An Ed Miliband leadership should be good for the country


by Rumbold
25th September, 2010 at 9:07 pm    

I will note be voting for the Labour party at the next election. Their long stay in government caused significant damage to this country, whether it was through overspending, curbing of civil liberties or any other number of reasons. I feel that the present government, for all its faults, has started off rather well, attempting to curb the massive deficit and increasing civil liberties. Logically then, I should want Labour to be as ineffective and divided as possible. But I don’t.

Governments should always be scrutinised as heavily as possible. This can be done by the media and voters, but the Opposition has a part to play too. The more competent and focused the Opposition, the better the scrutiny. They are there to question and highlight mistakes. It can be galling at times to watching Opposition politicians who helped to ruin the country doing this, but it needs to be done.

Of the three most plausible leadership candidates, Ed Miliband seemed the most likely to refocus the party on its primary task; providing Britain with an effective Opposition. Ed Balls was loathed by Blairites, David Miliband by Brownites. Ed Miliband seems to be relatively well regarded by various factions (even though he was close to Gordon Brown), and so should be able to unite (or Unite) them, as long as he avoids the trap of being the unions’ man in Parliament. A more unified Labour party should then provide better scrutiny of the executive, which benefits the country.


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  1. Boyo — on 25th September, 2010 at 9:51 pm  

    Well, with praise from you we should really begin to get worried.

    The only thing EM can do to save himself and the party is to end the union block vote once and for all. Today was a travesty and a gift to the Tories (no wonder you’re so bright-eyed). Not only was Lightweight Ed the wrong person for the leadership, the Party and its MPs knew it. They will be popping the champagne in No 10 tonight.

    What a tragedy. Labour had the chance to get rid of the asset strippers in five years or less, yet the unions have doomed us to another lost generation, forget a new one. Oh I know Sunny loves him – this from a cheerleader for the Liberals when he wasn’t supporting the Tories. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad – the short-sighted unions have just condemned vast swathes of their members to unemployment and misery for years to come, though I suppose it will give plenty of fodder for the Bloggerati, marching us up the hill, then back down again. It’ll be a string of ’92s then better luck next time. Nothing changes, does it.

  2. David O'Keefe — on 25th September, 2010 at 10:15 pm  

    Boyo, John Smith abolished the block vote.

  3. douglas clark — on 25th September, 2010 at 10:31 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I think the Labour Party has to go back to it’s roots, which were well before the Blairite / Brownite factionalism.

    There is really no point in a Labour Party that doesn’t stand up for the working class and minorities. And buggers up an economy on the basis of pandering to their enemies.

    But it didn’t, and it doesn’t.

    It has moved to the middle class – and their worries – and away from it’s roots. It has become incapable of dealing with reasonable aspirations and also completely capable of turning a blind eye to greed.

    It is a busted flush.

  4. Andy Gilmour — on 26th September, 2010 at 12:05 am  

    Douglas,

    sorry to be petty, but could you please define “the working class”?

    Not that I’m a Labour fanboy either, you understand. Just find “class” analysis a bit simplistic (not to mention anachronistic), & tends to overwhelm useful discussion.

    Frankly, in order to be ‘representative’, Labour (& the Conservatives) probably ought to split into 2 (or more) separate entities…but that’s not very likely, given the money & organisation required to play in our system.

  5. Page With A View — on 26th September, 2010 at 12:21 am  

    I imagine that Cameron and Clegg are busy quaffing the bubbly. David M was not just the most polished public performer, he was the only realistic threat to the Coalition’s centre ground.

    This drift to the left (I say drift because 1.3% is barely a mandate), funded by the unions, is a gift to the government. Despite 4 months of navel gazing, Labour still haven’t got it – Carry On Spending is the reason they lost, not an aspiration.

    It also exposes the inadequacy of AV – MPs wanted David, Labour members wanted David, but the unions wanted their beer and sandwiches with Ed. The party is as divided as ever, let the briefing begin…

  6. Sunny — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:44 am  

    There is no union block vote – its ordinary members who are part of any union who vote.

