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The Beckett Report debunks simplistic myths about why we lost in May 2015

Margaret BeckettThe recently published Beckett Report on the reasons for Labour’s defeat in the 2015 general election is both useful and persuasively argued. It provides a set of observations and reasoned conclusions which will help us to build for the next election, and put Jeremy Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.

The report debunks some of the folkloric explanations:

As the new leadership plan for 2020, they should approach with caution a number of theories for our defeat that sound plausible but need to be nuanced and substantiated:

  • We had the wrong policies.” In fact our individual polices polled well, the issue was the difficulty in creating a cohesive, consistent narrative and communicating this clearly and simply
  • We were out of tune with the public on deficit reduction.” While trust on the economy and blame for the deficit were major factors, (British Electoral Survey (BES) analysis suggests that the majority of people thought that the cuts were going too far and preferred higher taxes to further cuts as the route to deficit reduction
  • We were too left wing.” This is not a simple discussion. Many of our most “left wing” polices were the most popular. These were the kind of policies the public expected from Labour. An analysis by BES suggests that some of those who supported us would have been less likely to had they seen us as less left wing. Both the SNP and Greens gained votes in this election and arguably they were seen as to the left of Labour. However, we did fail to convert voters in demographic groups who are traditionally seen as in the centre, we lost voters to UKIP, failed to win back Liberal Democrat voters in sufficient numbers in the right places, and lost a small number of voters to the Tories.
  • We were too anti-business.” We are, of course, wholehearted supporters of a strong and responsible private sector. As in previous elections, the Tories worked hard to mobilise their big business supporters to attack us. And when people are insecure about jobs and wages, such propaganda fosters uncertainty. However, polls showed a wish, from voters, for us to be tougher on big business, and policies that were unpopular with many senior business people, such as the energy price freeze and the Mansion Tax, were popular with voters. Moreover, we had a strong and positive agenda for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • We were seen as anti–aspiration.” Few thought this was the case specifically. However we need to be clearer that we are concerned for the prosperity of all and have a clearly articulated strategy for growth.

In general, we believe that these commonly held reasons for defeat should be treated with caution and require deeper analysis.

I was a parliamentary candidate in a non-target seat (the Conservative / Lib Dem marginal of Chippenham) who was also actively campaigning in target seats, and I see nothing in the Beckett report which doesn’t match my own experience. The demands on a PPC in a non target seat are not so onerous, but I certainly observed the candidate and campaign fatigue that affected the key seats:

While the early investment in organisation was a great success, the ambition of the list, and, in some cases, the very early selection of candidates, created inflexibility, fatigue, and considerable strain on resources, especially for many individual candidates. We have been much impressed, not only by the commitment and talent of our unsuccessful candidates, but by their personal sacrifice – many effectively put their lives on hold for several years

Labour did in fact have a wide range of detailed policy positions, that when presented to the voters were broadly popular. Labour was also effective in a number of areas, such as press regulation, energy prices, executive pay and over Syria in the difficult task of setting the political agenda from the opposition benches. However as the report says:

It is felt that, as the course of events changed during the parliament, a succession of different themes emerged [from Labour]. In contrast the Tories stuck to the “crash myth” and welded this into their mantra of the ‘long-term economic plan.’
In addition, while our policy agenda was well constructed, it was not always easy to communicate. We adopted a highly principled and strict rule that all policy announcements must be “fully costed,” in part to counter any concerns about our handling of the economy. We were highly responsible, taking care only to promise what we knew we could deliver. This may have made us too cautious.

At the point of the election the economy was seeming to recover allowing the Conservatives to harvest the benefits of incumbency, and because Labour had failed to defend our own record in government, both of the coalition parties were able to win the narrative that the recession was Labour’s fault, and it was simply too risky to have a new, untested government.

The 2015 general election result was the first since 1997 where Labour’s vote increased compared to the previous election, we performed well among amongst the BAME communities, amongst liberal professionals, among younger people – especially younger women – and amongst the most disadvantaged.

We, however, did relatively poorly among older voters, and failed to grow support among social demographics known to favour the politics of the centre.

