Has the Coalition set Labour an impossible task – to rescue politics from corruption?

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: "They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don't believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden."

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: “They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don’t believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden.”

Yesterday’s article, DWP denials: They would kill you and call it ‘help’ received an unprecedented reaction – considering it was only intended to prepare the way for a larger discussion.

In less than 12 hours the article went viral and galvanised many of you into vocal support, sharing your stories of government (and particularly DWP) ill-treatment and urging others to follow this blog – for which much gratitude is in order. Thanks to all concerned.

The aim was to show how low politics and politicians have fallen in public estimation. The general consensus is that our politicians aren’t interested in us. They make promise after promise before elections – and the party (or parties) in office often set up tax breaks for sections of society their focus groups have told them are needed to secure a win. After they’ve got what they want, they don’t give a damn.

Look at the Coalition. The consensus is that this is a failed government. That it has broken one promise after another. That its ministers are liars and its Prime Minister is the worst charlatan of the lot.

That its rallying-call, “We’re all in it together”, refers only to Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and their close friends in the most lucrative (and therefore richest) industries, along with the bankers (of course), and that they have all dug their noses deep into the trough and are (to mix metaphors) sucking us dry. Look at the way Mark Hoban employed his former employers to rubber-stamp the DWP’s new plans for the Work Capability Assessment.

In short: That the Coalition government is the most incompetent and corrupt administration to blight the United Kingdom in living memory, and possibly the worst that this land has ever endured.

We fear that these tin-pot tyrants are carrying out a eugenics programme to kill off people who have become sick or disabled; we fear that their economic policies are designed to put anyone less than upper-middle-class into the kind of debt that current wages will never permit them to pay off – a debt that can then be sold between fat-cat corporations who will hold the masses in actual – if not admitted – slavery; that they will dismantle this country’s institutions, handing over everything that is worth anything to their buddies in business, who will make us pay through the nose for services that our taxes ought to cover.

And yet a recent poll suggests that we would prefer this corrupt gang of asset-stripping bandits to run the economy of the country (into the ground) rather than give Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, an opportunity to restore the country’s fortunes.

Are we all going schizoid? Are we really saying that, while we don’t believe the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could organise a binge in a brewery without stealing the booze from us while we’re drinking it, we do believe them when they say the current economic nightmare was because Labour mismanaged the economy?

(In case anyone hasn’t really thought it through, the current lie is that the international credit crunch that has cost the world trillions of pounds was caused, not by bankers (who have never been punished for it) but by the UK Labour Party giving too much money away to scrounging benefit cheats. In fact, only 0.7 per cent of benefit claims are fraudulent and, while they cost the taxpayer £1.2 billion a year, that does not justify the £19 billion the Coalition has given to its private, for-profit friends to make a pretence of dealing with it.)

Are we really saying that even though we all now know that George Osborne’s economic policy is nonsense, based on a theory that has been comprehensively rubbished, we’re all happy to give him and his miserable boss David Cameron the credit for the slight improvement in the UK’s economic fortunes that we have seen in recent months? It was always going to improve at some point, and the current upturn is more likely to be part of that kind of cycle than anything Osborne has done.

If we really are saying that, then we all need to put in claims for Employment and Support Allowance, on grounds of mental instability!

That’s not what’s going on, though.

It seems far more likely that the general public is having a crisis of confidence. As a nation, we know what we’ve got is bad; we just don’t have confidence that we’ll get better if we put our support behind the Opposition.

This is the Coalition’s one great success: It has damaged the reputation of politics and politicians so badly that nobody involved in that occupation can escape being labelled as corrupt, or liars, or worse.

And Labour is doing far too little to fight that.

A BBC article on the problems facing Labour states that the Coalition has sharpened up its messages on, among other things, welfare and immigration. The message is still the usual hogwash; the problem is that Labour has made no meaningful response. Her Majesty’s Opposition appears to have given up Opposing.

Is this because the main political parties are now so similar that Labour is now supporting Coalition policies? That would make sense in the context of statements made before the summer recess by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, in which Labour appeared to capitulate over welfare and the economy, even though the Coalition had lost all the major arguments.

When they did that damned stupid thing in that damned stupid way, Vox Political was the first to say “watch their poll lead disappear” – and it has more than halved from 11 percentage points to five, according to The Guardian.

This lackadaisical attitude from the Labour leadership has not gone unnoticed among the backbenchers and the grass roots, and the last few weeks has been notable for the rising chorus of dissent against Ed Miliband’s leadership. Some have described the Labour front bench as “Plastic Tories”.

Even Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham took a pop, saying Labour needed to “shout louder” and produce attention-grabbing policies by next spring – or lose any chance of winning the 2015 election.

