Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

For fox sake

Last night I received an email from the Labour party. It was about foxhunting. The issue of the day yesterday. My only regret was that the email hadn’t gone out earlier – it would surely have been an issue that would have boosted our vote in Heywood and Middleton massively.

I honestly didn’t know what to say when I opened that email. And I still can’t decide whether it would be worse if it had been part of an explicit strategy or if it had simply been sent out irrespective of the overall gameplan. One thing is for sure – the results in Clacton and Heywood have put paid, once and for all, to any of those policies aimed at the latte-sipping, chino-wearing, light Green, inner-city left. Surely?

We failed in three ways in Heywood and Middleton and succeeded in one. The success first: We kept our share of the vote. That was no mean achievement. The 2010 general election vote was a warning to us – the combined rightwing vote (Tories, United Kingdom Independence party and British National party) was nearly equal to the Labour vote. It just required voters to coalesce around Ukip to give us a scare. And it did. Boosted by a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote too. That latter point is really scary – Ukip became ABL (Anyone But Labour). We have been here before – and it does not have a happy ending. This is exactly what happened in the 2011 elections to the Scottish parliament, which set us on the road to the referendum. There is no comfort in the fact this happened to the Tories in Clacton too. And first past the post is no protection. When the voters decide to punish you they will break the electoral system to do so.

So that was the good news. What’s the bad news? Apparently we have lost the power of hearing.

For Labour, this was a by-election about the NHS. That was what voters ‘brought up on the doorstep’. For voters, visitors and the casual observer it was a by-election about immigration. Even in politics a conversation isn’t simply waiting for your turn to speak – it has to be about engagement. There is a perfectly defensible line to take on Labour’s record on immigration and its plans. It just doesn’t involve not mentioning it. And there is a blindingly obvious link to the NHS – a service that would stop tomorrow without immigrant workers.

That was a lack of courage.

So too was our response to Ukip raising the grooming and rape of young women in Rochdale. You could see we were outraged. But not by the rapes, instead by the fact the issue was raised. I’d have loved a Labour candidate who could say – ‘That’s right, it was disgusting. Those young women were betrayed. I want to be your MP to work with Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson to tackle historic abuse – and to make sure it never happens again’. The voice that David Blunkett would bring if he stood for South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner. The voice of working-class morality – and outrage – channelled politically to achieve change.

With no engagement and no passion, what we were left with was a campaign with no vision. I fully appreciate how difficult by-elections are, and the extent to which their dynamic is revealed on the ground and not imposed, but we chose to be bloodless. I often quote New Zealand Labour leader and prime minister Norman Kirk who said: ‘New Zealanders don’t ask for much: someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.’ Those wise words should be the starting point for everyone in thinking about the Heywood and Middleton by-election. They capture precisely what is missing from today’s depressing, desiccated politics. Lift, hope, ambition and above all life.

We talk about housing policies when people want a home. We talk about jobs as an end in themselves when people see them as the start of something – the ability to make a downpayment on a dream. We see life as a set of problems to be solved by policies when people see life as something to be lived and enjoyed.

We are in deep, deep trouble. We are lost and our voters want us back. They keep sending us messages. When will we listen?


John McTernan is former political secretary at 10 Downing Street and was director of communications for former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard. He writes The Last Word column on Progress and tweets @johnmcternan

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John McTernan

is former chief of staff to the leader of the Scottish Labour party. He is former political secretary at 10 Downing Street and was director of communications for former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard. He tweets @johnmcternan


  • I agree with a lot of what this article says, especially the bizarre fox hunting e-mail and the obsession with policies instead of how life is lived. However, is there not an element of having created the ABL vote in Scotland by the move rightwards (or to the centre ground if you prefer)? I think the ABL vote in the north is slightly more complex but has it’s roots in broadly similar place.

  • Good article John, but I still think you are missing the point re: immigration. Even if Labour can make the valid point that some immigration will be necessary, you will still run up against the question “Yes- but how much?”, at which point the role of the EU comes into play and it’s “Hello UKIP!” time.

  • If I might be so bold, voters don’t think in left / right terms. They think in right / wrong terms. They don’t care which element of the political spectrum you appear on, so long as you can correctly communicate their frustrations and so long as your diagnosis for solving the problem is achievable.

    I’m a Conservative voter, and for too long, the main political parties (including my own) have failed to reflect the concerns of the electorate. It’s coming back to bite us in the butt.

  • Speaking as an ex-Labour voter, what is killing Labour and will ultimately do for Miliband is Europe. If you guys could but see it! The EU is heaven (and indeed a haven) for corporate multinationals – your Googles, Apples and Starbucks of this world – who are the latest generation of uber-capitalists. People are disposable, lowest common denominator (i.e. minimum wage) fodder and although it’s all dressed up as cool and new age and green, it’s the same thing…

    Labour is committed to the EU, and to ‘ever closer union’, where it’s a one-stop shop for Starbucks, et al, to lobby over wage levels, tax (evasion) and to ensure that endless supply of cheap labour through its single labour market policy. A lot of people – be it in Clacton or Skegness or anywhere else – now realise this. They understand that mass uncontrolled immigration from the EU works directly AGAINST their own interests, just as the Tories did with their big corporate friends in the nineteen eighties. They see it driving down wage levels, threatening their job security, and they don’t want it any more.

    Only by leaving the EU can we take back control of our borders and run a points-based visa system that lets us decide as a country how many people come in. It’s the most basic duty of a government to control this, along with defence of the realm, maintaining energy and food supplies, etc. Right now, UKIP has an open goal – no other party is campaigning for this or even advocating this. Ed Miliband doesn’t want a referendum because he’s worried we might leave, thus destroying his luvvy-dovey international socialist project. Until he accepts that Labour has to start standing up for those suffering in or from those huge global multinational corporates (and their EU friends), he’ll go nowhere.

  • Yes, immigration is a numbers issue. It’s on the numbers that the big parties are the most vulnerable. That’s why they turn discussion of immigration to a matter of principle. And that’s not engaging with voters, it’s contemptuously fobbing them off.

  • Agree that the left/right distinction is not at the forefront of the vast majority of voter’s minds. However, I would point to the SNP’s successes as painting themselves as more left-wing than Labour as some evidence that this is where the ABL vote coalesced in Scotland.