Tim Bale’s excellent work “The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron” discusses the phenomenon in political parties of privileging anecdotal based explanations over evidence in sustaining a group think, particularly in allowing a broader commentariat outside of party structures but overrepresented in the mainstream media, in blogs and the twittering classes, to reinforce a tendency for political activists drawn from a particular social demographic to assume that their own experience is normative for the whole electorate. I think there is an argument that the 4.5%er tendency in the Labour Party are overly attuned to those parts of the electorate where Labour’s offer in 2015 was not considered persuasive, without considering that it did resonate with other voters, partly because the 4.5%ers are more socially in tune with those skeptical centrist voters.

Of course the task is to develop an election winning coalition which enjoys a sufficiently broad appeal to win over voters across the left, centre-left and centre, in order to win a parliamentary majority. However, the argument that Labour failed in 2015 because it was “too left wing” or not attuned to “aspiration”, fails to acknowledge that every political pitch involves both a benefit and an opportunity cost. The electorate is not linearly arranged along a simple left/right axis, which is the implication of the simplistic idea that Labour can win “from the centre” and then shift the political centre of gravity once in government. To take an obvious example, many older voters are in favour of an economically more interventionist state, but are socially conservative; the proposition from Liz Kendal in the leadership election would have been both economically too right wing for them, and socially too liberal.

To win in 2015 we had to do better in seats in the South of England, we did have to win Hastings and South Swindon, and all the seats like that; but we also had to win in the north and the midlands, and in Wales and in London and Scotland. Centre left parties can gain a one-off tactical advance by shifting to the centre, but if that shift is sustained then it is at the expense of weakening their own core support and the ideological and institutional underpinnings as a party. This is evidenced by not only the secular decline in Labour’s vote through 2001, 2005 and 2010, but also the decreasing involvement and enthusiasm of trade union involvement in the party, and that the Blair years saw Labour’s support actually weaken in rural, non-target seats in the South West and South East.

It is also unhelpful to adopt the opposite view that the electorate is a collection of interest groups, in the belief that you can pick a set of sectionally tailored policies which give you a majority in each target group, and you can then carry the whole disparate bundle over the winning line. This smacks too much of Tammany Hall and feeds into the cynical, transactional approach which underpins the professionalization of politics, a phenomenon that is particularly dangerous for the Labour Party. Indeed one of the difficulties of the 2015 offer was that a manifesto of individually good policies seemed to lack a convincing overarching proposition.

A key argument in the Beckett report is the context that after the formation of the coalition government in 2010, the Lib Dems, who had previously presented themselves as critics of the Conservative’s economic policies, now became their defenders.

With the advent of the coalition, the Liberal Democrats adopted not just Tory policies – voting, among much else, for the VAT increase they had condemned – but also the Tory narrative of unwarranted Labour spending when in government. It was too easily forgotten that the Labour Government in 1997 inherited a country that needed to be repaired after the damage to our industrial base, healthcare, housing and education inflicted by the Thatcher and Major governments.

There was a near universal demand for public investment in infrastructure, in research and development, and in training, as well as for socio-economic policies such as childcare, so that we could compete internationally.

Suddenly, with the creation of the coalition, every Labour spokesperson on any current affairs programme faced, not just disagreement and opposition from two other major parties – par for the course – but disagreement which was tightly co-ordinated, and began in, and stressed, the same story – that somehow this was all Labour’s fault.So from the outset, it was hard for Labour’s counter- narrative to be heard.

Labour was also squeezed out by the media who focused on the melodramatic dymanics of the coalition itself.

Nor indeed was there much media interest in anything we had to say. For political commentators, there was a much more fascinating soap opera in continual transmission. A steady stream of differences and disputes were available within each governing party – the Liberal Democrats and the Tories – and to that was added differences and disputes between them as coalition partners, and all of it the more important for being directly relevant to government decisions. So, to the annoyance and disappointment of Labour supporters, Shadow Ministers found it even harder than is usual as the main party of opposition to make a public impact. Even where Labour was highly effective in opposition, say on energy prices, or on health, this rarely attracted the sustained coverage it merited.

