The last thread seems to have very little discussion about polls and lots of partisan argument, so I thought it time for an open thread. Normal comment policy is suspending for just this thread, so feel knock yourselves out. Meanwhile, can we try and keep other threads on topic and free from party political bickering.

27 Responses to “Open thread on the Labour conference”

  1. well I think Labour is doing rather well this week – even the Sun thing is not unexpected and the timing just comes across as vindictive. We have seen Labour people with fire in their bellies for a change and I think that will help them

  2. Things may seem better than expected for Labour right now, but of course if you put a whole lot of like-minded people in a room (or conference hall) we all know that they tend to convince themselves that things are much better than they are regardless of the facts.

  3. I agree with the above. And, more than that, the party could have completely imploded at the conference. It could have been looking so much worse for Labour by today. It certainly looks like they’ve headed off the Liberal Democrat threat for the moment. (I object strongly by the way to the trolling comment by another poster on the other thread that nobody interested in politics would support the Lib Dems). Even so, not looking forward to all the smug Tory faces next week and presumably for the next several years…

  4. Sorry – I meant that I agreed with Paul.

  5. Maybe I’m just being too cynical but I have a sneaking suspicion that a new Labour narrative is being cunningly concocted lately – one I’d attribute to Mandelson, who has for a while been trying to re-version this 12 year old incumbent government as “insurgents” and “underdogs”.

    I think the new narrative is very much about positioning Brown and the Labour govt as hard-done-by underdogs. First we get the furore about Andrew Marr asking Brown if he’s on medication for stress. Then we get the whole “The Sun is trying to bully us!” shebang. It looks like the start of a pattern, presumably intended to lure back disaffected Labour supporters (because there’s nothing like feeling attacked to bring people back into line and rekindle fading loyalties), and to produce some sympathy among floating voters (of the “oh well, Brown’s not that bad, no need to be quite so cruel to him” variety.

    I don’t think pitching to sympathy is likely to win an election but it may succeed in pulling enough wandering Labour voters back into the fold to make defeat in the GE less crushing.

    (a tasty apple for anyone who adds up how many metaphors I mixed and mangled above. Winner must collect apple himself. Please note that it will be a Cox’s Pippin type apple, not an Apple Mac).

  6. All threads on here are like that from my view, Brown is the bad guy atm, so people bash him, everything he says is a lie, he’s ruined everything, it’s good he’s going or the UK would sink into the sea, blah blah blah. Be surprised if an open thread could be much more partisan than many comments already are. I seem to recall a comment along the lines of ‘only the insane or the stupid would support labour’. I suppose you could always up the ante by saying you’d have to be insane AND stupid. And probably fat too. All those pies.

    I’m not so good at partisan I don’t think, Brown isn’t going to ruin the country just because he’s unpopular, Cameron isn’t going to save it, and in 92 Major didn’t lead the nation into ‘The 80s 2: Revenge of The Iron Lady’ either.

    When the Tories get in they’re not going to start stabbing babies, if somehow (meteorite strike?) Labour hang on the UK isn’t going to go bankrupt either.
    However, it is quite likely that a hung parliament will result in LibDems pottering around trying to be nice and ‘proactive’ and not really doing anything big, just working eagerly on very boring moderate stuff with nothing controversial or unpopular or interesting.

    I’m not sure the cons have the balls to reverse much of the misguided antiterrorism legislation or nanny state fiddling, so it seems to me the choice is between taxes remaining much the same and bug public sector cuts, or some public sector cuts and tax rises. Neither case is a disaster scenario, neither party is evil, neither result will be some kind of disaster. I to think I usually try to combat apathy…..

  7. *Big

    And also, it won’t be disastrous no matter which of the three feasable results come about at the GE it won’t be a disaster.

    Sleep more now….

  8. I think it was all over long,long ago for Labour ,in fact it was the day they said “as its now a treaty we will not be having a referendum”.Whatever excuses they came out with it was a lie,period

  9. By and large it sums up the governments place in the public eye when the Labour party not imploding at it’s own conference is seen as a success.

    Unfortunately for labour the way that the conference has focused on Labours core support seems more designed to head off another attempted coup than to win an election.

    It went down well with those willing to listen, but there are just not enough of them left…..


  10. As far as I’m concerned, Labour were beginning to sound slightly credible until Harriet Harman opened her mouth this afternoon. It makes wonder how people like that get so near to running a country.

