who live there might lower the liberal tone by not agreeing with the editorial line of the Guardian. Apparently there is a route map to British electoral victory that doesn’t go through the Medway towns, Thurrock and Basildon, but through cloud cuckoo land. Well I’ve read a lot of maps and the only ones that show a Labour victory I can find involve sending your battle bus down the A2 to Kent and the A12 and A13 to Essex. You can choose to listen to the voters you find there, or you can choose to lose, it’s as simple as that and it’s the same lesson intellectual and class snobs in the USA had to learn the hard way when they thought you could construct majorities without the Reagan Democrats of the South and Mid-West. The type of aspirational working and lower middle class voters I am talking about are in every marginal seat, but they are particularly clustered in Kent and Essex – win there and you win in a bunch of other places too because your winning formula will speak to the people who will put you across the line.

We have just over six months left to work out if we actually still want to be the party that represents the hopes and aspirations of the British working classes or if we are prepared to give up that role to UKIP.

A good starting point would be to look at the top level of the Party like we want to win in Rochester. We might not do it but we would send a signal that we wanted the support of and cared about those voters. Our mentality this close to General Election ought to be that we are an unstoppable force, not a party too scared of Nigel Farage to take him on in a seat we held until the last election.

We have foot soldiers – candidates, organisers and activists – in the CLPs with immense esprit de corps. They need generals with some hussar élan who can spot a chance and opportunistically take it.

We need voices in our party who can articulate the anger of the public in the way Farage can and channel it towards positive social democratic change. Where is our James Carville, our ragin’ Cajun connecting with Southern voters? Or our Bill Clinton?

Every member of party staff and every candidate should read Marcus Roberts’ new pamphlet on how we can win back voters from UKIP.

They should probably also read his early pamphlet advocating a 40% strategy not a 35% one.

The people Ed Miliband needs to listen to on this are not people who want to undermine his leadership, they are the people who won it for him: Marcus Roberts was his leadership campaign Field Ops Director, Polly Billington who is at UKIP ground zero as Labour candidate in Thurrock was his Special Adviser.

This does not require an abandonment of anything in policy terms that Ed has been about but it does require a change of style and approach and mentality from the leadership of the party collectively. They can do that now before the election and we may see off UKIP and be back in power after just one term. Or they can shy away from uncomfortable and courageous decisions and we may find ourselves next summer addressing more existential questions about the future survival of our party.

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  • Harry Hayfield

    This statement “If people who did not vote in 2010 and are therefore highly unlikely to vote in a by-election” is no longer the case. Every poll of UKIP voting intentions shows that half of UKIP’s support comes from people who DID NOT vote at the last general election and until the parties wake up to that fact, UKIP will always do very well indeed.

    • Duncan Hall

      In by-elections

  • Alex Crawford

    Luke – a well-written piece – but, now you’ve let of steam, you need to get out there and make it happen!

    Here in Aldershot constituency, we’re engaged in a by-election (9 October) in a Ward that had a UKIP councillor with the Conservatives in second place. By today, we’ll have done a full canvass for the first time in this ward for 30 years (when it was last Labour).

    Most often, voters are telling us they don’t believe anything any politician is promising.

    So policies don’t seem to matter. All that matters seems to be how active councillors are in taking up voters’ own concerns and the party label – with UKIP having been the preferred label in this Ward for the past three years, since the then Conservative councillors jumped ship.

    The only way to counter this is for Labour to concentrate resources on funding credible activists and organisers in communities, not just to get over Labour policies, but also to take up voters’ issues and get results for them.

    • treborc1

      I think policies do matter but they are so poor that it’s just not worth looking at them, the fact is the games both sides are playing is offering us tit bits while Austerity is the name of the game and labour are the same as the Tories cut from the bottom to give to the top.

      • Alex Crawford

        You’re right. People believe that, because Labour is committed to sticking to the Tories’ austerity budget for 2015/16, Labour are the same as the Tories.
        That hard-line policy needs to change – and change quickly – so that Labour is seen to be committed to radical policies that support the oppressed people at the bottom who have been squeezed so much by the Coalition Government.

  • treborc1

    I was looking at Naushabah Khan and noticed she is a Progress lass who has been working the Political angle well Students Union and then helping out Mr Mann and then others which would help her and then Progress.

  • Charlie_Mansell

    I agree. The former Lib Dems have other places to go as well as Labour like defecting to the Greens and some may even go Tory in some places over personal cost of living. I’m pleased to have contributed toward the advice on page 16 of Marcus Roberts book linked above. For further segmentation on some of the groups’ Luke describes it is worth reading this IPPR pamphlet

  • Local Heroescot

    I like this shake by the neck strategy in an attempt to wake the Labour party up to a world of possibilities. Never have the ruling class been so openly at war with each other in the run up to an election! Trying to divide themselves between UKIP and the TORY party. WE have an unprecedented opportunity to banish them for 10 years. WHY OH WHY Are the right wing of the party content to see the Tories tasked with carrying out the AUSTERITY that we revile so much. Is it because they have no imagination – do they not see an alternative? – in the current climate we have a porspect of a resounding victory with a sizable majority – that will only happen if they get out from their expenxex paid for second homes and campaign for it – campaiging isnt just for the grass roots just exactly how defeat can be turned into victory was demonstrated in the Scottish referendum – SO HEAR THIS NOW GET OUT THERE AND WIN IT THE PEOPLE NEED YOU !!!!!

  • MikeHomfray

    I am not convinced. I think that there has been a shift to the right in some of these areas and there just isn’t a receptiveness to Labour ideas.

    • Daniel Speight

      Mike I suspect it the move of the Westminster political class to the right over the last twenty years rather than the public.

  • Plato

    Great piece, Luke. I won’t be voting Labour again in my lifetime – but at least you’ve got fire in your belly. Your pen-pix shorthand of the various demographics did make me chuckle. Spot on.

    You mentioned Reagan Democrats. I was for 3 GEs a Tony Tory. Labour lost me forever over Gordon. And EdM has just compounded it. Sound money is needed for all the goodies Labour want to hand out. And once again, they ruined the economy. It took me a long time to forgive them last time and be persuaded. I won’t be fooled twice.

    So I joined the Tories last summer to add my 2p to the fight against the useless EdM and the possibility of sleepwalking in another Labour HMG.

    • Ian Robathan

      sounds like you were int he wrong party to start with

    • reformist lickspittle

      You are a Tory. Looking at your past posts, you were always a Tory.

    • Danny

      “I won’t be fooled twice.”

      I assume you pay for your Tory Party membership by monthly direct debit? If so, unless you’re incredibly wealthy, you’re being fooled 12 times a year.

