On balance, I think yes, Daniel was right. Pretty much ANYTHING can be improved with Dinosaurs.
So, it is two years since Ed Miliband gained the leadership of the Labour party, and over at Labour List, plenty of people are taking stock. I think we can be allowed, as Labour supporters, to raise two cheers so far…
We are convincingly ahead in the polls, and this side of the Tory conference, the narrative for the Government is definitely in their hands. Nothing looks as bad as a Government seemingly not in control, one that has also managed to present itself as being sticking firmly to its plans whilst U-turning everywhere; on Forests, on Pasty Tax, on almost anything rather than its most unpopular policies.
Mr Miliband has done something that no Labour Leader has done in eighteen years or more – he has questioned the authority of free markets, and whether they are always the only option when it comes to the economy. This, after the crash, is a vital move, giving hope that we can move towards a modern Social Democratic government in 2015.
With his handling of the Leveson Inquiry and its fallout, Ed has been widely praised. Rightly so, he played a good game and has had the Government on the back foot ever since. He backed voting reform, without being associated with they dismal failure of the Yes campaign over AV.
As leader, he has grown in his role – for all the sniping of the right of the party (someone mention Progress?), he has managed to best an increasingly loud and puce David Cameron in The House of Commons, and has silenced (for now) the internal critics oh, and John “Rental” Rentoul.
Midway through this Parliament, the media, and the rest of us, can see Ed Miliband as PM, or at least a serious contender. The low personal rating as opposed to David Cameron as a minor worry to me, as it is normal for a sitting Prime Minister to look more, well, Prime Ministerial. These figures can change, and it would take little to change David Cameron from popular to unpopular. He is already out of favour in his own party, much earlier than Edward Heath was in the 1970s, and there are already stirrings on his back benches.
Milibands’ first speech toy Conference encapsulated al the reasons to support him – including drawing a line under the Blair/Brown years, notably on Iraq. His positioning himself (and us) as an inclusive opposition, trying to heal the rifts of the last eleven years was, and remains a masterstroke.
Yet I do worry. I worry that the polls are just a mid-term blip, that someone will start the back office sniping once again. That Ken Livingstone will try to stuff up Conference from his seat on the NEC.
I also worry that Eds’ management of the part factions in the Shadow Cabinet is storing up problems – Stephen Twigg at Education is a prime example , but others, such as Liam Byrne remain in place.
I worry that those years spent as a SpAd, all that triangulation, all that hanging out in Westminster, far away from the housing estates and run-down town centres where Labour needs to make a difference, will reassert itself.
So two cheers for Ed, so far so good, but we all have much more work to do to win…
Tonight in the Commons, Labour MPs have an opportunity to show disaffected Lib Dems that there is an alternative to Clegg.
Well, that’s the short tactical argument for voting for Lords Reform, of course there is a longer, much more principled set of reasons, to whit:
Ever since its foundation, the Labour Movement, of which The Labour Party is an intrinsic part (whatever Progress or Bob Crow say), has fought against entrenched power and privilege. Go back as far as the Putney Debates of the seventeenth century if you like, you will always find slim red thread through radical, socialist and trades union positions on the issue of state-controlled preferment.
True enough, New Labour at best fudged this, and with its leading protagonists and cheerleaders spending so much effort cosying up to Oligarchs and shysters, we nearly lost any opportunity to win democratic change.
Once before in this Parliament, over voting reform, we have seen the very worst example of parliamentary conservatism and narrow partisanship triumph over common sense and a move towards justice. We must not let it happen again.
By supporting the call for reform, Ed Miliband is staying true to the words and spirit of his first speech as Leader, and being true to the spirit of the pioneers who founded the Labour Representation Committee over a century ago.
Re-read your Thomas Paine, I promise you you will find no argument justifying a second chamber composed of placemen, high-born, or failed politicians (and of course Baroness Warsi).
Lord Puttnam and Bragg are no doubt wonderful, intelligent men, yet I hardly think that this trumps popular sovereignty. And they can always lunch at The Garrick and Groucho clubs instead. To paraphrase Bagehot, intellectual support for The House of Lords rarely survives first contact with the actual institution.
To side with the right of the Tory Party for the sake of causing the coalition one more embarrassment is both short sighted and petty. After all, we have yet to exhaust Osbornes’ Budget.
As a Party, we must be positioning ourselves as the reasonable alternative to the Coalition, which means finding common ground with Lib Dems, and Greens on issues such as democratic reform where we can. By doing this, we make Nick Cleggs job much harder at the next election.
On News International, & on Banking, the Labour Front Bench have scored two goals against Cameron and Clegg. Now lets make it a hat trick.
Let the Tories play games against each other on this one.
And as the results continue to come in, oh what a beautiful day?
Lib Dems trounced nationally, Labour winning over 500 seats and over twenty councils throughout England and Wales. We have taken seats from the Tories, BNP, Lib Dems, Plaid and UKIP. And it looks as though the SNP may not have won Glasgow as predicted. From Great Yarmouth to Plymouth this is a great result for Labour and Ed Milibands leadership. Even in Bradford, where we lost seats to Respect, overall we have gained two seats!
Harlow, Southhampton, Dudley – directly from the Tories
Birmingham, Carlisle, Derby, Norwich, Reading – from No Overall Control.
The London results are not yet in, and Scotland is only counting now. The Ken & Boris show is over – too close to call, although whichever way the votes go, David Cameron will have to watch his back…
So today Britain is officially back in recession. This is no time for shallow politicking, people have no confidence that things will get better any time soon, and millions of us are frantically chasing work. Somehow we manage to have the Olympics, a housing crisis, a major infrastructure deficit and STILL the construction sector leads the way for economic downturn.
