UK Politics

Why Labour?

I am a Labour Party member principally because I believe in helping society, through helping its most vulnerable members.

The defection of Luke Bozier from Labour to the Conservatives a week ago, and the recent poll-wobble Labour have suffered seemed to have turned us, as a party, back onto the introspective track. Seemingly endless “coloured” ideological factions are rising up, each with their own ideas of where the party should be going.

Blue Labour think we should embrace a community-led ideology. Purple Labour think we should return to the Blairite New Labour which won three elections on the trot (pun not intended). Red Labour think we should go back to before New Labour, and shift starkly leftwards. In-the-black Labour think we should embrace fiscal conservatism (basically, our economic policies should mirror the Tories’).

I’m not in any of these camps, though I listen with interest to what each of them have to say, and I believe that all of them have a part to play in the ongoing debate about which direction Labour should take. Prior to the leadership election, I wrote about the importance of a Labour party that was “comprehensive, inclusive and effective“, and I still believe this is what we need.

The problem, in many quarters, seems to be an expectation that Labour getting back on top would happen pretty much instantaneous. There’s a very interesting article in the New Statesman that pretty much says that Ed Miliband has to address Cameron as he is, not as he wishes the PM would be. This really is true of Labour with the Conservatives on the whole. It’s almost like we’ve expected the coalition not even to try and hide the nastiness of some of the things they’re doing.

When I joined the Labour Party, between the General Election and the Lib Dem/Tory Faustian pact, it was for a number of reasons. Partly it was the dignity of Gordon Brown’s resignation speech. Partly it was fear at the prospect of a Conservative government. Mostly it was guilt at the fact that although I had always been a Labour supporter, I’d never taken the step of joining; and thus feared that I had contributed to the dreadful outcome.

You see, Labour to me is as an ideal as much as a party. There is a fundamental grounding reason behind it, that the privileged should not be allowed to benefit themselves to the detriment of the underprivileged. The Labour Party has lost its way before, and doubtless will do so again, but always it comes back to that idea of helping society, through helping the worst off.

Contrastingly, the underpinning Conservative line of thought is (since Thatcher, certainly) “Every man (and woman) for themselves”. I’ve never been able to stomach the inherent selfishness contained in this, and for me it underlines everything that this government is doing wrong. From letting the bankers off the hook, to punishing the disabled.

Luke Bozier doesn’t hold to the same principles as I do. Both the fact of and nature of his resignation from the party were timed to help himself gain maximum publicity, built on false claims of who he is. Luke Bozier is not Labour, and deserves no more thought from Labour.

The polls are a little more worrying, but not by much. This was always going to be a long term project, and the expectation that Labour’s reinvention is done (or, indeed, will ever be done) is folly. Take the polls as exactly what they are at this stage in a parliament; near-meaningless. Rather than obsessing about them, we should be doing two things:

  1. Helping the vulnerable now, through solid, effective and principled opposition.
  2. Deciding how we’re going to help the vulnerable in the future, through a comprehensive and progressive plan for government.

This is why I am a Labour Party member, and why if anyone else wants to pump out any more ideas, in any shade of any colour, I’ll be happy to read and discuss them.

In/Out, In/Out, Shake It All About

The EU has been a distraction shouting on the sidelines of more pressing political debates for too long now. Let's have a referendum and kill the issue for good.

The European Union seems to be the flavour de jour at the moment. It’s probably partly due to the fact that the eurozone (contrary to popular belief, not the same thing) is in meltdown. It’s probably also partly due to the fact that euroscepticism has become one of the principle markers of “right wing” now that openly hating poor people is considered uncivilised.

But whatever the reason, next week will see a House of Commons debate on whether there should be a referendum on our continued membership of the EU. It’s a backbench motion, so not binding on the government, but anyone who knows their political history will know quite how destructive Europe can be as an issue for the Conservative Party. It brought down Thatcher, proved a continual thorn in the side of Major, and left the public with a decidedly unsavoury impression of the Tories for years.

