Labour’s Mili-madness is over. Now what?

Labour’s moment of Mili-madness is over: Ed will lead his party into the next election. Alan Johnson’s re-re-re-confirmation that he has no appetite for the job has thwarted any chances that he might be drafted into the post as caretaker leader to see his party through the remainder of the season.

It was a plan borne of desperation. Alan Johnson is admirable in many ways — he’s had a life before politics, he speaks human — but he has ruled himself out too often, too categorically, to be a credible potential Prime Minister. His is not the modest, aw-shucks-if-I-must reluctance of an ambitious politician who knows better than to look too ambitious: it is genuine. That many in Labour have been so keen to promote a man unwilling to be promoted says much about the incumbent.

Ed Miliband’s personal ratings are dire (as bad as Nick Clegg’s and therefore much more of a drag on his party than the Lib Dem leader is on his). Labour’s ratings are diving. In part, I feel sorry for him. It would have been hard for any leader to help their party dust itself down after the May 2010 result – the second worst in its modern electoral history – and to re-bound straight into office.

Yet he has not made it easy for himself either. His economic policy has slalomed between slamming the Coalition’s austerity drive and then occasionally backing it (eg, public sector pay freeze) while famously forgetting to mention the deficit at all in his September conference speech.

The supposed 35% strategy — bolting 6% of Lib Dem defectors to Labour’s core vote of 29% — was always risky, and made decisions such as the juvenile attack-ads on Nick Clegg even harder to understand.

And then there’s been the complacent underestimating of threats from the SNP (whose potency threaten a Labour majority, as I pointed out here last July) and Ukip (who may well establish themselves as the anti-Labour alternative primed for major gains in 2020).

Should Labour have ditched Ed Miliband? One answer is this: they should have done what their opponents least wanted them to do.

There is no doubt that the Conservatives are among the most enthusiastic of #webackEd supporters because they know David Cameron beats him all ends up on the leadership stakes. They will ruthlessly exploit his perceived weaknesses in the next six months, backed up their friends in the right-wing press. Cameron will likely try and avoid a televised leaders’ debate to side-step the risk that Miliband ends up surpassing low expectations.

BY that criterion, then, Labour should #backEd over a cliff. However, it would be a risk. First, because it’s far from clear any of his probable replacements would actually prove much better than him. And secondly, because Ed is the symptom, not the cause, of Labour’s problem. The central question was set out by the Labour blogger Hopi Sen in 2011:

To win again, we must confront the issue that Brown sought to elide, successfully as Chancellor, disastrously ineffectively as Prime Minister. What is the role of the progressive state when you are at the rough upper bound of state spending as a proportion of GDP that a market economy seems to find politically and economically acceptable? What is the progressive case in a fiscally conservative time?

Though Ed Miliband has tried to grapple with the problem, via wonky solutions such as pre-distribution, he has failed to offer a clear, compelling solution about how, at a time of austerity, Labour will deliver (apologies) a stronger economy and a fairer society. But have Alan Johnson or Yvette Cooper or Chuka Umunna got a better answer? Unless they have, it’s far from clear that switching the guy at the top will make a jot of difference, even if they can eat a bacon sandwich attractively.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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47 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Nov '14 - 9:18pm

    A soothing article Stephen. There is still all to play for, but at the moment the boats for the three traditional parties are sinking and something needs to change quick.

    I’m not going to suggest what it could be, but at the moment Clegg and the Lib Dems are going to go down with the establishment ship.

  • paul barker 11th Nov '14 - 9:41pm

    The madness is over for now but I wouldnt bet against it returning. It looks like Labours Vote share is still falling, if more slowly & there could be another panic when the lead over The Tories dissapears & again when the share falls below 30%.
    Any attempt to depose a Labour Leader is mad because their Constitution makes it almost impossible but what else are they to do ? If Labour admit that Ed isnt the problem then who do they blame ? My opinion is that a Party designed to deal with the problems of the 1890s cant be retro-fitted to deal with those of the 2010s but that idea wont get many takers among Labour ranks.
    Expect more bungled Coup attempts & more blaming of each Faction by another, we know all about both.

  • The nonsense about Miliband being replaced as Labour leader was so obviously a media invention. Why did anyone with even half a political brain ever think it was anything other?

    We are in the November before a General Election and the media, 90% of which is more Tory than the Tories, tries to smear, discredit, de-stabilise the party most likely to defeat The Conservaives. Hardly shocking is it?

