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Miliband party reforms an opportunity to take broader message of change to the country

Posted on 1 February 2014 | 9:02am

If the battles fought by Neil Kinnock and John Smith to change the Labour Party seem like an age ago, that is because they were.

It is now more than 20 years since they fought for the principle of One Member, One Vote.

I was still a journalist, Paul Dacre was not yet begun his benign and balanced editorship of the Daily Mail, and the media conventional wisdom was that Labour would never form a government again.

But Labour did win, and win big, three times, and did a far better job of governing than the Tories did before or are doing after. Given how much happened in those three terms, it is easy forget just how important those internal battles were in making the party fit for office and helping us win. And given how busy government is, it is also perhaps understandable why party reform took something of a back seat after Tony Blair and John Prescott succeeded in changing Clause IV in 1995.

Now back in Opposition, Labour must, in different ways in a different age, once again have the courage to embrace internal change as a way of showing fitness to change the country.

So Ed Miliband is right to say there is unfinished business.

The reforms he announced today in The Guardian (link) are, by any standards including those of Tony Blair, bold.

At a time when David Cameron is retreating into the margins of a Tory party shrinking below 100,000 members for the first time in its history, Ed is reaching out and opening up.

There will be debate and there will be close analysis and in the end the detail will be vital, but as I read it so far —

— Instead of unions automatically affiliating millions of people to Labour, their members will have to make a real choice.

— Instead of union general secretaries mediating the relationship between their members and the Labour Party, those that pay the affiliation fee will be given the chance to sign up for a real and individual voice within the party.

— Instead of ballot papers for leadership elections being issued by the unions in envelopes stuffed full with instructions on who to vote for, Labour will hold the lists of those eligible to vote, ensure equal access to them for all the candidates and issue its own voting forms.

— And instead of multiple votes or weighted votes in an arcane electoral college, anyone who wants a say in the future of the party, signs up as a Labour supporter and is willing to pay a small fee to register with the party will get a vote. No one’s vote will be worth more than any other. No one will have more than one vote. And no one but Labour will issue ballot papers.

Alongside these reforms Labour – from Ed down, with MPs taking a bigger share of the load – need to do the campaigning and the connecting needed to drive up membership. Again, this is something we did not do well once we were in government. In Opposition, it is possible and should be a priority.

None of what Ed is proposing would have seemed possible back in the days of Neil, John or even when Tony became leader.

To be honest, none of it seemed likely when Ed became leader.

Of course there will be people who grumble about it. Some will say it goes to far. Others will find a reason to say it does not go far enough. Still more will worry about whether we should be doing this now.

That was true back in the 80s and 90s too. But if we had not changed then, we would not have had the chance to change the country in three terms of Labour government.

This is about more than party reform. Handled right, with a debate which enhances rather than weakens the appeal of the party, it is about Labour showing it is continuing to change and modernise according to a fast-changing world, and showing it understands that world much better than David Cameron.

  • xraypay

    Absolutely right ! Labour has to be brave and Ed is the one to take us along the route for further modernisation. The Tories are washed out, belligerent, xenophobic and still arrogant. They are running scared of UKIP but with such a shallow leader they bounce from daft decision to dafter decision. Rollon 2015 let’s anihilated the LibDems and show the country what a real Labour government can do in the 21st century!

    • Dave Simons

      I would love to share your optimism but I think there are no grounds for it. I’ve long suspected that as soon as the General Election loomed things would miraculously start picking up, or at least would start being made to appear to be picking up, and that’s exactly what’s happening with the election just over a year off. When it comes to conning the electorate the Conservative Party is full of professionals. Does anyone remember the photo of a portly Nigel Lawson stuffing himself with cake after a budget announcement in the late 1980s? That’s how to do it – look as if you’re in control and the plebs will lap you up like milk and honey. Osbourne can never quite get rid of that spiteful look on his over-advantaged face but my goodness how his team are working hard on it! Won’t we thank the LibDems for that stupid fixed-term parliament proposal when we get saddled with another five years of minority Tory government?

