Wednesday 1 September 2010

The Left Case for Ed Miliband

I know many readers are eagerly anticipating the results of the 100 worst UK political blogs. Unfortunately I must ask for your continued forbearance: they won't be appearing until this evening. In the mean time here's another guest post from Brother G on Ed Miliband. For the record, Ed will be receiving my second preference.

I had hoped to make it through the Labour leadership contest without making one of these posts. After all, the prospect of four months of witnessing the candidates talk vaguely about change in a variety of venues has proved tedious enough without the rest of us throwing an oar in.

But with ballots about to start arriving in letterboxes, and with the frankly terrifying prospect of a David Miliband win continuing to haunt the contest like a resilient case of the clap, I think its important that I try to add something, anything, to the debate in the hope of preventing that from happening.

So here it is: I believe that Ed Miliband is the best choice to lead the Labour Party in the coming period.

It might seem strange that a self-confessed socialist writing for a popular former-Trotskyist-turned-shameless-class-traitor blog such as this (revolutionary purists despair) would be declaring their support for one of the Miliband brothers over the alleged Left candidate Dianne Abbott. But the truth is that from her inauspicious start preventing John McDonnell making it onto the ballot, to her lacklustre campaigning, through to her insistence on pigeon-holing herself as little more than the token candidate, I have been nothing but disappointed with Abbott’s role in this contest. If the left is to prove itself a legitimate presence within the Labour Party in the near future, it would do well to turn the page on this ‘turn the page’ candidate before she manages to develop into a figurehead.

In Ed Miliband, we have an opportunity to renew the Labour Party in a way which puts our values at the heart of our movement. While his elder brother (by accident or by design) exemplifies all the most odious elements of the New Labour era: the wealthy sponsors, the pandering to right-wing rhetoric about the deficit, the stale and disproven obsession with chasing an imaginary Middle England, his younger brother has instead cast himself as the Miliband with his finger on the social democratic pulse.

Ed M has been insightful in his acknowledgement that it was traditional working class support, not the aspiring middle class, that left Labour in their droves. And while his program lacks the radicalism that those of us on the left would like, it nevertheless marks a clear path through the broad church which can appeal to the majority of party members, and to the public.

Policies such as lowering the 50% tax threshold to £100,000 and introducing a living wage are steps in the right direction. His stance on civil liberties is a refreshing break from the worst elements of Labour’s authoritarian past. And the introduction of a graduate tax, votes at 16 and support for AV look set to strengthen the Labour vote amongst students and young people. But more important than all of these is the shift in the nature and tone of inter-party debate that an Ed Miliband victory could herald. As he himself put it, New Labour often saw its job as being to defend the public against its own members. If the Labour Movement is going to grow and develop in the coming years, such hostility must end.

I believe that an Ed Miliband victory could herald the start of a process of renewal within the Labour Party which can develop an effective social democratic program, heal the divisions of the past 15 years and put the final nail in the New Labour coffin. And if the war criminals and prima donnas desperately scrabbling to intervene on David Miliband’s behalf tell us anything, its that they are worried about exactly the same thing.

That is why, with mix of cautious optimism and cold pragmatism, I will be voting Ed Miliband as my first preference.

(For those of you who are curious, my second preference will be going to Ed Balls, in the hope that his first act as Shadow Chancellor will be to dash Osborne’s skull open on the dispatch box while reciting Keynes’
General Theory of Employment.)


Matty said...

"from her inauspicious start preventing John McDonnell making it onto the ballot"
Do you honestly believe that the likes of Lammy and Straw would have nominated John? I would have preferred John but it is obvious that he would not have made it on the ballot. Diane only just made it and if another woman had put herself forward I doubt that Diane would have got on either. The numbers just aren't there.

"her lacklustre campaigning" Have you been to any of the hustings? Diane has been consistenly one of the best performers getting the loudest cheers eg the New Statesman hustings, the one I went to at Islington Town Hall. Did you see the Newsnight hustings? In the judgement of many she was the most accomplished performer of the five.

It all seems a bit of a hatchet job. Having said that the comments about Ed are fine. Diane as 1st preference, Ed as second.

Brother G said...

Matty, I agree that Diane performed strongly in the hustings, particularly the early events where her stance on immigration and trident really helped to define her candidacy.

My problem is with her broader campaign. While Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have travelled the country establishing campaigns in defence of school meals and the NHS, amongst other things, Abbott seems to be content to keep her activity down to twitter activity and the occasional public meeting, typically in areas where she already has established support such as Luton (my home town, and a place with two pro-Abbott MPs).

