Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut


by Don Paskini    
2:51 pm - June 7th 2011

      Share on Tumblr

They rode into town on their white chargers, the men who would save the Labour Party in its hour of need. Armed with their new website, Labour Uncut, they planned to win the civil war which they knew was coming against the Left of the party, elect their man David Miliband as leader and restore the golden days of New Labour.

They aimed to be like Sir Galahad, knights in shining armour, and ended up like Don Quixote, tilting unsuccessfully at windmills.

So what went wrong?

The life and death struggle against the resurgent Hard Left never happened, the 1980s proved to be a useless guide in predicting what would happen to the Labour Party in 2010, and from a position of having most of the money and media backing them, and the support of most of the MPs, they contrived to lose the leadership election to Ed Miliband.

Yet defeat within the Labour Party created new opportunities. Just like the die-hard Thatcherites in the 1990s, they discovered that there would always be a media platform for well-connected insiders prepared to criticise their own party. More and more of their natural allies on the Labour Right deserted them, and they found that it was the Tories who hailed them, hired them and urged the Labour Party to follow their sound strategic advice.

The latest offering lumps everyone from Luke Akehurst to Labourlist to us at Flat Earth News Liberal Conspiracy as “flat earthers”. It is a bold gambit from the author of “David Miliband has won” to accuse others of “constructing a parallel universe”.

And maybe the reason why the Labour Uncut boys have been so utterly unsuccessful over the past year in persuading anyone in the Labour Party to follow their advice is because “the entire Labour movement is losing its marbles”.

But, maybe, just maybe, the problem lies somewhat closer to home. For people who warn of the dangers of “groupthink”, of the need to listen to the people rather than cherry pick the bits of evidence that you want to hear, and of the need to understand why you lost elections rather than blaming the voters…let’s just say that a lot of their advice makes a lot more sense if you put the word “Uncut” in place of the word “Party” in many of their screeds about what Labour is doing wrong.

As a fellow supporter of David Miliband and general well-wisher, I have come up with four points of helpful advice:

Firstly rubbishing our leader and behaving like the 1990s Tory Bastard Renactment Society isn’t a contribution on the route to electoral victory. The Tories and right wing press aren’t praising you and quoting you because they are really scared that Labour would win if it took your advice.

Secondly Publishing policy advice which claims that the way to engage with the issues that really exercise voters is for Labour to “engage with (and Labourise) the big society debate” should be a massive warning sign that you have absolutely no idea what voters care about. Having good sources of gossip in the Westminster Village does not give you an ability to discern the Voice of the People.

Thirdly Developing a winning alternative involves more than parroting a rigid dogma about the need to narrow the difference between Labour and the Tories on any given policy area.

And lastly there isn’t going to be a civil war within the Labour Party no matter how much some people might want one. There is no need for blogging heroes to reclaim Labour from the unelectable Red menace through the means of thunderous denunications on the internet. The sooner that the editors of Labour Uncut and their fellow travellers realise that, the better.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


But Dan – Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie think they’re on the right track, so why not give them a chance? After all, the above three have nothing but the best interests of the Labour party in mind, no?

“The Tories and right wing press aren’t praising you and quoting you because they are really scared that Labour would win if it took your advice.”

What – and we *are* really scared that you’ll win if you don’t take that advice? Come off it, Dan: Milipede minor is not the next PM in waiting.

Let the in-fighting begin.

Couple of questions for you:

Where ARE all the “working class, grass roots” Labour voters? The working class has pretty much vanished, up to their eyes in credit card debt to pay for the jacuzzi in the ex council house garden whilst they buy cloned luxury goods from the market to impress the neighbours. The only people banging Labours “socialist” drum are a few A level students who will end up head teachers on £100K and the Islington/BBC chateratti (a la Sunny). Best of luck trying to convince the hoards of unemployable chavs out there that Socialism is the cure to their problems and more of the same is required.

