Archive for ‘Labour’

February 3, 2011

Labour membership fire sale still ongoing

There was some mockery when Labour introduced its 1p membership rate for under 27s. The rate itself was a bit of a joke, but reduced rates for young new members are admirable, and most youth organisations do £1 membership offers or similar. However, most do it for a limited time, normally around freshers weeks being held at universities. The Labour party are so desperate for increased membership, so that they can release a ‘hundreds joining Labour’ type press line, that there are risking the party’s long-term financial well-being. This model is quite unsustainable as it requires a lot of members, staying both politically and financially active within the party for a long time.

With many rich Labour donors closing their wallets since the leadership elections, Ed might just be relying more on his friends in the Unions to help him out . Lurch to the left anyone?

Looks like you can’t trust Miliband with the party’s finances, let alone the country’s.

January 21, 2011

Brown get his dream team in place, as Balls replaces Johnson as Shadow Chancellor

>Yesterday Alan Johnson decided to call time on his career in frontline politics, resigning his role as Shadow Chancellor. Mr. Johnson had been a surprise choice for the role, bur was seen as a safe and uncontroversial pair of hands by newbie leader Ed Miliband. He will be replaced by failed leadership contender Ed Balls, whose wife Yvette Cooper replaces him as Shadow Home Secretary.

Balls worked closely with Ed Miliband as Gordon Brown’s henchmen at the Treasury. Both, but particularly Balls, are cited as key reasons for the failure of a Lib/Lab talks after the elections last May. The leading Labour team is now totally linked to Brown’s failed leadership, and the mistakes of the previous Government. Looks like GB got his legacy after all.

Despite their similarities, Miliband and Balls have openly expressed differences on economic policy. Ed Balls is a devout Keynesian and deficit denier, who disagrees even with his owns party’s policy of halving the deficit in four years. He simply refuses to accept any criticism for mistakes of the end of the last Labour government. Meanwhile Ed Miliband has dones everything, including forgetting he wrote the last manifesto, to show his Labour party is shiny and new, not brown.

Ed Balls is though extremely well versed in economics, unlike his predecessor, and many expected him to get the role in the first Shadow Cabinet. After a slow start to life in opposition, Labour will be hoping that two Ed’s are better than one.

January 19, 2011

>London braces itself for more student protests, as EMA debate begins

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The Opposition Day debate tabled by Labour to save EMA is underway, although the chamber isn’t as full as it was for the fees debate. Only weeks after the NUS’ “Demolition” rally that led to attacks on Millbank Tower, Westminster is once again bracing itself for prostests as thousands of students will march in support of the payment.

Over 600,000 students (around 45%) receive the payments of up to £30 a week. The NUS describe it as a ‘lifeline for students’, but many others point out that the money is frequently not spent on travel or course resources as it should be.

A lobby of parliament was already underway, and supporters are expected to march from Piccadilly at about 4pm. Hide those fire extinguishers.
January 18, 2011

Unelected Lords filibuster voting reform

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Members of the House of Lords are still awake (at least as awake as they ever are,) and still debating the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill, which includes both the Lib Dem demand for a change to the voting system, and the Conservative demands for an equalising of constituency sizes and less MPs. While Labour say they do not oppose holding a referendum on AV, and Leader Ed Miliband will even campaign for the ‘Yes’ camp, they say the reduction of MPs is nothing more than gerrymandering for Tory advantage. They are sort of right. The change in boundaries  and MPs will benefit the Conservatives, but only because it is undoing the unfair advantage that the current system offers Labour.

The crux of the matter seems to be Labour are completely split down the middle on backing AV, even after the mistakes of the No campaign. The Bill needs to pass by the middle of next month in order for the referendum to be held on the proposed date of May 5th. Labour don’t like this date either. People will be voting in local elections that day, so they are worried their will be a good turnout in the referendum, which may help the ‘Yes ‘vote, and give a win to the Liberal Democrats.

So there Labour Lordships have all the power. They can prevent something that is causing for problems for their party, and stop some legislation that was a key reason for the Liberal Democrats supporting their political enemy at the same time. Meanwhile, the British public are subject to the irony of a more democratic system being prevented from going to a referendum…by unelected peers.

January 13, 2011

>Manchester Council announce job cuts….on Oldham polling day

>Labour run Manchester Council have chosen today, polling day in neighbouring Oldham East & Saddleworth, to announce 2000 job losses due to local government cuts. The timing has been blasted by Grant Schapps, a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government. This seems a cheap attempt to cash in on the anti-cuts mood, and motivate late coming or wavering Labourites.

Does it show that Labour are worried in that the result isn’t going their way, or just that they simply can’t help themselves, even post Woolas?

January 13, 2011

>Polling day in Oldham East and Saddleworth

>It is polling day today in Oldham East and Saddleworth. The election is having to be re-run after former Labour incumbent Phil Woolas’ election was declared void by a special election court.

Labour have been trying to play up the by-election as some kind of referendum on the coalition, and in particular Liberal Democrat involvement in the coalition. As well as showing once again that a supposedly ‘progressive’ party still can’t get their head around pluralist politics, this is yet another grave tactical error from Ed Miliband and company. With a strong, and clearly popular, local candidate in Elwyn Watkins, and a lack of confidence in a MiliE led Labour party that just won’t shift, there is every possibility that the people of Oldham East & Saddleworth will vote ‘yes’ to the Lib Dems in Government, and give them a 58th MP  today.