    Imagine being angry with the Sun or anyone else who doesn’t agree with you anymore without stopping to wonder why. That is the height of arrogance, and it says why Labour support is at 24%.

  11. Conference time is the opportunity for a party to make its case into a big microphone without the discomfort of anyone being able to reply; all that is needed is to sound as if you mean what you say and that will be enough (although it always comes across rather like Soviet-era mind control to cynical old me). Even Jack Straw sounded vaguely convincing yesterday, and the hall was barely a third full at the time.

    Polls around conference season mean nothing until it’s all over and the politicians have to answer journalists’ questions again, and … oh dear me, walk out on the interviewer. Not particularly sharp, Mr Brown.

    I think Mandelson’s policy is right: act as if you are the Opposition already, so that when the election finally arrives it will feel like ‘change’ to think nicely of you.

  12. (I object strongly by the way to the trolling comment by another poster on the other thread that nobody interested in politics would support the Lib Dems).

    Sorry about that! Was just up to my usual Lib Dem baiting… My annoyance with the Lib Dems is that Tories & Lab always get attacked for having “flexible ideology” whereas this is almost the basis of the yellow party. Vacuous nonsense disguised as common sense.

    Anyway relating this to the Lab conference. I think although labour hasn’t done anywhere near enough to win an election (where they ever?), I would imagine that this nonsense about the Lib Dems becoming “the main party of the progressive left” or teh second biggest force in British politics can go away now. They will always remain on the fringes, because that’s where they deserve to be.

    (Although i do admire their communications budget – seems like i get a Lib Dem leaflet once a week!)

  13. Thanks for a highly informative website.
    It is interesting to evaluate the labour conference at this time, but we cannot predict any lasting impact outside the context of the forthcoming conservative conference.
    A weak tory conference could see labour move forwards into hung parliament territory, based on their own show of relative discipline and unity.
    But a strong tory conference could sweep away any progress labour have made this week.
    I expect the polls to swing towards the conservatives through the winter and into the election campaign.
    Labour can defend their position in set piece situations such as their own conference, or in weak interviews such as that on the Today programme this morning.
    But in a contest they offer too many easy targets:
    No more boom and bust!
    I saved the world!
    The 10p tax fiasco
    Not to mention the deficit.
    The public will not grow to love GB any more over the coming months.
    As for the conference, the take home message for me was:
    ‘I may have caused more damage to Britain’s finances than Hitler, but I have a nice wife.’

  14. Labour’s dismissal of the Sun’s decision to switch support to the Tories rings a bit hollow in my view since they were so flattered in the last 3 elections to have the paper’s support.

  15. My feelings on the Labour conference are that the policies that have been proposed will only appease the really hard care Labour voters, My questions are this,

    1. How are Labour going to fund all this from in a time when they themselfs have said that they will need to cut spending?

    2. In Gordon Brown’s speech he accoused the Tories of always being wrong which means does that mean that Labour now think that they have a god given right to power?

    3. How can we have a referendum on weither to have the AV vote system when nobody outside of London understands it. (My my eyes the AV system is stupid idea becuase nobody will who they will have voted for and also how will be counted becuase in London to count the votes they have to use special counting machines!)

  16. This thread is a good idea, Anthony. But I have just posted again to the “First Reactions to Brown’s Speech” thread, because I am directly picking up on Dr. David Hill’s post on that “First Reactions” thread.

    Dr. Hill is posting from the World Innovation Foundation about representations made to Labour ten years ago, which if accepted would at least largely have avoided their current mess. This is a very important post, from somebody far more expert than me. I would strongly urge people to read it.

  17. For me the most important policy announcement was guaranteed care for older people. We are an aging society, and there are more over 60s than under 18s. It is not a question of ‘how can we afford it’ – it is matter of social, economic and moral priorities – we have to afford it for all our sakes.

    As for the debt issue, under John Major Public Sector Debt peaked at 57.9% of UK GDP in 1996 1996 ( GDP = 1768.905 Net Debt = 44.58). Yet I never here any Tories moaning about John Major’s record debt, which Gordon Brown as Chancellor reduced to 37% of GDP.