    And the material that can be sent to them is strictly regulated.

  7. boyo — on 26th September, 2010 at 8:48 am  

    You know what I meant Sunny. I read last week that the unions want out of their way to get around the rules – this had bugger all to do with democracy but was a back-room stitch-up that went against the wishes of the members. Honestly, it would not have been so bitter pill to take otherwise, but this is a gift to the Tories and a mockery of the membership.

  8. Sarah AB — on 26th September, 2010 at 8:59 am  

    Sunny@6 – or anyone else – I’m a member of a union but didn’t get sent anything about voting. I tried to find out about it (vaguely) but couldn’t track down the right info. Did people have to actively ask to vote or was it the case that my union (UCU) wasn’t included?

  9. boyo — on 26th September, 2010 at 9:02 am  
  10. Trofim — on 26th September, 2010 at 9:03 am  

    First impressions are vital in establishing permanent perceptions. Bland, southern, head prefect, something of the nerd about him, clearly a bloke who’s never had to get his hands dirty. On opening of mouth, same anodyne platitudes which are emitted by any professional politicians roll out of his. Further investigation reveals that his sole brush with work was in “television journalism”. I bet they had to show him where Doncaster was on the map. All in all, just another exemplar of the modern politician, a sleek, regionless apparatchik.
    By the way, the “should” in the title of this post is presumably alethic?

  11. Rumbold — on 26th September, 2010 at 10:05 am  

    Boyo:

    Well, with praise from you we should really begin to get worried.

    Heh. That usually does held the end of things.

    Today was a travesty and a gift to the Tories (no wonder you’re so bright-eyed). Not only was Lightweight Ed the wrong person for the leadership, the Party and its MPs knew it. They will be popping the champagne in No 10 tonight.

    Who was the right choice? The candidate who covered up torture? Gordon’s right hand man who helped to damage this country’s economy? The other two?

    Douglas:

    I disagree that a Labour party going back to its roots would defend minorities. Some of the early 20th century working class rhetoric was pretty racist, being directed against foreign workers (just read some of the Guardian pieces from around that time).

  12. Rumbold — on 26th September, 2010 at 10:07 am  

    Trofim:

    By the way, the “should” in the title of this post is presumably alethic?

    How so?

  13. Trofim — on 26th September, 2010 at 10:22 am  

    @12
    Perhaps my linguistic antennae are too oversensitive to distinctions. “Should” is ambiguous depending on context. Alethic use of modals such as “should”, “ought” and so on, refers to probability, likelihood.
    Deontic use of modals refers to obligation.
    cf. You should return that money you stole (deontic).
    It should be a nice day today (alethic).

    My mistake in being overly analytic. In this context,you are referring to probability.

  14. Jemmy Hope — on 26th September, 2010 at 11:22 am  

    The sellout begins here. Electioneering bullshit over, time to inject some “realism” into proceedings. I hear your new leader has already given his first interview to the Telegraph.

  15. Richard — on 26th September, 2010 at 11:41 am  

    “There is really no point in a Labour Party that doesn’t stand up for the working class and minorities.”

    It can’t win the election without the support of the middle classes and majorities.

  16. damon — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:12 pm  

    Well he seems like a nice boy. A bit wet behind the ears maybe.
    Is he Jewish? Not that it matters these days.

  17. Rumbold — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:17 pm  

    Trofim:

    Yes, it referred to probability. Which is why I was a bit confused by your comment. But carry on using such language, please.

    Damon:

    He has a Jewish background, but I don’t know if he is a practising Jew.

  18. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

    “Who was the right choice? The candidate who covered up torture? Gordon’s right hand man who helped to damage this country’s economy? The other two? ”

    Rumbold – Ed Miliband was the Chief Economic Adviser to the Treasury and part of the Brown cabal.

    Second, if David Miliband was responsible for covering torture so was the rest of the cabinet and both the others served in the cabinet.