  • The Conservatives tried to address it – after years of being scared of being called racist. But they can’t do anything till EU borders are open. The same skills/points system needs to be applied to EVERYONE who wants to enter these borders.
    I am of Indian origin, now naturalised. I work in the IT sector and see a constant shortage of good, skilled candidates. We need skilled workers.
    [and almost no English/British applicants for entry level programming jobs – but that is another topic 🙁 ]

  • Your excellent analysis applies to all the major parties – but the muppets at the top still don’t get it.

  • But this is it though – are they painting themselves as being ‘more left-wing’ than Labour? Or is it that you’re applying your political lens to their positions and assuming that it’s a left wing platform that people are attracted to?

    I’d suggest that movements like the SNP and UKIP are a response to traditional parties taking their bases for granted. But Lab and the Cons have now moved so far beyond those voters that now returning to them and saying ‘Well that’s what we’ve always believed in’ is seen as disingenuous and inauthentic. A combination of political professionalisation (which means no politician looks or sounds like a real person), a lack of identification with political leaders (on both left and right) and championing issues with little salience beyond a few ‘right-on’ people (in both parties), mean it just looks like the main parties are fiddling while their voters versions of Rome burns.

  • There’s a lot of good sense in this article. There’s something really feeble about Labour at the moment. But the fundamental problem is surely that Labour can’t escape its own record – on welfare, the economy, and – above all – immigration.

    I guess they know this and so prefer to talk about fox-hunting.

  • “So too was our response to Ukip raising the grooming and rape of young women in Rochdale. You could see we were outraged. But not by the rapes, instead by the fact the issue was raised”
    Why won’t Labour talk about this properly in public? Do they really think the best way of dealing with it is to ignore it and hope it goes away?

  • Perhaps I am. Although the SNP surge in recent years has been widely accredited to things such as free tertiary education, prescriptions etc. All items I think are more traditionally “left” Labour policies/ideas. Whilst Labour in Westminster was introducing further choice/marketisation in health and education.

    I think you’re right that SNP and UKIP are, in part, a response to voters being taken for granted. That was what I was trying to get at, although obviously with my left-wing blinkers on! Mandelson apparently used to advise Blair not to worry too much about the left-wing of the party as they had nowhere else to go. This advice appears to me to be back=firing a little now.

    The traditional (formerly union-mobilised) vote has also been somewhat alienated – I think in part due to the growth of the professional political class which has created a form of group-think and left the party bleeding votes.

  • Typical Common Purpose attack! Rochdale / Rotherham was brought up by UKIP because ‘Labour didn’t want it mentioned’? It was because UKIP were being asked about it and people thought it was being swept under the carpet, as it had been before?
    There had been plenty of time to have discussed this issue, but Labour didn’t address it, still haven’t?

  • It’s pointless asking Labour to tackle issues like immigration and Europe, because they passionately believe in mass, uncontrolled immigration (to shore up their core vote and to suppress wages, as we all know), and they are passionately Europhile (to impose left wing liberal laws upon the public). With zero economic credibility, and an increasingly weak man as their leader, Labour are stuffed at the next election, UKIP or no.

  • Unfortunately when things are ‘accredited’ to parties, they usually occur within the same politically-obsessed media / commentating circles that people are equally turned off by as the parties themselves.

    I for one, would be surprised if voters would be able to pin point a policy which made them vote for a specific party at a specific time. Message tends to matter most. Message needs to be relevant, salient and authentic. Unfortunately, slowly but surely the main parties have failed on those matters. It started off with inauthentic sounding cookie-cutter careerist politicians. Then the issues lacked salience (i.e. well yes I don’t agree with fox-hunting but it’s hardly that important is it when I can’t put food on the table?) Now it’s the lack of relevancy to the lives of the electorate (for example, well the reason I can’t get a job is because of x, y and z coming from the EU. So yes immigration is a problem, but we can’t control our borders because of the EU.)

    I mean obviously this is a massively simplified version of the thought process but it means that when a relatively new party like UKIP / SNP come along, they can dictate their own authentic message (i.e. we’re none of the above. We’ll do things differently). They can say “Who gives a fig about things like fox-hunting? It’s x, y or z which is most important!” And then to cap it all off, they can explain why their point is relevant to their lives.

    Sadly, Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems all look the same; they all sound the same (I mean have you ever watched BBC Question Time? All the politicians are jibing at one another, using the same ‘Lines to take’ document, with the same backgrounds (political insiders) responding to questions which aren’t put to them but rather pivoting to the ones they would rather answer.

  • You’re groping towards the answer. The working class fear immigrant crime – as exemplified by Rotherham and Rochdale. Every supermarket worker in Kent knows that most shop-lifters are East European.
    Yet no-one, least of all Labour, will even discuss it. So in the quiet of the voting booth they vote UKIP.

  • Is it perhaps due to the fact they take their orders from the same masters as Tories, the EU? Barely any of each others policies, are criticised, as they used to be in years gone by?
    So much so, even Labour are promoting a similar welfare bill as Tories and it didn’t go un-noticed, they didn’t repeal any Tory policies in 1997, when they came back to office?

  • I don’t want you back. Go back to Aus, you Socialist failure, I’m sticking with UKIP thanks.

  • The fact is that UKIP is not a ‘right wing party’. It sits in the middle of the political spectrum that has been just about abandoned by the Westminster parties. (of course UKIP has become one today)

    This is the secret of UKIP’s success. Ignored in favour of attempting to stick labels and inappropriate badges on the party.

    As for fox hunting.

    No national policy would be adopted about this subject. A decision would be made by a referendum of the local residents of a county. I don’t think that Greater Manchester or this area of Lancashire would qualify.

    Is here a nearby fox hunt in Heywood & Middleton?

    (Do excuse the tongue-in-cheek humour)

  • We have to retain our values – without them we are nothing. We are seeing a splintering of political support, and have to deal with this not by pretending we can go back to 1945 or even 1997, but to create a modern offering about our values. I’m afraid that does mean not falling into the immigration trap, being able to make an argument about why we believe what we do, rather than trimming (which isn’t doing David Cameron too much good either). It doesn’t mean either that we retreat rather into minority politics (and I agree the fox hunting email was crass) but we speak for tolerance, equality, opportunity – and create a vision on it.

