Does Labour’s leader have to be prime minister designate?

leaderIn less than two years time we will have a new US President. We don’t even know who the candidates are yet. We can speculate but we don’t know.  We also don’t know who will run for French President in 2017 or German Chancellor the same year.

In Britain, Labour has just had a shock election result – beaten by the SNP comprehensively in Scotland, and the Tories in England — or was it a peeling of Labour voters to Green and UKIP?  The first thing Labour is being asked to do is elect a new leader with a single premise: be the Labour Party candidate for Prime Minister in 2020. Continue reading

Cameron gets rattled: where’s the leadership quality he like to boast of?

Cameron RattledCameron is alarmingly showing increasing signs of losing his cool. He does so quite regularly at PMQs when he gets caught out and his face blushes puce. He did so again under fire from Paxman in the recent TV contest between him and Miliband when, unlike at PMQs, he didn’t have the privilege of the last word and had to face repeated questions drilling down on controversial issues. And now, after a poor start to the Tory election campaign, he’s at it again, tossing out wild rhetoric unjustified by any evidence. He accused Labour of “over £3,000 in higher taxes for every working family to pay for more welfare and out of control spending; debt will rise and jobs will be lost as a result”. It’s worth unpacking this because every one of these allegations he bandied about is wrong. Continue reading

What #WebackEd means

Tens of thousands of people pouring out onto that there Twitter showing support for Ed Miliband? What has the world come to? Stranger things have happened, just not that often.

And so it came to pass that for the best part of 24 hours, #webackEd trended on Twitter. It still is at the time of writing. Starting before last night’s round of hyped-up difficulties by @CharlieWoof81 and @jon_swindon, as hashtags go it can be described as an unqualified success. It even managed to resist blandishments and hijackings by trolls and the like. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Labour needs a bold alternative to austerity. Not Alan Johnson. Not any new leader

Ed MilibandLabour MPs are their own worst enemies. Many of them are panicked about losing their seats, and are sufficiently stupid and disloyal to blame Ed Miliband and brief the press accordingly. Deputy chief whip, Alan Campbell, rather than feeding reports of discontent to his leader, is whipping it up.

And yet, if Labour MPs keep their cool, there will be no Labour melt down in England or Wales in 2015. UKIP may take a seat or two from us, and prevent us winning a few marginals. But we shall still win others from the Tories and Lib Dems, whose problems are worse than ours. And no short-coming of Ed Miliband is responsible for the rise of UKIP.

Scotland is a different story. Labour could face meltdown there in 2015 and 2016. And it will be worse if Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale win the current leadership contests. But that too has nothing to do with Ed Miliband, though a second leadership contest in the UK party would make matters even worse. Continue reading