    So your analysis is faulty on this one Rumbold.

  19. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:33 pm  

    Sunny:

    “There is no union block vote – its ordinary members who are part of any union who vote.

    And the material that can be sent to them is strictly regulated.”

    Like ballot paper coming in an envelope which also contains a magazine with Ed Miliband’s picture all over and no other candidate and making it clear that the union recommends voting for Ed Miliband. Then other leaflets as well.

    So strictly regulated it is not – saying that Ed Miliband won following the rules of the contest and there is no dispute that he won.

  20. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 1:34 pm  

    Times just reported that Ed has offered his brother the job of shadow chancellor.

  21. earwicga — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:25 pm  

    He’s not Rumbold. Atheist.

  22. earwicga — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:27 pm  

    ‘Second, if David Miliband was responsible for covering torture so was the rest of the cabinet and both the others served in the cabinet.

    So your analysis is faulty on this one Rumbold.’

    Rubbish. Seriously Shamit, why do you keep coming up with this shit? Do you think that David Miliband opened up his job as a communal job for all in the cabinet?

  23. Boyo — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:34 pm  

    Collective responsibility is the hallmark of Cabinet government. Thought you’d know that Earwicga, being so well informed.

  24. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:38 pm  

    “Rubbish. Seriously Shamit, why do you keep coming up with this shit? Do you think that David Miliband opened up his job as a communal job for all in the cabinet?”

    Do you understand how cabinet government works?

    Do you believe that the Foreign Secretary can authorise something of that magnitude without express PM approval?

    And it is a bloody cabinet government – so before you start calling my comments shit, may be learning and reading may help.

  25. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:43 pm  

    And, as far as ed Balls and Miliband go, they were very much part of the Brown cabal. And, they both were very much part of the inner core than David Miliband.

    Maybe reading wider than blogs and idiotic comments that fully support your “enlightened views” just might help.

    As far as talking shit on this blog, I am not the stalinist who tries to muzzle opposing views and I am usually centrist and I choose issues and I rarely attack personalities. Well, but I can’t expect everyone to be mature in this world can I now.

  26. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 2:54 pm  

    One more time government 102 -

    Cabinet responsibility means that decisions by each and every cabinet member is ratified (whether explicitly or implicitly) by the entire cabinet.

    If you disagree then you resign.

    If you do not you accept responsibility for that decision.

    Hope that makes it a bit clearer. Stop slagging David Miliband – because he has been graceful and the one who defended the party to the wider electorate. And he won three election winning manifestos as well as be a good minister. He was principled. So your stupid accusations about him having blood on his hands – well if he does so does everyone who sat around that cabinet table.

  27. Rumbold — on 26th September, 2010 at 3:43 pm  

    Shamit:

    With regards collective responsibility, it is not always clear how much the cabinet knows about security operations. That is not to excuse Ed Miliband, who, as you say, could have resigned, but my focus on who was the best person to help the Labour party provide effective opposition. As I noted, Ed Miliband was close to Gordon Brown, but he doesn’t have the reputation of being a tribalist in the same way that Ed Balls does, which made him a better choice for someone to unite the party.

  28. Billy Gruff — on 26th September, 2010 at 4:18 pm  

    They will never win with Ed, the public won’t vote for ‘that’ on charm alone.
    David simply has more of the air of a capable statesman. (Despite the (gulp) torture link)
    The Tories will take Ed apart due to the Union ‘link’. And come the next election the Union’s will be perceived as even more of an albatross.

    (sadly Union’s and Civil liberties are turn-offs for most)

    You could argue it’s better to have a decent and more ideological sound opposition than yet another Blair type government. But that ideology will yet again have to go out the window in approx 9 years time when labour are still in opposition. (That’s kinda how New Labour and Blair emerged in the first place.)
    It would have been better to have got over that dilemma now by installing a better ‘figurehead’ in the form of David, whilst the New Labour is discredited and the left stronger within the party.

