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We got it wrong. Now we must have the soul-searching and honest debate we have perhaps avoided too long

Posted on 8 May 2015 | 8:05am

After yesterday’s very long blog, today a very short one, admitting that I was wrong. Not wrong in thinking Labour SHOULD win, but clearly wrong in thinking we would.

Sometimes, when advising people I work with, I will say beware the dangers of being so deep inside your own team’s bubble that you end up believing your own propaganda and lose sight of what is really happening.

That does appear, looking back at what I have been saying in recent days and weeks, to have happened this time to me, and many others. But it really did seem, looking not just at the polls but also Labour’s own data and my own instinct going around the UK, that the Tories would not get a majority, and that Ed Miliband could end up as PM as a result.

There is no point pretending that this is anything other than a disastrous result, yes especially in Scotland, but in England too.

Perhaps one of the reasons we are in this position is because we took so long to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown lost in 2o1o that we allowed the Tories to frame the politics surrounding the economy for the entire Parliament, and we did not rebut their attacks on our overall record with sufficient clarity or vigour, nor have arguments and policies able to build a coalition of support across the centre and the left of the political spectrum. Likewise clearly whatever strategies we thought we had for dealing with the nationalist surge in Scotland, they were not adequate.

But whereas I thought we took too long to elect a leader last time, perhaps the debate about the party’s future this time should be even longer. Because perhaps one of our problems is that we did not in reality have the debate that we should have had, with ourselves and with the public, from the moment Tony Blair made way for Gordon Brown.

After a result as awful as this, there has to be real deep soul-searching, and honest analysis about how and we have gone from being a Party identified as the dominant force across UK politics over a decade and more, to where we are today.

These are not questions that can, or should, be answered in a hurry.

  • Geoff Smith

    Disagree. Get on with getting a new leader ASAP with no union interference. I liked Ed but no natural charisma – he had to be taught it.

  • Andy Harvey

    Analysing the past is essential but the main question is why so many ordinary folk with ordinary jobs, aspirations and hopes for the future, decide that the Tories were better than us to deliver that for them? I am not even sure we know what a successful electoral coalition looks like for Labour – except in my nice part of north London that has done very well, but I suspect that really is part of the problem and not a confection of the media as sometimes we think. I had a brilliant day on the streets of Wood Green yesterday with over 60 people coming to my house which was the committee room to work just 2 Polling Districts, getting out a Labour vote that had been worked assiduously for years. How can we translate that success to other parts of the country with different interests and concerns? But I agree about not rushing into a new leadership campaign too quickly – we need to frame that as a conversation with the Britain that has just turned its back on us again.

    • AileenCheetham

      Well said.

  • Peter Wass

    The tories took quite a long time electing Cameron, and that worked out quite well for them. The time taken is rather less important than the decision made.

  • Unfortunately deep soul searching is rarely productive unless it coincides with the emergence of a leader with a clear vision that people can rally behind. TB/GB certainly achieved this. DC looked like he might but lost his bottle and was clobbered by the right. Here’s hoping someone steps up to the plate.

  • Philippe Llassall

    You are a party whorshipping a non-democratic ideology,like it or not!!Hence you cannot have ,you never had an open mind on the society because you want to run everything from trains to housing , from water to electricity.You do not need to search soul ! LABOUR , A DERIVATIVE COMMUNIST THINKING DIED YESTERDAY AND I DO NOT THINK YOU WILL HAVE THE GUTS TO ANSWER ME AS YOU ARE ALSO IN A SELF-DENIAL POSTURE IN A REMOTE CRUMBLING TOWER.LABOUR IS LIME.READ MORE BBC WEBSITE AND LESS GUARDIAN AND YOU SHALL HEAL A BIT

    • Nick

      Thank you, Paul Dacre, and goodnight.

    • Cantabs

      What flavour is Labour? Ah, lime. Right, thanks. Just out of interest, what flavours do you think the other main parties are?

  • Chris

    Could not agree more, which – with respect – is not something I often think when hearing your views.

    I hope that Labour move towards the left as a result of this, with a strong leader with a clear vision. I did not agree with a lot of Labour’s policies in this election, but they were the only credible alternative to the Conservatives unless you lived in one of the two or three constituencies with strong Green support. My best hope now is writing to my new Conservative MP and hoping that he will try and ensure the Tories won’t be as bad as I fear.

    • AileenCheetham

      Yup. Chris they are truly scary. God knows what the poor. disabled, single with children will be asked to suffer. Also what Teachers, nurses, all NHS workers will be asked to cope with yet still deliver as the Heroes they are.The Tories are without heart, most have NO first hand experience of our ordinary life struggles. Remember Ian Duncan Smith’s failed attempt?

    • Stripey

      Hi Chris – I hope they move right over to the left too – further than Michael Foot. That will ensure that they never get elected!

    • SleepyCat

      Move toward the LEFT? That would be a good idea if Labour had lost to the Greens… but it was the Tories that got the majority, and people did not vote Tory because Labour wasn’t far enough to the left.

      It was New Labour and Tony Blair that kept winning elections, because they inhabited the left-of-center space instead of going further left…

      Ed Miliband was right about the center moving left, just wrong about the timescale it was occurring on. Give it another 20 years for the oldest people to age out of the voting population and a new generation to replace them… but not yet.

      The good news is that social left and economic left are two different things… Labour may need to stay close to the center on the economy (in a Labour way that still gives us a strong NHS and avoids shafting the poor), but moving a bit more to the left socially will probably be tolerated by the middle ground voters, and embraced by the voters who want to see Labour further to the left. Things like youth employment programs, transgender rights, etc. would be a place where Labour could excel to show that they can be “center ground/economically trustworthy” without being “Red Tories”.

  • Chemical Allez

    Labour induced By-election some time soon to let David M back into the fold?

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  • Jules Wombat

    No you lost cos the man in the street was not going to tolerate Labour (Propped up by Liberal + SNP) wrecking the economy again. The failure of labour to properly acknowledge their part in the state of the economy they left behind, and not conviiocng in maintaining the current econimic recovery. We all saw that.

    • Nick

      “The failure of labour to properly acknowledge their part in the state of
      the economy they left behind, and not conviiocng in maintaining the
      current econimic recovery” – pretty much every independent analyst has dismissed this as a Tory lie. Labour were not responsible for the global financial crash, but equally they were not effective in rebutting the Tory lie that Osborne’s plan has worked.

      • Stripey

        And they didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining.

    • AileenCheetham

      Jules – World Wide Recession ring any bells?

      • bootsyjam

        I get so confused, it was a worldwide recession according to the narrative, but the same narrative also said that Gordon Brown saved the banks. So one thing he had no part in, the other thing he did?

        • SleepyCat

          The Global Financial Crisis started in the the United States and rippled out from there, nobody in the UK caused it or could have prevented it. What Gordon Brown *could* do was respond to it, and he did a very good job of that – “saving the banks” not just in the UK, but around the world by convincing other leaders to take the same approach. And it worked.

          So both statements are correct – Labour did not cause the Global Financial Crisis, but Gordon Brown did an incredible job responding to it, including saving the banks. And afterward the economy was recovering faster under him than it has been under the Tories’ stupid austerity plans.

      • Stripey

        Wasn’t world wide. Didn’t happen in Oz or Canada, to name but two.

    • Stripey

      Well said Jules.

  • Yoda

    Proud of Edinburgh South for rejecting nationalism and re-electing an excellent MP in Ian Murray.

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  • SleepyCat

    Did Ed Miliband’s attempt to reform Labour’s electoral college system succeed? I remember hearing he was going to do it, but searching now I can’t find anything that says it went through…

    If it DID go through, I think that will make a huge long-term difference in allowing Labour to go in the direction voters want it to. Ed may never get to be PM, but between those changes and making Labour party membership more accessible to the public, he will have made an important contribution toward Labour wins in many future elections.

    Certainly not a solution to all of Labour’s problems, but perhaps a glimmer of hope that a few steps in the right direction were already being made. Absolutely time for some soul-searching (that’s when Labour is at its best, 1997 came after 1992!), but it’s important that it isn’t all self-flagellation, there has been some good too.

    • There has been some reform of the system to include supporters who are not full members but donate and there has been some increase in party membership but how the new system works in practice remains to be seen. My own view is that David M was tainted by the Iraq War. An albatros Labour has hung round its neck.

  • Richard Granfield

    The big mistake was the forced resignation of Tony Blair.
    If he was still leader we would still be in power.

    • AileenCheetham

      He was very inspiring.

      • Cantabs

        I met Blair, very briefly, when he became Labour leader but before he was elected. He was undeniably charismatic. I didn’t agree with some of the things he did in power, but on a purely personal level, he was difficult not to like. I suspect David Miliband may not be quite so charismatic, but for me he’s by far the best of the line-up of leadership hopefuls.

  • Steven Grimmer

    I really feel that the Labour Party comes across as false with Ed at the helm. Tony Blair came across like he ran things. Tony was undermined by Brown, Balls and Milliband and this is where it’s got them and they dragged their party with them.

    If the party had a natural, more articulate leader and policies that connected with the electorate – like a ban on fracking, scrapping Trident and investing heavily in the NHS, better education, greener energy production and help for small businesses. But alas the approach to this election didn’t work. I’m afraid Ed lost this one.

