Labour, Letters And Clear Water

Both Paul Bernal and Sunny Hundal have written open letters to Rachel Reeves. First, the ex-Labour Party member expresses what many of us feel:

“This is a rare chance for you – I do hope you haven’t already thrown it away. Ed Miliband’s speech at conference was very well received, and seemed to pretty seriously rattle the Tories. They, in response, revealed some of their nastiest aspects at their conference. The Lib Dems are still in chaos. With the departure of Liam Byrne, you had a chance to change the game. It was a chance get onto the front foot, and set the agenda – as Ed Miliband did so well with the energy price freeze policy. Did you notice how well that resonated with people? And how the promise to repeal the Bedroom Tax resonated with people? Did you ask yourself why? One of the key reasons is that it put clear water between Labour and the Tories. It showed that Labour understood peoples’ problems, and actually seemed to care about them. It showed that Labour was no longer going to just be a slightly milder version of the Tories…. or so we thought.
EDM1
Through your interview, you’ve reversed all that. You may well have lost all the goodwill gained by the Party Conference. I do hope that’s not the case, and I hope you’ll be willing to reconsider your approach. Personally, I live in Cambridge, which is a marginal seat, currently held by the Lib Dems, and I would have thought that you want my vote. Right now, with an approach like this, I don’t think I can give it to you. After Ed Miliband’s speech I was even considering rejoining the Labour Party – after a long gap – and putting a good deal of energy into supporting the campaign. I’d still like to do that, but with an approach like this, I really can’t see a way. [My emphasis.] “

Sunny puts it in an more moderate way:

“The conventional wisdom within Labour is that the party is seen as ‘soft’ on people who claim social security and too forgiving of people who abuse the system. You will know that poorer people are usually harsher towards others on benefits and want tough sanctions on abusers of the system. You will have seen polling that suggests Labour needs to neutralise that image or else people may be tempted to vote for the Conservatives in 2015. Hence you wanted to sound tough in your interview with the Observer on Sunday.

This talk of Labour ‘walking into a welfare trap’ set by the Tories has itself become a problem: we keep returning to the safe ground of ‘tough’ rhetoric, without convincing messages or policies that favour Labour in the long term. It is time to bring some fresh thinking to this debate and I hope you won’t shy away from doing so.”

Update 1: George Eaton argues EU study shreds the myth of “benefit tourism”.

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The Daily Mail And Hitler

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Ed Miliband. I think that he is far too timid in his opposition to the Tories. I wish he would dispense with Liam Byrne’s services and adopt a stridently anti Tory agenda, but he won’t. Miliband is a rather moderate politician.

On a bad day I can be terribly cynical, but even I was astonished at the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Milliband.

Emily Maitlis is particularly great on Newsnight in examining the malicious, ill informed and scurrilous character assassination of Ralph Miliband, and by inference his son, Ed.

The Hacked Off campaign is good, if too brief.

Michael Newman hits the nail on the head:

“But, of course, Levy’s real target is not Ralph Miliband at all, but Ed, whom he accuses of being determined to bring about his father’s vision. Apart from being absurd, this is also ironic for, ever since my biography was published, I have constantly been asked to explain how both of Ralph’s sons became politicians in a party that he had often regarded as a barrier to the attainment of socialism. “[My emphasis.]

Even Lord Heseltine, who served under Thatcher, knows that the Daily Mail has crossed a line:

“Heseltine told The Daily Politics on BBC2: “This is carrying politics to an extent that is just demeaning, frankly. The headline isn’t justified. It is completely out of context. As everybody knows the guy fought for this country and we now live in a totally different world to the clash between communism and fascism.”

HitlerDM1
Just a simple reminder of who the Daily Mail boss, Viscount Rothermere, liked. He is the man in the middle.

This is what Rothermere wrote in September 1933:

“It is Germany’s good fortune to have found a leader who can combine for the public good all the most
vigorous elements in the country. President von Hindenburg and the Crown Prince form, with Herr Hitler, the keystone of the national structure.

The world’s greatest need today is realism. Hitler is a realist. He has saved his country from the ineffectual leadership of hesitating, half-hearted politicians. He has infused into its national life the conquerable spirit of triumphant youth.”

So when faced with the evil that Hitler represented, what did the Daily Mail proprietor, Rothermere do?

He applauded it.

That tells you all you need to know about the Daily Mail. Not much has changed.
HItlerDM2

Update 1: Daily Mail widens attack on Ed Miliband.

Update 2: Stephen Fry gives his tuppence worth:

“But there’s form here. The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – large and small – from Picasso to equal pay for women. Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Of course they’ll leap on a Stephen Lawrence bandwagon once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown, but deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.

