Coffee House

The three groups helping Miliband drive his conference message home

25 September 2013

The Labour party held a briefing this morning for party campaigners on how they can follow up Ed’s speech on the doorstep. Activists had arrived at conference hoping for a simple message that they can sell to a voter in a dressing gown with their arms crossed and a sceptical expression on their face, and now they’ve got one: frozen energy bills. They were told that campaigning on energy bills wasn’t just something they can use on the doorstep this weekend, but a major digital and ground war campaign that is going to go on for months. The idea is to demand that David Cameron freeze bills now, using petitions. The party is handing out these ice cubes, although it quickly ran out at the briefing, with campaigners scrabbling over who should have one, because they carry such a clear message.


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This is an example of the M&S-style so much more than just a political party model that Iain McNicol spoke about at last year’s conference, describing community organisers who ‘don’t just ask for their vote. They ask for their views. They construct real campaigns to solve real problems’. This is Labour trying to masquerade as a campaigning charity trying to force the current government to change policy, rather than just talking about its own ideas for its own time in power, whenever that comes.

These campaigners with their clear doorstep message are the first group who will help Ed Miliband follow up his conference speech. The second group has so far been rather less effective: the Shadow Cabinet. At a fringe meeting last night, Sadiq Khan said that much of the criticism of the way shadow ministers operate has been valid. He said:

‘One of the things we have lacked is message discipline. We’ve got to do better. it’s a criticism from journalists of Shadow Cabinet members in the last 12 months which are legitimate. We lack message discipline and we have to be coherent and laser-like.’

This week we have seen bids from a number of key Shadow Cabinet members who are under threat to hold on to their jobs. Liam Byrne got all angry and lefty in his speech on Monday – and a number of MPs I spoke to last night thought he’d done enough to hold on to the Work and Pensions brief – while James reported Stephen Twigg’s attempt to hold on to Education, and do his own thing in the job too. When Miliband does get around to reorganising his team, he’ll be looking for those who can get out and shout on his behalf. Clearly Khan thinks he’s one of them.

But the third group are the Conservatives, who plan to unveil their own ideas on helping voters with the cost of living at their own conference in Manchester next week. They are currently helping Ed Miliband by responding to the announcements that he and colleagues have made this week in exactly the way Labour hoped. MPs and spinners are trying to highlight condemnatory comments from the energy companies and economic experts at banks, as though the public will think that trusting a banker’s judgement is a good idea. Perhaps they could wheel out Chris Huhne to condemn the policy too. Even though Ed’s energy policy is an astonishing intervention in a market already pock-marked and weakened by government meddling, voters will hear ‘do you want us to stop your energy bills going up?’ and think ‘yes’. Labour are thrilled that the Tories appear to be siding with the energy companies: this was just what they were looking for.

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Show comments
  • London Calling

    Freezing energy bills is good, but what happens after the mini Ice age and the big thaw, will the energy companies introduce soaring prices?…………….

    Ed has passion in politics, his speech was good…………….:)

  • Colin

    The three groups are:

    The Thick, The Naive and The Evil…

  • fathomwest

    The most important part of this extremely interesting article is “The Labour party held a briefing this morning for party campaigners on how they can follow up Ed’s speech on the doorstep”. Cameron has singlehandedly shown the cold shoulder to the grass root memberships. This has resulted in the lowest membership of the Conservative Party for a great many years. So, Mr Cameron, who will you get to take your message on the doorstep?
    Another important part of this debate. Labour are a well oiled, locally based, party. The Conservatives are centrally controlled and could not care less about local associations. This will be one of the reasons Cameron will grab defeat from the jaws of victory. Sorry but Cameron should be ditched.

  • andagain

    Labour are thrilled that the Tories appear to be siding with the energy companies: this was just what they were looking for.

    These evil energy companies: are they the same ones Ed wants to keep spending money building wind turbines?

  • andagain

    This is Labour trying to masquerade as a campaigning charity

    I hate those things. Charity is spending your own money on something, not demanding that someone else spend theirs.

