Oh dear: Maybe Angela Eagle wishes she had spent a little less time falsely accusing Wallasey’s followers of Jeremy Corbyn of vandalising her office and more time standing up for the Labour Party.
Let’s get something perfectly clear: Labour’s reselection process is not about stabbing good MPs in the back; it is about getting the best possible election candidates.
If Yvette Cooper’s constituency party decides to let her go, then that’s the prerogative of the members.
That goes for Hilary Benn – he can’t dine out on his father’s reputation forever; Margaret Beckett; Jess Phillips; Margaret Hodge; Angela Eagle; Louise Ellman or whoever.
And if it means 70 sitting Labour MPs get replaced on the orders of their constituency parties, then that’s what will happen.
The fact that some Corbyn loyalists may also get the push shows that this isn’t some leftie conspiracy, despite what some of the sore egos in the party are telling the news-hacks.
Apparently, incumbents have until July 8 (Monday) to tell the Labour executive whether they want to stand for election again. One or two have already said they won’t – and it would probably be more dignified for some of the others if they did the same.
After Monday, the process moves on to the members; if one-third of a constituency’s branches vote to remove their MP, then the matter will be decided by a “trigger” ballot.
To be honest, many MPs who are “triggered” probably won’t lose their chance to be re-elected, because one-third of branches is not a majority of members; while incumbents may have to stand for re-selection, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
It seems some are trying to organise a way of manipulating the system to prevent de-selection. But in light of the above, this seems over-the-top.
So when the i online quotes MPs as saying
“It’s another example of how they [the Corbyn leadership]aren’t going to take their foot off our throats until they’ve choked us.”
“People are really angry about it. It could mean a lot of really good, hard-working MPs are affected.”
it’s likely to be hyperbole.
This is about clearing the wheat from the chaff – not about divesting Labour of talented representatives.
At last! They took their time about it but 20 Conservative MPs have finally shown that they have spines and rebelled against Theresa May’s threat to inflict a no-deal Brexit on the UK.
They supported Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill (that’s the Budget, isn’t it?) that means the government will have to seek approval from Parliament for tax changes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
You can find their names here – and they include some high-ranking grandees, although Oliver Letwin and Kenneth Clarke are likely to have supported the Labour amendment for sharply contrasting reasons.
It might not seem like much, but it effectively means Theresa May would be unable to use any money to mitigate effects of such a departure from the EU that would harm her own interests, because Parliament would not allow it.
It is also hugely historic as the first time a government has lost a Finance Bill vote in 41 years. These are treated as “motions of confidence”, meaning that Parliament does not have confidence in the government’s ability to run the UK’s affairs properly, based on the conditions described in the legislation.
The amendment means that if the government wanted to use specific powers in the finance bill to implement “no deal”, it would have to give Parliament a vote first or apply to extend article 50. The amendment doesn’t affect the normal operations of the Treasury and government, but it does make it harder for the government to drift into no deal without parliament being able to direct it.
Significance of this is that the budget not able to pass if we get a no deal Brexit. This and the 219 MPs who have signed a letter to Theresa May insisting she rule out no deal (and the meeting today off the back of that) indicate that Parliament slowly taking back control https://t.co/nujaUiAIQn
That’s why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn turned around and applauded Ms Cooper when the result of the vote was read out.
Jeremy Corbyn turns round and applauds Yvette Cooper in the chamber, and gives her a big thumbs up after her amendment on stopping a no deal Brexit is passed on the Government’s Finance Bill by 303 votes to 297
It also shows that Mrs May’s government has its back against the wall. With 20 Conservatives so committed to foiling a no-deal Brexit that they would back a Labour amendment, she must ensure that her deal is passed by the Commons when it comes to the “meaningful vote” on Tuesday (January 15).
As matters stand at the moment, it won’t.
We have seen from the vote on Ms Cooper’s amendment that the government’s Parliamentary majority is tiny, and depends on all Conservative MPs voting for its legislation, along with the 10 members of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The rebellion over the amendment shows there is not enough support for a “no deal” Brexit. But the DUP will not support her deal without legally binding assurances over the so-called Northern Irish border “backstop” – and the EU has already made it perfectly clear that those assurances aren’t coming.
Mrs May has no options left, it seems.
Of course she could let the clock run down without finding any solution to these issues. But that would be extremely irresponsible and would cement her place in history as the worst failure as prime minister the UK has ever had. She needs to find answers, or accept the fact that she will go down into posterity as a figure of ridicule.
