Why are idiots still going around saying Labour and the Tories are the same?


Isn’t it annoying that, this close to the election, there are still people commenting to this blog that there is no difference between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party?

In fact, the difference is huge. Look at deficit reduction: The Tories want to cut us back into the Stone Age with – what is it? – £55 billion of cuts over the next five years.

Meanwhile, Polly Toynbee in The Guardian tells us: “The IFS says Labour’s slower plan to end the deficit needs no cuts – none. Labour is shy of saying it for fear of sounding feckless, despite public opinion turning against austerity.”

So there’s one enormous difference straight away. Under the Tories: Huge, unnecessary spending cuts; under Labour: No spending cuts.

For further evidence, see Sunny Hundal’s article on LabourList.

The short version is as follows: “To claim that Labour and Tory ‘austerity’ is the same, as some on the left have done, isn’t just ludicrous but a bare-faced lie. It illustrates a huge distortion of the facts. Of course, the Greens and SNP have an interest in saying that Labour and Tories are the same, but that doesn’t make it true.”

Sorted? Good.

If you hear anyone suggesting Labour and the Tories are the same, send them to this article so they can be straightened out.

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  1. aturtle05 March 26, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    As long as whoever gets to be the next Secretary of State for Works and Pensions has a better idea of looking after the disabled I’ll be happy. That stops me voting Tory, that and the fact they parachuted my current MP in to the town in 2007!

  2. Ian March 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    There is a difference of course, but I think they are more alike than not. Whilst Labour don’t plan further cuts, they – just like Tories – are still committed to an austerity plan. They both prefer cutting this country than investing in it.

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      No – Labour intends to use part of its spending on investment in the economy, in order to build the country up. Alistair Darling was doing this in his expansionary budgets leading up to the election, and managed to cut a huge amount from the deficit by doing so. Then George Osborne came along with his ideological slash-and-burn approach and brought everything grinding to a halt for three years.

  3. jaypot2012 March 26, 2015 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Mike, you can’t call people stupid – that goes against the grain! Let’s just say that hundreds of thousands of people read newspapers, watch tv (especially BBC), listen to the radio, read other blogs, read so many other things and listen to so many other people.
    They are not stupid, they are misled and they believe the MSM and all it tells them. They have been sucked in by who they want to believe, not facts and figures.

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      I didn’t call them stupid; I called them ignorant – but I’m happy to go along with your description of them as “misled” as well. Your point that they have been “sucked in by who they want to believe, not facts and figures” is very well-made.

      • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:45 pm - Reply

        no, you called us idiots for not seeing the difference… it is insulting, it is condescending.

        Opposition is there to oppose

        They haven’t – not throughout their term

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:10 am - Reply

          It’s not insulting or condescending to point out a factual accuracy. You keep making them.

      • Andy Robinson March 27, 2015 at 12:00 am - Reply

        Actually you called them idiots.

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:02 am - Reply

          Yes. And you’ll have read the definition in one of my answers to another comment. In calling them idiots I called them ignorant.

  4. Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Just going from their actions over this term, not their promises, because, let’s face it… they all make wonderful pledges and promises pre-election – where has been the voice of opposition? They seriously sign up to Freud’s ideological bedroom tax? Promise to eradicate it as soon as they took power? Did they oppose Duncan Smith’s retroactive law change? I don’t think that it’s fair to call people idiots just because they work on the principal of actions speak louder than words

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      Are you for real?
      This blog alone is full of articles showing Labour voicing its opposition to the current government.
      Who told you Labour agreed to the Bedroom Tax? That’s a flat-out lie, right there. Labour opposed it to the hilt and has done everything an Opposition party can do to get it reversed and to turn public opinion against it.
      I’d really like to know where you got that information because whoever said it needs to be stopped.
      Labour’s Rachel Reeves has made it absolutely clear that she would start the process of ending the Bedroom Tax on May 8, if a Labour government is elected on May 7.
      As for the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013, Labour negotiated concessions and the leadership then felt justified in asking members to abstain from the vote. My opinion on this is extremely well-documented; I thought the concessions were worthless and the abstention ridiculous. However, it is also true that voting against the legislation, en masse, would have achieved nothing at all because the law would still have been passed, but without the concessions (however useful or useless they may have been).
      I’m not calling anyone an idiot for the reason you state; I’m calling them idiots because they are working from ignorance. I have just elaborated on the mistakes in your own statements – and those just in the comment to which I am replying. It seems to me that I might have a point.

      • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

        I’m sorry that you see fit to condescend to me… I have a lot of respect for what you have to say, hence my subscription to your blog. But I feel that Labour has been far too quiet in the protests. You may be able to search around and find arguments that one politician or another has said disagreeing with Tory/ Liberal Policy – How many years before they said they would oppose bedroom tax?

        There are probably 4 or 5 MPs with anything serious about them… Glenda Jackson and Dennis Skinner have stood by this new Labour – I guess they are close to retirement and have a belief in the old Labour ideals, but this Labour party is a long long way from those ideals.

