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Plots and rumours of plots

mailOSEven the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday is sometimes forced to print the truth. But this morning’s front page was not one of those occasions. Apparently, Tristram Hunt “plunges in the dagger” and has joined the much-trailed revolt of Labour MPs. Except he hasn’t. If you read behind the headline he “revealed his doubts in private conversations with senior Labour colleagues“. This is tantamount to writing “we’ve made this up” or, rather, taking the comments made by Simon Danczuk and transposing them on to someone else.

Much the same can be said of of the reputed 20 shadow ministers working behind the scenes to give Ed Miliband the heave ho. Evidence of a plot? If The Observer‘s claims want to be taken seriously they have to be a bit more substantial than that. It sounds to me that Danczuk and co are inflating their importance. What in reality has happened is every single whispered whinge, every rolled eyes in Strangers, every grumble in the Members dining room has been puffed up into something it’s not. Are there shadow ministers who moan about Ed Miliband. Of course there is – who doesn’t moan about their boss. Does that mean a putsch is in the offing? No, absolutely not.

Apart from shedding light on appalling journalistic standards, as well as the efforts – in The Mail‘s case – the right will go to to demonise and traduce a Labour leader with the temerity to stray ever so slightly from the neoliberal consensus, what else can we take away from this sorry episode? It says a little something about the Westminster bubble, for starters. Imagine what the inside of that universe looks like. It’s bounded by narrow point scoring in the chamber, has stakes and obsessions peculiar to it and, at all times, is walled in by what the press and pollsters say. The trip to the monthly constituency meeting, the surgery, and the weekly trek across voters’ doorsteps are the few points of contact with the real world. So, after a session in which a member has knocked on and had conversations with 25 or so, what will stick out in their mind. The concerns about anti-social behaviour? Cracked pavements and overhanging trees? Or the one or two voters who have unedifying – pun intended – words to say about the Labour leader? The “truth” of Westminsterland finds confirmation in the cognitive biases it inculcates.

Our plotters have an inability to think beyond polling numbers too. We’ve been here before. In January 2010 Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt circulated a letter calling for Gordon Brown to go and his replacement by someone else. Then, as now, no leading shadow cabinet figure came forward. They knew that doing so within spitting distance of an election would inflict unnecessary division on the party and, rightly, be seen by party members and close supporters as outright scabs.

Learning from that shambles, Danczuk’s cosy chats with The Mail are an attempt by an unremarkable UKIP-lite backbencher to bounce one shadcab member into committing career suicide. It has failed, but when they see polling numbers saying a Labour Party led by virtually anyone else would extend the polling lead you can understand the logic of it. Leaving aside the unholy mess a leadership election would now cause, there is absolutely no guarantee a Alan Johnson, or a Chuka Umunna, or an Yvette Cooper-led Labour wouldn’t also go downbank. The problem with Labour, ultimately, is political. If the party doesn’t address itself to the insecurities that bedevil everyday life, support will remain locked where it’s at. A short fillip in the polls from a new leader would not sustain itself all the way to the Spring if nothing else changes.

As it stands right now, the ghost of a plot has not effected a corporeal one. Ed remains in place and isn’t going anywhere. All it has done is solidify most of the PLP and the membership behind the election-winning task at hand, highlighted how desperate sections of the press are, and underline the bankruptcy and stupid empiricism of would-be regicides.



    I am convinced that what is transpiring is a Foot/Kinnock like smear campaign against the Labour leader.
    Just think about it – he has been the most effective opposition leader in living memory.
    People respect his courageous and well justified attack on the Murdoch press.
    He has threatened the City by saying that the banks will be regulated and broken up. He launched an attack on predatory capitalism and land rent seeking.
    He wants to renationalise health.
    He is a good man trying to work for the people.
    I believe, that even though he has gone quiet a liitle, and that Ed Balls has wrecked all this by promising more austerity, and since they have gone down in the polls, some MPs blame Miliband, when they should blame Balls. The poll slip coincides perfectly with Balls Tory UTurns.

    The media have smelt blood – the right and the City still think he might work for the people and not them. The corporate right wing media have seen an opportunity to stick in the knife, some thing they threatened long ago.

    From a Polly Toynebee article in the Guardian she quotes the Murdoch media after the hacking case:

    “Don’t imagine this act of defiance will be painless or without consequence. Already a senior Miliband aide tells me they received a “very hostile” threat, not veiled at all, from a News International journalist warning: “You have made it personal about Rebekah, so we’ll make it personal about you.”

    Some MPs might be worried about frightening the City, or even their second job.
    You can see from reading the Telegraph today that Blair was a successful incumbent by his loyalty to the city and big corporations having landed £41,000 per month for an oil company, to add to his 2m per year from JP Morgan.

    I feel for Ed Miliband. He is living proof that virtue is its own reward.

    The worst however is yet to be experienced by the poor, the young, the sick, the homeless. The people in this country who need Eds policies.

    Please Labour, support him, and give up neoliberalism. Start making some decent promises. The polls will rise again.

  2. swatantra says:

    Lets see a bit more self responsibility and self help from people instead of handing everything to them on a plate. Lets question this dependency culture that has grown and grown in the last few decades and the dependency culture that will eventually destroy personal initiative and leave people as vegatables and not independent people with will.

  3. Robert says:

    Cannot say these attacks are unexpected, Miliband is open to these types of attacks and so are the Tories it seems none of them have any answers to low pay and poverty.

    To be honest this is only the start and if the TV debates go wrong for any of the two leaders Cameron or Miliband well the public may well not to bother again.

    If Miliband wants to win the next election for god sake tell us what your going to do, not your back room staff not some yank who has no ideas about us in the UK.

    Tell us what you will do, we are sick to the back teeth with spin and right wing politics if Labour is Progress then go for it change the name allow us to decide.

    If you want to end up like Kinnock then sadly your heading the right way and wearing the suns tee shirts was bloody idiotic. Murdock is not for you, your not Blair, but your to close to the New labour ideology.

    Make me think your worth voting for at the moment your not doing it comrade.

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