And Opposition MPs are also said to be planning similar amendments to other crucial government legislation, such as the Trade Bill, and legislation on Fisheries and on Healthcare, to ensure that the only way for the government to take the UK out of the EU without a deal would be with the expressed consent of a majority of MPs. This is considered that start of a “guerrilla” campaign against “no deal” Brexit.
Theresa May is now at tipping-point. All her decisions, her cowardice and ineptitude, have led her to this.
She can’t do any more deals because nobody in Europe is interested and she has double-crossed all her possible allies in the UK, simply to get this far.
She can’t offer any more bribes because she has already given away peerages and other honours like sweets, to no avail.
Caroline Nokes: It seems she prefers horses to human beings.
Caroline Nokes – what a piece of work.
She tried to bluff Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper that she didn’t have the relevant information to deal with a case in which serious defects had been discovered in accommodation for seven asylum-seeking mothers with young children. The house was infested with vermin.
Here’s how the conversation unfolded:
WATCH: Tory Minister Caroline Noakes literally has the arrogance wiped off her face by Labour MP Yvette Cooper
“You didn’t need telepathy; all you needed was a telephone.” I’m no fan of Ms Cooper, but she was absolutely right there.
Ms Nokes’s response – that she “would be very pleased” to receive the information – was belied by her icy expression and body language.
And when Ms Cooper asked, “Might you not have wanted to make that call yourself rather than leaving it for us to do in this public way?” it was telling that Ms Nokes paused for a long time before adding: “I think that is a conversation I need to have with my officials.”
I think we can all tell what that conversation was going to be.
It wasn’t going to be about them failing to get the information she needed to help asylum-seeking mothers.
It was going to be about the fact that Ms Nokes had been made to look a fool in public.
She doesn’t care about those mothers, their children, or the rodent-infested house to which they have been banished.
She didn’t show the slightest interest in their plight, or in helping them out of it.
If she had been interested in such matters, then the problem would have been solved months ago (a damning report had been issued in July).
Remember: This is the Tory minister who defended a policy to accelerate the deportation of hunger-striking women at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.
This is the attitude typical of Conservative ministers in Theresa May’s government.
Their concern is for their own advancement – not for the provision of a service to the public.
Gordon Brown during his speech at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Image: John Stillwell/PA
At first, it seemed that Gorden Brown had agreed with Tony Blair for the first time in more than a decade – over the threat to neoliberal New Labour Blairites posed by Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course the other architect of New Labour was going to speak up against Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature to lead the Labour Party. Brown is almost as right-wing as Blair.
It doesn’t stop them both being on the wrong side of history.
The joy of Brown’s speech is that much of it was non-specific. He didn’t refer to any of the candidates by name, and advised that Labour must be “credible, radical, sustainable and electable to help people out of poverty, and that anger was not enough” (according to The Guardian).
Nobody would disagree with that, and Corbyn supporters would argue that the only candidate endorsed by such a statement was theirs; Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – by embracing the nonsense of austerity economics – will only make poverty worse while enriching those who already have enough.
The Guardian article continues: “In a clear reference to Corbyn, he said there was one camp whose own supporters even did not believe their candidate would win the next election” – but this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the others, whose policies (along with Brown’s own) have already lost not just one election but two.
“Brown said he was heartbroken and the party grieving after the general election defeat in May, but that it would be ‘even worse if we leave ourselves powerless to do anything about it’” – powerless as the party would be under a Burnham, a Cooper or a Kendall, whose policies would be so close to those of the Conservatives that the electorate would give up on any possibility of opposition and leave the Tories to it?
“Analysing some of the reasons people may have turned to Corbyn’s left-wing politics, he said people were feeling insecure about globalisation, which had left people ‘uncertain and unmoored’ and turned people to nationalism in countries from Greece to Scotland”. This was a clear miss. People aren’t insecure about globalisation; they know for a fact that it represents an attack on their wealth, security and well-being.
Globalisation helps the rich to get richer and pushes the poor down – the behaviour of the European Union over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership tells us all we need to know about it.
Attacking Corbyn’s foreign policy, Brown said: “Don’t tell me that we can do much for the poor of the world if the alliances we favour most are with Hezbollah, Hamas, Chávez’s successor in Venezuela and Putin’s totalitarian Russia.”
