We motivated our activists, not the country

8th May, 2015 4:30 pm



We have become a party that looks and thinks too much like me and too little like the country. We have become a party of the liberal metropolitan elite that the country blames and despises for its woes. It is not wholly wrong. We tried to sell them our vision of why they feel insecure. We didn’t listen to what they were telling us – on welfare, on immigration, on public spending. Until we accept that we cannot even start to rebuild.

We fought a campaign that motivated our activists but has not touched the voters. We have not convinced anyone but ourselves of the evils of the Bedroom Tax, of the danger to the NHS or the need to build houses and change the energy market. We spoke to ourselves. We cheered ourselves just as the closeness of the polls cheered us. We were wrong. I was wrong. We fell headfirst into our comfort zone and we wallowed in it.

We have paid electorally, but too few of us will feel that pain personally. Not enough of us are on the sharp end of society and so we imagine solutions – we don’t feel the deep need for them in our own lives. In the lives of our families. The Bedroom Tax will now be embedded. Social Housing decimated. The NHS changed beyond all recognition. Welfare trashed. This will be felt by the people we have failed.

What will we do next? How will we learn the lessons that must be learned? Can we even agree on what these lessons are? That we tried and failed to win from the left is obvious. That we tried and failed to win despite the vitriol of the Tory press is obvious. Murdoch has won. There will be no Leveson now.

What are the core values we can’t move on from? Where are the areas where we compromise with the electorate? With so much of our Party looking and thinking like me can we even ask these questions and hear, understand and accept the answers?

Ed Miliband was part of the problem. Because he looks and thinks too much like me. But the problem will not be solved simply by putting a new leader in front of the same old party. Change has to come at every level. From the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. Most importantly from the inside out and from the outside in.

Labour has 5 million conversations since the start of the year. But what were we saying? More importantly, what were we hearing? Were we really listening? Or just selectively hearing what we wanted to hear? The ground game we have been so proud of – and so reliant on – has failed us in too many seats. We need to know why.

Labour ran a better campaign than was expected by all estimations. It did nothing for us. Short campaigns don’t win elections when we have failed to capitalise on the five years in between. We have neither properly made the case for a more socially just country nor that we would be able to deliver such a thing.

The Labour Party is set for a terrible time. I have said before that I will be a member of the Labour Party – the Party I love – until the day I die. At the same time I also said that I can envisage a time when that Party is no more. That could happen as the cracks we have spent five years papering over fissure and become ever more exposed. To hold it together, we will have to challenge and test our beliefs and assumptions – even our values. Are we ready? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

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  • MrSauce

    Look on the bright side:
    The Economic Crash was likely to be a two-term loser for Labour (as it was for the US Republicans) and that is out of the way now. Also, the Iraq Enquiry report will shortly be published so any remaining skeletons can be dumped out of that closet.
    It really is ‘clean slate’ time. No baggage on the road to 2020.

    • reformist lickspittle

      A post from you with which I agree!

      Tories won’t have the LibDems to use as a human shield anymore – and the mileage in “the mess we inherited” will steadily dwindle from now on. They are going to have to take actual responsibility for what they have done.

      (the same applies in its own way, of course, to the SNP – no hiding behind “Red Tories” any more)

      • MrSauce

        Welcome to a very exclusive club!

  • swatnan

    Emma is right. Activists don’t win election. They’re convinced already. Our job, or the Leaderships job is to convince the country, not just the Unions or supporters, but the rest of the country including the skeptikal business community and leaders.

  • Andy Harvey

    One problem is that the electorate seems to be saying very different things in different places. There was NOT a huge Tory surge, but they did not need one to do well. We needed that surge and did not get it. I don’t think this result is a huge endorsement of Tories but it is a big raspberry to us for sure. My initial thinking is that we need real decentralisation of the party so that it builds itself into local communities and makes links within regions. That way we can develop devolved platforms fit for the people of the region in question and not a one size fits all approach. We will need to guarantee real devolution of powers and resources and put trust in people. That means listening very well to what we are being told and responding to it. We clearly need to rebuild the party in many parts of the country as it has become dominated by London members. That is a huge task but absolutely necessary. We need to start now and not waste 4 years dithering like we did in the last Parliament. Whet happened to the Cruddas review by the way? Did it ever see the light of day?

  • Dan

    I think we should strongly consider trying out Dan Jarvis as leader:

    – clean break with pre-crash era.
    – Soldier background is clearly different from every recent top politician and speaks to a part of the electorate that Labour is struggling to reach.
    – Likely to make the electorate do enough of a double take that he breaks through an easy dismissal.
    – Dedicated MP by all accounts.
    – Also reasonably good looking in a sort of sturdy way which can’t hurt.
    – Good contrast with likely Tory leaders (Cameron, Boris).

