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Cameron v Miliband: it’s about policies not personalities

David Cameron & Ed Miliband at PMQsCameron at least has one special skill – to hold together an ungovernable party which is irrevocably split. He does not appear to have an ultimate belief in anything – only to sustain his own position and his party at whatever cost to the country at large. That explains his early embrace of driving an anti-climate change sleigh and hugging a hoodies to de-nastify the Nasty Party, only to be unceremoniously junked as soon as he got to No.10. It explains his latest gyrations over the EU and immigration, promising what he can’t deliver in order to deflect the UKIP rampage, putting Britain at risk of real isolation to score points for personal and party advantage, and alienating the whole of the EU (and the US too, behind the scenes) for the sake of short-term electoral gain.

When tasked about this at PMQs he never answers any questions, but uses the occasion (and his unique privilege in having the last word) to smother his opponents with clouds of party political rhetoric and partisan propaganda. His Bullingdon Club toff self-confidence (or overweening arrogance whichever way you look at it) is well-suited to this abuse of parliamentary procedure.

But the current chatter isn’t about Cameron because the Tory tabloids (whatever they really think about Cameron, which is often unprintable) are remorselessly determined to retain power for the Tories at all costs. The talk is about Miliband because the Labour Party is less resolute under fire and, in some quarters at least, panics quickly at the potential loss of their own seats. The real problem for Labour at this time isn’t Miliband. It’s Labour’s bizarre economic policy, promising austerity and spending cuts all the way to 2020, exactly the same as the Tories, which is counter-productive and a massive voter turn-off.

What Labour voters need, and indeed the whole country, is HOPE when at present they feel only insecurity, abandonment, alienation. What is needed is not idle and destructive chatter about a change of Leader (which is frankly inconceivable anyway), but focusing relentlessly on a commanding narrative – restoration of the NHS, reversing austerity via public investment in sustainable economic expansion, Living Wage plus a relentless assault on inequality and tax avoidance, rebuilding public services, restoration of collective bargaining and trade union rights, etc.

Miliband himself has some priceless qualities which his party should be talking up, not bad-mouthing in dark corners. He has integrity, honesty and vision, none of which Cameron has, and he has courage – he took on Murdoch over BSkyB, the Tory tabloids over Leveson, and Cameron over a missile onslaught on Syria and yet another Middle East War, and won in each case, which no previous leader of Labour in Opposition has ever achieved – certainly not Blair. The sooner Labour members recognise and promulgate the assets of their leader, the quicker

They might learn to stop throwing the election away.

4 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Labour had dropped the living wage now the poorky paid can look forward to a min wage of £8 in six years time that is shocking.

    Labour are not offering the working poor much because to the labour party the middle class count not the poorest paid.

    Miliband has little to offer for the working class and it’s a great shame somebody is not making a move on him because he is shockingly poor in so many ways .

    The argument is labour are not much but they would be better then the Tories so you may as well vote the labour party.

    Not much of an offer is it.

  2. swatantra says:

    Its always been about personalities. Harold was a great one for building up an image as ‘your friendly uncle’ with his pipe and gannex, and his holidays in the Scillies. Ted was a yatchsman who won the Sydney Hobart and SuperMac cultivated that grousemoor image of his. These days all we get are Public Relations men like Dave Nick and Ed.

  3. Mike says:

    If you sell your political soul to the dynamics of short-term electoralism, then you have to play the game according to the rules that go with it: pandering to the views of tiny numbers of floating voters in key marginal seats, a fetishisation of individual leadership, talking in managerial double-speak to avoid saying anything that opens you to attack from a hostile media etc.

    So that is where British politics, and Labour, is.

    In this context, to insist that the problem is policy not personality is self-delusion. Ed was a weak and unconvincing leader from day one – but the left convinced itself that Ed was ‘their man’ and have been unwilling to confront his failures ever since.

    So Michael Meacher labels Labour’s economic policy ‘bizarre’. Of course it is only bizarre if you deluded yourself into thinking that changing leader (from Brown to Ed) would initiate fundamental changes to Labour’s entrenched economic philosophy.

    So, the Labour needs to get real – given the logics of the electoral game that Labour has helped to construct and impose upon itself.

    That means getting rid of Ed and replacing him with a leader that will do better at the next election. The Labour left will continue to cling to the notion that if only Ed would break with neoliberalism then all would be better.

    But that is nonsense.

    Among the key groups of voters that Labour needs to build support within the next 6 months, there is no clear appetite for a dramatic shift in economic narrative. At this late stage in the electoral cycle such a shift would likely frighten such voters, making them even more vulnerable to Daily Mail scare-mongering.

    Many key groups of voters want reassurance and a sense that politicians seeking their vote are prepared to act it response to their concerns.

    An unprecedented change in Labour leadership could help to do both. Labour would be in a position to say: ‘You didn’t like our leader and so, for the first time in our history, we have changed the leader months before an election. We listened and we acted.’

    It is far from breaking with neoliberalism. But then over the past 20 years Labour has played a key role in normalising neoliberalism and silencing alternatives. So Labour has to live with the consequences of it’s opportunism, short-term and electoralism.

    You made the bed, grow up and lie in it.

    1. Neu 75 says:

      It’s that kind of political cynicism which has this country in the mess that it’s in. Play the Westminster game and leave the poor to the dogs. That’s the New Labour way, isn’t it? Why not go the whole hog and employ an actor to play Prime Minister while the party fellates the right-wing press and the City and sod the rest?

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