    • leslie48

      They did not ruin the economy – find me one economist who says that. I’ve looked at writers on this from Harvard, NY city, Boston, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, LSE, Edinburgh and so on. The world’s best economists and also FE journalists like Tett, Wolf or william Keegan. The global banking crisis caused 2008 crisis. You have swallowed the propaganda from the Tories & their tabloid. Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, America, Germany, Holland, France, Greece, Cyprus – all had major crises with debt and banks. Gordon was not running them too. Its called a GLOBAL crisis.

      • gunnerbear

        Then why has Gordon Brown – the only member of the Labour Govt. – apologised publicly for his actions and inactions in smashing the UK economy? I don’t think GB did it all by himself but his policies left the UK in a terrible position when the crash came plus of course he was determined (cheered on by the Blue Mob) to have ever laxer regulations.

        • leslie48

          You are in denial. He did not smash our economy. Find me one economist who would say that G.B. was responsible for the Global Financial Crisis. You will not. Even the UK deficit post crisis caused by Bank Bail Outs ( as happened in the 11 + countries as above) was not considered extreme as we were considered less risk then many other countries. Brown like Obama had re-stimulated our country before the Tories came with their Austerity attack on poorer and weaker people.

          • gunnerbear

            The man himself apologised for his actions and mistakes. I never said he did it by himself which is why I’ve no time for the Blue Mob tools either or the Yellow or Purple Mobs either. BBC Website; “Gordon Brown admits ‘big mistake’ over banking crisis” (11 April 2011 Last updated at 13:32).

          • gunnerbear

            Or of course there are these words, “Labour did fail to regulate and rein in the banks properly. Labour also failed to create a balanced economy that didn’t rely so heavily on the City. Labour did not spend all its money wisely and made plenty of costly mistakes (IT projects, PFI projects).

            The leadership should admit mistakes on these fronts and apologise until the public is sick of hearing it.” (“The reality of Gordon Brown’s spending: Black Labour can’t re-write history”, by Sunny H. on this very website).


    Nobody mention ze Mansion Tax eh? OMG! only if we abandon this policy will the horny handed workers up north swarm to the polls. I am sure its potentially disastrous effects on the residents of Knightsbridge and Kensington are the subject of much angst ridden discussion in the pubs and clubs of working class Britain. Ed Miliband – it is your mission to shock a Right wing press and the well heeled 2%!

    • Ian Robathan

      When Jowell complains about the mansion tax I know it is the right policy in a city when the vast majority can not afford decent costed homes never mind £2M ones !!

  • 07052015

    Ok for the aspirational vote we need to say something about the 40per cent threshold .Simple ,just needs to be different from the tories pitch.

    And we need to argue for more transparency on tax avoidance/evasion -even the inland revenue who have every reason to underestimate the figures say the tap gap ie tax not collected,is 35billion.

    I reckon if we were genuinely in it together and every rich person and global company paid their taxes in full there wouldnt be a deficit.It doesnt need us to raise taxes just find a way of getting everyone to pay what they should.Impossible?well without a solution to that problem democracy itself is in trouble.

    And we need the top of our party to pull together,to be more inclusive so senior people dont go off in a huff .

    We need people who know their brief.

    And we need to design a strategy which allows ed to concentrate on the debates and doesnt waste his energy on futile photo shoots all over the country.

    • gunnerbear

      “It doesnt need us to raise taxes just find a way of getting everyone to pay what they should.” Can you define how much is ‘should’. For example, I think the £11bn we waste on DfID / Int. Aid would be much better spent on the NHS / MoD / Education / Emergency Services – no objection to taxes for the NHS etc, very much an objection on taxes or tax increases to fund aid spending.

  • RWP

    Labour isn’t putting itself forward as a “party of the working class” – that’s incompatible with the “One Nation” strategy…. as for Rochester, I suspect a tactical decision has been made to unofficially stand aside for Ukip, because this saves precious resources but will be awful for the Tories if Ukip win. Not sure this is the right approach myself, though…

  • Daniel Speight

    Oh dear, poor Luke. He knows something’s wrong. He knows it’s the offer Labour is placing in front of the electorate. But as we know There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Luke the answer isn’t in the Fabian’s piece, unless you think that Arnie is right and the answer is in the communal picking up of litter. It was obvious over the last year that when Ed Miliband made a more radical statement Labour’s polling numbers went up. Yet probably the best policy we could offer to the Southeast was on railway ownership and that has been dropped.

    Luke this is Douglas Alexander’s campaign strategy right out of the Progress game-book and it’s a disaster. Sure the ultra-Blairites will pin it on Ed Miliband, but it’s their policies that are about to fail yet again. What did they think? Was it that the Tory vote is split just like Labour’s was when the SDP was formed, the result would be an easy Labour win?

    Well it’s not working so the leadership better dump this Progress nonsense and get back being a real social democratic party and not a poor copy of the American Democrats.

    • Ian Robathan

      Spot on Daniel, I was about to post the same about Alexander. Someone I know saw him at the conference talking about triangles. As was proved in Scotland the bloke is a total disaster and non entity but because he is a progress type he jus untouchable by them.

      Something or someone is stopping us being radical and whoever that is has to go. Rail privatisation is favoured even by Tories int he home counties, it is a clear vote winner, popular and the right thing to do, why the heck are we not doing it ? As the ECML shows it actually costs nothing, makes a profit and all we have to do is to let the franchises run out and costs us nothing in compensation that no doubt is written into the contracts.

      • reformist lickspittle

        Alexander, it is reliably reported, thought that the utterly catastrophic and terminally patronising BT referendum broadcast – which caused a stampede of both support and donations (especially amongst women) to the “yes” campaign – was “absolutely brilliant”.

        Really does say all you need to know about him.

      • gunnerbear

        “Rail privatisation is favoured even by Tories int he home counties, it is a clear vote winner, popular and the right thing to do, why the heck are we not doing it ?” Do you mean nationalisation?

        • Ian Robathan

          yep of course

        • Dave Postles

          I think we now talk about commons or common good.

      • gunnerbear

        Err…ECML got a huge, vast ‘track grant’ from HMG that made it look very, very much better than the real costs suggested. Just something to be aware of…..nationalisation is a not a ‘free option’ – it costs eye wateringly large sums of cash – just marginally less than a privatised railway.

      • gunnerbear

        “Rail privatisation is favoured even by Tories int he home counties” So you want poorer non-rail using voters in the North to subsidise – even more – the travel costs of richer Conservative voters in the South…because that is what you mean when you talk about holding prices down – the income gap has to be covered from somewhere so if HMG spending is going to be cut by a Labour CotE and you want more subsidies for rail (not at all an all bad thing)…where does the cash come from? I know we waste billions on Foreign Aid but that tends to be a sacred cow when it comes to cuts.

        • Ian Robathan

          you not noticed that this is a Labour site ? Maybe you are blind to that and that we believe in pooling resources that is best for all. Never mind, toddle off to Con Home, your type of people are speaking there.