This is a deliberate attempt at disinformation. Corbyn has not indicated agreement with the views of any of those people or organisations. Instead, Corbyn is far more likely to put forward policy agreeing with Brown’s claim that Labour should form progressive alliances, especially within Europe, against “illiberalism, totalitarianism, antisemitism, racism and the extremisms of prejudice”.
Brown’s claim that it is “not an abandonment of principles to seek power” and that Labour members should see their vote not as a protest but a “public duty and sacred trust” also chimes with the Corbyn campaign.
It is only Corbyn’s opponents who paint him and his policies as unelectable. The wider Labour Party clearly sees his policies as preferable by far to the watered-down Conservatism that people like Brown, Blair, and their supporters like Alastair Campbell, Simon Danczuk and John Mann have been peddling for the last 20 years.
Indeed, the idea that a Labour vote is a “public duty and sacred trust” merely highlights the growing belief among the Labour Party and the electorate at large that New Labour, and Labour under Ed Miliband, betrayed that trust, abandoning their sacred duty to the people in order to embrace the profanity that is neoliberalism.
“The best way of realising our high ideals is to show that we have an alternative in government that is credible, that is radical and is electable – is neither a pale imitation of what the Tories offer nor is it the route to being a party of permanent protest, rather than a party of government,” said Brown, not realising that he had just written off the chances of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in one sentence.
For those who do not understand: The three non-Corbyns don’t have any high ideals. Their alternative is not credible – otherwise Labour would not have lost the 2010 and 2015 elections. It is a pale imitation of the Conservatives and it has led Labour into the twilight of being a party of protest, rather than government.
Actually – are we sure Brown wasn’t supporting Corbyn? The Guardian continues: “People must vote not for the candidate they ‘like’ as they would on Facebook, but for the candidate who can make a difference, he added.” That’s resounding support for Corbyn.
In support of the policies Corbyn opposes, Brown quoted, among others, Gandhi asking: “Is what I am about to do going to help”, and Nelson Mandela saying the yardstick by which he would be measured was the ability to better the lives of all people. Against this, we need set only one of Brown’s policies: Employment and Support Allowance and its accompanying ‘work capability assessment’.
This single policy, begun by New Labour and continued by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition and now the Conservative Government, has led to more than 10,000 known deaths and possibly many tens of thousands that have been hidden from the public. Perhaps Mr Brown should be asking how that single policy was ever intended to help anybody in need.
In the end, Brown will probably be seen as having done more harm to the three stooges other candidates than to Jeremy Corbyn.
Brace yourself for a further surge in support – for the people’s candidate.
It continues: “The wholly unexpected obstacle to Cooper’s ambition to be Labour’s first female leader is the hard-left Jeremy ‘Jez We Can’ Corbyn.”
So Jeremy Corbyn is “extreme”, is he? He’s “hard-left”? When was that decided?
Most rational thinkers in the UK now accept that Corbyn is absolutely not “extreme” or “hard-left”. He’s left-wing in the classical Labour mould, in line with most of Labour’s loyal membership. If labels like “extreme”, or “hard” are to be applied anywhere, they would more properly belong with fellow candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and especially Liz Kendall, whose attitudes – in Labour terms – would be described most accurately as “hard-right“.
The text itself makes no mention of Corbyn – he’s just a handy peg on which the sub-editors have hung a headline. The author, Daniel Boffey, accepts that Labour could not be at full strength while the future leader is unnamed and shadow cabinet members have no idea whether they are likely to remain in their posts.
“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring clause IV as it was originally written or it’s a different one,” is what Corbyn actually said.
He’s telling the country that, as Labour leader, he would listen to the wishes of his supporters and work to give them what they want.
That’s better than Burnham, Cooper and Kendall rolled together – and much more than the likes of David Cameron, Boris Johnson or George Osborne would ever willingly provide (although we know that their offers aren’t worth the air used to speak them or the paper on which they are written).
This Blog is happy to support Jeremy Corbyn – if only for one simple reason:
He is the only Labour leadership candidate to have shown any support for the Early Day Motion calling for the Conservative Government to publish statistics on the deaths of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants (EDM 285).
In fact, he co-sponsored it.
It was signed by 93 other MPs in the week or so between its creation and the day Parliament went into recess for the summer. I’ve been reminded that Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall cannot sign EDMs because they are members of the shadow cabinet and are barred from doing so. Why haven’t they spoken in favour of it, then? How many of their supporters have signed it?