This needs to be understood by those voices in the Labour Party who are overly critical of Jeremy Corbyn. The press and mainstream media not only have an inbuilt bias which has led them towards character assassination of every Labour leader in opposition (including Wilson and Blair), but the malcontents will always receive disproportionate attention because of the dramatic narrative that it allows them to paint about Corbyn. It is also worth considering that some of the bitterness against Corbyn is from people who considered that they had a legitimate expectation of a career in Labour politics, which they now feel has been thwarted.

In fact, Corbyn is doing well by many indicators. Party membership is up, the party is in good financial health, relationships with the trade unions are broadly good, his standing in the PLP is improving steadily with time, the much heralded rebellion in the PLP over Syria was contained to the “usual suspects”, the Oldham by-election was convincingly won, he has maintained a shadow cabinet reflecting talents across the party; and Corbyn himself has become better and better at handling the media and PMQs.

Significantly, John McDonnell’s appointment as shadow chancellor has been a success, and there is broad acceptance in the party of the need to oppose austerity. This is a major advance from the equivocation of the general election; and is a sound foundation for all wings and social constituencies of the party to unite around, including making a defence of the record of the 1997 to 2010 government.

It was always going to be a harder proposition to unite the party around Jeremy’s views on foreign policy and defence. But some sense of perspective is necessary here. Whatever the views prevailing in Portcullis House and the excitable babble of political commentators, for a number of years opinion polls have consistently shown that the public is skeptical about British military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. And particularly among young people, there is a considerable constituency who are actively opposed.

The vote that Jeremy received in the leadership contest is a substantial mandate and has enthused thousands of people to join the party. Of course that mandate does not immediately translate into policy, and for example, Tom Watson and Sadiq Khan also received mandates of their own on rather different platforms. How those differences are resolved is the realm of politics and compromise, but the days are over where all the concessions will come from the left.

The Beckett report highlighted a number of areas where the party did well. We conducted a great ground campaign, and learned a lot about digital campaigning, and we can profit from studying the techniques employed by the Conservatives. But is also shows that the party has a mountain to climb to win in 2020. That would be the case whoever we have as party leader. The evidence based discussion in the Beckett report offers no easy answers, that is because there are no easy answers in politics, but if we build on our strengths and seek to overcome our weaknesses, then we can succeed.

25 Comments

  1. Bazza says:

    Yes and the Tories won on 25% of the electorate and 14m didn’t vote (the largest group) probably thinking they are all the same-Neo Liberals.
    Jeremy actually gives us some hope and having someone who speaks up for what they actually passionately believe in is a refreshing change.
    I was furious with the timid Labour Leadership for not countering the Tory narrative that Labour was to blame for the financial mess and some of us were slaughtering the Tories on social media on this including on the BBC (drawing from historical evidence from the US of their banks being fined billions for heir role in sub-prime lending) but suddenly just before the general election and during each comment was countered by 10 posts from ‘Bill’ and ‘George’ and Arthur’ etc. pushing the Tory line and it was only after the election ((I think in the Guardian) was it reported that at probably great expense the Tories had hired a US Democrat social media guru who was posting fake comments on the BBC etc. perhaps borderline legal but highly dubious (some companies are now posting fake reviews) I complained to the BBC and Labour but heard nothing – a conspiracy of silence as many of us were silenced.
    So labour under JC offer plums for th working class/working people and the progresive middle class – like early retirement at 65 and 35 hour weeks and a say at work – we should use power to make life better for and with working people so they feel society belongs to them unlike at present where everything by the Tories is for the rich and powerful!
    We should appeal to those who stuck with us and non-voters but also go on the offensive to try to politicise the middle class away for their socialisation to voting Tory and in South/East.
    And take on the SDP SNP.
    We are for power to the working class/working people -the Tories are for power to the rich and powerful! Solidarity!

  2. Dave Roberts says:

    Whichever spin you put on it Labour lost and the situation is getting worse. The changes to voter registration will mean that people who are natural Labour voters will probably not be on the roll very much longer. The young and transient who are the most likely to support Labour will be the ones that will be left off. Older home owners will remain and they by and large vote Tory. The electoral boundaries will also work against Labour.

