Paying the price

Never again should Labour play fast and loose with working people’s lives

The Labour party is full of idealists; it is one of the things I like about it most. But its ability to wish the situation to be better than it is sometimes has no bounds. Ed Miliband’s Labour party had this in abundance. Central to all this was one assumption: that the economic crash had moved the centre-ground to the left; that, because markets had failed, people’s trust in an all-powerful state had been restored. There was almost no grounding for this theory, other than wishing it so. The very reason Labour was in opposition was because the voters, following the crash, had replaced Labour with David Cameron’s pro-austerity Conservative party. No incumbent centre-left party in office since the crash has been re-elected across Europe, yet the centre-right in Germany and elsewhere has been. France was the only place the left was winning, but that has hardly gone to plan or been a model for British social democracy.

Time and again, I and others would say to Miliband’s team: build a strategy to win assuming the centre-ground has not moved. If it has, you will win a landslide; if it has not, you will be in government regardless. ‘Disloyal, naysayer, bitterite’, was normally the reply.

To dissuade those of us who feared Labour might fall short, the then leader’s office sought to reassure that all was in hand. Pollsters and those passionate about Miliband’s project were wheeled out to explain the thinking: everyone who voted for us in 2010 will do so again (29 per cent), then all Labour needed was one-quarter to one-third of the 2010 Liberal Democrat vote (six per cent), and that losing is a ‘statistical impossibility’. This became known as the ‘35 per cent strategy’. It seemed to reassure no one and in turn leadership loyalists were sent out to deny its existence. It turns out the latter were proved right, because, as Spencer Livermore explains opposite, there was ‘not a strategy … but an ideological project’. A project for which working people are paying the price. Never again should Labour play fast and loose with working people’s lives and set its ambitions so low.

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Richard Angell is director of Progress

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Photo: Jonny Cocker

Read too:

Spencer Livermore: Mistakes on repeat

Victoria Groulef: Out of the mouths of babes

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Comments: 7...

  1. On April 19, 2016 at 8:19 am Verity responded with... #

    Whilst I agree with much of this duplicated and repetitive (and repetitive) history, I see no evidence that voters we desperate for more and more moderation, or for Liz’s moderate boldness. Adding something new or having a new theme on the old would be useful guide to decide whether or not we have something worthwhile to say.

  2. On April 19, 2016 at 8:31 am JP Janson De Couet responded with... #

    Self serving drivel from one of the group doing the most to scupper Labour’s chances of ever winning power again – the Blairites. They’d rather Labour lose than Corbyn be Prime Minister. It’s Ed Miliband all over again.

    • On April 19, 2016 at 10:15 am Alicejporterfield responded with... #

      “my room mate Mary Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”..,……..!wc577ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !wc577:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsEpochGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!wc577……

    • On April 20, 2016 at 10:50 am Mistyejones responded with... #

      “my room mate Mary Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”..,……..!wc639ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !wc639:➽:➽:➽➽➽➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsEconomyGetPayHourly$98…. .❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦:❖❖:❦❦::::::!wc639……..

    • On April 20, 2016 at 4:02 pm Richard Angell responded with... #

      No, Corbyn is Miliband all over again – not setting out to win and letting down Labour voters in the process.

      I want a Labour government. i would prefer Corbyn as PM over any Tory, Liberal, etc you could come up with. But, in my view, he will not win. That worries me. If you are a democrat you can want the public to vote differently but you cannot believe they were wrong.

      I cannot believe how bad this Tory government is, they messed up the budget on their own terms, are tearing themselves apart on the EU referendum and letting down industrial Britain with their mishandling of the steel crisis. Why are we not 10 or 20 points ahead? If we are not, then we will not ever replace them. Beating, not opposing, the Tories is what interests me, that is the only way we help Labour voters.

      • On April 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm Maxine responded with... #

        I couldn’t agree more, Richard but I want to know when we are going to do something about it. I came looking for this group because I’m stunned about the appalling job we are doing in opposition. Es Millibands ‘Manifesto’ was just depressing. As a black lesbian I felt compelled to donate to Sadiq’s campaign after the unpleasant tone the debate took. Although I think the Manifesto after a decade in opposition in the Capital is pitiful. ‘Working groups and committees to look at what can be done?’ Oh come on. That’s shoddy work you do as a policy wonk when you have to turn papers round over night. Where are the big thinkers, the big ideas and the leaders who can sell them. Come on, give a voter some hope!

  3. On April 24, 2016 at 5:23 pm Maxine responded with... #

    JP I’m curious, why do you come to Progressonline?

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