Tag Archive: Labour leadership
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I’ve just finished reading Mehdi Hasan and James MacIntyre’s book about Ed Miliband and his rise to Labour leader. It’s a fascinating book about how powerful people relate to each other. It’s insights are interesting and remarkable to read. But because of its focus on the movers and the shakers it isn’t the whole story of that ramshackle, rambunctious and brilliant campaign. I was extremely proud to be a very small cog in that contraption. I remain so to this day. I’m proud of Ed’s leadership and the work that is being done to change the party and the debate. He’s not perfect and there will be times when I disagree with and criticise him. But overall, it’s one of the best things I have ever done in my life.
The phone bank in Elder street was possibly the hottest place in London. Situated in an insalubrious back street near Liverpool Street it had a bank of about 14 phones and computers. Having graduated within the campaign from caller to runner of phone banks in early July, I can’t remember a single time that all the computers were working. Logging them in was my first job on arrival and then greeting and briefing the callers.
My briefings were simple. While there was a script on the computer screen to use as a guide, there was clearly a recognition from the campaign that the volunteers were a selling point in themselves. I would encourage volunteers to listen to the people they were calling. If they were receptive to a conversation (far more were so than in my old telesales days!) they should explain what had brought them to volunteer their hot summer nights to the campaign. I believed then as now that those stories are the most compelling. They are true, they articulate the passion of those volunteers and they connected with the electorate on a shared level of understanding. MY other key point was that however tempted, however the other side of the conversation was going, we should never, ever be negative about any of the other candidates. “After all” as I would say to the volunteers “Who do you think will serve in Ed’s shadow cabinet?”.
I ran phone banks for the campaign 2 or 3 nights a week throughout July, August and September having been on the phones from their beginning. I brought in the innovation – again a motivating tool from my telesales days – of having a bell for people to get up and ring whenever we got a first preference Ed vote. It’s a lovely way of acknowledging the work done by that volunteer, and bringing the room together and building momentum. Some nights that bell went like the clappers!
Between encouragement, taking over the more challenging calls and ensuring no volunteer died of dehydration in the sweltering heat, I was kept pretty busy. But I was a part-timer. Someone who came along after work to help out. I had no anticipation of seeing my name in the Index of Ed but there are several people missing. Perhaps because of the closeness of the final vote, there has sprung up a narrative that Ed swung the election in the tearooms of Parliament. It’s true that due to the tripartite electoral college, the votes Ed generated there were utterly crucial. But Ed won with 175,519 votes to David’s 147,220. There are some people I want to tell you about who made that happen.
First and most glaringly missing is Kat Fletcher, the employed head of volunteers for the Ed campaign. It says in the book that Ed’s team recognised the importance of their network of grassroots style campaigner – with over 5000 volunteers, credit must be given to Kat. She’s a hard nut to crack at times – and I speak as someone who now considers her a great friend. Equal parts inspiration and irascibility, Kat built herself a core army of extremely loyal and excellent volunteers. They set up a separate volunteers office – again in East London – and were working at least 12 hour days. The extraordinary dedication of volunteers like lovely Lisa Mitchell – whose working class insecurity never quite managed to mask her real brilliance, kooky Rosanna Donovan, who could get a room of corpses up and canvassing, irrepressible Rana Begum who has enough energy to light up Greater Manchester, thoughtful Aiden Hocking who worked so hard on dull data entry while having long and amazingly well informed discussions about political strategy impressive Cllr Jason Eller who combined volunteering for Ed with his duties as one of the youngest councillors in the country and finally the wonderful Hollie Tu who works like the devil and can sing like an angel. You can see some of these and more Ed M vols here straight after Ed’s victory here.
These people gave everything to the Ed Miliband campaign. Some of the people on the campaign recognised that. Ed’s brilliant field director Marcus Roberts understood probably better than anyone other than Kat Fletcher the value of what they had built. Sometimes there was some resistance to the role of the volunteers from the “boys in suits” as the Greycoat Place crowd were occasionally referred to among the vols. But the way the campaign highlighted their energy and commitment in the campaign messaging shows the importance of the work they did and why they did it.
Ed is a fascinating and at times worrying book. I lost count of how many jobs were awarded after a phone call with a friend. The circles of power seem further away than ever after reading it. It’s clearly a true and faithful account of the campaign as seen from the Westminster bubble. But there was a little something missing, and that’s the role of the rest. The not so powerful. Ed’s campaign theme was about changing that relationship in all areas of life and I believe in his ability to dedicate his leadership to changing it. So I thought the story of some of the less powerful cogs deserved to be told in its own small, unassuming way too.
