Tuesday 28 September 2010

Stuck in the Middle with Ed

Someone has been reading Lord Ashcroft's recent report. Given the nature of stupid red-baiting criticisms leveled at Ed Miliband since his victory in the Labour leadership contest, today's speech was never going to include the nationalisation of the top 100 monopolies. It struck a broadly social democratic tone while simultaneously appealing to the Middle England that obsesses the media and the triangulators alike. It was replete with buzzwords - new generation, good society, fairness, opposing new thinking to old thinking - and delivered with a conviction (whatever one may think of its content) that Blair's speeches often lacked. No, he didn't walk around the stage, and no he didn't speak without notes, but who really cares?

The key talking points were:

* The dogmatism of New Labour and its transformation from a "radical" and "establishment-challenging" force into a remote and out of touch establishment itself.

* The need to reduce the deficit with Alistair Darling's four year plan as a starting point. Neither was he necessarily opposed to every cut, accepted that certain things cut by Cameron would not be reinstated by a future Labour government, and was concerned with rebuilding Labour's "fiscal responsibility". He also attacked the Tories' lack of a plan for growth.

* Labour must understand why many voters are exercised by immigration. But instead of using it as a cue to start bashing them, he argued that employers should not be able to play different nationalities off on one another to undercut wages (when was the last time any mainstream politician fielded such an argument?)

* Unsurprisingly, Ed Miliband distinguished between responsible trade unionism for ensuring "decency" and "fairness" at work and the more militant kind. But also argued for a "disciplined" campaign against the coalition, one which does not see "irresponsible strike action" against the cuts for fear of alienating public support.

* While stressing the unions' responsibility, he also said business and the rich had their own. He reiterated his commitment to the living wage and to incentivise the tax system to encourage it.

* The ritual (coded) pledge to get tough on benefit claimants but again, using careful language to avoid demonising welfare recipients and speaking of a "benefits trap".

* Reinforced his commitment to civil liberties, wanting to reclaim this ground from the Tories and LibDems.

* A "values-based" foreign policy.

* The need to make politics more responsive via vote reform, an elected Lords, more local democracy, and a vague demand politicians have to speak to the issues and not focus group talking points.

Obviously this will be filled out with detail over the coming weeks. Who he appoints shadow chancellor will demonstrate the line of march on the deficit issue: his brother if he wishes to stick fairly closely to the Darling plan, Ed Balls/Yvette Cooper if he wants to assume a more combative approach (given his comments about strike action and "responsibility", he's more likely to go with the former, with qualifications). And of course there's the Autumn Spending Review: he has previously pledged to have ready an alternative to the coalition's demented slash and burn policies. But will it be that much of one?

It wasn't radical but it was something of a break with Blair/Brownism. And it did what it set out to do, stake out a new centre ground of mainstream politics and pitch a tent there. As he said himself, "Red Ed? Come off it ..."


modernity said...

I hate to say I told you so, Phil :)

What were the voting figures?

About 90% for the non-Left candidate?

I imagine talking about socialism in the modern LP is a bit hard?

Phil said...

I don't know why you think this comes as a surprise to me. It's hardly as if this blog's portrayed Ed Miliband as anything other than a right wing social democrat.

As for talking socialism in the Labour party it's a lot more open than you think. Being a known Marxist with a noted lefty blog hasn't hindered me in the slightest. In fact it's helped.

Gary Elsby said...

It hasn't hindered you because you haven't hindered the Meredith right from doing whatever they want to do!
When you raise your game in protest, you will see what hinderences you will face.
Do you know why Labour (Smith) promised to rebuild the Mitchell school on the Motchell site, but then voted for it to go a mile away? Do you actually understand why this has happened and why they said the opposite as a grab for power?
"A values based foreign policy"
What is the difference between this and Robin Cooke's 'ethical foreign policy'?
How will it compare to David's foreign policies he undertook on behalf of new Labour?
Can we still rendition and torture people?

Phil said...

Gary, I don't need any lessons from you on opposing the powers that be. That has, after all, been my default setting since becoming involved in politics 15 years ago. Where were you on tuition fees? Iraq? NHS cuts? Post office closures? The Burslem 12? The banks? I was out protesting and campaigning on the streets of Stoke. And you were?