          • gunnerbear

            I’ve no issue with ‘pooing resources’ – just how would you do it? Or do you think HMG should tax and spend more? I’m actually, solidly NOTA at the moment and like this site because it has all sorts of views on it.

          • Ian Robathan

            so if you have no issue with pooling resources then you know it is about choices made. You talk about this if it would actually cost us more to do this ? About the massive profits the likes of Virgin make that go out of the system ? does not the ECML paying money BACK into HMG prove something ?

            Yes I do believe at this time we should tax more (Cameron’s and Osborne’s position is total financial nonsense and they know it) and spend more especially in infrastructure and paying those at the bottom more.

            the Tories and the right believe tax cuts generate growth – gaffer curve but that is nonsense. Most people in this country are at the middle to bottom of the income scale and the cuts the Tories propose at that level are far outweighed by cuts in CB, WTC, VAT rise etc.

          • gunnerbear

            The Virgin profits go to shareholders and thus the pension schemes that like low risk investments and returns – that cash is then spent by the pensions funds but I take your point. The ECML is kept on it’s toes by having to compete with private train companies (thus it can’t let standards drop). I’ve never been a fan of rail privatisation – simply because railways work best when operated as in integrated machine and it would bring back all the hidden subsidies (such as NR reducing TAC’s in line with assorted HMGs policies) and put the costs of the railways ‘front and centre’. Until that happens I don’t think any of the parties can talk about the ‘costs’ of running a railway as they simply don’t know.In terms of taxation – whether you like it or I like it or not – the top 1% pay an eyewateringly large percentage of the total tax bill – and as witnessed in the ’70s if that top rate of tax gets too high, revenues to HMT drop so all of us at the bottom end up paying way more anyway – it’s common sense and demonstrated time and again in another form when HMG ramps up the tax take on beer and cigarettes – smuggling goes up and HMRC gets less revenue. Paying those at the bottom more – how much more? Again, thanks to assorted HMGs policies over the years and the massive impact of globalisation, decent middle class jobs are disappearing from the UK as more and more firms move ‘expensive UK jobs’ to cheaper areas leaving a small section of ‘very white collar, very well paid jobs’ or in the main low skill, low wage jobs. How would you address that issue?

          • Dave Postles

            Some of Virgin ‘profits’ (i.e. a substantial part of government subsidies) are no doubt off-shored to tax havens.
            Soon, we will have Dutch, French and German government-owned rail companies running our railways as franchises. ScotRail is already run by the Dutch. The French will probably obtain the east coast. Some regard those rail companies in their own countries – without competition – as paragons of virtue.
            Even Thatcher didn’t reduce the marginal rate of income tax for high earners below 60%. They already get away with minimal council tax.
            There was recently a trend to re-shore jobs on the principle that it’s best to have local oversight for quality control and swift delivery.
            Every CEO remunerated at the level of £3m is paid at the cost of more than 100 jobs at the medium wage. If a CEO took only £1m instead of £3m, more than 70 such jobs could be created. Here. I’m simply reflecting on the base package for Sutherland who resigned as CEO of the Coop. Greed.

          • gunnerbear

            “Soon, we will have Dutch, French and German government-owned rail companies running our railways as franchises.” And the govt’s of those countries still extract more from their taxpayers to pay for the railways and to keep ticket prices low – which the people in those countries especially France and Germany seem to support….the UK population wants a top notch railway and to not pay for it which is a totally different position to our continental neighbours. From a cynical point of view, I think Red and Blue don’t mind private railways (run by anyone) as it keeps them from being blamed directly as HMG if there are issues and also stops one TU from shutting down the transport network (always a key point in HMG thinking). As to costs, I’m not 100% sure that a nationalised system will be any cheaper than a privatised one – rather the costs will be more obvious!

          • gunnerbear

            “They already get away with minimal council tax.” And that is something the Labour HMGs could have done but didn’t (in the same way the Blues did and the Coalition are doing!) in terms of not creating more CT bands.

          • Dave Postles

            Of course.

          • gunnerbear

            So what would those medium wage jobs be then if the CEO of the CO-OP didn’t trouser quite so much cash?

          • Dave Postles

            BTW, CETA (the Canadian equivalent of TTIP) is currently stalled because the German MEPs object to ISDS – they reckon that internal courts should be able to decide any disputes. Good news.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “I’m actually, solidly NOTA at the moment”

            They’re ALL too far left? Eep.

          • gunnerbear

            No, they’re all full of s**t.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            What I said.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Its not just “Dougal” responsible here, but Mr/Mrs Balls. It becomes ever more clear that they collectively represent the “dead hand” that Cruddas ominously referred to a while back.

      The speech by Balls at the conference was amongst the most hope crushing and abject I have heard from a “Labour” politician in recent years – Miliband would have struggled to lift the mood of the delegates after that even if he had delivered a modern equivalent of the Gettysburg Address (and even his biggest fans would have to admit that, ahem, he didn’t)

      In particular, if Labour lose or are even run close in Heywood/Middleton this week, a significant factor will be the Balls announcement about child benefit – cravenly intended to impress “SERIOUS PEOPLE”, but which by all accounts went down like a cup of cold sick on the doorstep there (and led to UKIP, with typical opportunism, rushing out “we will protect your benefits” leaflets)

      For all his cautious conformist image, could Darling possibly be worse?

      • Danny

        My wife is a Kent girl, born and raised in the boundaries of the Rochester and Strood constituency by parents who voted Tory throughout her upbringing. I eventually managed to educate her as to the turkey-voting-for-christmas tendency of someone like her (ie, not a top-rate taxpayer) voting for the Tories and she voted Labour last time around. She was all set to vote Labour again this time until the child benefit announcement has placed her very firmly in the won’t vote/protest vote category.

        Incidentally, her mother is now poised to not vote Tory for the first time possibly ever. She’s a teacher, so I shouldn’t need to explain why.

        Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander are without doubt the two most destructive influences on the Labour Party since Tony Blair. If the polls continue to slide towards a Tory victory, it will be worth it if it inspires Ed Miliband into a nothing-to-lose attitude. Drop the axe on Ed the austere and Douglas the stupid, replace them with people the electorate can relate to and embark on a radical manifesto that inspires the electorate and angers the printed press and Progress lobby. Then all this talk about 35% will become a faint memory. And there is so much as stake next year. If Labour win, the Tories will be plunged into a turmoil that makes the Carswell and Reckless defections look comparatively minuscule, a turmoil that could take several terms of government to repair, if it ever can be.

        • gunnerbear

          “She’s a teacher, so I shouldn’t need to explain why.” What you mean she and her colleagues don’t like being held to account (for the first time in decades) as to why not every child in the land can read and write and do basic maths after 11 years at school?

          • Ade Jones

            Do you work in education?

            Thought not. You wouldn’t make such a facile and easily dismissed statement if you did.