There are a number of ways we can strengthen the voice of the members in policy making at every stage. This needs to be done with a sense of responsibility on both sides. If we are to practice the collectivism we preach, we need both to make and accept collective decisions. That goes for me campaigning publically for a party fighting to keep Trident, as much as it goes for the Party agreeing to review that decision if the members choose to do so.
I recommend not just an audit trail for any ideas submitted by CLPs, Unions and Socialist Societies to any policy making body, though that is an important first step. I recommend a clear story of the submission. We need to know what body has considered it. If it was accepted for further consideration, we need to know where it goes to next. If rejected, we need a reason why. Not an essay perhaps, but a cogent explanation.
We could reward activity with invitations to be more engaged. If people are giving up large quantities of their spare time, it is unlikely to be out of a sheer love of delivering leaflets. People get involved in politics to be and stay inspired, and to change things for the better. Yes, leaflets are probably important (though when was the last time we tested that, as I don’t think many people read them). But delivering them isn’t enough to make people feel they are making a difference.
MPs need to remember that for every Labour Party member who makes it to Parliament, to Government, to leadership, there is an army of people who made this happen. The lucky few who make it aren’t uniquely blessed by God, they were chosen among a number of other suitably qualified candidates and fought for by a determined army. We praise and appreciate their talents, but don’t ever think that doesn’t mean that we aren’t equally aware of their weaknesses. They are there because of us, and while they are elected to serve the country, their first mandate is to do so in the democratic way that we as a party agree is the best way forward. We have different ideas from the other parties, and we know in our hearts that ours are right. They should never, ever forget that they are there as our representatives. They are not bigger than the party, and the way we all know this is that they wouldn’t be elected as independents.
We don’t work this hard for the betterment of another person’s career, but because we believe in a better way of organising society. That’s important to us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need or want to be challenged. We understand the need to be constantly evaluating what this organisation means and would mean to our modern citizens. It does mean that when we take a person on as our representative, this underlying belief is what they are there to represent; That we will only accept a challenge when presented through the prism of our unchanging values.
Having an army of volunteers work for you must feel good. I can understand how MPs may come to think that it is their unique talent that is important and not the collective values they are there to represent. My understanding this doesn’t make it right. It isn’t.
So each MP should have a contract agreed with their constituency, a minimum standard of engagement to which they are expected to adhere to. A contract that – in the final instance – is enforceable by the NEC. This should not restrict them politically, but ensure that where they do disagree with a majority of their CLP on an issue they are at least expected to attend discussions to explain their decision making process.
In this review of Labour’s policy making and party structures there is something missing: Any discussion of root and branch reformation of the Party staff. The Party staff work long and very hard. But I am unconvinced – sceptical even – that they are led to do so in the right way with the right outcomes in mind.
Everyone has a story about the control freakery of the Party. From the “lost” submissions to the press releases not viewed by candidates; from queries never answered to open derision aimed at member bodies. From the canvassing for votes and strong-arming delegates at conferences at which they were supposed to listen to the will of the party, to ignoring what came out of those votes when the strong-arming didn’t go as planned.
Mostly we rightly blamed the leadership. And we will be right to do so again if Ed doesn’t get a handle on this problem. But we can’t ignore a whole aspect of the Labour culture that exists and reinforces itself among the staff.
What has happened at head office is understandable in a historical context. When Labour was tearing itself apart, an over emphasis on their role in our internal discipline was essential to bring us back from the brink. But what was once essential is now habit. Current and former party staffers I meet take pride in defining themselves against the members, despite the members having grown and matured away from the undisciplined rabble we have been. We don’t need a nanny anymore, and clinging to that role is making them an inadequate provider of what is needed.
The Party is about to appoint a new General Secretary. I urge whoever that is to be far bolder than any person in that role has managed for years and remember why you are there. Remind the staff what they are for, not just what they define themselves against. Introduce member feedback and modern mechanisms and understanding of politics. Don’t just have a Movement for Change officer, have a genuinely changed ethos.
I want to support the staff in continuing to do the hard, hard slog of getting us back to power. All I ask, all I want, is that they decide to support me and the millions like me in doing the same.
Finally, I envisage a completely different way of running our conferences.
A reconstituted NPF (one in which every elected member can inform any one of the policy commissions) would prepare documents based on their discussions and submissions in time for Easter.