The polling data coming that has come out of Oldham East and Saddleworth in recent days still has Labour ahead. Ed Miliband though really needs something to kick-start his leadership. He has hardly set the political world alight since his narrow, questionable, victory over his brother. If the coalition, and the Liberal Democrats, are as unpopular as he would like us to believe, anything other than a substantial victory will show Ed Miliband exactly what people think of his ‘new generation’.

Nick Clegg on the other hand is embattled, supposedly the country’s least popular politician, the great yellow (orange,) hope gone wrong. The Liberal Democrats didn’t win the seat in May, although only just, and the nonsense narrative just laid out, which is being peddled by many, says they shouldn’t win it toady. However, the residents of Oldham East & Saaddleworth will have been shown clearly what the party can achieve locally, and is now achieving nationally. Given many of them supported the party in May, is it not more likely that they will back the Liberal Democrats now that they are actually delivering on some of the things these voters supported? Such a victory, which is very much a possibility, would show support both for a strong local candidate, and for the Liberal Democrats being at the forefront of decision making in Government.

That said, the result won’t be the game changer that some are making it out to be back in the Westminster bubble. It will though give a nice new year kick off to whoever is victorious. A few days nice headlines, a bit of a positive buzz among activists for MPs heading back to their constituencies for the weekend, a slight shift in the narrative, but nothing Earth shattering in reality.

As for the people of Oldham East and Saddleworth, the people that actually matter in all this, who have been caught in the eye of a political storm for the best part of 2 years now, they must just be glad it’s all coming to an end.

January 10, 2011

>Sion Simon should not look for jobs as a film critic

>Former Labour MP Sion Simon may be looking for a new job, but he shouldn’t be applying for any as a film critic. Mr. Simon gave the most ridiculous review of ‘The Kings Speech” in Labour Uncut on Sunday that VN has ever had the misfortune to read.

His reasons for disliking the widely acclaimed film? Lead actor Colin Firth supported the Lib Dems pre-election, and the audience didn’t dislike royalty. He also calls Robert De Niro “a luvvy”. This from a man who use to be the minister responsible for the UKs film industry!

Mr Simon seems to think that only the political chattering classes are entitled to offer a political opinion in public. What a terribly misguided and arrogant view from a former MP. His bitterness that Firth dared to walk away from a spent Labour party has utterly tainted his view of what, by all other accounts, is a high class film, and a stunning performance from a great British actor. (VN is looking forward to seeing it very soon). Instead of actually reviewing the film, he simply publishes a personal gripe.

Let’s hope Labour Uncut can find someone to actually conduct reviews in future, and that Sion Simon finds a job that doesn’t involved commenting in public. On anything.

January 10, 2011

>Ed Miliband starts the week slowly, put the kettle on Gromit!

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Picture via GreenFeeds

As if Monday mornings arn’t hard enough, Ed Miliband decided to kick this week off with his first press conference of 2011. The yawnfest of a performance from him and his Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson will do nothing to inspire comrades and enemies alike.

Here are some particularly of the best quotes:

  • “My mother taught me never to call people liars. So I won’t. They are practising a deceit”
  • “David will be successful in anything he does”
  • “Let me bring Alan in on the detail” Cue laughter from surrounding journalists
Ed tried to ‘do a Clegg” by looking straight down the camera, but continued to drone on about “this Conservative led Government”, and explaining that he won’t opposes every cut. Except that he opposes every cut, and the deficit wasn’t Labour’s fault anyway. Apparently they borrowed within acceptable boundaries…
Not quite the energetic start to the year the Ed so desperately needed.
January 7, 2011

>Chaytor faces prison over expenses claims

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Picture via The Telegraph

Former Labour MP for Bury North David Chaytor has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for False Accounting.

Cheating Chaytor claimed thousands of pounds of taxpayers money for IT consultancy he was never charged for, and rent on homes he and his mother owned. Far from a being a stupid mistake with the paperwork, as the defense claimed, these seem fairly quite deliberate abuses of the system. Chaytor may consider himself lucky, as he could have face up to 7 years in prison.

Labour have not been having a good time in the court recently, having also had Phil Woolas thrown out in Oldham East and Saddleworth over his campaign.

The other MPs and peers facing court over their claims over their expenses must now be seriously worried that they too will find themselves behind bars before too long.

January 6, 2011

>Ed Balls playing politics with control orders

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Picture via The Daily Mail

At the moment Labour should be entitled Her Majesty’s Opportunism, not Her Majesty’s Opposition. On issue after issue they have played politics, fudged issues, and gone for a cheap headline. Today Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls has waded into the control orders debate on his blog. A perfectly reasonable issue for someone is his role to be speaking on you might think. Yes, but his attempts to drive a wedge in the coalition, and try and personalise the issue to Nick Clegg once again are pathetic. Read the piece, for Ed Balls to try and act like he is a defender of civil liberties is so ridiculous as to be laughable. All this after he said he would cooperate with Theresa May!

This issue is not about Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Lord Carlile or anyone else. It is time to show you can take some responsibility Ed, even in Opposition, instead of playing politics and making cheap points about ‘broken promises’.

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