    We’re up against it. The immigration issue is largely a well engineered tabloid myth to cover up for an unfair economic system benefiting the few, and we face pressure from economic nationalists on left (Greens) as well as right. Our donors are against the mansion tax, our public is in favour of it. The NHS is struggling but that won’t win us votes. Our leadership is seen (probably rightly) as part of the establishment – so we need voices that resonate.

    We mustn’t panic. Instead set out why Labour will deliver a better future for all. Even if all are not exactly listening.

  • When Labour won its greatest victories- in 1945 and 1997- we offered people , quite simply,the prospect of more enjoyable lives . Today we seem to have gone back to whining about unfairness, resurrecting class hatred and envy of success and have forgotten that what people really want is the hope of better lives and competent people to point the way.

  • Glad you do not bang on about the EU as some below do. Ex-Labour voters were talking not about the EU just now on R4 but about ‘everything is going down’ or people ‘are on low wages’ – it’s a bitter frustration about the post crisis economy, lower working class life and their local run down areas. Voter frustration now is based on a misdiagnosis of post crisis Tory UK . The irony is to go further to the far Right UKIP. Labour has to get really polemical at reaching less well off voters with the real consequences of voting UKIP. There is no alternative we cannot dilute the message of what a shabby, unequal, unfair society we are becoming due to Right Wing Policies. People want a One-Nation not unequal nation narrative; its UKIP or us.

  • But why vi_sa when nearly 50% of UK 18 year olds are going to Uni? Do the Unis still need a kick up the backside to get students onto computer sciences courses after all this time. We need to address these high value skills shortage otherwise why are we giving HE billions of tax payer’s money.

  • Hold on here, low wages, worker exploitation, zero-contracts, off-shore taxation can be controlled in the EU – indeed Northern Europe, France and German employees have more rights than our people do- it’s called Social Democracy and it works in Denmark. Labour have promised to raise minimum wages, seek Living wages, investigate illegal employers, move from State tax credits subsidising workers to companies paying proper incomes.

  • “There is a perfectly defensible line to take on Labour’s record on immigration”

    Only if the media continue to cover up the truth.

  • ‘a well engineered tabloid myth to cover for an unfair economic system benefiting the few’ Brilliantly put but how to get that message into points which the voters of Essex will understand. Unless we can sell our message to Essex Man we are doomed.

  • Perhaps little brother does not have big brother (note no caps) to tell him what to do anymore ? That one buggered off to America.

  • Sorry, but “Voter frustration now is based on a misdiagnosis of post crisis Tory UK” is rubbish. Voter frustration is based on the Cost of (not Living, but) Taxation Crisis, which is mainly due to G Brown and his “green” and “stealth” taxes simply going far too far.

    The poor now pay 54 % of their monies in various taxes, fromtax onelectricity to flights to NI on sin – fags and booze – to insurance premiums, to fuel, in the latter case actually having to pay tax on TAX !

    If these “minimum wage earners taken right out of tax” things are to mean anything, then NI and these others need addressing.

  • As a Parliamentary candidate I
    talk about Immigration every day. Or rather I listen to people talking about it
    every day. I never shut them up, I never tell them it is wrong to discuss it, I
    always reassure them they are not racist when they ask me if I think they are
    (always assuming their expressed views aren’t of course, which mostly they are
    not). I tell them they are not alone in seeing this as an issue. I then go on
    to ask them whether they have any personal experience of immigration causing
    them a problem – some will talk about lost job opportunities or the absence of
    somewhere to live, queues at the GPs etc and we unpick those a little to decide
    whether immigration is actually the cause in their own case or whether it might
    be something else that has lead to this locally. Sometimes it is, mostly it isn’t.

    I will talk about our policies on
    foreign worker agencies if it is relevant, or our commitment to reintroducing
    GP waiting time targets etc.

    Where necessary I will correct
    some myths. Usually about the benefits that people receive, or whether they can
    jump the queue for services. Actually I find that over and over again people
    have a vastly inflated idea of what benefits people are on, whether they are an
    immigrant or not. For that we must blame the blue-tops I think.

    And of course I will remind
    people of all the valuable NHS workers, university researchers, engineers and
    designers etc from other countries that give more than they take.

    People are generally pleased to
    have been given the chance to speak their mind. One couple who were determined
    to vote UKIP told me, after 20 minutes, they would vote Labour because I had
    paid them due attention.

    Unfortunately with the best will
    in the world I can’t talk to every single person for 20 minutes each, on this
    or any other issue, so some of our message needs to be written down. We all
    know that when people are reading our written material, they spend just seconds
    really so it has to be right first time.

    So if I may please John, are you
    in a position to offer practical advice?

    I am looking at where you say “We talk about housing policies when people
    want a home. We talk about jobs as an end in themselves when people see them as
    the start of something – the ability to make a downpayment on a dream. We see
    life as a set of problems to be solved by policies when people see life as something
    to be lived and enjoyed”

    I suspect I may be guilty of
    that. It is rather in the nature of a politician to offer solutions to problems
    through policy. It is mainly what we have at our disposal, how we effect change.
    I don’t have any homes or jobs personally available for people but I do have
    the chance to help bring some of them about.

    Anyway, have you developed any
    messages that you think would work in speaking to people’s dreams and ambitions?
    Or seen any good examples? Can you share?

    Once upon a time, hundreds of years
    ago, when I was working in a builders merchants, I went on a sales course where
    we were told to talk about features and benefits. This bath is made out of high
    grade acrylic = feature. This means it wont be cold on your back when you lie
    in the water = benefit. So we might say “Labour would build 250,000 new
    homes a year – and then the benefit – which means your children will have
    somewhere to live when they are ready to leave home”.

    (I know its crass but I am trying to take something away from your article that
    I can work with.)

    I happen to think that we do have
    some good policies which will change people’s life experiences – although there
    are others I wish we would espouse that so far we haven’t – and we can enthuse
    people about them.

    It’s finding a way to do that in
    the short time we get between the letter box and the bin….