So I’m sure Cameron will welcome this motion like a hole in the head. They’ve even moved it forward, from Thursday to Monday, so he can attend. How generous of them!

Now, I should declare an interest: I’m (broadly) pro-EU. It’s far from perfect, but in a basic in/out referendum I would vote in. Because I genuinely believe that it’s in the best interests of the country. In a three-pronged referendum, offering choices of in/out/renegotiation-and-reform, or as I like to call it “shake it all about”, I’d probably lump for the hokey cokey option.

The fun thing about this motion is that it seems to be causing huge headaches for everyone who isn’t me. Allow me to explain the various parties’ objections.

Our (somewhat) eurosceptic Prime Minister and his government feels trapped between a hard place and a rock. It’s easy to be slaveringly eurosceptic and ally your party with “nutters, anti-semites, people who deny climate change exists and homophobes” when you’re in opposition, but when you’re in government you actually have to work with the EU. So he can whip his party to vote against a referendum, which a) risks pissing off an already pissed off Conservative right wing, and b) would make a referendum-winning rebellion. Or he could give his party a free vote, which would run the very real risk of passing the motion.

Rampant eurosceptics, too, seem to be hesitant about it. The thinking ones, at least. Alex Singleton, writing on the Daily Mail website, says that in just such a three-option referendum the “better off out crowd” would lose to the much more reasonable third choice. He’s right, in my opinion. Which is all the more reason to do it.

You see, I’d quite like a referendum I think. The eurosceptics, with UKIP at the head, have been screaming for one for ages. I say we give it to them. They would object to a three-choice referendum, naturally, but if they argued against it then the clear comeback is that they’re trying to use the question to influence the result. Also, when the majority chose to renegotiate/reform the EU, then we can actually move on and make a positive improvement to it. That, surely, is both in the best interest of democracy and the country.

The fact that it would split the Conservative Party, drive Cameron to the brink of nervous breakdown and put an end to UKIP’s bleating and raison d’être is just a bonus.

One Rule For Them…

Can David Laws really just walk back into the cabinet after being found guilty of fiddling his expenses?

I must confess, I’m somewhat confused about this whole David Laws affair.

The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury (who, let it not be forgotten, was responsible for orchestrating last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review with George Osborne, and is responsible for the current cuts which are causing so much woe) resigned as a minister last year as it came to light that he had claimed £40,000 between 2004 and 2009, to pay rent to a man who happened to be his husband. This blatant breach of expenses rules was explained as Laws trying to keep private his sexuality.

This didn’t wash with me at the time, and it doesn’t wash now. Did he really need to pretend that James Lundie was his landlord? And did he need to pay him a small fortune? It seems incredibly iffy.

Today he was censured by the Parliamentary authorities, made to apologise to the House, and suspended for seven days. This is a fairly harsh punishment, as far as Parliament goes. And yet, the Lib Dems and apparently the Tories are eager for him to return to cabinet. Witness David Cameron; “I think he has a lot to offer public life and I hope he stays in public life.

This is a man who falsely claimed £40k of taxpayers money. This being the man who nearly caused a rebellion in his own party when the original expenses scandal broke, with his hardline approach to expenses offenders. And yet now he wants David Laws back in his cabinet? That doesn’t seem to tally.

And just to add to that, remember Eric Illsley? The former Labour MP for Barnsley Central, who was jailed for his expenses? He falsley claimed £14,000. David Chaytor? £18,500. But David Laws falsely claims £40,000 and he gets an invitation back to the cabinet. Could it be because he’s one of the so-called “Orange Book-ers”? Or because he’s one of the increasingly rare friends of Clegg?

The really galling thing, though, is that the Liberal Democrats spent the 2010 general election campaign running on a “new politics” platform, as the only party untouched by the expenses scandal. David Laws campaigned along those lines- despite clearly knowing that he had breached the rules and abused the system. So he’s a liar and hypocrite. As I recall, Phil Woolas lost his seat for that very crime.