  29. halima — on 26th September, 2010 at 5:18 pm  

    Well I am very pleased with the result. The other Miliband didn’t inspire me with any confidence, and most people I know who were supporting him were usually individuals who make up their minds by reading what others say – not going by instincts. Ed is a risk, but in my mind, it’s by taking risks that we might sometimes elect the best leader, not by going with safe bets.

    If people are worried about whether Ed will win an election, they should start doing something about it now, that’s what politics is, after all, not taking an election result for granted.

    Go Ed.

  30. Shamit — on 26th September, 2010 at 8:10 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Unity – but the majority of MPs and party membership wanted David Miliband to lead them. And Carlie Whelan types won it for Ed. That`s not good recipe for unity.

    140 MPs and 66,670 labour members wated David Miliband -
    122 MPs and 55,500 labour members wanted Ed Miliband – but Ed Miliband won,

    But good luck to the new leader.

  31. douglas clark — on 26th September, 2010 at 9:12 pm  

    Andy Gilmour @ 4

    sorry to be petty, but could you please define “the working class”?

    Not that I’m a Labour fanboy either, you understand. Just find “class” analysis a bit simplistic (not to mention anachronistic), & tends to overwhelm useful discussion.

    Well, I am an anachronism around here.

    I think that class is pretty well redundant as an idea, but bare with me. Try to keep up at the back there!

    Class, these days is about money, least I think it is.

    Class these days is about fame, least I think it is.

    Class is what it always was, about being better, about being superior and stuff.

    Merchant Bankers, a sort of god-like entity in the Brown pantheon would you not agree – got us into this hole, and what is being done about them?

    Sweet Fanny Adams.

  32. douglas clark — on 27th September, 2010 at 4:07 am  

    Richard @ 15,

    It can’t win the election without the support of the middle classes and majorities.

    True.

    But I am looking for a re-alignment of definitions here.

    What I think is true, and you can feel free to disagree, is that a huge number of people who consider themselves ‘middle class’ are, in fact, ‘working class’.

    Is a doctor not subject to collective responsibility over their actions? I think he or she will find that they are. I think that a lot of folk do not understand their relationship with the status shit at all.

    Anyone that works for a living is working class. Anyone, short of a boardroom banker, is working class.

    That is what I am saying.

  33. douglas clark — on 27th September, 2010 at 4:47 am  

    Rumbold @ 11,

    I am off at a tangent.

    However, good can come out of bad, I think.

    You are right to say that the Labour Party arose from self interest. Least, I think that is true. And I take it that that is what you are saying?

    Collectivism was a whole lot better than being picked off, individually, by owners. And there is not much of a difference, lets be honest here, between the colonial slavers, and the local shits?

    For, hell mend you, I like you! But you misunderstand, perhaps deliberately, the relationship between power and freedom?

    And the difficulties that ordinary people had in taking any sort of stake in the governance of this daft realm?

    I disagree that a Labour party going back to its roots would defend minorities. Some of the early 20th century working class rhetoric was pretty racist, being directed against foreign workers (just read some of the Guardian pieces from around that time).

    Obviously not.

    But they evolved, at least a bit.

    Your average socialist would read that literature and squirm.

    As they should.

    But that is not the point Rumbold. It is how your folks and my folks thought – equally.

    Everyone’s grandpappy or Nan thought like that.

    Pointing it at socialists is wrong.

    It wasn’t right then and it ain’t right now.

  34. boyo — on 27th September, 2010 at 7:45 am  

    @29 “most people I know who were supporting him were usually individuals who make up their minds by reading what others say – not going by instincts.”

    And that’s supposed to be a criticism?!

    I think that sums up Ed’s support though – he makes a few lefty sounds and the “progressive left” hounds lollop his way. Little thought, little analysis. Indeed it sums up much of the quality of opinion here – signposts are all, just don’t ask where we’re going!