    On top of this is how the party are increasingly perceived by the electorate. Because people have always voted Labour doesn’t mean that they will support a party which is increasingly in the hands of the far left which is what is happening. Traditional Labour voters, and I draw on the experience of my own family, don’t support the kind of person that Corbyn is not only seen to be but is. Like Sadiq Khan his record of extremist statements doesn’t matter when he was a backbencher but are now manna from heaven for Tory Central Office.

    Talking to ISIS, renegotiating the Falklands, handing Gib back to Spain and scrapping Trident isn’t news when you are on the back benches but is front page when leader. If Labour do badly in May then we could see a split.

  3. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

    “• “We had the wrong policies.” In fact our individual polices polled well, the issue was the difficulty in creating a cohesive, consistent narrative and communicating this clearly and simply”

    The reason New Labour lost the last election like the previous was that they couldn’t highlight the fact that Brown and Blair deregulated the banking and financial sectors as the Tories had done before them.

    They carried on with exactly the same agenda as the Tories, privatisation and deregulation.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why Labour voters were disillusioned with Labour, New Labour are simply not Labour.

    The deficit lie is still being promoted by the Neo-Liberals in the party as though it is factual, the Deficit is a lie.

    The reason people keep quoting it back in polls is because that is what Neo-Liberal politicians of all persuasions tell them. That of course is why I constantly reiterate the fact that people are being lied to, Margaret Becket being of no exception.

    People instinctively know there is something fundamentally wrong, the problem is they do not get the essential information to formulate any sound opinion on matters. It should also be obvious that the Tories were the real losers as they have all the media behind them and still only gained a paltry 25% of the voting public.

    I’m sorry to say Margaret Becket is part of the problem along with the other Neo-Liberals in the Party, if people only see these people as representing Labour, we will never get in, the losses in Scotland should be enough to wake any middle of the road politician up, sadly I don’t believe those on the right of the party care whether we win or not, so long as they take back power in the party, for their own ends like the Tories.

    To counter the lies of the Neo-Liberals, we must at every opportunity explain, that we as a country can never ever go broke, that we can afford our public services, that poverty is a policy decision, not a fact of life.

  4. David Ellis says:

    In the light of the thirteen years of corrupt and criminal government under Blair and Brown it would have been a minor miracle for Labour to have won in 2010 and after offering more of the same in the 2015 campaign for it to have won would have been a major miracle. In fact had Corbyn not been elected leader 2020 would have seen the Labour Party reduced to Scottish levels of representation in the Westminster Parliament.

    The reasons given in the report for the defeat are bogus and entirely designed to cover for the treachery of New Labour so that they might continue to perpetrate it. The number one reason for losing is because it offered zero opposition to neo-liberalism either when in office or subsequently to its austerity. It was indistinguishable from the Tory party and got wiped out in Scotland after collaborating with Cameron during the independence referenum. The same fate awaits Corbyn in England and Wales if he does the same with Cameron’s EU Referendum which will come across as collaborating with the Tories on neo-liberalism and austerity once again. It will be the final straw.

  5. Robert says:

    We were seen as being wrong on immigration and welfare ,which is a worry you let in Million and build sod all social housing and you brought in the most draconian welfare reforms , not sure what else you would have done to hammer down as Reeve stated.

  6. jim says:

    And Milliband? No mention of him? He was the prime reason in my view. he just wasn’t up to it.

  7. Dipper says:

    The main reason people in England were reluctant to vote Labour was the prospect of Alex Salmond calling the shots in a coalition government, and a weak Labour PM allowing the SNP to loot English taxpayers funds. I am amazed this is not at the top of the report.

  8. Tony says:

    The report indicates why the election of any of the other candidates would have been a disaster.

    Andy Burnham wanted to ditch the mansion tax and Yvette Cooper wanted further cuts in corporation tax. And then there is Liz Kendall who came across quite well but whose policies are just dreadful.

    The report mentions that Labour was concerned about the Green vote.

    As for Labour’s ground operation in target seats, I rather suspect that this was about contacting voters rather than having the time to actually have a persuasive conversation with them. I suspect that was a major weakness.