What does that say about those other leadership candidates?
Does it not tell us that they are happy to collude with the Conservatives in keeping the casualties hidden?
And here’s another good question:
Why aren’t newspapers like The Guardian asking Burnham, Cooper and Kendall about that, rather than stirring up non-existent muck about Corbyn?
Open mouth, insert foot: Harriet Harman made her Tax Credits mistake on yesterday’s (July 12) Sunday Politics TV show.
Harriet Harman has softened her position on George Osborne’s ’emergency’ budget; while she still supports his tax credit cuts, she says she is “happy to be overruled” after a backlash from rank-and-file party members (including This Writer).
The statement follows another backlash against a local party official who wrote to others in an attempt to stop Constituency Labour Parties from giving their support to leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, who currently has the second-highest number of CLP nominations.
The person responsible for the latest attempt to rig the Labour leadership election (the first being the ridiculous ‘Tories for Corbyn’ campaign) – Luke Akehurst – was taken to task by fellow Labour members (including, again, This Writer) on Twitter. Pressed to explain his attitude, he referred us to a blog piece he wrote before the general election which appears to explain much that is wrong about the current attitude of some of Labour’s leading lights.
It’s all about ‘triangulation’, rather than ‘dividing lines’, Mr Akehurst reckons.
He writes: “It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one’s political opponent (or apparent opponent). The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent’s ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.”
In the words of the late – great – Tony Benn, Mr Akehurst is calling for Labour and its leaders to be ‘weathercocks’ (triangulators) rather than ‘signposts’ (adopting dividing lines against their main opposition). Mr Benn said some politicians are like signposts. They point in the direction they want to travel and say, “This is the way we must go!” And they are constant. Others are like weathercocks; they lick their fingers, find out which direction the political winds are blowing and follow.
Mr Benn would have been witheringly opposed to a weathercock like Luke Akehurst.
Triangulation leaves Labour without any principles of its own – the party ends up wasting time, chasing other people’s policies like (to stretch Mr Benn’s “weathercock” analogy) a headless chicken.
This brings us back to Harriet Harman. Instead of defending tax credits as a way of ensuring a certain standard of living and encouraging people to be good parents – the position of the Labour Party when it introduced tax credits a little over 10 years ago – she thought the wind was blowing in George Osborne’s direction and decided to let it blow her along with it. Big mistake.
Osborne’s tax credit raid will make working people and parents significantly poorer than they are now – and this is even after five years of being hammered by cut after Tory cut.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the rise in the minimum wage heralded by Osborne in his budget to offset his benefit cuts would raise £4 billion for families, while they would lose £12 billion in government help.
The freeze in working-age benefits, tax credits and local housing allowance will deprive 13 million households of £260 a year, on average.
And Harriet Harman supported it. That position does not correspond with Labour Party principles. It’s the position of a headless chicken.
Look at what has happened now: Harman has been forced to backtrack, with a spokesperson saying she had been “setting out an attitude that we are not going to oppose everything”. Headless chicken.
Sadly, Labour’s leadership candidates offered a mixed response. Liz Kendall fully supported Harriet Harman’s position – most probably because she is a closet Tory.
Andy Burnham’s spokesperson (!) said he did not support the tax credit cuts but added that he “will not offer blanket opposition and, where we agree with a government policy, we won’t oppose for the sake of it”. Headless chicken.
Yvette Cooper said she opposed the cuts because they would “hit working families, reduce work incentives and push more children into poverty”. On the fact of it, that’s good. However, she would be another extension of the New Labour disaster, which was all about ‘triangulation’, as Mr Akehurst’s article illustrates. Headless chicken.
The only ‘signpost’ among the lot of them – the only one with solid Labour principles – is Jeremy Corbyn. He said he was “not willing to vote for policies that will push more children into poverty” – and when he said it, he didn’t mean he might change his mind tomorrow, or whenever it becomes expedient. He means he is not willing to push more children into poverty – ever. Signpost.
We need more people like Jeremy Corbyn leading Labour – and fewer like Harriet Harman.
There is a problem with criticising people for failing to say what they mean in a straightforward way. It arises when you do exactly the same thing.