Miliband’s response to that was to claim that Burnham was really saying the Labour Party was “setting out how we would change the country”. This is nonsense. He was saying that was what Labour needed to do, and Miliband rendered himself untrustworthy by suggesting otherwise.

It is very hard to put your support – and your vote – behind somebody you don’t trust, who seems completely unable (or unwilling) to fight your oppressor on your behalf; in short, someone who seems just as corrupt as the government in power. At the moment, Ed Miliband doesn’t stand for anything – so there’s no reason you should stand up for him.

What, then, should Labour do?

Easy. The party needs a clear, simple message that everybody can understand and get behind; one that members can support because it reflects Labour beliefs rather than whatever Coalition policy currently seems popular, and above all, one that comes from verifiable truth.

He could take a leaf from Paul O’Grady’s book. In a clip on YouTube, the entertainer says: “We should be vocal in our fight against oppression. We should let them know that we are not taking these draconian cuts lightly!

“We should fight for the rights of the elderly! Of the poor! Of the sick! And of the children!”

Rapturous applause.

Labour needs more than that – but a commitment to protect those who have been most harmed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat doomsday spree would at least be a start.

42 thoughts on “Has the Coalition set Labour an impossible task – to rescue politics from corruption?

  1. Linda Thomas

    Let’s have someone solid and trustworthy as party leader and then maybe we’ll believe the labour party can really make a difference. For me, Michael Meacher is the only person strong enough and principled enough for the job.

    1. Jean Cox

      Agree 100%. Michael Meacher is a good & caring man but seems to be the only one fighting for the poorest & most vulnerable in society. We need more politicians like him, far too few at the moment sadly.

  2. Alex Casale

    One thing I have learned in my time in politics is
    that if one of the parties is shameless,
    the other party cannot afford to be spineless.
    – Frank Lautenberg

  3. Bob Williams-Findlay

    How can Labour mount an opposition to policies it broadly agrees with? The main difference is simply Labour would slip a social democratic velvet glove over the neoliberal iron fist being employed to stem the decline of western capitalism.

    James Purnell was quite happy to continue Peter Lilly’s association with Unum and brought in Freud and Atos to operationalize this. Labour under Miliband has indicated it would merely make the present system ‘more respectable’ – less obvious in terms of who was paying for the crisis. Labour does have a commitment, it seeks to replace the Tories as the number one political party for Capital. An alternative to all three parties is the only long term solution.

  4. I used to have a home, then the Tories came back. Thanks, Cleggy.

    Fat chance. Face it, this country is now untenable, even dangerous, for any but the untouchably wealthy. Time to escape, before they tie passport entitlement to the size of your stocks & shares portfolio.

  5. David Lee

    I just think the Labour party will lie to us all to get in power like the conservatives…and then break their promises just like the rest….

  6. Jim Saunders

    Your logic as to the motives of the Con-Dems resonates with my belief that they are seeking to wipe out the Middle Classes and impose a form of Corporate Feudalism.

  7. Guy Ropes

    No mention, as far as I can see, of The People’s Assembly Against Austerity. A national organisation run by Unions and other concerned groups/individuals. They must surely merit a mention. But having looked at what they stand for, they don’t appear to want to confront the corruption in Westminster. This corruption is so widespread and goes so deep that it would take days, probably weeks, to pinpoint and discuss effectively. Austerity is a symptom of this corruption and unless that is tackled head-on one might just as well – as Peter Hain once said (disparagingly) – “put your placards away and go home”.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The People’s Assembly isn’t mentioned because this is an article about Labour’s current problems. We could have a debate about the Assembly, but it would be about whether it could build up enough support to make any real difference within two years.

  8. bookmanwales

    As usual you have hit the nail on the head. However this disenchantment with politicians has been a steady decline over the last 30 years not necessarily a response to the current government.

    Labour were castrated during the last Tory reign and only regained power by completely distancing themselves from their working class roots. Blair and Co took the Tory line on privatisation (though preferring to call it PFI) and were openly hostile to union power and re-nationalisation of essential services. The Iraqi war, spin doctors and constant lies and cover ups did them no good either.

    History has taught them no lessons and again they find themselves castrated by their inability to make a coherent argument against the “austerity measures”

    The fear of being labelled “socialist” or “welfare friendly” has rendered them impotent in making any kind of reasoned argument in defence of the poorest in society or the need for government intervention in a society of mass unemployment,. Instead they follow the Tory line because polls tell them that is the way to power.