    However, next time Labour could well have the time to have longer conversations that could actually swing voters. This is because of the increase in membership which is mainly due to Corbyn. There a lot of seats where Labour has no chance of winning but has now got quite a good membership level. Deploying those to the marginal constituencies over the next few years could well make a big difference.

  9. John P Reid says:

    The public were wrong,in thinking we were anti business, can’t understand why we lost. Then, the electorate, huh, what’s wrong with them

  10. Peter Rowlands says:

    No, I’m sorry Andy, but your enthusiastic and uncritical reception of the Beckett report (BR) is in my view shallow and misplaced. That is not to say that BR does not contain much that is useful, but as with any internal report, where the politics of the organisation concerned is a factor, it is what is not said as well as what is said that is crucial, and you seem to have completely overlooked this.
    BR rightly dismisses the cruder ‘too left’ or ‘too right’ explanations, and discusses in some detail the crucial decision to not counter Coalition claims that the recession of 2008 was Labour’s fault. It gives a lot of detail in terms of the breakdown of the vote, highlighting the Tory lead among older voters with a high turnout, as opposed to much lower turnouts among mainly Labour voting younger people or social classes D/E.This is of course vital information, but it is hardly new. I did a breakdown for Left Futures on June 26th which gave most of this information. ( Key Labour targets). Some of what is said in this section appears to be wrong, where the performance of the Greens and UKIP is downplayed. In fact in four of the eight seats that Labour lost the Green vote was greater than the margin of loss, while in six valleys seats in South Wales the substantial UKIP vote must have mainly come from Labour as the previous Tory vote was small.
    But there are three central issues which BR largely avoids.Firstly, that the neo liberal/social democratic divide prevented an over arching narrative coming across ( this is observed, but the reasons aren’t given ); secondly, that the capitulation in 2013 to the Tory cuts agenda prevented us from being sufficiently distinguishable from the Tories or credibly able to promote policies that might have galvanised a bigger vote; thirdly, that the pitch was to the centre, where it successfully retained much of 2010s A/B vote, but at the dreadful expense of much of both Labour’s traditional working class vote, and of the leftish ex Lib-Dem vote. The failure to address these issues marks down BR as not really adding very much to our understanding of how to go forward.
    ( Please see my ‘ Labour is at a crossroads’ Left Futures May 27th)

  11. Andy Newman says:

    as with any internal report, where the politics of the organisation concerned is a factor, it is what is not said as well as what is said that is crucial, and you seem to have completely overlooked this.

    Perhaps you might like to consider that the article I wrote is also intended for an internal Labour Party audience, and I might also be emphasising those things that I think it is helpful to place emphasis upon, rather than being “shallow” or “enthusiastic”.

    If we look at the politics surrounding the Beckett report there has been a furore by the 4.5%ers calling on it to be published,and implying that there is a cover up. When it came, it was a measured report that contains much that is useful for the current leadership of the party, and that is the sense that we should receive it and welcome it.

    1. John P Reid says:

      maybe it was covered up! because it so embarrassingly, naive, in saying the policies weren’t in popular with the public, and that we need to get the message across more, and th public were un fair on Ed m, same as calling Blair ,Bambi, that it just shows how daft Beckett was too put her name to it,

    2. Peter Rowlands says:

      Yes, internal reports are always difficult, particularly under the present circumstances, but that is not a good reason for Beckett to have avoided some ot the thornier issues or for you to have failed to highlight this.That is not the way to win in 2020.

    3. David Pavett says:

      @Andy Newman.

      Peter Rowlands made a series of specific points about your article:

      (1) Some of the material in the Beckett analysis of voter turnout appears to be wrong in that the performance of the Greens and UKIP is downplayed. Peter says that in four of the eight seats that Labour lost the Green vote was greater than the margin of loss.

      (2) “In six valleys seats in South Wales the substantial UKIP vote must have mainly come from Labour as the previous Tory vote was small”.

