One of the first challenges for Labour’s new leader will be to identify why the party lost and what they need to do to make themselves electable once more. This is not necessarily an easy task (it took the Conservative party a decade!), they must convince their own party members of any changes and during long years of governing there is a risk of a disconnect building up between the way parties see themselves, and the way the public see them.

As part of our polling on the Labour leadership last week we also asked Labour party members which criticisms of the Labour government they themselves agreed with, and which they thought were the main reasons the Labour party had lost.

A majority of Labour party members agreed with three criticisms of the party – the large majority (71%) thought Labour had been too subservient to the USA over Iraq and Afghanistan, 64% that it became out of touch with ordinary voters and 62% of party members think that Labour did not do enough for working-class supporters. On other criticisms 47% think that Labour didn’t pay enough attention to the trade unions, 41% thought the recession had destroyed Labour’s economic reputation and 33% thought Labour had not been tough enough on immigration. Few (28%) Labour members thought that Gordon Brown had been a poor Prime Minister, and hardly any agreed that Labour had taxed too much (9%) or wasted too much of the money spent on public services (12%).

Asked which three of four of the reasons contributed most to Labour’s defeat, the answers were slightly different. While 71% had thought Labour was too subservient to the USA, only 43% thought it was a major cause of the defeat, rather the economy was seen as a main cause (47%), along with Labour becoming out of touch with ordinary voters (47%) or doing enough for natural working class supporters (44%). Gordon Brown’s own performance was seen as a major factor by only 33% of Labour members, with only 25% thinking that immigration was part of the problem. Hardly any party members (5%) thought money spent on public services being wasted was a factor.

Compare this with the opinions of the general public. There immigration (52%), the recession (43%) and Gordon Brown (43%) are seen as the main reasons Labour lost the general election. Being out of touch (39%) and failing to help working class supporters (29%) were seen as less important factors. Wasteful public spending was only seen as an important factor by a minority (29%) but nevertheless, this was far more important than Labour members perceived it.

With Labour electing a new leader, the amount that Gordon Brown contributed to Labour’s defeat is now largely academic. On the other two main reasons cited by the public, while most Labour members have not themselves lost confidence in the party over the economy, they do recognise that it was a problem with the wider public. In contrast, immigration was seen as a major factor in Labour’s defeat by 52% of the public, but only 25% of Labour members, a major disconnect.

However, we shouldn’t go away from this polling thinking that it says a harsher immigration policy is the necessarily the answer. Firstly, people are not always good judges of what drives public opinion or sometimes even their own decisions, so just because immigration was seen as a main driver of Labour’s defeat, it doesn’t mean it necessarily was. Secondly, it may not make good strategic sense for Labour to change their stance on immigration anyway – while it could please their traditional working class supporters, the Labour party is a broad church and also contains middle-class intelligentsia who would be repelled by an anti-immigration policy.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the next election could be almost five years away. If the current government runs its course, it will have changed the political landscape that the next election is fought upon. Part of the battle ahead for the Labour party be over how the public remembers the Labour government just gone. In the same way that Labour in 1997 managed to embed the Major government in the public mind as one of “boom and bust” that starved public services of investment, the Conservatives will be eager to paint the former Labour government as profligate spenders who wasted money and drove the country into unmanageable debt. While neither Labour members nor the general public saw spending as a major cause of Labour’s defeat, the disconnect between the general public, 59% of whom think most of the extra money Labour spent on services was wasted, and Labour members, only 12% of whom agree, may yet be the most important as Labour try to adapt to the new political landscape.

This is cross-posted from the YouGov website here, Will Straw’s take on the polling at Left Foot Forward can be read here.

180 Responses to “Views on why Labour lost”

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  1. Alec

    “For me, it was being in a car of birdwatchers during the miners strike on an overnight twitch to Cornwall”

    Which bird/year Alec?

  2. EOIN

    “Turkey entry to the EU would be a disaster…. ”

    I agree.
    I think DC knows it won’t happen.

  3. @ Pete B

    “That might be true, but the so-called centre ground was firmly occupied by the SDP/Libs/Salads. Labour for most of the time was very left wing, and Mrs Thatcher is normally considered right wing. So the idea that going for the centre is correct strategy is not always true. I still say that leadership is more important if we are considering electoral success. If the desired outcome is social cohesion, then perhaps aiming for the centre is the right strategy.”