Instead of a spring conference that feels like a smaller, less important version of the autumn conference, we would instead invite delegates from every CLP, Union and Socialist Societies as well as 10 MPs selected by lottery to participate in a direct democracy event lasting over several days. These would be closed to the media and be a modernised version of the old compositing events.
Split into manageable tables of 10 with a facilitator and laptop at each table there would be discussion around each section of the documents produced by the NPF. Feedback would be inputted to a central point by the facilitators and the networked laptops would display comments for groups discussion and take in all the input.
The outcomes of these discussions would be voted on by everyone in the room. These would them be put back together again with reference to the voting and comments by the Labour Party Staff for the NPF to sign off to send for final approval at the Autumn conference.
This level of input and scrutiny should give members a real sense of control over the policy making process, while the staff and NPF can keep it on track. Having the initial discussions away from the cameras will also help to ensure that we don’t replicate the terrible conferences of the 1980s while keeping members in charge.
This would also free up more time for the autumn Party conference to be a more outward looking event, where Labour sets its stall out to the nation.
I’ve been a member of the party since I was 15 years old. I have stuck with it, as I have the sense to understand that it is when the left splinters that the right wins. I also know that it’s not about political parties winning and losing a giant chess game, but about the people the parties represent and the competing visions for Britain that our parties – at their best – represent.
I stuck with Labour in Government, through Iraq, through arms sales to Tanzania, through control orders and 90 day detention, through ID cards and being extremely relaxed about the rich” because I knew that on balance we were doing good. I was critical internally but loyal to the party, because i know that a civil war in the Labour Party will only hurt the people we are supposed to protect.
There are people int he party who differ from me. They do see the whole thing as a game, and there is definitely more than one opponent. They are playing games with the stability of the party, threatening war, rather than engaging in conversation. As Labour goes into a long process of policy making, they don’t want to stick around supporting the party through the result. They see how far we are from a General Election and, hooked on the adrenaline and testerone they overdosed on during first the election campaign and then the leadership, they can’t stop campaigning. They have decided to wage an addled permanent war with anyone who might make the Labour Party look vaguely different from the mould they set in 1994. They are also, to be charitable, scared. There are other kids playing with the toys they used to claim were theirs alone. They are worried about where they fit in a post New Labour future. Where once they were kings, now they are members.
Red Ed is – in reality – anything but. He’s a social democrat with some considered and nuanced positions on civil liberties that move the party beyond the Blair years, but he’s not Michael Foot. What Eed seems to be intent on doing, if having a conversation with the party, the unions, the Socialist Societies about how we develop a new raft of policy. He’ll get some of that wrong (and we’ll all disagree on exactly what he gets wrong, as we will all have our own ideas) but if he really listens to the whole party, he’ll also get a lot of it right.
The Milburnite Militant Faction will have to learn that their role is to be like the rest of us. Not better, not worse. We are here not to beat you but to converse, convince and hopefully convert you. Convert you back to being a democratic socialist who understands that
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. That it believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
Every time you lash out, you wound not the leader but the party. Every time you engage in constructive dialogue, you convince a few more people. Sometimes we will convince you. Sometimes you will convince us. But you will not convince me or anyone that your sniping and backbiting is done for the good of the Party and more importantly for the good a country cowering under the treat of horrendous Tory cuts.
The Party is at a good place in the polls. We are ready for a coherent policy process alongside a demonstrable fightback against this coalition. We have a leader and we aren’t going to have another contest anytime soon. Do you want Labour to win the next election? If so, and if you really think we’re going so badly wrong, get into the process, have your voice heard. But if you continue to brief against the party, knowing that it will lead to electoral defeat, you are the new Militant, and your nihilistic destructiveness will not be forgiven. Not by the party and not by the voters.
Right – I’m off. Just got home from my work’s annual conference yesterday, and I’m turning straight back around.
I will try to blog from conference as much as possible, and if I lose my technical ineptitude, will even try to do some interesting things with video – but we shall see.
First things first, I’m off to watch the new leader be announced, and the party unite behind them.
1. The party will mostly unite behind the leader. The Guardian will find one delegate who doesn’t and write it up as a split story.
2. At any fringe on party renewal, someone either on the platform or from the audience will say that we should stop talking to ourselves about ourselves. They will fail to see the irony of doing so at a meeting they have chosen to attend about ourselves.
