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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who was David Milliband campaigning for?

The Labour Uncut site highlights an interesting diary item from last Wednesday's Independent concerning David Milliband's campaigning activities during the General Election campaign:

Some weeks ago I wrote that a source from a rival campaign accused David Miliband of running for Labour's top job in pre-season. Said source has finally got back to me with the additional information he/she promised: Miliband (D)'s itinerary for 25 April, when he visited Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton South East and Manchester Withington to meet Labour "members and supporters". Why, asks the anonymous source – whose candidate trails Miliband (D) – was he in safe seats a fortnight from polling day, when there were three marginals nearby? "He was effectively taking himself out of the general election campaign and running a shadow leadership campaign instead... He was 10 yards down the track before the starting pistol was fired." Unfortunately for my outraged mole, the Miliband (D) camp calmly swats away the story, saying: "It's absolute rubbish. That itinerary was put together by the Labour Party for David to follow, which he did."

Labour Uncut however, are a bit more sceptical. They ask: Why would the party put one of the best known faces in the government into safe seats rather than marginal ones? Senior members of the cabinet don’t get told where they must go. Most are willing to go with the flow, but some make demands that would make J-Lo blush. They continue:

Asking around uncovers other grumbles. Labour sources complain of a modus operandi whereby David’s election team would only countenance campaign visits to seats where the great man would meet party members. Others claim that he wanted the telephone number of every PPC in every seat he drove through, so that he could speak to any he did not meet.

Nothing wrong with that, on the face of it; doling out a “gee-up” and a bit of TLC to the party’s troops during a campaign is hardly a crime.

So was David “10 yards down the track before the starting pistol was fired” as the Indy’s snout insists? Is all fair in love and politics? Were we in desperate peril of losing Blackburn?

If he is guilty of starting his bid early, then that is bad form for a potential leader of the party, especially during an election campaign. If, however, he’s being unfairly slighted by a rival campaign (as the Indy suggests), then it is a perhaps a sign that his opponents sense him cruising to victory.

All of this is just part of the mix in what is becoming an increasingly tense Labour leadership campaign. Maybe the fact that Labour went straight into the contest to replace Gordon Brown without having a proper inquest means that there are issues that have not yet been aired within the party. Does this mean that there is still potential for further blood-lettng once the leader has been elected?
The story in both the Times and the Guardian highlighting the IFS analysis that the Osborne budget will hit the poor hardest and is definitely not 'progressive' is far more important than gossip about a pretty boring Labour leadership contest.The IFS also correctly points out that Labour's plans would have hit the wealthy 10% of the population. As I explained to a reporter from Radio 4 last week the Coalition's plans make Thatcher look a pussy cat. Before you launch into a defence based on the idea that it's all necessary to stop us following Greece into economic hell in a hand cart you might read Prof Colin Talbot's comments entitled 'It's all Greek to Osborne' on the Public Finance website. I'm afraid Peter that you and others on the left of the Liberal Democrats have been sold a pup by the Etonian Taliban.
Jeff, the only pup is the legacy of the previous Labour Government, which has left a £155bn deficit, an £800bn debt and a structural deficit £12bn more than previously thought that needs to be tackled. Need I remind you of previous Labour budgets that were regressive, not least the one that abolished the 10p income tax rate? Do I need to remind you that Labour presided over a rise in child poverty and did not restore the pension-earnings link?

As it happens these claims by the IFS first surfaced in June when I blogged on them then (http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2010/06/impact-of-budget.html) and pointed out that their analysis was selective because they had taken the budget in isolation and not taken account of the whole economic package including the retention of the 50p tax rate.

The IFS analysis is also selective because it ignores the pro-growth and employment effects of Budget measures such as helping households move from benefits into work, and reductions in Corporation Tax. Not taking action would have been regressive - burdening current and future taxpayers with the ever rising cost of economic failure.

The IFS do not acknowledge that despite having to take many difficult decisions to tackle the deficit left by Labour by 2011-12 this Government will be spending an additional £5bn towards protecting those on low incomes through raising the income tax personal allowance, increasing Child Tax Credits and freezing Council Tax. The alternative to not tackling the deficit is soaring debt interest costs saddling future generations with debt.
"The IFS analysis is also selective because it ignores the pro-growth and employment effects of Budget measures such as helping households move from benefits into work, and reductions in Corporation Tax."

The Welsh analysis was that only 4,000 private sector jobs will be created over the next three years- that is not enough to compensate for the drastic cuts you are making.
Drastic cuts that have been forced onto us. We will see how accurate all these forecasts are.
Peter, Labour was going to tackle the deficit but in a way as the IFS points out that would have made the wealthiest in society take the biggest hit. On the pro growth and employment side of the budget I hope for the sake of the thousands in the public sector who will lose their jobs that you are right. Only time of course will tell but there is still in my opinion too much of the voodoo side of economic thought to much of the Coalition thinking regarding where the economy is going. I don't look thorough the past 13 years with rose tinted glasses. Far too many mistakes were made and far too many opportunities were not taking aprticularly after 2001.Reading Rawnsley, Mandelson and now the extracts form Chris Mullin's new diaries it is clear that the Blair/Brown quarrel didn't help matters. What does worry me is that communities such as Maesteg where I live still hasn't really recovered from the effects of the Tory policies in the 1980s. in some ways the situation with the closure of the two factories on the Ewenny Road site is much worrse. Another more severe dose could really put the tin hat on it. In my life time I have already seen one 'lost generation.' For their children to suffer the same fate is something that no politician in Wales what ever their political persuasion should tolerate in my opinion. There is a real danger that if Osborne has got it wrong then the UK could see a rerun of what happened in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s.
Incidentally, to return to the original topic, who on Earth is the Labour Party person who thinks that Burnley and Manchester Withington are safe seats? In case they hadn't noticed, the Lib Dems held one and gained the other. Still, if Charles Kennedy's the MP for Caithness and Sutherland...
David was too close to New Labour and has not shown any regrets for that.
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