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The return of the Whig Party

Miliband the WhigLord Andrew Adonis, former SDP councillor, turned Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, former speechwriter to Paddy Ashdown and latterly a New Labour Minister has told The Observer that he is right behind Ed Miliband’s ‘party reform plans’.  Lord Adonis is conincidentally heavily involved with Lord Sainsburys’ militant tendency, Progress organisation. Well, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies; “he would say all of that, wouldn’t he!

Lord Adonis, who is also keen to become Labour’s mayoral candidate in London, thinks that Ed’s plans could massively increase Labour’s membership on the ground, totally outgunning what ever the decayed old Tory machine can offer. The Primary system, progenitor of pork barrelled American Tammany Hall politics is to be foisted on the London Labour Party for good measure.

We must hope that he is right – but the trouble is that experience tells us that he will probably be wrong. This won’t be because individual trade unionists who previously paid their political levy might not sign up to a pro-union Labour Party, it is just that the Labour Party Lord Adonis and his friends feel comfortable with is going to be about as friendly to the unions as, well, every other Westminster party.

What we may be about to witness as Ed succeeds in getting unions and members to sign up to something last tried on the Labour movement by Stanley Baldwin, is the strange re-birth of the Whig party

Vaguely reformist, better than what is on offer  from the Tories, still calling itself  ‘Labour’ the new version of the old Whig Party that is emerging will likely be one where the voice of organised labour and the working class, will be barely heard at all. But not just them, that vital component of the traditional Labour constituency, the moral left leaning middle class will be absent, whose sons and daughters now troll Labour Shadow Ministers with such obvious glee when they pen pieces for The Guardian.

In his pomp, Peter Mandelson would say of Labour’s traditional supporters; “they have no where else to go“. Well first of all they stopped going — to the polls — while others voted for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Today, with a twenty year absence of robust socialist argument to reinforce handed down family voting traditions, some are heading off towards UKIP.

The same people as Adonis and Mandelson say that the unions – distanced – from Labour would never be so daft as to put their money and organisational prowess into other parties or even a new party for working families. This coming election, perhaps not, but what about after that election, should the Tories hang on to power or should a Labour Government prove to be as flaccid as Hollande’s government in France? What then? And for those who say that this weekend’s Special Conference has cleverly bound the unions in for one last general election push, and if the reforms don’t work they can be unpicked in five years?  Just how realistic will this prove to be when previously affiliated unions find out how much is in their collective war chests and what they can actually do with it?

Politics abhors a vacuum which is why UKIP has emerged as the militant wing of the Conservative Party, performing a role similar to that of the old Communist Party on the Labour Party. It would be a brave political punter who denied that the same will not happen within the yawning gap to the left of the Labour Party over the next decade.


  1. malcolm fisher says:

    just another article that reinforces my view that the leaders of the party are really just aqrrogant and insulting fools divorced from people really want and still believe that its all about image. mandelsons wrong, we have got other places to go, and you might not like some of them. people are not voying because we are sick and tired of politicians spouting bullshit supplied by spin merchants. scary how many go along with brand and say votings meaningless. so well said john lilburne

  2. John reid says:

    Militant tendency

    And he was SDP/liberal democrat Rgervkiddle and polly Toynbee, remind me who backed independent Luftur Rahman or stood for the SWP in 2005

  3. Robert says:

    Miliband has described himself as a new type of Labour politician, looking to move beyond the divisiveness of Blairism and Brownism, and calling for an end to the “factionalism and psychodramas” of Labour’s past. He has also repeatedly spoken of the requirement for a “new politics”

    We have had nothing but the Progress right wing factionalism and psychodramas even to the point of almost kicking out the Unions, the last vestiges of what labour have left in them.

  4. John reid says:

    Kicking out the unions, aren’t you always putting here ,that labour on,y keep the unions because of the money,Even Blair when he got 70% donation funding! rather than unions funds! never dreamt of getting rid of unions,

  5. swatantra says:

    Its never been about the money but trying to keep that historic link, for sentimental reasons. But, if the Unions want to cut off their nose to spite their face, then its their problem.
    The Labour Party will survive, and go on.

  6. Rod says:

    John Lilburne: “This coming election, perhaps not, but what about after that election, (…) What then?”


    Progress won’t be able to present itself as the Labour Party for ever. Millions of voters, including myself and my whole extended family, have abandoned the Labour/Progress Party.

    We’ll never return and I’m looking forward to campaigning against Labour/Progress in elections.

    Loyalty to Labour will be eroded still further if, after winning in 2015, Miliband brings the Blairite project to completion.

    BTW: Good luck to all the LP members who support Miliband’s plan to dump the unions. Let’s hope you win the vote on Saturday.
    It’ll be better for all of us if the undemocratic and institutionally moribund Labour/Progress Party sinks into oblivion sooner rather than later. No need to prolong the agony.

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