Saturday, 22 January 2011

So a week really is a long time!

So much to cover, and so much restraint to ensure this post doesn't become a novel. I originally wanted to blog about my day at the New Year Fabian Conference, and my thoughts on my first ever organised political conference. But I obviously want to share my thoughts on a rocky week in Westminster and the implications of the two big departures this week; Alan Johnson and Andy Coulson.

I am glad I went to the conference and enjoyed the day, I thought Ed Miliband's speech was good and the audience was definitely on his side. Everything he said made sense and he certainly does seem comfortable when admitting the previous government's mistakes and where they lost direction. I was drawn to his argument that the Labour party should be the natural voice of the people when it comes to issues like the closing of post offices and I do believe he hit the nail on the head when using this as an example of New Labour's love affair with the free market and how it went too far. This all tied in with Milibands nod to his brothers Movement for Change idea, which could and should be the key to reconnecting Labour with its traditional core vote. Working with and for the community, especially as the cuts take hold. However, there was still a lack of substance in terms of policy and direction; I hate to say it but it reminds me of the absence of policy and detail that characterised Cameron's time in opposition. Ed Miliband is clearly a good guy and has a fine set of ideals but with the current government on the rampage we need to one step ahead and on the attack, armed with credible alternatives.

After Ed's speech I attended a couple of workshops featuring speakers such as Chuka Ummuna (still a huge fan!), John Cruddas, John Denham and a very impressive Jessica Asato discussing AV. The AV session controversially didn't feature any speakers against the idea, which caused rather a lot of twitter-tattle....
My conclusion though having thought the day through was that the whole thing was rather a lot of middle class naval gazing. Lots of very young activists, which has to be a good thing in terms of energy, and lots of well spoken idealists but is this the best way to rebuild the progressive left and oppose such a arrogant, active and fearless government? My thoughts on this are still not fully formed, but my feeling is certainly there is more good to be done working with local community groups and knitting the Labour Party back into the fabric of society. Forget Cameron and Hilton's 'big society' the Labour Party needs to do all is can to champion and indeed protect the heroes of our good society.

I really like Alan Johnson and did appreciate his appointment as shadow chancellor as a great opportunity to battle against Osborne's policy in a clear, grounded way that would appeal to the electorate. No doubt there were technical errors, perhaps explained by the issues that have come to light, but it is a shame to see him leave front line politics and it will certainly be a loss to Labour given it's reliance on career politicians. However, I am honestly delighted to see Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor. I don't care that nobody likes him and he is despised by Tory voters (they are never going to vote for us anyway!), I just cannot wait to see him head to head with George Osborne, with his zeal, technical understanding and determination I have no doubt Balls will force the Tories into a corner and prove they cannot justify their motives for slashing cuts with no provision for economic growth. Hopefully he will also bury their argument that the entire deficit is due to Labours overspending and their convenient memory loss when it comes to the worldwide recession that threatened to turn to a depression.

A final point, I am glad Andy Coulson has gone...but I get the distinct feeling that the whole affair isn't over yet......

1 comment:

  1. Great article in todays Independent about your hero 'Balls' and everything thats wrong with him! You should care that nobody likes him, it's not just Tory voters, I don't think he's winning a popularity contest with anybody he comes into contact with in his party either. By all accounts he is an odious over ambitious oik. I've read several articles comparing him to a pit-bull, but as with all dangerous dogs, he needs a strong handler, and Ed Milliband doesn't fit the bill. It's an uneasy relationship between the shadow Chancellor and the leader of the opposition and I predict a riot, well maybe not a riot, but some fireworks at the very least. As for Ed's credentials, I struggle to get beyond the bizarre short termism that led to the selling of the Country's Gold, losing UK PLC, £11BN based on current Gold prices - nice work, truly the work of a master economist!