  • Well Labour would not lower the Tax Allowance now at 10K nor would it put up VAT ( likely under Tories to pay tax reduction on better off) nor lower taxes on wealthy and it would support minimum wages, living wages, reasonable tax credits for low waged families with little children, nor would it penalise unmarried couples ( coming soon) and it would help mums get their little children into child care. Moreover hopefully it would do a lot more to seek out tax inversion, tax evasion and tax avoidance by companies & self-employed trades. It was Labour who reduced VAT tax ( only 5%) on energy, started the fuel allowance, elderly bus passes etc.,

    Come on tax on Long Haul flights and Fuel? – more of this is paid by those of us travelling more often with reasonable incomes. Alcohol is cheap in supermarkets and relatively misused by youngsters who need protection from A&E. Cigarettes kill people. Research showed under the last three Labour govts of TB&GB child poverty was reduced and brought back to advanced European levels.

    By the way our child mortality is one of the highest in Europe as is our death rates from Cancer so we need tax money to help our loved ones get decent NHS.

  • The problem is that Labour may have promised to do the things you mention, but voters simply don’t believe them any more, or are so disillusioned with them that that they’ve turned their backs already.

  • Well it has been said that children who’ve been through the UK education system for the past decade or more have not really been taught to be more than mere consumers of technology; they haven’t been encouraged to become producers. With recent curriculum changes this is supposedly changing.

  • That’s possibly because we did not bang our drum loud enough post 2010 about what we had done on the social and working and economic front. Too many former leading people writing books, lecturing abroad, turning their backs on Ed like school kids.

  • A Labour insider diagnoses what is wrong with Labour but doesn’t mention Europe. Lay down a welcome-matt for UKIP.

  • Agreed! And UKIP may not actually have anything to offer the electorate, but they appear to have a sense of momentum and purpose and yes, they actually seem to be enjoying themselves. This I suppose is infectious and attractive to people when they’re fed up with the status quo.

  • Sadly the EU can’t stop 250,000 people coming here every year, pushing up house prices, rental prices, NHS waiting lists, school place shortages, congestion, pollution, etc., and driving down (or at least freezing) average wages. That’s the critical flaw; even if the EU stifled every last breath out of business (and it’s doing a pretty good job of that already), it cannot stop mass, uncontrolled immigration that is making one of the most densely populated countries in Europe even more crowded and under resourced.

  • “I’d have loved a Labour candidate who could say – ‘That’s right, it was disgusting. Those young women were betrayed. I want to be your MP to work with Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson to tackle historic abuse – and to make sure it never happens again’.”

    Only for the voter to look you in the eye and say, “Get lost, it was on your watch it happened because you deliberately turned a blind eye to what was going on even though it was raised with you numerous times. So why should anyone trust any member of a labour Party that let all those children down when you don’t even have the integrity to admit it was partly your fault and apologise?”

    Outraged at it being brought up against you? After your years of negligence and complacency you don’t have the right to claim to be outraged. You haven’t even cleaned up your own house yet, just thrown a couple of scapegoats to the Press. And why was self-appointed Noncefinder-General Tom Watson so blind to what was going on in a solid Labour area?

  • I’ve heard the same conversation for years, lots of good people saying. whispering the same thing “To many. Swamped. Revolution” For years I. We. They were cowed into a collective silence. Bigots and racists you are. ‘It’s good for you say’ our betters with their honours degrees and empathy for everyone and anything. We are a tolerant nation they say but tolerance is not the same as as ambivalence. Hate preachers, groups that called soldiers ‘murderers’ oh yes we are to tolerate them, thats free speech. And yet to some people to protest against such an abomination would have made you a racist thug. The Anti-Nazi League formed to halt the rise of Fascism in the country that a generation before had stood alone against the very embodiment of the creed, my father and his brothers would have been mortified. The BNP, EDL, how many in those organisations understand what fascism is? Fingers on one hand comes to mind. So here we are, UKIP on the rise and those nice people with the degrees and empathy are telling us that they are listening, they feel our concerns, but you get the feeling that it’s all rather distasteful and unpleasant for them, it’s just not the conversation they want. But, perhaps, the people don’t care if their betters think of them as bigots and racists, perhaps they have had enough and would like their country governed in a way that reflects their concerns. Maybe the fear has diminished, maybe Democracy, People Rule, will follow, I have my doubts.

  • When did Labour last deliver to us and not to its own elite? Every member of the Labour front bench is a millionaire, as are their relatives (Banks, Miliband, Straw, Harman et al, and Blair, Brown before them), while their children are gifted seats in Westminster as well as on the gravy train.

    Why should anyone believe them?

  • We don’t need immigration. If a particular talent is needed issue a work permit. There is no need to give unrestricted right of entry plus rights to vote, bring in relatives, entitlement to benefits and citizenship. A limited time, renewable, work permit is all that is necessary.

  • Didn’t we all do well from Labour winning in 1997?

    Perhaps someone will tell us how wonderfully our lives have been enriched?

  • Values are not policies, and Labour needs policies at the moment, as do the Tories and the LibDems. But that will mean talking about more than apple pie and fluffy puppies.

  • None of the parties have realised the change that is underway. Once upon a time I voted Labour every election. After the almost tyrannical arrogant fervour of Blair and Brown and the resultant catastrophe of state expansion and overspending I wanted to understand how the economy worked.

    It took two years of hard work until I discovered the truth. The fact is that Labour has an irrelevant doctrine of socialism coupled to a crony capitalist economic policy. Either of these two will eventually lead to collapse, but together they are lethal.

    Young people are now disenfranchised because the promised education revolution, minimum wages and employment protection have resulted in them being marginalised whilst being fed a soft diet of subsidised work schemes of one sort or another. Added to a wrecked economy, being forced to pay for an aging population, high house prices due to government monetary policy and over zealous planning restrictions they have decided they don’t want any more welfarism and state intervention.

    The prudent are watching their savings vanish in blossoming inflation and artificially low interest rates, but not a squeak out of Labour who should be aiming their sights on putting an end to the loose monetary and fiscal policy that is the cause of the increasing severity of the boom/bust cycle. There actually IS a cost of living crisis, but Labours answer is populist price fixing. That’s something well understood to damage supply of goods and services. We clearly see this happening in Venezuela.

