Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Labour Lurches Left

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 25th September, 2010

Hot on the heels of Ken “let’s raise the top level of income tax to 80 per cent” Livingstone being chosen as Labour’s London Mayoral candidate (again!), the party has elected union-backed Ed Miliband — already dubbed ‘Red Ed’ by the more conservative tabloids — to be its new leader. This will doubtless warm the cockles of the Left and the Miriam Karlin “everybody out!” branch of trade unionism, but it is a disaster for Labour in its hopes of forming the next government. In his acceptance speech in Manchester this afternoon, Ed Miliband said that he will oppose the Coalition when he needs to but he will support it when he arees with it. But I don’t think those who backed him will let him. Meanwhile, it was interesting to see how many people in the hall at the Labour Party conference sat on their hands at key points in his speech, not just because they believe that the wrong Miliband won, but more importantly because they know that actually the party has fatally gone into the comfort zone of longterm opposition. Moreover, some of the more militant trade unions — such as Bob Crow’s RMT — will be calling for mass strike action — not something that is likely to endear Labour to the general public in the prevailing political climate of 2010.

3 Responses to “Labour Lurches Left”

  1. I’m quite surprised by your post. I voted Lib Dem last time mainly because they were left of Blair/Brown (not that that was very difficult). Now labour also has an anti-Iraq candidate the choice might be harder next time.

    It seems a bit silly to say he was elected by the unions. he did very well in all the constituencies, just marginally better than in the union vote.

  2. jonathanfryer said

    David, David Miliband was the first choice of Labour MPs and individual members. It was the union vote that narrowly swung it for Ed.

    Personally, I think the language of Left/Right is dated. Progressive is a term I like and something which I hope the LibDems can ensure the Coalition is on most fronts.

  3. Hi John, interesting take on both elections. Obviously as a Liberal Democrat, you do not agree with the link between Labour and Trades Unions, but to portray it as some kind of “gift” from Union leaders is of course wide of the mark. Members who pay into the political fund were entitled to a vote, and those votes then accounted for one third of our electoral college. Considering that, it was hardly the bad old days of the block vote was it? Sad to see a Lib Dem using Tory – style smears.
    Yes, “Ed” rhymes with “red” – hardly a shift to the left in itself, and ypu seem to miss one very important fact, we now have a leader who has gone on record as supporting AV – in fact, all candidates for leader backed AV – a marked change at the top for us, and one to be welcomed surely?
    As the Reform bill also contains some of the most blatant gerrymandering for over a century ( see Nick Cohen in yesterdays Observer), it is very important that we maximise the Yes vote next May. labour now have a leader who can help us do this.
    I look forward to working with you and others in Take Back Parliament.

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