And the idea that he did it to hide that he was gay? This is supposed to be an enlightened age. Sexuality is not supposed to matter. If Laws wanted to maintain his privacy, he could have done. Blaming it on his sexuality seems to me like a cheap, sensationalist attempt at distraction, and really it only brings shame to Parliament and the Lib Dems.

(Speaking of, where did the Lib Dems get this reputation as a pro-LGBT party? Does anyone remember the 1983 Bermondsey bye-election? There’s only one party which has ever done anything of note for LGBT rights, and it isn’t yellow.)

Basically, it just seems strange comparing the reactions between Laws and other MPs who broke expenses rules. Laws seems to be treated as the victim, whereas others are demonised. I’m not sure why this is exactly, but it seems that Lib Dems are still treated as whiter than snow. I haven’t a clue why, given how many promises they have broken, and how much hurt they are causing. But it certainly doesn’t seem fair that Laws should get away with a slap on the wrist and an invitation back into cabinet, for what the public were calling for the heads of other MPs for doing.

Tin-Foil Linings


The Barnsley by-election results beg even more an answer to the question, "What is the point of Nick Clegg?"

This morning is wonderfully sunny in Brighton, and I think for left-wingers and Labourites across the country, the whole day will have that character.


I am, of course, referring to last night’s by-election victory in Barnsley, which saw the frankly impressive Dan Jarvis elected to replace the disgraced Eric Illsley. Dan’s success isn’t in any way surprising, in a safe Labour seat (though I do think Dan would have done well in any seat), but what is especially heartening is the fares of other parties. I’ll reproduce the full results below, as they’re just so damn amusing:

  • Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 – 60.8%
  • Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953 – 12.9%
  • James Hockney (C) 1,999 – 8.25%
  • Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463 – 6.04%
  • Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266 – 5.23%
  • Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012 – 4.18%
  • Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544
  • Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 198
  • Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60

Turnout 36.5%

(Source BBC News)

Yes, you read that correctly. 4.18% of the vote to the Liberal Democrats. Sixth place. Glorious, no?

I know it isn’t funny, that they came below the BNP, but on many levels it is. I might be worried if it wasn’t such a safe Labour seat, but there was never any chance of UKIP or the BNP winning, so why not enjoy them sticking the boot into Clegg and friends.

At any rate, the yellow vote has utterly collapsed in Barnsley, dumping them below the 5% threshold which sees them lose their deposit. Any government party can expect to fare less favourably in a by-election (God knows that Labour had enough bad ones), but this is landmark. Already Lib Dems are making excuses that the turnout was low, that their voters simply stayed at home. Possible, but it’s far more likely that those who voted Lib Dem at the general election are so disgusted with the party’s behaviour since entering office, that they politically withheld their vote, or switched to Labour (the only left-wing, progressive party left in British politics).

It’s a humiliating endorsement for the Lib Dem leadership, that they were so heavily punished in an area that will be most damaged by the cuts which have, by and large, yet to come into effect. This is the start of something that the government are denying; that people are not going to sit and accept ideological cuts to the poorest in society. With the local elections coming up in May, and the Lib Dem’s large council base, the party must be really starting to worry.

Still, there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Or, perhaps more aptly in this case, a tin-foil lining; at least they beat the Monster Raving Loonies… There there, Clegg.

You Can Take My Freedom, But You’ll Never Take My…Voting Rights?

The judgement in Hirst v UK has brought up an important constitutional issue relating to the Human Rights Act 1998, the ECHR, and prisoners' voting rights

As I type this, I am listening to the debate going on in the House of Commons, on the voting rights of prisoners. It has particular significance to me, as on Friday morning I’ll be giving a presentation on the topic. So I thought I’d knock out a quick blog entry, outlining the issues and what I think of them.

The whole thing arises out of the case Hirst v United Kingdom*, before the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg. In this case, the Strasbourg court declared that the UK’s blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote was unlawful under the convention. The part of the convention relied upon is Article 3 of the First Protocol (Not to be confused with Article 3 of the convention proper), which says:

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.”