    The only way forward is a complete overhaul of the Labour leadership, a massive publicity campaign revealing the truth behind the coalitions lies, a cast iron guarantee to provide jobs for workers rather than subsidies for already rich corporations and phony work schemes, and finally a legally binding guarantee that they will put the interests of this country and it’s people above the interests of foreign nationals and offshore corporations.

    Please forward all replies to me at Ward 1 mental health institute, Cloud cuckoo Land.

    1. Jane Canning

      Let’s have clause 4 back as it was. It is the only way I could trust Labour again. Essentials like water, electricity, social housing rents, should be nationalised, to keep prices lower,and to avoid wages falling in real terms. A national minimum wage is rendered useless until this happens. Privatisation of essential services stinks.

      Great analysis Mike, as usual.

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  10. Ian Myers

    Actually I do believe that “New Labour” have a share in the blame of this country’s plight. Their ineptness, their blatant lining of their own pockets through endorsements and associations with big business make them as culpable as the Tory scum. “New Labour” is a motif for betrayal of not only the working classes but the whole country. Labour needs a massive overhaul and the expulsion of middle class twats like Milliband, Blair, etc who are really Tory wannbees but without the brains.

      1. Ian Myers

        Sorry Mike, I have no faith in Labour at all. Bunch of losers, pure and simple! They have no empathy for the vulnerable, at least no more than is required to get into power where the big financial endorsements are. We need a new Socialist party with morality and courage, either that or take to the streets and hang all politicians from a gibbet!

      2. Guy Ropes

        The current tory party does not have a huge intelligence deficit; It’s why we’re having this debate on your log. It has sufficient intelligence to make Labour look almost inconsequential at the moment. Labour supporters have formed the People’s Assembly – you suggest that that has no merit in the argument about Labour fitness for office. Then TELL Labour supporters of that group that they are wasting their time and ask them to do something more relevant. Ask activists not to join that group. I repeat; corruption and the Labour Party’s failure to address it is one of the main reason’s why they are getting nowhere. Only once Britain’s corruption problem has been solved can the Country move forward again for everyone. If it were solved you would see politicians from all parties in Parliament being barred from there forever. But then maybe you don’t want to face this overarching problem.

      3. Mike Sivier

        If I didn’t want to face the problem of corruption, I wouldn’t have written an article about it.

        Just because the Tories have managed to put Labour on the back foot, by the simple tactic of plugging away remorselessly with their silly little lies in the hope that – as Goebbels and Hitler once taught – eventually someone will believe them, that doesn’t make them overly intelligent. It does make Labour look stupid, though.

        My opinion on that is that Miliband has surrounded himself with so-called advisors who have neutralised any ability to move forward with a strong message; everything gets watered-down to the point of uselessness.

        The People’s Assembly might become something worthwhile over the course of a few years, but I doubt it will make any impact on the 2015 election. I’m not trying to say it’s a waste of time; just that it won’t be an immediate help.

        So no, I won’t be asking anyone not to join the People’s Assembly. What readers of this blog do is their own responsibility.

  11. Lyn

    The Labour Party need to start by getting Miliband out, and replacing him with someone with a bit of * oomph *. The man comes across as being akin to a wet dish cloth. Much as I despise Cameron, and Blair for that matter, no one can deny that both are good orators ……people hear / heard their voices ( even if they don’t agree with what they are hearing ).
    I do wonder if they know how unhappy their lifelong voters are with them ?! As it seems like they are oblivious to us and our feelings with the way things are going.
    Its time they woke up and smelt the coffee,cos if they don’t, they may as well start getting comfy on the side of the house that they sit in now, as they sure as hell wont be changing sides anytime soon.

    1. Ian Myers

      It depends on what you call intelligence? Sly like a fox, cunning type of intelligence? The Tories are full of it. How else can they fool at least half this country into believing the lies they spout. But yes, I do agree with your statement and how it is meant.

  12. Beau

    I think it’s not a question of Labour failing, more that they have realised that the economy is actually COMPLETELY screwed. More than anyone dare to admit… for fear of spooking markets.

    Our national debt levels are so much higher as a % than during the 1920’s crash.

    America has recognised debt of $17tn (some say $60tn), $123tn of unfunded future commitments (pensions and off balance sheet debt) and get this – $1.2 QUADRILLION (20 times world GDP) of derivative debt – which affects us, Europe and the rest of the world.

    So the world is pretty much screwed and on a national level arguing over petty party politics is futile.

    The alternative to capitalism – Communism collapsed and discredited and now Capitalism has been shown to be a fundamentally broken system.

    What next? One world government?

