Turning the Tide – Part 1

Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party

Ed Miliband, Current Leader of the Labour Party.  Photograph: David Levene Photograph: David Levene

For the past two years, this man and his photograph have struck hope and optimism in to the hearts of Conservative circles nationwide. Ed Miliband, the man who rose to lead his party with such Machiavellian efficiency, who happily slotted a knife between his brother’s shoulder blades and manipulated the union vote, once appeared to have all the Prime Ministerial appeal of Mr Bean. And with Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls quietly scheming in the background, the TUC constantly banging the public sector drum, and a horrendous fiscal reputation as a party, Mr Miliband originally looked set to be nothing more than another Michael Foot or Hugh Gaitskell; a footnote in history.

But after three weeks of party conferences, big speeches, and general PR rhetoric, the fact of the matter remains the same; according to a YouGov poll performed on 14th October, 43% of the British electorate would still rather see Milibean, the Labour party and Teddy in Number 10 over ourselves. And whereas his socialist vision of One Nation conservatism may not have taken off in the same respect as New Labour once did, he might just have shaken off his reputation as the “Tories’ secret weapon”.

Could ‘Red’ Ed be far more than a mere historical footnote?

But is this something we should even be worried about? We are in the mid-term of an austerity administration, after all, and a particularly tough one at that. Shouldn’t we expect to be unpopular, especially when we’re tackling the mountain of debt left to us by Gordon Brown and his now oh-so popular cronies? Surely our slight dip in the poles will rectify itself before 2015?

To put it bluntly, yes, this is something we should be worried about. If the electorate weren’t willing to grant us an outright mandate and a majority in 2010, even after the most unpopular Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain, we’ve got even more work to convince them this time around.

Let’s look at history. How did another initially unpopular Conservative Prime Minister manage thirty years ago?

Mrs Thatcher found herself in far worse times, poll-wise, during the early 1980’s. According to MORI, after receiving 45% of the popular vote in the 1979 general election, she’d reached our current rating of 33% by December 1980. But the ratings continued to fall, to just 27% by September 1981. Only a war over a handful of certain islands in the South Atlantic was able to lift the party out of its rut, nearby doubling the figures to 51% by June 1982. Quite the turnaround. But how does the current party shape up?

We polled 36% of the vote in May 2010, certainly not as well as Margaret managed, but we made it to 40% by June 2011. However, ever since then we’ve seen our support slowly dwindle, despite a brief 7% increase in December 2011 following Cameron’s veto of treaty change at the EU summit. As I’ve mentioned before, we now sit at 33%, having recovered from a low of 30% this September.

Yes, those are a bunch of nice statistics, I hear you say (or rather think), but what can we actually learn from them? Well, firstly, that it’s possible for our party to make a comeback, from as little as 27%, to convincingly prevail in the next three elections. Secondly, that a hard line towards Europe may be the key to winning back voters, a considerable number of whom have slipped to away to UKIP. And thirdly, an invasion and occupation of British sovereign territory by a military dictatorship, in complete contravention of international law, followed by an astounding victory against tremendous odds nearly eight-thousand miles away from the UK, despite the territory in question being virtually useless and simply a relic of our long-gone colonial days, is very popular indeed!

So it’s possible. But how do we do it?

That, I will speak of in my next post. And it won’t involve fighting a war (conventional or class).

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8 thoughts on “Turning the Tide – Part 1

  1. “…who happily slotted a knife between his brother’s shoulder blades”

    When did this happen? I seriously don’t get it.

    • David Miliband was the favourite for the Labour leadership; that Ed was able to come from behind and win has been a jibe in the Westminster village.

  2. “who happily slotted a knife between his brother’s shoulder blades” this is news to all of us.

    “manipulated the union vote,” well that’s just blatant intellectual dishonesty. The third voting block in the leadership election was affiliated organisations, which yes included unions, but also groups like Labour Students, and many others. Also, the union turnout for the leadership election was abysmal, you could hardly call it “the union vote,”.

    “the TUC constantly banging the public sector drum,” – well with this government, someone’s got to? And why not in general, what’s so inherently wrong with the public sector, it’s only ever given us the NHS and a far more efficient method to tackling societal problems than any previous charity or private company ever could. It is why we don’t have health care, pensions, welfare no long coming from the latter two.

    “when we’re tackling the mountain of debt left to us by Gordon Brown” – so you would’ve liked the banks to go bust then? Or was this support like Cameron’s, for a mere 10 days?

    “a hard line towards Europe may be the key to winning back voters,” if you had a brief look at the fortunes of the Conservative Party back from the mid-1990s to the mid 2000s you’d realise that’d be an incredibly damaging position for the party to take.