Frankie Boyle’s critique of the Labour leader candidates in The Guardianis very amusing but falls prey to exactly this problem. He makes several good points, but they’re a long way down the page. Why? So people will lose interest and stop reading before they get to them? Let’s pull them out and give them a proper airing.
Political parties are meant to have guiding principles. Frankie mentions this way down in the fifth paragraph, after revealing: “We’re told that they are responding to the concerns of voters. Labour keeps saying: ‘We’re concerned about immigration because that’s what people say on the doorstep’,” which is guaranteed to stimulate yawns as we’ve all heard it many times before.
Labour did have guiding principles once. They were intended to improve prosperity for everybody in the UK by raising the people who did the work out of the poverty that the leisure class (the people who profit from unearned wealth) force them to endure. So Labour used to stand for cheap accommodation, cheap – but nutritious – food, affordable utilities (gas, electricity, water), nationalised healthcare, a living wage, good government – all the things that helped Jeremy Corbyn score so highly in Newsnight‘s televised hustings a few nights ago.
Ah, but Corbyn, despite being lauded as “one of the few decent politicians remaining in the Labour Party”, is talked down as a candidate who caused “the left of the party to get quite excited that it is still allowed to lose”. He’s saying all the right things, Frankie. People are connecting with him. Don’t write him off so blithely.
Can it really be easier to convert Tories than to reconnect with your own core support? Of course not, but Frankie hits on one of the largest elephants in Labour’s room. It’s just a shame he does it in his concluding paragraph. He reckons Burnham, Cooper and Kendall get their information on what voters want from what businesspeople say (they’re desperate to be pro-business without knowing what it means), polls (which Frankie rightly says can be misleading) and the media (which are, again, rightly labelled deliberately misleading). As a result, they end up campaigning on all the wrong issues and turn potential supporters away, rather than attracting them.
Why does being ‘pro-business’ have to mean being ‘anti-worker’? The three leading – actually they’re not leading anything at all in the eyes of the public; let’s call them ‘preferred’ – candidates seem determined to disappear up their own rear ends, trying to explain how they will support the kind of people who couldn’t care less about anything other than building their own wealth, even though this creates misery for the workers on whose efforts it is built. Frankie hits it on the head when he writes: “I’m reduced to imagining that ‘pro-business’ is simply a rhetorical code for ‘right-wing’, and that we are watching leadership contenders wonder aloud whether they are being right-wing enough.”
We end up with a leadership campaign aimed at a public who hate benefits, immigrants and shirkers. Benefits and shirkers are in fact the same issue, but Frankie is right to highlight it. Labour introduced the most punitive benefit-cancelling system in British history – Employment and Support Allowance – in 2008 and the party line is still to say that there’s nothing wrong with it in principle, even though its implementation has led to many thousands of deaths that the DWP has already admitted – and who knows how many that it is covering up (see Vox Political‘s many articles on the subject). The simple fact is that Labour is afraid of newspapers saying the party is soft on ‘shirker’ benefit claimants, and is instead forcing itself to persecute people who desperately need help, just to stay alive. That is a Tory Party attitude.
There is a very simple case to be made against austerity, but Labour doesn’t have the guts to make it. Jeremy Corbyn did.
Still, they must know that they are not going to win the next election. This is the most damning claim of all. A decade ago, the Conservative Party was finished, washed up; a joke. All Labour had to do was keep a steady hand on the tiller and the Nasty Party would have been banished to history.
But Labour couldn’t do that. It had been infiltrated by neoliberal might-as-well-be-Tories who pushed harmful policies including ESA and the failure to regulate the banks that eventually sucked the UK into the global financial crisis and allowed the Tories to create a myth that Labour had messed up the economy. If Labour is unlikely to win elections now, it is that party’s own fault for giving the Tories a chance – by being too much like the Tories themselves.
Now we have three ‘preferred’ leader candidates who want Labour to be different from the Conservative Party only in nuance.
Let’s vote for the one who wants Labour to be the Labour Party again.
It seems likely that the only Labour leadership candidates to appear on the ballot paper for ordinary members will be Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, depriving ordinary members of a socialist option.
Kendall might as well be a member of the Conservative Party and will turn Labour into a pale copy. Cooper and Burnham appear to be little better.
Creagh has too few supporters at the time of writing – as does Corbyn. The lack of support for his left-wing, anti-austerity option is a sad indication of the depths to which the Parliamentary Labour Party has fallen.