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  14. Jonathan Wilson

    Labour could have had a huge voter increase if millipeed had said “we believe the bedroom tax is unfair (poor waged, disabled), will cost more in the long run (forcing into private rents), will cause more disruption and social conflict and increase costs to other services such as health, police, social services, and will decimate services in areas that would have to support the influx of poor migration from more expensive london areas”

    In one swoop he would have gt 660,000 apathetic households who probably don’t normally vote in his voter count…

    Had he then followed that up with a very carefully worded response to the OBC putting forward the same facts, but also carefully playing on the fears of the home counties that they were about to have 90,000 unemployed families descend on the shires and suburbs as they were cleansed from london and that london landlords would suffer a direct hit to their rental income while they all run about trying to re-let properties vacated because of the OBC (rent with a few exceptions of a few large families makes up the greatest proportion of the total benefit received) he would have got not only the votes of the 90,000 OBC victims, he would have got the shires, burb’s and the london buy to let landlords as well.

    As it is, all he has now is everyone who might have voted for labour deciding they are just red tories, all oxbridge; PPE; common purpose; 1%er drones in hock to the new world order and who couldn’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves and big business…. and will now sit apathetic at home and not bother to vote for anyone.

    If only millipeed was as eloquent as his back bencher’s who with a great deal of fact and informed debate rubbished the proposals during the debates (now born out in numerous studies about the impacts, lack of 1/2 bed accommodations (98% cannot move), dearth of 3/4 beds standing empty as people on the lists won’t take them as by fate of birth all the kids are of the same sex so would be liable for the bt; but correctly housed under the HA1985, but had it been a mix of boys and girls would not… madness! and a huge increase in arrears) and at the end of the debates had we not witnessed how the condems just turned up (IDS looked positively drunk in one debate blinking like a demented owl and gufforing as mcvlile spouted… well vile, bile, and vitriol, a minister for the disabled who seems to positively hate the disabled) without even hearing the reasoned debate and argument to vote down the opposition… well what can one say… millipeed comes across as a dick, looks weak, and seems to have no real faith or conviction in what labour originally stood for, just another posh boy in the posh boy network isolated in the wetminster bubble…

    feck knows why the unions voted for him, and feck knows why we should vote for him (apart from the fact if the cons get a majority in 2015 this country is well and truly fecked for all, low waged, sick, unemployed, pensioners (they will come for you next, you are old, you are a costly burden, they don’t give a feck for you; just your vote… just look at the daily wail saying how much more you are going to cost hard working tax payers by 2020+), lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class, no one but the 1%er’s) that is the only reason a few of us can see for voting labour… most certainly not for millipeed… but as I say, most will just not bother to vote at all.

  15. Thomas M

    Labour is like a changeling with the real Labour hanging in a cocoon somewhere. Labour won’t make a difference and the other parties are too small to get any seats.

      1. Thomas

        Who can I vote for then? Lib Dems are traitors, UKIP are fascists, and the TUSC will be lucky to get a single seat.

      2. Mike Sivier

        I don’t think it’s productive to ask someone else who you should support with your vote – a single act lasting less than a minute.

        You could try asking yourself, instead, what you personally can do.

  16. David Williams

    Politicians work for us, we are their employers and need to set the rules by which they work. If you employ someone and don’t keep them on their toes, you can’t be surprised if they spend half their time malingering.

  17. Margaret Johnson

    Wake up will you. It was Labour who signed up Atos,engineered so many civil service jobs that were not needed,opened the borders for the rest of the world’s
    trash to enter our country,brought in more taxes,actively encouraged the demise of manufacturing and the rise of the banks,signed up to allow Europe to rule us,doubled the rate for income tax for the lowest paid,gave GP’s 100K a year to work 9-5 Monday to Friday, got the most revenue in and still left this country in the worse mess ever. The new government is no better & I am totally sick of the whole of the greedy grasping MP’s, banks,doctors,solicitors and all the others on the gravy train earning big bucks whilst the rest of us suffer.We can be certain that as long as we just moan about it and not do anything else they will just carry on.

    The big question is what can we do, without putting more pressure on the economy, to show these people that we are not going to stand for it.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Peter Lilley signed up Unum and the forerunner of Atos, a company that was absorbed into Atos – that’s how Atos got the gig. If you think Peter Lilley was Labour, you should go back to your history books.

      Any argument that Labour engineered many unnecessary civil service jobs is highly debatable; it seems clear that the public sector job cuts engineered by the current administration are driving many in the civil service to despair because they have too few people trying to do too much work.

      The immigration situation has to do with one of the four freedoms of the European Union – the right to free movement. It became a public issue after the EU was expanded to include Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004, with consequent migration here from the eastern European countries in particular. The last Labour government didn’t sign up to that – it was part of the original Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, signed in 1958, so Edward Heath’s Conservative government of the early 1970s would be the administration responsible for bringing it here.