    And I would still say that it’s much easier to win elections (your criterion of success) when you are faced with two opposition parties which are polling at over 20% and under 35%, wherever they are on the political scale

  4. @Roger Mexico

    “I think your comparison of Cameron and Thatcher is unfair – to Thatcher.”

    You may well be right on this, but this is not the general perception right now. The British electorate (or enough of them) seem to be in self-flagellation mode at present but hopefully when the pain becomes a little more real it won’t be seen as such a pleasure


    “The British electorate (or enough of them) seem to be in self-flagellation mode at present but hopefully when the pain becomes a little more real it won’t be seen as such a pleasure”

    What a strange way of looking at it.
    You appear to think that none of this is neccessary at all, and the public have been cajoled into a mass histeria of self harm, from which they will awake

    The public understand that the deficit has to be cut, and that involves expenditure cuts as well as tax rises.
    The principles appear to be non-controversial.

    The public know this will mean pain. What they will look for is fairness though.

    And for the army of people who lost private sector jobs , “fairness” might just include a sharing of the burden with public sector workers.

  6. Judging by certain contributors here, the “political centre ” is less a fixed point in political space, than a convenient description for any position they choose to hold.

    One at least, would need a telescope to see the “centre ground ” which he bizarrely imagines himself standing on.

    I think these phrases are meaningless to the average voter, for whom the the effect of policy outcomes on their lives, is the sole reference point.
    You can have a moral compass as big as Big Ben, but if they don’t like what you did to/for them, it is irrelevant.

  7. @ COLIN


    Have you told AW?

    I am nobody’s sock puppet.

  8. Last Nights YouGov:
    C44 L36 L13

    Tory Majority of 28 ! on electoral calculus

  9. @colin – I’m no great twitcher, but a group of us a had some time off in late March 1984 and someone had heard a report about a black wheatear that none of us had ever seen (still haven’t). We took it as an excuse to go down to Cornwall anyway as it wasn’t a bad time of year to do some sea watching. Bit unfair to describe it as a ‘twitch’ I suppose.

    We set off overnight thinking the motorways would be quiet only to get past Sheffield on a night when something was kicking off at Ollerton I think. The slip roads and service areas had police vetting cars going onto the motorway threatening arrest for breach of the peace if people they didn’t like refused to turn back.

  10. @Colin – “You appear to think that none of this is neccessary at all, and the public have been cajoled into a mass histeria of self harm…”

    Funnily enough, that’s not a bad description of the situation. Historically the debt levels are miles below the worst we’ve had and there is absolutely no reason on earth, other than right wing free market philosophy, why we need to eliminate the structural deficit within 4 years.

    There are alternative/compimentary routes to very deep spending cuts but what has happened is that everyone is believing what the financial markets say, at a time when we’ve seen just how badly wrong financial markets are at calling the future. It really is a form of mass hysteria, led by people who should know better.

  11. “This need not automatically be a problem but there is little indication he (DM) understands ordinary peoples attitudes to immigration.”

    Where do you get this stuff from Eoin? It’s just not true.

  12. @Valerie
    I agree re police & miners strike. I lived in Nottingham at the time and tried to drive to Mansfield to visit relatives. I had my wife and two children on board. Police turned us back. Presumably my 7 and 9 year old children posed a threat to public order? ;)

  13. @Sue M

    Where do you get this stuff from Eoin? It’s just not true

    It has occurred to me that- since his return- Eoin has most definitely lost his mojo and many issues……

  14. Alec,
    “Historically the debt levels are miles below the worst we’ve had ”

    Look here. Make sure the first box says £billion 2005, to give a true comparison. In real terms, it’s at least as bad as after WWII

    h t t p://

  15. Cozmo and Valerie
    I too lived in Notts (near Calverton and Gedling Colliery) in the 70s. It’s an odd thing, but the lack of sympathy from Notts ‘thick seam’ miners for the ‘colleagues’ elsewhere was palpable even then.

    It should be remembered that, although many were Notts born and bred, many had moved from previously worked-out or endangered mines and so the mining estates were full of NE, NW etc accents. Perhaps that accounted for the split, rather than the unintentionally comical Scargill. The ‘new NUM’ leader even recorded a satirical song about him. I think it was ‘You’ve got to go’.

