Westminster shocked as Tory says Labour must listen to them


4:43 pm - June 4th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome is unfailingly polite in person and clearly a very good editor. I’m not convinced by his political nous though. After all, he was convinced the Conservatives failed to win a majority in 2010 because they didn’t push hard enough on immigration – a claim rejected by Lord Ashcroft himself rather convincingly.

Montgomerie writes in the Daily Mail today: ‘Ed Miliband is a disaster not just for Labour but for democracy‘. All very nuanced as I’m sure you can imagine.

The hyperbole is there mostly because Montgomerie believes David Cameron should have, “ruthlessly destroyed Gordon Brown’s personal character, just as Tony Blair did to John Major before 1997,” and failed to win outright because he didn’t. Now its time to turn the guns on Ed M.

The most interesting revelation is that Lord Ashcroft is preparing to publish detailed research into the Labour party (titled ‘Red Alert’) as he did recently with the Tories. I’m not sure why we should trust Ashcroft will release all of his research though; he may keep key (positive or strategically useful) nuggets to himself.

Anyway. Tim Montgomerie says:

When Ed Miliband first became leader, Conservative HQ decided to paint Gordon Brown’s successor as Red Ed — a high-taxing, high-spending prisoner of the trade union movement. Research reveals that voters haven’t rejected this Red Ed label — but larger numbers have now decided that he’s Odd Ed.

What he actually means is that ‘Red Ed’ failed badly, so the next tactic is what Montgomerie always wanted for Brown: to paint him simply mentally / physically deficient. As you can tell, they’re trying their best to rid themselves of the ‘Nasty Party’ label.

And then:

Every new leader has a 100-day window to create a good first impression but Ed Miliband failed in this task — he’s now been in power more than 250 days.

Cameron has been leader and in power for longer, and I can cite a whole raft of polls that say he is: out of touch; only concerned with the rich; fake (airbrushed posters anyone?) and just interested in stunts (hug a huskie/hoodie?).

There’s no doubt being in power helps give you gravitas, but can you imagine Cameron generating as much excitement as Obama did for example, in any western country?

Cameron appeals to the party base, but other than that even Lord Ashcroft acknowledges he hasn’t modernised enough.

He carries on:

Ed Miliband’s biggest mistake has been his failure to reform his party or its message. There’s been no apology for the excessive and wasteful spending of the Labour government of which he was such a central figure. There’s been no apology for uncontrolled immigration.

I’m truly shocked that a notable Tory figure would like the Labour party to endorse what Tories have been saying. Really, that was unexpected.

Inside Ed Miliband’s bunker they don’t yet seem to have woken up to their leader’s plight, despite the fact that the Tories have just scored the best local elections performance of a new government for 30 years.

I like that sleight of hand. It works only if you ignore how many seats Conservatives lost to Labour (400) and pretend the seats won from Libdems compensate.

Tories are now nearly non-existent in most major cities across the country. If they think that is the “best election” performance for 30 years, then they’re more deluded than I thought.

And lastly:

Ed Miliband could be forgiven for feeling surrounded. It won’t solve the party’s problem, but don’t be surprised if at some point soon there isn’t a shootout for the Labour leader’s job.

The ‘Ed Balls has him surrounded’ narrative shows how little Tim Montgomerie knows about what’s going on in Labour. The chances of Ed B attempting a coup for the top job are nearly non-existent. But its another fantasy that right-wingers keep telling themselves. Sheesh. I’d fisk the article more but it basically boils down to the headline.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Face facts though, Ed Miliband is hardly likely to win a general election, is he?

What matters is not Montgomery’s views, but what would appear in a genuine and uncensored report of the kind that Ashcroft is purporting to be about to publish.

I doubt there are many votes for Labour if they did do what Montgomery suggests (but I am probably not the right voter segment for them).

My guess is that the “Nasty Party” and “the party for Fat Cats” message has somefurther mileage to go to break down support for the Tories, but the story for joining labour again still needs to be won.

Face facts though, Ed Miliband is hardly likely to win a general election, is he?

Sorry, could you state a fact before the froth?

Monty will be worth listening to when his party leadership starts listening to him.

So not right now, or any time soon, then.

[Mind you, ConHome is a good resource for Tories, so he's doing something useful]

The fact is, holding the AV vote on the same day as the local elections gave the Tories an artificial boost. So “best local elections performance of a new government for 30 years” is wildly optimistic.

“There’s been no apology for the excessive and wasteful spending of the Labour government of which he was such a central figure. There’s been no apology for uncontrolled immigration.”