    I have no love for UKIP either, but they recognise certain aspects which they twist to suit an agenda. Getting out of the European political system whilst retaining free trade with our partners is one of them ( personally its a good idea), but UKIP picked immigration as the issue to fire up the electorate. People in Clacton today we’re hoping Douglas Carswell would do something for Clacton. The reality is that if Douglas sticks to a true libertarian agenda he should cut Government and taxes, get rid of subsidies, welfare and regulation. Instead Farage is talking about stopping immigration in order to prevent wages being reduced-that’s Labours minimum wage policy by another name isn’t it ?

    Labour are out of step with unionisation. The only unions today are in the public sector not the private. This is no more than pressure groups to ensure the productive tax payer is pillaged even more. Already public sector pay and pensions have become a far more attractive proposition than the hard work of entrepreneurial risk necessary in the private sector that allows that continuation of the public sector to exist at all.

    This is the heart of the matter. Some of us woke up and started to wonder just what Labour did with the economy-we aren’t taken in by the Conservative rhetoric either, which is very little different from Labour. UKIP aren’t perfect, but they do appear to be in tune with the new electorate. Some of what they say makes sense in contrast to Labours, old fashioned, big party, out dated middle of the road socialism. The world moved on an Labour didn’t. The best they can do is to hark back to the bad old days which were just as bad as Blair/Browns recent economic folly.

    Labour need to shed the unions, socialism and their crony capitalist friends. End the bank of England’s power to distort the economy through purchasing and selling, end the banking cartel for good, remove the deposit guarantee, restore sound money with a fully floating gold standard. That will of course force the state to transparently raise taxes instead of relying on the draconian use of inflationary money printing and high hides the truth from the people on just what’s happening to their money. Then we can all decide how much state intervention and welfarism we really want.

  • The Anti-Nazi League has morphed into the fascist organisations that call themselves Unite Against Fascism and Hope Not Hate. Both are dedicated to stopping free speech and operate with the same ruthlessness that their ancestors wearing black serge and silver piping wore in the 1930s. They were socialists too, though their descendants will deny their ancestry. They certainly don’t care if their betters think of them as bigots and racists, but they will stop them saying it.

  • But its more simple than that I think. The youngsters going to university are doing courses of their own choice, paid for by the taxpayer. They go for the easy options, the issue is of course that the taxpayer should only fund the courses the country needs, not things like PPE, Meja Studies, Philosophy, English in it’s various forms. Basically scrap the arts degree funding. We need maths, science, technology all paid for, if young Tristran or Emma want to study medieval English, let them pay for it.

  • Precisely! You are lost, but, the voters, actually, DON’T want you back…
    But, where is ‘real Labour’?
    Perhaps, it’s in ‘unreal’ UKIP?

  • Ann you hit the nail on the head. The reason the electorate are tired of Labour is because their message is back to being all about class war and envy. The average voter just wants to be shown that their government are giving them the opportunity for better lives, regardless of what tax bracket or demographic they happen to be in now.

    The two Eds are nothing but a joke, the party conference was close to complete disaster. The electorate has moved on but Labour are still stuck with harping on about greedy Tories and the NHS. No doubt “Education, Education, Education” will make a come back too before the general election.

    There is a general lack of common sense from Labour and absolutely no hope given to the vast majority of voters. The next election will be the most interesting in 100 years, Scotland will likely jettison a lot of Labour MPs, UKIP will alter the voting landscape and still the country teeters on the verge of financial collapse.

    God help us all.

  • Fascist. Socialist with the correct blood line.
    Leninist Stalinist Ect. Socialist who couldn’t care where the blood came from.

  • Are you F****** joking about Simon Danczuk. He is absolutely despised by the voters of Heywood and Middleton. He made Jim Dobbins life hell. Is constantly attacking the local party by devious means. An email comes out from his office the day before the bye election acccusing his own local party of Rochdale of having a pact with the Lib Dems to cover peadophilia. It was because of him and the fact that most of the people who work for him ran the campaign for Liz McInnes that the vast majority of the local party members in Heywood and Middleton refused to campaign in the bye election and they had to bus hundreds of people in. He is one of the main reasons why the Labour Party nearly lost. The voters know all about what Simon Danczuk did to their ex-MP and is doing to their freinds and neighbours, locally it is common knowledge. Any chance of people actually asking the people on the ground why they voted they way they did and not just attatch simple easy to add labels to it????

  • That’s another problem – whenever voters turn away from a party, the mantra is ‘we’re not getting our message across.’ It’s always trotted out, and it’s always delusional. It’s not the message, it’s the state of the party.

  • I don’t think any of the main parties are worried about a vote to leave the EU; I think it is more likely that none of them want to spend the first two years of government with the matter crowding out more important issues.

    Discussion boards are dominated by people who feel passionately anti-EU, but their anger does not extend sufficiently to the electorate as evinced by the poor turnout at elections (e.g. 31% at Heywood and 34% in the European Elections).

    BBC Parliament (Freesat 201) was showing tv coverage of the October 1974 election today and some of the constituency results had turnout > 80%.

  • Are you seriously suggesting we should remind voters how Gordon Brown and his cronies allowed unemployment to rise dramatically and almost bankrupted the country with their excessive borrowing ?

    Perhaps we should shout it from the rooftops that the person we are seriously proposing to appoint as Chancellor was Brown’s right hand man in the Treasury ?

    Maybe we could go on to remind voters that, thanks to the Unions, our candidate for PM was the environment secretary largely responsible for the expensive green energy policy and prevaricated over building new Nuclear Power Stations to replace the generating plant we are being forced to take out of service because he failed to stand up for the country in Europe.

    Finally, by burying our heads in the sand over immigration we are losing support in our heartlands in the North !

  • You’re going to lose this forthcoming election if you refuse to lose Miliband. The warning is that stark.

  • Is this the email that Breitbart published this week?

    Breitbart seems like quite a hard right wing site and I don’t really regard what they’ve published as conclusive as it doesn’t seem to prove anything.

    But why are you more offended by the publishing of the email than the possibility of such a pact existing? Is it untrue? Why do you all seem to be playing politics with child abuse rather than concentrating on making your children’s services fit for purpose?