    • Stripey45

      No! We mustn’t scrap Trident. We would be naked at the negotiating table. Trident is easily affordable and all parties of whatever colour have agreed that we should keep it.

      • Cantabs

        £100bn easily affordable? Now who’s perched in the invisible money tree? I wonder how Germany manages to be the most politically and economically powerful country in Europe without a nuclear deterrent … as well as the other 192 UN countries that don’t have it. We must assume they’re doomed too.

  • Nasim

    The problem is in England, we knew what was likely to happen in Scotland, but Labour has just not got the message across in England where it had the possibility of picking up some seats that it would lose in Scotland.

    But in essence you are right in that the framework for this parliament has been Labours poor handling of the economy when in power. In my opinion, we should have discussed the global economy and that the UK was 72 hours from disaster and had it not been for Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling, we would have been plunged into the depths of a recession not seen since the 1920’s. This is and should have been put forward as economic competence not the Tories version of incompetence.

    I think Ed Miliband had a good campaign, but it was too late to bring his A game to the match, when the score is already 5 – 0.

    Lessons must be learnt, but I am not sure we should discard radical policies just for the middle ground. The ground is moving and the narrative of working people being disavowed by the Tories is a strong one.

  • GaryMG

    A sad day for Labour and for millions in the Country. Not a time to fight old battles but to look forward.

    • AileenCheetham

      Yes GaryMG, you are correct. I think we need to aim to get the young ones on our side. Pitch to them in a big way. Promote Apprenticeships, and Start-Up for Businesses after completion of Trade Learning. Grants should be available and generous too. aid and advice on tap 24/7.I do believe that during the run up to this last election, we did NOT SHOUT LOUD AND LONG ENOUGH. I also think as the next election approaches, we need crash courses for door knockers.

    • Stripey

      A happy day for more millions in the UK. The British public are not wrong – Labour always, always tax, spend, spend and borrow. Unemployment always goes up when we have a labour government. The great British public have seen through them all.
      I loved looking at Ed Ball’s face, and Alasdair Campbell’s face too. I think I might frame them and hang them on the wall in the bathroom.
      I know I shouldn’t gloat, but I can’t help it.

      • Dave Simons

        When Jim Callaghan left office in 1979 unemployment was around one million and the Conservative Party election campaign notoriously featured a photo of Hendon Conservatives lined up to look like a dole queue and captioned, ‘Labour’s not working’. Then Margaret Thatcher reintroduced the mass unemployment of the 1930s by letting the unemployment figure reach three million. When Labour got back in under Tony Blair, unemployment came down. It rose after the financial crisis of 2007/8. Governments of all political persuasions tax, spend and borrow. The issues revolve around how much tax and what for, how much is spent and on what, and how much is borrowed from whom, for what purposes and under what conditions.

  • Christopher Michael

    Dead right Alastair. I think we need to be very careful not just about policy but what we need from a leader and a leadership team.

  • Helen Limb Burn

    You don’t know me. I’m a single parent to five children living in a constituency in the north of England, in a traditional Labour stronghold.
    I’ve had numerous arguments recently with people who feel that Labour is out of touch with local people. That you’re all a bunch of middle class individuals who sold out with Blair to get the middle England vote and take your stronghold in the north for granted. That’s why UKIP took so much of the vote up here off you. You’ve got no heart.
    It is not necessary to change your leadership. It is necessary to get yourself out there. To use the skills of the Labour party to strengthen the unions and to put pressure on the unions to fight the changes to contracts that big employers are introducing, with weakening conditions for new starters. For unionised industries to resist zero hours contracts. Right now, we have weak unions, and with weak unions, we have a weak Labour party, distant and dissociated from the people. Use Labour and their supporters to bring change where you can. Support the NHS and their staff. Support teaching staff. Don’t be politicians. Be socialists. This is why I vote for you, why I believe in the Labour ideal.
    There is no time for navel gazing and reflecting. We have an elected government who have announced an intention to continue stripping all that is best about Britain. Please have the courage of your convictions and help us.

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  • Richard English

    It all started in September 2010 when Ed Miliband was elected as leader of the Labour party. Simply unelectable as leader of the country. Always was, always will be, no matter what his policies. It’s sad that’s the state of politics in this country, but it’s surely the reality. Labour would now be commanding a majority if his brother David had become leader.

  • Jimm

    “you end up believing your own propaganda” – is this you admitting that your propaganda was a bunch of lies?

    • Nick

      “is this you admitting that your propaganda was a bunch of lies?” – I don’t think anyone could beat the Tories for the sheer number and magnitude of barefaced porkies told throughout the campaign!

      • Jimm

        Go on then

        • Michele

          What are you suggesting he goes on with? D’uh.

  • Alastair, the heart of the defeat nestles in your second paragraph. Labour withdrew into its Westminster bubble, listened solely to its own circle of advisers on policy, and reacted with seemingly bovine thoughtlessness to every twist and turn of Tory propaganda. I remember trying to engage Harriet Harman (my local MP) in a discussion about Labour’s estrangement from the Party’s own natural supporters, its refusal to come to terms with the Blair era (a major issue in Scotland), and above all its lack of vision, and of a clear political philosophy and sense of direction. Our chat took place over a quiet drink in a local hostelry – supposedly a gathering of members of whom only five showed up including myself. Harriet gave me the impression that she had no idea what I was talking about and she was simply unable (or unwilling to reply). A year previously, at a Party gathering in the House, we had chatted for a few minutes and she had then asked her PA to set up a meeting with me for a “serious discussion”. A week later, I received a ‘phone call from the P.A. to say that Harriet was too busy to see me, but that if I wanted to send an email about my concerns, she (the PA) would have them considered. I pointed out that it was Harriet who had asked to see me and suggested the PA send me an email about Harriet’s concerns. You get my drift?The Labour hierarchy has completely lost touch both with its roots and with the public. I’m surprised to find myself still a Party member.

    • English_Electric

      The leadership of the Labour party represent Global Money Masters Inc just as much as the Tory’s do.

      Why would a Labour big beast such as Harman have any interest in what you had to say?

      Do you run a multinational mega corp? An investment bank?

      Perhaps it is the party rank and file, the plebs, that need to get with the program, rather than the leadership.

      You are the “useful idiots” there to vote, and keep your silly opinions and ideas to yourself.

      Nothing more. Nothing less.

      • Yup. You got it.

      • Ehtch

        Tories have been manipulating UKIP, Lib Dems, and maybe SNP… for the last five years, and they didn’t know it. And may Clegg et al squirm into their old age, the tossers! The destroyers of the Lib Dem Party. I am Labour by the way.

    • Ehtch

      It’s all about regional constituencies – don’t get the vote in your constituency, go piss up the wall. SNP got 56 seats because they got 1.5 million votes out of a possible three million across constituencies, 50%. Cameron got barely 37%. Despairs me at times how thick people are with maths in this country, especially the MSM. We’re a centre-left country, proportionally.

    • Its the Chamberlain genes I’m afraid; peace in our time and all that.

  • Josephine Formby

    I’m a lifelong Labour supporter but could not support Labour yesterday. I identified with New Labour but Labour has lurched to the left. The message felt directed towards the core vote eg comments about being interested in the votes of the workers not the boardroom – I can’t imagine Blair saying that. The tone alienated some in business and not surprisingly there was a reaction against this amongst the Qu Time audience in Leeds. For me that was the key moment of the campaign. It showed Lab had not challenged the Tory narrative on the economy. Indeed Miliband in distancing himself from New Labour failed to highlight their many achievements.

    I’m no pundit, no expert but I felt the polls were wrong all along. If Labour learns the lessons of its past and recaptures the centre ground it can recapture its deserved success.

    • Cantabs

      I’ve always voted either LibDem or, more recently, Green (in a safe, affluent Tory seat). However, I don’t think Labour policy moved too far to the left, I think it was the wrong messenger and the wrong message. I’ve absolutely no doubt Ed Miliband is a decent and genuine individual, and I did actually prefer many of his policies to the New Labour ones, but it was clear that too few saw him as a potential prime minister. I wouldn’t want Labour to return to NHS privatisation or erosion of rights in the name of counter-terrorism, but I would want to see a Labour leader who can also appeal to those closer to the aspirational centre ground without ignoring distributional inequality. I’d vote for David Miliband, and a more inclusive message (left and centre), even if much of the current manifesto were to remain in place. Looking forward to hear what DM might announce later today.

  • Tom nash

    Just come off twitter and start talking to builders, plumbers, white van men. All these people were layed off during the recession but they’re back now, work is out there, mortgages are back and we have turned a corner. Bleeting about food banks and welfare did not resonate with the actual working class. I’m from a labour family in north manchester, but the current labour brand was not for me and I voted ukip to keep labour out and stop the balance tipping from workers to shirkers again. My views are not controlled by print media. The more trendy lefties like brand, iannucci, Addison et al got involved on twitter, I knew labour did not represent ordinary people, I though the opposite of these commentator comedians.

    • Nick

      “workers to shirkers” < that's another false Tory narrative that wasn't successfully rebutted.

      • Stripey

        No – Labour appeals to the shirkers and scroungers.

        Labour must get rid of all those who were involved in the Blair/Brown years. Brown was a complete disaster for Labour, Miliband was worse.