In explaining the issue, I think it’s important to lay to bed a misconception about the meaning of this protocol, and of the Strasbourg judgement. Firstly, the judgement applies only to a blanket ban on prisoner voting. So that isn’t to say that going along with the judgement means that we have to give all prisoners, no matter the length of their sentence or the severity of their crime, but rather that we can’t automatically remove the right to vote from everyone who is imprisoned.

Already in the debate it has been suggested (by Conservative MPs, of course) that the problem is with the Convention, and thus the solution is to withdraw from it. With respect (or not, whatever you like), that’s rubbish. The ECHR has been a force for good in the area of Human Rights for over 50 years. Various Tories have found problems with the idea of the Strasbourg court policing Human Rights in the UK. I’m not entirely sure of why -the court has invariably got some issues wrong, but then so have domestic courts- however I suspect it might have to do with another misconception, namely that the European Court of Human Rights is part of the EU. It isn’t.

My own feelings of this is that I don’t want to see the franchise extended to prisoners. As I see it, there are a few reasons for restricting their right to vote. The first is in relation to punishment. When a person is sent to prison, upon conviction of a criminal offence, a number of their rights are suspended. This includes the right to liberty, under Article 5. There is no objection to that.

Whilst a person is a prisoner, a convicted criminal, they are undergoing a process of rehabilitation. If that is the case, then surely it follows that a person, for the duration of their rehabilitation, is not considered fit to be a functioning member of society. If that is so, what stake do they have in the governance of that society?

My own thoughts on how to address this problem manifest in two suggestions.

The first is that we give the matter over to the domestic judiciary. Rather than have an automatic voting ban upon incarceration, a revocation of voting rights should be at the discretion of the sentencing judge. This, the Hirst judgement strongly hints, would be sufficient to meet the requirements under the ECHR. It would also allow the popular will of the people to take effect through the judges, who by all indications share the distaste for prisoners being able to vote.

Secondly, rather than giving discretion directly to the judges, the ban on voting might instead be altered so that it applies only to convictions of trials on indictment. This means that it would apply only to cases tried in the Crown Court, rather than in the Magistrates’ court. Since the maximum sentence in the Magistrates’ court is 12 months incarceration, this would mean that only the least serious offences leave the offenders still able to vote.

But of course, I’m just a lowly law student, and this is a contentious matter. I welcome anyone who wishes to comment on my views, however.

*(2006) 42 EHRR 41

Little by Little, Taking Ground

Labour made frankly fantastic gains in yesterday's local bye-election.

So the results are in from yesterday’s Windsor local bye-election, and it’s brilliant news for Labour.

That may need some explaining. After all, yes the Tories held the seat. Yes they did so with a majority of 481. Yes they polled 488 more than Labour. The exact results are as follows:

LAB: 149, LD: 156, CON: 637, IND: 47, SPOILT: 4

But what this signifies is incredible. An 11% gain for Labour, over the last election in 2007. 11%, in a Tory safe ward in the middle of Windsor. Eight votes off second place. 11% in very much hostile territory. If we can make these sort of gains there, imagine the gains we will make in May.

And this positive outcome, whilst no doubt party because of events at a national level, I believe is every bit a testament to Labour candidate Laura Binnie’s efforts. She led the Windsor CLP (and one hanger-on; yours truly) in a number of canvassing efforts, trying to bring out the Labour vote and let people know that the bye-election had been called because the previous Tory councillor had been to one meeting in the last year.

And actually, there was another Labour success last night. In the Prime Minister’s own constituency of Witney, Labour took a council seat in a bye-election, where the Tories didn’t even field a candidate. Now, I’ve been looking into this, and apparently the previous councillor in that ward had been removed for not attending meetings. A running theme, perhaps? I wonder how many other Tory councillors in safe seats just take the money and don’t do the work. Just wondering.