  • Labour has a huge problem with race and immigration.

    UK is facing cultural decimation – and it is something that, for various reasons, the Labour leadership and its younger followers actually RELISH……..

    ……..whilst the vast majority of UK people – including immigrants from 60s/70s – do not.

    The Left, instead of arguing their case, has demonized those who oppose them as rascist.

    This wicked lie is coming home to roost as the people who, over 2-3 decades, rubbed along with and became comfortable with Indians, West Indians and migrants from other ex-colonies NOW see the waves of immigration that Labour unleashed post-2000 as too much too quickly.

    They also see that Islamists are steadfastly refusing to integrate – worse attempting to establish their caliphate – and using race relations legislation as a shield to foment disaffection in society.


    Labour refuses to see it………and admit it got everything wrong. Refuses to accept that it has shat on the interests of blue collar people in the provinces.

    Labour is well and truly f*****d………..and deserves to be.

  • Thank you John for sound common sense feet on the ground views and articulating what has gone wrong and where we need to be. I did not bother to open the fox email ,and thought what are these people on. Does anybody at Labour HQ or Miliband office have a clue or a grip on the situation. They appear to be all over the place.Either these people should be cleared out, someone take the situation by the scruff of the neck or we are heading for a Michael Foot general Election. I think for a start draft John into Miliband’s office to sort it and him. The news shot of Miliband outside the Town hall yesterday ( not meeting the people) looked like someone completely out of his depth. You wanted the job for fox sake do it!

  • Universities are more than just places for technology which granted we need and granted universities need to push more as are 6th forms. ( Try paying good graduate maths and physics teachers more to get them into our schools. ) However as like every other society we need people doing arts, humanities and social sciences for many reasons.

  • Many of your arguments are false; the housing shortage and property bubble reflects our lack of house building and refusal to take more land in residential areas as well as the financial capital interests that gains from the current set up/high rents. There are few migrants in many country areas but there’s a housing problem there too. Look at the South West. Low wages are partly a function of greedy companies that pay low wages or evade the legislation on the minimum wage or use zero contracts.

    Yes there’s congestion in places like London but that’s partly a result of a booming economy and the highest transport fairs in the world. Boris gets away with the crises in London as he spends his time on World issues.

    Yes too many migrants came to London although many have done well but yes we need some limits no one disagrees with that. To blame all of the UK’s economic problems on say the EU migrants from some poorer countries is crass. We are a rich country ( now 10th FT this week) but the reason why there are poor people in Clacton or Heywood is because of our massive inequality made worse by the Right wing Tory govt. If only we could be like the Social Democracies of Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Belgium or Holland which have not adopted nasty Rightist policies which have butchered services, cut social care, cut social security to families with kids, allowed low wages and immersiration.

  • With unstoppable immigration crushing our health, education, employment, housing and energy services, it doesn’t seem too much to ask to reassert control of our own borders.

  • “the combined rightwing vote (Tories, United Kingdom Independence party and British National party)”

    The British National Party, like the Nazis are on the far left. They believe in a big state, detailed control over the lives of individuals and high public expenditure. They are on the opposite end of the political spectrum to UKIP who believe in reducing the size of the state and entrusting power with individuals.

  • Precisely!
    You are lost, but, the voters, actually, DON’T want you back…
    But, where is ‘real Labour’?
    Perhaps, it’s in unreal UKIP.

  • the nhs is all they talked,zilch,nothing on the deficit,immigration,and it’s effect on education,housing,jobs,and the nhs.what heywood and middleton showed was that there is no safe labour northern seat,or safe seats at all.lab our insulted these voters after may locals,and european elections.not a good move from a so called labour mp.i would expect better behaivour.we do pay their wages.Progress has been the ruination of the Labour Party.equal if not worse than are right.many have told the labour party,do that on labour list you get freedom of speech.then you have rotherham.10 ukip you think there will be any abour cllrs left next may,or the labour mp too will be voted one has listened at labour.that’s bad leadership.who is running this GE Campaign?Fred Karno? has labour left it too late? as fox news says.i report you decide Mr McTernan

  • We live on a very large fairly new estate. Most of our neighbours are Eastern European, renting the houses, some in illegal multiple occupancy. Most of which work at two large factories in the area.

    Large estate, large village with three ‘Polski Sklep’ to cater for the new residents, not many British born people living on the estate here… Now, why on earth do you think there might be a housing shortage in Britain?

  • I notice you do not name the area. If it’s illegal occupancy than the authorities need to sort it. The other point is vague. There are several areas for example where ethnic groups have settled in N. London suburbs : Irish, Jews, wealthier Indians, other Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and some Poles etc., Housing shortage affects all groups but income is the main determinant and we need to supply more housing at affordable prices especially for young families. We have to challenge all politicians ( including Labour) to be ready to open all areas to new development and stop their Not In My Back Garden etc.,

    Maybe the issue here is the local employment opportunities and if it is disproportional for one group one wonders why? Is it that other groups do not want the work because it is poorly paid

  • I think you exaggerate unless you are counting property which in London in sought after areas is mostly now worth between £ 500,000 and a million. Blair is different as a former world statesman for over 10 years he is sought worldwide.

  • G.B. did not cause high unemployment or high deficit ; that was caused by the ‘global financial crisis’ post Lehmans where America, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and UK had to rescue banks after the massive collapse of the USA sub-prime mortgage/Property markets. Any govt in power including the Tories would have rescued RBS etc., the alternatives would have been like the 1930s slump. GB like Obama and Merkel re-stimulated the economy / dropped interest rates to get things moving again… You should know all this.

  • Racist kipper.Shut up and go away.You speak for yourself and no one else unless you’ve got evidence to back up your assertions. Where is it?

    ‘blue collar people in the provinces..’ What are you on about? Where’s your evidence?

  • Which is what he went into politics for. Not for the greater good, not one bit. He chose Labour because as a Tory he wouldn’t have stood out, and as a matter of timing. 10 years leading the worst govt we ever had. Self-made man.

  • Add to that actively building a welfare state on which it is possible to live quite comfortably. They’re uncomfortable about that subject too.