        Perhaps Labour should disband, and give up. They are no longer relevant.

    • JohnJustice

      I do not believe that you and your ilk are representative of “the actual working class” and “ordinary people”. If you are God help us!

      • bootsyjam

        And therein lies the problem that is inherent within the Labour party. John – you have someone from the frontlines of the working UK public telling you something and you dismiss it because ‘you don’t believe it.’ What will it take to make you ‘believe’ it. If you could explain Labour’s failure in a couple of posts then perhaps this would be a good start. I’ve been saying for a while that if UK immigration over the last 15 years had imported 400,000 creative media personnel to provide some competition then the Guardian may have changed it’s tone just a tad. But as the influx affected the labouring industry-no problem. Or the problem just doesn’t exist. Right?

    • Cantabs

      ‘workers to shirkers’ .. but of course your views are not controlled by print media.

    • anna

      The greater part of the welfare budget (52%) is spent on pensions to people who have WORKED all their lives); 7 out of 8 recipients of housing benefit is paid to the WORKING poor – people in big cities doing vital but low-paid work who are paying top-rate city rents often for sub standard accommodation; tax credits are paid to the WORKING poor whose employers skimp on their wages and look to the taxpayer to subsidise them.

      A small percentage of benefit claims are false and they need to be stopped; but the number of ‘shirkers’ is a tiny proportion of the welfare budget. The equation that benefits recipient = scrounger is wicked and deeply wounding to the sick and disabled who already have a heavy burden to bear. My husband is seriously disabled with a degenerative disease. I thank my lucky stars he was diagnosed the year after retirement when our mortgage was paid and our pensions and savings in place and I have enough money to pay for the extra help to care for him at home; otherwise we would be like many other disabled citizens and their carers whose lives are very tough and who struggle along on a shoestring. They can do without your sneers of ‘scrounger.’

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  • jgm2

    They say politics is show business for ugly people and we really shouldn’t mock the afflicted but Labour’s single biggest ‘problem’ for the past five years had been Ed Miliband. Because, and I know it’s unfair, he really does look like Wallace off ‘Wallace and Grommit’ or Briefcase Dork from the Inbetweeners.

    It’s back to that bubble thing again. You, working with all manner of freaks and ‘alternative lifestyles’ that are attracted by left wing politics are probably blind to it. But out here, in the rest of the world, where the voters are expected to put an ‘X’ next to Labour so that (say) Miliband can be the guy to go and represent us, me, you at the G8 or an EU summit or the UN or NATO or whatever, their pencil will hover over ‘Labour’ and then go ‘Best not..’

    And I’m here to tell you that a man who wears mascara,while it may not raise any eyebrows within the Labour bubble, or a private school educated Tristram, are going to have the same voter repellant qualities.

    It might not be fair. But that’s how it is.

    You’re welcome.

  • Kevin I

    One of the wonders of the world is how so many bright, smart intelligent politicians seem to be so detached from reality, living in the bubble you described. The minute Ed got elected over his brother, Labour were doomed, the parliamentary party knew that but the union block vote ruined that. Amazingly there are calls for the party to shift to the left as spokesmen such as Ken Livingstone call for a more radical approach. How can anyone look at the results and feel that by shifting to the left Labour would have won. The electorate didn’t like the shift to the left that Ed wanted to go, and the centrist, middle aged, middle class deserted the LD and overcame their historic distaste for the Conservative Thatcherite days of their youth. SNP won due to the Yes Vote still angry at losing the vote with the No votes splitting across the other parties.
    Just saw David Steel saying again the LD were not left wing enough good luck with aiming for the middle ground with that approach. New Labour pitched the tent in the middle ground because that is where the nation is and the nation will not be shifting. If the Tories make a go of the next 5 years I think it may be some time till the other parties will make any in-roads especially when their compasses are so way off.

    • Stripey

      Well said Kevin.

    • bootsyjam

      Hmmm I’m not so sure r.e. David M. He was closely linked to the war in iraq and was a cheerleader for it. He was a smooth talking metropolitan Labour type, and the last thing that Labour needed was a Blair Mk2 at that time. Just as the country tired of Thatcher and her cronies, so too was it tired of Blair and his cronies. A vote for David would have meant more of the same, which would have been disastrous. Especially considering what old Tone has been up to in the meantime.

  • disqus_lCMX2c7CzB

    This from a chat on FB – “Labour’s inability to articulate an alternative, and to counter the economic myth of Tory recovery is also to blame. That’s what made the scary Sturgeon line so effective.” I think this succinctly coins the fault line. Should have won. Burst the bubble and engage with us.

  • JohnJustice

    We certainly got it wrong Alastair. The failure to defend the record of our last government was quite shameful and played into the Tory narrative that Labour was not fit to run the economy which was a huge factor in the last-minute swing to the right.Those who thought up and went along with this ridiculous strategy bear a heavy responsibility for our defeat.

    Stan Rosenthal

    • Stripey

      Labour was NOT fit to run the economy. The British public have spoken. Why won’t you listen?

      • JohnJustice

        Ten years of unbroken growth and rising living standards, only brought to a halt by a global financial crisis which no-one saw coming looks pretty good to me. Not to mention that the measures taken by Brown to deal with the crisis actually saved our economy and some say even saved the world economy.

        The British people spoke as they did because they were not made sufficiently aware of what actually happened.

        • Stripey

          Ten years of constant ‘stealth’ tax increases, borrowing and profligate spending. Pensions tax raid ruined the pensions industry. Gold sold off in a real crack handed way. 10p tax rate fiasco. Mrs Duffy.
          Tax, spend and borrow – carve it on Milibands block of limestone. It is the mantra of all Labour Governments.

  • reaguns

    First quick thought – admitting being wrong is the first step that Labour itself needs to take. Admit it was wrong on the financial crisis. Admit it misjudged the country’s view on welfare, on public spending, on immigration and the EU, and so forth. This will be difficult for the left, who tend to think they should shape people’s thoughts, whereas the right believe they should listen to people’s thoughts and act on them, ie democracy.

    It must get this right. The country needs a strong labour party and strong opposition. A new leader unsullied by the financial crash must emerge. He must say what John Reid said earlier, appearing on TV beside Alastair, that labour has been on the wrong side of the arguments. The new leader must say that the financial crisis was not global, it didn’t affect every country, and it didn’t affect many countries as badly as the UK. He must say that running a 3% deficit after 14 years of growth was wrong, and this his labour government will not do this.

    He must say that his labour government may well want to spend on new schools and hospitals and what not – but that it will do so honestly, either through tax or growth or both – and never through borrowing or inflation.

    • Nick

      “Admit it was wrong on the financial crisis. Admit it misjudged the
      country’s view on welfare, on public spending, on immigration and the
      EU, and so forth. This will be difficult for the left, who tend to think
      they should shape people’s thoughts, whereas the right believe they
      should listen to people’s thoughts and act on them” – HUH??? 1) Pretty much very independent analyst has said that the Tory framing of Labour being responsible for the financial crisis was a LIE; 2) you don’t seriously believe that the Tories listen to people’s thoughts, let alone act on them…? Labour’s rebuttal of the avalanche of Cameron’s barefaced lies and scaremongering was utterly feeble and pathetic.

      • reaguns

        Nick see my replies to Jaqueline and Dave, covers most of this.

        As for the tories acting on people’s thoughts, polls always show british people want a crackdown on welfare for example, and they’ve got it. The same on immigration, hence Cameron’s “tens of thousands” promise (which he did not keep.)

        Think of it this way – if a right wing government came in and reintroduced capital punishment, that would be very popular. Who do you think is more likely to do that, right or left?

    • Dave Simons

      ‘This will be difficult for the left, who tend to think they should shape
      people’s thoughts, whereas the right believe they should listen to
      people’s thoughts and act on them, i.e. democracy’
      I agree with the first part – there certainly is a tendency for some people categorised as ‘left’ to want to shape people’s thoughts – but do you seriously believe that rot about ‘the right’? Wasn’t Margaret Thatcher a bit ‘right’ and did she prefer to listen to people’s thoughts rather than try to shape them? She didn’t even listen to her own ministers! And wasn’t ranting Adolf a bit ‘right’ and equally lacking in hesitancy about shaping people’s thoughts? My goodness man, you must want to believe some funny fantasies!
      By the way, as we’ve discussed before, the financial crisis, whether totally or partially ‘global’, was caused by unregulated financiers in Wall Street and the City of London. The Tories know that, Nick Clegg knows it, but apparently you don’t. All that stuff about Labour crashing the economy was pure opportunism – just keep repeating it and eventually the plebs will believe it. And apparently they have. But the economy would have crashed if Michael Howard had won in 2005, except then of course it would have been ‘forces beyond our control’. What you probably think of as Labour profligacy is best described as an attempt at redistribution of social wealth. Here’s hoping they make another attempt soon!

      • reaguns

        “I agree with the first part – there certainly is a tendency for some people categorised as ‘left’ to want to shape people’s thoughts.”

        I commend you for saying so. This is not a time for being partisan. I shall try to follow suit.

        “do you seriously believe that rot about ‘the right’? ”

        Yes I believe that philosophically at least, the “right” or what we now consider the right, ie the libertarian and classical liberal traditions, are much more democratic, willing to let people keep their money and decide how to spend it, rather than commandeer it to the centre for doling out etc.