      • Janet Edwards

        I’m not so pessimistic Dave, as I think it’s too early to say which way it will go. I do agree though that the fixed term parliament was a stupid idea. Already the media are in election mode ably fed by Cons Central Office. We’ll have 15 months of this now, during which time the public will turn off to any detailed analysis (if there is any) absorbing only simplistic headlines. Given these will be spun mainly by government and the 90% pro-Tory media, we certainly have a battle on our hands.

        It wouldn’t be too bad if the media would add in some important (true) facts and detail now and again. We know the Somerset Levels are flooded, has anyone read or heard how many people are affected? We know Mark Carney spoke about currency union recently but I doubt many people would know what he actually said. And how about a BBC web report today (2 Feb) in which they state as fact: ‘Last year an inquiry into Stafford Hospital found that years of abuse and neglect had led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients.’
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26005148

        This widely reported but wrong assertion was contradicted by Robert Francis QC when he said “it would be unsafe to infer from the figures that there was any particular number or range of numbers of avoidable or unnecessary deaths at the Trust.”
        http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/07/nhs-report-author-says-claim-13000-needless-deaths-misrepresentation

        The Conservative Party would never win a majority in the UK if the media couldn’t lie and hide the truth. If we do get another term of Tory rule (God forbid) the LibDems would certainly be culpable but top of my list would be our appalling media.

        • Ehtch

          It must have been unconstitutional when five year fixed terms came in Janet, voted gladly alongside the Tories by the spineless sell outs, the Lib Dems.

          Quite Adolf Hitler 1930s nazzie Party how that all happened. Quite disgraceful. I still don’t know and am still baffled how they got away with that arse biscuit!!

          • Michele

            🙁 Because the Lib Dems had given the Cons the unbeatable advantage of a total overall majority.
            Even if every Labour MPs plus every other minority party MP attended and voted against a ConDem proposal they could not beat it if almost every ConDem member voted for it.
            ConsDems = 364
            Labour and all others = 286

            Without the coalition and if those 57 Lib Dems had been voting with their consciences we would still have something approaching democracy, that quality they dare to wear like a disguise in their title.
            It would have been hard to manage, taken far more work from the Cons than they are used to doing but hey ….. Nick & Co have personally done very well out of their sell-out.

          • mightymark

            I was surprised by the 5 year term – and even more surprised that it had passed so easily and with so little comment. It is a constitutional novelty certainly but assuming it was (as I believe) passed as a law in the proper way I doubt it would be “unconstitutional – why do you think it might have been?

            The real point however is that the purpose was to bind the Lib Dems into the government for the period and not let them jump ship and force an election. They actually voted for this so in theory if say as a private members bill the Lib Dems voted to repeal it I assume it could cease to be law and a vote of no confidence could, as in the past, trigger a general election. So unless I have anything wrong here (and let me know if I have) it is less the five year fixed term than Lib Dem cowardice in facing the electorate that prevents a general election. Now there’s a surprise!

          • Michele

            I’m not sure how fixed-term would actually bind Lib Dems in to the coalition unless we accept that its being extant was an admission that the only reason Lib(eral with the truth) Dems would always vote with the Cons. It used to seem that they occupied the moral high ground for voting re topics not re their proposers.
            5yrs of Cabinet top-ups was obviously more worthwhile than the other possibility …… being ‘bled’ for as short a time as possible then being ditched .

            To think they tried to underpin it with changes to the NCV too, I do wonder whose wise input averted that!

            Fixed term or variable …… both have pros and cons; in exchange for avoiding the risk of a quickly-called election when things like the economy are suddenly looking on the up we now have the device that an ‘up’ occurring around 4yrs can be put on hold, stifled till closer to the 5yr time limit.

      • reaguns

        I sort of agree with you Dave, but you imply that the economy just happened to recover by accident, or rather that maybe it isn’t recovering at all just the tory machine and establishment have now set about making it look that way in time for the election.