        George Galloway is another who stands for what he believes in.

        Caroline Lucas stands for what she believes

        Each of these stand for real people, for real ideals, for the working class, actually, for what the real Labour party stood for before it was hijacked by Blair and Brown

        I realise that you are far more knowledgable than me on these things, you can go digging and read between the lines to see exactly which fence the opposition is sitting on today. Someone probably issued a statement on it. I don’t know – I just feel as though for the past 4 years I have been underrepresented by them. Ed would have cut the ribbon on the Maggie Memorial himself if invited to – he didn’t object to them holding the funeral when they should have been in PMQ

        I’m sorry but people have long memories

        Those of us at the sharp end, we recall the fear of the WCA, The burden of the bedroom tax – how long before they spoke out? I don’t believe that I am ignorant or misguided – They only represent themselves in there

        You can point to policy statements that have been released in the past couple of months, but we’ve been living it for almost 5 years

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:20 am - Reply

          It isn’t condescending to point out the inaccuracies in another person’s claims.
          Your claim that Labour has been too quiet is inaccurate.
          Your question, “How many years before they said they would oppose bedroom tax?” proceeds from a false premise – Labour voted against it, en masse, when the proposal went through Parliament as part of the Welfare Reform Act – and has opposed it consistently ever since. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the many Parliamentary debates launched by Labour against the Bedroom Tax, or the demonstrations in which Labour has taken part, public events, and so on.
          I see you are trying to belittle my argument by claiming that I can “go digging and read between the lines to see exactly which fence the opposition is sitting on today”. That’s disingenuous of you. I’ve been following politics, yes – but that’s something anybody can do. That’s why I’m surprised that people are still coming out with the nonsense about Labour and the Tories being the same; the record shows very clearly that they are not.
          Your statement about Ed Miliband is interesting – perhaps you could tell me when Ed Miliband said he would do that, and where I can find the evidence for it? Or do you “just feel” that he’d do that?
          Maybe people do have long memories, but from the tone and content of your comments, it seems that some have false memories.
          You are extremely ill-advised to try to discuss the work capability assessment with me. Perhaps you are unaware of my campaign against it and the long battle I have been fighting to get up-to-date death statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions? I have attended a WCA, and have had to defend against adverse decisions; I am at the sharp end.

      • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:46 pm - Reply

        We have been betrayed by them – no – we have been left high and dry without representation or a voice!

  5. sp4mf15h March 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    If this were true that no cuts would be needed, then Labout should be shouting this from the rooftops and proudly showing their fully costed plan for why this is so.
    Th e fact that they do not do so, leads me to believe this journalist is not telling the whole truth, either that or Labour arn’t.

    Let me hear this out of the mouth of a Labour politician and i will gladly heave a sigh of relief.

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      The journalist was quoting the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    • paulrutherford8 March 28, 2015 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Labour have asked the current government to present their [Labour’s] fully-costed fiscal plan to the OBR in parliament. Cameron, Osborne, et.al. have continually refused because they *know* that Labour’s plans for the economy *are* costed and will work, without the need for the £30bn cuts the tories are committed to.

      Yes, Labour ought to perhaps shout about it more, but then, the blizzard of tory propaganda in the media would continue to gag them. Labour keep posting on their website[s], and ‘friendly media, but few [comparatively], people read their articles or posts.

      If you watch debates on parliament tv or bbc iplayer, you will hear what you say you want to hear from many Labour MP’s mouths. You can read it in Hansard, etc.

      You could also trust what Mike says. He does the research for you… and reports what he finds.

  6. Jim Round March 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    It’s not all about spending cuts and the economy.
    It’s also about workers rights, trade union laws, education, trident, the criminal and justice system for starters.
    I’m waiting to see the differences in these policies.

  7. Steve Grant March 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    If Labour policy includes carrying on with the most destructive policy in recent times of treating the most vulnerable in society like lepers then I’m proud to be accused of being an idiot. I haven’t seen anything to convince me that the Labour Party will abandon such a wicked policy and just carry on the same nazi tactics against the sick,disabled and mentally ill.Until I see a pledge written in blood that the Labour Party will bin the Tory Party attack of the most vulnerable then they stand accused as being the same.

    • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:48 pm - Reply

      here here – totally agree!

      • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:08 am - Reply

        Again, you ignore the facts of Labour policy.
        I’m no fan of what Labour has said it will do, but at least I acknowledge that it is not the same as the Tory plan, which has been homicidal, if not genocidal.

    • paulrutherford8 March 28, 2015 at 12:07 am - Reply

      Where have Labour said they support what the tories are doing and propose to do to us?

      I’ve not managed to find that alleged support anywhere.

    • paulrutherford8 March 28, 2015 at 1:01 am - Reply

      I forgot to mention above [I was distracted by attending to Warren], that you don’t get much more vulnerable than myself and my family… nor am I any kind of naive fool.