On the former, it is interesting that on the Today programme Lord Lamont admitted that the economic situation is a “global” issue, ie, he did not say that it was “caused by Brown” which is showing that the Tories are softening on the “excessive spending” narrative. The “uncontrolled immigration” narrative was a favourite topic of the ConsHome grass roots prior and during the election.

Monties understanding of politics is on par with Osbornes understanding of economics……yes, it really is that bad.

That is why no one in the Tory high command takes no notice of anything he says or posts.

According to one Tory, no matter what he posts, it’s always better if you do the direct opposite.

7. Charlieman

The photo editor who picked the pics to go with the Daily Mail story is a genius.

Sunny: “I’m not sure why we should trust Ashcroft will release all of his research though” — check out the ethical rules for pollsters. My interpretation is that a poll can be private, but that when you make it public you have to publish the whole lot.

I reckon that this is a post that will generate a noisy debate. But it will be a debate in which bloggers take sides for or against political commentators writing about, err, political commentators. A lot of heat will be generated but the process will be thermodynamically inefficient.

montgomerie and the tories must be even more worried than i thought. if eds crap why bother with him? the economy looks to be getting worse and the cuts haven’t even started to bite yet.

Montgomerie is a Neo Con. He does not think Cameron is Neo Con enough.

So what he wants is another neo con leading Labour, to put the pressure on Cameron ,and move him into more wing nutty positions. He does not want a Labour leader who can win. What he wants is a Right wing labour leader who pushes Cameron to the FAR Right.

Beware Greeks bearing gifts………….. If you are Labour, beware neo cons trying to help.

10. Just for laughs

“can you imagine Cameron generating as much excitement as Obama did”

Here’s a funnier thought trip

“can you imagine Miliband generating as much excitement as Obama did”

11. Maltese Cross

Red Ed hasnt stuck which isn’t surprising as Labour don’t do policy. However, Tim M is quite right that the Odd Ed is sticking. Apart from people with a vested interest in him doing well (take a bow, Sunny) EVERYBODY thinks he’s a weirdo. Failed to put his name on his first child’s birth certificate, sounds like a whiny left-wing student in tone and content and didn’t organise a stag do. It’s hard to see how he would make class captain, never mind PM.

Ed may have an image problem but honestly we’re losing sight of something here:

David Cameron couldn’t win a majority against Gordon Brown. When Labour had been in government for 14 years.

So how exactly is the next election going to be any better? No Brown, the burden of the incumbent, and the pain of the cuts. It’s not a good scenario.

The one thing missing from this analysis is the Lib Dems. The truth is, Labour should forget about the Tories and work on wooing the people who voted Lib Dem at the last general election.

Because most of them are not going to vote Clegg again, but they might not vote Labour.

The Tories are a complete irrelevance. The Lib Dems are the key.

“Cameron has been leader and in power for longer, and I can cite a whole raft of polls that say he is: out of touch; only concerned with the rich; fake (airbrushed posters anyone?) and just interested in stunts (hug a huskie/hoodie?).”

So Montgomerie says that Milliband isn’t doing very well as a leader, and your response is to post a non-sequitur about how Cameron’s doing. I take it, as you make no effort to address Tim’s point, that you secretly agree with him?

“There’s no doubt being in power helps give you gravitas, but can you imagine Cameron generating as much excitement as Obama did for example, in any western country?”

Utterly irrelevant. Also, I find it easier to imagine Cameron generating such enthusiasm than Milliband.

“I’m truly shocked that a notable Tory figure would like the Labour party to endorse what Tories have been saying. Really, that was unexpected.”

Because Montgomerie’s criticisms of Labour not doing enough to distance itself from the Brown years is totally different from the criticisms of many on the left (including on this very site) that the Conservatives aren’t doing enough to modernise their party…

“I like that sleight of hand. It works only if you ignore how many seats Conservatives lost to Labour (400) and pretend the seats won from Libdems compensate.

Tories are now nearly non-existent in most major cities across the country. If they think that is the “best election” performance for 30 years, then they’re more deluded than I thought.”

I seem to recall that Hague’s Conservatives slaughtered Labour at the local elections during Blair’s first term. For the Tories to now do better than Blair did at the height of his power, even when they’re carrying out a rather controversial and painful programme of cuts, is quite an achievement, for all your attempts to pretend otherwise.

14. Daz Pearce

The recent election results were some of the strangest I’ve seen in recent memory. All three parties basically lost – Labour should have gained circa 600 seats minimum given the climate, the LibDems were anihalated and the Tories would no doubt have had net losses but for the LibDem vote collapsing.