    Apparently he doesn’t have much of a base in the parliamentary party yet but I think that kind of tribal manoeuvring has been detrimental in the past. Lets encourage Dan to stand and present a vision for the future of Labour and have the party decide on that, not whose turn it is or who has done who the most favours.

    • bevinboy

      Jarvis is far too fond of the EU which goes against the public mood.

      That would be a big handicap, possibly one that could probably not be overcome.

      It would be a big mistake (again) not to take account of the public mood about membership of the political union.

      Labour is going to have to participate in Cameron’s EU referendum, even support the idea of having it.

      Someone with more understanding of fears about Europe is required

      • reformist lickspittle

        Polls (yes, I know) show support for staying in the EU at its highest for a couple of decades.

        Yesterday was a shattering disappointment for UKIP as well as Labour and (above all) the LibDems.

        • bevinboy

          Staying in the political union or leaving, it never made sense to go overboard for not having a referendum when lots of Labour’s core base are sceptical about unlimited EU immigration.

          Treat the voters with contempt, they may do the same to you.

          It looks very much as if switchers from Labour cost Ed Balls his constituency.

          Wiser counsel would be to express doubts and support the referendum, it will happen anyway.

          UKIP must be disappointed in seats but their vote stood up and possibly cost Labour including Ed Balls.

          Head in sand treatment of UKIP is part of what got us where we are.

      • Martin McEvoy

        Actually, quite the opposite. DON’T participate in that referendum, at least not as a party. Learn a lesson, for the love of Jeebus, from the Scottish Referendum – you can’t win these emotional outpourings with reason. So don’t try.

        Let Labour be the serious party that calls this referendum what it is – a Tory vanity project designed by a desperate Cameron so as not to look like John Major. Let the Tory party tear itself apart by having to run both ends of the campaign itself. Either they will end up with a damp squib or it’ll tear their party apart – both will make Tories look silly. don’t interrupt an enemy in the middle of making a mistake.

        Of course individual MPs can campaign on either side, OF course the Party should accept such a referendum should happen but the PARTY should stand back and concentrate on day to day politics.

        • bevinboy

          One sees some ridiculous stuff on line. Your outpourings , in my view are in that class. Continued membership of the EU political project and the open ended immigration that goes with that will change Britain forever.
          Naturally a high proportion of the population will want a say.
          Deliberately as an act of policy, trying to deprive them of that, is too high risk.

          • Martin McEvoy

            I’m not suggesting anything of the sort. Read what I write, not what you want me to have written.

            I’m not suggesting stopping the referendum for a second. Indeed, it should be welcomed. What I’m arguing is for Labour not to take a party line on the in/out question. The referendum will be toxic. Just the reality. So let the Tories, as a party, deal with that toxin, Let Labour MPs vote in or out as a matter of personal conscience, but don’t have the Party as a unit pick a side – that was disastrous in Scotland, and would be here too.

        • bevinboy

          OK, to a point we agree. It never made sense to me to be so AGAINST a referendum when so much of the population was against US on that.

          You think it toxic, I think it is listening.

          Not listening, got us where we are.

          Not listening over Iraq for example.

          Both of the main parties that opposed the EU referendum got hit badly. Though I accept Scotland is different.

          Personally I think some things DO have to be re-negotiated and a political EU that is impoverishing millions of its people is not something I am too enthusiastic about just leaving to drift on.

          I am also not clear that the UK can keep absorbing 300,000 immigrants a year net, Plainly neither is much of the public. Being too out of step with public opinion, on too many things, will, has in fact, damaged us.

          Jarvis seems happy with the EU , That is why I expressed caution on him. He will I think need to develop a more nuanced position, as will any new leader.

          I think this is another thing that team Miliband got wrong because they never thought it through.

          What I am saying is we need to examine our historical positions, look at where the public mood is against us, then take steps to modify our behaviour. That does not mean we should accept everything the public thinks, like capital punishment for example, it does mean we should be engaged.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Very good summary of why Jarvis may be worth considering.

      Much rather him that Umunna or Cooper, for sure.

    • Bah Humbug

      Discus profile name “Dan” says we should try “Dan Jarvis” … Hmmm …

      • Dan

        Hah 🙂 I guess us Dans have to stick together. I assure you I have never stared down a mugger or fought in any wars.

  • Too liberal? From the party that failed to disavow or clearly oppose just about every authoritarian measure this government introduced, right down to forcing people to have untried medical treatments on pain of losing benefits?
    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Tommo

    A true and honest assessment.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    It was a greatly surprising result, and not in a positive way.