    Charity is a good thing, but I no longer think that charities are.

  • Greenslime

    If they want to help the little people, they should scrap the 5% VAT on energy. Putting stupid restrictions on companies which operate and source from a global market is tractor factory statistic stuff – and we know that that leads to the gulag

  • Russell

    Not one journalist (Isabel take note) or one news reporter, seems to have spotted that Miliband during his speech recalled the best time for the public in terms of better living etc. was in the 80’s, when who was PM? ……..Yes Margaret Thatcher and a Conservative government. An unconscious slip back into truth telling or what?

  • Mynydd

    If as you say “The reason we are having problems with dear energy and quite likely to have supply disruption is having energy policy dictated by an extreme environmental policy courtesy of the Climate Change Act” why hasn’t Mr Cameron done something about it. As Prime Minister he has the power to change an existing act and even pass a new one.

    • Mynydd

      Sorry made a mistake this is I response to Fred Smih

    • Alexsandr

      the limp dumps wont let him

    • Fred Smith

      Cameron is every bit as as full of this ridiculous stuff as Miliband. Remember when he went off to hug a husky?

      The Lib Dems are particularly full of it.

      Cameron has a put the LibDems in charge of energy. The ridiculous Davey was suggesting the we were going to have to save the Doha talks.

      They all live in a fantasy world of green jobs, renewable energy and saving the planet.

      This stuff isn’t hard to check up on. I’m surprised you should ask such a question.

  • perdix

    Our power prices are in the middle of the European range…….

    • Mynydd

      When asked to comment Mr Cameron replied, I don’t understand this I have worked hard, even coming back off my holiday, to make us the top of the Europe.

      • perdix

        A truly pathetic comment.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Idiotic And childish.

  • Smithersjones2013

    And the fourth group are the politically naive amongst the media underclass like poor Izzy who somehow think this policy is somehow remarkable.

    Labour are thrilled that the Tories appear to be siding with the energy companies: this was just what they were looking for.

    Yet the policy fails in that

    a) The freeze is insubstantial. Unless it exceeds 2 years it does not stop energy companies year on year price rises

    b) its only 18 months which means earnings will have little or no time to improve

    c) It could halt the current replacement of ageing power stations putting our energy supply even further at risk leading to energy shortages

    Conclusion, the policy no bloody use to the country at all.

    Basically all this policy says is that Labour are on nobody’s side and are just attempting to impose their ideological authoritarian extremism on the energy industry.

    • Mynydd

      I would just point out one thing; there is no current replacement of ageing power stations. The plans for the two new gas fired stations have been binned. Even the talks about new nuclear powered stations have stopped. They will only restart when Mr Cameron goes cap-in-hand to China for the money, which won’t, for political reasons, be before the election in 2015

  • dalai guevara

    Three groups helping Milipede deliver a message:
    1- Ashcroft on Ukip polling
    2- Finkelstein on which active Murdoch stooge to lordify next
    3- Toby Young on banning diversity

    Keep it coming, chaps. We don’t need to wait for errors of the other side, we deliver our own on a daily basis.

    • sarah_13

      Che guevara, how original.

      • dalai guevara

        sahara_05. How old are you?

  • Swiss Bob

    I take it all back, Miliband is much smarter than Cameron.

    Miliband implements the Climate Cange Act, convinces Dave and the Tories that the World is coming to an end if they don’t support his new bill so virtually the whole House votes for it.

    Cameron is elected but instead of scrapping the Climate Change act goes full steam ahead on planting bloody great useless windmills all over the country.

    In the pursuit of political advantage Miliband completely ignores saving the World so he can get one over on Dave.

    He is a genius, albeit a duplicitous genius.

    • Fred Smith

      He’s not completely ignoring saving the world though.

      There’s singling out of the energy companies – baddies. There’s this price freeze to help the poor – Ahh, that’s nice. The reason the poor are feeling the pinch is policies he put in place.