Agree with your analysis on Montgomery – nice man but antennae appear to be switched off most of the time. Finding people with real instincts AND real aptitude is not easy but that’s what political parties need to do.

http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

@12: “The Lib Dems are the key.”

I’m sympathetic but in the LibDem held highly marginal constituency where I live, the net effect of voting Labour would likely result in a Conservative gain – and the Conservatives hereabouts are mostly horrible or daft.

@3. C’mon Sunny, the fact is that Ed Miliband is hardly likely to win a general election, isn’t it? You seem to think that when we take the piss out of Odd Ed, it’s because we’re really shit scared of him. Believe it if you will. I suppose 30 years ago people like you were saying Tories took the piss out of Michael Foot because deep at heart they knew he was going to turf out Thatcher and institute radical socialism.

C’mon Sunny, the fact is that Ed Miliband is hardly likely to win a general election, isn’t it?

Tories… how do I break this to you?

David Cameron failed to win an outright majority against GORDON BROWN! A guy who was decent but about the worst communicator in modern politics.

Cameron failed to win against an intellectually and organisationally spent party that had no money and no media support.

YOU FAILED TO WIN A MAJORITY. Feel free to keep up that bravado suckers.
I bet you still tell yourself Cameron failed to win because he didn’t bash immigrants hard enough.

18. Maltese Cross

I can’t remember Sunny saying that Brown was the worst communicator in politics during the GE. To return the CAPS LOCAL IN KIND I guess we won’t know HIS TRUE FEELINGS about Labour’s current leader either until Ed M is off the scene.

19. Puzzlebobble

This whole ‘problems with Ed’ thing is just a pathetic diversionary tactic. It doesn’t matter; they’re fucking the economy and their ‘reforms’ to the NHS, higher education and schools are hated. He could be marsh mallow for all I care.

“Labour should have gained circa 600 seats minimum given the climate”

Daz Pearce (#14). I think you’ll find that Labour gained 800 council seats on May 5th.

http://cuttingedgeuk.proboards.com/index.cgi

I can’t remember Sunny saying that Brown was the worst communicator in politics during the GE

I hate to disappoint newbies, but I called for him to go over a year before the election saying he was an awful communicator. Feel free to scrol through archives or search the site.

@ 17:

“I bet you still tell yourself Cameron failed to win because he didn’t bash immigrants hard enough.”

Actually I tell myself Cameron failed to win because he didn’t give people enough positive reasons to vote Conservative. His strategy for most of the period before the election seemed to be “Don’t have too many policies, because those might be controversial. Just sit back, make vaguely feel-good statements, and all those disillusioned Labour voters will have to vote for us…” Which, mutatis mutandis, seems to be Ed Milliband’s strategy now.

23. Paul Newman

I am not surprised you do not understand this Sunny, you would have little contact with the constituency that have been disenfranchised by not red Ed`a limitations.
His own problems are clear enough.The PLP rejected him as too left wing and too tarnished by association with Brown and Deficit . That was compounded by his voting and financial links with the Unions who he inadvisably turned up to clap vandalism and all. The Cain and Abel drama helped ensure the Nation gets it. Kinnock got his Party back.
As the anti New Labour man he cannot get onto the territory he needs to occupy leaving swathes of the country easily triangulated by the threat of a tax and spend Kinnockite.
This leaves Cameron free to court Liberals by actually insulting the Mail readers who vote for him over International AID whilst spending their money .The unions are quietly purring and many on the moderate right quitely seethe that Red Ed has fled the field so completely that they don`t matter

“Cameron failed to win against an intellectually and organisationally spent party that had no money and no media support.”

Not entirely surprising given that the Labour vote is more efficiently spread and that the Lib Dems were also an alternative opposition. The key question will be how Ed does in the leadership rankings. Frankly he lacks charisma – even left-leaning comedy show 10 o clock Live was ripping it out of him for being useless. That said I doubt his brother would have been much better.

Tim and Sunny are both wrong. The idea that Ed can improve his ratings by running down the government in which he served is nonsense, even if the argument was correct, which it is not. Far better to point out the necessary steps taken to avert disaster, wrongly opposed by Osborne at the time, which led to the beginning of a modest recovery which now appears to have stalled. It is the failure to defend our record which has allowed the government to take control of the narrative.

As for the personalities involved, Brown may have been a charmless weirdo, but he was also a heavyweight in a way Ed plainly is not. The idea that Cameron will find him a tougher opponent is delusional. Denial is not a solution. The recent election results all things considered were awful, even if you adopt Sunny’s approach and pretend Scotland doesn’t exist. Ed was elected simply because he wasn’t his brother, a petulant bit of self indulgence by the membership which sadly seems likely to cost us another defeat (at least) before it can be corrected.

