Wednesday 29 December 2010

Why Ed Miliband Makes Me Angry

Guest post from Sister C

I didn’t vote in the Labour Party leadership election. I didn’t for a number of reasons but if I had voted I would have done for Ed Miliband. His campaign impressed me as a move away from Blairism was what the party needed.

When Ed Miliband was announced as the new Labour Party leader I was as pleased as punch, and not just because I won a lot of money by betting that he would win.

However since Ed became leader I have constantly been angry at him. The thing that first started this off was his cabinet appointments. I will begin with the obvious: ALAN JOHNSON over Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls for Shadow Chancellor? What was he thinking? What a complete waste of the talent we have in the Parliamentary Labour Party. The party would of had a full set of alternative economic policies and a spring board from which to annihilate Osbourne at the despatch box. But no.

Talking of policy, what policies does Labour have at the minute? I don’t know one policy other than we don’t like the Tories and Lib Dems. I go out and doorknock for the party and when people ask me about Labour’s economic policy I can’t answer. Likewise on education policy we have no answer. All I can do is reel off our record over the last 13 years. But if for argument's sake all the Tory and Lib Dem MPs got blown up tomorrow and we had to take charge of the country, I don’t have a bloody clue what the Labour cabinet would do.

On top of this, as a party we have not landed one hit on the coalition government, not one. Why? Well we have no policy, and we have a leader who's failing to take a lead. All his energy from the leadership campaign has gone and all we're left with is a great void.

So what is Ed Miliband doing? Messing about with Labour Party policy is all well and good, but now shouldn't be the time for naval gazing. Instead we should be attacking the coalition government and presenting the public with a strong Labour vision.

If my annoyance wasn't enough, the
penny membership wheeze has made me beyond angry. Joining a political party you should be about making a financial and time commitment to the party. A peppercorn subscription is not a financial commitment by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it morally undermines the contributions made by others as well as the standing of the new recruits who've taken the party up on its offer. The only time I can imagine this sort of thing being acceptable is for the unemployed, others dependent on benefits, and the very low paid.

Yesterday "the leadership" has
proposed a cap on donations as low as £500 that would mean that the party is no longer funded by trade unions. The mind boggles. How on earth do you expect to raise enough small donations for party staff, party buildings, oh and those little things known as elections. The Labour Party is already in financial problems and this policy is just going to make things worse.

The leadership also wants to give “Labour supporting” members of the public 25% of the votes in leadership contests (with MPs, trade union members and party members each taking a quarter of the votes). If this happens I may as well give up my membership up now. Why the hell should I stay a member if members of the public are going to be given a vote in my party? On top of that, that last thing we really, really need is a more complex leadership election system. Ed Miliband was once said to be the emissary from Planet Fuck. Which one is he on now?

Now don’t get me wrong. If David Miliband had won things would hardly be rosy. The Blairites must be having a field day with what Ed's doing. I can understand why some people believe Blairism was the only way to make the Labour Party electable because the "alternative" we are currently presented with is anything but credible.

Ed Miliband's fuzzy policies and softness in the face of the Coalition is emboldening the Blairites and strengthening the hand of the told-you-so's. His half-hearted shuffle away from the common sense of the previous era will, if the opinion polls remain in Labour's favour, support the argument that sticking to the say-nothing middle is the right course. But in the mean time we're not connecting with the public, not motivating the party, and not having alternative policies. This is a crying shame. But we're still not far into Ed's leadership. Wiser heads may come to the fore and a shift in direction may prevail. But what are the chances of that happening, eh?


Anonymous said...

None, no chance of it happening. Nil ect.
Ive left the Labour Party, having thought I had no option for years, would never not vote.
Really think others need to be thinking why do they stick with the L/P.

Alex Dawson said...

Anonymous, many of us "stick with it" because we have just come out of the best 15 year long window to set up a broad-based left wing alternative to New Labour in about a century, yet the professional revolutionaries and armchair socialists squandered it spectacularly through chest-beating ego-mania and infantile sectarianism.

I agree with Sister C - Ed is a disappointment, but to be honest I always knew he would be. But he is less of a disappointment than every single one of the derailed and deformed projects the left has managed to screw up outside the Labour party, even at the height of Blairs right-wing, warmongering religious mania.

In the end, my hope and feeling is that Ed is playing the long game, knowing full well that, despite the media-scandal over the
masturbatory rhetoric of some hapless Lib Dems when confronted by a bit of posh skirt, the coalition will survive the full five years and nothing short of a full scale revolution will bring this treacherous government down.

I hope he is simply being seen to be dancing to the tune of the right-wing papers simply to keep them quiet in this period of inevitable national decline thanks to the actions of the Trust-funded millionaires in Cabinet.

I would also argue that the union-funding thing is a smokescreen - there will always be a way for trade unionists to continue funding the Labour party to the same level it currently is - just using a different system. The £500 maximum is, I think, a clever call to stop the likes of Cashcroft from buying influence whilst ensuring that individual union members modest annual political levies can carry on being used to support Labour.

That said, I agree that I do not want members of the public having a say on internal Labour elections. And the 1p membership thing is a total nonsense and devalues party membership and, to be honest, makes me think again about the relatively large amount I pay that is commensurate with my wage. Why should I carry on doing that when a millionaire can join for a penny?

You're right that Ed needs to stop tinkering with the party apparatus, and think more about developing the kind of positive progressive policies that can win an election. It is not enough to simply be "against" the coalition. We need to actually stand for something positive. But we must remember that the election is a long way away, and people have short memories...

Phil said...

Too true. Ed's strategy has to finely balance the factions that exist in the PLP and the media. He knows better than anyone that the knives will be out for him if he slips up. That said if I was in his position I'd be wanting to put forward bold alternatives dripping with popular (and perhaps populist) proposals on banking, the economy, education, health etc. The best way to out manoeuvre opposition inside is building up a head of steam outside.

Whatever Ed does, he's never going to satisfy socialists and trade unionists. But, despite his problems and weaknesses, the 'say-nothing-do-nothing' approach gives activists room to think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Ed Miliband will prove to be the Audley Harrison of the Labour Party. Talked a good fight in the preamble, but turned out to be useless when it came down to it.

Phil said...

We shall see. Four and a half years is an eternity in politics ...

Gary Elsby said...

Probably it would be best that Sister C reads the NPF document.
This is what her party stands on.
Labour didn't lose the election, it was a draw, and eventually they were out of power.
This does not mean that the document is useless.In the short term, the document should be amended.
Not knowing what you are, is a hinderence when you face someone asking the question od what you are about.

The cheap membership drive comes from Barak Obama who asked potential members to the Democrats to "pay what you think you should".
This resulted in a massive membership boost. His other remarkeable plan was to counter the blogs, and in particularly, the 'boatmen'who scupper all democrats and called him 'a Muslim'.
Sister C may feel out of touch with policy, as is a common critique of many a good member, but the fun lies in ammended the document with your better thoughts.

I put forward around 70 ammendements on behalf of Stoke CLP (ignore the rants that we were idle etc..)ranging from the NHS, nuclear power, environment, education, crime, international affairs and I'm happy to say that only one (mine) was accepted and we were credited with a note in the NPF document final book for the 2010 General Election.
We knew what we were on about.