Tag Archives: labour

Two points about the Guardian’s analysis of Labour’s campaign

Patrick Wintour has written a long analysis of Labour’s General Election campaign. It outlines strategic misjudgements, disagreements and errors by Ed Miliband and makes a very interesting read. Before anyone says it for me, a similar account for the Liberal Democrats would also be enlightening. Most of us could write it ourselves and I suspect that there would be remarkable unanimity about the ineffectiveness of our national messaging, our positioning as a “none of the above” party and the very odd “stability, unity and decency” message of the last few days.

Two things particularly strike me about Wintour’s article. The first is that women are pretty much invisible. Lucy Powell, Labour’s campaign chair, is mentioned only because of a letter she wrote to the BBC complaining about coverage during the election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, only seems to come in to the picture when she’s waiting for some shred of good news in studios on election night. All the key players seem to have been men. This is exactly the same as it was during the Brown era when Harriet Harman was treated pretty much as an irrelevance. I’m not saying that they would have won the election had they listened to the women, because there is no indication that the women were getting it either. Of course, the ease with which Yvette Cooper seems to be distancing herself from everything Labour said during the election campaign is interesting. Did she put her views forward during it and have them rejected by the cabal at the centre of the campaign?

Similarly in our campaign, men seem to have dominated the decision making. Olly Grender was certainly there doing great practical ground war stuff, but it did seem sometimes as if Clegg, Alexander and Laws were just making stuff up on the bus as the campaign went along and the rest of the operation was playing catch-up.

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Labour minority government – or coalition with the Lib Dems – would not actually need the SNP’s support

Professor Colin Talbot of Manchester University has written an interesting blog which reinforces many of the points made here by Tony Greaves.

He mentions that much of the talk of “Confidence and supply” deals, Queens Speech votes and second 2015 elections ignores the reality of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which is kind to minority governments.

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Opinion: Labour isn’t Keynesian – that’s why Liberal Democrats had to be

 

When Labour bailed out the financial system, it misapplied Keynesian economics. Keynes writes that stimulus should be used to stimulate a depressed economy that isn’t at full employment: what Labour did was use the stimulus money to stabilise a system that was falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions.

The instant they did that, it committed the UK to paying back the money it had borrowed: it transferred the debt that would have been wiped out by private sector bankruptcy to the state.

While this reduced the loss of value in the economy (public sector debt has prevented private sector bankruptcy to accumulate a negative multiplier effect: the cost of propping up one domino has prevented the others from falling), it means that regardless of who is in charge we need to reduce the deficit to maintain the creditability of the state by which the rest of our economy is guarantored.

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Lynne Featherstone on Labour’s “lies and desperate smears”

A couple of weeks ago, we featured the Labour candidate in Leeds North West who had a bit of a problem with the, you know, facts. Greg Mulholland rightly called him out for it.

Now Lynne Featherstone’s Labour opponent has told a pretty outrageous untruth about her. They will now have to print and distribute a retraction.  From Lynne’s blog:

The letter to residents contained the false statement: “Lynne Featherstone…was even a minister in the Home Office when the disgraceful “Go Home” vans were sent out.”

At the time the vans went out (July 2013), Lynne Featherstone was in the Department for International Development, kick-starting the campaign to end FGM and fighting to protect the aid budget. Lynne Featherstone was a minister at DFID from September 2012 – November 2014.

Labour have been advised to immediately cease delivering the letters, and issue a retraction to all residents who’ve received the letter.

Lynne said:

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The interesting thing about the first of those Milistone promises

The first promise on Ed Miliband’s eight foot limestone slab is:

1. A strong economic foundation

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My challenge to Ed Miliband – your core message may be a fabrication

Ed,

Yesterday on Question Time, you said, as you have said many times during this campaign:

There are some people who tell you that the way we succeed as a country is as long as a few people at the top do well and large corporations, that’s what powers the economy…

Here’s a good question, which you’ll be glad I asked you: Who are these people who tell us this? Have we heard of any of them? Are they standing for election? Can you give us a direct quote or two?

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Opinion: Ed Miliband’s march to Financial Crisis II and Wars of Choice II

Canvassing over the weekend for Simon Hughes in Canada Water, (Labour-facing) and for Ed Davey in Surbiton (Tory facing), I was again struck by how much the remaining staunch Labour voters still see their party as on the left of the political spectrum.