          • gunnerbear

            Why is it a facile statement – surely after 11 years full time education, the least the child should be able to do is basic maths and be able to read and write. Think about that – 11 years!

          • leslie48

            Teachers are working very hard to increase levels of primary Maths and English and indeed the stats are showing year on year increases. Clearly there are disadvantaged kids out there whose parents could do more to supplement the hard efforts of our over-worked teachers. But gunnerbear if you are a graduate and you could handle classes of 30 kids in some down town area I am sure you could go and try it. As my kid’s mature and middle aged teacher said last year – it is the hardest job he had ever had…

          • gunnerbear

            “if you are a graduate and you could handle classes of 30 socially diverse ” And there’s one of the main issues – lack of selection. Selection is of course something Labour and teachers are set against.

          • leslie48

            In Primary schools it would be educationally unsound to separate 9 , 10 and 11 year old children into separate classes. Children are developing all the time and to classify them at young ages is problematic for many reasons, Early selection closes down opportunities for kids.

          • gunnerbear

            Why does it? The children stay in the same school but just move up and down sets as each subject dictates. For example, I was in a reasonable set for English but certainly not in the top sets for Maths or French but was for History and bottom for music and Latin (another pointless subject). Thankfully when I moved to another school, Latin wasn’t on the menu.

          • Dave Postles

            Isn’t that ‘streaming’, not ‘selection’?

          • gunnerbear

            Fair comment – call it ‘internal selection’….. 🙂

          • Alan Ji

            In a few places as many as 25% used to pass the 11+. These days in most places nearly half go into higher education.
            If Medway and Kent are to get half their young people into higher education, that will include more 11+ failures than 11+ passes. What are Medway and Kent Tory Councils and their schools doing to get more 11+ failures than 11+ successes into University?

          • gunnerbear

            Yep – and the 50% to go to Uni. is a stupidly callous ‘con job’ on those teenagers that don’t do a decent subject at a top institution. Doing something like ‘Underwater Basket Knitting (or Geography if you prefer as equally useless) from the ‘Uni. of Shepton Mallet’ (or Southbank Uni. if you like) isn’t going to land the student a decent job.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Selection is, per the data from lots of different national school systems, detrimental to kids learning.

            Why do you support it, given that?

          • gunnerbear

            Because I don’t want the good, decent hard working children to have their education ruined or disrupted by the knuckle dragging offspring who do not want to learn or those who don’t even use English as first language.Teachers should be there to teach children who want to learn the subjects or to teach groups of children the basics e.g. English where English is not the first language at home and not have to worry about either the malcontents being disruptive nor the decent children being neglected. Selection works and is popular – which is why so many parents demand choice in schools and want their school to be as good as possible. Well, the parents that care do.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, you see some kids as more important than others, based on their parents. And based on your arbitrary decisions as to who “wants to learn”.

            In your world, teachers should refuse to teach a significant proportion of kids. Because they’re not “decent”, they’re “malcontents”. Categories you set which have little to do with the kids and everything to do with your prejudices.

            You’ll then blame the underclass you create for everything, of course.
            Selection, by the data – you are plain lying – hurts kid’s chances.

          • gunnerbear

            “Ah, you see some kids as more important than others, based on their parents.” No, I think the system should cater for all types of children….but we live in the real world. If you leave just a few children in a classroom who don’t want to be there, those children ruin it for those that do…….thus those children need to be removed from the company of those that do want to work or learn a specialist subject. To pretend that leaving disruptive children in a class full of decent children will have no impact on the decent children flies in the face of reality. Perhaps those ‘disruptive’ children when given the choice of a curriculum more to their liking will become less disruptive and actually get something out of being at school.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, so your “real world” does not allow education for most, so you are in practice arguing against teaching many kids. On arbitrary criteria, and of course everyone whose parent (as you noted)

            “Remove” kids from education, so the “decent” kids, the ones who pass your tests can have it all. Those disruptive kids, with no education…right. What % are we talking as “decent”… 5%? 7%?

          • Ade Jones

            In that time, the child will have spent approximately 16% of its life at school, and 84% elsewhere. You appreciate that the school acts in loco parentis for that 16% of the time, but cannot be held responsible for what the parents do or don’t do for the other 84%? If the parents don’t do their bit with respect to inculcating a basic level of knowledge in their offspring – then can you see the task that the teacher has with 30 of the little darlings in front of them, a Byzantine curriculum to get through and Ofsted badgering them at every turn with pointless observations?

            Away and rethink your prejudices, there’s a good fellow.

          • gunnerbear

            I’m not talking about turning out 30 rocket scientists – I’m talking about each child making sure that they can do the basics. Hellfire, you could take 10 children for a year concentrate on those 10 children, get them up to speed and then another 10 the next year and then the final 10 the year after – that’s 30 kids in one subject in three years – they are at school for 11 years. What is required is a re-tooling of the education system to be much more like the Germans (after all the German system is simply the ’44 Ed. Act ‘written large and functioning’ because HMG set up the German system!)

          • Ade Jones

            You have quite clearly failed to get the point I was making above. Perhaps your parents did not teach you basic comprehension?

          • gunnerbear

            You’re making the point or rather arguing the point that ‘teachers have just so tough and it’s ‘dead ‘ard’ being a teacher what with the generous pay, pensions underwritten by the taxpayer, just about a job for life and whacking great holidays’. I’m pointing out that you could concentrate on 1/3 of your class exclusively for three years to teach them and then the next third and so on and that would still take less time than the children have been at school for. Teacher takes 10 kids for a year – makes sure basics are in place, moves on to next 10 and so on – call it intensive teaching, call it being pragmatic but nothing is more important than making sure children can leave school able to read and write and do basic maths. And that is even more true of primary school children because – sure as it f**kin’ well p***’s it down in Scotland on a regular basis – if those children leave primary school unable to read, write and do the basics, their secondary education is f**ked from the off.

          • Ade Jones

            Have you ever taught? Because you really are making a fool of yourself here. Tell you what – go off and get the relevant qualifications and experience, and teach for a couple of years and then come back and we’ll have this conversation on an equal level. All you’re doing at the moment is just parroting tabloid hyperbole and it’s frankly wasting both my time and yours.

          • gunnerbear

            Fine, we’ll agree to disagree. You appear to think everything is great and all teachers are wonderful and that it is acceptable for a block of children to be leaving school after 11 years without the basics…….I don’t. The thing is you see, once those teens are out of the school gates and into the jobs market – red in tooth and claw – that group of teens are totally and utterly f**ked if they don’t possess even the most basic of skills given the level of competition to even get a toe on the jobs ladder. I consider the fact that teachers – rather some of them – are allowing that to happen, is a scandalous f**kin’ failure on the part of the ‘teaching profession’. Clearly we have different world views on the matter.