        I believe they are much more likely to follow public opinion on crime, welfare, immigration etc than try and shape it. (And I think many lefties would accept that, but argue that politicians should not follow on these things, but lead.)

        “Wasn’t Margaret Thatcher a bit ‘right’ and did she prefer to listen to people’s thoughts rather than try to shape them? She didn’t even listen to her own ministers! ”

        Within her cabinet, within parliament etc, you are right, she behaved as a dictator in the same way as Gordon Brown and Tony Blair did.

        And there were issues where she was in tune with public opinion, however only by coincidence. Ie I don’t think she ever thought “The public believe in x, therefore I will deliver x.” Rather she planned to deliver x anyway, whether they liked it or not.

        She did however believe in more democracy in the unions, and as a capitalist in democracy of public services as I have explained earlier, but generally her example does not support my point, you are correct.

        “And wasn’t ranting Adolf a bit ‘right’ and equally lacking in hesitancy about shaping people’s thoughts? My goodness man, you must want to believe some funny fantasies!”

        Come now Dave, must we really resort to this sixth form stuff? I can only but answer it at it’s own sixth form level – obviously I am talking about free market, small government democrats, that is what I believe the “right” is. Hitler is what is called “Far right” but what should really be called part of the authoritarian left, as his own party was called the National Socialists. He did not believe in small government, democracy or free markets, he was a fascist, so he doesn’t count, any more than if I tried to draw a parallel between Ed Miliband or Gordon Brown and Stalin. (And I would never disrespect Stalin like that, ba-doom-tish!)

        “By the way, as we’ve discussed before, the financial crisis, whether totally or partially ‘global’, was caused by unregulated financiers in Wall Street and the City of London. The Tories know that, Nick Clegg knows it, but apparently you don’t.”

        Who let the City of London and Wall Street expand? Who regulated them? Who left them with an implicit government bailout guarantee? Who gave them cheap credit? Who got rid of savings banks where people’s money was safe for over 150 years?

        I know this argument is unwinnable, so I move on to another one. Forgetting all that, did labour do anything to reduce the size of our banking sector?

        Or moving on, if labour were the keynesians they now claim to be (in support of their deficit) then should they not have been running a 3% surplus rather than a 3% deficit in the good years? You seem a day behind, Chuka Umunna, David Miliband and others are slowly coming out of the woodwork to admit labour messed up too.

        The financial crisis was not global. It affected mainly countries with certain conditions. In our case conditions that the labour government had 11 years to fix if they wanted to. Reagan transformed the American economy in 2 years, why couldn’t they in 11?

        “But the economy would have crashed if Michael Howard had won in 2005, except then of course it would have been ‘forces beyond our control’. ”

        I believe it would have crashed had Michael Howard won yes. He would have blamed the previous labour government, american bankers and so forth no doubt. I would like to mount a defence and say perhaps he would have spent less and so been in a slightly better position to deal with it, but I am afraid history doesn’t back me up – the tories have always ran deficits too.

        “What you probably think of as Labour profligacy is best described as an attempt at redistribution of social wealth.”

        Blair and Brown got enormous growth. They did many good things with the money. But in my view, they could have simply “used the proceeds of growth” and it was not wise to add to this with borrowing. As I’ve said, many labour people are now agreeing with me on this.

    • Jacqueline Lauren Hope

      I agree with your premise insofar the Labour needs to admit where mistakes were made however I disagree with you that right wing politics is more democratic than left wing politics. Right wing parties just seem more responsive to the (perceived) wants of the general population because it is human nature to think about wants from a personal and individualist rather than collective perspective and it is this perspective than can be be perceived to be reflected in conservative policy.

      • reaguns

        Jacqueline, this is just a fancy way of putting the standard leftist view which is: “Left to their own devices, people are stupid and nasty, and therefore we can’t trust them to decide things for themselves.” It’s only a funnier way of saying it! People know just as much about their collective or individual interest as you do, it is just common sense and science tells you that when given the choice, people are more interested in themselves.

        This even applies to labour. Even labour knows this, which is why they don’t do the right thing on house prices.

  • reaguns

    “Sometimes, when advising people I work with, I will say beware the dangers of being so deep inside your own team’s bubble that you end up believing your own propaganda and lose sight of what is really happening.

    That does appear, looking back at what I have been saying in recent days and weeks, to have happened this time to me, and many others.”

    Admirable. If the Labour party itself can respond with this level of honesty, the future can yet be bright.

    • James McIntosh

      Scottish Labour have had problems building for years as the electorate are simply moving away from them and they haven’t been taking any notice, instead getting more belligerent as their numbers thin. The referendum last year and some statements made by individuals just shone a light on that.

      Their problems in England are in the other direction. I think they’d have picked up more of the vote (especially disgruntled Lib Dems) without the whole circus about Lab/SNP pacts and also the Tories stealing the UKIP vote by promising a referendum.

      It’s may be against the instincts of a power-seeking group but there’s an argument for splitting, either into left and right, or Scotland and the rest of the UK.

  • Well if time hadn’t been taken to elect Ed Miliband properly there would have been endless digs at his legitmacy as there were on Gordon “elected by no one” Brown. There were many major things wrong on policy. I mean “the Mansion Tax”? do me a favour …everyone knows it couldn’t possibly fund everything it was supposed to. The IFS rightly pointed out the Labour’s fiscal plans were …erm … nonsense.

    It’s not that the Mansion Tax couldn’t have worked but it is symptomatic of something of a policy vacuum. All the grand rhetoric about building new policies that Ed M came out with when he came in actually …for some reason … delivered nothing much new. There have to be other ways of raising tax than just the Mansion Tax (an old Liberal Democrat policy) … if you’re going to increase property taxes that’s going to be a hard sell to people with property …and starting at the top isn’t going to disguise the intent. That’s why no government has changed Council Tax banding since John Major came in and it remains ludicrously set in aspic.

    The SNP have successfully managed to turn the word “Tory” into “English Nationalist” suggesting that all Unionism is essentially Tory. So Labour become Red Torys. Here’s a quote I got off an internet message board about the SNP.

    “My vote for the SNP is tactical. In fact I joined them briefly in the nineties to try and break the Labour theifdom in Glasgow. Independence is the politics of despair of course but I have despaired. The only way to rid ourselves of the puritan control freaks who are the SNP government is Independence and the hope for radical change that might evolve.”

    Their tactic is to reframe everything in terms of the Independence issue over and over and over to the point where nothing else matters ever to people who want to vote Labour?! The problem with Scottish Nationalism is that politicians feel in general that they have to compromise. You can’t compromise with Nationalism. You can’t appease it. Because it is not logical. It sells a version of history that is hilariously nonsensical – such as that Scotland was never involved in the Empire and was colonised by the English or something. And when you ask the Del Strains of the world what characters like Mr McBryde is doing in Passage to India or Mr MacGregor was doing in Burmese Days …or indeed what you, Blair or Brown were doing in Number 10 you get back the hilarious answer … “Yes I know they’re Scottish but my people aren’t related to any of them.” That’s the kind of lunacy you’re dealing with. It really is illuminati territory. I’ve even had SNP members tell me that the party doesn’t want to break up the UK, that Scotland leaving the UK doesn’t count as breaking it up “because three other countries will still be left” and that breaking up the UK and Independence isn’t the aim of the SNP anymore – despite the fact their website reads that it is “a left leaning party advocating secession from the United Kingdom”?

    The Labour party and Westminster is stuck in a positive feedback loop of devolving more powers and then being asked why it couldn’t have devolved more and then devolving more. The duplicated political power structure of the Scots Parlimanent vs the Westminster Parliament was bound to set up such a situation. It was inevitable. This is why the Scots Parliament was abolished in the first place. The treatment of Johann Lamont was pretty shameful too. What’s the point in Scottish Labour if Westminster Labour effectively sack the leader? This is a question many people are asking at the ballot box. The insoluble problem with devolution is it isn’t democractic. It is a fudge that undermines suffrage and no one wins. So what is the answer? Undo devolution or enable Scotland to leave? Leaving the constitutional negotiations till after the election plays into the SNP’s hands too as part of its logic is “vote for us to make sure Westminster delivers its promises on devo-max”.

    Of course looked at through another prism you could postulate that in many ways all this is just another split in the left … if indeed the SNP are the left? Had to laugh when Ms Sturgeon said that now the Government will have to listen to the people of Scotland. She obviouslty has trouble understanding the word majority …or counting to 326.

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  • Thank you Alastair for your thoughts this morning. I feel so depressed at the result. Another five years of Cameron.

    • Get used to it Rowey – try 5+5 = 10 yrs

    • AileenCheetham

      Anthony, do try to not be depressed, (You are certainly NOT alone in this).
      I have determined to try to do more for the Local Labour Party. I am going to see what they need.
      Just keep on fighting for Labour and against the Tories in everyway you can.
      Best wishes.

    • Stripey

      Anthony – I know I mustn’t gloat, but I’m highly delighted with the election result. The pound is up, stock markets are up, even in the U.S. Cameron can go on creating 1,000 jobs per day, and the economy can continue to improve.
      With boundary changes on the horizon, it’ll be many years – if ever – before we see another Tax and Spend labour government.
      Pass me another glass of champagne!