Sure they are planning to  borrow much more than the Liberal Democrats, and make the UK vulnerable to another crisis.  However that seems a direct result of most of their big money contributions coming courtesy of dual-hatted public sector union reps.

On everything else they are looking increasingly authoritarian, and pro-war.  A kind of ‘Blairism without the fake financial prudence’.  Whilst the combination of top-down control-freakery and sponsored superficial PR-type MPs lost them Scotland, no lessons seemed to have been learned. The likely new Labour intake looks frighteningly lightweight and malleable.

At recent hustings (I’m a candidate in West Ham and doing some Newham-wide events) Labour incumbents robotically read through lists of extra spending promises, but dodge much else with bland statements of the blindingly obvious. They peddle the myth of the 2007 ‘global crisis’.

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Opinion: Labour’s unfinished business on ‘Religious hatred’

 

On the penultimate Saturday before the General Election, the Labour Party made a fairly startling policy announcement that was hardly noticed by the media: “Labour would outlaw Islamophobia”, said Ed Miliband in an interview. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a scary announcement – I mean, Islamophobia is a bad thing, right?

Unfortunately, it’s much more complex than that.

Posted in Op-eds | 44 Comments

Opinion: Hung parliaments – a suggestion from Denmark    

 

Why is Nick Clegg ruling out options in a hung parliament?

Firstly, he has said that he would refuse to work with Labour in a government that relied on ‘life support’ from the Scottish National Party; this is reported in the Financial Times as a  blow to the chances of a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition.  I know very well that the SNP are our most dangerous opponents in Scotland – as they are also Labour’s – but the fact remains that these three parties’ policies have more in common than any of them do with the Conservatives.

photo by: Francisco Diez
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Labour is confused on immigration

Labourleaflet039I went to see David Hare’s play ‘The Absence of War’ last night. I hadn’t seen it before and it is absolutely gripping at this stage in the election campaign. So if you can make it to the Rose Theatre in Kingston between now and 25th April, you are in for a treat.

The plot follows the (fictional) Labour leader and his core staff during the election campaign in 1992, and examines whether it is possible for politicians to maintain their integrity and project their real personalities, when all around are urging party discipline.

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Opinion: The silence of the Miliband

Yesterday I got an email from Ed Miliband, which included part of his online Q &A session:

I am stuck as to whether to vote Labour or Lib Dem. I am not interested in past records either, I am looking to the future. Many people fall in an “in-between zone”, not poor enough to receive help with living costs, but not rich enough to be able to stay on top of general living costs. How would Labour deal with this? — Zoe, Norfolk

Ed: Hi Zoe, you’re absolutely right that the problem in our economy right now is that recovery just isn’t reaching working people — just a few at the top. Many working people aren’t getting paid enough to be able to stay on top of the bills. Tackling this cost of living crisis will be the key mission of the next Labour government. Unlike the Tories, Labour understand that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed, and that’s why only a Labour government can tackle the cost of living crisis. One of the ways we will do this is by freezing your energy bills until 2017 and giving the regulator the power to cut bills this winter so that people can afford to heat their homes. To make sure work pays, we will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8, and provide 25 hours free childcare per week for working parents with three or four year olds. We’ll also introduce a new, lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by scrapping the unfair marriage tax allowance, which will benefit 24 million people on middle and lower incomes…”

Well the minimum wage should go up to £8.25 in the long run anyway, and the 10p tax rate is completely wrong, we should be looking at national insurance now instead.

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Some thoughts on zero hours contracts – Liberal Democrat record in government is better than Labour’s

Zero hours contracts have taken up a lot of bandwidth and airwaves today.

There is a narrative that goes something like: “There might not be mass unemployment but the jobs created under this government are all zero hours contracts”. That is nonsense. The proportion of the workforce on zero hours contracts is actually very small. It’s only about 2% of all jobs.

If exploitation is going on, even if it’s only a handful of people being exploited, it needs to be stopped. There’s no doubt about that. And Liberal Democrats in Government have stopped the scandal of exclusivity, the practice of not guaranteeing your employee any hours or any pay, but not letting them work for anyone else either. We’re way ahead of Labour.