In the entirety of this campaign, I havn't heard a single thing directly from Diane or her team. I havn't received a call from a volunteer, I havn't received a letter. Top that off with her website which opens with a stretched bad acid video of her face delivering her campaign message, and I simply found the whole thing very underwhelming.

I shouldn't lay all this at Abbott's door. She evidently lacks the financial clout of some of the other candidates, and like Balls and Burnham she is battling against a media that wants to portray the contest as little more than a fraternal showdown between the Milibands. But it doesn't cost much to mobilise volunteers, or to make a website that isn't terrifying. And while Burnham and particularly Balls have managed to broadcast their strength in spite of the media wash out (I was particularly impressed by Balls attacks on Gove and his recent speeches on economics and housing) Diane has failed to gain much beyond those first good hustings performances.

Eyes Wide Open said...

"exemplifies all the most odious elements of the New Labour era: the wealthy sponsors, the pandering to right-wing rhetoric about the deficit, the stale and disproven obsession with chasing an imaginary Middle England"

Sounds good but exemplifies the tired old rhetoric of Failed Labour: envy, ignorance and nostalgia. For all the talk about renewal one can't help thinking much of the "left" yearns for eternal opposition and sod the working class - better to retain ideological purity eh? Thank you for reminding me why I'll be voting DM.

HarpyMarx said...

"I believe that an Ed Miliband victory could herald the start of a process of renewal within the Labour Party which can develop an effective social democratic program, heal the divisions of the past 15 years and put the final nail in the New Labour coffin."

But wasn't mister Ed part of the NL problem? It's easy to condemn it now but what was he doing as a minister, disagreeing but not having the courage nor conviction to speak out? Sorry comrade but it just doesn't add up.

Abbott's campaign has been lacklustre and she's not a great speaker as witnessed at hustings but I have to say she won against Miliband x 2, "Blink-a-lot" Balls, Flog 'em and Burnham... And that isn't saying much! Ed just came out with meaningless left rhetoric and spin.

Ok, here's the deal, Miliband elder wants to create a new improved NL, carry on regardless etc. and Ed M. with his so-called left agenda.... but ask yourself, has Ed the sustainability, or will he cave in to pressure? I think it's the latter.

Mister Ed is no alternative as he lacks the activist background and for his own personal/family background....lacks campaigning.

And that's the other problem, these former NLites did not come up through the usual Labour Movement channels instead it was through lobbying etc.

Oh, ironically the only campaign to call me was David Miliband's.

For the record, my two votes... they will be going to the only true Socialist Miliband....and that's Ralph!

Brother G said...

@Eyes Wide Open: You seem to be confusing a yearning for 'ideological purity' with a yearning for having any ideals at all. Frankly I'm not sure what point your trying to make regarding electoral viability, considering it was the New Labour obsession with triangulation that lost us 4 million votes between 1997 and 2005. Well, that and deciding to bomb the fuck out of the Middle East.

@HarpyMarx: I'm with you on Ralph Miliband. If you were to simply dig him up and prop him up for the hustings I daresay he would still dominate the 5 options we've been presented with.

As to whether or not an Ed M led Labour Party will cave into pressure, only time will tell. Personally I think a victory for anyone other than David Miliband would serve to scatter the true blairites to the margins in such a way as to stop them wielding such corrosive influence on the direction of the party in future.

That isn't to say that Ed Miliband is going to usher in a socialist utopia, he isn't. But I do think he could preside over a party which is more inclusive of ideas to the left and centre left, and not so dismissive of anything that smacks of actual Labour values.

Anonymous said...

Ed Millibrand to renew the Labour Party!
Who are you kidding?
Put not your faith in gods, chancers or false messiahs!

Anonymous said...

I've joined the Labour Party to vote for and campaign for Ed Miliband - if he wins it will be a victory for trade unionists and activists over D Miliband's New Labour and business backers. Even if, as is likely, he loses, the effect of his campaign will be a growth in the internal life in the party, and a greater credibility of social democratic and socialist ideas within the party.

The Labour Party is the only plausible vehicle for advancing socialism on a political rather than purely industrial plane for the forseeable future. After years spent on the far left it chokes me to say so.


Gary Elsby said...

Witnessing Jon Snow CH4 calling them all "Liars" was a picture.

Burnham's reply was, well...typical Andy Burnham, really:
"I was as equally loyal to both Tony and Gordon".

It was confirmed that David Miliband IS the same David Miliband who was the Foreign Secretary.He wants change.