But this is my testament and salute to the Windsor Labour Party. Their 11% gain has been earned through sheer hard work and effort. Laura was an upstanding candidate, and anywhere else but Windsor she would have taken the seat. But she isn’t anywhere else. She’s fighting for the people of Windsor, and letting them know that Labour is there for them. As I’ve already mentioned on this blog, I think that’s downright heroic.

And the seat will be up for election again in May. I certainly hope Laura will stand again, and I hope the new Councillor Natasha Lavender (CON) will take note, that Labour’s gains will not stop at this. Labour is finding its voice in Tory heartlands, and it’s going to get very loud.

An Open Letter to Liberal Democrat MPs

Dear Sirs/Madams

Today, as you are no doubt aware, is a hugely important day. It is also the biggest test of your moral fibre that you will undergo, I suspect, in this Parliament.

This is the pledge, clear and unambiguous, which you all signed. It meant something then. Does it not now?

You have been considered the “party of students” since the Blair government introduced tuition fees in 1998 (Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, c.30), and since then you have campaigned relentlessly on this. I’d point out that in elections following this, you gained 17 seats (before the 2010) election, something in which I posit your student-friendly stance played a large part in.


And at the election in May, you took it one step further. Every one of your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates signed the NUS’ “vote for students” pledge. Maybe I should remind you what it said:

“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

It’s a remarkably clear political promise, don’t you think? And for every one of your party’s candidates to sign it sent a powerful message to students: ‘Vote for us, and we will fight for you. We will oppose any attempt to raise fees as our principle concern’ And it worked. You might have lost seats at the 2010 election, but I can assure you that you were viewed by students as the best choice, and they voted for you en mass, precisely because of your pledge.

Now, I understand that coalition means compromise. I understand that you weren’t going to be able to get all of your policies. But what sticks in the craw is that despite the fact that you were elected on this promise (I’ll be honest with you, only the real hardcore of Lib Dem supporters, and people with an active interest in politics care about electoral reform- most of the general public just don’t care) you didn’t press for it.

Your party has meekly and quietly accepted the rise in tuition fees, and I would highlight this passage in the coalition agreement:

If the response of the Government to  Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal  Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements  will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs  to abstain in any vote.

I honestly don’t see how this is a victory. What it says, is if the government decided that they were going to raise tuition fees, Lib Dems would still have to break their promise, only through abstention rather than actually expressing their views. You have been, in other words, gagged. The agreement you signed was not to not vote for an increase, but to vote against an increase.

The end result of this will be that prospective students will be dissuaded from university by the prospects of massive debts. It makes no odds that you’re giving token gestures to make the repayment less harsh, people will still look at £27,000 worth of debt and think “No thank you”. Hence a great many capable, brilliant, but poor students will be put off the higher education that could be the gateway to their future success, and the country will lose out as a result. We benefit nothing from higher education becoming the purview of the rich and privileged.

If you look outside Parliament this afternoon, you will see thousands of people there protesting. If you go to any of the major university towns and cities, you will find their centres besieged by protesters. They aren’t there because “they don’t understand” the measures. They aren’t there because the NUS has misled them. They are there because these measures are massively unpopular, and yet you who promised to oppose them are lining up behind the Conservatives on this. Motions have been proposed to delay the vote, in order to give time for a proper investigation into the impacts, and the possible alternatives. You have even voted against those.

Today, as I said above, is a hugely important day, for you especially. This day, and your response to it, will be long remembered. Some of you will vote for the increase, and be remembered as turncoats and spineless opportunists. Some of you will abstain, and be remembered as cowards who let others walk all over the promises they had made. Some of you will vote against the measures, and be remembered as heroes.

It’s not often that a chance to be a political hero comes along. I hope that you will make the correct choice.


Yours faithfully


Matthew S. Dent


Chasing Shadows

So, after much anticipation, and a fair amount of spectacle, Mr (E.) Miliband has announced his Shadow Cabinet. And the commentators and speculators had it largely wrong (that’ll teach them). So here, fresh from my first Law & Politics in Britain and North America seminar, is my after-the-fact and probably under-informed view on the choices. This isn’t, by the way, going to be a full analysis, just a bit of comment on the bits I find interesting.