  • I AM a blue collar person from the provinces…..…who are you – pray tell……

    Evidence?? In Heywood Labour nearly lost one of its safest seats..…

    …… you hear us doofus?

    This is 50yrs of Labour shitting on the working class finally coming home to roost.

    Game over for Labour.

  • I can not begin to reply to this drivel but stupidly I will try. The UK standard of living increased in the 2000s before the global crisis struck , our growth rates, our employment rate, our investment rate, our revenues, our hospital treatments, our cancer care, our university and sixth form numbers, our many equality, civil and marriage and female rights, our help for poor kids through tax credits , our spending in the regions, our devolution, our international / tourist status as cool Britain, our creativity, design, fashion, sport and media exports, our spin off of high value research at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and uCL, our life sciences, our Computing take off, our regeneration of so much infra-structure. That will do for starters. Why do you think so many people want to come to the UK. Labour re-inforced our position as a Top Ten richest country!

  • Globalization is a demotivating force for ordinary people in a Western economy because it has to mean worse wages and worse terms and conditions. This is simply because western wages are about four times that in developing countries for the same skills so the only way is down as world wages move towards eventual equalization.

    All our political elite (and the EU’s) are left liberal to a degree whether Conservative Labour or Lib Dem illustrated by all favouring gay marriage. i.e. they have the one moral trigger harm/care see

    Unfortunately most of the public have the 5 moral triggers.
    Those will one moral trigger see no harm in mass immigration or gay marriage so favour them strongly. This created a gap with the vast majority of the public.

    Ordinary workers are against mass immigration because they know that a surfeit of workers leads to lower pay and worst terms and conditions for themselves (the law of supply and demand at work due to globalization). Telling them that “It is good for the UK” only grates and makes voters distance themselves from those with these views.

    The problem for Labour and the other parties is that elite “thinking” is nothing like the majority of the public’s “thinking” because of the difference in moral drivers. Neither side can understand the other because each is convinced they are right.
    UKIP policies are in effect embracing the concerns of the public with the five moral triggers which the left liberals cannot do at it is inconsistent with having the single moral driver harm/care.

  • As a long time Labour member and supporter, I despair at what is now happening to the party that I once loved. I am not sure that I can even vote for them now because they are completely unrecognisable from the Labour party of 20 years ago. The roots of this problem lie firmly with the New Labour spin doctors who thought that they were being smart in helping to replace the traditional trade union representatives, that used to fill the Labour MP ranks, with ex special advisers. But it has done them longer term harm because now they have hardly anybody on their front bench who can genuinely empathise with the working problems of the masses. Labour, in particular, are mostly responsible for the apathy and disillusionment with politics and the resentment towards the “Westminster elite” from the voters..

    Blair and Brown turned Labour into a timid, spineless party who put spin, gimmicks, and fabricating good headlines above principles, so that a small elite could have their career aspirations fulfilled. As we can see from their rejection of Cruddas’s report, they are still wedded to this behaviour today. They are now banking on the bias in the electoral system to give them victory in the next GE, even though they will probably poll less than 35%. For a party who once claimed to believe in fairness, they should ask themselves is it fair for a party to win 35% of the vote to have majority power?

    And this gets to the heart of Labour’s problem now. For they have no idea what they stand for anymore. It was a very good social democratic party for many years but that all changed after Blair and Brown took over, and now they will say and do anything, and flip on anything if they think they will raise their ratings in opinion polls. You only have to look at the way Balls recently flipped on public expenditure. Furthermore,we have seen in recent weeks that they put more faith in focus groups rather than cultivate a new vision for a Labour party desperately in need of new thinking. That is quite simply not good enough for voters who expect a genuine alternative government. Harold Wilson once said “Labour is nothing if it is not a radical party.” He would turn in his grave if he could see Labour today.

  • Weak rah-rah

    – Longest and deepest recession in the G20 (ONS)
    – Manufacturing 20.7 per cent of GDP to 11.4 per cent of GDP (fastest decline ever – ONS)
    – The largest budget deficit of any major economy at 11.4 per cent of GDP (IMF)
    – Record high youth unemployment (ONS)
    – 500k+ jobs burning cash in quangos (still not torched btw)
    – NHS computer systems canned
    – Refurbishing ministerial offices
    – Stafford Hospital
    – 44k deaths from hospital infections (ONS)
    – More deaths from cancer in the UK than in most other European countries (OECD)
    – UK 8th to 24th place in maths
    – UK 7th to 17th place in reading
    – UK 4th to 14th place in science (all OECD)
    – 80,000 prisoners released early (MoJ)
    – Violence against the person up 44 per cent
    – 2m pensioners in poverty, up 100,000 2005-2009 (DWP)
    – Doubled the tax rate for some of the poorest (abolition of the 10p tax rate 2007) (IFS)
    – Jo Moore
    – Mandelson resignations
    – Ecclestone (1m bung for Labour to renege on tobacco advertising)
    – Blunkett resignations (nanny, shares in DNA Bioscience and govt contracts)
    – Forces of hell
    – Bigotgate
    – No EU referendum on Lisbon
    – Toxic 50% universities target
    – Selling the gold
    – Diversity nose rubbing -> Rotherham

    The left hate Thatcher. Only the apparatchiks who betrayed what they stood for and held their noses because he won three elections like Blair. An awful man. An awful government.

    Now you want us to have Ed

  • Brown ran a deficit from 2002 onwards. Balls heavily implicated 2005 onwards. Our recession and bailouts were the biggest of all in the G20.

    The *only* good thing I can think of about Brown was he kept us out of the Euro. Blair wanted in. This was no far-sighted piece of economic genius though. He wanted his hands on the credit card and no meddling by those pesky eurocrats. Not that that stopped the eurozone countries from busting themselves, as history since shows.

  • So your solution to the problem is to deny that it exists and tell people that even if they are experiencing a problem, it’s either in their heads or they are racist and should be happy, in fact they should be bowing down and singing hallelujah to have their back yard filled with Eastern Europeans.

    Hmmm. I think I can spot the flaw in this flawless masterpiece of a strategy.

  • To be honest, as a Tory, so what?

    Miliband as PM would finish Labour as a political force in this country for good. If he lasts past his first year it’d be through sheer luck. The man is utterly hopeless and everyone knows it. A couple of years of Miliband would be worth it for the laughs and watching Labour completely destruct.