The Labour leadership candidates are engaged in a last-minute scramble for endorsements ahead of nominations opening later on Tuesday, although Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall already have enough supporters to get on the ballot.
The real issue now is what the grassroots Labour Party does about all this. Labour’s membership is now clearly far more left-wing than its MPs – as is the population in general, which supports the renationalisation of utilities, the removal of private companies from the National Health Service and the end of Iain Duncan Smith’s death penalty for people claiming incapacity benefits (all right, the last may be a slight exaggeration – but only a slight one).
The way the field looks at the moment, we could end up with a lame duck leader who will not command the support of the party in general – or the people of the UK.
Perhaps now is the time to demand a box on the ballot paper marked ‘None Of The Above’, for those of us who don’t believe in any of the candidates being pushed on us by the Parliamentary Party.
Here’s Kevin Maguire, writing in the Daily Mirror:
Labour’s next leader will become trapped in a maze of Tory lies unless he or she challenges a string of poisonous myths.
I badgered Ed Miliband for years in this column to prove spending by the last Labour Government didn’t trigger the 2008 global financial collapse.
The national debt was a smaller proportion of GDP before the banking crisis than Labour had inherited from the Conservatives in 1997.
Failing to regulate the spivs and speculators was the catastrophic error, not reviving the NHS or putting money into workers’ pay packets.
Economists knew it, the Bank of England governor knew it and so too did David Cameron and George Osborne – but the Tory duo cynically pinned the blame for the crisis on Labour’s spending plans.
The problem is, of course, that many of the politicians who now claim to represent Labour values are quite happy to let this Tory lie go unchallenged.
Those of us who know the facts have been telling everybody we can for the last five years and more, but we simply don’t have the mass media clout needed to get the message across.
People like the right-wing Labour leadership candidates (everyone apart from Jeremy Corbyn) and Harriet Harman can’t be bothered to correct a ‘big lie’ that has been repeated so often that people now believe it automatically.
They’ve got their Parliamentary seats and pensions; they’re doing quite all right out of all this, thank you very much.
Maguire makes some more useful points, which are well worth repeating, if you have ignorant friends:
The whole welfare debate is skewed when we wrongly think £24 in every £100 of the social security budget is fiddled. In reality, it’s just 70p.
The Department of Work and Pensions pumps out these tales to justify deep cuts. The £1.2 billion a year benefit fraud is pennies next to a great tax robbery soaring to as high as £120 billion.
Yet the Treasury and HMRC prefer cosy private deals with wealthy dodgers while what crooked US socialite Leona Helmsley referred to as the “little people” are thrown to the hounds.
And how about this:
It isn’t just the economic debate that’s distorted by myths. Immigrants pay in more than they take off the system.
Only reactionaries and racists benefit when it’s thought 24% of the population are recent migrants when it’s 13%.
Standing up for decent values requires politicians to tell hard truths and never pander to prejudices.
That’s not going to happen in a Labour Party led by Burnham, Cooper, Creagh or Kendall, then.
Isn’t it desperately disappointing that, after the British people showed Ed Miliband in no uncertain terms that Labour is still going in the wrong direction, his first response was an appeal for us all to rally in support of his values, whatever they are.
No, Ed, no. It’s time the Labour Party gave up trying to force us to accept something we don’t want. It’s time you gave up being Tory Lite. It’s time – for crying out loud, this isn’t rocket science! – it’s time you gave us all a chance to believe you share our values!
Can you do that – you and your pseudo-socialist friends Ed Balls, and Yvette Cooper, and Tristram Hunt (and the rest)? If not, you need to make way for people who can – before it is too late.
The people’s response to Labour’s offer was written very clearly across ballot papers all over the country on Thursday: Too similar to the Conservatives! We won’t have either! In fact, we’ll support a party that is even more madly right-wing than either of you, just to show that we don’t want you.
And that’s just the response of those who voted. Those who didn’t were making an even plainer message: Why bother, when there isn’t a cigarette paper that can slide between any of you?
Look at this response from Terry Cook on the Vox Political Facebook page: “It [Labour] needs to prove it doesn’t share UKIP or Tory values; simple.”
Now look at the graph at the top of this article, showing that the public has lost faith in Labour every time it has supported reactionary, right-wing, Conservative, neoliberal policies – while announcements of policies that actually help people have restored support to the party.
The people don’t believe Labour should be having anything to do with anti-Socialist schemes. Here’s Alan Weir: “Labour lost my vote. They are no longer a socialist party and do not represent my views.”