      Simplifying taxes makes them less fair – especially to the poor. Labour tried to bring in a progressive tax regime that meant everybody paid a reasonable amount. I think part of the problem was that the large businesses weren’t paying decent wages to the people who did the actual work, so tax credits were brought in, to keep incomes up to a level at which people could survive. That complicated matters; the Living Wage is a much better idea so obviously the current Conservative-led administration opposes it.

      Margaret Thatcher had far more to do with the demise of manufacturing in this country than the last Labour government. Its failing in this regard is that it did not revive those industries.

      Similarly, Thatcher deregulated banking, setting the conditions for the credit crisis two decades later. Labour’s fault lay in not introducing harsher regulations – most damningly because the banks themselves assured Gordon Brown & company that they were perfectly responsible and capable of running their own affairs. For this reason it is the banks that are to blame for their own downfall and it is a failing of the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration that nothing has been done to ensure that they pay back every penny that has been invested in keeping them afloat, and that the ringleaders of the banking crisis have never been brought to account for their failure.

      The government that “signed up to allow Europe to rule us” would be John Major’s Conservative government, which signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The Lisbon Treaty of 2007, to which it seems likely you refer, was a clarification of Maastricht and in some ways a limitation of it, if I recall correctly. There may be more qualified voices reading this who might be able to provide more illumination.

      My recollection is that the 10p income tax rate was always intended to be temporary. Remember that Gordon Brown introduced this rate in 1998; under the previous Conservative government it had been 23p in the pound. Therefore the new lowest rate of 20p in the pound was still lower than the lowest rate under the previous Conservative government.

      I’m with you on the pay and conditions for doctors (or at least, I don’t understand what the country was supposed to have gained from it).

      I’m not prepared to comment on whether New Labour brought in the most revenue to the Treasury. This might be true as it applies to the amount of money brought in, but this is not the best way to measure such matters. Did New Labour bring the highest percentage of GDP into the Treasury in taxes? I’m not sure. Of course the current Coalition is hopeless in this regard as it keeps giving away ‘sweetheart deals’ to big businesses, writing off huge amounts of taxes owed to us, the citizens of the UK.

      So in all but one of the matters you raise, I respectfully differ in opinion from you (taking into account the information available to me at this time). I assure you, I am wide awake to what has been going on and constantly seek to ensure that I continue to be as aware of the facts as possible.

      I think as far as the majority of us are concerned, one of the best things we can do is challenge the myths that the Coalition – especially the Conservative Party – have been broadcasting. You’ll have noticed, I’m sure, that the Tories like to criticise Labour for things it didn’t do, but have done nothing at all to change those things.

  18. Kayley Hutton

    Labour are no better than the coalition, thats why so many now want to vote UKIP. Not because they aren’t crap as well, just to send a message that we don’t want any of the top parties anywhere near us anymore.

  19. Glynnux

    So what dark treachery is instructing the coalition? What is this inhumane mindless beast that Cameron & Co. appear to relish being in the employ of.

    It must be fearsome and murderous indeed for Newlabour to be so afraid to incur it’s wrath.

    Perhaps if they were to put a bailout on it’s altar it may consider allowing them the next shot at prison dodging in 2015.

    Disillusioned by politicians? You betcha

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  21. Where's the popular figurehead?

    Whichever party gets into power at the next election, it will have been voted in by a minority. Disenchanted voters are staying away from polling stations in droves because there’s nobody they can support, hence UKIP’s rise in popularity – there’s nobody else!

    It’s better to vote for a minority party or an independent candidate than not vote at all, but the sad truth is, with nobody expressing the voice of the people, we’ll be lumbered with another 5 years of neoliberal government, hell bent on dismantling civil liberties, the welfare state and the NHS. These have been hard won over decades.and devastated in one short term.

    All three major parties have lost public credibility and the opening for something new is gaping wide, but nobody is stepping forward with a credible alternative, so the next government will consider it has a mandate to continue running the country further into the ground at the expense of most of its citizens.

  22. aussieeh

    Hello Mike,
    I’ve managed to save a tenner over the last few weeks, do you want to print the link so I can purchase a copy of your book, I have just finished reading Peter Oborne The Triumph of the Political Class what an eye opener that was, I think your book would be an excellent companion for it, maybe a bit of lite relief.
    Keep up the excellent work
    A Fan.

  23. Beau

    Forget Labour v Conservatism (LIbDems don’t count)

    We need a new type of politics.

    Actual government by the people for the people – but most of all, there needs to be a new vision.

    We need to do away with corporate influence and fair taxation.

    Etc, etc…

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