        I actually think it’s worse than that, because at least that would have no effect on the actual economy. The truth in my view is that, as many governments do, they have timed things perfectly so that they can pump prime the economy as the election approaches. Governments famously lowered interest rates coming up to elections, in theory that is out of their hands now but in reality Cameron will have leant on Carney, possibly as part of offering him the job, to keep them as low as possible around election time, just as Brown did to King. He will also ensure quantitative easing continues. And just in case the bank didn’t play ball, or was forced not to by events, and just in case the effect wasn’t big enough, they timed the help to buy scheme for just this reason.

  • xraypat

    xraypat…fat fingers …

  • JamesOGibson

    Don’t you feel thee reforms could potentially undermine the influence unions have over the party? We need to remember that Labour was founded by trade unionists, yet the right-wing of the party seem to going on a witchhunt after them!

    It’s sad you mention Kinnock’s reforms as well, especially as he put down the groundwork for the Thatcherisation of the party.

    We need to refind our trade union roots and bring about a policy of nationalisation and common ownership.

    • Gillian C.

      I think Labour forgot its roots a long time ago. Or, have conveniently been ignoring them.
      Labour hasn’t been a party for the working man and woman for donkey’s years.

      • Kevin Armes

        Labour’s last three terms brought about a big increase in living standards, the minimum wage, a stronger welfare system and a better NHS than any previous government. How is that NOT being a party for the working man and woman?

        • Gillian C.

          It would be easy to make a case both for and against the things you mention.
          However, I’m much more interested in the bigger picture. Such as the fact that most of the world’s wealth is in the hands of so few people. I don’t see this changing anytime soon, if ever.
          The Labour Party, just as the Tory Party are establishment gatekeepers.
          They may disagree on some domestic issues, but on big important issues such as whether this country goes to war or not, they always unite. The status quo will always be preserved no matter what.
          Labour doesn’t like Trade Unions any more than the Tories do. Even though it was on the back of Trade Unions that the Labour Party was founded.
          Try this little mental exercise Kevin.
          Step outside the matrix and look back in on it. The LvR paradigm is fake. We do not have a democracy and never have had. Voting makes no difference.

      • Michele

        What’s ‘the working man’?
        Labour got New and a bit more with it, it allowed working people to feel entitled to real aspiration …. not in fear of being kept or slapped down, put back in what was deemed their place.

        Working men and women are no longer described simply as ‘labour’ as so many of us nowadays are only too happy to be exploited for more than our muscles.

        We have no right at all to keep harking back to how things were pre-WW1, there are too many people around the world whose present day is far worse than UK was even then.

        :-s

    • Janet Edwards

      I can understand why some people may be alarmed at Ed’s proposals, but it’s important to recognise the aims of trade unions are not entirely the same as those of the Labour Party. Union leaders rightly focus on the workplace and press for a high priority to be given to their concerns. Ordinary union members on the other hand, may well be even more concerned with issues unrelated to the workplace, such as housing, health or education. If the structures facilitate input into the Party only through union leaders, we risk losing touch with the whole range of concerns ordinary people have.

      Trade unions do a fantastic job and it is right to acknowledge how vital their input is to society and to a party striving to make all aspects of life better. We should promote union membership as a positive thing for working people but there are dangers in getting the relationship out of balance. The Labour Party in government cannot favour trade unionists over other exploited workers. There will be times when the aims of a particular union, rightly acting in the interests of its members, will be at odds with the needs or desires of mainstream society. A Labour government must act in the interests of the many not the few. Being clear about our differences as well as what we have in common is an important step in getting the balance right.

      • Michele

        The word ‘Trade’ no longer belongs with the word ‘Union’, all workers however they dress and what collar is worn need empathy and less suspicion with / about each other.

        Having said that …… I heard a programme at the weekend which unfortunately I can’t find on iPlayer about the perks that people in one sector ‘enjoy’…… that of shifting their bonuses back and forth between tax years to avoid higher tax periods. Stonking!