          • Ade Jones

            You clearly seem to be of the opinion that parents bear no responsibility whatsoever, and that all the learning should come at school. Here’s a thing. Children who go to school who can already read and write and do their sums? Do very much better than those who cannot. Now have a think why this might be the case, given that your average infant teacher will have up to 30 of the little darlings and not very much time to spend with any one of them in particular. You may also wish to consider that teaching assistants? Are seen as a luxury rather than a necessity nowadays, and schools are shedding them left right and centre.

            The teachers aren’t allowing what you claim to be happening to happen. They’re trying their damndest with a disaffected youth, many of whom have no support from home and who really don’t see the point of learning. At the same time as trying to teach the middle achievers and the high achievers, and keep several layers of inspectors happy. It’s an impossible job. Try it and see.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You blame Teachers over and over for the government ignoring them and telling them in micro-managing detail what to do! You’re for even more of that!

          • gunnerbear

            Why is wrong to ask why not every child after 11 years of full time education can’t ‘read, write and add up’?

          • Danny

            “so I shouldn’t need to explain why.”

            Why did I even type that? Knowing the calibre of some of LabourList’s frequenters, I should know that even the simplest of points need explaining to some on here.

            I’ve no doubt you’ve heard “performance-related pay” and got a hard-on that a little bit of your cherished private sector (the sector that caused the global financial crisis, however much you like to blame Labour) into schools. I doubt you’ve looked into the detail.

            Many schools are basing teacher performance solely on the results of the top set that they teach. You could be an Maths teacher with eight different classes of different year groups. If you’ve got a Year 8 top set who are all getting A*s in exams that will have no bearing on their future progression, whilst you’re failing your fourth set Year 11s who are a few weeks away from their GCSEs, you’re in line for a payrise. And pupil performance is based on their results compared to Key Stage 2 assessments. Tests done when they are 10 or 11.

            So much of a child’s development and education is based on what happens outside of school. You could have the best teacher in the world (although there is no way of measuring it, kinda the point) and if a kid is not getting any parental support at home they are going to struggle academically. A pupil is in the classroom for roughly 25 hours a week. They’re outside of it for 143 hours. It’s ironic really, the people who seem so keen to lambast teachers seem to expect them to be miracle workers. You’ve got a child for a few hours a week and you’re expected to turn them into whizz kids regardless of external factors.

            Judging the performance of a teacher is simply not possible, there are far too many circumstances that influence a child’s success that are outside of a teacher’s control. Performance-related pay will have next to no positive outcomes. It may assist with keeping a few truly awful teachers, of which there are many, on the same salary for years and it might cause a few of them to resign (no one will dare use the performance measurements as a means of termination because the idea is so poor that it will never stand up in an employment tribunal). That’s about the only positive I can think of. It’ll be pot luck based on what sets a teacher is given, will drive teachers to focus all their energies and resources on the one class they believe will help them rack up the best figures to the detriment of the majority of the rest of their pupils and will discourage the sharing and pooling of knowledge between colleagues. Oh and that positive I mentioned is already being negated by the fact that several excellent teachers and teachers with bags of potential will be driven from the profession. This ridiculous idea will drive more good teachers from the profession than bad ones.

            It’s a dog’s dinner of an idea that could only have been dreamed up by an out-of-touch Tory Party.

            I don’t expect Labour to mount much of an attack on it. Their shadow Education Secretary knows about as much about the sort of education the majority of British children experience as Prince Charles. Still, he must be doing something right, some people, including himself apparently, believe that Tristram Hunt is the next leader of the Labour Party.

          • gunnerbear

            I never mentioned teachers turning their charges all into rocket scientist – just that all the children should be leaving school with the basics mastered.

          • gunnerbear

            I don’t think PRP works in teaching. Never have done. The whole idea is b******ks but it wasn’t pay I was talking about was it? Termination? Only takes one decent headteacher with the stones to try it and it will fly (especially if there is a paper trail)…..teachers want to be thought of as professionals yet fight tooth and nail to keep the poor teachers in their profession or are you saying that all teachers are wonderful?

          • Danny

            I type:-

            “It may assist with keeping a few truly awful teachers, of which there are many, on the same salary for years and it might cause a few of them to resign”

            You reply:-

            “are you saying that all teachers are wonderful?”

            I know it was a long post and may have stretched your concentration, but if you are going to reply to it, have the courtesy to read it all.

            What I object to is education policy being dictated by the fact that there are a few bad apples in the profession. They are in a small minority, yet policy designed to target them is having a negative effect on the hardworking majority, to the point that there is an exodus of excellent teachers, whilst the poor ones just carry on anyway.

            They adopt the same philosophy with welfare policy. A tiny minority of benefits claimants are claiming either fraudulently or are not making much of an effort to get in work, but it is a tiny, tiny minority. Yet they instigate policy designed to target that select few to the at times appalling detriment of the vast majority of honest claimants.

            You’re never going to get a perfect system, in either welfare of education, and you’ll always have to carry a few fraudsters, cheats and incompetents. Yet the right-wing, so keen to label left-wing ideology as idealistic, seem to think that they can create a nirvana where every teacher is perfect and every single one of the millions of people in receipt of benefits only claims exactly what they need to get by. And if that state cannot be achieved, they will tar everyone with the same brush and ironically get even further away from the perfection they claim to desire.

            It’s senseless, illogical, pernicious and plain stupid. Sounds like a pretty good motto for the Tory Party to me.

          • gunnerbear

            I think the vast majority of teachers do a good job – or certainly try to – but the ‘profession’ lets itself down by never acknowledging that there are garbage teachers who should never have been employed as teachers. If you are also saying that benefits fraud is quite small scale – fair enough – I think it is about 1% in total – but that is a bill that runs into billions of pounds hence the attempts (of all HMGs) to crack down on it. Incidentally, what would your solution be to making sure all children leave school at 16 able to read and write and do basic maths?

          • Danny

            The vast, vast majority do. The Pearson report has ranked the United Kingdom as the 6th best education system in the world, second in Europe behind only Finland. I’ve no doubt this will start to drop when the full scale of Gove’s reforms start to kick in, but nevertheless, comparatively our education system is not that bad at all. I’m sure even in South Korea, Japan and Finland there are some children that leave school unable to read, write and do basic maths. Any quest to eradicate this fully and have 100% of children fully able to read, right and do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division cannot be achieved through education policy alone. Issues like social mobility, crime, anti-social behaviour, gang-crime and drugs all impact on a child’s education in thousands of wards across the country.

            You create a perfect school, with perfect teachers (never going to happen) and put a child with unsupportive parents, from an estate beset with gang culture and drugs which the child gets involved with who is in a social situation that he has no opportunity to escape, then he is going to struggle at school.