It was also confirmed that Ed 'Arthur Scargill' Miliband has to be back in the shop window before sunrise. He wants change.

Dianne Abbot looked as though she wanted to invite everyone to f*** off.

Sister C said...

I have to say that I have had calls from both the Milibands campaigns, I went to David Milibands movement to change event and have met three of the five leadership candidates. I have followed this leadership contest with interest.

All of my votes will be going to Ed Miliband.

He is the only candidate that I believe will bring the change that the Labour Party needs and will lead us into electoral victory.

David Miliband does not really want change, this campaign has highlighted his strong belief that New Labour still works and that it was Gordon Brown that lost Labour the election. This is simply not true; the Labour Government was turned down, not because of Brown, because New Labour is not what the public want.

Andy Burnham, though he is very good on health matters, and party constitution again does not want the fundamental changes to happen in the Labour Party that need to happen.

Diane Abbott will not be getting my vote due to her frankly piss poor campaign, again not one phone call or letter. If she can't run a half good leadership campaign what on earth are her chances of helping to run a good general election campaign! Yes she is the turn the page candidate but she will not be turning the page forward, her ideas are not new refreshing and though. Abolishing Trident, yes I agree, but it’s not groundbreaking (we all know she stole his from Mr Elsby's manifesto).

I would never in a million years describe myself as New Labour the past government did a lot of good things. The Labour Party need to build on these good things, be proud of them and move forward. I am "left" but I don't yearn for eternal opposition, I want someone electable but I want change.

New Labour treated its members as free leaflet deliverers, phone canvassers, when we can give more. It is refreshing to see Ed Miliband heard the calls of the NUS with graduate tax, Labour Students with votes for 16. It’s brilliant to see that he has visited CLPs up and down the country and is engaging with members.

When he came to Stoke during the general election he went around every table in the room full of members talking to them one to one.

These are some of the many reasons I will be voting for Ed Miliband.

Gary Elsby said...

Sister C, you are a clown.
She didn't steal it from my manifesto, I just didn't drop it in 1983 when ordered to.
Diane was a kid then.
So you're voting Ed because he "spoke to everyone".
Can't wait to report that one back to Shadow HQ, I can tell you.

Now who am I going to give my votes to?
Is it to someone who will make a 'good leader'(oh, for god's sake) or is it someone who shares my values as a socialist?
So Ed Miliband wants to kick Obama's teeth in and wants to 'change the world'(spare me this shite, please).
You see, deep down, Dianne is saying it pretty much that way it was and is but the problem as Sister C puts it quite eleqently, is that she is black and she is a woman.
Turn the page.

Sister C said...

Firstly the Diane Abbott comment was a joke and also a direct quote from you on Pits n Pots.

At the event during the General Election campaign he did Gary, you were not there, I was, I have the photographs and the video footage from it, I don't think that you do.

Once again Elsby you are quick to shoot your mouth but lack any evidence for what you say.

Oh and finally I said nothing about her being a black, women, in fact the words black and women don't even feature in my post.

My problem with her is that her campaign was crap!

Sister C said...

I'm a clown, that is so rich coming from you I list a number of reasons i'm voting for Ed Miliband and you choose one of them and then make up reasons i'm not voting for Diana Abbott.

You harp on about how hard done by Labour Party members have been, a candidate comes along and listens to members, unions, socialist organisations, travels up and down the country talking to many different CLPs and you are against them and choose to vote for a candidate that has barely reached out to Labour Party members not just by going to different CLPs, but by telephone work, by letters.

Brother G said...

What position is it that you hold in the 'Shadow Labour Party' exactly Gary? Minister for Twats?

Dismissing critics of Diane Abbott as racists is inspired though. Nearly as inspired as your election leaflets.

Gary Elsby said...

The BBC documentary being filmed shortly regarding Stoke Central will not see me knocking my loyal members. I will mention your 'turn the page' quote on the black woman though.
Funny isn't it that the only woman who happens to be black also, runs a 'crap campaign'.And I'm a twat?
Even odder is your stupid clownish comment that I am against 'CLPs'.This must be put into context that my over-riding devotion is that I love the Labour Party, which will be quoted in the Documentary also.
So you have photos and videos of Ed!
That will definitely go on this Month's agenda as to why one member votes Ed.
I voted for Tony Blair because I quite liked his jacket.
Is sister C 12 years old?

Brother G said...

'Funny isn't it that the only woman who happens to be black also, runs a 'crap campaign''

Not really. Personally I was very disappointed that the LEFT candidate (the fact that she is black or female didn't really factor into it for me, I don't do tokenism) ran such a weak campaign. Weak enough, in fact, to knock her down to 3rd place on my ballot.