      He’s talking about completely decarbonising power generation. He’s not talking about no more windmills. He’s not talking about scrapping the CCA.He’s as committed to saving the world as ever and this is papering over some of the cracks for a time.

    • sarah_13

      I do agree, I think he is underestimated, he is a geek, impervious to real feedback and totally lacking in real humility, the type that would have seen him step down by now and made way for a real leader, ie someone who people aspire to be like and admire. He is a dangerous academic with a desire to vindicate his fathers Marxist ideas and such should be treated intelligently and with equal ruthlessness.

  • Jimble

    A succinct essay on what’s wrong with UK energy market.

    • DavidGow

      I think the third para of Isabel’s article is somewhat naive in accepting the Ed Milliband view of the public likely response. The general response is likely to be more cautious given the strong views expressed by the energy companies who are not all cartoon big business predators. The Tory response generally seems to let this run a bit before commenting. Surely Ed’s energy price wheeze is best seen as a gimmick to shore up his position – a gimmick which is aleady unravelling.

      • HookesLaw

        Well after a rotten summer Ed has relapsed, Linus like, in to sucking on his socialist comfort blanket.
        Not so much Wallace and Grommit more Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
        Certainly his policies are worth peanuts.

  • Russell

    The BBC is the fourth group missing from those who help labour/Miliband, and the biggest assistance to the socialist scum.

    • Daniel Maris

      In a democracy calling your fellow citizens and voters “scum” isn’t acceptable. It devalues democratic debate and facilitates the enemies of democracy – bute then, maybe you are one.

      • Russell

        If it looks like a duck(scum), walks like a duck (scum), quacks/talks like a duck(scum) and it happens to be Miliband and his group of lying, spinning, smearing, hypocritical cronies, it is scum.
        The enemies of democracy are those that force larger and larger State control over our lives, interfere with private business to the extent of deciding a ceiling for their charges, then I am an enemy of Labour and all Socialist scum.

        • Alexsandr

          knock knock
          whose there?
          Labour Party
          F*ck off

          • Russell

            The very thought I was having.

            • telemachus

              You have had your time old man

              I suggest you follow Alexandr’s instuctions


              PS you should know Alexandr is a respected poster on Labour List(albeit aping the vicar)


              • Colonel Mustard

                A truly disgusting comment which I hope somebody taunts you with in your dotage. We all become old and the pace of recent change is challenging to those brought up in one country and who now find themselves living in another. Ageism should have no place in your politics but the fact that it does tells us all we need to know about its inherent hypocrisy.

                We do not all become nasty though. And those who are evidently nasty but persist in boasting about their “caring” and “reasonableness” fewer still.

        • telemachus

          This is not a surprise
          I am almost pleased when I see walking fossils like Russel describe the reasonable as scum
          It of course means that we must be getting some things right

          • Colonel Mustard

            No it just means you are one side in politics and not everyone agrees.

            Your ageism is if course, reprehensible and not very “caring”.

      • Colonel Mustard

        When you lecture socialists for all the hate labels, pejoratives, stereotypes and abuse they direct at conservatives your admonition might become more credible.

        You can start with telemachus. Never seen you tick him off for all the various names he has called Tories here.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          That would mean he would have to stop being a socialist hypocrite and I cannot see that happening.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Tell that to that scumbag Telemachus.

  • Fred Smith

    The reason we are having problems with dear energy and quite likely to have supply disruption is having energy policy dictated by an extreme environmental policy courtesy of the Climate Change Act. This was passed with only a handful of dissenters. Miliband was one of the prime movers.

    Mucking about with price freezes does nothing to address the reasons we are in this mess and have dear energy. Feed In Tarriffs to subsidise useless wind and solar energy, emissions targets which have lead to nonsense such as converting coal fired stations to wood. Price freezes are a nonsense Band Aid for a problem we shouldn’t have.

    Even now Miliband is talking about totally decarbonising power generation. He thinks this is going to lead to a million green jobs. What are they going to be? People working treadmills to turn generators?