            Our education system is not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn good. In my own social circle I have a South African friend whose mother sent her to England to live with her grandmother to take advantage of a British education (whilst the Mum stayed in South Africa, thousands of miles away from her daughter). I have a German friend whose family emigrated to England so that her and her two brothers could be educated in Britain. My parents are friends with a French family who live in Britain. Why did they move here? You guessed it, for their child’s education. However, all these decisions were made many years before Michael Gove got his feet under the desk at the Department of Education. I very much doubt you’ll find any South African, French or German parents actively seeking to get their children educated in Britain as opposed to their homeland nowadays.

          • leslie48

            Actually his Observer article attacking PR man David Cameron was brilliant . Moreover Tristam is picking up a lot more support now that he is laying into the Tories; even private schools are delighted with his attacks on Gove’s crazy 6th form reforms. Lecturers, teachers, parents and students feel Labour are now getting to grips with the future of our Sixth Form reforms.

          • treborc1

            In England….

          • gunnerbear

            Yep….because Labour control of the Welsh education system – like the NHS – has been less than a glittering success hasn’t it? Why do you think that is?

          • gunnerbear

            “so I shouldn’t need to explain why.”

            Why did I even type that?” Because you’re a clever chap and knew it would provoke a response.

      • Daniel Speight

        I do think that Darling could easily be far worse. When pushed he is singing off Osborne’s hymn sheet even more than Balls.

        • reformist lickspittle

          Hmmm, not really convinced.

          Balls has been living for far too long off one (admittedly very good) speech during the 2010 leadership campaign – he has now pretty much repudiated what he said then anyway.

          His last few “big set piece” performances in the commons have been between tepid and shambolic – Osborne was apparently amazed at how easy he had it during the last autumn statement for example. Incredibly, it seems that growth returning (as was ALWAYS going to happen in some form, despite the coalition’s best efforts) has left EB totally wrong footed.

          And given that, his lack of personal appeal and all too intimate association with some of the most toxic and destructive aspects of the Brown regime will weigh all the more heavily.

          No, not sure that Darling could be worse. He has some public appeal and recognition – not to mention political nous. And people who mention his tanking in the second referendum debate (and yes, he did) often gloss over that he won the first, against one of Britain’s most formidable politicians.

          Bringing him in will, if nothing else, worry the Tories. A lot.

          • leslie48

            Darling was, is and looks ‘solid-like’. Balls does not look like someone eager to sell any social democratic message to a deeply divided country ruled by a very right wing Tory Party.

            Balls does not inspire the public to think ” Jesus, the thought of the Tory party running my UK ’till 2020 and then what our our butchered public services and deeply unequal society will look like” Balls is obsessed with the economic negatives not the positive.

            Some will not like me saying it but the speech by Vince Cable at the Lib-Dem conference was more polemical, more radical and more social democrat than anything reported by the media from Manchester. At some point we have to sound like a socialist alternative offering some alternatives and I say that as a great admirer of how New Labour delivered three victories. Balls needs to think far more about dealing with ugly inequality, right wing neo-liberalism rather then telling the UK families how he is going to reduce the value of children’s benefits.He is wrong if he thinks that will get lower middle class votes in marginal seats – its just mindless and negative.

    • Doug Smith

      Unfortunately the Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan, is a Progress supporter and was part of the Progress ‘shrink the state’ drive. So, as a matter of ideological purity, she most certainly won’t be pushing for the public ownership of anything, no matter how sensible and popular.

      • treborc1

        Yes she is and oh boy is she Progress through and through, another of Luke’s and Progress take over.

        • gunnerbear

          Interesting comments on the ‘Progress Faction’ in the latest Private Eye.

    • Luke Akehurst

      I’m in favour of rail renationalisation and agree it would win votes with southern commuters. I agree that when Ed has made radical statements our polling numbers have gone up. That’s what I want more of – boldness designed to strategically reshape the political map, not itty-bitty stitching together of a narrow win.

      • Daniel Speight

        So Luke what’s holding Miliband back? From here it looks like Cruddas’s “dead hand” is very much from the right and Progress. Will you take a public stand against them and against Douglas Alexander in particular. Your view would carry far more weight than the likes of us who were against the Blair project from the beginning.

      • Danny

        I genuinely don’t understand you Luke. You seem a thoroughly intelligence bloke and whilst I disagree with a lot of what you write, your articles are always of a high standard.

        So how can a man of your intellect not grasp the quite clear reasoning why Miliband is shirking a more radical manifesto? You’re a vocal advocate of Progress, yet appear to be angry at the influence they have over the party and at a strategy devised and implemented by one of its golden boys, the severely limited Douglas Alexander. To use a quote native to the greatest county on the planet, “Was gorn orn buh?”*

        *Norfolk for What is going on, boy?

    • Nick London

      Couldn’t agree more. Alexander has shown himself to be utterly useless this last year, scared and wrong footed at every turn.

    • gunnerbear

      “Well it’s not working so the leadership better dump this Progress nonsense and get….” As was pointed out in the latest Private Eye, ‘Progress’ is the senior Labour leadership and vice versa. There is no way Ed M. can deal with the Progress Faction without standing down himself.

  • Doug Smith

    “there is everything to play for.”

    Quite right.

    Yet Labour have already thrown in the towel.

    However, to be in with a chance in 2015 Labour will have to get the policy offer right. People won’t just vote Labour for the thrill of it.

    As John Prescott pointed out in his Mirror column, Miliband could learn something form Tony Blair pre-’97. Admittedly Blair’s support nosed-dived, for good reasons, following the ’97 victory. But it was the promise of radical policies that won Blair a landslide in ’97 (e.g. windfall tax, ethical foreign policy).

    Time is running out for Miliband.

    • Ian Robathan

      Isn’t time for policies next year and the manifesto when they actually have greater impact close to the election ?

      • Doug Smith

        The Tories trumpeted policies aplenty at their conference, winning many headlines and much media coverage. And, it seems, improved polling.

        Does anyone remember anything about Labour’s conference, apart from Balls’ dismaying pledge to continue with Tory policies and Miliband’s badly received speech?

        Of the people I know, none can think of a Labour policy about which they feel positive.

        I don’t think this is the right place to be for a party hoping to win power in less than a year from now.

        • leslie48

          Absolutely, correct but the question then becomes who was running that show, who were the strategists in control and who are our Media PR people that could cause such a bloody shambles?

    • leslie48

      It did not nose dive then. Labour went on to win another two elections and deservedly so as Labour brought in many reforms and equality legislation as well as help for the UK’s poor and ill.