  • Ehtch

    More needs to be said about the conception, birth, then of course the evolution, of the Labour Party, from Keir Hardie from around the time of labour exploitation at the turn of the 20th century, onwards. What is happening at the moment that people are afraid, yes afraid, yes paranoidical, about joining the Labour Party, due to on going victimisation when a Tory Government (plus out of government supporters with their influences) by chance come around, as seen in the construction industry in recent years.

    People want a fair deal, but not support it when certain people, when they suddenly want to, stinging them from some secret database, these days.

    And of course as depicted as we speak – no one is safe from said…

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/01/michael-gove-ofsted-chair-baroness-morgan

  • CBPwr

    Some unions need to accept that they need to reform and become more transparent to the Labour Party. Legacy arrangements like the block vote and the Labour sub only act in the interest of an ever decreasing exclusive minority of workers, those that still have a strong collective bargaining position. However, I think Labour also need to do some soul-searching. Britain has been allowed to become a low wage, high cost economy. With a flick of a switch the Tories have been able to stall or turn off every reform Labour made to help the working poor. Both the Unions and the Labour party need to work together to ensure that these workers can secure pension rights, the right to arbitration and that they are not expoited by zero hour contracts.

  • Ehtch

    Slightly off topic Ali, maybe, but ref. Somerset floods, with reference to this video,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_b6UzeSvfU

    I’ll quote my comment from there, self-censored from there, for here, COUGH!,

    “A Green would not know how to dredge a river with a spade even if it smacked them in their faces. That environment Tory minister too, when he visited Somerset last week, coming out with his fail grade GCSE Geography to explain the floods. Dredge rivers and waterways allows water to flow more efficiently into the sea at least 16 hours a day, away from high tide, you THICK C***S!! Hence flood levels don’t build up!! QE ‘KING D!”

    Always have been a surfer and boat sea botherer, whenever I got a chance, albeit less at the moment, so think know more than the average inlander when Mother Nature’s seas, with her moods, decides to visit us, for her to have a closer look at us.

    • Gillian C.

      Nice one Ehtch. What a stupid b*tch!
      The ‘Greens’ should have been strangled at birth, or preferably aborted before birth.
      I feel very sorry for those affected by the awful flooding in Somerset, Personally I wouldn’t buy a property on a flood plain, but tbh almost anywhere could become a flood plain these days.
      Christopher Booker wrote a good piece on the Somerset flooding in the Telegraph on Saturday. The Environment Agency are culpable of neglect by not dredging the river beds.
      My son had to go to ‘Wetterset’ last Friday, with the Fire Brigade, to ‘babysit a high volume pump for 12 hours’ he didn’t get home again until midnight. He’s going there again today (Tuesday) to engage in the same futile exercise. I hope to God he’s careful around that bacteria invested water. I wonder if we’ll see a cholera or some other horrible outbreak of disease occurring.
      Maybe they’ll have to evacuate some of the people even. Probably they would be evacuated to the Butlins Camp at Minehead.

      • Ehtch

        calm down Gillian! : )))) but I have got to say, I somewhat totally agree with you too. ; )

        Minehead Butlins? All I have to say is Dunster Castle there, or was that near Brean Sands Pontins in Somerset? Been there both when young, ; )

      • Michele

        I’m not one of those that think people living in flood plains should know and accept what’s going to happen sooner or later and again (nor one of those that lack sympathy for Bangladeshis drowned in floods because they too live below sea level and were never taught to swim).
        I must say though that I was so angry to hear people complaining as bitterly as they did that their Xmases were spoiled and demanding to know why power workers had not been made to work over Xmas Eve and onwards …… as if those families’ Xmases mattered less ,,,,, and as if the conditions over those few days would somehow endanger people up pylons less than those on the ground. :-s

  • Ehtch

    ref. BAM Ali, South Bank Centre on Sunday, you should have posted this link on twitter, but it seems I have more time on my hands, to look around… : )

    http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/being-a-man-sunday-pass-80721

    Wish I could have been there,
    and I would have started reciting my man poems outside,
    in a cornerway,
    with my hat in front,
    with ladies looking at me with daggered eyes,
    no doubt,
    with hopefully some of them laughing,
    in either way,
    in pity or truth…

    : ))

    • Ehtch

      Posted this to a US poetess, Mel, after comment above, when came thinking…

      (a poem about, umm, you might soon guess Mel, where only half of us have to experience, while people like me at the bottom of the stairs, awaiting a cigar)

      Infiltration.

