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The Kamikaze Blairites

‘Memogate’ should rock this Party, but not for the reasons that the Daily Telegraph intend. The leadership, desperate to preserve the appearance of unity and semblance of order, has pointed the finger at the Conservatives but I remain deeply unconvinced this is the case. It has coincided with the leak of David Miliband’s now infamous ‘victory speech’ that never was — also, this latest incidence of a leaky ship comes after some mildly invasive leaks early on in Ed Miliband’s leadership.  

Coupled with the public utterances of the likes of Dan Hodges and John Rentoul; not to mention the semi-private growlings of the Parliamentary Labour Party and of course others whose career depends on the elder Miliband, we have a potentially powerful cartel and fertile grounds for a conspiracy. In short, I think there is an organised group of people who are determined to undermine the leadership, no matter what the cost to the broader Party which they see as short-term collateral damage in the long-term interests of electoral success.

History has turned full-circle and now it is the reckless right that provides the biggest threat to the integrity and electability of Labour.

So, what has been done about this by the leadership? What should have been done is that democratic reform should have been the top priority; empowering the base of support that elected Ed Miliband. Instead of this we have seen pontification and prevarication and the active appeasement of the Blairite wing. This strategy, evidenced in such things as the appointment of Alan Johnson, has only spectacularly backfired. Worse it has established the leadership in the public mind as weak and dithering – a not unfair characterisation.

The left now has two options:

  1. to back Ed Miliband in the hope he will eventually carry out much needed reform, or
  2. to bin him off and admit this leadership is a whitewash.

I prefer option 2 as I outline here.

Whichever option the left chooses, and I guess it will split with more favouring option 1, it has to acknowledge its own continuing strategic weakness which is part of the reason this gaping whole of a vacuum exists in terms of factional struggles around personalities as much as substantive ideology. The left is not ready to step into the void and offer a serious platform as an alternative leadership and until it is, the mushy centre to which Ed Miliband has failed spectacularly to give coherence will be the best Labour has to offer in terms of a transformational political force. As we have seen that does not have enough potency to see off the Blairite challenge.


  1. Shamelessly I am going to add a link to my blogpost today because it discusses the reasons why, despite what I say, the left should still turn against Miliband

  2. Robert Day says:

    I’m not so convinced that “Memogate” is down purely to party infighting. There are plenty of Tory careerists getting middle/senior posts in Government departments these days for whom talk of “political neutrality” is just dinosaur thinking. The old civil service rules whereby the private doings of Ministers are firmly put away when a new administration takes over have almost completely disappeared as a new breed of manager is imported to the Service who thinks that they can play politics. Sadly, all too often they get their fingers burnt and the people who suffer are the rank-and-file.

    It was Thatcher who started this politicization of the Civil Service (“Is he One Of Us?”), but sadly subsequent administrations continued it.

  3. Phil C. says:

    Some good may come of all this yet – if Ed Mil learns the hard way that appeasement does not work when you’re dealing with people who are determined to be unreasonable in the pursuit of their own non-negotiable agenda.
    But it’s essential that Ed is given sound advice and active support from the Left. This would be a third option – or a variant on the above option 1.
    Perhaps the imminent reduction in number of MPs provides an opportunity, in conjunction with internal party reform, to re-shape the Labour Party and move away from the Blairite New Labour model.

  4. @Robert,

    I think regardless we can be pretty sure in saying the party is still riven with factionalism and Miliband isnt strong enough to unite it.

    Phil C,

    I doubt it, in fact, have you read the pace notes for his speech tomorrow? Has the left ever considered it might get more out of a hard-right leader because it would be the left that would have to be appeased? My sound advice to him is frankly, sod off, please, now, before you lose us the election.

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