      Incidentally- who wrote the dodgy dossier?

  • Ehtch

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear, what have “we” done? The country has given a charter to enter dark times, a reinforcement of the so called “north-south” divide. Few observations I’d like to make from going through the results from around the country;

    1. Lib Dem vote collapse, Tory’s profited more. (Clegg survived due to 10% less Tory vote – Tory tactical vote, as requested by Cameron.)
    2. UKIP vote lead to Labour losses/no gains in tight seats.
    3. SNP landslide can only mean one thing, Scotland is not going to stand for the Tories, and somehow will go.
    4. Social civic unrest on the cards, especially in the regions?

    Hell’s Bells, Lord help us in the next five years!

  • Richard Granfield

    Bring Tony Blair back!

  • Nick

    Personally I thought the Labour campign was utterly feeble in its rebuttal of the tsunami of lies coming from the Tories. The Liam Byrne note, for example – that had a history going back to at least Reginald Maudling in 1964, yet Miliband said nothing. Newly emboldened, I think the Tories will now inevitably do so much to destroy the social fabric of Britain (I’m thinking especially of the likes of Iain Duncan Smith), plus they’ll have Scotland and Europe to deal with, that they ought to be out of government for a generation come 2020. The real scandal of this campaign is how the coalition’s “Gagging Law” prevents charities from speaking out/campaigning on “political issues” yet non-dom plutocrats who neither reside nor pay tax in the UK are able to use their media outlets to influence the British electorate. This needs to stop.

    • Stripey

      Can you please explain your words about the Liam Byrne note? I don’t think Reggie Maudling had anything to do with it?

      • Nick

        As any Treasury civil servant will tell you, similar notes have been passed between outgoing and incoming ministers for over fifty years. Cameron knew it was a Treasury in-joke the whole time he was waving his silly note around like a Poundland Chamberlain. Had a Labour candidate brandished a Tory note, you can bet your life that the Sun, Mail etc would have ridiculed him for weeks for taking an in-joke so seriously.

        • Stripey

          I’ve never heard of it before. And it wasn’t a joke, it was the truth.
          I hope DC frames it and hangs it on the wall.

  • ManchesterIsRed

    I interviewed you in Ireland four years ago, Alistair, and told you at that time that Miliband was utterly unelectable, was self-evidently not prime ministerial material, that this was palpably clear to the voters and would remain so. Your answer, I recall, was that there was nothing inherently lacking in Miliband and that he would be fine once his message had been repackaged and presented more effectively. In other words, that this was merely a problem of communication or ‘spin’. Sadly, that argument was settled yesterday. Miliband was always going to be Kinnock mark two and so it has proven. He was a disastrous choice as leader and by failing to acknowledge what has been staring the party in the face for several years – the need to dump Miliband – Labour has ultimately brought this catastrophe upon itself.

  • Marc Jones

    If the party wants inclusion and involvement it should speak loudly now to potential members. People rightly seduced by the decency of Ed Miliband. Tell those people, lots of them 16-20, what being a member means and what it affords. Selecting a leader is the headline, but are the party listening?

    Scotland was telling the party long and loud yet it did not like what it heard. The obsession with middle England has cost the party dearly.

    Engagement will be key. This was as much about “they’re all the same” as it was “none of the above”. To swell the Party with fresh, vibrant and connected members would awaken many who feel politics cannot change a thing.

    For me, suggesting that Labour will listen, learn and represent those views is where the power will come – to arm wrestle New (or New New) Labour Vs Old will kill the opportunity that is here and waiting. The next step of what Ed attempted, needed a longer gestation and it needed a clarity we only heard in the final week let alone the final year of his reign.

    People change things for the better, Leaders do not.

  • Dougald Hine

    Hi Alastair –

    I don’t know how deep you’re willing to go into the territory of soul-searching, but this post I wrote this morning has been getting a lot of attention. From #11 of 18 notes on the implications of what just happened:

    “Margaret Thatcher was explicit about how deep the project of neoliberalism went. Two years into her first term, she told the Sunday Times: ‘Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul.’ The left has never taken this seriously, we have never even tried to contest neoliberalism on the territory of the soul. The people at the top of today’s Labour party, a few of whom I’ve crossed paths with over the years, are in no way equipped to operate in the territory of the soul – so it’s probably going to take the help of some of us who’ve been a long way outside the pale of politics-as-we-know-it, if we’re going to work out how to do this. But one of the wrong notes that Miliband hit in the past few weeks, for all his decency and awkward charm, was his repetition that this election was “a clash of ideas”. The political battle in which we are engaged is deeper than that, it’s a battle for the soul, and until the left feels that, I don’t think it will find its way to the kind of new politics we are going to need.”

    http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2015/05/08/the-only-way-is-down/

  • Nick

    Chuka Umunna vs Boris The Buffoon in 2020?

  • I think this is being totally over analysed – 2 amateurs, the 2 Eds inextricably linked with GB were never up to winning this.
    There’s nothing there within them – 2 real political pygmies.
    You have to pinch yourself hard that Labour actually LOST seats to the Tories, including one in Wales of all places that’s been red for 100 years.
    Not left wing enough for Scotland, too left wing for the rest of the Uk – that sounds like a squeeze, because it is.
    One other important point – pls never ever in future swell the public sector so large that Labour rely on it as the de facto core Labour vote
    This is nonsense.

  • ZintinW4

    A great campaign, a dreadful result.

    I agree with Al that we convinced ourselves we were going to win and believed our own propaganda. Pounding the streets in Ealing Acton yesterday evening I came across many people who were not voting Labour and seemed worried by what was on offer. This, IMHO, was largely down to the Tory tactic of using the fear card, supported by a right wing print media.

    Much has been said of the fact that we had more troops on the ground. This may be true but the quality of some of those troops was awful, possibly the most embarrassing lot of people I have worked with since 1983. This needs to be addressed and seriously so. We simply have to get better at engaging on the doorstep.

    The route back to power is a long one. I am convinced that this Parliament will not last 5 years and that there will be a General Election by October 2018. So we have a very limited window of opportunity to get things right.

  • Denise Pattinson

    to be honest feel that labour gave the right message throughout the campaign.. but maybe the threats given by the conservatives re snp/labour pact were wrong but rewarding… the party need to find the best way to go forward… time to reflect is a good idea… i voted labour in my area.. but never saw the candidate or was invited to a meeting or open forum.. maybe the party needs to reconnect properly with the public…

  • SleepyCat

    I am sure life advice from a stranger on the internet is about as welcome as someone who sits next to you on the bus picking their nose, so I apologise in advance for this, but I am going to say it anyway: What are you doing?

    When you are on your deathbed, do you think you are going to say “I wish I had spent more time talking to bottled water manufacturers and less time helping Labour stay electable?” You appear to agree with Kevin Spacey’s assessment that “content” is the worst word in the English language, and yet…

    I am not saying you should, or could, go back to your old job. Your diaries make it obvious why you wouldn’t want to do that, and it’s important that Labour keep moving forward with new people and new ideas. But having you involved on a more regular basis, not as the head communications guy but as an experienced voice in the room who can contribute to the approach the party takes, could certainly be good for Labour. And not just around election time, what happens between elections matters too.

    You were right about things like Labour needing to put more effort into defending the record on the economy, and you belong in a position where those insights are taken seriously and acted on. Seeing someone with your abilities on the public speaking circuit is a bit like seeing a professional footballer who has quit playing so he can spend more time delivering pizza.

    I apologise for spouting off on something that’s none of my business, and I’m sure you have your reasons for your decisions… but I hope that as Labour head into this important conversation about the future of the party, you will consider how much of a role you want to play in that future.

    • SleepyCat

      I’m sorry, I should not have posted that. You have already given far more to Labour than most ever will, and it was wrong to attack you for deciding to have a life.

      Labour losing elections sucks, but they should be able to learn from past success without a need to demand even more from the people who helped it happen before.

  • estebanrubio

    I grew up in a communist country and we all know where that “experiment” ended. France has been living off hundreds of years of accumulated wealth and lately EU subsidies under pseudo or straight on socialists and that country is in a downward spiral. I came to this country with nothing and have been working incredibly hard to be able to pay now huge absolute amounts of taxes despite being a despised non-Dom. I don’t use public healthcare , I don’t use state education for my kids, two of the biggest tax redistribution vehicles, and obviously never received any befits. I am a significant net contributor to this great country I love but was one day away from leaving. I am shocked by the entitlement and benefit culture, the enormous waste in the over bloated public sector INCLUDING the NHS. Completely disregarding 13 years of reckless, vote buying spending and now scaremongering about a (far from perfect but by far the least bad) administration and continue this business bashing is hypocritical from those who get e.g. fat speaking fees from the very businesses and just plain ignorant for the rest. I would recommend an extensive stay in Venezuela or North Korea, bastions of socialism to experience what life is like in utopia. I for one look forward to an ever more prosperous UK in the next five years and hope that the right wing loonies and the nationalistic Utopias don’t make the task impossible.