The obvious starting place is the place where all the speculation and rumour seemed to congeal- the Shadow Chancellorship. Of particular importance at the moment given the amount of attention being given to the economy, many had expected (and I had personally hoped) leadership candidate Ed Balls would get the job, given his political ferocity and economic understanding. Throughout the leadership campaign he had been noteworthy as particularly informed on the economy (just see his phenomenal There Is An Alternative speech), and has been supported by a number of key economists. Failing that, it was thought that his wife Yvette Cooper might be placed opposite Osborne, drawing on her experience as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.


Alan Johnson MP, Shadow Chancellor and Nicest Guy in Politics


Well we were all wrong. In the event, Mr Miliband has lumped for former Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Johnson, winner of my personal and very unofficial Nicest Guy in Politics Award, wasn’t much touted for the job, and is a bit of an odd appointment. Part of the reason might be that he’ll be more likely to tread the new leader’s line on the economy, being a slower reduction of the deficit rather than Balls’ radical investment and economic growth beliefs. It’s a bit early to comment on Johnson’s appointment, but whilst he’s a bit of a shock, he’s quite a diplomatic choice- probably designed to placate David Miliband’s supporters.

So consequently, Mr Balls has ended up as Shadow Home Secretary. I’m quite glad of this, to be


Ed Balls MP, Shadow Home Secretary


honest. As I said above, Ed is a fiery opponent, and I look forward to seeing him take on Theresa May and her one jacket (which is actually of particular interest, as one of Ms May’s constituents). I’m hoping that Ed will take the same hard line against cuts to the police, and policies on immigration which could potentially be disastrous to the recovering economy.

Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, sits herself down in the newly-vacated seat of David Miliband, as Shadow Foreign Secretary. This might seem an odd choice, but makes perfect sense, I think. William Hague (the Foreign Secretary) is famed as particularly talented orator, and whilst Ms Cooper may not have the same profile as the former Conservative Leader, I can assure you that she is a very talented politician. Iain Duncan Smith will be breathing a sigh of relief that he won’t be facing her across the dispatch box.


Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Education Secretary


The only other leadership candidate (aside from the two Eds) to make it into the cabinet is Andy Burnham, who has been given Balls’ old brief in Education. This appointment I can genuinely say I am thrilled with. Just as Gove is poking his head out from behind the barricade and wondering if it’s safe to come out now that the nasty Mr Balls has moved on, here comes another heavyweight. In particular, Andy’s line on fairness and equality throughout the leadership campaign fits perfectly here, and with Balls having moved to the Home Office, I can’t think of anyone better to fight the inequality and foolishness of Gove’s education policies.

Sadiq Kahn, the man who ran Ed Miliband’s successful leadership campaign, is rewarded with a brief opposite Ken Clarke in the Ministry of Justice. This is quite a promotion, for the man who was formerly Minister for Transport, and no doubt reflects his loyal service to the new leader. It’s also going to be a fairly difficult task, standing opposite one of the few men who I will laud as a “sensible” Conservative.

To finish, I’m glad to see that Shaun Woodward and Peter Hain have been worked into the cabinet, despite not qualifying through the election. Counter-democratic as it may be argued, I think that the election of the shadow cabinet is daft, and Peter Hain needed to be included so that a Welshman could be placed shadowing the Welsh Secretary. As for Shaun Woodward, I genuinely like the guy. He had the strength of character to follow his principles, and cross the floor from the Tories to Labour, which deserves respect, and I am thoroughly glad to see him as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.

That’s just a taste of the new Shadow Cabinet, and if you want to see the whole list then the BBC News Website has helpfully got them all listed for you. As for how effective the various members will be in their new roles remains to be seen. But the fact is that with the results of the spending review being announced in a fortnight, they’re going to have to hit the ground running. This should make for good politics, and exciting watching.