That you didn't encounter any difficulties in the party throughout the authoritarian Blair years tells us all we need to know about your "awkward" record.

Gary Elsby said...

Phil, Stoke Central CLP (that's where I was)Opposed the following:
Post Office closures
NHS cuts
Iraq war
Tuition fees
and supported the Burslem 12.

Most of this was under Blair, as you put it. It was called democracy and was our collective view.

We were described as 'awkward' for something completely different.
Mainly we were described that way because we persuaded the entire Labour Party of Stoke-on-Trent to abandon all links with the Conservatives and form no coalitions with them.We also removed the Elected Mayor.

Some say we were awkward.
So be it.
PS. We have decided that your official quorum for the 'New Stoke Central' is 39.5 and rounded to 40.
We also note your failure to support the Lidice campaign.
tut tut Phil.

Phil said...

It's all very well to support those things on paper, but what did you *do* to oppose them? As an active participant in each of those campaigns there was no Gary Elsby - though I do recall being told about a meeting in 2006 in Abbey Hulton where your good self turned up and defended the cuts in the NHS. Oh dear.

As for the Lidice campaign, as I wasn't present at the last meeting I can't really comment. But I will say true support flows from actions, not the resolution-mongering of committee room radicals.

modernity said...


Difficult wasn't the issue, but you basically belong to a Party where some 90% (if the leadership election figures tally) don't believe in socialism, and probably think that basic social democratic policies are a bit too lefty for them..

Gary Elsby said...

Phil where do you get your information from?

I attended no meeting in 2006 which supported NHS cuts.
I did however attend a SWP meeting in 2007 where the SWP funded a non-stiking miner who stood against the official Labour candidate, me.
The non-striking miner allegedly waved his paypacket at striking miners as he drove through the picket lines.
You can confirm this with brother Bentley, who spent half an hour rubbishing me in front of senior NHS directors.

I spent 5 seconds speaking before they all wanted me dead.
Apart from the two brothers and sisters (literally, no doubt) having sex on the table at the back. The non-striking miner cheered the BNP when they beat me.

Not one of the SWP's finer moments.
PS. It's a lie about me defending NHS cuts. I think you should go for a role in the NEC.

Phil said...

How can anyone take you seriously as any sort of politician, Gary, when you can't even get the basic facts right.

Firstly, the SWP has never stood in any election in Stoke-on-Trent. The Socialist Party however has. Now I know you know they are two separate organisations because we've actually talked about it in person. To try and pretend there's no difference on a blog read fairly widely by socialists *and* Stokies who know the difference too only makes you look daft.

Second, the NHS meeting in question took place in 2006. I know this because I was the secretary of the NHS SOS campaign. If my memory isn't good enough for you, perhaps all the dated minutes I have in my possession are.

Thirdly, at said meeting you and a number of others came to the meeting. Let's just say your opposition to the cuts were not noted. However, I do know you claimed that under Labour every child in the Abbey of age was at university. A demonstrably silly thing to say.

Fourthly, you can't even get the dates of your own election contests right. In 2006 SP candidate Paul Sutton who, at the beginning of the year, joined the SP along with his brother Dave from Labour. His Labour opponent was our mutual friend Graham Wallace. Shortly after the election Paul stopped attending meetings along with his brother and a letter was received in the autumn resigning for the SP. In 2007 you stood as the Labour candidate in Abbey Green and Paul ran again as an *independent*. This was some eight months after any kind of relationship with the SP ceased.

So Gary, I know these to be true because, as a SP member at the time, I paid proper attention to what was happening. That you cannot remember your own actions or are willing to rewrite your history in the most ridiculous ways shows how unserious you and your little clique are. Is it any wonder you polled a mammoth 1.2%?

Gary Elsby said...

A lovely story, but wrong.
I've stood in only three elections.
2007, 2008 (both Labour), no elections in 2009 but stood independently in 2010.
I hope that is clear for you.
I wonder whether the SP and the SWP both have the same memebrship list? I'm quite interested.