  • You still don’t understand. There may be a perfectly defensible line on immigration but nobody cares. The popular will on this issue could not be any clearer. Your defensible line is simply a way of articulating why you won’t enact that which the voters overwhelmingly want to see happen. This is fine, in a way, but you could at east be honest. Tell the voters outright that you’re just going to ignore them on this issue, ‘for their own good’, and see how they respond. The continual ‘we’re listening’ and consequent lack of action is contemptible.

  • Immigration a matter of principle? For most of naughties, any view on immigration given by the public was branded as racist. How very principled!

  • Your comment made me laugh. I thought you dye in the wool socialists were a figment of the daily mail’s mind.

  • It get’s worse – Sunday morning and populist BBC showing/covering enthusiastic UKIP swarming all over Rochester and meeting its voters. But from Labour after this political earth quake – Radio 4 main news announced this morning that Tristam is asking teachers to take an Oath. I ask you it’s crazy. Labour’s media people should be sacked and replaced! You could not make it up; its like something from the ‘Now Show’. Presumably someone in the Labour PR / Media machine fed this story about Tristam’s idea to the media.

  • ‘Speaking as an ex-Labour voter, what is killing Labour’ is the link to the rich trade union bullyboys, and the looney left. Brown’s thugs don’t help either

  • A good piece dereckemery. The challenge is how we reshape our societies ‘post crisis’ and ‘post-globalisation’. On this Labour are behind. Inequality and the social class ‘income gap’ is growing so that we have many stuck on low incomes in declining areas while others in the South East, university towns, Edinburgh etc., ( not seaside towns like Clacton) enjoy their graduate, high income service jobs.
    We become fixated on the fiscal constraints ( so we have Balls telling Mums/Dads your CB will be frozen) rather than looking at how we will run the public services, public sector pay, welfare state and redistributive taxation system in a way which will be less unequal and less Tory Right wing. We have diluted the Coalition stuff rather than offered our voters an alternative. Manchester was an appalling failure of imagination. Labour is nothing unless its radical as H. Wilson said.

  • Nice try in lumping the BNP along with the tories and UKIP. They are socialists by their own admission – far closer to your team than the other…. however uncomfortable that may be for you.

  • “Boosted by a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote too. That latter point is really scary – Ukip became ABL (Anyone But Labour).”

    This is an overly simplistic analysis engendered by the desire to beleive a vote for UKIP is a protest vote.

    What actually happened is that LibDems, who know how effective small campaigns can be, shifted to labour to keep UKIP out. A lot of Labour voters simply withheld their vote from the latte sippers, and UKIP gained from the (large) pool of none-of-the-above non-voters who now have a party they want to vote for.

  • And who “ordered” the cuts!!?? it was Brussels… the EU… Angela Merkal and crew, member states where told to make cuts in order to cut the deficits .

  • Also John, another reason Labour didn’t do so well in Heywood and Middleton is that people don’t trust Labour anymore after the mass immigration deception. The people didn’t give a mandate in 2005 for the Labour party to undermine their livelihoods.

    As Julia Gillards comms guy, you more than anyone should know that when a politician makes a promise and does the opposite, it doesn’t end well for them. “No carbon tax under my administration”. Pah.

  • Thanks to the reply from Tom Sanders below, I am able to keep my reply brief.

    Labour’s credit bubble crashed the economy before the world crisis struck. Do your homework and look up at what happened to Northern Rock.

    In 2010 we had the worst cancer survival rates in Europe apart from Bulgaria. If it had been near the best it might just have been worth bankrupting the nation.

    Nevertheless, on looking at your comments elsewhere, please keep up the good work. People like you who need a video recording and confession before you believe a crime has been committed by an immigrant and accuse those who believe otherwise of racism are doing a great job in driving away from Labour, its white working class support. Keep it up. Bravo!

  • That is not what I said. I did not use the term racism what so ever. You ignore the wage/economic dimensions of this problem especially illegal recruitment of foreign workers and paying below minimum wages.Often such people do the Jobs us Brits do want to do.

  • Post Crisis yes everyone has made some cuts but the vast inequality in the UK especially low wages, is a function of English Tory policies as most research has found. I was careful to compare UK with the better off European states like Germany or Denmark; countries without the extremes we have allowed. Our policies here on incomes etc are some of the most extreme in northern/Western Europe. Wealth rules the UK.

  • Gay marriage is the Conservative version of fox hunting yes. You’d be hard pushed to find many people against it, but was it such an overwhelming priority that British society would’ve run aground without redress? I’m not sure. The irony of the gay marriage move was that it was designed as part of the detoxification strategy, but all it did was highlight the fact that there were elements of the Conservative party who were against it. Which means that any perceived benefit of detoxification is immediately negated. Dumb dumb.

  • Someone seems to be labouring on the misapprehension that there is still taxpayer funding for arts degrees in English universities – there isn’t. The State loans the student the money and the student repays (in theory) with interest. OK, so this system is probably going to be more expensive than it was when the taxpayer just paid for the education directly, but the fact remains: there is no government funding of arts degrees.

    As for your larger point about the relative value of different kinds of education, it’s laughable. And don’t take my word for it…

    “It’s technology married with liberal arts, humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.” –Steve Jobs (the late founder and CEO, Apple)

    “The goal should be that everybody gets a chance to read great books and participate in the richness that humanities brings us.” –Bill Gates (founder and Chairman, Microsoft)

    “The ‘deep’ civic function of the humanities . . . is something understood very well by totalitarian societies, which tend to keep close tabs on them, and to circumscribe them in direct proportion to how stringently the population is controlled.” –Mark Slouka (contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine)

    “After the rigged Iranian presidential elections in 2009, the Islamic regime attacked the ‘humanities’ as the main source of protests, the most effective tool used by the West, especially America, to corrupt and incite Iranian youth, and finally closed down all the Humanities departments in Iran’s universities.” -Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

    “The academic atmosphere, produced mainly by the humanities, is the only atmosphere in which pure science can flourish.” –E.W.R. Steacie (Canadian physical chemist)

    “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.” -Albert Einstein

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