    You are right, however. The campaign focussed too much on 10% of the electorate: those at the poorest margins of society, and had as a theme the NHS which is not an everyday issue for the majority of people. I do not mean that either those poorest or the NHS should be ignored, of course not. But the campaign seemed to me at many times to be dual dimensional. There was very little for the 80% between the poorest and the richest, or for those not solely focussed on the NHS. Some housing, perhaps.

  • Dave Robinson

    ‘We didn’t listen to what they were saying, on immigration, on welfare, on spending’. This is true. The other way of looking at it though is that we refused to make the positive, progressive arguments for these issues, and instead we caved to the Tories at the first sign of a debate and allowed the to dictate to the country the terms. We’re bleeding in the North. We’ve been decapitated in Scotland. Meanwhile, there is 35% of the population who again didn’t vote. A conservative estimate is that 50% of those are politically engaged but disillusioned and unrepresented. A swing back towards the crowded centre ground may shore up middle England but it doesn’t stem the bleeding in our heartlands, or in the metropolitan areas, and it confirms our abandonment of both Scotland and the millions of non-voters. We didn’t lose those voters because we were too liberal; we lost them because we were too busy trying to emulate the Tories. If we refuse to accept that, we leave the door open to the Greens, UKIP, or a new party altogether ouflanking us and picking up all these votes, leaving us as irrelevant in England as we are now in Scotland.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Conventional wisdom might suggest that UKIP will not be much of a factor at the next election, given the Tory commitment to have an in or out referendum in 2017. There will be little reason for them to exist.

      But, the same logic applied to the SNP after the independence referendum clearly took a different path. If the result of the EU referendum in 2017 is “stay in” (which I would support), there are likely to be millions of disappointed and angry voters in 2020.

      • CrunchieTime

        I think UKIP are at a fork in the road. Whichever way they choose could be critical for Labour’s future survival. Let me explain.

        A few years ago I watched the DVD box set of a Scottish comedy show, called the High Life. In one episode one of the cast was portrayed as an SNP representative, in much the same way as UKIP are routinely portrayed now. Swivel eyed, nutter, extremist, ridiculous, Tartan Tory, you know the drill. That series was from the late 1990’s (IIRC).

        Would anyone from Labour wish to repeat those allegations, in light of Thursday’s election results? Does anyone consider that that comic paradigm still holds true?

        UKIP are about to choose a new leader. What if they choose someone northern, down to earth, straight talking, eloquent, personable and credible, without Farage’s baggage?

        Someone who will park UKIP’s tanks firmly on Labour’s lawns right across the M62 corridor. Gets their membership pressing the flesh in the Rugby League towns and talking straight to ordinary northern straight talking people.

        Think that can’t happen?

        Then look to Scotland and think again.
        It’s your choice Labour…

    • Wolves_Phil

      “We didn’t listen to what they were saying …… on welfare, on spending”

      Somehow Labour convinced itself that the public wanted austerity-lite and that signing up to this would somehow magically restore Labour’s economic reputation. That was folly – by 2015, people were tired of the medicine and a campaign slogan of “Enough is Enough” would have captured the majority who did not want a further heavy dose. And when Ed Balls dropped the “too far, too fast” theme in 2011, the coherence of Labour’s argument was lost and with it the ability (and willingness) to ever rebut the “mess Labour left” theme of the Tories that they sold to the public.

      And on welfare, what idiot dreamed up the idea that committing to a cap on child benefit was somehow a vote winner for Labour? On the one welfare cut that Labour did campaign openly against – the bedroom tax – it turned a policy that polling showed was initially popular into one that was toxic to the Tories. Had Labour had the courage to properly campaign against other parts of the Tories’ welfare agenda, it could similarly have turned the public mood around.

    • Ringstone

      If you believe in the Marxis materialist conception of history there is a serious question to be asked, is the Labour Party as it stands actually relevant in our post industrial society; should it indeed exist at all? Old Skool Labour was born in, and relevant to, an age of mass employment in heavy industry – the shipyards, the coalfields – all gone to lower wage, higher productivity economies.
      The working class still exists; we’re all wage slaves two pay packets away from mortgage arrears, but we’re more likely to ply our trade behind a desk or in a call centre than on a shop floor – the Durham Miners Gala is living history, not contemporary politics; but it is a cast of mind Labour seems loth to abandon, leading Labour to be seen by many as in thrall to the public sector unions as a single interest group not only for cash but because they are a last echo of that world that’s passed.
      Blair went in the direction of disconnecting from that vanished world and has been roundly repudiated after his passing – he was admittedly malign in many respects, but not I think in modernisation. The drift back to the old hunting grounds has not been an unmitigated success to put it mildly.
      Reading various threads today there has been a depressing litany of the public being fooled, the public being too stupid to see their own best interest, etc, etc. All deeply depressing, patronising and dangerously introspective.
      What does the Labour Party stand for in its bones?
      What does the Demos want, really want? Discounting votes cast because they are the least worst on offer or because “me grandad voted Labour and so will I”; especially not the Fabian metropolitan “what do we think they should want, because we know best”
      If the two do not match then there are two options for Labour, a root and branch honest reinvention, a couple of speeches will not cut it, to serve the people it perports to represent: or to get out of the way and let someone who can represent those needs and desires take our place – and history will see to that. It’s going to be a messy process either way.