    It’s the old story – ‘divide and rule’.

    Sue M and Eoin

    DM, as an ex East End councillor will be all too aware of the attitude of people there to immigration, I am sure.

    I see we LD’s may rejoice at a steady 13%..

  16. Statto Alert:

    First full month in charge for Coalition: Industrial output fell 0.5% in June 2010 month on month OUCH


    DM, as an ex East End councillor will be all too aware of the attitude of people there to immigration, I am sure.

    I agree: David M will be attuned to these issues when Labour leader and won’t let any coalition slip-ups go by without being them exposed and challenged.

  17. @Howard
    “I too lived in Notts (near Calverton and Gedling Colliery) in the 70s. It’s an odd thing, but the lack of sympathy from Notts ‘thick seam’ miners for the ‘colleagues’ elsewhere was palpable even then.”
    Agreed. I knew many miners from both striking and -non-striking camps. Divided and conquered. In due course they were all out of a job. Where I live now I know of village pubs which are affected by the division. Some are ‘strikers’ pubs and some are frequented by ‘non-striking’ families. Never the twain shall meet.

    I have noticed that over the years LD support has grown steadily in some former mining areas.

  18. Re Centre ground : I have a feeling the more radical one side is, the more polarised politics becomes.

    The flim-flam about this Con party moving to the centre will not be the perception. The cuts, the “privatisation” of schools, the shake up of the welfare state – does anyone honestly think ordinary voters are sitting in their homes analysing these things to the point where they can say

    “Ah, yes, but the liberal, one-nation Conservatism of the present coalition is much more progressive than previous administrations”

    No, the headlines will be full of jobs lost (remember jobwatch???) closed wards, sacked police officers, homeless underclass and pensioners in poverty because THAT’S WHAT THE MEDIA DO. However noble the aims and however well intentioned, they will tell their own story as they always do and already are doing.

    Ergo (never used that word in my life before) the more right wing the coalition is SEEN to be, the more left wing Labour will need to be.

    This may not be a decade about the centre ground at all, but about a fierce battle over the future identity of our country. At times like that, the centre ground becomes irrelevant and politics becomes much more important than usual.

  19. Howard – “Judging by the foregoing, whereas the Labour members judge correctly why the GE was lost (allowing for the euphemism over working class xenophobism) they certainly are confused about how the next one should be won.
    They don’t need to worry. The Government is quite capable of solving that one for them.”

    Genius post, pure gold.

  20. @Sue M

    The flim-flam about this Con party moving to the centre will not be the perception. The cuts, the “privatisation” of schools, the shake up of the welfare state – does anyone honestly think ordinary voters are sitting in their homes analysing these things to the point where they can say

    I could not agree more- some of the guff spoken on here about what is centrist beggars belief…until you read the posters moniker. One in particular seems to believe that the ‘centre ground’ is a place that no philosophical tract nor university textbook would recognise as such in a million years. But – no matter- he said it so it must be true ;-)


    They don’t need to worry. The Government is quite capable of solving that one for them.”

    Yes it certainly appears that this is the direction of travel we are on: a flawed policy agenda that proponents insist (in that ‘energetic’ manner of theirs…) is the only possible way forward.

    It reminds me of- Nero; fiddling; Rome; burning. :-)

    To wit- Bloomberg saying June UK Output figures ( -0.5% month on month ) a “shock for the City”….

  21. Howard

    Where was David Miliband an East End councillor? Can’t find any info with superficial google.


  22. Sue,

    Your point about consensus politics is a good one…. we do seem to have entered something of an era of consensus politics and that aint a bad thing…. On health, crime, Europe, Iran, afghanistan and more the parties broadly agree. If one party pulls left or right it usually has the effect of pulling the other that way so that too is also correct…


    Regarding immigration – Milliband is one of Europe’s chief exponents of Turkish entrance to the EU. I like to talk policy rather than the vacuous waffle i accept he has mastered… I am intrigued, what is you two guys position of Turkish entrance to the EU?

    Lets look at pension reform, Foundation hospitals, PFI? On policy terms Miliband spews acronyms I am sure the ordinary voter does not understand.