He’s one of millions of potential Labour supporters, Ed! Why are you slinging them out wholesale in order to gain a handful of Daily Mail readers (a forlorn hope anyway)?
The evidence suggests increasing numbers of people are rebelling against Conservative control – but the lack of any credible alternative from Labour has left them with nowhere to go. In that sense, Labour may be said to be driving people away from democracy and into slavery in a complete U-turn – away from the principles on which the party was created.
Martin Williams: “He is totally ignoring the electorate because these people only do democracy when it suits them!”
Ros Jesson: “Some Labour people… on BBC’s coverage… their frustration with the leadership was almost palpable.”
Ed’s message highlighted his values of “hard work, fairness and opportunity”. What did people think of that?
“I am sick to death of ‘hard work’ being touted as a value, as if those desperate to find a job were of no value,” commented Pauline Vernon. “The Labour Party is still so determined to occupy the middle ground they are becoming indistinguishable from the Conservatives.”
Paula Wilcock: “Half hearted promises, no believable policies. I want to hear a realistic plan of what they are going to do to get voters like me… to go back to the Labour Party.”
Baz Poulton (who supplied the image), had this to say: “Why not actually stand up for Labour values and ideals instead of just subscribing to the same as the Tories? Labour’s support has been dwindling as they have become more and more right wing… Standing more in line with Labour’s original values sees an obvious climb in support, while their desperation to be more Tory than the Tories is seeing their support suffer.
“It’s obvious why that happens, and what they need to do to get the support of their traditional voters who are turning elsewhere now. Labour’s manifesto reads like the Tory one.”
The worst of it is that, looking at the historical context, this is what Labour wanted– from the New Labour days onward. Look at Owen Jones’ recent Guardian article: “For years the political elite has pursued policies that have left large swaths of Britain gripped by insecurity: five million people trapped on social housing waiting lists; middle-income skilled jobs stripped from the economy; the longest fall in living standards since the Victorian era, in a country where most people in poverty are also in work.”
That was exactly what Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley planned back in the 1970s, as revealed in The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain: “Their view was that defeat of the movement that had forced Heath’s U-turn would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base. The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities.
“Very large-scale unemployment would end the ‘cycle of rising expectations,’ [and] permit the historic defeat of the trade union movement.”
This is exactly what Owen Jones wrote about on Monday. Nicholas Ridley put these ideas forward in (for example) the Final Report of the Policy Group on the Nationalised Industries in – prepare to be shocked – 1977.
And Labour – in office – did nothing about it. This is part of the reason people don’t trust Labour now.
Let’s go back to Mr Jones: “For years Labour has pursued a strategy of professionalising its politicians: its upper ranks are dominated by privileged technocrats who have spent most of their lives in the Westminster bubble.
“The weakening of trade unions and local government has purged working-class voices from a party founded as the political wing of organised labour: just four per cent of all MPs come from a manual background.
“Special advisers are parachuted into constituencies they have never heard of.
“Policies are decided by focus groups; a language is spoken that is alien to the average punter, full of buzzwords and jargon such as ‘predistribution’ and ‘hard-working people better off’.”
All of these things are wrong. There’s no point in even going into the reasons; any right-thinking person will agree that an MP who has never had a proper job (working as a researcher for another MP doesn’t count) is infinitely less use than one who has had to work for a living.
What is Labour’s reaction to UKIP’s Euro win? “The likes of Ed Balls want to respond to the high tide of Farageism with a firmer immigration-bashing message.” In other words, following UKIP’s right-wing lead.
Owen is correct to say: “This is political suicide”. In fact, for Ed Balls, it should be a sacking offence. He’s got no business coming out with it and has embarrassed Labour and its supporters by doing so.
He is also right to say that Labour must be more strident about its policies. Not only that, these policies must address the problems that have been created by neoliberal Conservatism and reverse the trends. That doesn’t mean using the same tools, as New Labour tried – because when the electorate gets tired of Labour again, the Tories would be able to change everything back and hammer the poor like never before.
No – it means removing those tools altogether. A fresh approach to clean out the rot – and the vigilance required to ensure it does not return.
If Ed Miliband really wants to win next year’s election – and this is by no means certain at the moment – then Labour needs to rediscover the values of the British people.
And that means paying attention when we say what those values are.
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