Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country


8:50 am - April 16th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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I called a friend yeserday evening and asked him if he’d heard about Ed Miliband’s proposal to cap party donations to £5,000. “What are you on about?” he said irritably, “are we still playing poker this week?”

I may not have friends that represent Middle England, but I do know that like the rest of the country they don’t pay much attention to current affairs. Andrew Marr show? I’ve got chores to do on a Sunday mate.

Ed Miliband’s move was bold. It puts the Tories and Libdems on the defensive and scrabbling to play catch-up. But its impact outside Westminster will be minimal.

I happen to think this was the right thing to do. If people are serious about big money influencing politics then a £50,000 cap is simply ludicrous.

But given that local elections are just weeks away, the last thing Ed Miliband should be doing is making announcements that just reverberate around Westminster.

For most people this announcement will be of little interest or relevance.

And this feeds into another frustration of mine. Ed Miliband needs to be seen as bold and a strong decision maker with the public or they won’t trust him to take charge of the economy.

But while the Labour leader doesn’t shy away from breaking with the orthodoxy – most of the content (such as a cap on donations) or the delivery (‘responsible capitalism’) does not translate to the ordinary public.

They have no idea what he’s saying or what he’s trying to get across. They think he’s invisible because, outside Westminster, he still is.

Mr Miliband needs to start being bolder in the bigger issues that face the country rather than sticking to technocratic details that only interest Westminster. Issues such as the terrible state of the economy, the lack of jobs, Europe and even immigration.

There is a debate to be had about party funding, but a couple of weeks before local elections isn’t it.

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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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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


So the entire foundation of this article is that one voter out of 45 million hadn’t happened to have heard any national news that day. Shoddy!

As I said on another thread, I’m not sure that the country is listening anyway. The problem Labour have is the same that the Tories had in 1997-2005 – the interesting power dynamic is within government (then the TB-GBs, now the Coalition). Get away from specific politics programmes (as let’s face it most people do) and pretty much all the coverage Labour gets is:

“Labour oppose the plans, so-and-so MP saying they were another example of…”.

I’m not sure that there’s much to be done yet though. Until people are ready to listen to politicians again, there’s little point in shouting.

Tory voters love Feudalism. While labour voters contribute through Trade Unions to their political party tory voters would rather their masters fund their party.

And in exchange for not paying a penny they offer their masters total obedience. Fascinating insight into the small minded thought process of the rank and file tory voter.

We can still have our millions from the Union, but no more rich people, yep that’s going to go down well, bloody boring

On the other hand, recent news coverage would seem to suggest that newspaper editors think voters are very concerned about corruption in the political system. It’s unfortunate that this move was reported (presumably by people who thought the consequences were obvious) completely out of context, as some kind of minor technical change.

It’s also quite possible your friend is instantly dismissive of politics generally. I know at least a few people who are instantly dismissive of anything which smells of politics because they believe it’s an activity carried on exclusively by liars who enact policies based mostly on corrupt financial transactions, and so wasting their time on it is pointless. It’d probably take more than a cap on donations to persuade people in that category to start taking an interest, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

6. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Sunny you write:-

‘Mr Miliband needs to start being bolder in the bigger issues that face the country rather than sticking to technocratic details that only interest Westminster. Issues such as the terrible state of the economy, the lack of jobs, Europe and even immigration’

I, along with others, was arguing this point a year ago whilst many had their heads in the polls. The big question Sunny is why isnt he bolder? Perhaps the answer is that politics is stuck to the current economic realities showing that ultimately,apart from all the socialist chatting, the Tories and Labour are quiet similar in outlook.

I noticed too the dramatic failure in your own website one purpose being:-

‘Our aim is to re-vitalise the liberal-left through discussion and action.’

That sadly hasnt happened as evidenced by the paltry response to your requests for policy ideas. A lot of chatting along party lines but at the end of the day not much else.