      (3) Peter says that you largely avoid three issues

      (i) “the neo liberal/social democratic divide prevented an over arching narrative coming across”;

      (ii) “capitulation in 2013 to the Tory cuts agenda prevented us from being sufficiently distinguishable from the Tories”;

      (iii) “the pitch was to the centre, where it successfully retained much of 2010s A/B vote, but at the dreadful expense of much of both Labour’s traditional working class vote, and of the leftish ex Lib-Dem vote”.

      If we are to debate these issues meaningfully then when specific issues such as the above are raised then surely they deserve an answer.

      I would like to add a further point on what Labour didn’t say. Education was not a major issue in the election because Labour didn’t choose to make it one. It didn’t choose to make it one because it had largely accepted the Gove revolution. Add to that that Tristram Hunt was a useless Shadow Secretary of Education who impressed no one. This helped to reinforce the impression that Labour was on the back foot and had nothing radical to offer.

      Surely if we want to understand Labour’s defeat then such things need to be considered. Beckett’s report does not go there.

  12. David Pavett says:

    It beats me how anyone can see the Beckett Report (BR) as an effective analysis of Labour’s defeat in 2015.

    The reports opens with “We have consulted far and wide. We have had responses from tens of thousands of party members …”. Where is the analysis of their responses?

    We are told that because of the economic narrative “The 2015 election was never going to be easy”. But why should a Labour Party that claimed to distinguish itself from the mistakes of New Labour have found it so difficult? We are given no clues. Or perhaps the clue is in the following: “Politics has changed across Europe and we are not immune from this in the UK. We have seen a rise of popularism. Voters have lost confidence in many traditional parties and feel that they aren’t heard.” The problem is that this presents the political changes mentioned as if they were just a force of nature. The explanation for the plight of the old social democratic/Labour/Socialist parties and the rise of left alternatives is not discussed.

    We are further told that “The reality, of course, was that governments across the world had been persuaded by the banks and their supporters … to be “light touch” in their regulation of banks…”. Governments across the world (i.e. including Labour in the UK) “had been persuaded” … Does that not demand a little reflection? The BR offers none. Instead its author(s) preferred to hide behind the fact that other governments were doing the same thing. Maybe true but the analytical content of this observation is zero.

    “The formation of a Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition government was a major contributory factor to the firm establishment of the narrative that Labour was responsible for the crash.” Later on the BR offers a feeble explanation as to why Labour didn’t respond (see numbered points below).

    “It was too easily forgotten that the Labour Government in 1997 inherited a country that needed to be repaired after the damage to our industrial base, healthcare, housing and education… .” Where was Labour’s campaigning on this? Not only did Labour make no effort to convince the public it made none to convince its own members.

    The BR offers the following “explanation” for this failure to challenge the economic narrative.

    (1) “First, it was felt that arguing endlessly about the past risked being bogged down in it, when what mattered more to the country was the shape of its future”. It is hard to think of an emptier all-purpose explanation. We didn’t defend our past actions because we wanted to look to the future!

    (2) “… although it was believed that the government’s approach was not only misguided, but risked actively damaging the economy, it was still thought that, by 2015, a more substantial recovery would have occurred and would make the events of 2010 seem less relevant”. This is absurd. As if the Tory government would not of held up such a recovery in contrast to Labour’s “failure”.

    (3) “… whatever the considerable merits of our record in government, and the very real achievements of 1997 – 2010, we had just lost an election fought on that very record”. This is an argument for never defending your record if you lose an election.

    The BR argues that Labour politicians found it hard to get a hearing and that failures of the coalition were allowed to slip from public attention. This ‘blame the media’ explanation is a counsel of despair. The stance of the media is a given. If media hostility explains failure then we can predict failure forever since the media is never going to warm to anything that might challenge the interests with which media owners identify.

    All of this, and more, occurs in the first few pages of the report. It would be tedious to go through the whole report in this way since this shallow analysis continues throughout. This report tells us nothing we did not already know and fails to make an analysis of any depth as to why Labour’s offer struck a chord with less then a third of the electorate. It is, in my view, largely a waste of time. God alone knows why it took so long to write.

    1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

      Having read the Blue Book, or at least skimmed through it, the delicate light touch of people from Ed Miliband to Liz Kendal and Tristram Hunt tell me exactly how they lost the last election.