    • telemachus

      Look son
      You cannot have it both ways
      All I read since Tuesday’s master stroke is a moan about energy costs
      And then a moan about a reasonable socialist who vows to address them
      Meanwhile the voters I suspect will elect for an energy price freeze

      • Fred Smith

        Miliband is the one who’s trying to have it both ways.

        He went out of his way to help create the Climate Change Act, part of the intention of which was to increase energy prices to reduce consumption; carbon taxes, Feed In Tarriffs etc. This was something which would affect the poor disproportionately.

        Now he’s come up with this spiffing wheeze as a ludicrous palliative for the problems he’s created, omitting to mention the expensive legislation he pushed for, which is a useless cure for a non-existent problem.

        Most sensible people can see through him.

  • Bert

    Put a pensioner or a baby in an ice cube.
    The effects of power shortages.

    • Russell

      I’d like to help put Miliband, Balls & Co. in an ice cube, or an oven just to fair minded..

      • Bert

        Brilliant – members of the shadow cabinet set into ice cubes! Neatly demonstrating what life would be like under labour.

        • Russell

          The oven was for the phoney man made climate warming labour/BBC spin to raise more cash through higher energy bills.

    • Mynydd

      You must be remembering the days when the conservative prime minister Mr Ted Heath had the power going on and off like a whore’s draws.

      • Bert

        Heath had to deal with the consequenses of Wilsons Labour government. History repeats itself.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Callaghan. I remember those days too.

  • Steven Efstathiou

    And who is it that the energy companies are putting up front to counteract Ed’s message?

    Angela Ann Knight (born Angela Ann Cook 31 October 1950) is the
    Chief Executive of Energy UK, the trade association for the energy
    industry. She is the former Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association and the former Conservative Party Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Erewash from 1992–97. She also served as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 1995–97.

    Ah yes, that’ll do it…

    • sarah_13

      I though the same, what a terrible choice.

  • Hello

    This is a long term thing that goes beyond the next election. The Tories need to be careful that they don’t slide back into corporatism. They have to find a free market solution to the energy issue, one that will make the energy companies a little bit grumpy but that they will deem preferable to Ed’s alternative. The Tories have business on their side now, and that gives them the power to reform things.

    • HookesLaw

      But are energy companies profiteering? Are our costs relatively high?

      If Miliband’s big idea is based on a lie then why attack the companies.
      Miliband’s big idea that needs exposing is his return to socialism.

      • Hello

        Because the lie can be tackled over time. He’s telling the lie because he wants to see Cameron visibly snuggle up to business (stand up for the strong etc.), which would be an unnecessary disadvantage for the Conservatives — it needs to be a businesslike handshake rather than a hug.

      • Daniel Maris

        They don’t have to “profiteer”. Maybe the shareholders are getting a bad deal too. Maybe a lot of the money is being sucked up in huge bonuses to managers who couldn’t get a job anywhere else and in reality have nowhere to go. How difficult is it running a gas pipeline network, and buying gas from overseas? Not a lot I would suggest – not compared with dealing with the logistics of a retail business like Tesco.

        • dalai guevara

          Now now now, all we need to do is compare markets.
          I’ve done it for you, here the findings:

          1- German energy cheaper than British energy at source.
          2- Bulgarian energy merely cheaper than in the UK, although their GDP/capita is 1/6th of ours.

          So, when British energy is comparably “cheap”, but not affordable to over 10% of all households, what does that tell us about our economy?

          • ButcombeMan

            “Not affordable”, to smoking, drinking, chip shop frequenting, Sky TV watchers, who eat vast amounts of expensive “value added” food?

            In Africa I have seen people and children, walking 8 miles a day or more just to collect some fire wood.

            UK energy is among the cheapest in Europe. Brillo said third cheapest, on Daily Politics and his team are the best at getting to the facts.

            Milliband has made a big mistake, it will all unravel on him.

