Coffee House

Labour thinkers see danger in playing safe

24 March 2014

David Cameron’s attack on Labour for “flailing and dithering” over whether to support the government’s pension reforms would seem unfair had the party not struggled to present a clear message over the weekend. It would be unfair to expect a snap judgement on the changes from a responsible opposition party, but the weekend press and the papers this morning suggest that Labour doesn’t even have a neat holding line as it works out how far to extend its support.

But what should worry Ed Miliband far more than the attack from Cameron is the increasing anxiety from his own side about Labour’s message. The Guardian’s letter from 19 leading Labour groups and thinkers including the Fabians, Progress and Compass, is far more concerning. The letter warns:

But if Labour plays the next election safe, hoping to win on the basis of Tory unpopularity, it will not have earned a mandate for such change. It must take into the election a vision of a much more equal and sustainable society and the support of a wider movement if these formidable challenges are to be met.

The party’s response to the Budget has exemplified this problem. The biggest hit Miliband and colleagues scored was on that bingo poster; an unpredictable event entirely outside the Labour leader’s control. Labour had been trying to move away from a strategy predicated entirely on government cocking up, but kid habits seem to be dying hard, much to the anxiety of those who want to talk about what their party would do right, rather than what another party is doing wrong.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • swatnan

    COMPASS and the FABIANS are to be congratulated on writing Labour’s winning 2015 Manifesto. It should appeal to anyone who interested in Liberty Self Determination and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  • Ian Walker

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of country-wrecking traitors.

  • Thatcherite Lee

    Labour can’t say what they’d do right because they never do anything right so they have nothing but personal attacks about Tory politicians and complete trivia like that poster.

  • Tony_E

    It’s simply a core vote strategy – the anti -tory vote will surely be enough to put Ed in No10. Why would he build an ambitious policy document prior to what is an almost inevitable result and make himself a hostage to fortune, plus give his opponents a sold target to hit?

    • HookesLaw

      What anti tory vote? Labour are only on 37 and the LDs are in govt on 9. Plenty scope for a pro tory vote. Why should people vote to let in Miliband Balls and Harman?

      • Tony_E

        Because that’s what has happened at every election since 1992. Left of centre voters vote tactically to keep out the Tories – it’s a recognised fact.

        The Lib Dems being in government will make that less prominent I suppose, but you have to ignore national polls and look at local ones to read the prospective results for 2015. The seats in the Midlands are probably where this election will be won and lost, and they don’t hold much hope for the midlands Tories with their seats last time coming on the back of a very low Labour turnout, even from their core voters.

        That won’t happen again in 2015, and in the Tory/Lab marginals the Lib Dems will switch to Labour to keep out the Tories, just as some did in 2010 denying Cameron majority (along with the UKIP effect which counted together saw a few Labour candidates home) .

        • saffrin

          UKIP have taken the number one spot for keeping the Tories out Tony.
          It’s odd that Labour types are convinced Cameron’s failings can only make them shine bright when they know there is a new kid on the block.

          • Tony_E

            The geography of the UKIP vote hasn’t yet been tested since their great surge (post 2010). It’s going to be interesting to see how much damage the Cons actually suffer from it in the Midlands as opposed to in the shire constituencies where they pile up ‘wasted’ votes anyway.

            • saffrin

              I fail to understand why anyone would think UKIP are a threat to the Tories alone when Labour’s policies damage the working classes more than any.
              If northerners only vote Labour to keep the Tories out, Labour could very well be in for a massive reality shock.

  • MirthaTidville

    Liebour thinkers?? oxymoron surely

  • Colonel Mustard

    “David Cameron’s attack on Labour for “flailing and dithering” over whether to support the government’s pension reforms would seem unfair had the party not struggled to present a clear message over the weekend.”

    What a strange way to construct that opening sentence. Almost subliminally pro-Labour in its approach. How about applying the positive to Cameron and the negative to Miliband? Like this:-

    “David Cameron’s attack on Labour for “flailing and dithering” over whether to support the government’s pension reforms was vindicated as the party failed to present any clear message over the weekend.”

    • LadyDingDong

      Ms Hardman appears to be a sweet, intelligent girl and I do not dislike her writings, but if I want serious political commentary I now look elsewhere. The Spectator, I am afraid, has lost the gravitas it once had and I now only read it for Coffee House, for the arts, book reviews, Taki and the outstanding Jeremy Clarke. If they ever erect a paywall (which might deter some of the more egregious trolls) perhaps they could then afford Jeff Randall and the like.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I still take the magazine (paper copy) but I agree that it has lost something, gravitas if you will, and I share your preference for the Arts section and articles ‘behind the adverts’. It seems to have become bubble-ised for want of a better description and no longer stands back from Westminster but seems to have become immersed in the tittle-tattle trivia.

        Notwithstanding Baron’s meritorious plea for free expression I find it extraordinary that the orchestrated Labour campaign of harassment and disruption is tolerated.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          It’s not just tolerated, it’s encouraged. The Speccie kids want an atmosphere of pure tribalism, and telemucus facilitates this. Pick either of the leftists, is their plan.