What happened to all the money? If you are going to use the argument that we don’t have to pay it back or just borrow more from the next generation, Mr and Mrs Currently Working Their Bollocks Off just to keep the roof over their head won’t take too kindly to the concept of dumping the country (ie THEM) even further in the shit than it already is. More Diversity Coordinators are not the cure, the public sees them as the disease.

Labour is rapidly becoming a mere extension of the Unions, funded pretty much solely by the unions for the pleasure and entertainment of union bosses.

Be happy. The working classes pretty much vanished when Thatcher let them buy their council houses and they all doubled their money and headed off to Spain. Blair was elected by a middle class bored with Tory sleaze.

If you think people are going to vote for MORE debt, a bigger state, more CCTV, more laws, more pointless jobs, more pointless qualifications, more stop and search, more ID cards, more taxes, more intrusion, more nanny state then you’re wrong, and the ones who WOULD vote Labour to get more benefits are now voting BNP, the Labour Party of the White (complete with their own union) or simply not bothering.

As always, a pleasure

@oldholborn

I wouldn’t call an argument between a left wing conspiracy blog and a small group on hard-left Labour fanatics “infighting”.

Otherwise, all very good points.

popcorn worthy

Be happy. The working classes pretty much vanished when Thatcher let them buy their council houses and they all doubled their money and headed off to Spain.

Erm….

In terms of class, 48% of people percieve themselves as working class (36% working class, 12% upper working class), 42% perceive themselves to be middle class (17% lower middle class, 23% middle class, 2% upper middle class).

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3500

Sunny, from the same report

85% agree that in a fair society income should depend on how hard people work and how talented they are

It is a bold gambit from the author of “David Miliband has won” to accuse others of “constructing a parallel universe”.

Indeed. In reading it, I got the weird feeling you get when a conspiracy theorist accuses you of ignoring the evidence.

85% agree that in a fair society income should depend on how hard people work and how talented they are

100% inheritance tax, then?

@6 – Sunny, perception and reality are not the same thing. Just because you like to call yourself working class doesn’t make you working class. Nine times out of ten, it just means you’re a deluded middle class inverted snob, who’s granddad was probably the last genuine working class person in your family.

You’ve got to love the sheer, dripping contempt for ordinary people shown by the likes of Old Holborn.

No wonder Tories can’t attract more than 37pc of the vote.

You genuinely don’t think there’s a working class in the UK? What about manual workers, shop workers, call centre workers, etc? Are people earning less than 20k a year seriously to be considered middle class? What about those earning less than 15k?

“The world is round. It’s a shame, I know. Personally, I’d love a flat world. Think of the excitement of being able to go on “Edge of the World” tours. Sneak up to the boundary; take a peak into infinity.”

WTF? This is the person claiming the Labour Party is loosing it’s marbles?

@12 – Daniel – Of your list, only manual workers are predominantly working class, shop workers can be either, and call center workers are mostly graduates so definitely middle class. Will the exception of oldholburn who is frankly nutty, I doubt any believes we have no working classes in this country, but equally, there are a lot of people who define themselves working class because it’s got some sort of historical kudos attached to it, when in fact their job, income, location and social attitudes make them more middle class.

You see, this comment thread is why the idea of a civil war in the Labour Party is a non starter. We’re just settling down to a free and frank fraternal discussion, when a libertarian stumbles in and says something stupid, thus uniting the lefties in beating on him instead of falling out with each other.

(In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m a huge fan of Labour Uncut in general and Dan H in particular, and the OP is intended as a homage in the style of the master, rather than a furious denunciation. Sorry to disappoint any Right wingers who’d got their popcorn at the ready).

16. Planeshift

“More Diversity Coordinators are not the cure, the public sees them as the disease”

It was definately those pesky diversity coordinators who caused our banks to be insolvent.

“If you only hadn’t made us put wheelchair ramps in our offices!”
The chief executives of the industry cried.

But it was no use, the crippling (lol) cost of ensuring the ramps remained clean, on top of the vast capital sums required, was enough to ensure the humble banks had to beg for mercy and the billion pount bailout from the evil diversity co-ordinators.