Jo Swinson said at her campaign launch on Monday that she was thinking about something like ensuring that people would automatically have  rights if they were working consistent hours over a certain period, so she and Labour are not a million miles apart. However, I think that we need to be sure that thee won’t be any unintended consequences from such a policy. Think about it. If you were an unscrupulous employer, would you be inclined to make sure that your employees didn’t build up that consistent work pattern? Labour’s policy might not be the simple solution that they are trying to make out.

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Something nasty – why the Tories aren’t making headway

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed”- Ada Doom, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
There is some bafflement in the Tory ranks as to why their party isn’t shooting ahead of Labour in the polls. David Cameron is very popular. People think Ed Miliband is a “muppet”. So why aren’t the Conservatives surging ahead?

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Diane Abbott condemns “shameful” Labour mug and the policy that goes with it

The controversy over Labour’s “Controls on immigration” mugwhich I wrote about last night, continues. 108 units have been sold since I first looked this morning, netting the party over £500.The goodwill it will have lost Labour is priceless, though.  Seriously, how would you feel if you had gone through hell trying to get into this country, had finally got your visa and been reunited with your spouse whom you hadn’t seen for ages only to be assaulted with headlines demonising immigrants on a  daily basis. How would you feel if you saw someone drinking out of a mug like that?Not very welcome, I can imagine. Maybe a little fearful about what that person thought of you.

Senior MP Diane Abbott is far from impressed. Earlier she tweeted:

Over on LabourList, Maya Goodfellow shares Abbott’s sentiments:

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Wow, Labour really are pandering to UKIP, aren’t they?

Didn’t they once used to be the party that talked about international solidarity amongst workers? Didn’t they once used to at least say they stood for decent, liberal, progressive values?

Those days are gone. Look what you can buy in their shop for £5. 

Labour immigration mug

It’s one of their key pledges in this election. The way to deal with UKIP’s rise is to challenge them with evidence, not pander to them.

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What’s the scariest outcome of the General Election?

While the national polls aren’t looking great for the Liberal Democrats, to say the least, in key seats there’s more of an air of, if not confidence, at least hope. Campaign teams are busily getting on with what needs to be done for them to win their seats, buoyed by increasing membership and a never-ending list of jobs to do. Ben Lazarus, who write the Telegraph’s Morning Briefing tried to fathom the other day what he called the “Lib Dems’ curious optimism”:

For a party that, since 2010 has now lost three quarters of their support, the Liberal Democrats seem remarkably calm. There are reasons for this. They know that a hung parliament could give them real power again after May . And, according to YouGov’s Peter Kellner,  despite the abysmal polling, there are two factors that may help them save more of their seats than those headline figures suggest. First, the party usually gains support nationally during election campaigns. The party benefits from TV exposure – although they no longer have the advantage of being a protest party unaffected by the rigours of government, it is likely their exposure by the main broadcasters will still be an aid. Second, Liberal Democrat MPs often have a strong personal following. Where Lib Dems are seeking re-election, their chances are often better than the national polls suggest; the party is deliberately playing to this strength, fighting lots of local campaigns instead of a national one.

With all the talk about Ukip and the Greens, the Lib Dems are sometimes forgotten.  But don’t rule them out.  They may prove more resilient than many expect, and thus play a pivotal role in the messy events that follow the election.

And it’s about what goes on following the election that I want to think about. I wrote last week that we need to keep our options open and not throw any babies out before the bath has even been run. While I understand the logic that letting the SNP be in charge of the UK would be a bit like letting Farage take charge in Europe, we don’t know what orders the people are going to give us, what hand we are going to be dealt. And, frankly, we will have to find the best future for liberal democrat ideas within that. It might be in government, it might not be.

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So what’s Miranda Grell, formerly convicted of homophobic smears on her Liberal Democrat opponent, up to these days?

Way back in 2006, Miranda Grell was elected as a Labour Councillor in Waltham Forest, East London. The following year, she was convicted of making false statements about another candidate, the Liberal Democrat Barry Smith. From the BBC:

Waltham Forest Magistrates’ Court heard in police interviews Grell admitted she had discussed Mr Smith’s sexuality with one local resident.

She said she told the man Mr Smith claimed to be married despite having a 19-year-old Thai boyfriend.