    I have no doubt that Labour will win next year, and has teh competance to pay off the national debt, especially with the profits the tax payer will make from selling off the nationalised banks

  18. I applaud Eric’s optimism, but I don’t necessarily agree with him…
    Labour did well, eventually, and Brown did well personally. He opened up some reasonable lines of attack, but for me, as ever, Labour has failed to go truly bold. I was waiting for something like a tranfer of the billions spent on higher rate pension tax relief into a huge increase in the state pension for all. Tax neutral, and an immediate boost for the economy now, along with the virtual elimination of pensioner poverty in a single stroke. Similarly the idea of a flat rate NI contribution from employee and employer, paid across all income. Again, tax neutral, but in effect a tax cut to middle/low earners and those who employ them, so meeting the current need for action on employment. Linked to the things he did mention we would then have a true battleground laid out before us.

    Even now they’ve lost the Sun, Labour can’t bring themselves to be truly bold. Their history in many ways is quite staggering – a party built from nothing but passion that has faced a privileged, wealthy, well connected opponent, where in the past even the state security organisations have been recruited to keep them out, yet overcoming this to deliver some of the greatest global social improvements of the twentieth century. Yet now they are like all the others – timid, managerial and frightened of their own core beliefs. Whether or not you agree with it, politics needs ideology. We haven’t got it in any of the main parties, and we will all be the worse for that.

  19. @Alec
    “to deliver some of the greatest global social improvements of the twentieth century. ”

    Well, as this is an open thread….

    Labour Goverment 1929 – result Great Depression
    Labour Government 1945 – result austerity, rationing worse than during the war. And before you claim credit for the Welfare State, it was based on the Beveridge Report. Beveridge was a Liberal, and wrote the report when he was serving under Churchill in 1942.
    Labour Government 1964-1970 – result – Devaluation
    Labour goverment 1974-1979 -result IMF, Winter of Discontant
    Labour Governent 1997 – Country bankrupt, 2 illegal wars, etc etc

  20. @Pete B – very droll. Trying to claim the Great Depression was caused by a Labour government is a bit numbskull. In fact, the UK drop in GDP during the depression was pretty good in international terms, but I wouldn’t be so daft as to try to claim that for Labour. Similarly the linkage of post war austerity to Labour – very weird.

    You’re right re the Beveridge Report, but don’t forget, it’s not who write’s reports, it’s who accepts them and puts them into practice. I’m assuming that you would prefer to live in a country without an NHS, or sex equality, with legal discrimination aginst ethnic minorities and gays, without the Open University, or access to any higher education for 96% of the population, without Open Access or National Parks, or without some pretty basic employee protection rights. I could go on, but they have managed quite a few good things, along with the bad.

  21. Seriously logic should point out that arguing from a past has absolutely no relevance to arguing about a future propensity; learn some logic. A may cause B. Alternatively A (problematic economic times) may reflect a willingness to put in B (Labour).

    Let’s then consider moving it from the myopic UK only perspective–1997 was right-wing mad Bush in the USA (as in not Labour). They got the depression / recession as well. So, they are not labour, logically therefore the argument that labour causes worldwide depression is wrong.

    Pete B learn to argue!

    ps Like conservatives arguing the 2 illegal wars. I agree

  22. @Alec, are you suggesting those things would not have come about without a Labour government?!
    If we’d had the Whig’s since Lloyd-George and no Labour, much of that would have happened even sooner I’ll warrant… whether all of them are good is a moot point. I look forward to a time when the irrational groupthink of moral relativist mock-liberal tripe is able to be challenged and exposed, and the damage repaired.

    “The last thread seems to have very little discussion about polls and lots of partisan argument,”

    Which one was that? They’re all full of it to some extent!

    I don’t think many people care what Labour says and does any more, we’re just waiting for them to leave.

    They’ve got no more than about 10% of the electorate who actually genuinely support them, and on recent polling not even half of them seem to think they’ve got a chance of even retaining triple figures of MPs next year.

    Their conference was half empty, packed with the remaining zealots of their dwindling membership and activist base; they’ve hardly got any councillors left, the fact they’re still in power is simply an electoral anomaly… like a paralytic driver slumped over the wheel of speeding bus.

    Tory support died a death in ’97, and ain’t comin’ back in a hurry… 40% of what? 40%! – less than a quarter of the electorate. Half of that is just people who want rid of Labour and have enough assets at stake to want to get off their posteriors and do something about it.

    The Lib Dems are interesting, but only in that they stand for absolutely nothing of interest, and are the epitome of a Eurovisionary Social Democratic zero sum game with their doppelgangers in New Labour.
    What they have over them is a bigger base of councillors and young activists.