“yes, you can have your bailout”
Said the transgendered engagement coordinator, whilst stroking a cat rescued from the animal shelter…
“but in exchange we want Sir Fred Goodwin to be dismissed, with only a multi-million pay out and six figure annual pension to live off”
“NOOOOOOOO…” said the industry spokesperson in horror.
“Oh yes….” cackled the coordinator….
“and for that matter, you’re going to have to compensate your customers for the illegal charges and mis-selling…” continued the grinning co-ordinator
“but…you can’t. How will we afford that third home in the lake district?” cried the industry spokesperson, tears running down his face.
“not my problem, now get out” screamed the co-ordinator as he returned to his fair trade coffee and copy of the Guardian’s society section.

But all was not lost. Back in his secret resistence lair, Old Holborn unveiled his plan to take back britain.

“we’re going to troll websites and campaign for the right of small businessmen to be racist, drive above the speed limit when drunk, and beat their wives up for crap cooking”

And with that the hordes of UK libertarianism cheered, ready to strike back.

I had a nice chat with a Brighton Green at the weekend. He gave much of the credit for their recent electoral success to activists going out and meeting people. Good old fashioned campaigning on pavements and doorsteps.

We’ve got Blue Labour, GEER UK and this? As a natural constituent of Labour I ask myself, is this the best they can do? This is utterly clueless.

It seems to me that Labour has so disdained and ignored its grass roots supporters and especially its activists for so long they are just demoralised. Any strategy that does not reconnect with a strong activist base and listen and respond to it will get nowhere ecept a few more silly headlines and blogposts.

“engage with (and Labourise) the big society debate”

Sorry, the what debate? There isn’t one.

19. John P reid

Some of the contributors to Labour uncut, Like Alex Hilton backed Diane Abbott, Luke akehurst was the original Ed Miliband backer, and Luke On the NEC was the first perosn to crtiicse the Blue labour think tank launching itself during the may elections.

There is no need for blogging heroes to reclaim Labour from the unelectable Red menace through the means of thunderous denunications on the internet. The sooner that the editors of Labour Uncut and their fellow travellers realise that, the better.-
Labour-uncut maybe a minority of indulgence that isnt’ attracting media coverage ,the way Blue labour or Demos is, but the only reason the Like of Liberal conspiracy is attracting attention is the Tory bloggesphere is picking up on it to show that Ed Milibands labour ,have no solutiuons to the curretn crisis in the Country and that What ever small ideas that Laobur uncut have and whatever little media attetnion they have, at least Labour uncut are offering solutions to the curretn situation, not just coming out with Old labour are “eelction winners” and Old labour will win the next election as they are 1% ahead in the polls at the monent.

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 18

“Sorry, the what debate? There isn’t one.”

Agreed. The big society is nothing more than an extremely clumsy sleight of hand. It basically goes: “We’ll cut public services, but it’s ok because more people will suddenly volunteer to make up the difference. Y’know, because of magic.”

Labour really doesn’t need to sully its hands with this kind of callousness dressed up as optimism.

Funny about “wheelchair ramps.” The same people complaining about having to put wheelchair ramps in their businesses are probably the same people complaining about disabled people who are willing to work but are unable to do so many businesses not being accommodating or making allowances for our conditions!

10
The term working-class refers to waged labour, if you sell your labour and receive a wage, you are working-class, that said, Thatcher made a damn good job of convincing a whole lot of people that they were middle-class, mortgages on council houses, shares in the privatised utilities, deregulation of credit.
It’s no coincidence that the LP under Blair lost so many working class supporters and, though I’m no longer a member of the LP,. Ed M is more likely to attract those voters back on the basis that he was the union’s candidate. And this is often forgotten, union members also have independant votes in general elections.
As long as Ed M stays left of centre, the LP have a good chance in the next general election.