    Some of these right wing media myths have even been repeated here in LDV including ridiculous stuff about “hard left” trade unionists controlling the Labour Party.

    If you swallow the lies and myths that pass for political coverage in The Mail, The Express, The Telegraph or anything connected to Murdoch, you will get a distorted view of Miliband and The Labour Party.

    The areas of common ground between Miliband’s Labour Party and Liberal Democrats is now very marked.

    There are Liberal Democrats who are neither ministers nor awaiting a peerage and who have not swallowed the Orange Gang mentality of waiting for the Soft Tory saviours who are always just around the corner but never actually arrive.

    We can see that our party has far more in common with Mliband and Labour than anything that Cameron will be able to offer. On Europe if nothing else Miliband has much to offer Liberal Democrats after May.

    Cameron is in a much weaker position in his party than Miiband is in his. The total shambles in Parliament yesterday showed just how hopeless Cameron is in the grip of fear of is own swivel-eyed fruitcakes. His panic in the face of UKIP has been a running farce in 2014. Cameron is throwing away UK credibility abroad and making policy hand-braken turns at home in a desperate attempt to do down Farage.

    Of course the right wing Eurosceptic media moguls do not make too much of Cameron’s incompetence or dubious record. They teach those Bullingdon Boys to look smart as they eat a bacon sandwich, or at least they teach them to wreck the place which sells the bacon sandwich because they are rich enough to sort it all out the day afterwards.

  • Charles Rothwell 12th Nov '14 - 7:25am

    All three major parties have major problems with leadership, credibility and retaining support. It is high time the “breaking of the mould” which Liberals have spoken of for generations finally came about and the British electorate was presented with parties which truly reflected clear visions for the future of this country; an isolationist, inward-looking, nostalgia-seeking, dream-following “Very well then, alone!” stance on the one side and a progressive, internationalist, entrepreneurial, non-socialist alternative which would unite followers and voters from the likes of Ken Clarke through to those Greens not entirely living in the clouds. The days of Philip Gould and slicing your policies ever more finely so as to strike gold with the miniscule number of voters in the right marginal constituencies to assure you “victory” should at last go the way of filofaxes, shoulder padded jackets and mobile phones the size of a brick!

  • Charles Rothwell 12th Nov ’14 – 7:25am

    Very well put, Charles!

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 9:54am

    Simon Shaw
    Putting “surely” in front of an outrageous misrepresentation of fact doesn’t change its essential nature.

    Unless by “hard left trade unionists ensured the election of Ed Miliband” you mean “Labour-supporting trade union members voted for Ed Miliband by a sufficient majority, combined with the very large number of Labour MPs and ordinary party members who voted for him, to give him victory in the electoral college”.

    Really, what basis have you for claiming that all those trade unionists who voted for EM are “hard left”? And for implying that they had the power to elect the leader of their choice irrespective of the views of the other parts of the Labour Party? I’m no fan of their electoral college, but your misrepresentation of it is quite egregious. Unless, as I say, I’ve misunderstood and you’re simply using words in an unfamiliar way.

  • Malcom Todd: You are not reading the thread. Simon Shaw expressed it as “hard left trade unionists”. The quotation marks refer back to previous contributions, implying “hard left” as in what others have taken to be described as “hard left”. Just guessing, but I would imagine Simon Shaw’s own description of the Trade Union leaders might be different: ‘misguided left’ or ‘self-harming left’ possibly.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 10:28am

    Martin
    I am so too reading the thread! Simon Shaw is quoting John Tilley, who put quotes around “hard left” only to show that it wasn’t his characterisation but someone else’s. However, Simon puts quotes round the whole phrase which shows only that he’s referencing the earlier comment without in any way dissociating himself from the description. The whole tenor of his comment is such that it makes no sense if he is not understood to be using “hard left trade unionists” in a straightforward, non-ironic fashion. JT mocks the idea of ‘”hard left” trade unionists controlling the Labour Party’; Simon alleges that they did in fact “ensure” the election of Ed Mili, with the clear implication that JT is wrong and that “hard left trade unionists” do control the Labour Party, at least in some sense.

  • Helen Tedcastle 12th Nov '14 - 10:45am

    I agree totally with John Tilley. Cameron is making this country a laughing stock and he is being propped up by a Tory-loving press/ BBC.