    To be honest, Ed’s politics is so vacuous it’s hard to take exception to it, but he’s no statesman. His brother was the only serious candidate and thankfully most members and MPs could see it. Ed’s election is a tragedy for those on the left that actually care about people and getting hold of the power to help them. I feel sadder now than after the election – now I have to face up to a decade or more of right-wing rule because a coalition of navel gazers and union bosses prefer that to government. Well done.

  35. douglas clark — on 27th September, 2010 at 10:18 am  

    boyo,

    It is interesting, is it not, that we seem to be into an era of bi-partisan politics? It has always been the case that Labour and Tories circled around the feast of governance? ( Expect Rumbold along in a minute to provide a historical perspective about Whigs…)

    I’d have thought, come the next election, that the Liberals will have a case to make. They will be seen as Tory lite, and they might well benefit from that. If they play their cards right.

    I’m off to see whether there is a bet to be made….

  36. Boyo — on 27th September, 2010 at 11:05 am  

    Yes and no. Politics is always about power. The Tories and Liberals (Whigs) have always been separate sides of the same coin – the Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie. Labour (hence its name) was therefore invented to attempt to wrest power from the other two.

    Subsequently a lot of cross-dressing has gone on, indeed to such an extent that most people delude themselves that they are not Labour(ers) but Bourgeois, or even Aristocratic! But as times trun tougher, true colours will come to the fore – we can see that now with Cleggerron – a match made in heaven (or Westminster/ Eton) if there ever was one.

    It is a shame in this context that the Labour party (well, the unions – always the most myopic) have failed to see the UK as it is, that most British people have these delusions of grandeur and therefore need to be coaxed back in to the fold, which is what David would have done. Hence my anger – I’m probably considerably to the left of most people here, but then most of them are actually bourgeois in labourers clothes, so have a vested interest in the failure of the Labour party, though they would never admit it, not even to themselves.

  37. douglas clark — on 27th September, 2010 at 11:12 am  

    boyo @ 36,

    Well, yes,

    It seems to me that folk that see themselves as ‘middle class’ are in fact ‘working class’ apart from the self aggrandising bullshit factor. Perhaps they are aspirational of ‘upper class’ and have no clue as to what ideas they are buying into?

  38. halima — on 27th September, 2010 at 11:27 am  

    Boyo

    “I think that sums up Ed’s support though – he makes a few lefty sounds and the “progressive left” hounds lollop his way. Little thought, little analysis. Indeed it sums up much of the quality of opinion here – signposts are all, just don’t ask where we’re going!”

    Guess we will have to wait and see what the next election brings. I don’t share your pessimism, much the opposite, actually.

  39. MaidMarian — on 27th September, 2010 at 11:41 am  

    halima – It kind of depends.

    I would have liked a Burnham leadership, but I am not totally dispirited by Ed Milliband.

    Truth is that for a Labour leadership contest, the signposts are what matters, the analysis comes in the next month. It might be that a Ed Milliband led party can come up with a deficit and banks policy that is credible. That is where the short and medium term political battles will be won and lost. I’m willing to see what Ed has to say before anything else.

    I do think however that this contest lasted far, far too long.

    On a separate point – I noticed some reports that said that some unions sent out Ballot papers with Ed Milliband campaign literature, anyone know if that is true?

  40. earwicga — on 27th September, 2010 at 11:43 am  

    I’ve heard that they had pics of EdM on the envelopes MaidMarian.

  41. Boyo — on 27th September, 2010 at 12:57 pm  

    MM @ 39, see me @ 9

  42. MaidMarian — on 27th September, 2010 at 1:07 pm  

    Boyo – Thanks for that.

    It doesn’t look like any rules were broken (and it is certainly in no one’s interests to pursue the matter). But it is a staggeringly bad piece of practice.

  43. Rumbold — on 27th September, 2010 at 8:08 pm  

    Douglas:

    I didn’t mean to imply that the Labour party was exclusively racist, just pointing out that its roots contained plenty of racism.

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