If you know anybody with any influence on the Labour Party, PLEASE force them to read this.
Isn’t it funny how things can change so very quickly in politics!
At the beginning of this week I was riding on a wave of euphoria. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t much worried by Abbottsgate or Glasman. Most people realised that Diane Abbott had merely been indiscrete (many people actually agreed with her) and, outside inner-circles, who has heard of Lord Glasman?
Most of all, I thought Ed’s speech was brilliant.
I thought it raised principles which could win us the election, and could set the stage for our fight against the Tories.
I was perhaps most excited by the concept of ‘fiscal responsibility’. This is a brilliant term, because it completely side-steps the debate of spending versus deficit, austerity versus recession, which circles endlessly round and round without solution. It is to budget cuts what Best Value was to Compulsory Competitive Tendering (a cut is not good per se, for example, if it is going to damage tax revenue or cause greater spending later.)
I was just as pleased by his other principles – sharing society’s wealth more fairly, creating jobs and tackling vested interests.
Adopting these principles would completely free up the Labour leadership on how to respond to Tory legislation. At the moment, they are trapped because they feel that if they oppose a Coalition measure to cut spending, however cruel, it will leave them open to the charge of budget irresponsibility.
Now, together, these four principles could form the criteria by which we measured the harm of any Tory policy, and gauged the validity of our own – is it fiscally responsible, will it reduce inequality of wealth, will it create jobs, and will it reduce the power of vested interests? If the answer is ‘No’, then it is a bad policy and we attack it. If the answer is ‘Yes’, then we can support it wholeheartedly.
Thus, in Ed’s speech, and in these four principles, I suddenly caught a glimpse of the way forward … the way to take on the Tories … the way to win the next election.
I was not the only one. The Tories took fright and suddenly started talking caring. The Guardian drew attention to Ed’s new principles. Even Dan Hodges was mildly approving.
And then Suey2y organised that wonderful Welfare Benefit Reform campaign, and the government was defeated in the Lords. When candidates in the NEC elections started calling openly for more democracy in the Party, I was beginning to dare to think that we were winning!
Not a bit of it, of course. With its unerring ability to wrest ignominy from the jaws of victory, the Labour Party went into melt-down mode.
NOBODY (least of all Ed Miliband) seems to have picked up on the genius and the opportunity of the ‘key principles’. Ed did not even mention them on the Today programme. Sunny Hundal declared Ed’s speech pointless, and proceeded to a demeaning twitter-bitch with Owen Jones. Neal Lawson, rather than developing Ed's ideas, chose instead to return to wittering on about how Labour needed to admit that it had messed up the economy (as if admitting Labour messed up would somehow make Labour look more 'credible'!)
Indeed, rather than building on Ed’s ideas, Michael Meacher and Seamus Milne judged that this was the time to declare war on the Blairite ‘zombies’. The government was running distracters on Scotland and education to great effect, and overturned the Lord’s vote with a constitutional trick.
Finally, today, Dan Hodges has reverted to type with a barn-storming article on how laughable both Ed and the Labour Left are. You have to appreciate the irony of someone who, daily holding up Ed to ridicule, then complains that Ed is beginning to look ridiculous.
And where is Ed in all this.? Glasman should have been put on the naughty spot. Meacher and Milne needed publicly contradicting. Where was the photo-call with Sue Marsh and the public support for her campaign – why have the Liberal peers been allowed to get credit for the Lord’s victory?
Above all, why haven’t we have had a few statements hammering the Tories’ stance on Child Benefit on the grounds that it is fiscally irresponsible (it will damage the economy by taking money from the poorest people who would spend it) and that it increases, not reduces, inequality of wealth. Why is Ed not out and about reinforcing the principles that he enunciated in his speech? Why haven’t the Shadow Cabinet followed up with coordinated statements banging the same drum; if anything, Ed’s speech seems uncomfortably at odds with Byrne and Murphy.
Eoin Clarke recently produced a check-list of things Ed could do to succeed; I would wholehearted concur.
Overall, however, I would urge Ed to be more proactive.
He has now his message – it is coherent, easily understood, morally indisputable and potentially popular.
Ed does not need to 'go to war' with anybody; but he does need simply and purely to tell his members (face-to-face and if necessary toe-to-toe) to GET ON MESSAGE.
(When Brown lost control of the PLP, he brought in Mandelson to quell revolt – does Ed need to do the same?)
And then we can all get out there spread the word:
Sharing the wealth fairly
Tackling vested interests.
Sharing the wealth fairly
Tackling vested interests.
For goodness sake, it’s not very hard.