      Infiltration only happens to half of us,
      those scared with that consequence.
      Pull or pill or wellingtons are available,
      but sometimes it does not happen.

      Fools of young life, finger in flames,
      testing the boundaries everywhere.
      Then do cross, when found out late,
      when find that time coming stare.

      Hormones then kick in, telling not so bad,
      while everyone around all running wild.
      Calm and serenity, as Mother Nature asks,
      then comes the time realisation, pained.

      Then realising “I don’t need this at all”,
      panting and gasping, abdomen tortured.
      Legs split right into two as comes between,
      then it is over, but that is just the starter.

      A COUGH!, a song to go with it Mel,
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM2CORdyv8k

      : ) duck Huw…

      Mel,

      http://uploadsociety.com/user/PoetessPossessed

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg6wyfS-BQU

  • Ehtch

    Back on topic Ali, got to post this, Prezza yesterday, also from YT liarpoliticians, and John speaks the truth (and go direct to the vid to see my comments on YT, for John and all to have a laugh… maybe),

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQiGu854KFY

  • Sk

    Ed Miliband gets a disproportionate amount of bile thrown at him my the right wing press. This just seems like an attempt to stop the stupid red ed attacks by the Daily Mail. Should a part really forgo what it was founded on for those such as Dacre?

  • georgewoodhouse

    The problem as I see it, is that there is so little trust in our MPs and political leaders; that every time one of them comes up with an idea for improvement it is seen as a way of self promotion rather than something for the general good of the country.

    I voted for, was genuinely and wholeheartedly behind, Tony Blair when he came to power in 1997 but only a few months later felt betrayed by the affair of Bernie Ecclestone/sports smoking advertising ban (or lack of it in his case). In fact that more than anything destroyed my faith in Labour politics; after suffering the sleaze and arrogance of the Tories for years.

    Of course the Labour party needs to change. It is a paradox of Labour politics that they can only get into power by being much less “left wing” than most of their members would like them to be. A fact ignored by many commentators on the left of politics, like Richard Murphy and Danny Blanchflower; who are clearly more interested in dogma than achieving power.

    Tony Blair achieved this brilliantly, but was clearly hampered by Gordon Brown whose sole objective was to be anything and say anything that would enable him to seize the leadership from Blair for himself. He was the epitome of disloyalty and destruction of what Blair had achieved. Didn’t he do well!

    And, of course, the central players who ably assisted Gordon in his misguided aims were Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Had they not done so, Labour may still be in power today – because Gordon would never have had the courage to do this without their support.

    And added to the way that Ed Miliband undermined his brother in the leadership elections there is no chance at all of me trusting the Labour party while it is led by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.

    So find a better and more trusted leader, come up with some decent policies and Labour may get into power again.

    • Michele

      ooops I did an unintended / so have balanced it with

      an /, it wasn’t a fit of sxhiz-etc

      • Gillian C.

        You can simply remove a mistaken up or down vote. There is no need to balance it, unless of course you really want to.

        • Michele

          How odd, who’d’ve thought it!
          One could spend all day tapping and re-tapping (and am not sure why anyone at all would want to remove something other than an unintended mark).

  • reaguns

    “But Labour did win, and win big, three times, and did a far better job of governing than the Tories did before or are doing after.”

    Sometimes there are grey areas but that is just tripe! Biggest financial crash in a generation, and one that was NOT global (Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and many others didn’t have the trouble we had.)

    Also mass immigration.

    In hindsight, most prime ministers have had disasters, but John Major now looks like the best prime minister Britain has had since churchill, ie ended his term with strong growth, stable finances, first ever reduction in crime, and his disaster (the ERM) now looks like a storm in a teacup compared to 3.6 million unemployed for thatcher, 3 million immigrants for blair, 3 million ringfenced banker bonuses with the brown bailout, Blair and Brown’s joint hand in our housing and credit bubble, and Cameron’s still to pop help to buy bubble.