      Unless I completely believed Labour are standing for the vulnerable, I would NEVER support, let alone permit this use of my name and my family…


  8. Nigel Craddock March 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Mike you know as well as I that they’ve got to get in and then prove it (not turn Blair/Thatcherite on us) – no, they can’t get in if people think they’re the same – on the other hand we’ll have 5 years of whoever we get – and that’s the problem … lying Cons, take a chance on Labour not lying?? dunno – worst place to be is a voter. I’d love to be a supporter I just don’t want to be the next clown taken in by these errrrr politicians. Why should we believe them … not why should we believe they’re all the same. Parliamentary and Electoral reform seem to be the only answers, I doubt we will get that with any party extant in the UK Today. It’s too much the career from Eton to OxBridge. And that, I think answers your question . they’ve ALL lied far too much to an educated electorate – which why we’re being dumbed-down as they do in the US :-)

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 10:55 pm - Reply

      In the interview/Q & A tonight on Channel 4, Miliband repeated his claim that he wants to be the Prime Minister who UNDER-promised and OVER-achieved. He isn’t promising the world, and his plans have already been costed, unlike those of the Tories (for example). In terms of factual evidence, he’s on very sure ground – but people are determined to find fault where there isn’t any. They’re making it up. Why is that, do you think – beyond the fact that some of them have been paid by Conservative Campaign Headquarters to put that idea in the public imagination? Why should he take any blame for what previous Labour leaders did, when those weren’t his decisions? He admitted Labour was wrong about Iraq, about immigration, about bank regulation.
      And then there’s the question of how many of those things were intentional lies, rather than just mistakes.
      Why are people so desperate to believe the worst?

      • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:49 pm - Reply

        Does he commit to put the bankers, and Blair on trial?

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:07 am - Reply

          That is not a matter of political policy. Criminal proceedings are matters for the police. If you think you have evidence against particular named individuals, and you can bring it to the attention of the police or the CPS, why don’t you?

  9. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) March 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I quite agree with you Mike that it is very annoying. The more so as such comments are nearly always made by people who are too lazy to explore the differences between and in the parties and who never vote anyway.

    • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:50 pm - Reply

      Hmmm, well now I am an annoying idiot too – let’s see who doesn’t vote

  10. Pete B. March 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Why are idiots still going around saying Labour and the Tories are the same?

    I expect right wingers know they are morally bankrupt,so keep bringing up the Iraq war that happened a long time ago.The thing is though,the Swivel Eyed Ones,IDS etc wholly supported the Iraq war.I didn’t then and don’t now.But its History.

    Then you get the Lefties that say Labour isn’t Left enough.Even I say it on some issues,but I would rather have a Labour government with Ed Miliband,whom I think is a decent bloke who will become a Great Prime Minister.Rather than Dave the Spiv.

    Because at the end of the day,this ConDem alliance is creating fear with its scapegoat mentality.The Bedroom Tax.Not spare room subsidy removal because there was not a spare room subsidy to remove.The sanctions regime,the one that targets anyone sick or jobless.The one that makes people Hungry and with the withdrawal of housing benefit as well,some times homeless.Add to that the Suicides caused by Hopelessness.

    This Government is the most vile,evil Government in my lifetime.And I lived through Thatcher.They call us the nasty party you know,Said Theresa May once,recording the Tories failure to win elections.Now I call them the Evil Party.May anyone who votes for the Tories hang their head in eternal shame.

    In 2008 we had a global crisis,Gordon Brown did not have the power to do that,even Mervyn King,the Governor of the Bank of England acknowledged this.We were on the road to recovery with Green shoots in 2010,Osborne went for the scorched earth policy for his parties ideologies sake.

    Vote Labour,get this Lower Than Vermin party/coalition out.

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      Spot on, Pete.

    • Steve Chapman March 26, 2015 at 11:55 pm - Reply

      Considering they are the most vile, evil Government in your lifetime, aren’t you apauled by how absent they have been in their condemnation of this evil? I’m afraid that you will find that there are other choices out there now that people are more likely to listen to. Humane parties such as Plaid Cymru and the Greens, I think that Labour will be forced to share power this time, and may have to do more than feed banks and corporations!

      • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:05 am - Reply

        No, I’m not appalled by the absence you claim, because it isn’t true. Labour has been loud and clear in its condemnation of the evil you mention.
        The pertinent question is, why haven’t you noticed what Labour has been doing?
        If you think Labour is all about feeding banks and corporations, your information is extremely dubious.

      • Steve Chapman March 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm - Reply

        How did Iceland respond to the banking crisis, how did Labour respond to the banking crisis?

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm - Reply

          They responded in very similar ways.
          Iceland’s three commercial banks collapsed and the government had to nationalise them to prevent the country from going bankrupt. It then moved domestic assets into new surviving publicly-owned domestic versions of the banks, while leaving the foreign remnants of the banks to fall into receivership and liquidation. This protected the Icelandic economy, as it meant that the domestic residents would not suffer any losses from the systemic bank failure.
          Iceland was bailed out by the IMF and several Nordic countries, but this had conditions attached: painful austerity measures and tax hikes, along with capital controls. Similar measures have been imposed on Greece and countries in the Developing World. In general, they run alongside programmes to privatise national assets that succeed only in raising the amount of debt owed. Perhaps it is because there is no such programme in Iceland that the country’s economy has improved as quickly as it has.
          Public protests were held against the government in early 2009, following calls for an early election in late 2008 – but it seems these did not actually cause the resignation of the government, which took place later that month. It was simply that negotiations on the formation of a coalition government had broken down.

