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Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Miliband dissent

More rumblings within the Labour Party at Ed Miliband's tactics are revealed in today's Sunday Times, who report that he is is facing dissent over his attacks on banks and big business and his plan to raise tax for top earners, with Labour candidates warning that companies believe the party will treat them “like an ATM”.

The paper says that leaked recordings of a meeting attended by would-be MPs and MEPs reveal their fears that Labour is seen to “hate” those on high incomes and warnings that the party risks being “categorised as anti-business”.

They add that one candidate warned party bosses that Labour needs to “change its language on banking” and “hug a banker” to build credibility in the City:

The concerns were raised last Monday at a meeting of the Labour finance and industry group held at the offices of UBS bank in central London. The event was organised by Progress, the group associated with the party’s Blairite wing.

Karen Landles, a Labour candidate in this summer’s European elections, warned that after some recent policy announcements “the question came back that Labour were treating business like an ATM”.

She said the party was “losing the gut instinct vote” with companies and that “when we speak about the economy we don’t speak with the same authenticity or excitement or passion that we do when we talk about the NHS or benefit reform”.

Another candidate described overhearing a senior investment banker warning clients thinking of moving funds to Britain of “this massive risk that Labour will win the election”.

Whether these rumblings will worry Miliband or not is difficult to say. However, they do play into the narrative that Labour cannot be trusted on the economy. They may not want to be portrayed as the party who will squash people's aspirations to higher wages or as anti-business.

The dissent also shows that the two Eds have a big job convincing everybody in their own party as to its direction of travel, nevermind the general public.
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