23. Mr S. Pill

I love the idea of call-centre workers as “middle class”

*rolls eyes*

What are these people doing in a supposedly socialist, or at least trade unionist party? New Labour was always a disaster, even if it produced a government that was marginally better than those of Thatcher and Major.

Cracking article.

@7

“85% agree that in a fair society income should depend on how hard people work and how talented they are”

I wonder how many agree that our current economic system represents this?

27. John P reid

24 and IF new alobur had’nt have defined a move to the centre gorund ,we would have had 13 years more of Thathcerite/Major gov’t that was slightly worse than bliar, and Yes I know that John smith was ahead in the polls when he died ,like Michael foot was ahead in the polls at xmas 1980.

27
Instead we had l3years of son of Thatcher.

29. John P reid

28 son of thathcer, Did trhatcher oppose apartied, Section 28 and support the minum wage, civil partnerships. the Mcpherson reprot,
independence for the bank of england, spend extra millon on the NHS.

Oh and thats’ that Thathcer who kept getting 13.7 million votes

Whatever one thinks of the Hodges critique of current Labour strategy, I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at a blogger who one day is excoriating about Blue Labour – the closest thing there is to a leitmotif of Ed Miliband’s Labour so far – and the next day takes others to task for being counter-productively disloyal.

Didn’t realise criticising certain aspects of Blue Labour means anyone is directly criticising Ed Miliband…?

It’s hard to see how a sustained piss-take of an academic who Ed Miliband has made his pet philosopher casts the latter, or his judgement, in a very good light, Sunny.

@27

Come off it, a goldfish could have been the Labour leader in 1997 and they would have beaten the Tories. If anyone wants to remember just how supremely unpopular they were back then.

34. John P reid

the tories were unpopular in 97 ,despite the referendum party splitting the tory vote over maastrict and every newspaper beign pro Blair even ,the Mail and the New laobur newdanger tony blair with the devil eyes, and that elelectionbiegn dominated by cash for questions of neil hamilton,the Tories still got 9.7 million votes, More than Blair did when he won in 2005.

35. Richard T

” if you sell your labour and receive a wage, you are working-class”

My cousin sells her labour as a commodities trader and receives a wage of c.£300k pa before bonus and profit share.

@35

agreed. Using this ridiculous definition the only people who aren’t working class are business owners, those on benefits and the handful of filthy rich who don’t work.

Don

I have a lot of respect for your views and I genuinely like and respect Sunny.

Could it be you are wrong about Ed Miliband?

I do not buy the argument that the Shadow Cabinet has let him down. Why?

If you notice the arguments made by for example John Healey and Andy Burnham on health and education policies were spot on both in and out of Parliament. John Healey pointed out that you cannot remove the responsibility of the Health Secretary to provide healthcare and remove accountability – he welcomed clinical commissioning but called for wider participation and joined up working between hospitals and GPs and also local accountablity.

But Labour did not go out in the media and entrench the fact that the party was actually playing a vital role in being an effective opposition. Managing the media is the Leader’s job and ensuing a coherent message goes out. That’s where Labour is failing.

Arguments like oh he does not want a bigger media profile – well then he should not have run for the job.

What is worse – the same arguments made by John Healey have been uco-opted by the Liberal Democrats and there has been no fightback that these were Labour ideas.

Mr. Miliband is continuing to preach to the choir and the electorate does not rate him. Blaming it on Dan Hodges or bitter Blairites is not helping the overall cause – it is just becoming a defensive mechanism.

Right now there is an epidemic of distrust that afflict all centre – left parties. To most voters centre left have lost the apiration mantle and are seen to being the folks who reiterate the problems without any effective solution.

And to top it all off – there is inconsistency in the message. You go to Hyde Park and support a rally calling for No cuts and you bring in Mandela, King and the very next day you go and say you would have cut 3 out of 4 pounds the Tories are cutting.

Academies is a very successful Labour programme – and Andy Burnham actually painted an excellent vision of where the next phase should head towards. Academies did not give up the ghost of quality education for all through state funding – in fact it ensured that some of the most vulnerable get the same opportunities.