    The Miliband coup story is a ridiculous side-show . If some Blairites like Tristram Hunt are briefing against him, the best thing Ed could do is to move Hunt to a less high profile job or better still, sack him from shadow education secretary; and replace him with a left of centre alternative like Jon Cruddas.

  • Simon,
    Is labour calling for the dictatorship of the proletariat or something. Terms like “hard Left” and “hard right” are bandied about to the point where they are virtually meaningless. John Tilley was just distancing himself from such shenanigans.
    Charlie hit the nail on the head.

  • Glenn Andrews 12th Nov '14 - 11:41am

    Simon Shaw; I don’t know about you but my preferred outcome for 2015 would be a Liberal Democrat majority…. not sure why you would want Purple Ed’s One Nation Conservatives ending up as the government unless you want to see the introduction of the snooper’s charter, the return of control orders, the compulsion to carry ID cards, greater curbs on free speech, more prohibition, under 25’s losing housing benefit….. unless of course you’re referring to long term tactical considerations; in which case surely the best outcome for us would be a Conservative/Labour coalition (as the only viable two party option, with us under a new leader leading the opposition.

  • Labour know they probably chose the wrong brother. I can’t help feeling that that mistake has been a huge bonus for the Tories, the Lib Dems and, north of the border, the SNP. Imagine what a competent leader with good communication skills could have done in his position. I lose count of how any times he misses wide open goals both at PMQ’s and when communicating with the wider electorate.

    Stephen states that “Conservatives are among the most enthusiastic of #webackEd supporters” let’s be honest I imagine they are only slightly more enthusiastic than the SNP and Lib Dems.

    As someone who considers themselves left of centre (certainly not “hard left” more Charles Kennedy then Tony Benn)I simply cannot see myself backing Milliband as a potential Prime Minister. If Labour are to win, it is people like me they need to win over. Those further left (at least south of the border) will probably “baaa” their way into the ballot box and put their cross next to a Labour rose irrespective of leader. After all they backed Blair.

  • Helen Tedcastle 12th Nov '14 - 12:33pm

    Simon Shaw

    ‘ The more that Ed Miliband kicks out the moderates and moves his party to the left, then the better for the Lib Dems.’

    Tristram Hunt is not a moderate unless you consider Michael Gove to be a moderate – maybe you do. Hunt has announced he will not be reversing any of Gove’s policies. His only timid suggestion is that teachers be qualified to teach children – the fact that this mild move is becoming the ‘battleground,’ shows how far the ground has shifted to the right in this policy area – in all parties.

    The Labour front -bench team are so ‘moderate’ it’s hard to know what they believe in – if anything at all. Maybe the one exception is Andy Burnham who seems to me to be a social democrat. Jon Cruddas is someone whose ideas strike me as having more in common with radical liberalism than the hard left. No wonder the Blairites don’t like him.

    I don’t see any hard left takeover happening any time soon. If Labour moves even timidly and marginally leftward, the Lib Dems lose out – we don’t gain.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 1:56pm

    Simon Shaw

    As I pointed out to martin above, I did read what you wrote, I understood exactly what you meant and I considered it tendentious for exactly the reasons given. Your last response only confirms that I was right. And if I had meant a majority of members and MPs or wanted people to think that I meant that I would have said it. Your own initial comment gave the impression that it was “hard left” trade unionists who were responsible for his election (what else could “ensured” mean? It certainly doesn’t mean “contributed to”!), as if he had no significant support amongst the other groups in the electoral college (or indeed non-“hard left” trade unionists), and your own figures demonstrate that that is quite wrong.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Nov '14 - 2:49pm

    As I have demonstrated many times, Labour thought they could win the next general election by making “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on the Liberal Democrats, and so get a substantial chunk of former LibDem votes, but when pushed as to what THEY would do have no answer. On tuition fees, for example, oh yes, former LibDem votes flooding to Labour on that issue, but ask Labour how THEY would pay for universities and it’s “Oh, er, um, er … nah nah nah nah nah, nasty dirty rotten Liberal Democrats, you’ll never be forgiven for what you did over tuition fees”. Well, ok, LibDems destroyed at next general election over that, but are Labour going to repay the money already paid in tuition fees? Do they have plans to raise more taxes so tuition fees can be returned to where they were when Labour left office? No. They once made some sort of hand-wavy comment about bringing tuition fees down to £6000, but withdrew it when analysis suggested what they meant by that was reducing the amount of money that universities get, and so massive cuts in university places and massive job cuts for university workers.

