Activist or MP, it’s time to take a stand

“Criminals were victims of the capitalist system. The police were agents of repression. Riots were popular uprisings against capitalist injustice.” These, according to Peter Mandelson’s autobiography, were commonplace views in the early 1980s vintage of London Labour.

“The three hate-ideas of the idiot savant left are capitalism, imperialism and America, or CIA for short,” Phil Collins wrote recently. The CIA are now as acceptable in Labour as they were in the 1980s.



What has changed on the deficit since general election 2010?

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier in 2015.

Liverpool played Burnley away on Boxing Day. The last time that happened was just before the 2010 general election when Rafa Benitez managed Liverpool. Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish both did so between Benitez and the current reign of Brendan Rodgers. Hodgson’s tenure coincided with the near bankruptcy of one of the world’s great sporting institutions. Enter John Henry, deus ex machina. This American has invested in the club stadium and playing squad, including in Luis Suarez, who brought both disgrace and nearly a Premier League title. Life is easier off the pitch and harder on the pitch sans Suarez. Fans yearn to be made to dreamagain. And will soon have to hope to do so without talisman Steven Gerrard.



Preview: Tony Blair’s speech on Europe

I had this on Labour Uncut last November.

While Andrew Rawnsley reports that Ed Miliband’s speech to the CBI on the EU “leant heavily against a referendum”, Peter Mandelson recently wrote in the Financial Times that a referendum is “inevitable”. Today Tony Blair will deliver a speech in which he will argue for Britain “to be at the heart of the EU”.



Cumbria was always New and Blue Labour

I had this on Labour Uncut last year:

No less an authority than Lord Mandelson has declared New Labour dead. Dan Hodges has called time on blue Labour. But the revisionist principles driving New Labour long predate it and will surely outlast it. They stretch back to Eduard Bernstein via Tony Crosland and are timeless. As Lord Mandelson certainly knows, they cannot die. And the quest for belonging in a globalised age that underpins blue Labour shows no signs of losing its resonance as we continue to live through globalisation’s biggest economic crisis since the 1930s.



Economic rebalancing: Labour must be “more interesting”

I had this on Labour Uncut a few weeks ago.

The Labour front bench might not welcome advice from retirees, no matter how dignified. But they’ve got some. “Be a little bit more interesting”, said Peter Mandelson, in response to a question at a recent Progress event. National recovery from the major economic crisis of recent years requires big, bold ideas. He wants Labour to rise to this challenge.



Let’s not bet the house on what might be the wrong future

I wrote this on Labour Uncut recently:

Labour has to be the party of optimism. Which should include being optimistic about the ingenuity of business, especially when combined with extraordinarily lax monetary conditions and a low pound. George Osborne anticipates Labour pessimism on this and we should deny him.



No need to choose between finance and manufacturing

I had the piece below published on Comment is Free on 12 June 2010:

David Cameron has argued that our economic fortunes have become “hitched to a few industries in one corner of the country, while we let other sectors like manufacturing slide”. His business secretary, Vince Cable, has since bemoaned “deep-seated problems: a dysfunctional banking system; an economy that is seriously unbalanced”. The previous business secretary, Peter Mandelson, wanted “more real engineering and less financial engineering”. The political consensus seems clear: our economy should be rebalanced away from finance and in favour of manufacturing.



Dinner Party Politics

Ok, I’ve been to dinner parties. But not in Islington. Though, I probably am in the “chattering classes”. Still, I’ve never been at dinner parties where “innate and uninformed” prejudices against London comprehensives have been expressed, the superior virtues of Harriet Harman to Peter Mandelson have been extolled or Polly Toynbee, Greg Pope, Barry Sheerman and Charles Clarke – aka Mistletoe & Whiner according to John Prescott – have been lavishly praised. In the past day or so, I’ve noticed, without trying, that all of these things have been said to occur at the dinner parties of the chattering classes.

I can only wonder at what horrors would be alleged to occur at these parties – if that is the right word – if I made my observations more dedicated and maintained them for a longer stretch. Thankfully I have better things to do.



Dave v Boris

The video of the Spectator/Threadneedle Awards is fun and worth watching. It features a classy speech from Politician of the Year, Peter Mandelson, who said that he shares with Boris Johnson, who presented him with the award, “a driving ambition to do all we can to undermine David Cameron.” This brought roars of protest from Boris. Perhaps, as Lord Mandelson said, these protests were a little too loud, not least given what could be read into the sub-text of the speech which Mayor Johnson had earlier given on the same stage.

He referred to wisteria in the midst of a riff on MPs expenses. Now just as clearly as porno video equals Mr. Jacqui Smith, so wisteria brings to mind the leader of the opposition. May be, I’m just being paranoid on Dave’s behalf, but, quite possibly, Boris is doing his bit to try to keep alive this unfavourable image of Dave.



Realities that suggest a positive way forward for Labour

Some political realities need to be acknowledged if Labour is to move forward. These are:

First, Gordon Brown will lead Labour into the next General Election. The reaction (or, at least, non-resignation) of other leading figures in the party – particularly, Peter Mandelson, Alan Johnson and David Miliband – to James Purnell’s resignation finally confirmed this.



Labour Party: The view from Virginia Beach

I departed the UK for a family holiday in the US the morning after the night of James Purnell’s resignation. I have been desperately trying to keep up with events in the UK, despite the time difference, family obligations and the lack of Adam Boulton. But, in effect, though the much anticipated meeting of the PLP is still to happen, my sense is that Labour’s fate was sealed before I boarded Virgin Atlantic. The Cabinet’s failure to follow Purnell’s lead means that Gordon Brown remains Labour’s destiny. 

Throughout the debates about Brown’s leadership, I have always maintained that Labour has three options: 1.) Back him, 2.) Replace him, 3.) Allow him to continue without backing him. The third of these options is the worst for Labour but the choices made by key figures in the Party over recent days have placed us definitively with this option, while effectively closing off the first of these options and not quite reaching the second. So, the transatlantic view from Virginia Beach is that of a “wounded elephant” – as a Labour MP described Brown to the Guardian – continuing to lead Labour.



Where now for Labour?

The Sunday Mail reports that support for Labour has fallen to 23 percent – the lowest since opinion polls began in 1943. If Labour polled this badly at a general election, the party would lose 200 seats to the Conservatives, who would hold a massive, carte blanche majority of 220. The survey was also the first to record that the majority of voters want Gordon Brown to stand down now as PM.

These are desperate times, indeed, for Labour and while the expenses revelations “will hurt the reputation of all politicians”, argues Andrew Rawnsley, “the damage is likeliest to be greatest to Labour at the next election”. Another poll supports Rawnsley’s view. There have been many highs and lows under PM Brown. But each low seems lower and more desperate than the last one. I didn’t think it was possible to go any lower than the McBride affair but recent days have probably managed it.


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