  • Jenny Ellis

    Unfortunately Alistair you,the labour party, are far too “Londoncentric”,and so engulfed in the Westminster bubble…All partys have lost touch with the electorate,but connecting with the electorate is more important where the labour party are concerned,as you are the very people who should be looking out for the welfare and interest of the ordinary working men and women of this country.
    You’re correct to be honest, and I would urge take your time selecting a new leader,not another Blair/Brown era that’s gone, but the bad memories from that time still resonate with the electorate,and nothing changed under Ed Milibands leadership, same old faces in the former shadow cabinet,like some elite club who totally ignored the electorate in 2010,and unfortunately Ed Miliband was never a credible leader.Having said that I don’t see his brother David would have won either,he is very much in the Blair mould,and you must realise how unpopular TB is,I really wouldn’t like to see Cooper or Burnham as leader ,that would be clinging on to the past,times have changed and the voting electorate far more savvy.
    You need fresh blood,and ones that connect with the people of this country ,and please stop believing your own hype..Last Tuesday talking to my husband I said David Cameron would win with a majority,he was surprised at my comment ,but really instead of reading polls you need only look back in political history, this isn’t a unique outcome,apart from the fact we now have the SNP,and try talking to the people of this country all year round,not specifically arranged photo shoots,or organised QA sessions.You must connect with the people, all your long serving Labour MPs in Scotland have paid a heavy price for Westminsters mistakes,you can’t blame anyone but yourselves,rebrand and start listening

  • gary marton

    miliband finished

  • Suzanne

    I know of a number of people on minimum wage & struggling financially in London who should, by default, be natural Labour supporters. However, they didn’t vote Labour or for any other political party because they feel alienated & unrepresented by politicians.

    I myself, a natural Labour voter by default, had only voted twice in, I think, over 25 years for the same reason. I only came back to Labour at the last minute to vote for Ed Miliband. I also know of a number of, what I would call ill informed, white working class people who vote UKIP purely because they support the party’s policy on immigration.

    And finally, I heard Nicola Sturgeon in a news report the other day say SNP supporters were angry at Labour for collaborating with the Tories & failing to protect the Scottish voter from them.

  • Joshua Banks

    Getting it wrong is one thing, suggesting on the BBC that Labour could have formed a government even if they had lost 316-235 is disingenuous.

  • KDouglas

    Alastair, you said on Twitter that Crosby ran ‘a brutally efficient and ultimately effective’ campaign. Well, if you say so, because under our hopeless electoral system the Tories got a majority. But I thought theirs was a terrible campaign. Everyone knows these days that you only try and get across a couple of messages and repeat them ad nauseam. Tick. Add to that the politics of fear Crosby is known for – and some people bought that. Another tick. But what was on offer was a noticeably weak leader and a magic money tree. If people signed up for that, it is not Crosby that should be acknowledged, but the stupidity of the people who voted for it.

  • Ehtch

    Dan Jarvis sounds interesting, but maybe I am prejudiced, since also being ex-military. : ) Good team workers.

    • anna

      I agree – Dan Jarvis is one for the future. He’s had a life outside politics, has coped with personal disasters; is untainted by the expenses scandal; is a great constituency MP and loyal to other MPs, campaigning for them too. He’s personable and likeable; and a man with a good military record will be a hard target for Murdoch/Dacre et al to hit and wound.

      His main weakness that I can see is that he lacks oratorical skills. He needs to learn to speak without reading word for word from a script; to convey passion as well as sincerity.

  • John Henry

    Totally agreed with you AC when you said on QT on Friday eve. that the Tories are “Ruthless Bastards”. I have come to that understanding about them over the years. They are a bunch of Spivs and snake oil merchants who will plumb any depths to gain or remain in power. They did it this time with the disgraceful scaremongering concerning the SNP. Cameron and Osborne have set fire to the Union in their disgraceful pitch for power. The Scots know this and I believe that together with their EU Referendum it will throw this country into total chaos and will result in the Scots will be out of the Union in ten years time. History will not be kind to Cameron and Osborne.
    Ed Milliband is a thoroughly decent man who was torn apart by The Nasty Party and their their mates in the vile Right wing media. It was utterly shameful the way he was treated.

  • AileenCheetham

    We need a newspaper again like the Daily Herald. The Murdock Press is one of the biggest obstacles in the country.
    Could the Unions be backed to produce a New Daily Herald??

  • Cathy Connolly

    Hi Alastair,
    Firstly, I believe (after seeing your performance on Question Time last night) that you should put yourself forward for the Labour leadership.
    Secondly, even though the campaign was fought heavily on the ground, I believe we need to engage and present many grassroots candidates for the next election.
    Thirdly, having looked at the amount of ‘likes’ Labour Youth have on Facebook (3178) and given that there is approximately 6.9 Million 14-21 year olds in the UK – a recruiting campaign with a 5 year plan to get this group registering to vote and voting Labour is imperative in a forward thinking strategy.
    As a Teacher in Labour Merseyside, I walked in to work yesterday morning to a sea of shell shocked faces and all the children were saying they couldn’t wait to grow up and be able to Vote.
    Also, a pro-active Trade Unionist, I believe labour need to re-establish firm and clear links with Unions and leave room for no grey areas.
    I also think Labour need to think about re-launching themselves in the North of Ireland and give the working people there from both sides of the community a chance to vote for what they have in common rather than what their differences are.

  • reaguns

    I recommend that Alastair, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson, most of the folks on this board, and anyone else who has argued this “Labour had not responsibility for the financial crash” garbage read the fantastic Philip Collins latest article in the times. He is still a labour supporter, albeit a Blairite one, no surprise as he was a Blair speechwriter. He was going to be a David Miliband speechwriter.

    In his article he makes it very clear that he and David Miliband, had Miliband won, were going to acknowledge the financial mistakes made by the last labour government. They were going to confess they had spent too much, and did not leave the country prepared for a downturn.

    I would have considered voting for David Miliband on that basis. (I didn’t vote at all, Cameron did not win my trust either.)

    I noticed David Steel finally came out and said that Nick Clegg lost because “You cannot promise one thing in your manifesto and then do a completely different thing in government and expect to get away with it.” He also said, this bit is paraphrased “That, more than anything else, is why we have ended up with this result, it has undermined everything else we have done.”

    • Stripey

      Well said.

    • Andrew Brown

      Of course he says that. Miliband (D) was running a campaign to push the party further to the right. Yes, David would likely have won this election. Because he’d have provided a friendlier face for the media for policies which would have been more acceptable to the establishment. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

      • reaguns

        That’s not the point. I am not part of the establishment, nor was that infamous Question Time audience, nor was most of the 50.4% who voted for right wing parties – but we all, as well as no doubt many labour and lib dems too, thought labour spent too much (crime 1) and didn’t admit it (crime 2).

  • Stripey

    Alastair

    I am a lifelong Conservative voter, Mrs Thatcher supporter, and David Cameron supporter too. So I was very happy to stay up all night, and was looking forward to seeing you eating your kilt.

    I would like, if I may, to give you some of my own observations as to why Labour lost this election.

    First – there were too many people, including yourself, from the Blair/Brown days still around. Those days were, and still are, viewed as a time of failure of party and policies.

    You wrote the infamous “Dodgy Dossier” which resulted in the terrible Iraq war, which cost us many lives, and much money. Blair has never told the truth about those times, and everybody knows that. Miliband was his trusted lieutenant at the time. You were in number ten at that time.

    Secondly, Ed Balls and his boss Gordon Brown are also viewed as a part of those failing times. They helped to cause the deficit, they did not run any surplus in the good times, they continued to spend money we didn’t have.

    I switched over to Sky during the night when the Welsh Windbag – a millionaire – arrived in the BBC studion. I cannot watch that man. Any association with him would automatically lose an election for Labour.

    You say the Mansion Tax is popular among the electorate – I don’t think it is. I have an ordinary semi in Kent, and have calculated that, if house prices continue to increase at their current rate, I will be paying the mansion tax in just 14 years. I am a pensioner, and by no means wealthy. Why should I sell my lovely house, and move away from my friends, because of the mansion tax?

    I think, to be any sort of credible government, Labour must ditch the old guard – all of them – and just have new faces who are not tainted with the past. It must also move to the centre ground and stop trying to control everything. If companies don’t make profits, they can’t pay taxes. Electricity companies should not have their prices frozen, neither should landlords. Only a low-tax market economy can provide can the money the government spends – and please, Alastair, always remember that it is not government money, it is taxpayers money.

    Oh, and ditch the cliches. “Hard working families” and the like. We don’t like it.

    Barry Evans

    • Nick

      What a selective memory you have, Stripey. Ed M was one of Gordon Brown’s treasury SPADS and was actually on sabbatical at Harvard during the build up to Iraq and the publication of the dodgy dossier, so hardly a trusted lieutenant of TB at the time. But hey, as a self-confessed Tory, you’ll be untroubled by such notions as fact and truth when a good smear will do.

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  • Richard Stirling

    Hi, Alistair. I don’t know if it is of interest, but here are three reasons why I could not go near Labour last Thursday. These may sound spurious, but they reflect what I think is wrong at the moment:
    1. The pink bus for female voter ‘engagement’ – get rid.
    2. The Moses on the Mount stone, not so much because of the bus’n’truck Charlton Heston vibe, but because the statements on it were so ill-defined.
    3. The sight of three reasonably high-profile Labour MPs soliciting support from a gender-segregated Islamic audience in Birmingham, and by their presence espousing such segregation.
    I’m truly sorry, but I can’t embrace any of the above.