And according to cross party MPs the programme not only improved academic achievement but also helped improve quality of life of some of the most vulnerable young people in society.

Labour has ceeded the Social mobility agenda to the government and the party is widely perceived to be the protector of providers of services not the children not the patient not the citizen. And that is a key political and strategic error. And Mr. Miliband is to be blamed for that.

So with all due respect, may be the conventional wisdom is right and the country ie the electorate does not rate him as Labour leader and does not view him as potential Prime Minister.

Not compromising with the electorate is possible when you have amazing persuasive powers – and on the AV it was proven that he can’t even persuade his party. Sorry to be comparaing him to Blair – Clause IV against massive opposition.

As Blair said about John Major ” I lead my party he follows his” ” Weak Weak Weak” – in the case of Miliband he seems to be following the agenda set out by cif and the liberal elite crew whose electoral understanding has proven to be very limited.

So see Dan Hodges could be right and you could be gravely mistaken.

We can be ostriches or we could accept reality. And the reality is Labour has a weak leader with dubious support both within and out of the party. And Mehdi Hasan and others writing that the electorate is wrong about Miliband is a recipe for disaster.

Not compromising with the electorate did not help Labour in the 1980s and it ain’t gonna help it now. And I like to win because without power you can only talk – and there is little or no chance of the party getting power back under a weak leader such as Ed Miliband.

“Whatever one thinks of the Hodges critique of current Labour strategy, I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at a blogger who one day is excoriating about Blue Labour – the closest thing there is to a leitmotif of Ed Miliband’s Labour so far – and the next day takes others to task for being counter-productively disloyal.”

A very fair point :)

That said, I think that you and I agree on Blue Labour and on the weakness of critiques of Labour which are based more on triangulating with regard to what the Tories are doing than on under…

“the reality is Labour has a weak leader with dubious support both within and out of the party.”

I think this is overly critical, and I think that Ed is doing pretty well.

The party is remarkably united compared to any point in Labour’s history. Labour needs time to reach out and reconsider its policies, I can’t see how we could possibly have decided on our approach by now no matter who the leader was.

And the right-wing press would have attacked whoever our leader was – if it had been David Miliband then it would have been wall to wall about him choosing to adopt his children in America (with lots of utterly repellent nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and about his alleged role in covering up torture. I like David Miliband and I voted for him, but we’d be in substantially the same position now if he were leader – a lot of people’s frustrations will take time to sort out.

@ 40 Don

Perhaps you’re right. However I’m alarmed at the lack of effective opposition from Labour. Ed is pretty half-hearted at PMQs, for example.

Though the tories are in a mess we still need an opposition to put the boot in, someone for those of us who do not agree with tory policy. Where are those damaging soundbites?

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only thing Labour dumped from New Labour was political skill?

35, 36
As I said, Thatcher did a damn good job in convincing the population that they were ‘middle-class’, waged labour = working class however much you receive..
@36 Please tell me why a label of ‘working-class’ is ridiculous.?

@42

I didn’t say a label of ‘working class’ is ridiculous. I said your definition is ridiculous. It is not a helpful definition as probably 70% of the population would be working class with 29% being benefit recepients. It does not reflect what most people consider working class to mean.

Don,

After the revelations today in Telegraph it is once again proven that the only skills M/s Balls and Miliband are the ones which the Pakistani army holds in high esteem and usually awarded with a position 10 mechanised corps – that is coups.

And after this the public distrust for this duo would go down – and Ed Miliband now will have to go sooner or later – unless the Brownites are removed and the liberal elite far removed from the electorate are stopped from setting the agenda of the party Labour is doomed.

I have had enough of lectures of how Blair ruined the party know it was these guys who did it and stopped Labour from achieving much when in government – disgusting deplorable and weak.

Balls and MIliband are hypocrites and liars and coup mongers and they do not deserve to be in the positions they hold because they have no skills in persuasion only in BACK STABBING

The indisputable facts are that with Blair’s leadership, Labour lost 4 million votes between the 1997 and 2005 elections and about half the Party’s membership.