    Labour’s failure to build a strong alternative case and admit that, yes, it is going to mean things people would find uncomfortable such as big tax increases to reverse the cuts, is now costing them. Having not spelt out what is needed in reality, the people of the UK are easily fooled by the easy-peasy solutions of UKIP and the SNP. UKIP’s work only if you suppose pulling out of the EU won’t wreck the economy, and are innumerate so you can’t work out that the amounts currently paid to the EU won’t pay for everything else. SNP’s ditto on wrecking the economy, and very much hand-wavy but if it actually worked, in effect the SNP’s message is a selfish one which refuses to co-operate on building a more equal society across the UK.

    “Nah nah nah nah nah” may win Labour a few second places where they were third in southern England, but it will also strengthen the Tories, probably net gains in the south due to LibDem losses. Otherwise it just feeds into the “all politics is bad” mentality, which Labour are not benefiting from. It’s nothing to do with Miliband, since I don’t see anything more constructive coming from anyone else in Labour. The only particular thing with Miliband is that his face looks a bit funny, which the right-wing press exploits by printing as many photos as they can which emphasise that. But I hope we as LibDems would regard that sort of ting as reprehensible.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    Whilst I agree with much of your post I take issue where you say:

    “but are Labour going to repay the money already paid in tuition fees? Do they have plans to raise more taxes so tuition fees can be returned to where they were when Labour left office? No. ”

    I believe that you are asking more of Labour than the Lib Dems were offering previously regarding tuition fees. After all the Lib Dems voted against the introduction of fees yet never offered to repay them, merely scrap them. That is never how it works and to expect Labour to do so in order to object to a measure is a bit silly.

    I wholeheartedly agree they haven’t produced a viable alternative and should at this point of the parliament have done so.

  • paul barker 12th Nov '14 - 4:00pm

    The comments about most of the major Affiliated Unions being run by the Hard Left/Communists were mine but I have never claimed they control The Labour Party. They do give a big chunk of the money however. The whole point of the Milliband Project was Unity above all, a helping of Fudge for everyone.
    That Unity was never going to last once Labours Poll Leads started to dissapear, as long as the Labour vote continues to drift down there will be more splits & Plots.
    So far The Hard Left/Unions have been conspicuously silent, that wont last.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 4:42pm

    Simon Shaw

    No, it is not true. What you said was, “you cannot deny that it was the ‘hard left trade unionists’ who ensured the election of the excellent Ed Miliband as Labour Party Leader”. This is not true, or at least goes well beyond what the evidence can be said to show, because:

    * Ed Miliband received the votes of (in the final round) 122 MPs and 56,000 Labour Party members as well as 119,000 affiliated trade unionists, without which he would not have been elected – so the 122 MPs who voted for him were in fact just as necessary to him as the trade unionists (this is undeniable, unless you believe, for example, that although nearly 21000 people voted for Nick Clegg to be Leader of the Lib Dems, there is a group of 511 – his majority over Huhne – who “ensured” his election, and the other 20500 don’t count);

    *You have no grounds for characterising even all the trade unionists who voted for EM as “hard left” (and it’s no good saying John Tilley introduced the term — you didn’t use it in the same way he did and you didn’t have to use it at all).

    As for me not challenging John Tilley’s remarks — I haven’t time to challenge every bizarre or questionable claim that’s made on this site, and though my heart’s on his side John Tilley makes quite a few. So what? You’re not right just because someone else is wrong; defend your own remarks properly if you can, don’t try to get away with misleading nonsense by shouting “squirrel!” and pointing in John Tilley’s direction.

  • Paul Barker: I am not sure why you should refer to the Trades Union leaders as ‘hard left’, when it seems to me that their main concern is to defend and protect the interests of their members. This is no different to the General Medical Council, who are rarely if ever characterised as ‘hard left’; the main difference being that, on the whole, the GMC is rather more successful than the Trades Unions you refer to. Nevertheless, although ASLEF do pretty well for the London Underground train drivers, I cannot see why that is particularly left wing , whether hard or not.

  • Simon Shaw: rather than rise to the bait from Malcom Todd, I would rather you explain why a Labour (narrow, I presume) overall victory would be better that a Conservative victory.