          Labour also bailed out the banks – nationalising some. But the situation here was not nearly as acute as in Iceland. Yes, the national deficit increased, but Alistair Darling’s expansionary budgets of the period rapidly brought it down and there is every indication that this trend would have continued.

          The real problems for the UK began when the Conservative-led Coalition government took over. George Osborne’s ’emergency’ budget brought the recovery crashing to a halt and created real problems for this country.

  11. untynewear March 26, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    “The IFS says Labour’s slower plan to end the deficit needs no cuts – none. Labour is shy of saying it for fear of sounding feckless, despite public opinion turning against austerity.”

    Well, perhaps Labour should grow some balls and say these things outright ? Forget trying not to offend the sort of people who wont vote for them anyway ?

    And – looking at you here Mike – just because people have views other than your own doesn’t necesserily make them idiots.

    Personally I’m tired of being told we have to stick with just another permutation of the same old two-and-a-half party state that have been letting us down for years because… well, because why ? Because vested interests don’t want change.

    Bottom line : If Labour want votes they have to EARN them. If they don’t appear to be worth voting for, it’s up to THEM to change. Or us idiots will continue failing to see the difference.

    • Mike Sivier March 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      “Idiot” in one of its original meanings referred to a person who was uneducated or ignorant. I would contend that anyone who has not taken enough of an interest to see that Labour and the Tories have extremely strong differences is uneducated or ignorant. It’s not about them having views other than me – it’s about them ignoring or being oblivious to the facts.

      You read the article; you saw the differences, just in the amount of spending the two parties are planning. You can see that this must translate into huge differences in spending choices as well.

      Then again, if people can’t see those differences, maybe they’ll get the government they deserve…

      • Steve Chapman March 27, 2015 at 12:02 am - Reply

        Some of us have been far too busy clawing onto our existences to commit our entire day-to-day existence on following this shambles! After the first year or so, when 10 – 14 000 people were dead because of the WCA, where were the protests from Labour, Mike? I do remember waiting for that – day after day – it’s not bloody right! Forgive me – I’m not trolling your thread

        I worked 25 years, my wife pretty much the same. I had to leave work through anxiety and depression. I’ve been treated like a bloody criminal since 2010 – I know I don’t deserve that! I’ve been treated with derision enough thank you very much for not being able to support myself – struggling to even leave the house… there are thousands like me out there that have been mistreated under this evil regime – yet the opposition remained silent while we died!

        It’s not bloody good enough – and they should feel ashamed!

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:49 am - Reply

          Labour held its first debate on the Work Capability Assessment on September 4, 2012. It was the first opportunity to have such a debate after the publication of the DWP’s ‘ad hoc’ report on ESA deaths was published in July that year, taking place just two days after Parliament re-convened following the summer break. This blog reported on it and you can find the article here. It features comments from three prominent Labour MPs; I’m sure you’ll find more in the Hansard record of debates on that day, on the http://www.parliament.uk website.
          There was another debate in January 2013; Vox Political reported it here, here and here. The second and third of those links contain comments from many MPs – mostly Labour – about their experiences and those of their constituents. If you’re still not satisfied, then you are invited to look up the debate on Hansard.
          Another attack on the WCA took place in February and is chronicled here.
          Perhaps you’d like to read about the adjournment debate on the audio recording of WCAs, that took place in June 2013? People had started requesting that their WCA medicals be recorded in response to reports of widespread inaccuracies leading to wrong decisions (and a consequent rise in appeals) but the DWP had been unable or unwilling to service many of these requests. Vox Political reported on the debate here and here.
          The above are reports of Parliamentary debates alone, on the work capability assessment alone, covering less than a 12-month period. Labour has been standing up strongly for you, at every opportunity, yet it seems you have managed to make yourself ignorant of the representations made on your behalf. Not only that but you have the nerve to write “the opposition remained silent while we died”!
          That is not bloody good enough. You are the one who should be ashamed.

          Remember – that’s just one subject on which Labour has been standing up for you and those like you. There have been many.
          And you have ignored them all.

      • untynewear March 27, 2015 at 9:30 pm - Reply

        Mike, during the course of the current parliament I made one request to my MP (Labour) asking that they should look into irregularities at my local Jobcentre (sanctions related).

        Result ? Nothing. Never got a reply.

        Of course, that was a couple of years ago. I should perhaps have resubmitted the evidence once an election was on the cards.

        As I said, Labour have to EARN our votes. Do you think my MP has earned mine ?

        Electors are for the full course of the parliament, not just on polling day.