I never stood in 2006 as this is the year I removed Paul sutton from Labour and the majority of the local branch supported Mr. Wallace.
There was no public meeting involving NHS cuts organised by anyone.
In 2007 I stood and Andy Bentley used a NHS cuts meeting to promote Paul Sutton's campaign.
I have never claimed that 'all children in the Abbey are in University'. I agree, that is silly.
I did claim, however,(to the thugs who surrounded me outside) that the majority of children in Stoke(Including Abbey Greeen) are in University. Is this a true fact or near enough of a fact?
As I recall,the hostility of the mob was that no one will go to University because of fees.
Hows the accomodation going lately?

Due to all this, the SP (SWP) decided to not fund Paul Sutton in his 2008 campaign.

I am quite corect in my account and lastly, you asked where was I when I was needed on the streets?
Youtube has me on the stage with Scargill and Benn in London on some strike march, if I recall. I was arrested later on.
I like this game.
Now about Lidice?
Why has your local CLP decided not to support?( and yes, you were in attendance).

Gary Elsby said...

Incidently, my 'clique' as you describe them (whatever have these innocent socialists done?)will have no truck with a Conservative coalition.
Unlike you Phil, who serves their purpose, oh, so well!
Do you have to wait on them?
Do your SP mates still speak to you?
By the way Phil, it was me who wrote the anti coalition motion that was presented, by me, to the CLP (carried) and then taken to the City Party, by me (carried) that set in motion a total war between the party and Meredith.
We won.
But, as you quite rightly point out, were described as 'awkward'

To all those courageous Socialists, I salute you all.
I don't have much to say about you though Phil and your Conservative mates who run my City and are about to cut my services.
Shame on you Phil.

Phil said...

Every time you come on here Gary you make yourself look very silly indeed. Either you're short sighted and can't read what's in front of you on the screen or you're woefully hard of thinking.

You see, I joined the SP in 2006. Here's the the piece I wrote to mark one year membership. In that year I was very active, especially during the spring when the branch worked hard in Abbey Green to hold on to Paul Sutton's seat AND provide the backbone for the NHS SOS campaign, which culminated in a demo of 2,500 through the streets of Stoke. The public meeting you're confused about was part of a consultation process where the hospital's chief exec came down to the Abbey to explain the cuts.

Given your tenuous grasp on reality (as evidenced by this) I can understand how you might mix your years up, but the truth of the matter is you stood against Paul Sutton *after* he was an SP member, not while he was on the books - see here.

And no, it is not a fact the majority of Stoke kids are in university. If only it were true! In fact take up of higher education, while getting better, has underperformed for decades. Our city is among those possessing the highest rates of functional illiteracy in the country.

The city coalition, well, it's not my ideal situation. I would have preferred a Labour minority administration, but seeing as the majority of the members thought otherwise so be it.

The Lidice stuff is utterly absurd and symptomatic of your resolution-mongering approach to politics. And no, I wasn't at the last CLP meeting where I believe the matter was discussed. I should know, and the apologies will be in the minutes. Speaking of which have you handed back the minutes that are the property of the CLP yet?

And lastly how else to describe your group of has-beens and never-weres? Under your watch the CLP catastrophically collapsed from 700 members to approximately 180. New recruits were never contacted, voter ID rates were appallingly low and no one had knocked on doors in the constituency for a generation. The party as a whole is better off without your smug complacency and incompetence.

Gary Elsby Candidate 07/09 not 06. said...

Phil, your grasp of realityn is waning.
The evidence you put up of my 'worst leaflet ever' got me the biggest vote Labour had for nearly 8 years.
The independent was Sutton.
In 2007 he was SP and is still a non-striking miner, however much you defend him.The Sp backed a striking miner. Tut tut.
Yes, I did stand against Sutton after you booted him out.
You booted him out because I informed Bentley of his past.

The mojority of members want the Conservatives (cuts cuts cuts).
Please,it hurts to read this type of stuff and is pure nonsense.

Phil, we had 60 Labour Councillors in place all throughout the Thatcher years. Your insults are of the sandwell school of thought and quite wrong.

Your apologies are not in the minutes and you were there.
I ask again, why did you or anyone support the Lidice campaign for Stoke?

Try not to be upset and stop listening to the Meredith supporters who appeasr to be filling you up with their garbage.