  • greenwich

    Just one anecdotal snippet….

    In my (marginal) constituency I have never seen a campaign as intensive as by Labour. The activists were tireless – I often saw the lights on in the Labour office even on Friday evenings. I received Labour leaflets through my door not daily but almost hourly – my recycling bin is full of them. Every time the doorbell has rung in the past month my wife and I have rolled our eyes, knowing it was almost certainly another Labour activist asking for our support. No party could have put in more effort.

    But quality would have been better than quantity. Instead of making us feel like we were living under siege, Labour could have given me a reason to like them. If Labour could just have defended social democracy and the welfare state unapologetically like the SNP and the Greens, that would have made a better impression than 5 leaflets a day telling me how much my local Labour candidate loves the NHS.

    • Quiet_Sceptic

      Very true, same with my local party – almost obsessed with putting paper through letter boxes rather than focusing on policies or improvements so there’s something decent to put on the leaflets.

  • Marco

    Bravo, a really thoughtful, challenging piece of writing.

  • RWP

    Really good article this, must more sense than usual from Emma and much more readable than her usual fare too.

  • ElRoberto

    I feel lost. And I also feel I am one of those on sharp end of what’s coming. I live in London, do not own a house, never will own a house, and cannot even get two year security of tenure. there are millions of MIDDLE CLASSES in this situation. Miliabd was the first to come close to seeing this. Blair/Brown did nothing as the crisis enveloped more and more millions of people.

    It’s true that Miliband galvanised me – a lefty. But it’s also true that the same Old Blairism would not have even got my vote. They took Left votes for granted. They may never return (eg, Scotland). There were surely multiple reasons for this heavy defeat.

    Scotland cannot be blamed on being too left wing. Far from it. The party is reaping the whirlwind of loss of reputation for simply being one of us; among the country of the traditional Labour Left, (Scotland and northern Eng;land), and of being blamed for the financial crisis by Middle England.

    The two great turning points – if they existed (God Knows we can’t trust the polling) – of the short campaign mirrored turning points of the previous five years: the attack on being in the SNP pocket. How many seats did the Tories inadvertently gain, and how many dozens Labour lose – by Cameron EVEL speech right after the referendum? And the second was Miliband’s refusal to accept Labour overspent. Even if he was right – bloody academic now – that narrative that Labour spending caused the crisis was made in summer 2010, and Labour never refuted it. Cameron/Clegg were hammering it day in, day out, to such a degree that whenever a broadcaster now says “turning to the debate on the economy, they mean the deficit.

    The two have become the same thing. That was the Tory/Clegg victory right there.

    Even if he did not believe it, Miliband at the Question Time leaders special should have said: Yes, we overpsent.

    I thought it at the time. I do not necessarily agree with it, but it was too late argue the toss. We failed to do so in 2010; 2015 was far too late. Perhaps, a slighly nuanced: Yes we overspent as we assumed the Financial services led growth was not based on sand, but real: We were wrong, and we will never repeat the mistake.

    Instead, Twitter was a storm of anger for those few minutes. While too many commentators were focusing on: no deals with SNP.

  • ElRoberto

    And where did the Squeezed Middle arguments go? Miliband even in five often poor years set the agenda at times. He should have returned to this.

    I am a Lefty, but still was deeply concerned at the rhetoric on zero hours contracts. Of course, it needs huge reform. But Thatcher had 3 million unemployed and won elections. You do not win elections unless you address what’s happening to millions in the middle.

    It would have been far better to highlight the help for 9 million renters, and the concerned parents of 9 million renters, many of whom have any hope of ever owning a home; and the offer of preference on purchasing new houses.

    The offer should also have been far greater.

  • simon molyneux

    THAT EXIT POLL will take a long time to get over. Although we are all in shock we have been here before (1979 and horrifingly.1982). Get up, fight for our principles, never give up. I will never get over the abject capitulation of the LibDems. They misled us all, they had no campaign on the ground at all. If they had held 30 seats we wouldn’t be here. Also, Cameron has now got what he wanted…the SNP. So what does Unionist mean in the Conservative party name? Only Labour will bring us together. Thank you Ed for your dignified resignation. It’s time we all worked harder.