        • Mike Sivier March 28, 2015 at 1:06 am - Reply

          Fair comment about your MP but I have to ask, what does that have to do with the premise of the article – that Labour and the Tories are fundamentally different and their policies bear this out?

  12. Shaun Rusling March 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    I don’t hear Labour saying they would stop PIP on the sick and disabled, or equality on veterans, so for me they are the same.

  13. tommaz jay March 26, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    We said. Personally my most important wish would be for Labour to take power and try to undo the criminal harm that this none elected administration has inflicted upon societys most vulnerable people.
    I dont care who they have to jump into bed with, green, reds, yellows or the devil him self as long the torys are stoped from destroying our society. When that has been achieved, and I do think that Labour is able to deliver. The tory party should returnd back to the eighteenth century where they belong, preferably the workhouse.
    I live in hope that we will learn from our mistakes this time and never give them the chance to atempt to destroy the UK again.

  14. Andy Robinson March 27, 2015 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Heads it’s Labour, Tails it’s Tory. Both are sides of the same coin in my opinion.

    • paulrutherford8 March 28, 2015 at 12:20 am - Reply

      That is *exactly* what the tories want you to believe, but is as far from the truth as you can get.

      I’d suggest reading the threads above for some pertinant examples.

  15. John Elvidge March 27, 2015 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I wouldn’t say they are the same, but you can’t call Labour socialist by any stretch.
    They refuse to re nationalised the rail network, post office or utilities companies even though 80% of the public what those things to happen.
    Red Ed he is not.

    • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 3:01 am - Reply

      Labour intends to launch a national rail company to take back the rail services by merit. The energy price freeze is intended to take place while Labour considers what to do with the companies – including the possibility of re-nationalisation.

      • sibrydionmawr March 28, 2015 at 7:19 am - Reply

        That just about sums it up… Labour might nationalise utilities and the railways. People want firm promises, not vague commitments to looking in to the issues.

        • Mike Sivier March 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm - Reply

          You seem keen to ignore the practicalities of the situation. Labour has to get into office and find out the true extent of the damage inflicted by the Coalition. Until that happens, there are some things that cannot be promised firmly.
          Look at what Cameron said about VAT – in 2010 his buddy Osborne said the Tories would not raise it, but it was the first thing they did, and his excuse was that it was a decision made after realising the state of the public finances at the time. Geoffrey Howe probably said the same thing after he doubled VAT in 1979. Norman Lamont doesn’t have that excuse as the Tories were in office throughout 1992 when he did it. In the first two instances it is a reasonable excuse because we can’t say Howe or Osborne were lying.
          So with Labour, we must also accept that it is reasonable for them to get into office before saying whether they can do more good than they’re already promising.
          Miliband has said he wants to be a prime minister who UNDER-promises and OVER-delivers, remember.
          Of course, people who don’t want a Labour government will say anything to undermine that party – won’t they?

      • sibrydionmawr March 31, 2015 at 5:46 pm - Reply

        I’m well aware of the practicalities of the situation, and can, to a degree, understand the need for caution before assessing the true state of the mess that’s been caused. But that still leaves vast areas where the extent of the damage, and certainly some of the causes are well known, as are the widely desired fixes – a majority support the nationalising of the railways and utilities.

        I won’t pretend that I actually want a Labour government, or any government come to that, (I am an IWW member, of distinctly anarchist leanings with Syndicalist sympathies after all) but even I concede that a Labour government it preferable to a Conservative one. I still remain extremely sceptical of any call to vote Labour on the basis of ‘jam tomorrow’ as it is a tactic that Labour, (and to be fair the other options) have used for far too long, and it is, I think, what has served to cause reduced turn out at elections. Who on earth would buy a pig in a poke? Which is to a greater or lesser degree what we do when we vote for one party or another, and as, whether we like it or not, New Labour let the ordinary people down big time in the 13 years they were in office, the present Labour Party has inherited that sense of mistrust, whether that is deserved or not.

        A statement to the effect that they would nationalise the railways and utilities would do them absolutely no harm, as even a largish proportion of Tory voters also support the nationalisation of the railways.