Grell put the mistake down to political immaturity and inexperience at campaigning.

But another resident, Caroline Dargan, told the court Grell had a similar conversation with her.

Outside court Ms Dargan told BBC London: “(Grell) just started to talk about the Lib Dem candidate. She made some suggestions about him being gay, and I sort of knew that.

“But then I felt the conversation deteriorated into her saying that he was actually interested in young oriental boys.”

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Back to the days of toxic factionalism in the Labour Party – will they ever learn?

I’ve always felt that the Labour Party would be much more effective if they could put their energies into fighting the problems the country faces rather than fighting each other. We all remember the schism between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair from Day 1 of their administration which overshadowed everything they did. Do you remember the time when they decided to show everyone what good friends they were in the run up to, I think, the 2005 election, sitting  together uncomfortably on the GMTV sofa.

Today the Sunday Times (£) shows us that toxic factionalism is still alive and well in the Party. Brown and Blair couldn’t even get on when things were going well for them. The two Eds, Miliband and Balls are apparently at daggers drawn and Balls may face demotion after recent blunders:

A shadow cabinet member said if Miliband becomes prime minister he should move the shadow chancellor and accused Balls of behaving with “contempt” towards colleagues and “undermining the leader’s agenda”.

Frontbenchers attacked Balls last night for committing Labour’s two worst gaffes of the election campaign so far.

They said his reputation as a “safe pair of hands” had been shattered when he failed to name a single Labour business backer and told voters they should get a receipt for work done cash in hand, both of which attracted ridicule.

Senior figures also expressed frustration and incredulity that Balls has dug his heels in over funding a cut in English tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year — three years after Miliband first backed the policy and with the announcement due at the end of this week.

Insiders say a meeting between Miliband and Balls last Wednesday, which many hoped would settle the policy, had “ended badly”.

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Austin Mitchell gives a masterclass in taking your constituents for granted…

That sound you can hear is the wailing of Labour campaign organisers in Grimsby as they work out how to deal with outgoing Labour MP Austin Mitchell’s latest bout of Foot in Mouth disease.

From the i:

From the shuttered-up homes by the once bustling fish market to derelict harbour-side factories, politicians of all stripes admit privately that the east coast town alternates between being forgotten and taken for granted in Westminster.

It’s a narrative that Ukip is pushing hard and one that the Lincolnshire town’s veteran MP, Mitchell, unwittingly reinforced by telling the Independent on Sunday that Labour would win the seat “even” if they selected a “raving alcoholic sex paedophile”.

We knew that Labour have a real sense of entitlement to power that is most unattractive. Breaking their fiefdoms in Scotland by introducing STV for local government is one of the best things the Liberal Democrats have ever done in government. Labour are finding that years, decades of neglect and taking voters for granted is coming back to bite them on the bum. The thing is, I don’t see much sign of their attitude really changing that much.

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Opinion: What might happen after May 7th

This article appeared earlier as a comment on our “Electoral fruit machine” post and is reproduced here with permission from the author.

(After May 7th) I believe the Lib Dems will have more than 20 seats and less than 40, with many polls and commentators going for somewhere around the 30 mark, at the moment. From all the qualitative data I’ve seen so far that seems a fair estimate in political science. Anything less than 20 would be a shock, as Lord Ashcroft’s polling indicates that this is not going to happen.

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What will the electoral fruit machine* come up with on May 7th?

This post is reserved for new and infrequent commenters. “Infrequent” is defined as having posted less than five comments in the last month.

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Nick Harvey: ‘If you think we are going to spend another five years being shafted (this time) by Labour, you’ve got another think coming’

The Liberal Democrat coalition negotiation team leave Cowley Street HQ for the fourth day of discussions with the Conservatives May 10th 2010.

Earlier this week we highlighted Nick Harvey MP’s report “Beyond the Rose Garden”. In it, he recommends a range of changes in arrangements for any future coalition governments.

In the wake of his report’s publication, Nick has now given an extensive interview with Huffington Post

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Why is Labour planning changes to tuition fees that benefit higher earning graduates before lower earners?

Writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Vince Cable takes Labour to task on their developing plan to reduce the tuition fees cap to £6,000. He culminates with this question:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 191 Comments

Opinion: Four-step guide to how not to be the nasty party (Labour edition)

Labour has put out a video in which it gives the Conservatives some handy tips as to how to not be the ‘nasty party’. The tongue-in-cheek clip doesn’t completely fail to amuse and is pretty accurate in what it says. Few here would doubt the Tories are still the nasty party. The Liberal Democrat leadership  is quite right when it says ‘compassionate Conservatism’ has been  exposed for the fraud it is. However, there is something unsettling when Labour is the one using the ‘nasty party’ stick to beat their Tory opponents with when Labour itself has clearly shown itself to have a propensity towards nastiness. To illustrate the very brazen hypocrisy, I’ve prepared a handy four-step guide that Labour may want to take heed off.

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Cameron and the Tories show us what Government by Daily Mail would look like

It seems very strange to have watched three leaders’ speeches before our own Conference has started. We normally go first in the Conference season but thanks to Mr Alex Salmond and his choice of referendum date, we are bringing this conference season to an end. For once, Nick Clegg gets the chance to have the last word.

Farage, with his dodgy wireless microphone, was as full of himself as ever, even more so when he had a defecting Tory MP to brandish. This was in sharp contrast to Ed Miliband’s clumsy performance. And then we had Cameron. Standing in front of a dark backdrop, looking at his most charming, delivering a speech that had passion and promise. It didn’t just have a melody. It had the whole darned symphony. But he and his ministers have this week painted a picture of a Britain that I really don’t fancy living in, a country where government by Daily Mail values is the norm.

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That Ed Miliband speech in full… (2)

The following arrived in a brown envelope at Lib Dem Voice Towers, this morning. It is probably an early draft.

Ed speechThankyou so much.

Friends, this country will never turn our back on the world and on the principles of internationalism. Those values are reflected not just in this country but in this party, and in the great team of Manchester United.

Posted in Humour | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Opinion: What Andy Burnham didn’t tell you about NHS privatisation

nhs sign lrgAndy Burnham’s recent set-piece speech on the NHS, the latest instalment of Labour’s “summer offensive”, opened with a neat bit of scene-setting. By briefly championing a group of Darlington mothers who are presently marching 300 miles in protest at the use of private providers in the NHS, he conjured a mood of protest while subtly co-opting their campaign. Thereafter he sought only to reduce the 2015 general election to a “binary choice” between “a part-privatised, two-tier health market under David Cameron” and “a public, integrated national health and care service under Labour.”

In terms of how he defined that choice, though, Burnham could hardly have done worse than to frame his argument with an example from Cambridgeshire, singling out for particular criticism its attempt to integrate care services for older people.

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Opinion: Miliband, Piketty and the Liberal response

milibandThree weeks ago, Miliband crossed the Rubicon and entered the heartland of Tory ideology. His support for European-style longer and more secure tenancies — and by extension capping rent increases — runs roughshod over a hitherto post-Thatcherite consensus.

Grant Shapps led the Tory riposte with a quick and ludicrous barb: Labour were proposing “Venezuelan-style rent controls”. Most people won’t know the details of Venezuela’s housing policy, but will be sure it’s unlikely to be any worse than our own.

Times have changed. We can see this clearly in that most …

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Opinion: Labour’s cheap attacks on Clegg’s integrity reflect badly on them

Labour broadcast Shrinking manThe word appalling doesn’t even begin to cover Labour’s most recent campaign video. It’s a spiteful attack ad on the character of Nick Clegg, and in case you haven’t seen it, you can find it here. Feel free to grab something to vomit into beforehand.

I’m a 16 year old student, and I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2013 for three reasons. I believe passionately that democracy in Britain is failing, and the Liberal Democrats are the only party that seek that cause with integrity. I couldn’t deal …

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Opinion: The “Bedroom Tax”: a great socialist policy?

Bedroom tax demo , all the photos taken with a iphone 5One thing escapes most political commentators when critiquing the merits of the Bedroom Tax. It is, of course, a great socialist policy.

Of course most commentators accept New Labour introduced the Bedroom Tax through the Local Housing Allowance policy from 2003 to 2008. The mistake commentators make is that they believe LHA to be an ideologically compassionate conservative policy, instead of democratic socialist one.

The argument has two parts. The first is relatively straight forward. For a socialist common ownership (of which …

photo by: paul bevan
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