What % of kids locally are in UNI?

catherine buca said...

Gary, have another think about whether there were any public NHS Cuts meetings. As the person personally in charge of the NHS SOS website, which regularly updated details of the next public meeting, I'm well placed to say your memory is failing you in that matter.

Andrea Tinsley said...

Elsby, Phil was not at the meeting, his apologies are there and I know this because I watched the minutes being typed up by the minute sec TODAY

Your information is wrong

Phil said...

Best ignore him. He says there weren't any NHS meetings and then says he was abused at one. He says Paul Sutton was a member of the SP when they contested the same seat, and in the same breath says he's an independent. He tells me I was at a meeting he wasn't at when I was at home. He says most the kids in Stoke go to university and when challenged tells me to provide the stats to disprove his silly claim (obviously has no understanding of the burden of proof). He thinks he opposed the Iraq war when the internet is rammed with his not so eloquent defences of Blair. He harps on about his great vote in the Abbey, when the margin between him and the BNP victors grew year on year. He boasts about his miners' strike record while not realising it's what one does *today* that matters. And, laughably, he constantly whines about his resignation from Labour while proudly drawing attention to the fact he kicked Paul Sutton out.

One word comes to mind. Nincompoop.

Gary Elsby said...

Christine, I have no idea whether you organised a NHS cuts meeting in 2006. If you did, I was not there and Phil must be wrong in suggesting I 'defended cuts'.

In 2007, I stood for the first time ever in an election. I attended a 'NHS cuts' meeting in the Abbey Community Centre and it was chaired by Andy Bentley.Present was julia Bridgewater, who went on to become Chief Exec.
I didn't 'defend NHS cuts' at that one either.This is an attempt by Phil to somehow undermine my credibility. Laughable, really.

I have to ask, once again, why Stoke Central CLP failed to support the Lidice campaign? We, 'shadow Labour' remain "disturbed" at this refusal.
Phil BC presented his TU/PEO report to the meeting.

I'm afraid you don't seem to understand why Paul was removed from the candidates list in 2006. I can assure you it was valid and all evidence came from the local community and not from Labour.
Ultimately, Paul chose to vote against the Labour Group when suspended and was subsequently expelled after complaints from Labour Councillors to the NEC.
We took no part in that.

Phil, you talk and write of great adventures by the socialists, and yet when we create the void for you to fill, you choose to do nothing.Why?

I weep at your criticisms of the former CLP that was suspended just before Tristram landed (now there's a coincidence!)Are you really challeged so much that you fail to see that a near complete wipeout of Labour Councillors came at the same time as Meredith was ruined by the public at large?
Do you have faith in him for 2011?
According to the meeting you attended, where you failed to support Lidice and gave your PEO/TU report, you do!

You wouldn't believe in how much fun we have in hearing this stuff hot off the press!

Andrew Neil had to pick me off the floor I laughed so much!

Phil said...


Andrea Tinsley said...

Elsby, no he didn't a printed copy of his report was handed out as he was not at the meeting.

Phil said...

Gary doesn't know his arse from his elbow. He's obviously confused it with another meeting, bless him.

Gary Elsby said...

Phil, Andrea.
To be fair, I had an independent panel to look into this episode and the conclusion is:
'That the minutes, a legal document, are signed off as a 'True record'.
The PEO/TU report was given and no apologies are received or minuted from the writer.
Those who do not take the minutes seriously, have only themselves to blame.

Phil said...

Edited version of Andrea's comments to omit full names:

BUT THE OFFICIAL MINUTES WERE WRITTEN AFTER YOUR COMMENT. They were written on the 30th September by Richard the official minute secretary.

Therefore your comments is wrong, as proved but the official minutes as Phil is the first person to be noted in the minutes.

"Apologies: Phil, Carrie, Tristram Hunt, Mark Meredith, Lawrence, Aimee"

Also as we have not had the next CLP meeting they can not be signed off as a true record yet as amendments can be made at the next meeting.

Independent panel or not, you are still wrong on this matter

Gary Elsby said...

No I'm not.
I asked for a second time that the panel verify the names and dates.
You appear to read the wrong minutes.
You and your defenders are wrong.
The shadow Labour Party is correct.