    He is a likeable charming guy who could appeal to some voters in that land Rob talks about but why would he mobilise the Scottish or NE vote for example?

    His brother Ed is a small improvement but only in the sense that he is not his brother and being 5 years younger he has time to fix it…. He is also a little more modest and a little less vacuous.

    For a luagh you should read DM’s blog as to why he wants to be Labour leader. I did not know but he apparently loves the fish and chips in South Shields…. I wonder if he read that line before he posted it…. ? What does he make of South Shield’s bubble and squeak or pork scratchings? What a naff thing to post. another one of his lines I found amusing “We split our time between London and South Shields” to be read as (fill your own blanks).

  23. Colin – “You appear to think that none of this is neccessary at all, and the public have been cajoled into a mass histeria of self harm, from which they will awake”

    Replace the word none with most and you pretty much hit the nail on the head :)

  24. Sue, Good post about the centre ground business. I think it’s pretty much what I was trying to say (so obviously it MUST be sensible). I think Eoin misunderstood it though. I think you were saying that if, for instance, the Tories move to the right, Labour will move left.

  25. @Eoin

    His brother Ed is a small improvement …He is also a little more modest and a little less vacuous.

    I suggest you turn on QUCKLY the staggers Labour hustings on BBC Parliament right now.

    You have missed the first hour but there is still enough in there to show you how utterly misguided these comments are about ‘planet ed milliband’. But that of course depends intrinsically on how open minded you are: your views- as one example- about the eastern Mediterranean give rise to doubts on that…

  26. Staggers debate on BBC parliament

    – currently on the issue of the Ieaq war (Ed to claim now had he been an MP in 2003 he would have joined with D abbott….)

  27. @ Colin

    “You appear to think that none of this is neccessary at all, and the public have been cajoled into a mass histeria of self harm, from which they will awake”

    I am happy to rest on Alec and Sue Marsh’s replies to this. It’s the impact the scale and speed will have that the public are yet to appreciate

  28. Rob,

    24 hours before the coalition negotiation talks finished, I had a suspicion about the likes of you. A coronation not a leadership debate was preferred.

    Milliband had his campaign headquarters readied, his campaign litreature prepared. Any utterance to debate policy has always been frowned upon.

    If DM is the best Labour has to offer tell me what it is that he has said on policy that attracts you so?

    Balls for example has said no to turkish entrance, proposed a graduate tax and said that Labour’s levels of immigration was wrong. He has said the top rate of tax must stay for instance…. He has also apoligised for Iraq to a fuller extent than DM.

    I could compile a similarly impressive list for Andy Burnham.

    Do me the kind favour of scribing one for DM?

  29. Why Labour lost the last election.

    Because the electorate got fed up with being bribed by their own devalued money.



  30. “Why would Miliband D mobilise the NE vote”??? With a constituency in south Shields???

    You’r fury with DM over his perceived “disloyalty” to GB colours everything you post about him. I remember the quotes you so selectively chose to misquote from the Keir Hardy speech.

    You see him as a Blairite proponent of PFIs, empty of principle or policy.

    A night or two ago I put together all the actual policy commitments or aims he has stated for you after you said it was all vacuous, but then realised I couldn’t really post it here, as it wasn’t a link, and there was way too much text.

    I have an interesting exercise for you. You’re an exceptionally clever guy, your posts are intelligent to the point of brilliance. Read the Keir Hardy speech as though you don’t know who wrote it. I know it will be hard and the temptation is to jump on every word to criticise, but seriously, read it two, three times. I have a sneaking suspicion you might fall off your chair! Most people WON’T understand what he’s really saying – the speech was meant to be academic and DM is hardly dumbed down at the best of times. The media haven’t unravelled him, but I know you could.

  31. sue,

    You have yourself a deal.

  32. A simple point of logic if I may.

    Immigration annoyed grassroots Labour.
    The only major addition to our immigration levels in the medium term is Turkey
    Thus, if one is serious about making ammends for previous ‘flockings’ then Turkey is ideal ground on which to do so.

    A very simple point of logic I contend.


    Question: Which of the Labour candidates is ready to make ammends on this?

  33. Pete B – That’s exactly what I was saying. Far from consensus, I was arguing that radical government would lead to polarisation of the parties.

    Above post should have been to Eoin of course.