It is time for Gideon and Dave to admit what many of us have known for some time, that Plan A is not working, that the cuts have been too far and too fast, whilst tax reductions for the super rich were simply not appropriate at this time. This Coalition is making the ordinary people of the UK pay for an economic crisis caused by unregulated finance and thirty three years of monetarist dogma. The very rich men who agreed to come together in May 2010 to restore the nation’s finances have now proved not to be the economic geniuses that they claimed to be. They pretty much look like a bunch of shysters on the make.
In Scotland, News Internationals First Minister plays fast and loose with the essential economic truth, namely that Scotland’s economy is too tied to that of Wales and England to have any chance of independent recovery. His fictional “Arc of prosperity” disappeared when Iceland and Ireland went bust, yet he is content to take the odd pot shot at the rest of us, whilst the public works north of the border are still largely funded from Whitehall. For all his bumptiousness, at least it gives us a ready made argument against the Growth Deniers – publicly funded projects can save jobs and keep mopey flowing into an economy, austerity has now been proved to do the opposite.
By contrast Ed M and Ed B (or Wallace and Gromit) are looking more credible each day. At PMQs today Ed pretty much wiped the floor with Cameron, and Balls has been slowly destroying Whyborns economic credibility for months now. It seems that Gordon Brown was right back in 2010 – it really wasn’t time for a bunch of novices.
It seems that 2012 is the year of Olympic Omnishambles for the Coalition, and it keeps on coming.
Yesterday James Murdoch exploded a truth bomb at the Leveson Inquiry, and Vince Cable found out exactly how he was shafted, apparently by not only Jeremy (C)Hunt, but also George Osborne, David Cameron and Alex Salmond, to name but three.
It is highly likely that Jeremy will not be Culture Secretary for much longer. Yet it must not stop there, the documents implicate both George Osborne and his advisor in secretly lobbying on behalf of News International, and against his own Cabinet colleague. Alex Salmond also rallied to the Murdoch standard, and unsurprisingly the Scottish edition of The Sun backs the SNP slavishly.
Many would also like to know the name of the “Libdem MP, a former Sky employee” mentioned as also lobbying for his former masters. I bet it isn’t Simon Hughes, but apart from that, all bets are off…
Throughout this scandal, Ed Miliband has played his hand well, acting on principle as well as with good instincts. His backing of Tom Watson does him and The Labour Party credit. He compares very favourably with, say the Mayor of London, who firstly called the hacking allegations “a Labour plot”, and has consistently sought to downgrade Operation Weeting and the associated corruption investigations. He and Kit Malthouse have behaved with naked self interest throughout.
With the London Mayoral Elections less than two weeks away, I have a few questions to ask Boris Johnson, our current Tory Mayor…
…dear Mr Johnson, I am struggling to find answers to these questions, I think you can help me on these;
Its been quite some time since I last posted, and I was considering stopping altogether. Yet with the News International phone hacking scandal involving such a variety of the, ahem, “Great and the Good”, i just thought I would leave one post more…
So, Rebekah Brooks, having been arrested, will probably be able to dodge any awkward questions in Parliament, presuming that she is at liberty to attend either the Culture or Home Office Select Committees.
The head of The Met has lost his job, though not his pension, nor his Knighthood. Boris, of course, is waffling as only a former grub street hack can. Lets not forget that during his tenure as editor of The Spectator, he honed his investigative talents by getting old buffers drunk at lunchtime and publishing the results.
His refusal to apologise for calling the allegations against The News of the world “politically motivated codswallop” speaks volumes. He has managed in a trice to rehabilitate the image of Ken Livingstone in the eyes of those concerned by just how close the media and politicians are. Even John Prescott has been vindicated across the land…
And Ed… so far, the boy has done very well indeed. We now need o broaden the attack to include all those grubby little “special interest” cliques that dominate our public life.
My own experience of the Murdoch Empire is very slight, firstly my Great uncle Rab was father of Chapel when the Digger first bought The Sun. An upright, staunchly anti-graft FoC (he started when The Sun had been owned by the TUC as The Daily Herald), he was a bit of a rarity on Fleet Street in those days – honest, soft spoken and non-swearing. the family tale is that after twenty minutes with Rupert, he threw an inkwell at the wall and pronounced “for all the good you’ll do you might as well f@** off back to Australia”. Today, in heaven, Rab is doing a merry jig.
Secondly, a few years ago I was working in a bar near to Westminster, when a tallish grey haired man walked in, requesting our back room for himself and his colleagues. It was a quiet day, so no problem, and around six or seven suited men and women duly filed in, ordering some sandwiches and coffees for what was evidently a working lunch. All was duly prepaered and served, to the satisfaction of the party, and as they made to leave, the bill was presented.
Grey-Hair came up to the bar, disdain dripping from his very visage. He demanded that the bill be halved. When it was politely pointed out that he had seen the menu and prices before he ordered, his air of peevishness intensified, and he produced his business card. Sadly, its not one I have kept, although I seem to remember it did say “News International” at the top, and seem to recall the words “Legal Department”, or something to that effect, on it. The upshot was that I, to my eternal shame, caved in and reduced the bill and this upright example of our fine legal tradition got what he wanted.
Sadly, no names, no pack drill, but I was reminded of this with the exit of the two top legal officers in Wapping last week, with generous payouts, that some might speculate could be seen as hush money. It also reinforced to me the utter contempt that those who work in News International and NewsCorp have for those of us not lucky enough to do the same.
Instead of offering unwanted advice to Tom Watson et al, all I can do is congratulate them for what they are doing on behalf of us all.
There are just some of the questions that we need answers to, to whit: