Ed Miliband

Ten reasons why you should vote Labour tomorrow

vote labour

Tomorrow every citizen of the UK has a vote, to decide who will represent them.

Obviously am going to say that I think you should vote for your local Labour candidate. I am a Labour Party member, an activist, and I believe that Labour policy offers the best future for this country.

If you elect a Labour government tomorrow, Ed Miliband has already laid out the 10 bills which would feature in his first Queen’s speech. I detail them below, so that you can see what is really on offer here, and the better Britain which we are striving towards.

Read on…

A little perspective, please

ed miliband

Ed Miliband is in trouble.

This much is undeniable. Two of his MPs have defected to an insurgent party who are taking vast swathes of his party’s voters and activists. He has been forced into an embarrassing volte face on almost every policy position he initially espoused. More than 30 of his MPs have called for him to go, and now his party’s polling has dropped to 27%, within touching distance of UKIP.

Oh, hang on. That’s not Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, is it? That’s David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

Read on…

Debating debatable debates

leaders debates

I’ll lay my cards out straight off here; I’m not much of a fan of party leaders debates in the run up to general elections. We have a parliamentary, not a presidential, system in which we do not elect our heads of government. We elect our representatives to parliament.

What would, in my opinion, be more helpful would be 650 individual debates, one in each constituency in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That way people can see the candidates that they can actually vote for going head to head, and make the best choice for their local area.

Time was, these were called hustings.

That, however, isn’t going to happen. Unless David Cameron feels he can somehow chicken out of the debates completely, some variation upon the head-to-head party leaders’ debates of 2010 will be happening.

So what would be the best arrangement?

Read on…

Labour Conference 2012 – A Summary


So conference is over. I’ve been home for a weekend, eating at regular times and not rushing all around Manchester to various fringe events. I am very much into the “comedown” stage of post-conference life. So what were the highlights? I’ve had a few days’ distance to think about this, and I’ve begun to put together a bit of a “best of” list:

  • That speech. Yes, Ed Miliband’s leader’s speech. Undoubtedly the highlight of the week, and despite the scepticism of certain quarters, we could well see this as the turning point moment in his leadership. He was calm and confident, relaxed and likeable, and managed to do the whole thing without any notes. It was spectacular to behold.
  • The emergence of a clear theme for Labour, as we head towards the next election. “One Nation” is not a new idea, but it is coherent and effective, and a clear counterpoint to the fractured and divided society that the Tories’ are creating in done sort of cynical divide-and-conquer strategy. It’s the clearest and most optimistic idea I’ve heard from Ed, and addresses my prior criticisms of the “predistribution” idea by couching it in understandable language.
  • Meeting so many people who I have only known through a broadband connection. Around the converge in general, but also at the excellent Political Scrapbook tweetup. I don’t want to start listing names, as someone will doubtless get lost in the cloud which obscures my memory, but you are all awesome, and it was a particular joy to meet and endlessly discuss politics with Cllr Julian Ware-Lane. As For the tweetup, I remember as a particular highlight Tom Watson (yes, that Tom Watson) explaining to me the behind-the-scenes panicking at Labour HQ at the idea of Ed doing his speech without Autocue or notes. Apparently the scourge of Murdoch quelled the chaos, and told the Labour leader not to take any notice of it. Let Ed be Ed indeed.
  • The sense of optimism. The Guardian rather unfairly described the atmosphere as flat, but my presiding sense was one of optimism. Living in an almost homogeneously blue bloc in the south east is disheartening sometimes, but meeting and talking to so many activists with so many stories from all across the country was encouraging. I feel utterly reinvigorated.

So where now? Well, in the long term, 2015 and a Labour government. But in the immediate term, there’s a by-election in Pinkneys Green ward in a few weeks, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections soon after. Let’s start there. I’ll look for you all on the campaign battle-lines, comrades.

Poster Boy for the Labour Party Conference


Or maybe not.

This photo, of yours truly holding up a plastic bag (from the USDAW exhibition stand) trying to get Ed Miliband’s attention in yesterday’s Q&A, is in today’s Times.

The actual article is a bit combative, calling Labour members’ support if Ed “a cult“, and accusing us of having “drunk the Kool-Aid“. Which is a bit rich, given the tendency of the Tory Party to deify Margaret Thatcher.

But it’s still nice to be noticed.

The Speech I Would Have Made at the Labour Conference

I had been hoping that I would get the opportunity to address the Labour Party conference this week. Sadly, lots of people want to do exactly the same, and I wasn’t called by the chair in either the economy or young people debates.

But I had written a speech, and it seems a shame to waste it, so I offer to you here — the speech I would have given to the 2012 Labour Party conference.

Conference, I’d like to take a moment to thank you for this opportunity to speak here today. In all the years I have watched conferences past, listened to delegates speak from this podium, I never imagined that I would be here myself one day.

And I certainly never imagined I would be here in the situation that I am. Conference, I have a confession to make: like a million other young people in this country, I am unemployed.

When I left university, I had such bright hopes. I had worked hard, gotten good grades, and graduated with a good degree from a reputable university. All my life I had grown up being told that if I did that, then the rewards would be waiting for me.

A year later, I have applied for over three hundred jobs, and what have I had in return? Rejection, rejection, rejection. Rejection from entry level jobs, rejection from supermarket positions. Rejections from office jobs, and even rejections from unpaid internships! I volunteer my time as an intern and as a Cub Scout Leader, but when I seek paid employment I find only doors shut in my face.

It’s an experience far too common across people my age, and a situation which is destroying lives and wasting talent. With hundreds competing for every vacancy, people are being rejected from entry-level positions and told they don’t have enough experience.

It’s bleak, it’s unfair, and it’s demoralising. The phrase “lost generation” has been thrown around a lot, but it’s not until you look in the mirror and realise that it means you that you really understand how horrific it is.

These young people like me, they are not unemployed because they want to be. They are not out of work because they aren’t trying hard enough. They are unemployed because there aren’t enough jobs, and because they have been abandoned by a government which was full of false promises, but has delivered for them nothing.

Labour’s response to youth unemployment was the future jobs fund. The Tories’ response is jobs for the boys. We are living in a world where young people have to be able to work unpaid for months in order to even have a shot, a world where what you know pales next to who you know, to who your parents know.

I ask you, conference, in 2012 how can it be that who you know still counts volumes more than what you know?

Conference, I count myself very lucky to have grown up under a Labour government. To my shame, I took it for granted, and when I watched David Cameron and Nick Clegg walking into Downing Street that shame propelled me to join up and stand up for my principles. I firmly believe that in 2015 we will see Ed Miliband as Prime Minister of this country, and conference I am counting down the days until the young people of this country, until all people of this One Nation can see their potential fulfilled in a bright and hopeful future.

Letting Ed Be Ed

Yesterday morning I asked if Ed Miliband needed to show some anger in his conference speech that afternoon. I wasn’t the only one wondering, and there was both real pressure on the Labour leader, and a strong sense of expectation surrounding him. The party has been polling well, but a poll result released in the morning raised serious questions about Ed as a leader.

So, of all the times to pull out a barnstorming speech, yesterday was a very good time.

For over an hour Ed spoke about his vision for the future of both the Labour Party and the country. He was relaxed, he was confident, he was funny, and he was clear about his direction. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to who are delighted that Ed has finally managed to come across in a public speech as eloquently, strongly and likably as he does in private.

In short, to quote an absurdly over-used cliche from the West Wing, he finally let Ed be Ed.

It was a long speech — made all the more impressive by the fact that he did it without notes or autocue — and he had the crowd responding to him naturally. Even down to the pantomime-esque call-and-response when he asked repeatedly whether the Tories could unite the country.

One of the early indicators of the speech’s success was the response of the right-wing press — even they couldn’t deny that Ed was pulling off an excellent piece of political performance.

At a Fabians panel in the evening even ConservativeHome editor — and human barometer for the Tory Party — Tim Montgomerie said that it had been a very good speech.