  • Peter Sadler

    Labour will never appeal to everybody. Tory voters will always vote Tory or UKIP. Labour needs to appeal to its traditional constituency and as one of their number I proffer this opinion:
    – Labour is not a slick marketing machine, thank goodness. I want the antidote to that not an imitation.
    – Too often the policies between Labour and Conservative sound the same, I want differences. I want Labour policies to be clear, honest, radical and brave.
    – I want leadership which confronts Cameron’s lies head on. Too often it seems we are scared of upsetting the rich. Examples include Cameron claiming to have reduced national debt when it has actually grown enormously. Millionaires do not need winter fuel payments, free bus passes, state pensions or child benefit.
    – The poor need help. Let Labour be the party of compassion and honesty.
    – We are not stupid and know the money has got to come from somewhere. We know we can’t continue as we are just as we know the coalitions system isn’t actually working.
    – Labour may well win by default but let’s win by earning it and by getting the will of the majority behind us.

    • gunnerbear

      “Millionaires do not need winter fuel payments, free bus passes, state pensions or child benefit.” And neither do rich pensioners or people on salaries north of £100K. But then I also think it is terrible that the benefits cap is so high – £26K net equals about £36K before tax… a person wanting to have the same level of total ‘income’ as a person on £26K funded by the taxpayer needs to earn £36K. That can’t be right either and deep down ‘conservative’ Labour voters know that – hence Labour gets painted as the ‘Party for the Waster’. Sooner or later Labour are going to have to address that perception or UKIP are going to chew up more Labour votes.

    • treborc1

      Labour is a slick machine or are you forgetting the Progress New labour party, boy was that slick, the difference is now Miliband is poor he is the poorest politician I’ve seen for years, his brother would have been no better because these are careerist not real politicians with an ideal, they simply came to politics because they had nothing else to do.

      They are not the only one either a large number of politician of all parties see politics as better then sitting at home living off the family fortune writing books.

      The fact is labour ideology to day is one I’ve not see or know about it’s not about the working class it’s about hard working, what the hell that means is anyone in work is beloved anyone not in work is hated.

      I’ve never seen so many politicians not speak about pensioners because being on a pension is now almost as bad as being a hated welfare scrounger.

      I cannot for the life of me see the difference between rich Cameron and rich Miliband and that is the problem.

      • leslie48

        Well tax for starters mate-The Tories reduced it on the rich and increased it on many others as more and more were dragged into the 40% band. We would not have sold off the Royal Mail cheap or given massive monies to banks to do that nor would we have done the bedroom tax or reduced the Health Service to a shambles or spent millions on free schools or suggest the poorest children in Britain should loose parts of their tax credits etc., Nor would we have subsidised upper middle class professionals with tax money to buy properties or reduced taxes on Aim shares and so on. The difference counts.

  • Duncan Hall

    I don’t think there should be any “no go” areas for Labour. I don’t see any reason why well-off people in rural North Yorkshire shouldn’t vote Labour, let alone upper-working-class people in Kent. BUT… you have to be careful what you mean by “listen” to people. Yes you should listen to people, but a political party is more than just a big ear. And of course if you listen to one group of people (and respond in their preferred way) you are rather likely to upset another group of people.
    I think Labour has had far too much of the existential claptrap in the last few years. We are a left-of-centre social democratic party with a moral crusade to make things better. We are economically egalitarian and socially liberal. I wish we were more left wing and more socialist and will continue to push that, as no doubt others will continue to push in other directions. But we shouldn’t be having “who are we?” conversations at the moment. We need to go around the whole country with an appealing set of radical and different policies, grounded in those values, and – indeed – try and encourage all voters to see the benefit of them and the good in them.
    If we go to Kent and say “we’re no UKIP but we’ll be tough on immigration too” while trying not lose the Guardian-readers to the Greens you end up like the Liberal Democrats in the 90s and not appealing to anybody. Labour voters and potential Labour voters aren’t looking for a party to say “what do you believe and we’ll pretend we believe the same” but for some authenticity and some fire in the belly.
    Let’s face it there’s plenty to be angry about at the moment. Let’s hear a bit of rage. A bit of passion. But let’s also accept that sometimes that rage and passion will take the form of “I respect your view and understand where it comes from, but I don’t agree with you about that”. If people ultimately decide that that’s the issue that pushes them to vote for somebody else then we have to accept that and try and persuade them next time.

    • gunnerbear

      “And of course if you listen to one group of people (and respond in their preferred way) you are rather likely to upset another group of people.” Which is why the LDs stepped right in the s**t when they had to make decisions as part of HMG for the first time and why UKIP will step in the s**t. The Ol’ Beerswiller has to reconcile the Red and Blue Wings of his party – a very tricky business.

    • Luke Akehurst

      Duncan I would be happy if we go down to Rochester and just attack and expose UKIP. It’s spinning that we can’t win in places like that that I am unhappy with – because it is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

      • Duncan Hall

        Well I agree with that.

  • Dan

    I largely agree, but the issue is that the Labour apparatchiks’ beliefs about how you win over the voters you’re talking about are just plain wrong imo. A “tougher” immigration policy might be needed to win over the lower middle-class voters in Kent, Essex and elsewhere, but it’s absolutely not true that those people want hardcore Tory economic policies and austerity. In fact, if anything, the “aspirational” voters you’re talking about could be the ones who are most open to Miliband’s “responsible capitalism” theme, since they’re generally people who feel they’re having to bust a gut just to make as much money as they do whereas the big business elites seem to get showered with cash for doing nothing. Yet the Progress idiots in Labour made Miliband junk that because of a bizarre belief that Kent/Essex lowermiddleclass voters are interchangeable with blue-rinsed hardcore Tories in the Home Counties.

    • gunnerbear

      Is lower middle class the approved code for ‘working class’. F**k me, just call a spade a bloody spade. I’m blue collar, working class – not lower middle class, not middle class, I work for a living – thus I’m working class.

      • Dan

        These terms are always a bit woolly obviously, but I think there’s a difference between “working class” and “lower middle class”. Usually means the type of work they’re in — lower middle-class people might be in low-paid clerical work for example, whereas a working class person might be in a manual job (though obviously these are a bit artificial distinctions since a “lower middle class” person like I described might actually earn less than a “working class” person).

    • Luke Akehurst

      Hi Dan I agree with you.

      • treborc1

        What even the bit about Progress, what your now deserting the ship as well.

        You will not be getting a Progress safe seat that way

  • ThomasCartwright

    Alastair Darling did not lose the second referendum debate. The “chairman” showed the gross partiality of the BBC for the typical bullying tactics of Salmond (they have no strategy – how could they? Alastair was eventually provoked by Salmond’s persistent interruptions into retaliating, after showing the patience of Job. Alastair could and should have pointed out that the “plan(s)B” dreamed up by Salmond all entailed a gross LOSS of financial sovereignty for the Scots.
    The SNP are on a roll, and in Scotland we need to raise our game considerably to expose their fantasising and double-dealing. This is a vital part of our election strategy. Douglas Alexander is terrified of informing or appealing to the people: his fear of an EU referendum has infected the party with cowardice on this issue (trust us and the big capitalists” seems to be the slogan he has spread around the party), and is only now meeting a stern response from the LP pro-referendum campaign. Bring back the spirit of Wendy Alexander with her challenge to the SNP: “bring it on”.
    Does Luke go far (north) enough?