      • ianess

        Completely agree with your comment. Under Boris Johnson, it was a magazine that regularly stimulated and its articles were intelligent and thought-provoking. Under Nelson, it’s become rather shallow, trite and obeisant to power. He clearly wishes to both establish himself as a media personality and to climb the social ladder (Pippa columns). His and Forsyth’s contributions are sophomoric in the extreme and overly concerned with petty Westminster point-scoring. I still subscribe, but purely for Rod Liddle, Taki, Mathew Parris and Jeremy Clarke. The rest of the magazine varies from the truly mundane to mildly interesting.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I can’t remember the speccie ever having gravitas. Who would want tom read it if it did? A gadfly is the way I see it.

  • HookesLaw

    ‘That’ bingo poster?
    How dare you be so disrespectful to bingo posters everywhere!

  • Ed LoveNest


  • Tim

    I really do hope that as the election nears people will realise that Milliband is a total vaccuum, a nothing, a nerd, a nonentity. I’ like to think that but I’m not optimistic. Something is wrong with our politics is this millipede is potentially our next PM.

    • HookesLaw

      Something wrong with labour politics.
      How fortunate that the Tories have got the charismatic one…

      • monty61

        Didn’t know you could do irony, hooky.

        • HookesLaw

          Always dangerous for a party when it changes leader. In electing Ed Miliband Labour lost David Miliband. This is the cause of the vacuum in labour – this is what’s wrong with Labour politics.

          The battle between the Blairites and Brownites finally left Labour bereft.
          In 2010 the tories will have a leader who has been at the top for 10 years is well tested and will hold no fears for the electorate.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Well first, you must be fantasizing you live in a time travel era, lad.

            But assuming you meant 2015, your boy has plenty of fears, and likely understands that his head is headed for a spike, come that election.

    • Kitty MLB

      Rather like the way he treated, his brother.
      Ed Milibland is a darkeyed, soulless, zombied
      vulture waiting silently in background for a moment
      to pounce.
      He has nothing to offer except devision and envy,
      and that utterly boring repetative class war of his.
      No one believes that idiot is a potential prime minister,
      or that Balls should be unleashed again, not even in his
      own party. Labour just think they were born to rule.

      • Magnolia

        Ed Miliband has beautiful, dark, soulful eyes which are a very attractive feature.
        Please don’t equate looks with personality.
        He only ever supports the victims and you can’t govern just for victimhood.
        That is is real leaning.

        • ianess

          Please, not another tele false identity.

          • Magnolia

            I am a Conservative.

            • Kitty MLB

              I was not talking about his looks actually,
              more what lies beneath.
              Yes you are right, to be a prime minister,
              you cannot have ’causes’.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Except his opponent is Call Me Dave, so the Millipede has company in his nonentity status .

  • Kitty MLB

    Labour have been enjoying the irrelevant invisibility of opposition,
    the spot light well and truly off them . Pointing fingers at those who
    are trying to deal with the economic fire storm that they themselves deliberately
    created. And they hope the electorate will forget who destroyed the very foundations
    of this country and will give the true perpetrators back the matches, so that they
    can resume with the help of bonkers Browns little acolytes.
    In any other walk of life some of these people would be in prison and yet,
    unreformed, unrepentant, incompetent, pointless, treacherous and deceitful
    as they are.. we are being told about Labours thinkers and the dangers of playing
    safe…Labour played recklessly for 13 years.. no more playing for them
    they need to be put down like rabid Pavlov dogs they are.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Labour are dogmatist, seldom admitting fault or apologising and usually prevaricating when forced to do so. At the same time always believing they are correct even when confronted by the evidence of their failure. We see that constantly from their “little helper” here.

      Entirely a party of ‘front’ and propaganda, of self-deluding lies, lying and liars.

      • southerner

        Absolutely correct. But the same is true of the Limps and the un-conservatives.

        • Kitty MLB

          Not true Labour are a treacherous dictatorship
          who are in a league of their own.
          The Lib Dums are just irrelevant tree hugging
          deceitful lefties. The Cameroons are niave
          easily manipulated and wander off the beaten
          track quite often, and for all their many mistakes
          they cannot be conpared to the others-I just
          Sincerely hope Cameron regrets going into coalition.

        • Colonel Mustard

          No, I don’t think so.

      • Kitty MLB

        That is the sinister thing about socialism,
        the self delusion and being without remorse.
        As well as not excepting they are ever wrong
        and never apologizing.

  • Kitty MLB

    Oh dearie me again…repeating myself again!
    Labours red rose, thou art sick
    the invisible worm that flies the night, in thou howling storm,
    of caterwauling deceit.

  • RavenRandom

    Labour has no policies except to criticise the government.
    When asked “Well what would you do?” their only answer is “not that”. It was working it might still work… but it’s cheap and irresponsible.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …it’s what Call Me Dave did, and that’s why he failed to get a majority, against the one eyed ogre that nobody had use for. It will get the Millipede a similar result, no doubt.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here