    Eoin – Whenever DM has come up and we’ve tried to debate it here, you end up claiming people don’t want a debate, that they are stifling left wing views. That’s nonsense. We can support who we like just as you can but no-one is silencing anyone and you do yourself a discredit by always running for that answer.

  34. @Eoin

    24 hours before the coalition negotiation talks finished, I had a suspicion about the likes of you

    ;-) Every time you try to restart this debate I will simply re-paste in my previous responses (unless the circumstances have changed- which they have not currently since the last time you went off on this line of rhetoric).

    But I will say at the beginning that people like you (sic) want to elect someone who appeals to the labour movement first and foremost (as distinct from the wider centre and centre-left) rather than electing as leader someone who has wider appeal and can win an election. I guess people like you (sic) are not concerned with winning an election….it is all so depressingly like the kind of stuff I have heard before.

    If this were 1994 you would have been one of those arguing against the new constitution and who would have voted for Prescott…no actually it would have been Beckett as a man of self professed (often) feminist principle.

    1) August 3rd, 2010 at 7:14 am

    @Eoin/ Amber/ Sue

    On ‘not decided who I am voting for’ etc from earlier up the thread.

    I am giving P1 to Dave M and P2 to Ed B.

    I’d never really been a fan of Ed B until the last couple of months- whereby (in Das Army parlance) he has “put it up” the Tories very effectively since the GE and they “have no liked it”. Very effective performer- too combative for the actual leadership but very good to have on the front bench.

    If there was a P3 it would be for Andy B. If there was a P4 and P5 I would not use them- Abbott is from a different political era and “Planet Ed Milliband” is from a different galaxy (and also- it has transpired- a bit of a opportunist with a penchant for reinventing his political past): both would be a disaster.

    Which is why the Tories always say things like ‘Diane Abbott is is very impressive though of course cannot win’ and never miss an opportunity to big up Ed-the-geek.

    Either of those two would be a present from the Gods ;-(

    2) August 3rd, 2010 at 11:06 am

    @Eoin No.1 Failing of Nuu Labour is set to be repeated if Miliband (either or) is re-elected….The 2012 US election and the removal of Sarkozy in France (and quite likely Burlusconi in Italy) will mean that personality politics really will have been a noughties phenomenon

    I just could not disagree more. DM is about hard realities and moving beyond the failings of both Brown and Blair whilst holding onto the elements which worked. If you ignore the 1980’s candidate then the other three are linked to the Brown and Blair era much more so than DM. The next phase for Labour is about being ‘post new labour’: it must not and should not be about repeating (grasping onto in fact) the arguments of the Blair-Brown era: whether that be Brown Vs Blair ‘TBGB’ battles or your kind which seems to be is nuu labour (sic) betrayed the labour movement in government and we have to acknowledge that first and foremost in order to move on.

    On the point of failings: the economic problems (that were endogenous i.e. controllable) were not so much of excessive spending but of imprecise and occasionally unnecessary spending (under Brown) and spending linked to all kinds of bureaucratic performance and ‘evidence’ chicanery (under Blair) some of which was also unnecessary. But the economic problems at the end of the 1997-2010 government were exogenous and would have slammed into whoever was in power. Brown did an extremely good job in managing that as the tomes of history over the coming decade will declare. The migration issue is a cross party issue enforced by the ‘needs’ of big business who don’t trust the quality of person produced by the UK’s education system or simply want to import people who they can pay a pittance and who they believe are ‘harder workers’ than the chavs- itself of course a very patriotic perspective. Migration/ immigration and community cohesion will not have ceased to be an issue for ‘angry of Rochdale’ et al in 3-5 years time, the difference being that it will be the coalition that is taking the electoral blame. Blair introduced too much marketisation into certain public services in a blinkered ideological anti social democratic manner- just as the coalition is also doing- and often as a means to fight Brown. Brown was too much of a centralist for a complicated 21st century advanced capitalist economy. But the delivery of public services and the spatial levels at which priorities are formulated did/ does need reform. Miliband ‘gets’ localism in a way which Brown’s back office boy Ed probably does not but says he does because this is a leadership election. Hardly a ringing endorsement. EM is also a hyper-geek to the person on the south Yorkshire tram. There is no getting away from that uncomfortable truism.