  • Rob K. Mart

    Policies were a heap of nonsense. Face it. Health, need more money. Energy – freeze prices, energy prices fall. Oh dear. Education – a silly little list of nothings. Housing a number but ne means no money nothing. Just a number five years away.

    We do not need radicalism. We need intelligence. We should not focus upon those in need. We should focus upon all of the citizenry. We should give equal emphasis to wealth creation and pending. LabourList contributions read like the party of spending.

    Emma, why don’t you write a piece on wealth creation processes in the advanced economies emphasising the role of social democratic parties in directing investment?

  • Daniel Speight

    Unless Labour buries New Labour it will go the same way as its sister parties in Greece, Spain and the party in Scotland. How can it do it when most of the PLP are ex-Blairite apparatchiks, I don’t know? Someone else will have to solve that puzzle. Might be you Emma.

    Let me take this opportunity to drop in a quote from Alan Johnson looking at reasons for Labour’s defeat that makes a lot of sense to me, while remembering that AJ is no leftwinger.

    Even more perplexing was the fact that we did have a sound economic policy for this election, which we seemed determined to disguise. Our commitment to borrow for capital investment at a time when the cost of borrowing is zero and the economy is still underperforming was a huge and important dividing line between us and the Conservatives that we seemed to want to obscure.

    • greenwich

      Agreed. Under Tony Blair, Labour sold its soul to get power. Now it finds itself without soul or power. The right question to ask is not “how can we get power?” but “how can we get a soul?”

      The Blair moment was unique. He found an economy in rude health, people feeling good (remember the days of “Cool Britannia”), tired of 18 years of Tories, and he looked the part. So he won, and won, and won. That moment will not come again and it was so depressing to see Blairites on TV yesterday saying how we must learn from Blair that you can’t win elections from the left (even though the SNP did in 2011 and this week).

      So please have a think about what the point of Labour is (other than to be intensely relaxed about the rich). The good news is that there is a 5-year window available.

      • ElRoberto

        What was so terrible about this week, is that in many ways, New Labour did not so much win, win and win, as the Tories lost, lost and lost: even after Iraq, and Labour squeezing above 35%. the Tories still lost.

        This week has been a real shock. how much down to Scotland and fear of the SNP in govt, and how much down to lost trust in the Labour brand? Don’t know, but those are the questions more than was Miliband wrong to think the Financial Crisis had changed Britain.

        Wes till live with the consequences of deregulation: No one can afford a home outside of those already with one, and a shrinking near elite.

      • Ringstone

        The point is, the SNP think someone else [the English] will pick up the tab for goodies all round. The English are in no doubt that if Labour try the same trick again they will be paying the bill. That’s why Cameron is in Number Ten and not Wallace.

    • ElRoberto

      New Labour won in its time. But slowly it has drained away the support of traditional Labour.

      New Labour assumed – wrongly -that the traditional Labour supporters would stay onside. “Where else can they go?” er, None of the Above, UKIP, SNP, even Green.

      And soft Tories were fair weather friends.

      To slip back to New Labour would be a simplistic and flawed move.

  • Sunny Jim

    “…evils of the Bedroom Tax, of the danger to the NHS or the need to build houses and change the energy market.”

    You see this is the problem.

    ‘Evil welfare reform’…people who work and know anyone on welfare knows how this system is/was ridiculously generous in places and needed changing. Ranting about it to people who saw their pay oacket being raided to pay for it was, and always will be, a vote loser.

    ‘Danger to the NHS’…Labour said it was adequately funded in 2010. They took over Wales and had a very disappointing result whilst the Tories increased investment over the last parliament. It smacked of grabbing the one historical strength and flogging a lie.

    ‘Need to build house’…this one I DO have sympathy with and support. However, it would require an incredible amount of building and would impact the value of houses already owned by voters. You work out the implication of that.

    ‘Reform the energy market’…Ed’s price freeze caused bills to be higher because energy companies didn’t lower them as they should have done as oil/gas prices plummeted. This was because they expected Labour to freeze them. Voters had a quick preview of what a lot of the manifesto would mean in practice.

    ‘Didn’t cause the crash’…No, Labour didn’t but what they did do was massively overspend on the back of SDLT receipts and more importantly revenue from financial services. Running deficits in those boom years was utterly reckless because it was never going to go on forever. The public aren’t stupid.

    ‘Immigration’…I don’t know where to start here. From rubbing noses in it, to accusations of racism to weasle words about stem the flow. The general public don’t share your views in the main especially your own lower skilled voters who have seen their wages depressed.

    Have a good long think but do it from the view of the voters rather than the echo chamber of fellow Labour activists who quite often come across as swivel-eyed loons with little grasp of real life.