    • Dave Simons

      Quite right – the British Labour Party was responsible for the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, etc. If Michael Howard had won the election in 2005 we would not have seen people queueing outside Northern Rock in the autumn of 2007.

      • reaguns

        If an economic conservative had won the election in either 2001 or 2005 (I won’t say 1997 because Brown and Blair had a fiscally conservative policy in that term) then you most certainly would not have seen people queuing outside Northern Rock. And Lehman brothers would have been a storm in a teacup apart from for lehman brothers.

        Whether Michael Howard would have been that man is speculation.

        But only the funny money inflationary policies pursued by govts on both sides of the atlantic caused the disasters, Brown’s refusal to include house prices in the inflation statistics hiding them being the main reason there was not pressure to deflate our bubble before it became a zeppelin here.

        Governments who were fiscally conservative rode the crisis ie the ones I have already named.

        • Michele

          OFGS, get off one worldwide situation that one country by itself could not put worthwhile constraints on and admit what the Tory govt spent protecting the pound at Black Weds …… do you agree £27billion of UK reserves (or that it might even have been well-hidden more)?

          Do that and you’ll be part way to understanding why SOME gold HAD to be sold in ’97 …. go on, swap your ‘ace’ for an admission that it can also become your handicap.

          • reaguns

            I accept that Major and all the other Wet tories joined the ERM and then wasted billions trying to defend the pound, not sure of the figure but in the 20s of billions I believe yes.

            That is not however why gold was sold. It was sold because it was at a low price and Brown (plus many others) thought it was worthless and better replaced by something else. It then famously increased in value by up to 7 times (though in fairness it is only about 5.5 times as valuable now.)

        • Dave Simons

          If the Tories had been in office in autumn 2007 and summer 2008 they would have presided over exactly the same global financial crisis as Labour – except they’d have thrown even more public money to bail out the banks than Labour did. And then it would really have been a ‘global financial crisis’, not ‘the last government crashed the economy’, which is what we’ve heard ad nauseam in the last four years and will no doubt be hearing in the build-up to 2015.

          • reaguns

            Come on Dave, we know they both do that, anything good is their doing, anything bad is the fault of the last government. Some leftists even say that the problems are due to Reagan and Thatcher – do you?

            I didn’t say “if the tories were in power we would have averted disaster” I said “if fiscal conservatives were in power we would have averted disaster”.

            In hindsight I should correct the insinuation that Michael Howard might have fixed it. He is not sufficiently radical to have made the changes that were required and by 2005 it was too late anyway, plus as you know Cameron accepted labours spending plans and I don’t remember Howard wanting too much deviation from them either.

        • Michele

          Is there a country anywhere that includes house prices in such stats and don’t methods need to be aligned internationally?

          • reaguns

            Brown either made the change to take them out (I am pretty sure this is what happened) or he refused to include them when warned of the bubble.

            There ended up being 3 ways of measuring inflation CPI, RPI and RPI something or other. Brown made sure whatever one they chose paid the least possible attention to housing prices.

            You see, contrary to Labour dogma, people did warn about the housing crash. I read their books – I made money betting against the housing market. I am not smart enough to do this myself, I needed the words or Roubini, Schiff, Taleb, Rajan.

    • Michele

      “………3 million ringfenced banker bonuses with the brown bailout,……” You think there were 3m employed in banking on bonus top-ups?
      This:
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9001011/Financial-services-sector-sheds-20000-jobs-in-six-months-claims-CBI-and-PricewaterhouseCoopers.html
      reads more sensibly about the total sector than your crumbs pretending to be facts thrown out as if to the suckers.

      Praise be for ‘his disaster (the ERM)’ else we’d be stuck in the Euro now 🙁

      You didn’t mention Lloyds’ Names, Black this and Green that, mortgage interest rate approaching 20% for several years and zillions (I can exaggerate too when it’s just for effect) losing their homes. I could even have throw in an emotive word like ‘of folk’ after my ‘zillions’ but decided against it.