    Finally it is not personality politics as you define it, that is at issue here IMHO it is the politics of presentation. I am simply not interested in the former: the latter is unavoidable and crucial. The latter is what got Cameron the Tory party leadership and Clegg a huge post TV debate bounce. The latter is not going away: it is not some fixture of the ‘new labour epoch’ ! It is as fundamental a part of the web 2.0 world as it is/ was the TV era going right back to Nixon V Kennedy. To simply try to dismiss it in the way you do is woeful thinking IMHO.

    Finally, the clincher. EM has a campaign focussed purely with the objective of (as Julian Critchely said (in)famously about Heseltine) ‘caressing the cl*toris of party conference’. DM is looking beyond that- to the outside (real) world. I think the difference between me and you is that you appear to want a leader who appeals to the party; whereas I am seeking a leader who appeals to the country.

  35. Rob,

    I posted a rebuttal of that at the time of which you did not respond.

    If this where 1994, I might have chosen Beckett as it happens.

    I could reply at length but first I will take Sue’s advcie and read Keir Hardy in fulll…

    The marketisation you refer to will continue under Miliband. The ‘migration issue’ is a lose way of defining it.. I see knwo reason that you are ready to admit Labour’s failings in this aspect. I understand your criticism of Ed M, pretty ruthless considering policy wise or career wise he says and has done very little to disagree with.

    The concept that somehow it is wrong for a Labour leader to appeal to Labour voters mystifies me..

    Your strategy is opportunistic and unprincipled. Given that it could be 2020 before we are back in government I wonder what policies pragmatism such as that will have us advocating then….

    For the record, I will vote Andy Burnham as will my partner.

  36. Andy Burnham is an excellent choice Eoin. I still honestly don’t know what to do. AB, DM and EB are neck and neck for me at the moment.

  37. Sue,

    I read the speech in full. It is broken into three categories…

    1. Why Labour lost…

    2. Why Keir is relevant

    3. What DM’s future policies are…..

    In no. 1 he neglects to mention Iraq.. on Immigration he said he is resolutely internationalist… (he wants to help the people of China for example). He also fails to mention spending… This is categorically not a critique of why Labour lost… he concentrates too much of his attack of the likes of Damien McBride for example…
    In no.2 He tells us that Kier was not a statist (I am) and that Kier supported the third way… (I dont). He said that Kier was an ethical socialist… you can also have an ethical conservative.. what is the point in bringing ehtics into it? I think he misunderstands Kier

    in No. 3 i am very worried indeed…

    Read this snippet..

    “I take the Big Society seriously. But it is a piece of doublethink – a small society maintained by voluntarism and charity alone. I want a bigger society, based on reciprocity not just kindness or charity, and I intend to make that a Labour issue. We lost crime as a Labour issue in part because it was not talked about enough, but also because we did not resolve the false choice of being punitive and managerial or ineffective and soft headed. I believe in a bigger society based upon relationships forged in justice, of people holding the market, the state and each other to account as proper partners to society.”

    If David Cameron had said something similar I would applaud him… but not a Labour leader surely?

    sorry Sue, from the bottom of my heart cant buy any of this…

  38. I know I’m intruding into private grief here (well private bickering), but surely the important thing about the Labour leadership, whoever wins, is to move away from the sofa/kitchen/bunker cabinet to a genuinely collective leadership. Whatever else you can say about Cameron, he does delegate; possibly too much in the case of Osbourn.

    Eoin – For the record, I will vote Andy Burnham as will my partner
    I know you meant it as my partner says she will as well but that didn’t sound very good from a male feminist, did it? ;)

  39. Roger,

    Rebecca has posted on here before stating her choice… but yes i take your point! :) :)

    Regarding delegation you are very correct it has to be a vital component. If Miliband adopts it, it will give Cooper, Balls, Ed Mill and others the freedom to continue being excellent thinkers…

  40. @Eoin
    I like DM but I have read the Keir Hardie speech and I don’t buy it either. It may be because I have encountered shedloads of phrases like “working in partnership” and “holding to account” . All too often they are weasel words which promise much and deliver nothing. Glossy-brochure-speak which usually means that ordinary mortals will be as powerless as ever. :(

    Dunno who I will vote for yet but they will have to convince me that they really understand what matters to grassroots folk.