    • ElRoberto

      Housebuilding. Of course building lots of houses: more than Labour promised would impact prices. but if we do not, why are we in politics? What’s the point of winning if we do not act? and allow many many millions to remain unhoused?

      The people unhoused include sons, daughters, brothers, sisters of those fortunates who have become brick millionaires.

      There are also many who would be glad for lower prices. Trading up is easier and more affordable (cheaper) if prices in general fall.

      Are we to lie? Not say so, but then build?

      Without a commitment to housing, I could not support the Labour party. Red line if you will.

      the other impact of housing in UK.
      There is a ticking pensions timebomb no-one talks about: You can more than double someone’s pension in 20-40 years’ time: You will have to either pay very high housing benefit or turf senior citizens onto the street in their hundreds of thousands.

      Wages will have to balloon just to pay for housing, especially in London: if that happens, what about retaining international companies in London, mightn’t they go elsewhere?
      If that does not happen, how about retaining youngish (30-40s) educated, skilled employees, mightn’t they go elsewhere if never able to bring up a family (the crisis developed under New Labour; it has become a potential tsunami against the economy and society under the Tories).

      • Sunny Jim

        I could be convinced by your arguments, seriously.

        However, building needs to be done where the jobs are. The coalition tried to move public sector jobs out of the capital and came up against howls of rage.

        So building would have to be concentrated in already well-developed areas at horrendous cost and disruption (even if land could be found).

        I agree that socially it is very desirable for young people to have a stake in their community by owning their own properties (renting enclaves are often awful – I know, i’ve lived in a couple).

        If you build hundreds of thoudands of houses away from jobs you will just create a social housing dumping ground and many generations of welfare claimants living a miserable existence.

        Which sort of leads me back to my first post – people aren’t stupid and the simplistic headline offerings before the election fell apart when looked at closely.

        People aren’t stupid.

        • CrunchieTime

          “People aren’t stupid”.

          Now THAT should be set in stone and put in the next Labour leader’s office. For too long they’ve thought that ordinary people who live and make their own way in this world, are gullible enough to believe their meaningless platitudes, ambiguous promises and worthless triangulation.

          People aren’t stupid.

          Labour’s next election campaign slogan, given free.

        • ElRoberto

          er, of course. You say people aren’t stupid, and then assume I am stupid.

          Why do you assume that I stupid?

          There is plenty of land in London. There are brownfield sites, there are empty properties – tens of thousands of them that can be brought up to standard, there are ven greenfield sities that should not be and are not even used as such, but left ile. There is plenty of scope for building up. There are properties bought as bank accounts for foreign billionaires.

          There is huge scope for reform. Now it won’t happen. The Tories are run by hedge funds. they don’t want any reform.

    • CrunchieTime

      Perhaps, and I’m not hopeful, but perhaps the Labour Party might now be ready to listen to what you’ve written above. Which many former members, such as myself, consider to be self evident truth.

      Or is the membership going to fall back into their comfort zone and dismiss views such as this as nothing more than the ranting of a Tory troll?

    • ElRoberto

      your comment: ‘Reform the energy market’…Ed’s price freeze caused bills to be higher
      because energy companies didn’t lower them as they should have done as
      oil/gas prices plummeted. This was because they expected Labour to
      freeze them. Voters had a quick preview of what a lot of the manifesto
      would mean in practice….

      That’s utter balls!

      All businessmen always put prices at the higherst they can get away with. The idea of the free market competition is that they cannot put prices up by much, or not lower them sufficiently because they can’t get away with it. Of course, they will lie about that and come up with any excuse. You don’t have to believe them.

      All businesses put price at highest level they think customers will pay. With real competition, that is restricted. With either monopoly or cartel that’s not restricted because they know you will have to pay as there’s nowhere else to go.

      The same crap was mouthed about rent controls. All landlords already set rents at the highest level they can. That would not change with three year caps. It would be exactly the same, except renters would have three years security instead of just one. And there would have been no restriction of supply, there would merely have been a move to fewer houses on the rental sector, and more on the purchase sector. Which would have been a very welcome thing and will not now happen.

      ~What Labour failed to do was frame some very good policies within a aspiration narrative. FFS, socialism improved social mobility, soc mobility has declined SINCE Thatcherism. you would never know this listening to either Tory OR Labour politicians. We don’t bloody sell ourselves corr4ectly.

      • Sunny Jim

        There are going to be many views about what went wrong but I’ve got to say to you that if you think it’s just a case of repackaging the same offering you’re going to get the same result.