    I can see that another coalition following on directly would be damaging for the Party, whether with Labour or again with Conservatives. Are you thinking of what is better for the Party or for the Country? I can see that a Tory win with the prospect of a very damaging EU referendum could be a catastrophe for the country. I can see that a Tory government could push through redrawn constituencies that are disproportionately damaging to Lib Dems. A labour government, particularly one headed by Ed Miliband would rapidly be likely to become very unpopular. Unfortunately when there is a swing from Labour to Tory, there is little or no advantage to Lib Dems. In fact last election we lost seats.

  • Matthew: you make some strong points about Labour under Miliband, particularly the (unintended?) consequences of feeding the “all politics is bad” mentality. Rafael Behr has written well about this in The Guardian; under Miliband, Labour has concentrated on points scoring rather than securing their own position. Whilst this has been notably effective in damaging Lib Dems (encouraging the ‘nah, nah nah’ reflexes that you refer to), in the wider picture, it has done little for Labour, but helped UKIP It seems to me that unintentionally, both Labour and Conservatives have given UKIP a helping hand.

    I really cannot see anything but a particularly unpretty outcome next May.

  • David Allen 12th Nov '14 - 5:29pm

    Simon Shaw,

    “But I didn’t say that … you think I did. … What I said is … What that means is … my supposition is … you will recognise that is a very different thing to saying that … which is what you thought I said.”

    Yawn!

  • I absolutely agree with Charles Rothwell when he says, “It is high time the “breaking of the mould” which Liberals have spoken of for generations finally came about …”

    But do liberals still aim to do this? If so, open goals abound. For instance today’s news about several of the big banks fixing foreign exchange markets – “forex failings” as the BBC coyly puts it – for which they have been fined £2.6 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) which Osborne welcomes as “tough action”. Really? It’s only about 0.1% of ONE day’s forex turnover.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30016007

    People are rightly incensed. Look at the comments on the above story and click through to the highest rated ones.

    Keynes – that great liberal economist – wrote, “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” I would add this is doubly so when the casino is worse regulated than any in Las Vegas.

    People get this; it’s not difficult plus it’s a golden opportunity to wrong foot the Conservatives. If Clegg made the point forcefully they would have to give ground or take very heavy electoral damage. So, when there is overwhelming public support for tough action including criminal charges yet barely a peep from the great and good in this party. Why do they imagine the people will support them come next May if they aren’t prepared to support the people now?

  • @Martin
    The GMC is a regulatory body not a union, perhaps you are confusing it with the BMA.

  • Steve Way: of course you are right – a silly error.

  • Stephen, you say its over, is it. Questions are agin being raised because of today Ipsos Mori poll, Labour at lowest for 5 years, 29% to Cons 32%. Wemanage 9, Greens 7, SNP 8, PC 1, (nationalist total 9) : thought here we could be sixth in the general; election in terms of votes!! Also yesterday bad news from Rochester, we are down at 2% in 5th place, voters when asked how they would vote next May, gave us even lower at 1%. What next, spotlight may come back on us.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Nov '14 - 8:01pm

    Steve Way

    I believe that you are asking more of Labour than the Lib Dems were offering previously regarding tuition fees.

    We are not talking about previously, we are talking about now.

    Labour are saying that the Liberal Democrats are bad people for having agreed to the raising of tuition fees in 2010. So, if they were bad for doing that, it implies there was an alternative that could have been done, and if that alternative were to be done then those fees would not have been paid. The reality, of course, is that most of those tuition fees HAVEN’T been paid, they exist as loans, a large portion of which will be written off anyway. So if Labour think that compromise solution – fees but loans for all and a generous write-off – is a bad one, maybe they should just agree to write off all the outstanding loans.

  • paul barker 12th Nov '14 - 8:08pm

    I think its time to get back to the basics on this thread :
    Labours Vote share in The VI Polls peaked about 20 Months ago at about 43%, its now averaging about 33%. That decline is the fundamental reason behind last weeks panic & the abortive Coup.
    Actually lots of Labour people know quite well that Milliband is not their only problem & that trying to dump him is an extremely high-risk strategy but what is their alternative ?
    Its not certain yet that Labours vote share is still falling but if it is there will be more crises & more calls for Ed to go. There is no reason why the spiral of decline cant continue, there is no floor below which Labour cant fall.
    The big question is how soon we can replace Labour as the principal Party of The Centre-Left ?