Everybody has to start thinking outside of the box in my opinion before anything will change. Wedded as they are to the status quo I cant see Labour as instrumental in that process.

And i don’t think westminster is listening either

TimJ @ 2

As I said on another thread, I’m not sure that the country is listening anyway.

The problem is that the Labour leadership have no way of knowing if and when the public will have started to listen to them. By the time the Leadership will have detected a switch, it will be too late to capitalise. I would suggest that the best strategy would be to assume that the public are listening now, so when the they do start to turn the Party will have been consistent al along. If nothing else, it keeps their hand in for when the political tide turns in their favour.

For what it’s worth, it could well be that the Tories are now seen as the Toff’s Party again, if that is happening then Labour need to get out and hammer the point home. They need to point out how out of touch the Tories are and how deaf they appear to the concerns of normal people. Frankly I do not think that posturing regarding Party funding does that. It plays to the political anoraks, but right now people are more interested in keeping their jobs and public services, than the type of weird cunts that fork out quarter of a million quid for a political Party and expect us to believe they want nothing in nothing in return.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the Lib Dem “surge” during the last election was largely due to the performance of Clegg in one debate.

Frankly Milliband could just hide under a rock and prepare for an hour in 2015 for all the difference it is likely to make – the next election will be about which is the least worst/ who is most hated. Ed just needs to appear plausible.

Paradoxically, Ed would spend his time best on a new haircut/ voice training than developing policies no one (outside Westminster) much cares about.

Think The Kings Speech…

10. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@9 Except for the fact the Lib dem vote dropped that would have been a good theory.

@7 Are you saying that no Labour MP’s are listening to Ed too?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/o5Pfglmu

  2. BevR

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/o5Pfglmu

  3. sunny hundal

    My view > Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster not the country. Dangerous, right now http://t.co/SOvwami2

  4. Martin Rowse

    My view > Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster not the country. Dangerous, right now http://t.co/SOvwami2

  5. Eugene Grant

    Most of EdM's content/delivery "doesn't translate to the ordinary public" > totally on point by @sunny_hundal > http://t.co/DaLSHcBL @libcon

  6. BevR

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/wWwOA6vE via @libcon

  7. spencer bungard

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/o5Pfglmu

  8. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal My view > Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster not the country. Dangerous, right now http://t.co/47b0cxAT

  9. Moray

    My view > Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster not the country. Dangerous, right now http://t.co/SOvwami2

  10. Dan Hodges

    .@sunny_hundal is right about this. http://t.co/8p51wwR3

  11. Peter Watt

    .@sunny_hundal is right about this. http://t.co/8p51wwR3

  12. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/CDdOgIME

  13. Collin Whittaker

    My view > Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster not the country. Dangerous, right now http://t.co/SOvwami2

  14. Collin Whittaker

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/o5Pfglmu

  15. Collin Whittaker

    “@libcon: Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/C5rwvKrX”@labourpress Hello can't hear you?

  16. John D Clare

    Liberal Conspiracy – Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/CDdOgIME

  17. Alex Braithwaite

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/rVApcSaU via @libcon

  18. Don Paskini

    .@sunny_hundal is right about this. http://t.co/8p51wwR3

  19. Jason Brickley

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/ebQpmN3A

  20. Janet Graham

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/o5Pfglmu

  21. Alison Charlton

    @lindapalermo You'll need to sit down…. Ed Miliband – http://t.co/0nf9NGr7

  22. George ?

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/SOvwami2 << me, this morning

  23. David Landon Cole

    THIS. RT @sunny_hundal Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/d2AGCenf << me, this morning

  24. Martin

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/SOvwami2 << me, this morning

  25. Andrew Burgess

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/SOvwami2 << me, this morning

  26. Robert CP

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/AsGQD2Tk via @libcon

  27. sunny hundal

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/SOvwami2 << me, this morning

  28. Paul Gibbins

    Ed Miliband is still just talking to Westminster, not the country http://t.co/SOvwami2 << me, this morning





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