  41. Eoin – I think you read it all wrong, but I suppose if someone asked me to read a Cameron speech, I would find it very hard to put my opinion of him to one side and be objective.

    Jon Cruddas thought it was the “most important speech by a Labour politician for many years”.
    If he DOES become Labour leader, I think a lot of people are in for some very big surprises indeed.

  42. Cozmo,


    I like Sue, think highly of Kier Hardie.

    Given a chance to give a speech on him I might have mentioned his Lanrkshire roots… his mining background.. perhaps the important influence in education and the support of his mother in bettering himself…. Miliband might have asked if this was infleuntial in Hardie becomming one of the early 20 centuries most famous feminists…. he oculd have then linked that with all the work Nuu Labour have done in improving equality and opportunity for women… I think that would have made for a more tasteful speech… Perhaps Hardie’s opposition to WW1 could have served as the basis for a critique of the Iraq war….

    If only…

  43. Burnham is much under-rated.

    I think he is the candidate the Tories secretly fear. He is not tainted by the Brown/Blair divisions or the worst depravities of NuLabour. And where The Milipedes come over as all nerdy and wonkish Burnham comes over as reasonably normal.

    Burnham has much the best chance of establishing credibility with the wider electorate (although he needs to be careful not to overplay the Northern roots card).

    If I were a Labour party member I’d vote for Burnham. But as I am not and I hope that they never get near to power again, I heartily recommend that Sue etc vote for Balls or a Milipede!

  44. “There are none so blind as those who cannot see” We are ALL guilty of it, could be me, could be Eoin in this instance, but the important thing is this:

    Both Eoin and I have consistently said that whoever is chosen democratically to lead our party, we will support them fully.

  45. Sue,

    Agreed 100%. DM would do a decent job… he would still attract the same Labour hard core and he would nab a few votes from yellow and blue.. The elction in 2015 would be close. If life was about winning elections, we would stand a decent chance. I have never said he would be an electoral disaster… If he proved to be a delegator, some good ideas might come out of the party. In addition, he would be a good international statesman.

    My difference with him is almost wholly ideological.

  46. @Eoin

    Am I right in thinking that you never actually vote or am I thinking of someone else?

  47. Valerie,

    You are correct. The options in my constiuency were a liberal sister party and four nationalist parties (two green two orange). I am neither a nationalist nor a Liberal.. For that matter none of my immediate family have ever voted.. that includes 10 people.

    Ed Balls has said if elected Labour NI will contest the assembly elections…… :) Thus my first vote might happen yet… :) Failing Labour’s participation in the local elections I will next time round vote green.

  48. Excellent thread this, I’ve just read my way through it all and can’t really add much that hasn’t already been said.
    Oh alright, go on then.
    re. the centre ground discussion.
    The real problem is the difference between policies we think are correct and the ones that win elections (which may not be the same).
    eg. Immigration is good for the economy. It’s bad for winning elections.
    Someone once said of Eric Cantona (a footballer); “I get the impression if the goal isn’t going to be beautiful, he’d prefer not to score at all.”
    We may have the best, most brilliant policies in the world but they are surely worthless if we don’t win elections so we can put them into practice?
    EOIN, you said; “The concept that somehow it is wrong for a Labour leader to appeal to Labour voters mystifies me….”
    IMO, there is no way Labour, or the Tories for that matter, can win an election just by appealing to their core voters. Is it mathematically possible to win an election (under FPTP) without winning over swing voters in swing marginals? I think not. Therefore we cannot simply appeal to Laour voters.
    That’s what is meant by winning ‘the centre ground’ surely?

  49. @Julian Gilbert

    IMO, there is no way Labour, or the Tories for that matter, can win an election just by appealing to their core voters

    In one phrase you have summed up all that is bankrupt within the ‘return to our socialist roots’ tendency (which masquerades as the ‘anyone but David Miliband’ gang).

    Notwithstanding, of course, the decades old fact that Labour *voters* are to the right of Labour members who are themselves to the right of Labour activists !!!!!

    The ‘socialist fervour’ people only ever appeal to this latter minority: a recipe for utter disaster.

    But after this nineteen week political and philosophical debate has finished (including 20 separate hustings) at Conference next month we can get on with the job of constructive opposition and practical policies :-)

  50. @ROB
    Exactly right.

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