3. Billy Bragg will be only slightly less popular round the piano than usual.
4. All the best jokes will be at the expense of the Lib Dems, all the real anger will be aimed at the Tories.
5. On at least one occiasion I will get too drunk and rue the day God invented booze.
Yesterday, both the Miliband camps released polling data that supported the central tenets of their respective pitches to the party. David Miliband’s showed that he is thought of by a majority voters as the candidate most able to win were a general election held soon. Ed Miliband’s showed that the public are where he is on moving beyond New Labour and talismanic New Labour policies. How you react to these polls probably depends on how long you think the coalition will last. Myself I think we’re probably stuck with the for at least 3 years, and so am more relaxed about the “ready to lead now” question. Ed will have plenty of time to establish himself as a strong, articulate and empathetic leader once elected, which I am in no doubt that he will do.
Now obviously I want Ed to win. I’ve made that very clear. I think the voting is likely to be really close, and I don’t know who will win (though I suspect his surname will be Miliband) but I think this contest has changed the Labour Party in some important ways, so that whoever wins it is vitally clear that if they are serious about increasing internal party democracy & winning an election, they will need to take into account the message of Ed’s polling. The Labour party are itching to adopt these policies, and the country are behind them in doing so. The closeness of the race means that Ed will have to take very seriously people’s concerns about his relative inexperience (and therefore have some big hitters in the Cabinet. Alan Johnson’s announcement will help in that respect, though Ed’s difference with him on Civil Liberties would mean moving him from the Home Office brief). It also means David will have to take very seriously people’s concerns on policies and as such be persuaded from his Labour Light prescription on taxes.
These polls are being presented as New Labour Vs Old Labour, but if the Milibands play it right, they can both learn from and use the data provided to build a better and stronger Labour Party.
Hopefully this is the last time I will ever post about Tony Blair. I won’t be buying his book, I won’t be reading his book (I hear the prose is terrible) and I don’t take his interventions very seriously, so won’t be reacting to any of his ridiculous statements about policy or politics.
My interest is in the future of the Labour Party and the policies a future Labour government will enact. Some of this future will be based on an analysis of history, so the only reason I am responding to Blair’s book is to put my take on the history of the Blair administration. This is in addition to my pre-election analysis of what Labour needed to change to get over 1992.
We won in 1997 because we offered a radical alternative to the Tories. for all Blair’s subsequent positioning, and for all the criticism of him at the time, this was a real Labour agenda with some real Labour achievements. The Minimum Wage, Freedom of Information, the New Deal and statutory holiday pay were all radical at the time and very Labour.
We were rewarded for this radicalism in 2001 when we won a second landslide. Turnout was significantly down though – at the time felt because the election didn’t seem to be much of a contest. Perhaps this lowering of turnout should instead have been a first warning, but it wasn’t taken as such. Instead, forces within Labour decided that the reason for winning was not the radical policies we had enacted, but the triangulation and rightist presentation they had been dressed in. Slowly at first and then more rapidly as Blair became more and more disconnected from his party Labour started to ditch the radicalism, and dress up managerialism with a shiny right of centre wrapping. Blair’s regret of the Hunting Act strike me as an obvious regret over one of the last truly radical acts of that era of government.
In 2005, Blair was incredibly lucky to be faced with Michael Howard as Tory leader. Had the Tories chosen a Cameron style change – someone not from the discredited Major years, someone young and charismatic – the election could have been a lot closer. We lost millions of votes and over 100 seats. Fought as tired New Labour with full emphasis on triangualtion and modernising (Forward, Not Back – worst election slogan ever?), we only managed to limp to a three point lead over the Tories in the national polls. We didn’t win that election as New Labour, the Tories lost it again as the Same Old Tories.
To learn these lessons properly, we need to deny the braying voices on the right of our party who are frozen ever further into the New Labour dogma of eternal rightward shifting and triangulation. We won and were then rewarded when we offered a radical but electable alternative. We started to lose when we offered little but managerialism and attempts to outflank the Tories on the right.
We will continue and deserve to lose if we don’t just talk about offering something radically different, but do so too. Our leader – whoever they end up being – must understand the need the electorate will have to see a difference, a radicalism about our offer and must be able to sell that vision with passion and conviction. Brown went wrong not because he abandoned New Labour, but because in promising to abandon it and them failing to offer a definition of what his vision of a post-New Labour government meant, he failed to actually move on but ended up merely offering a blurring of the presentation.
We must now – after too long – define Labour for the 21st Centuary and make an attractive offer of that definition.
Tonight I’m going to a campaign event with the Kinnocks supporting Ed Miliband for leader of the Labour Party. I mention this because I have nothing against party elders taking sides in our leadership election.