25 Jimmy

“The idea that Ed can improve his ratings by running down the government in which he served is nonsense” – actually his and the party’s ratings have improved. The question is what needs doing next to deliver enough to crush hopes of another Tory victory. I thought this link was interesting
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-win-this-weeks-only-byelection-2292631.html

– Labour under Ed Milliband are not yet seeing the breakthroughs in the suburbs and more rural areas. At the council elections, the Labour vote returned in its heartlands, but the swing to Labour was not good enough in the more Southern, prosperous and suburban areas that Blair managed to win over quite remarkeably in 1997.

It would be a cliche to say this is work in progress, but it is better an accurate cliche, than the inaccurate hyperbole of “Cameron is getting his come uppance” / “Odd Ed has failed to win the electorate”.

Montgomerie writes in the Daily Mail today: ‘Ed Miliband is a disaster not just for Labour but for democracy‘. All very nuanced as I’m sure you can imagine.

As your fellow contributors to this site know only too well Sunny, journos rarely get to write their own headlines. That’s what subeditors are for.

YOU FAILED TO WIN A MAJORITY. Feel free to keep up that bravado suckers

It’s just the way you tell ‘em. The original plan was a two-election strategy: from a base of below 200 seats it was always going to be a massive challenge to get an outright majority, because it would have meant gaining 120 seats, something that the Tories have never ever managed to do. It was only Brown’s titanic ineptitude that gave the Tories hope it could all be done in one go. As it was it was still the best Tory performance in that regard since 1931 (which is cheating slightly, because that was a ‘National Government’).

And Labour, although they have more seats than Howard won in ’05, achieved a worse share of the vote than Major in ’97.

The recent election results were some of the strangest I’ve seen in recent memory. All three parties basically lost

Simply not true. The Lib Dems clearly, objectively lost. Labour can be said to have lost by not winning well enough (losing Scotland, not winning a majority in Wales, below 1,000 council gains), but there is just no rational way to claim that the Tories lost.

28. Rob the crip

I think Ed balls knows his time is over if Brown had won the last election Ed would now be in position to take on Brown and I suspect win, but now if he tried people would reject him for David, so he’s out and he has said he’s out he stated I do not want the job.

So who would be the likely people to set up a shoot out, right now I cannot see anyone, because it would be deadly suicide. Labour is highly unlikely to win the next election and sadly Labour knows this so do the Tories.

When will the battle start after Miliband steps down. Harriet will be the top contender and that should keep Labour out for another term, people will associate her with Thatcher.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Westminster shocked as Tory says Labour must listen to them http://bit.ly/kq7Ukg

  2. sunny hundal

    Tories have decided the best way to attack @Ed_Miliband is through character assassination http://bit.ly/kq7Ukg

  3. Michael Bater

    Westminster shocked as Tory says Labour must listen to them | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/kqAtA1t via @libcon

  4. Tamsin

    Tories decide best way to attack Miliband is character assassination | @libcon http://t.co/LddwBWA > At least he has character to aim at.

  5. Gurtej sandhu

    Tories have decided the best way to attack @Ed_Miliband is through character assassination http://bit.ly/kq7Ukg

  6. Bob Stone

    Ed Milliband and character assassnation | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/MgMCOhc Tories very good at this esp. with media onside…..

  7. Mark Ferguson

    .@sunny_Hundal is spot on – @TimMontgomerie is a smart guy, but his Mail article was way way out there http://bit.ly/jPgoT7

  8. Robert Frost

    Tories have decided the best way to attack @Ed_Miliband is through character assassination http://bit.ly/kq7Ukg

  9. sunny hundal

    .@sunny_Hundal is spot on – @TimMontgomerie is a smart guy, but his Mail article was way way out there http://bit.ly/jPgoT7

  10. Rob Marchant

    Just discovered that @libcon also wrote on @TimMontgomerie's Mail piece. http://bit.ly/kOeha9 Still think mine better http://bit.ly/lbpnFn

  11. More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] I picked up on this earlier, Tim Montgomerie replied by saying: In my Mail article I quoted what voters were saying about Ed in [...]

  12. If Cameron is as right-wing as Miliband is left-wing, is the press out of touch? | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] only one problem with that last assertion – most voters don’t see Ed Miliband as ‘Red Ed’ – which is why Tories have mostly abandoned that [...]





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