  • Steve Alan

    We have been here before in 2010 with the Nick Clegg surge stopping a Tory win. This time if you look at Labour’s share of the vote it was only the fact that the Lib Dems did not take a chunk of the centre left vote and UKIP took some of the Tories that stopped Cameron getting a Thatcher sized landslide. in other words it could have been a lot worse. Labour forgot why it put up with Tony Blair for so many years because he could win. We can achieve nothing without power and Labours has only ever won with campaigns aimed at the centre. Because the 2010 election was so close and the polls stayed static the leadership thought at 33% in the polls we could glide into power. Then the SNP came a long took a lump of Labours seats and scared 5% of UKIP supporters back to the Tories and that’s the end of the dream. Too be fair Ed Miliband and his advisors could not have foreseen that but to be honest some of the UKIP support was always going to be swayed by the hysterical outpourings of the sun and the Mail so to over come the media bias a solid lead was required which Miliband never had. i feel Labour can only win again from the centre and with a candidate who can take on and beat Boris Johnson picking up votes from left right and centre while beating back the nationalists In Scotland. without a new Blair the party may convince it self it can win but can it convince the voters.

  • Cantabs

    Given how difficult it now appears for one party to successfully straddle the left and centre ground, and looking at the raw numbers of votes for each party last week, could it make strategic sense for Labour to consider joining calls for a referendum on PR, while the smaller parties (and their 9 million voters) are keen? Bear in mind that Scotland might peel off from the UK within the next several years leaving a hefty and long-running Tory majority under FPTP? Future coalitions of centre-left and left-leaning parties might be the only alternative.

    Before you bring up AV, the ‘No’ vote in the 2011 AV referendum (68% of the 42% turnout) included not just opponents of electoral reform, but also those who were persuaded (not least by LibDem grandees like David Steele) to hold out for PR. It would be interesting to see polling on the composition of the 2011 ‘No’ bloc because recent YouGov and other polls variously suggest more than 60% now in favour of PR.

    • SleepyCat

      PR would eliminate silly results like “Tories got 37% of the vote and 51% of the seats” (which will only get worse if Tories redraw boundaries) but it would also have given UKIP 15% of seats at last election – possibly more because people who tactically voted Tory instead of UKIP wouldn’t have done so.

      It would be more democratic by accurately representing what people voted for, and give people more reason to believe their vote counts and stay engaged with politics, so on the whole I think it is the right way to go — but the idea of UKIP having enough seats to be a viable part of a coalition makes me nervous…

      But Cameron’s commitment to an EU referendum to win back UKIP voters means UKIP having some control over running of government now anyway, without even being elected… I suspect if UKIP actually had to provide 15% of country’s MPs and come up with real policy ideas, they would soon disgrace themselves in the public eye and lose a lot of their support. And PR sometimes delivering repulsive results isn’t a good enough reason to stick with a less-democratic system…

  • Ehtch

    Welcome to the new Little Denmark, better known as Aberavon in South Wales. Not many MPs can boast to be the husband of a Prime Minister of an European or any country (Denmark). Us Welsh, we are so Tom Jones, pussycats. ; ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HICwLUde9KM

  • Ehtch
  • Mark Wright

    When Blair stood down the Blairites made a dignified retreat. They stepped down and away from the mainstream political fray. The Brownites always thought they were right and had – somehow – been denied power. They were wrong. They were wrong on the arguments and the hard truth is they simply weren’t good enough.

    It was obvious. But the resentments building since 1994 have needed to reach their natural conclusion.

    They now have. The Brownite wing of the party have had ample opportunity to present their vision to the electorate. It has been soundly rejected.

    This has been a crushing defeat. But it is a defeat that was inevitable and had to happen.

    Saner heads can now prevail.

  • Just a note of optomism. It’s not all bad.

    Ed Miliband still increased the Labour vote.

    The percentage swing to Labour was much larger than the perscentage wing to the Conservatives.
    631,266 more people voted Conservative
    740.809 more people voted Labour

    So purely in terms of vote share and votes Labour did better than last time. However, they were (to paraphrase Eric Morecambe

    “all the right votes but not necessarily in all the right places”).

    I’ve just been on holiday in the West Country …saw loads of Lib Dem posters and Tory ones and UKIP ones but only one Labour one. The Lib Dems are usually 2nd in these seats. What happened is most Lib Dem voters turned Tory not Labour because they wanted to punish the Lib Dems more than they wanted to vote Labour?

    Maybe the party is not focusing its resources in the right places. I live in an ultra marginal and it has been flooded with Labour and Tory apparatchiks. Yes, it achieved a good Labour result …swing to Labour of about 2.8% …but the swing to Labour Nationally is 1.4% and Croydon North managed a swing that’s off the scale without anybody campaigning there. Conversely Croydon South managed a swing of 3.5% to the Conservatives because virtually no one campaigns there.

    When it comes to fighting the ultra-marginals by simply pumping all the manpower and resources where the smallest majorities are … I do not think we can ever beat the Tories at “Ashcroft style” campaigning. They simply have more resources and more money.

  • ikeaddy

    Thanks Alastair. Sensible comments as always. But for what it’s worth, my strongly held view over many years is that the Labour leadership has ceased to be reflective of its potential supporters because it is too powerful. And there’s a bitter pill for that same leadership if it’s to cure this malaise: better internal party democracy. Why would I join a party if my influence over policy is negilble; if I am unlikely to be chosen as a parliamentary candidate over someone from outside my local area, imposed by the top team; if the NEC and Conference have lost their policy making powers? And the result? A leadership which is out of touch with its members, and therefore Labour-leaning voters. It will take a brave leader to tackle that lot.

  • M J Bruce

    As we all know the Game of Politics is a very demanding passion. It is a unusual and complex mix of high moral principle and low skulduggery. The Tories seem to understand this better than Labour as was evident in the way they decapitated their coalition partners. A Labour leader who cannot manage the street fighting element of the role will fail.
    Another basic rule of the Game for every is to hang on to your supporters.The failure in Scotland has been a long time in the making.
    A federal system of politics demands a federal Party organisation. Organisation really matters! As political power was devolved in Scotland so the Scottish Labour should have been set up as a separate organisation to focus on the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people. You cannot fight a battle in Scotland with any hope of wining unless those calling the shots were there on the ground.All the talent and controls went back to Westminster as the Johann Lammon leader rightly said when she threw in the towel. A Party leader needs to be able get these and other organisational issues right. Pushing power down the system not hoarding it in Westminster is essential .
    A core element of the political argument in the UK boils down to finding the balance between economic effectiveness and social justice. The Leader needs to be able to craft a message that resonates with both actual and potential supporters. They have to be able to do this well on TV .This is a key criteria for the job. Labour will always have to find ways of neutralising Tory claims of economic incompetence just as the Tories will always be open to charges of being capitalist exploiters.
    It does help if your chief economic spokesman contests the neo-liberal nonsense pedaled by the Tories. Why did no one from Labour defend the economic record of the previous government, plenty of reputable macro economists were doing just that or when Cameron waved Liam Byrne’s silly goodbye note point out that the Bank of England can never run out of pound notes. Its enough to make you weep!

  • anna

    I don’t think there is any single reason why Labour lost the election. There were several, some Labour’s fault, some not. The threat of a hung parliament and the likes of Salmond calling the shots was a real frightener, talked up by the Tories; the poisonous lies about Miliband personally and about Labour in general in an overwhelmingly right-wing press was also damaging. I don’t think the Tory vote was ‘hard’ – a lot of people were undecided until the last minute and decided to stick with the status quo.

    The failure to challenge the false Tory narrative on the economy was a huge mistake. Labour should have hammered out 2 figures: 42% and 36% over and over again – in response to the ‘Labour trashed the economy schtick – the first being the deficit as a proportion of GDP inherited from the Tories in 1997 and the second the deficit before the bank crisis of 2008. YES, the deficit was 6% smaller! (Figures from Institute of Fiscal Studies) It was the bankers who nationalised their debts, fleeced the taxpayer and burdened the poor. Labour was recovering by 2010 – we were in growth. Osborne’s austerity programme killed growth and drove us into recession – which we came out of when a change of tack (never admitted) got us into growth again. Nobody on the Labour front bench mounted a challenge to the Tory and Lib Dem narrative.

    Labour also needs to emphasise wealth creation by supporting small businesses. They are hacked off by being outflanked by the multinationals like Amazon and Starbucks who dodge the taxes small businesses pay. Court them; praise their contribution to society that the big boys shirk; find ways of easing red tape for them. Little shops in my area have posters asking for support saying that their taxes paid for a teacher or a nurse last year. Recognise and encourage them; buy stuff from them; help them flourish to their own benefit and the common good.

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  • kjeld jespersen

    Alastair, I have just read your article in a Danish newspaper with the headline “Politics is about winning – Full Stop!”. While the purpose of the headline is probably to attract readers, I have to say that I fundamentally disagree, although that I can see that in your line of work, that is a useful mantra to promote. The problem with the statement above is that it is driving politics towards populism, which, in my opinion, is not always the best way to govern a country. I would like to (naively, maybe) believe that politics is about proposing an ideology, plan or strategy for how to move a country or constituency forward, and in turn rally the electorate behind the plan. Drawing the parallel back to the era of the “New Labour” I think that was very much what happened. While Tony Blair undoubtedly possessed a strong will to win, I believe that be produces a compelling plan/strategy for the UK at the time that the electorate bought into – in my view that is what makes long-term sustainable politics, not a 100m sprint with populist ideas.