The turnout at the last three general elections in 2001, 2005 and 2010 has been low by historic standards. The sinking turnouts at the 2001 and 2005 elections hardly suggests much popular enthusiasm for Blair’s leadership:
http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

Brown comes out relatively well in this analysis of polling by independent pollsters:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2011/jun/09/gordon-brown-not-labours-problem-at-election.

FWIW my impression is that Blair did enormous harm to the Labour Party. His 22-page letter to Michael Foot in 1982 yields a damning insight into his superficial and fluid political convictions:

“In the 22-page letter, the 29-year-old Mr Blair tells then Labour leader Michael Foot how reading Marx had ‘irreversibly altered’ his outlook. He also praises Tony Benn, agreeing with the left-winger’s analysis that Labour’s right-wing was bankrupt.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5081798.stm

This wasn’t some politically immature frenetic teenager writing but a 29 year-old Oxford law graduate.

“Where ARE all the “working class, grass roots” Labour voters?”

In places where you wouldn’t even entertain the thought of visiting.

47. Mike Homfray

I didn’t vote for David Miliband cannot ever imagine wishing to do so. But the antics of Uncut are bizarre indeed. They appear to think that they are doing their man and their side of the party a favour. Anything but

I would also add that the events of the last two days have done DM untold harm – because there is no way he would be elected as leader under this sort of cloud


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://bit.ly/luvU0O

  2. Harry Richard Wells

    Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://bit.ly/luvU0O

  3. Emma Burnell

    “@libcon: Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://t.co/x8Y6tzy” hilarious & uncomfortably true.

  4. Andreas Paterson

    “@libcon: Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://t.co/glXYbJ5” < Our target constituency is not libertarian tossers?

  5. Mabel Horrocks

    Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://bit.ly/luvU0O

  6. Peter Watt

    “@libcon: Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://t.co/x8Y6tzy” hilarious & uncomfortably true.

  7. Old Holborn

    Labour bloggers begin to squabble. #delicious http://bit.ly/k0MIdC

  8. Ian Quill

    Interesting but flawed #1 RT: Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Z77KfxD via @libcon

  9. sunny hundal

    Say hello to Labour's own version of Tory Bastard Renactment Society: the Die-hard Thatcherites 2.0 – http://bit.ly/luvU0O

  10. Hugo K Biedermann

    JUDEAN LABOUR PARTY OR THE LABOUR PARTY OF JUDEA LOL http://t.co/4DfqQPl TYPICAL SECTARIANISM LIBCON UNITY hang on, let me check my notes

  11. Malcolm Evison

    RT @libcon: Helpful advice for our critical friends at Labour Uncut http://t.co/uuCNp8v

  12. Michael Oswell

    JUDEAN LABOUR PARTY OR THE LABOUR PARTY OF JUDEA LOL http://t.co/4DfqQPl TYPICAL SECTARIANISM LIBCON UNITY hang on, let me check my notes

  13. Daniel Byles

    Remarkable Labour infighting between Labour Uncut (http://tinyurl.com/5rdogn2) and Liberal Conspiracy (http://tinyurl.com/6khg8oj)

  14. Luke

    RT @sunny_hundal: Labour's own version of Tory Bastard Renactment Society: http://t.co/01GIvq6 well done…ooh & ouch. this must hurt…

  15. Hal Berstram

    Hilarious take-down of the Labour hard right by Don Paskini at @LibCon: http://bit.ly/k0MIdC Labour Uncut is actually "Labour Unhinged"…

  16. Doubts are cast on the Tories’ economic credibility, an old plot to oust Blair is revealed, and the Archbishop attacks: round up of political blogs for 4 – 10 June | British Politics and Policy at LSE

    [...] politics. Dan Hodges calls on Labour’s ‘flat earthers’ to ‘get real’, which prompts an acerbic response from Sunny [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.