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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Miliband under more pressure

Having lost two safe Tory seats to UKIP and facing the prospect of more of his MPs going over to the dark side and joining Nigel Farage, you would think that David Cameron would be under pressure. He is, but it seems that Labour have once more galloped to the rescue with a display of ineptitude hitherto unseen in an opposition party this close to a General Election.

As the Telegraph reports, Labouir MPs are queuing up to criticise their leader as out-of-touch after his hamfisted handling of Emily Thornberry's resignation.

Hazel Blears, a former Labour Communities Secretary, has told the media that Ed Miliband is one of a growing number of MPs who are out of touch with voters because they have little experience of life outside the “political bubble” in Westminster.

Ms Blears, who famously had a cameo role in the 1961 film 'A taste of Honey' as a child,  believes that Parliament contains too many career politicians who have moved seamlessly from jobs as professional political advisers to gaining safe seats in the Commons and then becoming ministers.

She refused to exempt Mr Miliband, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, from criticism over his background as a career politician who has risen through the ranks of the Labour Party:

The intervention from Miss Blears, the MP for Salford and Eccles, will undermine Mr Miliband’s attempts to reassert his authority after the Emily Thornberry “white van man” row.

Miss Thornberry was forced to quit as shadow attorney general on Thursday night after tweeting a photograph of the home of a working-class voter in Rochester which was draped in England flags with a white van parked outside.

Mr Miliband, the Labour leader, said the tweet showed her lack of “respect” for ordinary voters, while David Cameron said the “appalling” message demonstrated that Labour was “sneering” at people who show pride in their country.

Miss Blears defended Mr Miliband’s response to the incident and insisted that Labour was still the party for the working classes. She said the party leader was “genuinely angry” about Miss Thornberry’s actions, which prompted claims that had lost touch with its core voters.

However, she told the BBC that there was a problem with the growth of career politicians.

“I did a bit of research. In 1979, three per cent of all MPs came through that path, the ‘transition belt’ I called it, of being a special adviser, getting a safe seat ending up in the government.

“At the last election in 2010 it was 24 per cent and rising. There is a genuine issue here,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “People right across the spectrum do feel that politician who have never done a different job somehow cannot be in touch with their lives.”

Asked whether she thought Mr Miliband was one of the out-of-touch MPs, Miss Blears said she was referring to “people in every political party… we need to have a variety of people”.

“I think the public are onto something. Politics has changed quite dramatically in the last 30 or 40 years.

“More people now have come through that route of being special advisers and I think we need more people in politics who have got a variety of different lives, who are interesting people who have got something to say.”

Mrs Blears said the public wanted MPs to live in their constituencies, and be seen use the same shops and buses to show they are in touch with reality and not locked in the Westminster “bubble”.

I think she is right,
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