      Red Ed considering calling Labour, “Blue Labour”, was hardly going to enthuse real Labour voters.

      Fundamentally Labour supporters were looking for real change, the change on offer was a further swing to the right, hoping the party loyal would hang on in desperation.

      Ed Miliband though, in my view, did not want an outright victory and was playing for a hung parliament and leading a coalition government as the largest party. sadly for him the Libdem vote collapsed leaving his flagship dreams in tatters.

      If you really want to know the thinking behind Blue Labour, read the “blue book”. Progress provide a link that you can read it online.

      To sum up New Labour, they are pro private, anti public, and never ever criticise big business.

      Although Ed did get down on his knees a couple of times begging big business to be reasonable.

      A bit like trying to stop an express train with a picture of a red flag.

      1. John P Reid says:

        Ed was never going to call labour blue labour,blue labour is a think tank about drawing on the labour parties community sprit of the 50’s and by the way it’s massive,especially among non labour voters, Fabian, working class co-op people

        1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

          correction I meant the “purple book” not the blue book.

          Looking back at the vision of those blue Labour supporters, who saw working class people as “socially conservative” begs the question, did they perhaps think that only right wing working class people vote?

          Then of course what about the shrinking middle classes, did they think that they all vote conservative?

          Again looking at where these people are coming from is like King Canute trying to hold back the tide. Big business is rolling over people and pushing everything out of it’s way.

          Blue, or New Labour are as significant to them as the remnants from someone’s nostrils on a piece of tissue.

          We only have to look at Greece to understand where we are heading, unless we distinctly change direction, there is nothing in front of us, the future for us is bleak.

          The New Paradigm is not more of the same, it is about taking control of the future, if you don’t own it you can’t control it.

          We have been totally taken over by the corporate sector, (aided and abetted by our Neo-Liberal friends in the party) with the promise that if you don’t make it in life that it’s your own fault.

          Well the new paradigm says, we know where the money comes from, and we don’t need the great wealth creators anymore, because all they create is wars and poverty, we can build a real society that works for people, not corporate power.

  13. Andy Newman says:

    If we are to debate these issues meaningfully then when specific issues such as the above are raised then surely they deserve an answer.

    I am at a loss to understand your approach to politics David.

    The Beckett Report is there for all to read, and Peter Rowlands comments are there for all to read. As of course is my article welcoming the Beckett Report.

    I have chosen to emphasise those parts of the BR that I find useful, David has chosen to emphasise those things that he feels are less convincing, and could do with more elaboration.

    No obligation is upon me to either publically agree or disagree with Peter. However, the readers can think for themselves.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Andy, it is hardly a question of my “approach to politics” but rather just one of answering questions put. You wrote an article. Peter raised a series of questions with respect to it. It just seemed to me that it would be normal to answer those points. That is not an “approach to politics” but just normal discussion.

      1. Andy Newman says:

        It just seemed to me that it would be normal to answer those points. That is not an “approach to politics” but just normal discussion.

        If that were normal, then why isn’t it the norm?

        How often do you see the authors of an above the line article engaging in a below the line debate about it?

        In fact I personally often will engage in such a debate – even more so over at my own blog SU – , but on the question of the Beckett report, I have said what I want to say.

  14. Andy Newman says:

    It beats me how anyone can see the Beckett Report (BR) as an effective analysis of Labour’s defeat in 2015.

    The importance of the Beckett Report is that it is the official Labour Party report. It is also the published version, for a debate conducted in full gaze of our opponents.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Yes, it is the official LP report. You suggest that it is merely the published version suggesting that there is much more. I know nothing about that and therefore cannot comment. But none of this has anything to do with whether it is an effective analysis or not. That must be decided by its content and I and Peter have given reasons for questioning the quality of its analysis.

      1. Andy Newman says:

        Well clearly there would be more to say. I am not implying that there is a secret unredacted version, I am suggesting that the party is necessarily circumspect about what they publish.

        Within the reasonable constraints of what you would expect to be published by the party as an official report, then the content is useful and shoots a few foxes.

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