There was some discussion about whether Ed’s adoption of the traditionally conservative concept of One Nation constituted a move to the right, or a redefining of the political centre-ground. Certainly there was something reminiscent of Tony Blair about the way that Ed connected with such ease with the audience in the hall, and reached out to those who voted Tory in 2010.

(Of course, it’s worth noting that the perennially dissatisfied and embittered arch-Blairite Dan Hodges was still not happy, complaining that it didn’t contain enough policy. At the aforementioned Fabians panel, even Tim admitted that with two years before the next election it’s far too early to announce firm policy pledges. Constructive criticism is one thing, but criticism just for criticism’s sake? Can’t we leave that to the other side?)

Another notable aspect was the patriotism which coloured the whole speech through. From Ed’s account of his family history, to the Olympics and Paralympics success, there was a real sense of Ed taking on some of the traditional dominant grounds of the right.

It wasn’t the compete package. Ed won’t walk into Number 10 of the back of this speech. But it was a good platform, and sets the stage for him to make a real offer to the British people and a real challenge to the Tories. One of the best things about the speech was knowing that David Cameron was watching it, and tearing up his own conference speech — his doubtless-planned right-wing lurch would now fully vacate the political “sane” ground to Labour.

But I’ll finish with a direct quote from the speech (which you really should watch):

Who can come up to the task of rebuilding Britain? Friends, it falls to us, it falls to us, the Labour Party. As it has fallen to previous generations of Labour Party pioneers to leave our country a better place than we found it. Never to shrug our shoulders at injustice and say that is the way the world is. To come together, to join together, to work together as a country.

It’s not some impossible dream. We’ve heard it, we’ve seen it, we’ve felt it. That is my faith.

One nation: a country for all, with everyone playing their part. A Britain we rebuild together.

Does Ed Miliband Need to Get Angry?

Does Ed Miliband need to show some raw anger at the government to connect with the public, and win the 2015 election?

Despite the inconvenience, staying outside of Manchester for the Labour Party conference does have its advantages. Yesterday, heading into Deansgate on the train from Warrington Central, I got to overhear a couple of fellow passengers on the way to work, discussing the conference. In particular, they were talking about Ed Miliband.

Said one to the other, of the Labour leader:

He’s definitely getting much better… I quite like him. I think he’ll do it.

The other replied:

He’s getting better, but he needs to lose his rag a bit, he needs to get angry about what the Tories are doing.

Which played on my mind all day really. I completely understand what they mean, Ed has had a very rocky start to his leadership — though the post 1951 and post 1979 years tell a story of how explosive they could have been — and is only beginning to really pull his image into the Prime Minister he wants to become in 2015.

He’s a very thoughtful man, who doesn’t always come across that well on the TV screen, inviting comparisons with Clement Atlee — Winston Churchill allegedly said of the post-war PM “An empty taxi pulled up and Clement Atlee got out“. But Atlee founded the NHS and rebuilt Britain after the Second World War.

And anyway, in person Ed comes across quite differently.

Until yesterday, I had never met Ed. My first sight of him in the flesh was standing at the conference podium, introducing Professor Michael Sandel. For one thing, he was taller than I had expected, with a strong posture and a strange way of speaking which made you feel, even in a hall of thousands, that he was talking to you. That’s an important skill.

But of course it’s foolishness to suggest that as mitigation, because the simple truth is that even if he toured up and down the country from now until the general election, the entire population would never be able to have a one on one with him.

And it isn’t just the people catching the train to work in the morning who have noted the lack of anger. John Harris from the Guardian has described the conference atmosphere as “quiet, respectable and sedate“. Which seems a bit unfair to me. I would have said that it’s less an issue of a lack of anger, and more of realisation that Labour could not only get back into government, but maybe win a majority. It’s a quiet hope, that we’re almost holding our breaths in anticipation of, for fear that we could frighten it away.

But this afternoon sees Ed’s speech. I’ve been impressed with him so far this conference, and I think this could be where he starts to turn on the anger. If he does, and if he manages to communicate a sense of anger which resonates with the general public who are hurting under the cuts of a government who apparently think they should “learn their place“, then a Labour majority in 2015 will get that bit closer.