  • M J Bruce

    Simon Wren Lewis analysis on his blog Mainly Macro is well worth a read. The idea that we learn from what our opponents do well is however very hard for many to stomach though it is an axiom of writing on warfare.
    The Tories ran a better, more focused and certainly more ruthless campaign than Labour. So the next Labour leader had better be able to manage this element of the job better than Cameron.
    But this defeat has been a long time in the making. The wholesale defection of Scottish voters to the Nationalists did not happen overnight. Labour rightly devolved power to a Scottish parliament but failed to do the same for the Party in Scotland. The consequences that come from believing the Scottish Labour party could be run as a branch office of Westminster are now plain for all to see.
    Organisation matters! The overcentralisation of power in Westminster has been a blight in the UK for many years. Even the Tories are starting to realise this. On the basis that Charity starts at home, Labour needs to have a long hard think about pushing power down the system. They have lost the Scottish voter. The English working class could be next. The Party can not engage or enthuse its traditional supporters if all the decisions get made in Westminster.

  • Richard Granfield

    The UK electorate by and large has no day to day interest in politics. The electorate becomes interested as a General Election beckons, but doesn’t spend time with the minutiae of the manifestos.
    Like it not they look to personalities. Who will be Prime Minister? Will he/she make a good PM? The decision this year was that Ed Miliband would not make a good PM.
    Back in 1997 Tony Blair won 418 seats and a 179 seat majority, because he was the man the country wanted to lead it. 4 years later he was endorsed again losing only a net 5 seats.
    Even after the Iraq war he won a 66 seat majority in 2005, because he was deemed a better leader than Michael Howard.
    My point is that the Labour party needs a leader of the calibre of Tony Blair to have any prospects of forming a Government in 2020. I fear a man/woman of that status has yet to emerge or will ever emerge.

  • Robin Arnold

    I think it’s maybe wrong to try to analyse it. Who can say why the bullshit about labour crashing the economy and causing the global financial crash really stuck in the public’s mind. It just did. Similarly noone in 2010 would have predicted the Scottish stuff. Some of the public might have thought Miliband as weird, but I can’t imagine he could ever have been as weird as Thatcher and she won enough elections. We’ve certainly got some strange economic conditions at the moment, who knows what the big picture will be in 5 years time. The big issues are global, and the Tories aren’t really addressing them.

  • Janel Jones

    Well I’ve listened and I’ve thought and I reckon we need a Lynton Crosby, a resurrected Alistair Campbell, or their successor. It’s not the policy or identifying the target, but in communicating the policy. And it should start asap before Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper gets their inevitable bad press.

  • Ehtch
  • Ehtch

    Did a vid for Kinnock Junior, First Man of Denmark,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFeY-gFucmo

  • Gerard McShera

    Hi Alistair, I too have taken my time to assess what we in Labour need to do to go forward in this deeply depressing and difficult new world for left of centre political parties.

    Like you, I have tried to accept the facts of political life in the past and now I wonder how best we might go forward in an even more radical way as the times they are a changing again.

    As a young man of ‘progressive’ convictions in the late 70s, it took two heavy defeats of 79 and 83 to convince me that an avowedly left wing manifesto could not bring us to power.

    Like, Neil Kinnock, the decent man that helped us to turn matters slowly around, I then thought that perhaps by simply ridding ourselves of blatantly confrontational Defence policies, such as Unilateralism and trying not to frighten the horses with other ‘hostage to fortune’ type stances we might be brought back to power, until 92 devastated us.

    I agree with those on the traditional side of the party that say that another decent man, John Smith, would have got us back into power after so many appallingly mismanaged Tory years, in 97, but like the ‘older school’ Harold Wilson & Jim Callaghan of the 70s I do not feel it would not have been for long.

    However, the breath of fresh air that Tony Blair and yourselves brought in was to challenge and then prove to those in ‘old Labour’ that the only way to deliver our values in a modern world was to stop alienating the very voters that we needed to deliver us into power.

    I had no idea that in a short couple of years, another decent man, but no political leader, Gordon Brown could throw away that hard earned voter friendly ethos with such utter incompetence so devastatingly quickly.

    Neither did I think that the levels of voter dissatisfaction and alienation would deteriorate so rapidly in recent years so that like you, I too thought we might creep into a minority government of sorts this year.

    I watched you on Question Time around election time saying to a young girl that she should get involved in politics. You then, very unusually, embarrassed yourself in the next topic, by closing down such opportunities, when saying ‘no’ to a referendum on the EU; you graciously acknowledged the hypocracy of such a stance on air to a final questioner.

    So, what I have now concluded from the post election recent discussions by all Labour politicians is that we drastically need to become even more progressive and radical than even you and Blair tried, if we are to have any chance of appeal to our new electorate.

    Quite frankly we need to become the Party that says ‘YES’!

    Yes, should be our de facto response to all political reforms even if this comes with sensible qualifications.

    Yes to buying your social housing; but only if the housing stock is more than replenished.

    Yes to an independent Scottish Labour Party and Yes to the possibility of Independence for Scotland if that is what the party and their members vote for.

    We are the party that gave them devolution and we should not, as an internationalist party of the left have any issues with the will of the people deciding to go solo.

    Surely it is not beyond our wit to deliver our values in whatever form of government?

    If, like the EU referendum, Independence becomes a political reality, what is the point of being the only party that refused the electorate and our own members a say in shaping the arguements beforehand?

    We must start being on the right side of the the voters as only from this position can we hope to frame the policies in our peoples’ favour and be part of the solutions.

  • Gerard McShera

    Hi Alistair, I too have taken my time to assess what we in Labour need to do to go forward in this deeply depressing and difficult new world for left of centre political parties.

    Like you, I have tried to accept the facts of political life in the past and now I wonder how best we might go forward in an even more radical way as the times they are a changing again.

    As a young man of ‘progressive’ convictions in the late 70s, it took two heavy defeats of 79 and 83 to convince me that an avowedly left wing manifesto could not bring us to power.

    Like, Neil Kinnock, the decent man that helped us to turn matters slowly around, I then thought that perhaps by simply ridding ourselves of blatantly confrontational Defence policies, such as Unilateralism and trying not to frighten the horses with other ‘hostage to fortune’ type stances we might be brought back to power, until 92 devastated us.

    I agree with those on the traditional side of the party that say that another decent man, John Smith, would have got us back into power after so many appallingly mismanaged Tory years, in 97, but like the ‘older school’ Harold Wilson & Jim Callaghan of the 70s I do not feel it would not have been for long.

    However, the breath of fresh air that Tony Blair and yourselves brought in was to challenge and then prove to those in ‘old Labour’ that the only way to deliver our values in a modern world was to stop alienating the very voters that we needed to deliver us into power.

    I had no idea that in a short couple of years, another decent man, but no political leader, Gordon Brown could throw away that hard earned voter friendly ethos with such utter incompetence so devastatingly quickly.

    Neither did I think that the levels of voter dissatisfaction and alienation would deteriorate so rapidly in recent years so that like you, I too thought we might creep into a minority government of sorts this year.

    I watched you on Question Time around election time saying to a young girl that she should get involved in politics. You then, very unusually, embarrassed yourself in the next topic, by closing down such opportunities, when saying ‘no’ to a referendum on the EU; you graciously acknowledged the hypocracy of such a stance on air to a final questioner.

    So, what I have now concluded from the post election recent discussions by all Labour politicians is that we drastically need to become even more progressive and radical than even you and Blair tried, if we are to have any chance of appeal to our new electorate.

    Quite frankly we need to become the Party that says ‘YES’!

    Yes, should be our de facto response to all political reforms even if this comes with sensible qualifications.

    Yes to buying your social housing; but only if the housing stock is more than replenished.

    Yes to an independent Scottish Labour Party and Yes to the possibility of Independence for Scotland if that is what the party and their members vote for.

    We are the party that gave them devolution and we should not, as an internationalist party of the left have any issues with the will of the people deciding to go solo.

    Surely it is not beyond our wit to deliver our values in whatever form of government?

    If, like the EU referendum, Independence becomes a political reality, what is the point of being the only party that refused the electorate and our own members a say in shaping the arguements beforehand?

    We must start being on the right side of the the voters as only from this position can we hope to frame the policies in our peoples’ favour and be part of the solutions.

  • Joshua Banks

    Alastair has been away soul searching,

  • Michele

    Something else that’s been avoided for too long – WT* has J Hunt been doing during a time that temp agencies have been charging the NHS £2,200 per shift per nurse?!
    Can this really be true?

    There is something dodgy, let’s hope he stops chewing his inner cheek and gets to the bottom of it (or we hear that it’s been a miscalculation by the media).

  • Michele

    Might it be possible that every single time a Tory or one of the few remaining Lib Dems talks about ‘the mess we inherited in 2010’ someone can remind them to therefore stop boasting about the continuing half percent interest rate which they also inherited and which had been the rate since early 2009?
    Too many of we proles believe whatever they spout.

    Some did do very well yesterday though, with their eulogies to Charles Kennedy