GE 2015: Defying Analysis – The Critique Archives

Ed Miliband: Not sufficiently 'Leftie'.

Ed Miliband: Not sufficiently ‘Leftie’.

Martin Odoni makes important points in his article on The Critique Archives, as follows:

It irritated me this morning to hear veterans of Labour’s ‘Blairite’ era, such as Kate Hoey and John Reid, and the most free-market-loving pseudo-‘leftist’ in the British media, David Aaronovitch, all seemingly arguing on the BBC that Miliband had taken the party too far to the left.

The argument makes little sense. The bulk of Labour’s losses went to the Scottish National Party, whose rhetoric (though not so much their deeds) has long been the rhetoric of the left, and of anti-Toryism.

Miliband’s modest, very cautious attempts to move Labour leftwards have merely ceased the party’s post-Tony-Blair status as a ‘clone-in-a-red-tie’ of the Conservative Party, and therefore have not really carried things far to the left at all.

Given the runaway success of the SNP, had Miliband decided really to go all out and to endorse re-nationalisation and reversing Austerity – instead of merely stopping privatisations and watering Austerity down – he would probably have retained far more seats in Scotland. He also would have come across as far more of a genuine alternative, and so might not have lost so much English support to the UK Independence Party (who are still seen by their new support base as something ‘new’ and ‘different’, entirely because they have no experience of what UKIP would be like if they ever got into Government).

Moving the Labour Party properly to the left requires courage, because it will always lead to hysteria in the right wing media, but it is a courage that Miliband needed to find, and he never quite managed it, offering only compromises instead that his famous father would probably have sneered at; more attempts to ‘civilise’ capitalism instead of to implement an alternative to it.

This ‘Austerity-lite’ approach was simply swept aside at the polls by the explicit ‘anti-Austerity’ talk of the SNP.

However, you must pardon my skepticism over whether the SNP’s actions will ever match the progressiveness of their words. It has seldom done so since the Nationalists took over Holyrood in 2007.

Mr Odoni is absolutely correct in claiming that Labour was not too far to the left – in fact, Labour has not been left-wing enough. Members of the party must now fight to rebuild the genuine left-wing alternative that Labour was always meant to be.

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16 thoughts on “GE 2015: Defying Analysis – The Critique Archives

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I was surprised to realise I hadn’t included the link in the article as I usually do. Sorry for the omission; I have corrected it now.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Ah, but when I do share posts, I oblige myself to point readers in the direction of the original! Wouldn’t be fair otherwise.
        I can’t do straightforward reblogs, as on, because I’ve gone to the commercial side, you see.

      2. hstorm

        Fair enough. I would reblog your posts too, but WordPress won’t give me a facility to do so, so I do the next best thing and share them on Twitter and Facebook.

  1. Ash Martin

    Absolutely right….these people now pop up and talk about rent and price controls being to blame for Labour losing…but these key, popular/populist issues were never allowed to surface over the fear of “the other”…Scots now joining the serried ranks of “not us”.

  2. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately very true and something I have been saying for some time. With Labour confirming their desire to “deal with the deficit” and using similar terms to the Tories, even going as far as to use the term “hard working families” frequently, it seems a lot of people just saw it as more of the same regardless of which party won.

    For more than 4 years Labour were pretty quiet about alternatives to the Tory plans, repeatedly failed to dispel the myth about excessive spending and the real cause of the financial crisis. It would have been more effective had the Treasury left a note saying ” Sorry no money left the banks have it all”

    However the media certainly played it’s part in ensuring Labour’s defeat, constantly repeating the lies, failing to hold the current government to account for it’s actions and turning a blind eye to all the misery caused by welfare policies.