  16. Gary March 27, 2015 at 2:12 am - Reply

    The title is a little ‘have you stopped beating your wife’. Surprisingly I’ve heard this said by Conservatives as well. I’ve tried to look at it from their point of view to remove my own ‘left leaning’ bias. In the days of Thatcher, her mass privatisations, smaller state and removal of legislation for the city, on one hand, and introduction of restrictive laws against unions on the other were new, radical and divisive. They represented a chasm between the Tory thinking and Labour, at the time, were pro union, ant-nuclear, not as heavily biased against publicly owned industry etc. Since the end of Conservative continuous rule in 1997, things have been rather different. Many Labour voters thought they’d not see an end to the Tories. When New Labour arose as a concept it was a boon to us all, thinking it’d make the party electable. Party leader Tony was very different to those before him. On a personal level he appealed to the centre ground and even the left wing of the Conservative Party. He looked and sounded right. The policies appealed to those voters too. He would implement Conservative policies for the first two years and had no intention to nationalise. This allayed the fears of those who generally wouldn’t support Labour. There were policy differences of course but these were markedly less obvious than in the 1980s; light touch regulation stayed, unions WERE given the right to recognition, privatisation and private investment was lauded, nationalisation was put aside as was any thought of ending nuclear weapons. The previous government had tied the new one’s hands a little on this though. With a thirteen year reign and stability for many years a new consensus was born. Labour was using methods and policies never before considered, ones which the party of twenty years before would have called right wing. During this time little had happened to the Conservative Party in re policy. There was trouble differentiating themselves to have a ‘unique selling point’ for the electorate. Hague, Howard and IDS were gray men in gray times. David Cameron was more appealing on a personal level and with a massive recession causing support for Labour to wane, he just scraped into office. Since that time though, although there have been differences ie cutting fast and hard and also the attitude to benefits presented by IDS there has been nothing on the scale of Thatcher. For this s reason both left and right leaning voters are going elsewhere. On the right UKIP are more radical sounding than the Tories and address the fears, phobias, prejudices of potential voters, although Labour is not immune to losing votes here. In Scotland the public have seen SNP in power for seven years. This has been seen as fairly successful and combined with other factors has seen a squeeze on the Labour vote for the general election. Competing, as they have been, for the centre ground, both parties have had their own supporters on the fringes become disaffected, to them there’s little difference. The differences are still there but they are of policy now and less ideologically based. Some of this is having to accept some matters as a fait d’accomplis and work with what you’ve got. For anyone of a certain age who supported nationalisation, strong unions, employment protection, antinuclear of the party when we fought against Thatcher’s spiteful actions the party has lurched to the right. In that sense you have to accept the criticism and use it constructively, build a vision, not just a reaction.

  17. Jim Round March 27, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply

    It’s a point that has been made in a previous comment that people have been misled by the MSM, but Labour don’t seem to be using the MSM to their advantage.
    Ed Milliband tweeted about being for working people, so the retired, those looking best they can for work, the disabled and their carers don’t count then?
    Why not say “for all”?
    People won’t watch BBC Parliament or go trawling through Hansard to find out that Labour voted against the bedroom tax, there would be nothing wrong with having a column in all the newspapers stating why they voted against it, along with facts to back it up, also announcing that Labour have changed.
    We are supposed to have a free press, so they shouldn’t be able to object to Labour having a column, if they do, Labour can then say how hypocritical the claim of a free press is.
    And they shouldn’t be afraid of the voice of Rupert Murdoch or Paul Dacre in the “Sun Says” or “Daily Mail comment”, if they put forward a factual argument then the readers can decide for themselves.
    But then again, they haven’t been sacked from Top Gear or left One Direction so they may be at the back of the queue!

    • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Labour’s claim to be the party for working people makes perfect sense; it is, after all, the Labour Party. That being said, those who have retired are people who have completed their working lives; those who are looking for work would be working people if they had it, carers ARE working people, and the disabled may have received their disabilities while working. They all count.
      Why NOT say “for all”? Because then the Tories would go spreading some nonsense about Labour spending profligately on people who don’t deserve the payouts, of course. Totally evidence-free but damaging, because it would be taken up by the kind of people who’ll believe anything they’re told – like the suggestion that Labour and the Tories are the same, for example.
      Your comments about the press are pretty much accurate. We don’t have a free press; we have many papers/radio/TV companies in the hands of a few right-wing activists.

      • Jim Round March 27, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

        This is worrying from a Labour council:
        Do you think they were forced into it, could the councillors not vote against it?

      • sibrydionmawr March 28, 2015 at 7:28 am - Reply

        Unfortunately most people, as a result of the propaganda spread by the right-wing press now interpret ‘working people’ quite literally, and though you, (and I as an IWW member) interpret the term in an inclusive sense does not detract from the fact that a majority, possibly unthinkingly, interpret it narrowly.

        And then of course we have Rachel Reeves’ recent comment about social security recipients…

        • Mike Sivier March 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm - Reply

          There you are. For all the explanations given since she made that comment, people like you are still using it against Labour.
          My opinion of her is very well-known by now and your words just confirm it – she is a liability to the party.

      • Jim Round March 28, 2015 at 2:51 pm - Reply

        Mike, I’m a bit concerned that some of my comments are “awaiting moderation” and don’t appear to be getting through is there a problem at my end or your end?
        This is about the 5th time it has happened.

        • Mike Sivier March 28, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

          Sometimes comments get dragged into the spam folder by mistake; I’ve just dragged a load out of there. Can’t recall seeing lots of yours, though.

      • Jim Round March 28, 2015 at 10:43 pm - Reply

        It’s a link to a post on the poor side of life blog, about Ashton-Under-Lyne jobcentre and Labour controlled Tameside Council getting more money for implementing a sinister scheme.