  • Old Radical

    The Tories won the General Election for one blindingly obvious but seemingly unspeakable reason and that is UKIP. “Shock horror, UKIP attracts traditional working class voters and split the Labour vote and gifted power to the Tories” is the ghost at the Tory victory feast and the Labour wake. The polls were saying neck and neck but UKIP was sitting on an average 10%-12% a fraction of which was enough to swing the marginals and destroy majorities Farage was orchestrating “wise voting where UKIP can’t win” to get a Tory Government to secure the referendum. Labour refusing to offering a referendum was a very big mistake.

  • Caractacus

    “We were wrong. I was wrong. We fell headfirst into our comfort zone and we wallowed in it.

    We have paid electorally, but too few of us will feel that pain personally. Not enough of us are on the sharp end of society and so we imagine solutions – we don’t feel the deep need for them in our own lives. In the lives of our families. The Bedroom Tax will now be embedded. Social Housing decimated. The NHS changed beyond all recognition. Welfare trashed. This will be felt by the people we have failed.”

    And if you can’t see the contradiction in the above two paragraphs, then you might as well go home now.

  • olliebear1516

    Labour lost this election because the public are grown up – and Labour are not. The public understand the need for welfare reform – Labour do not. The public understand that without the nurturing of private wealth creation and business, the public services that Labour hold so dear will fail – Labour do not. The public understand that uncontrolled mass immigration should be questioned, and the labelling of ordinary people as ‘racists’ and ‘bigots’ if they disagree is profoundly insulting – Labour do not. The public desire an EU referendum – Labour do not. The public treats the silliness of social media, celebrity endorsements and crass echo-chamber Twitter campaigns with the dubiousness they deserve – Labour are guided by them. And worst of all, Labour indulged an unelectable leader instead of being driven by with their brains instead of their hearts.

    It’s going to get a lot worse – the boundary changes and the decrease in the number of MPs will make it even harder for Labour, and then Boris Johnson, who is popular even in Labour London – becomes PM just in time for the next election.

    It could be another 15 years before Labour gets another sniff.

    • MacGuffin

      A brilliant summing up of Labour’s idiocy.

  • Ringstone

    “Where are the areas where we compromise with the electorate?”

    For sheer chutzpah,for Fabian patrician disdain for the great unwashed – who have in case you hadn’t noticed just delivered you a severe kicking – that really takes some beating.

    The denial continues.

  • Red Sparrow

    I get fed up with the comment “metropolitan elite” that is banded around. I am from thus so called elite and don’t see why politics can’t be relevant to me… Why am I so bad because I want to pay more taxes and distribute my wealth to those with less money via taxation.

    Labour lost because it didn’t have a clear vision. Ed’s final speech was the now where my mum finally said, ‘I get what labour is about now. Why didn’t he say that at the beginning?’ The campaign felt like a thesis – only at the end, did we know the message

    • MacGuffin

      Instead of distributing wealth through taxation, why not create opportunities for the poor to make their own money? Why must the only solution be to creat endless dependency? I’ll keep my money, thank you very much. I worked hard to earn it.

    • am1974

      you are completely entitled to distribute your wealth – perhaps rather than wait for the tax system to catch up with your desire to distribute it, you perhaps just give what you think you should pay in taxes to charity or just write an additional check to HMRC who I’m sure would welcome you additional contribution, and whilst you are at it, perhaps you might suggest that to margaret hodge as well – who apparently received the money tax free but cant do anything about it – of course you both can – just write a check to HMRC

  • am1974

    here’s the lesson, the country, especially working people who are paying tax are not going to take advice from privately educated oxbridge bleeding heart liberals – there is nothing at all that separates Ed Miliband, David Miliband or the rest of what was the Labour front bench from the tories in either education or the fact that they actually view being a politician as a profession – the only difference is that the notting hill set sit around in 3 million pound homes professing to know how best to run a country when they’ve never run a corner shop – at least with the tories you get exactly what you expect for a privately educated oxbridge graduate with conservative beliefs – someone who more than likely has actually had a job outside of politics, worked and made some money (accepting that cameron is no less of a professional politician than miliband)

    the days of standing up for the “working class” are gone, labour are supported by unions populated with professionals with masters and doctorates (healthcare and nursing and journalism) and they somehow still think that they’ve fighting the lack of a welfare state in the 1940’s when industrial accidents, the lack of healthcare and the impoverished were truly in need of a voice

    who ever sat around and dreamt up the idea that the country would welcome back british rail with open arms had to be out of their mind – poor quality rolling stock, no investment, tardiness but this was meant to persuade voters?

    to implement rent controls, over tax to increase the size of the nanny state (i’m not talking about spending on benefits, just the expansion of the role of government in daily lives) interfering in markets (which is astounding for someone that professes to have an economics background)

    unless the labour party changes its attitude from believe that it knows best for the populace as opposed to listening to what the populace wants its days are numbered – though they’re actually probably numbered simply be redrawing the boundaries, reducing MP’s to 600 and further devolution to wales and scotland………..