  • e2toe4

    The Scottish Indyref exposed the wormwoody Labour vote in heartland areas….left behind in the woodpile in the New Labour years.

    The party fears *IF*.

    IF Ukip gain traction then, like a similar-not-same SNP. they could provide the push, that although gentle, is still strong enough to expose the sawdust interior to many large large ‘Heartland’ Northern urban constituencies that have been taken too much for granted for too long.

    Milliband has zero appeal and in these places not even Gordon Brown (!er… uuummmm!) could be rolled in to reclaim the faithful.

    So IF UKiP don’t gain traction…phew!!…If they do manage to then it’s Iceberg hits Titanic time and no plan B.

    • treborc1

      UKIP are going to get votes, those vote may or may not affect labour heartlands, if UKIP do take areas it maybe the liberal area’s, but my own feeling is UKIP will again be saying we are getting closer . One thing to vote MEP’s the people of this country do not see it as important, councillors well that’s a handy way to show politicians your not happy . But general election this one especially will be if labour and the Tories can regain the lost voters, will UKIP get them my feeling is none of these parties are doing it.

      Not even UKIP although Farage is a better speaker in fact a better politician it’s his party his councillors and his MP’s who will not be trusted.

      • e2toe4

        I do accept and agree with what you say and that may well be how it pans out.
        But I think there are moments in history when things can go outside the normal variables in any sphere, and I do think the Scottish Indyref, whatever it else it was in all sorts of ways was a really jolting moment for Labour specifically in what have been ‘heartlands’ for generations.

        As a Northerner I know first hand how many people share the vague feeling that they have voted Labour for years but what good has it done…that Labour in recent years have been more like the clone consensus politicians of any party, and thus, underneath the rhetoric more concerned with London and the South East, Finance, the ‘media bubble ..and so on, as well as the war mongering party that conned and connived the country into a war that has created all the present issues and solved nothing.

        I am NOT saying the party IS all the above, just that their is a feeling in many people that it is one or more of those kind of things and in summation, more ‘a them’ rather than ‘us’…especially in those English, Northern Heartland places.

        Even the positioning of Ed Milliband isn’t really working, and leaving aside the relentless media campaign to caricature him, because he is seen as ‘posh, Southern, and another one of them’ (‘them’ meaning a policy wonk, politics geek with zero idea of how ordinary people live) more than one of ‘us’.

        But as I say, you may well be proved right and this semi-suppressed dissatisfaction may not turn into active rebellion in the large urban areas in the North and Midlands as it did in Clydeside, Glasgow and Dundee when the vote comes around, and people may well act as you say and return to the fold once again.

        But the similarities between Salmond and Farage, and the two parties, the quicksilver nature of the way they can slide away from serious, informed questioning…even the way in which to ‘non-believers’ they can both appear very unconvincing yet (amazingly) still garner votes and support, are all clear even if whatever passes for both parties political manifesto, beneath their one ‘big idea’, is a mystery. This is the reason I feel there is the possibility of a similar situation arising in the North as has arisen in Scotland.

  • Duncan Hall

    Trouble is, we aren’t fighting it for one fairly basic reason: we think we’ll lose it and we’d rather say “well we weren’t really trying” than “well we gave it a good go, but…” in the studios after the election.

  • Dave Postles

    I agree with Len:

    ‘This is the reality of Tory Britain. Too many people are a pay cheque away
    from financial misery. They are not sharing in David Cameron’s
    make-believe recovery.

    We need an economy that isn’t built on poverty pay and zero hours.

    On October 18, we can remind ordinary people that we’re on their side,
    standing up for a better deal for them, fighting for their hopes and

    *So join us on Saturday 18 October to tell this government that Britain
    needs a pay rise, jobs, homes, health and hope – together we are stronger.*’

    E-mail today to the membership.

  • Dave Postles

    From Benefits and Work Campaign:

    ‘There are unconfirmed, but entirely credible, reports that the Conservative party is
    planning to make disability living allowance (DLA) and personal independence payment
    (PIP) taxable benefits in order to help pay for tax cuts for people currently in the
    top tax bracket.

    In addition, we reveal that all employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants are
    to be hit with a freeze on their benefits if the Tories get back into government in
    2015, not just claimants in the work-related activity group. George Osborne’s
    weasel words at the Conservative party conference misled many, including us.

    We did, at least, spot the sneaky misrepresentation by IDS when he claimed that
    universal credit is being rolled out across the whole country.

    It isn’t.

    Only a tiny, pathetic ‘universal credit lite’ is being rolled out. The software for
    the complicated stuff still doesn’t exist, except in the imagination of IDS.

    Over at the Labour party conference, it wasn’t only the deficit that Ed Miliband
    failed to mention. He also said not a word about disabled people or disability or
    incapacity benefits in his entire speech. And Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and
    pensions secretary, scarcely mentioned them in hers either.

    Nonetheless, the Labour party are hoping you’ll shell out your cash to join
    ‘Disability Labour’ to help them win the next election.

    Meanwhile, Nick Clegg is supporting a 1% cap on uprating of working age benefits
    being extended from 2016 to 2018, leaving just a one percent difference between the
    cuts by Lib Dems and the Tories on ESA claimants.

    Many charities have spoken out against the effects of austerity on sick and disabled
    claimants, but the groups that you might expect to be most vocal seem to have fallen
    silent, perhaps due to fear of the Lobbying Act.

    The Disability Benefits Consortium, for example, describes itself as ‘a national
    coalition of over 50 different charities and other organisations committed to
    working towards a fair benefits system.’ Unfortunately, the last news item
    published on its website is dated July 2014.

    The Hardest Hit campaign, which boasts over 50 voluntary sector organisations
    fighting against benefits cuts hasn’t published a news article or details of any
    campaigning since April 2014.

    Disability Rights UK on the other hand, whose aim is to ‘break the link between
    disability and poverty’, has news items right up to today. Unfortunately, not a
    single one of them is about the party conferences or the latest threats to benefits
    claimants. The election, it seems, is invisible.

    If claimants are going to fight the latest threats to their already desperate living
    standards, they may find themselves fighting alone.’

    Come on Labour.

  • Ben1969

    “minority plus minority equals minority” – this is false, mathematically speaking.

    Barack Obama won 2 elections by appealing to different minorities and then aggregating their support to build a majority. Namely: African-Americans and other non-whites, “the LGBT community”, young people, unmarried women, public sector workers and other union members (organized labor), urban liberals.

    In any case, to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, a party does not need a majority of votes in the country (in 2005, Labour won 55% of the seats in the House of Commons with just 35.2% of the votes).


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