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Nov '14 - 8:16pm

    Martin

    Labour has concentrated on points scoring rather than securing their own position. Whilst this has been notably effective in damaging Lib Dems (encouraging the ‘nah, nah nah’ reflexes that you refer to), in the wider picture, it has done little for Labour, but helped UKIP

    Indeed. Now imagine an alternative scenario. I agree it’s a very counter-factual one, but do try hard.

    Suppose Labour had swallowed its pride, and instead of the “nah nah nah nah nah”s aimed at the Liberal Democrats, had proposed alternative policies which might have been the basis of an alternative coalition, and had given positive support from outside to the Liberal Democrats on those occasions when the Liberal Democrats on the inside were standing up to the Tories.

    I think that would have hugely strengthened the hands of the Liberal Democrats in trying to push the Coalition away from the Tory far right economic nirvana. I think it would also have emboldened the Liberal Democrats to push for more, and strengthened those of us on the left of the Liberal Democrats in our push for more.

    That is, it would have hugely strengthened the position of the left overall in UK politics if Labour had engaged in “constructive opposition”. Constructive opposition means you don’t go “nah nah nah nah nah” at all the government does, and most especially not when underneath you know full well that much of the things it is doing you would also have to be doing if you were in their place. When you do criticise, always do so on the basis of spelling out what you would do as the alternative.

    But Labour would rather be an ineffective opposition to the Conservatives all on their own, than an effective part, but just a part of a shared government of the left. And that’s why I despise them.

  • @Matthew
    Sorry but your argument is equally valid if used against the Lib Dems in terms of their previous rejection of all fees. Why did they not offer to write off the debt they believed should not exist? It’s a nonsensical argument and can be applied to every party that has a period in government after opposition.

    @paul barker
    To replace Labour as the main party of the centre left there would first have to be a move to the centre left. From the outside most of the movement under Clegg has been rightwards.

  • Stephen Hesketh 12th Nov '14 - 9:02pm

    @Steve Way 12th Nov ’14 – 8:35pm
    “From the outside most of the movement under Clegg has been rightwards.”

    Believe me Steve, that’s the way it looks from the inside too!

  • John Broggio 12th Nov '14 - 9:16pm

    As someone with a degree of leftiness, the idea that anyone of the “hard” variety would have voted for either Miliband is rather quaint.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 9:23pm

    theakes
    I think not only is it over, only a few fantasists can really have thought it a serious question in the first place. As Stephen says, this is by no means the first time that Alan Johnson has explicitly ruled himself out as Leader or potential PM; and for them to change leaders at this stage would be a mark of desperate panic. Even the Lib Dems, I think, would gain nothing now from ditching Clegg (June was probably the very last chance, and even then only if he had gone without a fight). And the idea that Miliband’s supporters would have lain down and accepted some sort of Blairite coup beggars belief. Miliband will lead Labour into the next election, barring untoward buses. Which means, incredible as it seems, he will probably be prime minister in just over six months.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 9:24pm

    A good point there from John Broggio. What little is left of the hard left in Labour probably voted for Diane Abbott.

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Nov '14 - 10:51pm

    Let it drop, Simon.

  • Gordon Lishman 13th Nov '14 - 7:54pm

    A detail:
    “This is no different to the General Medical Council, who are rarely if ever characterised as ‘hard left’; the main difference being that, on the whole, the GMC is rather more successful than the Trades Unions ”
    The GMC is the professional regulatory body. You mean the BMA, which has been stunningly successful in increasing its members income while purporting to be standing up for the NHS. In recent years, they have been particularly successful with GP pay, benefits and bribes despite the fact that GPs are not and never have been employed by the NHS. If you want to look at (a) where NHS money is going; and (b) the most successful private operation in the Health Service, look no further!
    That said, these facts have no bearing whatever on the main debate above!

  • Neil Sandison 14th Nov '14 - 12:42pm

    The real problem with Ed Millband and other party leaders is that they have all had the Westminster make-over and sound to the public all the same.We can break that mould and be distictive if more challenged the orthodoxy of Westminster speak .Talk about more sustainable homes than just house building ,Meeting the energy gap by decentralised energy production rather than just keeping the lights on .devolving power and local accountability rather than just english votes for english laws.That we will have a referendum on Europe after negotiations have been completed by prime minister of the day. rather than just stick doggedly to the treaty change arguement which is now very stale.

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