Monday, May 17, 2010

Layer 312 . . . Facing The Future, Party Leaders, Saying Sorry, Gang of Five, Money and Power, Will Hutton, and Sacker Brady

Jackie Ashley had a hopeless column in today's paper:

This contest can keep alive Labour's sense of possibility

The party could revive if the leadership race opens up radical debate, shows some lost fraternity and reconnects with its roots

Oxzen posted the following:

    "Two of the possible future leaders, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, have begun to sketch out some interesting ideas. They both sound penitent about Labour's failings in government. The party hadn't listened to voters about perceived unfairness felt by hard-working families . . . and in general had "lost touch"."

This is still the same mealy-mouthed New Labour wishful thinking from an out of touch New Labour apologist - "perceived unfairness . . . hard-working families . . . lost touch . . . "

There WAS unfairness - inequality increased. Fat cats got even fatter. The incomes of WORKING CLASS families stood still or diminished. As for losing touch with the aspirations of the poorest sections of our society - people like Blair and Brown, to say nothing of their minions, were never IN touch. They were blinkered careerist unprincipled managerialist egomaniacs from the start.

What's more, the likes of the Milibands and the Balls can't disassociate themselves from the actions and non-actions of a Bush-supporting Sun-sucking government as they were so bound up with it from the beginning. Saying sorry is not enough.

It's probably too much to hope, but the future leadership of the Labour party ought to come from those who spoke out against the New Labour brand from the very beginning, and have consistently argued for democratic socialism and social democracy. David Miliband says New Labour's time is up. He's right about that, and as much as his conversion to true Labour values is welcome, it looks to most of us like pure opportunism from someone who consistently supported Blair and Brown when they were in office.

The Labour party needs to look 10 years ahead, because it's quite likely that with the present government now occupying the middle ground of politics, and assuming they're sensible about cutting expediture, they will win again in five years time - especially if Cameron succeeds in banishing the spectre of Thatcherism and in establishing liberal progressive Conservatism.


This was the headline on the front page of The Observer yesterday:

David Miliband: New Labour is a thing of the past now

Former foreign secretary woos the party's left in bid to stall support for his brother in leadership contest

David Miliband today reaches out to the Labour left and the unions in an attempt to halt a bandwagon gathering behind the bid for the Labour leadership by his younger brother, Ed.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, the former foreign secretary, who is favourite to succeed Gordon Brown, said New Labour was an outdated creed that had served its purpose and now had to be replaced. "New Labour isn't new any more. What I'm interested in is next Labour. And the route to next Labour is to be listening. Labour listening, talking, engaging, discussing – debating Labour."

David Miliband, who is out of favour with the left because of his Blairite leanings, said it was time to move from old divisions and factions. "Blairites, Brownites, that's past," he said.

He showered praise on Jon Cruddas, the centre-left MP for Dagenham, who is being pushed heavily to enter the race by the unions, which will have a third of the votes in the contest.

"He has taught me a lot," he said. "He has been talking about housing for a long time. He has been talking about community organising for a long time." Both Cruddas and Margaret Hodge had done an "amazing job" fighting the British National party in east London.

The remarks will stoke speculation that Miliband wants Cruddas to swing behind him rather than run his own campaign.

Pledging to address concerns over immigration, he said Labour had been slow off the mark on many issues that mattered to people. "People felt we were late to the game on political reform, antisocial behaviour. We lost focus on that. Immigration, late to the game with the Australian points system. Social care, late to the game."

Yesterday Miliband's younger brother, Ed, the former energy secretary, launched his bid to lead Labour, telling the Fabian Society that the party had become "ideologically beached".

"We need to face up to the scale of our defeat. We lost the election, we had the second-worst result since universal suffrage." It was time to admit mistakes and stand up to "uncomfortable truths".

"We tended to become caretakers of the system. We became more like technocrats and less like transformers of our politics and our country. By the time that we lost power, we found ourselves politically and ideologically beached." He said the party had to address issues that worried the working classes, including anger about immigration and unfair benefit payments.

So - do these Milibands have a lot of gall, or what? They're not actually saying sorry, but they ARE saying we were part of a government that completely fucked up. So why can't they just fuck off, get proper jobs, and come back when they've done some proper community service. After all, being penitent and staying away from politics for a while did wonders for the likes of Jonathan Aitken and Michael Portillo. A period of silence, at the very least, would be very welcome. No chance of that, obviously.


Gang of Five

Also in The Observer yesterday was a report that the New Labour team which met with the LibDems to discuss a possible coalition consisted of "Lord Mandelson in the chair, flanked by Lord Adonis, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman".

Harriet - what on earth were you doing in that company - and why weren't you, as deputy leader, leading the group? No fucking wonder the discussions didn't get anywhere. Why would the LibDems even consider doing a deal with the likes of Mandelson, the two Eds, and the Adonis? How could you even have a decent conversation with such egomaniacal arseholes? Such a bunch of twats and losers. And don't even get me started on the actual politics.


Nick Cohen's column yesterday was on the theme of one of Oxzen's recent postings, which was money = power. Cohen's was headlined:

Welcome to Britain in 2010 where money + class = power

The establishment is back at the heart of government. It's as if the last 100 years had never happened


The Observer editorial yesterday was worth a read:

The Lib Dems must stand up for the poor

It is in Nick Clegg's political interests to defend those most vulnerable to the coming austerity


Also Will Hutton:

Vince Cable's challenge will be to bring the chancellor to heel


This is the report on Will Hutton being invited to chair an enquiry into fair pay:

Will Hutton to lead public sector pay review for coalition

Government gives liberal commentator and Labour's Frank Field key policy roles


Two good letters in today's paper:

Labour stands at a critical point in its history. To go forward with any Blairite will be consign the party to decades in the wilderness. We need a total re-evaluation of what Labour stands for. Junk the "New", bin the Blairites, and let's find a party with integrity, grit and a set of policies that do justice to the illustrious ancestors of a once-great party.

Pete Williams

The UK Labour party must leave behind the leaders tainted by the last 13 years. Sorry to say, this includes the Miliband brothers, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper. Not a single one of them showed any critical intellect during the last 13 years. They solidly aligned themselves with Blair's and then Brown's sub-Thatcherism. Not a single one of them has a mature relationship with Britain's trade unions either, despite creating their political careers in northern working-class seats. They should have to prove their social democrat credentials before aspiring to leading positions.

Dave Feickert


On a much lighter note, Martin Kelner wrote a very good column today:

Karren Brady – what is she like? One day she is sacking the West Ham United manager, Gianfranco Zola, the next she is on the BBC's Junior Apprentice with Alan Sugar, assessing "Britain's brightest and youngest business minds". Gawd help us.

According to Wikipedia – and I accept that is not the most promising start to a sentence – Brady impressed her boss, David Sullivan, because she was "a sacker".

If Zola is looking for solace – along with compensation, obviously – he might be comforted to learn that when his sacker was on Desert Island Discs she chose Last Christmas by Wham! and Abba's Dancing Queen among the discs she wished to spend the rest of her life with. So if she ever gets marooned, that will teach her.

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