On the other hand, I do have a problem with them going negative. If Ed does win this campaign, Mandelson knows that his quote will be dragged out at every opportunity to damage Labour. He used to run our communications, he knows full well how these things work.
So I can only conclude that Mandelson has put the protection of his own legacy above the interests of his party and the electorate they want to serve. Ironically, in so doing, he has only served to further tarnish his own reputation. What was once a caricature he played up to when it suited him has now hollowed him out from the centre leaving nothing but a hapless New Labour shell.
So next week ballots will drop onto doorsteps and voting for the Labour leadership will begin. In this post I will outline my rankings of the candidates. I don’t agree with any candidate on all issues – for example I disagree with Ed Miliband on Nuclear power and with Andy Burnham on Crime. But I’m not looking for an idol, but a leader with whom I and the thousands of members like me can work to reshape the Labour Party into the future.
1. Ed Miliband
I have been quite clear that I am supporting Ed Miliband for leader since he announced. I have worked hard on his campaign and been massively inspired by the people I have met (all of whom make me feel ancient). I believethis campaign – though scrappy at times and a little rough around the edges – has been well timed. The slowly increasing tempo of the Ed M drumbeat has been well managed and his layeringof the message of Leftist economics combined with liberal social policies on civil rights and justice has combined with some shrewd analytics not just of where our party is but where our future vote could come from. I’m a lefty at heart, but a political operative in my soul. If I thought Ed’s leadership and direction would be in any way damaging to our ability to win, I would have qualms. They aren’t and I don’t.
2. Andy Burnham
I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing about my second choice. At one point it was David Miliband, but now I find myself choosing between Andy Burnham and Ed Balls, and have opted for Andy. Of course, given the electoral maths, I hope my second choice doesn’t count for much. But it will hopefully send a message.
I disagree with Andy’s stance on crime and justice issues. I think he both wrong in policy terms – we have been too casual with individual liberties – and also wrong politically (those who agree we have been too casual may be looking for an alternative to the coalition, we need to give them a reason to think it’s us). But I have been impressed with the way he has run his campaign as a non-London insurgency. I think basing his campaign out of Manchester was a good decision and his growingsupport has highlighted the need to refocus in winning seats in the North and Midlands and not solely in the South.
He finally won my second preference vote with his support for a Land Value Tax which is an extremely form of taxation.
3. Ed Balls
This is a toughie. I think Ed Balls has had a brilliant campaign – full of blood and fire. But I also don’t think he is the man to unite the Labour Party. He’s been too much at the heart of our divisions for too long. Having said this, I want to see him in a prominent position – perhaps the Chancellorship he has long dreamed of – as he has proved that there is none like him for attacking the coalition, and we need that quality as the cuts get nastier and nastier. We need a leader to show a positive alternative, but we also need a high profile fighter to show the people we are fighting for them.
4. David Miliband
It actually really saddens me that I am puttingDavid so low. I have nothing but respect for his abilities and his intellect. But a leader doesn’t lead alone, and David has very deliberately surrounded himself (apart from Jon Cruddas, and I never really drank the Cruddas KoolAid) with people who completely deny the need to move far, far beyond New Labour. If you can tell a man by the company he keeps, I don’t want to have a leader backed by the New Labour establishment. I want a fresh start. Still, despite all this I wanted to find reasons to back him (and of course whoever wins I will support them as leader while pushingthem to be the best Leader they can be). But his campaign has been poor and it’s tone elitist and chastising. David Miliband is a great thinking and a good politician. He deserved better than he got, but with all the advantages his campaign has, he should have made sure he got it.
5. Diane Abbott
Diane started strongly, fizzled out and now seems to have disappeared. Sadly this seems to be because she doesn’t have much to offer besides a critique of the past. Fine – I agree to a certain extent. But I need a vision, a platform and an offer. I’ve had none of that from Diane, and she has sadly made the mistake of taking her candidacy even less seriously than her critics did.
Dear Andy, David, Diane, Ed & Ed,
As you set of on your hols I thought I’d give you a few thoughts to chew over. I know you’re getting advice from every quarter at the moment, but with all of you expressing a greater commitment to listening and to party democracy, I thought I’d add my twopence worth.
I’m a fairly ordinary Labour Party member. I am probably a bit more active in national bodies than I am locally, but I am not important or influential in the party (hands up who stopped reading at that point), I have no money to donate (still with me?) and no strong faction to bring to the table (hello?!). But I understand the Labour Party and its members. I was born into the Labour Party and my parents – especially my Dad – are the kind of grassroots members who keep us going and whose intervention and shoe leather stopped us falling all the way off our cliff in May.