  18. Boo Beckett March 27, 2015 at 11:24 am - Reply

    They are both the same because they both serve the banks and big business instead of the people. I didn’t see Labour re-nationalising the utility companies when they were in power. That illegal war in Iraq so American multi national companies could steal their oil was somewhat of a right wing policy too. And let’s not forget the deregulation of the banking sector so that the bankers could give out loans to people who couldn’t pay it back just so they could get big bonuses, which at a later date, the taxpayers had to finance. This article is extremely blinkered.

    • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      As Ed Miliband said on television last night, the war in Iraq was wrong; he has shown that he is not nearly as keen to go into questionable foreign adventures as Tony Blair.
      The deregulation of the banking sector took place – as I and many others have pointed out time and time again – under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Miliband has admitted that Labour should have added more regulation, but you are absolving the bankers of responsibility for their own actions. They swore blind that they didn’t need regulation and could behave responsibly. They lied. You are happy to let them get away with that, while you pour all the blame on Labour. How do you justify that? Note also that the Conservative-led Coalition has been happy to let the bankers get away with it – the bankers helped them slither into office, you see.
      Why would Labour have renationalised the utility companies, when there was no express reason for doing so? I don’t recall mass demonstrations against them – do you?

      You seem very keen to harp back to situations that are now part of history and have little or no relevance to current affairs. The article isn’t blinkered but I’m sorry to say you seem to be. The article refers to the current situation.

      • Boo Beckett March 27, 2015 at 6:36 pm - Reply

        Mark Twain – “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” You are clearly staunch Labour so much so that you have blinkered yourself to the fact that they are not a socialist party any more. If you looked into Ed Miliband’s policies you’d notice that he has no intention of reversing the nationalisation of the NHS. So, go ahead and vote for them again. You’ll get the right wind government you deserve.

        • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm - Reply

          Oh, I’m “staunch Labour” this week, am I?
          Last week, in London, someone asked me how I react when I’m told what a solid Green Party supporter I am.
          I wonder who it’ll be next week.
          As I said in London, it’s an occupational hazard to face these accusations – but they say more about the accusers than they do about me.

  19. Mark Flanagan March 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Mike Sivier does an awful job of trying to paper over the lie. Millions know they are basically because we have things like memories and independent thought.
    The political system itself needs replacing and we are leading the charge…

    • Mike Sivier March 27, 2015 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      We’re going to see a lot of comments like this, from people who have appeared out of nowhere. They’re being parachuted in to try to knock down any view that might achieve a change of government.
      Notice the complete lack of substance to the comment and the weak attempt to discredit me, by name.

  20. Thomas March 27, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    I don’t think Labour are the same as the Tories but I don’t fully trust them either and am insulted that they don’t want the votes of people on benifits like myself.

    • paulrutherford8 March 28, 2015 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Of course Labour want the votes of people on benefits. I’m one and massively dependent on them. I’m a cared for, disabled and quite sick carer for my grandson.

      If you’re referring to that misquoted comment by Rachel Reeves last week, I did a little interpretation here http://underoccupied.net/2015/03/21/rachel-reeves-that-quote/

      Sometimes people say things to someone else and both people know exactly what they are talking about and what they mean. Translating that into something ‘everyone’ will understand doesn’t always work.

      My ‘interpretation’, by the way, is based on several hours conversation with Rachel Reeves, which included some very ‘angry’ words from myself and my wife.

      Labour are the only choice of government for anyone sick, disabled or caring. There is no other option because none of the ‘other’ parties will be able to do a damn thing to stop the tories if Labour lose votes to them.

  21. Christine Gordon March 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    The idiot/not idiot comment is typical of the lies and prevarication of supporters of Tory and Labour alike. The headline proclaims the word ‘idiot’ but we idiots should have realised it really meant something else. Very similar to the way the Labour party proclaim that cuts are necessary to balance the books/ but that no we’re not going to make cuts. The Tories at the very least are honest in their view of the need for cuts (which I totally don’t agree with). The Labour party deal in lies and dissimulation trying to appease everyone. At the very least – BE HONEST – If you think someone is an idiot have the courage to say it AND offer your justification. My view is that Mike Sivier is an idiot for thinking that people would actually believe that calling other folk idiots is really something different.

    • Mike Sivier March 28, 2015 at 1:13 am - Reply

      No – I used the word “idiot” with what one might call forensic accuracy. I wanted to make a distinction; I wasn’t writing about stupid people who didn’t understand what was going on – I was writing about people who can recognise and understand evidence when it is put before them but are simply determined not to accept it. An uneducated or ignorant person, in other words.
      I have had the courage to say why I think these people are idiots – in the classical sense of the word – and I have offered my justification.
      The problem appears to be that you – and others – are simply determined not to accept it.

  22. Ian March 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Thing is, if Labour need not make cuts, why are they pandering to the Conservative narrative by promising to cut ‘welfare’? You say they’ll achieve this cut by an increase in the minimum wage yet they have only said they’d increase it to £8 an hour by 2020 – a miserly £1.50, a rise that will be almost inconsequential in terms of cutting housing benefit. 30 pence a year for five years will significantly reduce housing benefit etc? Nah, not buying it.