    • In regards to your first quote, please see above.

      Ed’s victory came as the result of considerable support from the trade union movement, they cinched it for him. By pandering to the unions, he was able to achieve their support, and yet two years later, they’re so pleased with his leadership that the General Secretary of Unite (Labour’s biggest donor, by the way) is openly attacking him in a national newspaper on the eve of the party’s conference. It appears that he’s manipulated the unions to his own ends, but is now willing to turn his back on them.

      I’m not going to leap head first into a debate on the public sector; all I will say is that we have a deficit which needs cutting. I’m paying for it, with an £18,000 in tuition fees. But I don’t complain, or go to marches or to rallies, because I appreciate that it’s in the national interest for us to tackle this problem. Yes, I’d really rather not pay anything at all, but for my country, I’ll grit my teeth ,get on with it, and blame the person who put me in the is position originally.

      Another debate I don’t want to get into is whether we simply should have left the banks to fail, like other regular businesses, and thus attacked the culture of moral hazard in banking.

      And Europe, I’ll discuss that in my next post.

      For the record, I didn’t quite expect to walk into this proverbial defecation storm, so please give me time a little time to bed in before skinning me alive…

      • “David Miliband was the favourite for the Labour leadership; that Ed was able to come from behind and win has been a jibe in the Westminster village.” – And so was David Davis initially, yet Cameron beat him to become Tory leader in 2005, I don’t recall anyone accusing Cameron of being a ‘back stabber’. Favourites don’t always win, that’s just life. The fact that you’re failing to consistently apply this principal is your own failing.

        “Ed’s victory came as the result of considerable support from the trade union movement, they cinched it for him. By pandering to the unions, he was able to achieve their support,” – I’m sorry but this represents the very worse of intellectual dishonesty. I’ve not only addressed the first part of your statement but the second is not even true. Firstly, if you’d actually read what I wrote earlier, the third voting block in the Labour leadership elections was not ‘Trade Unions’ it was ‘Affiliate Associations’. Yes, this included trade unions, but more often than not it included countless organisations such as Labour Students, Socialist Solicitors (yes, there is such a group), etc. Second, as someone who actively took an interest in the Labour Leadership elections and even voted I can tell you that Ed in no shape or form pandered “to the unions,”.

        “General Secretary of Unite (Labour’s biggest donor, by the way)” – I’m pretty sure the donations aren’t paid by the General Secretary themself, they’re paid by 3 million (I forget the exact figure) ordinary workers who pay a meager amount each month.

        “all I will say is that we have a deficit which needs cutting. I’m paying for it, with an £18,000 in tuition fees.” – While I don’t know what year you are, I’ll assume you’re a first year as there’s no reason you’d raise this unless it was for the recent tuition fees raise. But um, with regards to that, you’re really not paying for it. While I know the Coalition’s ultimate goal of eliminating the deficit by 2015 will not be met, let’s for a moment pretent it still will be. You do realise that given the £9k fees were only introduced this year, no one will begin paying them off till 2015…after when the deficit is supposed to be eliminated.

        “and blame the person who put me in the is position originally.” so you’ll finally getting around to blaming the banks and the last recession that was caused in Wall St. USA? After all, recessions are probably the biggest contributor to deficits.

        “But I don’t complain, or go to marches or to rallies, because I appreciate that it’s in the national interest for us to tackle this problem.” ah, nice subtle ad hominen attack there. Well I’m sorry, just because someone “complains” doesn’t mean we go on marches, rallies or don’t care for the greater problems facing society. I’m not even going to go there.

    • Max attitudes to Europe have changed drastically over the last decade, looking at 20 year old examples is now near irrelevant. When Cameron fired off his “veto” last year regardless of the fact it did bugger all his personal ratings as well as those of the party rose sharply. Most of the country is in favour of a referendum on the EU. Almost all of the party is (bar a few TRG types). My personal view is that the way Cameron plays the Europe card will be key in both his and the party’s future coming into 2015.

      A hardline view will certainly win more votes than it looses.

      (even this year old example http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/24/eu-referendum-poll-uk-withdrawal proves EU-bashing is popular. And opinions have only intensified.)

  3. The problem with this discussion is that it’s simply too broad. As a result, this discussion has seen too many statements for there to be any serious examination of the ideas behind them. We’ve touched on polls, family relationships, botched attempts at using Latin phrases, the deficit, the banking crisis, public sector pay restraint, tuition fees, Thatcher, the Labour party constitution and of course: Europe. I’m not sure that these can all be debated simultaneously.

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