I live and breath Labour politics. I discuss endlessly with my colleagues, friends and family how Labour could win again, could be better and could win/win back the support we don’t currently have. From these conversations, and my own observations I offer you the following pieces of advice:
1. Be a leader, not a fighter.
You will have plenty of colleagues who will be able to take the fight to the Tory coalition. You will need to be a figurehead who is see as above that. Yes, attack at PMQs will be important, as will rebuttal. But wherever possible, you must delegate this, and use your platform to inform and inspire. The more you can be seen as a real embodiment of a positive Labour message, the better.
2. Give up some of your power
If you want to have the ultimate authority of becoming Prime Minister, what you really need is a strong team behind you. Not just the bright young Oxbridge Grads that scoot around after you as you go from husting to husting, but the army of Labour members, who may understand they are the foot soldiers, but still want to play a vital role in policy making and in steering the direction of the party. Let them.
Sure, we may end up with a few policies you think will harm us in the Daily Mail, but then we are never, ever going to win over the Daily Mail. We will definitely end up with a considerably more energised and committed party willing to fight and fight hard for a victory they really believe in.
3. Use the resources the Party has ignored for too long.
One way of doing this is to be more sensible about how the Labour Party utilises the resources it has. One great example of this is the Socialist Societies. These are single issue groups full of people who really, really know and understand both their policy areas and the way these impact on the core Labour values of fairness and justice. As the party currently lacks money for research, this vacuum could be filled by these groups, providing not only a wealth of expertise, but also a great way of offering to members a way of getting engaged in the issues they really care about.
4. Ensure CLPs are properly engaging in their communities
I have been banging on for years about the value of changing the CLP meeting structure and getting people out on the streets, cleaning up graffiti and litter or painting dilapidated play spaces or eyesores. I suspect you as leader could be far more influential in changing our meeting culture to that of activism as well as policy engagement.
5. Chill out!
The coalition may well be here to last for 5 years. Relax and stop obsessing over the polls. Be Labour in the face of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express while in opposition, and you will be able to govern with a strong agenda and mandate. Also lead by example with your work life balance. Get a hobby, take holidays and enjoy your families. You need to be a person as well as a politician.
6. But don’t be someone you are not.
When I say get a hobby, don’t – for Gods sake – focus group it. Do something that interests you, not what a clever pollster tells you the public want you to do. If you actually have terrible taste in music, that’s actually OK, no one will vote for you on the strength of your music taste (though I am impressed with your love of the Wedding Present Andy!).
7. Read something you disagree with every day.
It will raise your blood pressure, but will also keep your skills of argument sharp. I make a point of reading Conservative Home and Lib Dem Voice regularly. Knowing what the other side are talking and arguing about can only make you stronger.
8. The “other side” is never your own party except Frank Field.
The Labour Party is a broad church. You won’t agree with everything and they won’t all agree with you. But that’s not the point of leadership. Never attack your own members. But you should cut Frank Field loose. He’s an embarrassment and we need better party discipline from our MPs.
9. Cut out the dead wood.
This will be really difficult, as it is natural to turn to our predecessors for advice, but the following people need to be nowhere near the Labour Party for the sake of cleansing our brand for the foreseeable and indeed distant future: Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell, James Purnell, Charles Clarke. The following should be left on the back benches: Jack Straw, Alan Johnson, Hazel Blears, Caroline Flint. I’m sure they are interesting and have much to offer, but the hard political truth, and what they would be advising you were it 20 years ago, is that talent is no match for the stigma they bring.
10. Don’t forget each other’s good ideas
There have been plenty in this leadership campaign. Remember to be both magnanimous and sharing in victory, then coldly pinch all that was the best about your combined talents!
I hope this advice is helpful to you. I promise here and now I will continue to work and fight hard whoever wins, and I hope you all do the same.
Yours in Socialism,
1. Will you restore the vote to conference, and if so, what measures beyond this would you take to make our party more democratic?
2. What will you do to ensure that the Labour Party Leadership and cabinet reflect the diversity of our membership and of Britain?
3. How should a left-of-centre party, in opposition to a Right-of-Centre coalition conduct itself in opposition?
4. If you were forced in this contest to be defined by one key policy proposal, what would it be?
5. How do we articulate a progressive and (small l) liberal vision of an active and pro-active state?