    We’ve got some well-meaning and genuinely passionate yet flabbergastingly incompetent and inarticulate minor parties in the Greens, NP, UKIP, ED, and other crypt o nation alists… but frankly they seem more electable and competent that the motley crews of supposed major parties.

    In short, we’re absolutely stuffed… and Brown’s list was like a ode to his failure, that prompted visions of Colonel Kurtz in Heart of Darkness.

    I’m beginning to think we’d be better off returning to being an absolute monarchy.

    …Tax Credits were a good idea though… I’ll give ’em that. Shame they left so much of the non-conditional administration-heavy welfare architecture in place, it’ll bankrupt us – whoops, it already has… and they want more?! Don’t they realise the cupboards are bare?!
    They’ve had 13 years, and more money to throw around than any government for decades, and like a teenage lotto winner, they’ve pished it all away; and I know I’m not alone in wishing their permanent demise.

  23. @Jack,

    Similarly, arguing that the past *never* has a relevance to [sic] “arguing about a future propensity” is also a causational logical fallacy; as is, inserting “myopic” (poisoning the well) before UK-only perspective.

    “every schoolboy knows that” ; P

    Try working on your syntax before venturing into the murky quagmire of logic; and watch out for your argumentum ad ignorantiams.

  24. @Alec
    I’ll give you the Open University. The rest of it is pretty dubious.

    “the fact they’re still in power is simply an electoral anomaly… like a paralytic driver slumped over the wheel of speeding bus.”

    I love it! Brilliant image!

    “…Tax Credits were a good idea though”

    It would have been better to raise the tax threshold to the level of the minimum wage. Far less bureaucracy for essentially the same result.

  25. @Pete B

    I like Tax Credits… whilst I agree the system leaves a lot to be desired (the excessive automated paperwork; the errors pecked into the keyboard by the battery hens they employ; the way they don’t allow married couples to share their 16 hours minimum; the garbled complex info; the… oh I’ll shut up for once.
    The principle that you only get something for doing something is precisely what is needed as a replacement for the JSA and Income Support and some other benefits.

    It’s more practical to have a mix of tax credits and work when you’ve got small children, because otherwise, you wade into the childcare system, with it’s arbitrary limits on funding of something like 80%, and having to work a *lot* of hours (i.e. sign out of the working time directive).
    The other issue is that if your objective is to get as many people in work ASAP, as opposed to getting as many people in full-time work ASAP, you are going to make a lot more progress with the former, as it enables small local employers to offer part time work, and tax credits recipients can build up a “portfolio” of part-time “piecemeal” work.
    There are social cohesion (feral kids on the street) issues; and low skill employability issues involved… ultimately I think even as a right-wingish type, you want as many people in some kind of work to some extent as possible, as it keeps them from being subsumed into the system of being a perpetual and ungrateful client of the state; and it’s practical – in poor urban areas, there are often a lot of part-time low skilled jobs available, but usually not enough to make it viable… tax credits makes it viable, and you’ve planted the seed of work… the last thing you want is to fill those jobs with immigrants and simply give up on the indigenous people letting them fall into the benefits underclass, never to escape.

    But yeah, the bureaucracy is excessive in this country… I think it stems from a lefty academic idea of “evidence” (you know, school league tables, ASBOs etc..), whereby you rely on stats and paper to measure your progress as a substitute for the analogue approach of eyes and ears and face to face hands on stuff.
    You need autonomous humINT on the ground – coppers and some kind of benefits warden to manage stuff, and replace a lot of the data entry call centre crepe.

  26. As this is an Open thread….

    I actually think that we’d be a lot better off if every law passed and Treaty signed since about 1960 was repealed.

    We wouldn’t be in Europe, there’d still be the death penalty, homosexuality in public would still be illegal, etc etc.

  27. …and we’d still have Hong Kong; Brunei; Singapore; Malaya, Sarawak & Sabah; sovereignty over Canada… think of all the oil revenue!
    We could have possibly averted some of the horrors in Africa – Mugabe, Sierra Leone, Idi Amin, Somalia etc… and developed the place into an economic powerhouse to the benefit of all.
    Malta, bits of the caribbean and south pacific might have enjoyed less tumult as well… Grenada, Fiji, Bougainville…
    Wouldn’t have needed all the horrors that mass-immigration brings.