Wednesday 25 August 2010

Ed's swipe at David

Here is the full text of Ed Miliband’s latest snipe at his brother, as the fight between them for the Labour leadership hots up.

Ed clearly insinuates that his brother David is 'too New Labour'.

"There is clearly an honest disagreement about the future of the Labour Party and different views about the scale of change needed to take Labour back to power. It is a genuine debate about the direction we must take.

"I will keep campaigning on my message that Labour must change to win, and that change must be real and fundamental. Remaining in the new labour comfort zone would consign us to opposition.

"It is important that the next Labour leader understands the scale of the challenge to bring back the 5 million voters Labour have lost since 1997.

"We need to change in order to attract all of these lost voters back to Labour, and that includes the 1.6m voters we lost to the Liberal Democrats, and it also means attracting back the 3 million working families whose votes we lost, as well as the more affluent voters.

"To do that, we have to change. We have to change on the economy, on civil liberties and ID cards, and on tuition fees.

"And we need change our approach to politics, building a party which is a movement, open to new ideas and prepared to listen as well as lead. Staying in the New Labour comfort zone will not allow us to reconnect with those we lost."

What does David have in return?

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Balls looks ahead...

Since the Liberal Democrat defection rumours flew around at the weekend the Labour leadership candidates have been laying out the “welcome mat” for political switchers.

This morning it was still going on. Ed Miliband put out a release in which he said: "To those middle class voters who have switched to the Lib Dems, I say look again at how Labour is changing."

Andy Burnham had even ridiculously suggested yesterday that Lib Dem party members who wanted to switch to Labour should get their membership fees subsidized.

But today David Miliband struck a slightly different note. Yes Lib Dems are joining Labour, he told Lobbydog, but there was something more important not to lose sight of.

"We in the Labour party have got to be respectful and open for people who didn’t vote for us last time, but we’ve also got to insist that the main enemy is the Tories," he said.

"That is the absolutely key point. The Government is being run by the Tories. It is them who are going to be the big choice at the next election – Labour or Tory."

Focussing fire on the Tories is a good tactical call from D Miliband who, being the leadership contest’s front-runner, would probably like to think he is setting Labour’s agenda on this and other issues.

But I’ve often found that it is actually Ed Balls, being a natural pernickety political scrapper, who gets these tactical points right ahead of others.

True enough after a moment’s search I found this Times article Balls wrote on August 3.

"We risk falling into Mr Cameron’s trap by focusing our fire too much on the Liberal Democrats…while we must win back voters lost to the Lib Dems, we must not let the Tories off the hook," he wrote.

It’s not the first time either. When the Coalition was considering putting up VAT Balls had been going on about it for weeks.

When it actually happened, and the other candidates began criticising the Government, Balls stopped and moved on to slamming Gove for the BSF schools cock up.

With just a month or so to go before the Labour leadership contest ends, I’m hoping the fight will liven up a bit – a head on battle between D Miliband and Balls would be just the job.

The Taiwanese take on Osborne's Spending Challenge website...

No opposition, not even for the sake of it...

The favourite to win Labour’s leadership contest conceded to Lobbydog this morning that his party had been a less than effective opposition since the election.

David Miliband told me: “Of course. The fact of a leadership election means that people are competing with each other, not just competing with the Tories.

“But beware of any suggestion that the first months of a Government are going to be anything other than, relatively speaking, easier rather then harder – that’s why people talk about a honeymoon.

“And so I think that there’s a strong sense in the Labour party that it’s time to get this leadership election over – and obviously it will be over in the space of a month or so – and that we need to get on with the real battle which is rebuilding ourselves, not just sniping at the Government, but actually providing an alternative.”

He’s giving voice to what many people take as a given.

But to hear Miliband spell it out reveals how frustrating it must have been for some leading Labour figures and MPs to see the Coalition getting the easy ride it has, while Labour has tried to find direction.

Monday 23 August 2010

Pay them to defect!

I was wondering this morning what colour mischief-maker was spreading the rumours about Liberal Democrat defectors over the weekend.

The rumour mill was already grinding on Friday – I ran into a Lib Dem communications man running into the press gallery to start throwing denials around.

Apparently a rumour that Charles Kennedy was going to defect sprouted from an American website and was then picked up over here.

Either way the whole thing whiffed of dirty tricks during silly season. Stories in this morning’s paper about Ed Miliband saying he’d put out the welcome mat for defectors do nothing to change the impression.

Andy Burnham’s suggestion of how Labour should be wooing Lib Dem switchers – by subsidising their party membership fees – was particularly comical.