I find it strange that you would have such a problem understanding the point myself and others are trying to make, especially given your wealth of experience in the field of shit campaigns.

Diane Abbott's race and gender are irrelevant to points made about her campaign. They are also, to me, irrelevant when deciding who to vote for. But feel free to carry on accusing anyone with a dissenting opinion to your own of being a bigot, what better way to express your well-known love of democracy.

Sister C said...

Elsby I strongly urge you to say that to the BBC, and I will sue you so quickly you won't know what has fucking hit you.

WOW I said a candidate had a shit campaign, that must make me a racist! She did have a shit campaign, all the evidence highlights that she has a shit campaign. No direct mail, no phone call, no CLP visit. Yes I agree with some of her policies, but the campaign was shocking.

You seem to be the only person bringing up the fact that she is black and women into this. Believe it or not as the Sister bit suggests, I am female and have nothing against female candidates. I am also not a racist, I campaign against the BNP, fought for a No Platform policy in my students union, I have lived with Black/Chinese/Asian students. I have friends of all races. Say that I am racist in public and I will sue you.

You should really learn to read what is written Elsby not read what you think is written.

Eyes Wide Open said...

BG - I think you're living in the past. Triangulation simply means speaking to the wider group of "workers".

Like you (I presume) I actively opposed the Iraq war and actually it was this I believe that was the "tipping point", not being "too middle class". Actually, quite the contrary - GB's materialist obsession, his belief that it was all about economics and throwing money at a problem would make it better, the control-freakery, the belief you could "legislate change" and underlying this a deep-seated contempt for the British people, and in particular the white working class, embodied by his electoral gaff.

The trouble with New Labour is that deep down they never forgave the workers for voting Thatcher, and haven't trusted them since.

Back to the present, EM truly presents a comfort zone for those who like living in the past. He will quickly be marginalised and exposed as lightweight. A victory for him would be a tragedy for social democracy, because it would be locked out for another generation, even though it might feel better about itself.

Gary Elsby said...

Now let me see, the Mil(ionaire)bands of upper white distinction run good campaigns(sack the workers in court/blow the world up)and on the other hand, the poor black woman runs a 'shit campaign'(workers rights/NO to Trident/freedom/decent wage, more houses, more jobs etc...)

I'm going to nail your white trailer park trash, public schoolboy arguments firmly to wall.

David Miliband/Stoke Central.
What a pisser.

Lawrence Shaw said...

A victory for Ed Miliband will not usher in a socialist transformation of the Labour party whereby the ConDem Coalition will quickly wither on the vine as the proletariat marches forward to renationalise the commanding heights of the economy.

But a victory for Ed Miliband will break the New Labour stranglehold on the party and lay to rest some of the ghosts haunting the party at present, and help take back the hugely fertile political ground now entirely abandoned by the LibDems and the New Labour march to the authoritarian right.

Pragmatically speaking, whilst I agree with more of Diane's politics, her campaign has singularly failed to inspire and that is not just due to lack of money. For instance, Andy Burnham has managed to make himself heard very loudly with limited financial backing.

Meanwhile EdM has talked in detail about actual progressive, left wing policies - such as a Living Wage, which would make a massive, real difference to many people in Stoke - and is clearly in favour of increasing trade union rights. He is also the only candidate placed to beat his brother.

The best argument that the DM crowd seem to be coming up with now is that DM is the only candidate with the "gravitas" to be Prime Minister - basically because he has served as Foreign Secretary - and an extremely hawkish one, let's not forget. His recent glossy brochure was very light on policy, and hardly mentioned trade unions. It is Blair Mark Two. They are scared of EdM, that much is clear with Mandelsons and Blairs very timely interventions.

Also, I think the various far left party bureaucracies are scared of EdM too. After their failure to capitalise at all on the decade-long vacuum on the left with their egos and self-serving, the Professional Revolutionaries are fast realising that the game could soon be up if Labour realigns under EdM.

For all these reasons it is clear that EdM can refresh the party and help it move back to to basic values of fairness and morality. We don't need to appeal to the lumpen Tory voters like Blair and Mandelson say - we need to rebuild the progressive agenda and take back the moral high ground.

Gary Elsby said...

The trouble is Lawrence, is that Ed Niliband is new to what he is saying.
The others are old to what they are saying across the board.
Can we trust someone who may only be talking to the crowd?

Eyes Wide Open said...

"We don't need to appeal to the lumpen Tory voters"

Thank you for so succinctly articulating my point.