The recent mini-revolt of Blairite grandees is about much more than the outcome of the next election. It’s a rearguard to defend an entire way of doing politics – the New Labour project itself.
Shifting Grounds accepted an invitation to join Ed Miliband on the campaign trail in Bristol on Saturday. The West Country is something of a spiritual home for us, given the number of our contributors who live in places like Bristol, Bath and Frome, so in effect we were welcoming the Labour leader to our local patch.
Among those who think there are things that Labour should learn from Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, there have always been two schools of thought: those who argue that Labour should respond by adopting her ideas and those who want Labour to fight back by adopting her style and her determination, as David Cameron put it on Wednesday, to make the political weat
The news that Margaret Thatcher passed away earlier today provokes a mix of feelings. Few other leaders in British history have left a legacy as powerful or paradoxical.
Ten years ago this week I was in the process of helping Robin Cook resign from government. Most of the previous decade had been spent helping him to get into government and stay there, so it’s fair to say that walking out in protest wasn’t how it was meant to end.
Let the post-mortems begin. Everyone with an opinion on the Eastleigh result has been getting in on the act, so I might as well get my two-penneth in. These are my conclusions.
1) Rumours of the Liberal Democrats’ death have been greatly exaggerated.
The circumstances of this by-election couldn’t have been worse from Nick Clegg’s point of view.
If there has been a worse Chancellor of the Exchequer in my lifetime than George Osborne I am struggling to put a name to him.
Growth is certain to return to the British economy in advance of the next election, but there is no reason to think that it will be spectacular or that it will produce the kind of feel-good factor that would make the result a foregone conclusion.
Andrew Harrop at the Fabian Society produced a good and cautiously positive analysis of Labour’s electoral prospects at the weekend. Based on a specially commissioned YouGov poll, it concluded that Labour’s support has been boosted since 2010 by the addition of 2.3 million Liberal Democrat defectors, 1.
Tantric or not, David Cameron’s long-awaited Europe speech didn’t make the earth move for me. What we got was a confused argument that pointed in several different directions at once as it tried and failed to reconcile the demands of Conservative backbenchers while sounding reasonable to an international audience.
Why don’t we have a referendum on the state of the railways? I ask this in all seriousness because a YouGov poll this week showed that more voters regard transport as an important issue for them and their families than Europe. In fact the poll ranked nine issues as being of greater direct concern to them than our relationship with Brussels.
Labour’s recent decision to join hardline anti-European Tories in voting for a freeze in the EU budget received a sniffy response from commentators and established pro-European grandees like Lord Mandelson. It was either dismissed as an act of base opportunism or taken as a hint that Labour might be drifting back into its old Eurosceptic habits.
A referendum on Europe is apparently in the offing, but we don’t yet know what form it would take. David Cameron has expressed support for some kind of vote while ruling out a straight in/out choice. It is said he wants to renegotiate the terms of our EU membership and then give us the opportunity to express our approval accordingly.
It’s been a struggle to convince myself that this year’s US presidential race matters very much. In 2004 and 2008, I followed every twist and turn of the campaign, every new poll, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis from the convention season to the result. This time I have come to the party late and without any enthusiasm.
Alex Salmond has now asked the Scottish Government’s legal advisers for an opinion on the implications of independence for Scotland’s membership of the European Union.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for the Don’t Underestimate Ed Miliband Association (DUEMA). Formed semi-seriously by Telegraph writer Iain Martin after the 2010 Labour leadership election, it subsequently became an in-joke among Miliband’s detractors before being taken over and renamed the Don’t Unseat Ed Miliband Association.
We have heard a lot recently about the attitude of conservative politicians on both sides of the Atlantic towards people they evidently regard as their social inferiors.
My concern this time last week was that Ed Miliband wasn’t getting the credit he deserves for the skill and tenacity with which he has turned his party around over the last couple of years. Well, I don’t need to worry about that any more.
The most important thing about a leader’s speech is that it should tell people something they didn’t already know. It could be an expectation confounded, a new policy rolled out, the enunciation of a fresh political vision or the visible growth of a leader’s personal qualities. We got all of that from Ed Miliband today.
I got a taste of how established opinion would react to Ed Miliband’s leadership within minutes of his election in Manchester two years ago when I bumped into a News International journalist of my acquaintance at the conference bar.
After their Brighton conference, we certainly know more about how the Liberal Democrats plan to revive their electoral appeal ahead of the next election.
It’s more than two years since the long-anticipated “progressive moment” evaporated in failure and acrimony as coalition negotiations with Labour collapsed and the Liberal Democrats entered power with the Conservatives. Hard feelings linger, but enough is enough.
Who would have thought this time last year that two of the three main party leaders would be facing serious challenges to their leadership and that neither of them would be Ed Miliband? It is a measure of how the political weather has changed since the last party conference season that Miliband goes into this one as the only leader with good reason to feel s
When Ed Miliband delivered his party conference speech drawing a distinction between productive and predatory capitalism last September, the gatekeepers of free market orthodoxy reacted with fury and scorn. He had insulted British business, the wealth creating heart of the nation.
What would the foreign policy of an Ed Miliband government look like? That was the challenge set for me as a contributor to The Shape of Things to Come: Labour’s New Thinking published by the Fabian Society this week.
Miliband himself has quite properly focussed on domestic priorities since becoming leader.
Labour has established a sustained double-digit lead in the opinion polls over the last three months and Ed Miliband has David Cameron “on the run” (his words, not mine) over phone hacking, as well as tax, fairness and the economy.
Any argument for school reform motivated by a sincere desire to increase social mobility deserves to be taken seriously. That’s why the debate started by Ben Mitchell’s advocacy of grammar school expansion is one that belongs on Shifting Grounds.
I seem to have started a debate, and since debate is always healthy, I am grateful to you for responding at length to my post last week on why I’m not a fiscal conservative.
You are curious about why I chose to comment on your paper, In the Black Labour (ITBL), six months after its publication.
Once taboo, the label ‘conservative’ is suddenly in vogue on the left.
We all know how the expectations management game works at election time. You play down your own prospects while trying to set an unattainable target for your opponents. The Conservatives must have been congratulating themselves for persuading the media that 700 gains was a reasonable measure of success for Labour.
UKIP outpolling the Liberal Democrats, victory for Respect in Bradford West, the BNP in Strasbourg, Britain’s first Green MP, an SNP government in Edinburgh, local elections that look set to point in several different directions at once. What’s going on? Two things, actually.
The news that the UK has officially entered a double-dip recession puts into perspective the omnishambles of the last few weeks. ‘Carry on Qatada’ and the banana skin budget could be dismissed as routine mid-term wobbles from which the government might be expected to recover.
Until George Osborne’s hara-kiri budget it was widely assumed that the economic battle lines for the next election had been firmly set. The Conservatives would eliminate the structural deficit by taking an axe to the public sector and go to the polls on the back of a modest giveaway budget and claims to have sorted out Labour’s mess.
The main internal obstacle to a Labour victory at the next election isn’t Old Labour or New Labour; it’s Desperate Labour.
Desperate Labour has been out in force today, mostly grumbling in the shadows, but sometimes screaming in the sunlight.
Rarely has a budget been as universally panned as the one George Osborne delivered on Wednesday. Surveying the headlines of the last two days must have been a galling experience for the Chancellor.
We are going to hear a lot this week about how to face up to the economic challenges of the future and put Britain back on the road to recovery. There will be a blizzard of competing ideas about the best way to rebalance our economy, increase exports, boost investments and create the right partnership between government and industry.
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