    My one fervent desire now is to see the Tories hound those on in work benefits the same way they have hounded the unemployed and sick or disabled. Only then will those “hard working” Tory voters realise they depend on benefits as much as those “shirkers and skivers”

    This may sound rather sad and petty but I’m sick of hearing Tory supporters bang on about how they work on minimum wage for 60 hrs a week and receive nothing for their hard work. Most will receive child benefit, those on minimum wage will also receive housing benefit, CT benefit and tax credits. Those new home buyers having their mortgages subsidised and guaranteed by the government see nothing wrong in receiving taxpayers money, but hey if you’re not unemployed or sick these are not benefits.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Council Tax Benefit no longer exists. It’s the Council Tax Reduction Scheme now, which everyone pays (although if you live somewhere like Wales, you get it paid for you).

      1. wildswimmerpete

        In England those in receipt of Pension Guarantee Credit don’t pay any council tax. However now this Tory shower have retained power I suspect PGC will shortly be no more.

    2. clouty

      One person, the day of the election, said that both the Tories and Labour are planning 12bn cuts to welfare – there’s a lot of muddled people out there. Most damning and most common, all the comments about the red tories.

      The rhetoric that worked was the words that appeared to come from the heart. Nicola Sturgeon acheived this. Ed didn’t.

  3. Chris Kitcher

    Couldn’t agree more Mike. Ever since the Blair disaster Labour has been trying to be Conservative lite. Best of all would be Dennis Skinner for leader and let’s get some clear water between them and us.

  4. foggy

    Absolutely agree. The wishy washy austerity-lite that Labour offered wasn’t good enough or convincing enough for people to believe in and trust Labour to be that viable alternative. Labour STILL don’t get it, unfortunately. They need to listen up and listen good.

    Just out of interest, does anyone know how many ‘Blairites’ lost their seat in comparison to left wingers, such as Dennis Skinner ? (I’m aware Mr Skinner secured his seat easily with over 51% of the vote, given his age that speaks volumes !)

  5. Andy C

    the first thing i would say is Miliband screwed up by openly saying he would never work with the SNP, this immediatly raised the spectre of SNP being a left wing monster that the English should worry about more so than any rhetoric that Cameron came out with.

    This will have had 2 effects, to affirm SNP’s Scottish credentials, but also that Labour had a perceived edge on its left wing side that it would not go beyond. Though you have argued many times about austerity with folks Labour would have conditionally for 2 years carried on with Tory policy and themselves said that afterwards what would be different would be the length of time austerity would be maintained at a less painful level. I know you don’t agree with that undertstanding but that is what Ed Balls himself said.

    That unfortunately is going to produce a lot of ‘I told you so’ from many folks about Labour not being left wing enough, no matter what Labour party supporters said.

    Labour is caught between the truly leftwing rhetoric of the SNP (their behaviour is yet to be proved) favoured in the North and Scotland and then the Blairite “Progress” group neo-lib rhetoric of the South

    Have to say I don’t envy any Labour party faithful at the moment as I don’t see how these 2 trends in idealogy can be bridged without Labour making a choice to become Tory-lite or to drop the neolib facade which no-one but folks of The City like and hopefully bring back a Clause IV element.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Regarding your first point: SNP in practise is more right-wing than left – this is one reason Miliband wouldn’t work with that party. However, the spectre of the left-wing monster was indeed created – by the Tories and the media – and consumed happily by the public.

      So the perception that Labour would not go far enough to the left was misplaced. It might be right but not based on the facts we were given. Your own information is inaccurate in that Labour would only have continued Coalition spending for one year, not two – and then only to clear itself of contracts signed by the previous administration. After that, SNP austerity would have been six times worse than Labour’s spending cuts – but that’s academic now.

  6. Ian

    Aaronovitch is a smug cretin and not half as clever as he thinks he is. As smug, patronising and arrogant a Blairite as you’ll find, and that really is saying something. Similarly John Rentoul, warmonger and Blair fanboy. He was spouting off about how Labour would have won if David Milband was leader. David Miliband the arch Blairite, oddly enough.

    Are these people deliberately trying to kill what’s left (no pun intended) of Labour’s traditional support? It certainly looks that way. Why would supposed Labour supporters like them actively want an even more right wing Labour? And more to the point, what would the point of that Labour party be?

    These neocon hasbeens need to sod off and get their own party, leave the people to look after tLabour’s best interests.

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