Most notoriously of all, they loved Adolf Hitler when he came to power, and as the Czech crisis arose they were the appeasement newspaper. And woe-betide any liberal-minded anti-fascist who warned that the man was unstable and that consistently satisfying his vanity, greed and ambition was only storing up trouble. The whole liberal left, not to mention Winston Churchill, were mocked and scorned for their instinctive distrust of Hitler. The Daily Mail knew better.” [My emphasis.]

Update 3: This Buzzfeed is superb. The Best Of The Internet Vs. The Daily Mail.

Update 4: Where is Paul Dacre? is funny.

Update 5: Channel 4 on The mythical power of the Daily Mail.
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Dennis Skinner And David Cameron

The comparison between David Cameron and Dennis Skinner is stark, as an unlikely source reminds us about the Tories:

“Two thirds of the Cabinet — 18 out of 29 ministers — were millionaires, the new Cabinet “rich list” found.

Wealth-X, a consultancy specialising in analysing the financial affairs of US politicians, based its figures on salaries as well as declared shares and properties.

The consultancy’s analysts estimated Mr Cameron’s net worth at £3.8million, with liquid assets of £190,000 from current and previous salaries – half as much as President Barack Obama.

His fortune was in part self-made and from “property, most likely funded from parents/inheritance”.

The analysis also forecast that the combined wealth of Mr and Mrs Cameron was likely to rise sharply in coming years because they would inherit an estimated £25.3 million. “

The Indy describes Skinner’s relationship with Cameron:

“Then along came David Cameron, who seemed to think that a really clever way to put down the veteran socialist was to ridicule him for being old. Replying to a barbed question about the former Downing Street spin doctor, Andy Coulson, Mr Cameron told him: “I often say to my children, ‘no need to go to the Natural History Museum to see a dinosaur, come to the House of Commons’.” At another session, last month, the Prime Minister ignored the question altogether, and peevishly remarked: “He has the right at any time to take his pension – and I advise him to do so.”

Some of Parliament’s older MPs were offended to hear a youngish Prime Minister imply that someone should shut up because he is no longer young. Mr Cameron took note and last Wednesday adopted a very different tone. Challenged again by Mr Skinner, a contrite Mr Cameron replied: “My last response to him was a bit more sharp than it should have been and I hope he will accept my apologies.”

As far as Mr Skinner is concerned, the apology was pointless because the insults were water off a duck’s back. “I don’t let that worry me – never have. I think it diminishes him,” he said.”

Some of Dennis Skinner’s better quotes.

Livingstone Defeated By The Web

Rob Marchant has an astute piece up at the New Statesman on Ken Livingstone’s mayoral defeat.

How politicians have to realise that modern technology allows their every action and word to be scrutinised and verified. So, if politicians try to play it fast and loose, saying one thing here and another there then they will soon be caught out.

In fact, it holds true for all those in the public eye. Be more careful what you say and to whom.

Rob argues:

“The free-and-easy availability of information makes it easier to catch politicians out: and if you speak as carelessly as the Labour candidate always has, you will be caught out not once but repeatedly; which is what has happened. Trust, or the lack of it, is what stopped the Livingstone bandwagon in its tracks. That’s the beauty of twenty-first century politics: it requires politicians who say the same to everyone.

In short, it is perhaps Livingstone’s failure to adapt to this new world that has most contributed to his astonishing achievement: of gifting a campaign, which should really have been won, to his enemies, on a very good night for Labour. “

London 2012: Ken Lost It, Boris Didn’t Win It.

The old political adage that elections are lost, not won seems to apply to the London Mayoral race of 2012.

Boris Johnson has managed to win the position of London Mayor, in the face of a countrywide defeat for the Tories.

Part of it has been personality, partly keeping his head down and the other, the benefit of running against Ken Livingstone.

Unlike the GLA results, natural Labour supporters did not flock to Ken Livingstone’s campaign.

On paper they should have, his policies seemed good and promised much.

However, the political baggage that Livingstone drew along from his questionable tax activities to his communalism soured many people’s attitudes towards him.

In the last few years of his previous administration, Livingstone showed an insensitivity and arrogance which were his undoing.

Rob Marchant, a solid Labour member and previously a Labour Party manager, was just one who felt he couldn’t vote for Ken.

There were many more:

“Despite a late wobble, Johnson was predicted to have secured a four-point lead on first preferences in London, enough to protect him even if the bulk of second preferences of other candidates went to his dogged Labour rival, Ken Livingstone. Labour activists rounded on Livingstone for crassly insulting Jewish voters. It was pointed out that in seats with strong Jewish communities, such as Barnet, the Labour candidate outpolled his Tory rival by 21,000, yet in the mayoral election in the same seat Johnson beat Livingstone by 24,000.”

But let us not weep for Ken Livingstone, he’s not poor or without earnings.

If nothing else he can prostitute his principled and work for Press TV, again.
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