    I have absolute confidence that in spite of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, that labour will still convince themselves that the message was correct but the electorate were to stupid to understand it and the final nail in the coffin will be a move to the left

    if “new labourites” had any sense at all, the party should split, you cant reconcile have two parts of the party where one believes, as an example, that rail should be re-nationalised and another that markets should be free to function with light touch regulation – its time to move on and realise that in 2015, the needs for what underpinned the basis of the labour party no longer exist on the scale they once did, that the number that they could represent in those situations are smaller and that to appeal to a wider audience they need move closer to the centre whilst still being advocates for those on the margins – however, I don’t think they’re bright enough to do it

    • Red Sparrow

      Ed milliband went to a state school. I went to a state school worked my way through uni and got a double first and then won a scholarship to do a doctorate. Does that mean I’m posh because I am educated and I can’t understand working class people?

      • am1974

        no, but if you’ve never had a job – unless you consider politics a profession (which it is not – though they all act as if it should be), worked in westminster, been parachuted in to a part of a country you’ve never lived in and are not invested in, it could well mean you don’t understand the local population

        the reality is that – as will hutton says today – if you can not appeal to people that believe in capitalism, the market, appropriate if not light touch regulation, that re-nationalisation is not desirable except to a small segment of the population you will never win again – the country is simply not going to go backwards, be they millionaires or dual income working class families, they are not going to be persuaded that a party with no faith in business (which ironically has funded their entire careers through taxation as civil servants do not in and of themselves produce anything) is going to win

  • Gill Ashton

    I disagree. I am personally affected by some of the issues you outline, and THAT is why I joined Labour last year. I agree that necessary dialogue was absent from our campaign. I don’t want a leader who ‘isn’t like me’. I want someone who speaks out against the evils I perceive. I was particularly pleased to hear Ed Miliband highlight Mental Health issues in his resignation speech. Just before the Election I attended the funeral of a friend with MH issues who had had her home repossessed. You do the Maths…

  • Red Sparrow

    People I know that voted Labour tentatively said they didn’t understand Ed. His message was good but he should have started telling people about it 2 years ago. Ironically His best and lea rest speech was his resignation speech!

    • MacGuffin

      Ed’s message was not good. What nonsense you speak.

  • Hadrian

    Why do we always presume to know what the country wants even when it is clear that the country doesn’t agree? We have to look very hard at reinventing our party for the future – it needs to be a broad tent and move away from this patronising rhetoric of “working people”. It needs to about a fair social contract for ALL – surely history shows us that is the only thing that will make us electable.

  • MacGuffin

    If there wasn’t already a party that spoke only for public sector workers, benefit recipients, and medieval cultists, that believed money can be printed endlessly and still retain value, and that scorned notions of personal responsibility and restraint, would there be a need to invent one? In short, is there a need for the Labour Party as it is currently?

    No, of course not. Sort yourselves out, and perhaps I will consider voting for you again. Right now, you people disgust me.

  • Simon Wellavize

    My rough knee jerk reaction is that instead of an anticipated 3/4 of LibDem votes going to their more natural bedfellows on the left of centre, Labour, that there has been more of a 50/50 split. This has enabled the Tories to hold seats that they may of lost and indeed gain seats in places where Libs may have voted tactically hoping that given the polls that if they kept Labour out then they would still have a role in a new coalition government. The collapse in the LibDem vote has indeed been extraordinary, I saw in one constituency that they got only 80 votes. That is the vote of a fringe left wing or comedy party!! It is clear that England is lurching to the right, becoming insular and attempting to secure what they have against all the fearmongering, and that Scotland wants more left wing, progressive society.
    I fear that the breakup of the United Kingdom is now inevitable and may occur a lot quicker than many think. Given the polls (however wrong they were) in the runup to yesterday, leading to a lot of talk of legitimacy in how you can govern without a true mandate, how can the Conservatives govern a country in which they have no mandate. Indeed in which no Unionist party as any mandate at all?
    Finally back to your question…I voted,my hopes were for a better Britain, a fairer Britain that put people first not business, that wanted to help the weakest in our society to achieve their potential. That understood that we all can fail sometimes and that we then need not a hand out but a leg up back in being productive members of society. My fears are realised unfortunately, a divided Britain with more years of cuts to essential services in the name of profit and a misguided economic fallacy. And as always my aspirations are for a Britain that can be proud of itself, stand tall and say we make mistakes but we try. We look after our own when they fall, but we also look out for those outside of our borders that need our help and protection. We may not stride across the world like the empire of old, but we are still Great Britain.


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