    Of course there’s Ed’s bright idea of offering tax breaks to companies paying a living wage. Well what if these companies ignore it? Even if they accept the offer, that still amounts to corporate subsidy. Nothing big, brave or different there.

    Then Ed said something about saving the NHS but that has morphed into preventing private health companies making too much profit out of the NHS and making the NHS preferred bidder for contracts. I mean Jesus bloody Christ on a pogo stick, that is a million miles away from what was implied by repealing the Health and Social Care Act, no? Whoever you vote for, you’re still going to get bent over by corporations.

    Labour know well that the people would like to see a nationilsed rail service and energy sector yet flatly refuse to even contemplate either; they persist with the ‘hardworkingfamilies’ dogwhistling and their silence on Atos, WCA speaks far louder than any words could.

    Labour are not offering us change, just a bit of tinker at the edges to offer the illusion of change and choice.

    • Mike Sivier March 31, 2015 at 11:25 am - Reply

      I disagree, of course – but the only way we’ll know for sure is if Labour gets a chance to show what it would do.
      Are you willing to give Labour that chance – or do you want more of the Conservative jackboot on your face?

  23. Ian March 31, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    To be honest, from my point of view as someone with a possibly terminal condition, Labour probably won’t make one jot of difference to my life given their attitude towards benefit claimants and the sick and disabled and such is their fear of the Daily Mail and the Sun I totally expect more of the same if they take office. That’s one reason I can’t vote Labour.

    I think even you must admit to a fair bit of disillusionment with your party, I know you’ve probably lost all patience with Rachel Reeves and the whole benefits issue. Where we differ is I think if you keep voting for a party you know is substandard all you will get in return is more substandard behaviour. I think the only thing to make Miliband will give his head a shake is if he haemorrhages votes. He and the party hierarchy must be shown we aren’t going to settle for this rubbish any more. Until that happens, we’ll keep on getting more of the same.

    All the intake of MPs from ’97 onwards need to go, Miliband included. All the Atlantacist tendency need to go and be replaced by genuine Labour people from Labour backgrounds. No more SPADS and PPEs parachuted in, no more nepotism…

    Above all we need Labour to offer an alternative to cranky, failed neoliberal economics and that won’t happen because the leadership are true believers in it. That’s why the 13 years of ‘intensely relaxed’ Labour government was largely a missed opportunity.

    • Mike Sivier April 1, 2015 at 1:16 am - Reply

      Here’s the thing, though: I DON’T think Labour will leave the sick and disabled in the same position as the Tories have put them. I think Labour will probably do everything it can to improve their situation.
      However, I also think that Labour will do everything it can to prevent the right-wing press from getting wind of this, for fear of stirring up a huge “party of welfare” backlash that would turn voters with an IQ below 60 against them.
      My problem with that is, firstly, that I HATE any form of electoral dishonesty. Even if the intention is noble, the method is exactly the same as that with which the Tories hoodwinked certain gullible voters about the NHS and VAT. Secondly, I don’t believe they would lose voters if they came out and said they would get rid of the work capability assessment, kick the influence of private insurance out of the DWP and bring in a system that actually serves the public – in fact, I reckon 11 million sick/disabled people would vote Labour like a shot.
      I’m extremely frustrated that Labour should be holding itself back in such a silly way, especially when – in so many other respects – it is the obvious choice.

      • Ian April 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm - Reply

        I’m hoping a Labour government will do that but from their silence and the comments from Rachel Reeves it looks somewhat unlikely. They have already said they’ll keep the WCA and that has been described as beyond reform.

        I also have to consider how Labour will feel if they still get lots of votes despite their anti-benefit rhetoric. I just will not reward them for their divisive talk of ‘working families’. I got an email from Labour yesterday – I assume you did, too – which listed Tory ministers and showed their doings when you clicked on each name. I clicked on Iain Duncan Smith, naturally, hoping to see stats on homelessness, deaths from WCA, food bank use and poverty etc under his leadership of the DWP. But no. Not. One. Mention. Nobody from Calum’s list got a single syllable. They did, however say voted for, and I quote “raising VAT on working families” Really. Because we know dole scum and scroungers such as myself don’t get charged VAT. I mean, wtf is wrong with these people? Next time I har a Labour supporter claim th Conservatives are playing divide and rule politics I might vomit.

        • Mike Sivier April 2, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

          Interestingly, I didn’t get the email you mention from Labour – perhaps because it’s copying an idea I’ve been using on this blog, with Tories in marginal seats?
          Honestly, I don’t mind if other people use the same idea. Get the information out to the public and let people make informed decisions!
          Your fears are justified; I have them too. I hope for the best, though…
          … and if I don’t get it, well, I’ll just make a lot of noise about it (as usual).

  24. Ian April 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    The email was from [email protected] , they’ve sent me few recently.

    You must have the patience of a saint to put up with such disappointment for so long. I can understand the urge to oust these decadent s***bags as a matter of priority but I just feel taken for granted by Labour. Made a mug of, even.

    I hope they prove me wrong and really are keeping their powder dry til after the election…

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