The Red Dawn

Ed Miliband, 20th Leader of the Labour Party

Okay, that sounded more revolutionarily socialist than I’d intended, but let’s run with it…

Yesterday, the result of the long, hard campaign for the new Labour leader was revealed, and Edward Samuel Miliband was elected as the new party leader. The moment itself was something of a shock, as indicated by the surprised gasp that went around the conference when it became apparent that firm favourite David Miliband had been beaten by his younger brother.

Now, those of you who follow this blog will know that Mr Miliband was not my first choice. But that doesn’t matter. One of the many positives about this leadership campaign has been the quality of all the candidates. There were none of them that I would not have been happy with at the head of the party.

But now the contest is done, and we have our new leader. The attention must turn to the rest of the conference, and to fighting the cuts that will decimate our unsteady economy. There’s still a way to go before Labour is in full opposition mode, after the Shadow Cabinet has been elected, and appointed by Ed.

What needs to happen now is a mass mobilisation of the public, against what is to come. Ed needs to work with all sectors of society, to place Labour at the forefront of the wave of public outcry which will be rising up once Coaliton cuts set in. The biggest danger he faces, and all of Labour faces, is internal division.

The last 13 years in the Labour Party were hampered by the Blair-Brown divide. What we cannot have now is that same divide manifesting through Miliband E and Miliband D camps. So far there has been no hint of that, with David’s congratulations to Ed feeling genuine and loving, if understandably a little put out.

The other danger is listening to the right-wing media. Already accusations are being made that he is a creature of the unions. It’s true, that the union vote was what put him over the top. But that doesn’t mean he’s a slave to them, or that there is something amiss about his election. Labour is the party of the people, it’s connection to the unions is long and esteemed. The union role in the leadership election reflects their contribution to the party, and ties the party to its political beneficiaries: the working people of the United Kingdom.

The Tory-skewed media is naturally going to try and bring Ed down over this. The party cannot listen to it. The only way we are going to be able to fight the Tories and the Lib Dems is if we are united. We did great things in the 13 years of Labour government, and now the average person of this country needs us to fight these disastrous cuts with everything we have. In government we could afford to have internal divisions, even if they handicapped us. In opposition, we don’t have that luxury.

So I’m adding my voice to those greater than myself, to all those in the party. We’ve gone through this election to find our new leader. We have found him. Now we need to unite behind him, and move onto the real fight. We need to present a single, strong and united front, against an already-fracturing Coalition government.

This is where we begin our fightback. This is where we make our future.

Getting Stuck In

So this evening was my first Constituency Labour Party meeting.

I went with a mixture of excitement and nervousness, with little idea what to expect. I’d been looking forward to this since joining, and I’d really wanted to get stuck in and involved. But when I was walking from the car park to the actual venue, I didn’t really have a clue what to expect.

Labour is local, every bit as much as National, and that local presence is what can make an immediate difference

Thank God, then, that the Maidenhead Constituency Labour Party are such a great bunch. Really, from the moment I went in I was completely welcomed. I spent the evening in a room with ten to fifteen people, feeling thoroughly part of something big and important. It wasn’t a huge CLP, but then this is Tory heartland, so I wasn’t expecting an army. What it was, was a group of people who shared the same principles as I do, and the same ideas about how the country should be run.

And the talk given by Cath Arakelian, on the real meaning of the Big Society, was fascinating. She went into the ramifications of the Tories’ ideological devolution to community bodies, and the sacrifice of national strategy that will result. It was in depth, but accessible, and she was a very capable speaker. For any party members yet to cast their ballot, I’d urge them to strongly consider casting a vote for her in the National Policy Forum elections.

The upshot of this evening, is that I feel positively inspired. I want to get more involved, I want to do more to fight the Con-Dem government, and to stir things up in the middle of Torydom. Anyone who is considering their political stance and alignment would do well to consider that the Labour Party isn’t just about leadership elections and the central party. The Constituency Labour Parties are every bit as important, and can help you make a real difference to your own community.

I also came away with a pile of leaflets, so tomorrow I’ll be going Tory-bothering, hehehe…