            He really is one astonishingly incompetent idividual.

            • dalai guevara

              Don’t give a capital ef about Milband.
              I will aid you in your analysis:
              if 10% of the populace cannot afford the cheapest prices (as you say) in Europe, then something’s wrong with the people, innit?
              Not the system.

        • Alexsandr

          The lie is the greenery added to all our leccy bills.

        • HookesLaw

          Maybe you do not know what you are talking about. But its clear ylou are happy to be talking about nationalisation and Miliband’s Return of Clause 4 Moment.

          • Alexsandr

            nationalisation. where will the get the cash from for that?

            I doubt they could try and get the leccy & gas industry off the companies for nothing.

            Probably some EU rules about it anyway.

    • HookesLaw

      The other point is that all we are seeing here is a good old Orwellian 2 minute hate cheered on by Big Browther miliband, with in this instance the utilities playing the part of Goldstein.
      No doubt at another date some other fall guy will be rolled out to play the role of Eurasia.

    • figurewizard

      The answer is going to have to be alternative energy only this time from the likes of fracking rather than medieval generators such as windmills. This is now beoming a hot topic in Germany by the way.

  • MikeBrighton

    What will Labour’s client voters think when they are sat at home during the day and can’t watch Big Brother or Jeremy Kyle on TV as the power is out.

    • Russell

      Jeremy Kyle is too intellectual for labour core voters.
      CBBC is their top viewing channel, after BBC/Labour news.

      • Pootles

        Hey, now wait a minute. There’s some decent stuff on CeeBees !

        • Russell

          If Miliband wins in 2015, CBBC will have party political propaganda broadcasts and childrens political shows to brainwash the 11 to 15 year olds in time for their undying support in the 2020 general election when they will be entitled to vote.

    • sarah_13

      Unfortunately they won’t blame Miliband, it will be too late anyway Miliband will be long gone in some tenured academic seat in the US. Once hes caused enough chaos and underminded and disempowered people they will either blame the people who have been careful enough to make personal provision for themselves and their family, or successful companies or anyone else but they will never say” why did I vote for this?”

      • Barakzai

        I reckon he (and his wife) will follow the Neil and Glenys gravy-train to fat bank balances in Brussels-based sinecures. Funded ultimately by British taxpayers, of course.

  • Chris lancashire

    And will the voters think it’s such a good idea when they also hear that the lights will go out? That’s a message that the Coalition (not just the Conservatives), the energy companies and many sane, independent industrialists and commentators will be delivering over the next few weeks.
    So, on the doorstep: “We will freeze your energy prices”. “Yes, thanks, but I can’t watch TV”.

    • Mynydd

      The EU have said that a number of countries already have a energy price freeze therefore will be legal For example, EDF operate under a freeze in France, but as far as I know, the French still watch TV. Therefore why should it be any different in Britain. Just get one thing clear in your mind, the big 5 energy companies make money for their shareholders, and bonuses for the managers, by generating and selling electrical power. The financial risk for them not to keep the power on, is by far greater than me watching TV. They will keep operating at all costs, They know it, Mr Miliband knows it, sane independent industrialists, and non political commentators know this.

      So, on the doorstep: “We will freeze your energy prices”. “Yes, thanks, but get on with sorting out the energy market so that me and my boss are not held to ransom.

      • Chris lancashire

        Oh, it’s so nice to have someone so ingenuous. Picture 2016, the power companies have let the lights go out. Who do you think they’ll blame? Centrica? No. The government who starved the companies of funds. And, unlike Miliband, they really can afford to turn the lights off for a week. He can’t .
        Brainless policy. Brainless comment.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Imbecilic. If a price freeze was feasible why not freeze the price of everything permanently? You could also increase the minimum wage to £1,000 an hour then nobody would be poor and could afford to keep their heating on permanently. Sadly, if you freeze the price the producers cannot make a profit and will produce less and then you will have a shortage. I cannot be bothered to explain the rest to such a obvious fool.

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