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Politics

Ed Miliband Leadership “Crisis”: Policy Not Personality Please

EDMTUCThe froth around Ed Miliband’s Leadership is an inevitable result of three factors coming together, and may derail the Labour Party from having any sniff of winning the general election in May.

Firstly the cancer of the Progress (sic) faction the Party has been eating away at Ed’s leadership ever since their anointed one, David Miliband was defeated in the race for the Leadership in 2010. According to Medhi Hassan in his book, “Ed: The Milibands and the making of a Labour Leader” (October 2012) as the candidates gathered in a room to find out the result of the ballot, there were dozens of Progress flunkies present in various Labour Party apparatchik roles to hand hold the new leader and get him ready for his acceptance speech. They had been placed and funded in Head Office by David Sainsbury.

Cue the result and it was exit stage left by every single one of them. Ed Miliband was left in a room on his own to prepare to deliver his first speech as Leader of the Labour Party and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. He never had a chance, right from the start. Progress (sic) has never accepted the result. The press office, from day one has hung him out to dry.

Having spent (granted) a bit of time with him as a result of working on his bid team in a very minor role I can say he not weird, not especially nerdy; just very earnest and serious about what he wants to do. I campaigned for him because I believed he represented the best chance of having the values of Nye Bevan and Tony Benn being enacted by the Party.

Fears about what can happen if you take his collegiate approach to far were confirmed by a conversation I had with a back bench comrade in February. He said that Ed has to be 100% absolutely certain that any policy he announces won’t cause any issues for him going forward. It must be terra firma before he steps forward.

Example: the Bedroom Tax. The Tories unveiled this evil policy in March 2013. Everyone bar Graham Stuart and a few head bangers thought this was a good move either politically or policy wise. Yet it took a full SIX Months for Ed to say we would abolish it. Instead there was terrible equivocation in public.. can we afford it etc. Hog wash. If a policy is morally bankrupt you say so, and then tell the public we will figure out how to solve the problem. Similarly with the Care UK Workers in his own Doncaster back yard. Get down there, show solidarity and that you are outraged by their treatment and say Labour will get rid of private companies from the NHS.

He wants consensus in the Party at all costs and ahead of any debate or reflection on where we are headed. You can be united by your values and debate the policy based on that premise.

Consensus means one thing: minority voices are silenced. You need creative tension to get new ideas and drive forward both intellectually and campaign wise. It is actually a far more inclusive approach.

The second factor that has afflicted Miliband was his mishandling of the Scottish Independence Referendum. I saw Johann Lamont speak in early October and it as clear that the Scottish Labour Leader believed that severe damage had been inflicted within the Party and that we had seen an exodus of members.

This was because of the decision to make it a red line issue to be pro Union. Instead of doing what Wilson did in 1975 over Europe by allowing individuals to choose their side, have a debate, vote and then come back together, the decision was taken that you were no longer welcome in Labour if you were pro independence.

This wasn’t helped by Ed coming together with Cameron and Clegg in the last week. The clear impression was; London knows best, the Establishment knows best. Thus the 45% who voted “Yes” are out in the cold meaning an unprecedented electoral meltdown north of the Border.

Certain MPs, now their neck is in the noose have decided to finally speak out against Ed purely out of self interest. Typical Westminster elite ovine behaviour and moral cowardice.

The third factor that has dragged the Miliband leadership into the current mire in the Daily Mail. They hate the Labour Party and if they could get away with a headline saying, “Voting Labour Gives Your Child Cancer!” they would run it in a heartbeat. There is also a streak of enthusiastic anti Semitism at the paper. Hence their disgusting story about D Day veteran and leading anti Fascist Ralph Miliband. What do imagine the bacon sandwich story was all about?  AS for the constant photos of him looking awkward; it’s just pathetic.

Some of Labour’s policies chime really well with the voters, providing you don’t tell them that they come from the Party.

A poll published this autumn by YouGov shows that the majority of UK residents believe in a fairer Society and comprehensively reject the Tories me first attitude to wealth and how it is spread in the UK.

This poll proves that it is Labour who is tuned into the aspirations of voters.  When the Tories push for policies that deliberately aim to further widen the inequality gap—from tax breaks for the rich to austerity—they assume that this is the society many voters want. We now have concrete evidence that this is simply not true and that the Tories have no idea what hard working people value.  47 per cent of those surveyed felt that the country had become less fair, with only 12 per cent believing it had become fairer since the Tory led coalition government came to power in 2010.  63 per cent felt that the widening gap between the rich and the poor in the country has had a decidedly negative effect on British society.

Ed Miliband and his Labour team have announced a series of measures to address the problem of growing inequality, and they are proving popular with the voters despite concerted negative and personalised attacks from the media on the Labour Leader.

Currently Labour is the only Party that can implement the vision of what the voters want from their Government. If this was a different time in the electoral cycle we should be having a debate about calling for a new Democratic Left Socialist Party backed by the Unions if Labour won’t do what the public wants and needs by re affirming Socialism. But we are only six months from polling day. Believe me a bloody awful Labour Government would be nothing compared to a Tory majority one. That’s a terrible thing to say, but there is it is.

Back to the poll. Over 80 per cent – believed closing loopholes for Britain’s notorious tax evaders would be an effective measure for narrowing the gap between rich and poor. Nearly 60 per cent, including a whopping half of Conservatives polled, thought that significantly raising the minimum wage would create a more equal society, a policy that Labour has explicitly backed. Two-thirds supported capping executive salaries at 65 times the rate of the lowest paid employee, while only 16 per cent opposed the measure. Labour has talked about pay ratios and this poll shows that that the public is well behind capping the pay of those at the top in relation to those at the bottom. Labour is firmly on the right side of the argument with the voters and if we move forward with even more popular policies such as nationalisation of energy and the railways, plus ending the private sector involvement the election will be in the bag. This attitude (correct in the most part) of, “they are all the same” can be ended by reforming tax and shifting it to unearned assets such and land and antiques. Prof. Danny Blanchflower who sat on the Bank of England Monetary Policy Board says it would raise £800 billion, eliminate the deficit, allow abolition of all student fees, investment in real apprenticeships, build 2 million new homes and abolish VAT.

The leadership is a non issue and a media driven distraction, although I imagine Ed himself must be shattered and low on confidence. The poll should buoy him to be bold, and if Progress doesn’t like it, well you know the rest of that sentence.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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