      • reaguns

        My 3 million word was part rhetorical device “3 million odd unemployed under thatcher, 3 million odd immigrants under blair, 3 million bankers bailed out under Brown” but if I was to extend it to all the banking staff in britain and beyond, as well as other businesses affected by the bailout, I am sure I could surpass the 3 million mark. Nonetheless it was mainly rhetorical and I am happy to change “3 million” to “1 million” or even “a lot” or “too many”!

        Yes I am glad ERM stopped us joining the euro, it must be remembered that this was not always the clearcut issue it is now, there were many conservatives who saw the euro as a kind of modern day gold standard, a more capitalist and more right wing policy than keeping our own currency. Many US republicans still see it that way. But of course you would think it had been John Major and Ken Clarke acting against the entire rest of the party to read some “folk” today.

        “You didn’t mention Lloyds’ Names, Black this and Green that, mortgage interest rate approaching 20% for several years and zillions (I can exaggerate too when it’s just for effect) losing their homes. I could even have throw in an emotive word like ‘of folk’ after my ‘zillions’ but decided against it.” You will have to explain this better, if you are talking about the folks who lost their homes in recession, yes I accept that, I just think it is less bad than those who lost homes and jobs under thatcher and brown, and who lost their communities under Blair.

        Major ended his term with arguably the finest chancellor of the 20th century (and almost always regarded in the top 4 with Howe and two labour-ish bods ie Healey and Jenkins) and definitely the finest home secretary in Michael Howard, the man that proved crime needn’t increase forever because “prison works”.

        • Michele

          Ah …. smirk …. a ‘rhetorical device’….. be that one o’ them devoices that ye wroiters on t’Wail use to bend OUR language in to something with no resemblance to FACT?

          Get real.
          Use facts.
          Be correct, after all you don’t mind at all spewing about how ‘right’ you are.
          You think GUNS should be used against petty criminals? Phwoar, what a knee trembler.

  • Michele

    Somewhere or other I’ve placed a post about some of us not being valued for our muscle, it should have also mentioned skill and flexibility (especially regarding those on 0hrs contracts who I doubt are allowed to be members of any union anyway).

  • reaguns

    If all is as Alastair described it, and I’ve been too busy this week with work to delve in and scrutinise the proposals, then this is another in a series of recent massive and positive moves from Ed Miliband.

    Add in water cannon / army support to deal with the likes of the 2011 rioters, plus execution for the likes of those who robbed two of my elderly neighbours the other night and I might vote for you Ed.

  • Michele

    In the midst of all our talk here about empathy or the lack of it between employers and unions we have an example again this week of the how NOT to.

    It’s totally unacceptable that BJ is refusing to talk to the Union’s leaders about the Tube strike. Does he not have a duty to acknowledge that Tube workers are people with a right to good manners (even if he accepts nothing else about them)?

    Anyone that was foolish enough to vote for the object should realise that the way he is treating the Tube’s reps is the way he feels about other mere mortals (and oh so like the way his sister dealt with those she found inconvenient at – tee hee – The Lady). Both are inbreds from Daddy …. with his words recently to the effect of ‘How many sprogs have I put through hundreds of thousands of fee-paying schools? ……… pffffffft does it matter if I don’t know?’

    Ken Livingston will always be the man for all Londoners, the one who can prioritise for and represent both sides and the method by which he was kept out of the running last time round was utterly utterly evil spite.

  • Michele

    On Any Questions this week in a conversation about improvements in education, Anna Soubry enthused about schools in her constituency that have become so much better in the past three years under the management of academies.

    Jack Straw claimed that the improvements she described could not have taken only 3yrs but ……. omitted to mention that academies were introduced by Labour (and obviously more than 3yrs ago).

    They’re not all good, especially the ones taking advantage of the appalling freedom to appoint untrained teachers even at Primary level but whatever the features of the good academies are, Anna Soubry seems happily clueless and Jack Straw ……. !!???