Coffee House

Labour MP warns on party’s failure to equip activists for battle with Ukip

23 May 2014

Labour’s performance in the local elections is a blessing for the Conservatives. A less impressive showing in the polls for the Opposition a year out from the general election, with key target councils failing to go red and what John Curtice has described as a ‘failure to do well enough’ means the story is not just about the government getting a pounding. Number 10 sources are arguing that ‘Labour are actually going backwards’.

Some MPs long known to be vocal critics of Ed Miliband are taking to the airwaves to criticise him. Graham Stringer has attacked the Labour leader’s ‘unprofessional’ team. Simon Danczuk has just told LBC that ‘I’m not going to pretend that Ed Miliband as an issue doesn’t come up on the doorstep, of course it does’. It will become more dangerous if more senior figures or previously loyal backbenchers break cover.


Other Labour MPs are unimpressed with the way the party machine dealt with the Ukip threat. John Healey, who saw how well Nigel Farage’s party performed in the Rotherham by-election and has been urging his own party to take the threat seriously, spoke to Coffee House about his impressions. He said:

‘If you don’t equip people with good analysis and strong messages, things that are tested that they can use when they confront a challenge, then they do their own thing or indeed they do nothing.’

Healey is clear that his party can win back its lost supporters from Ukip, and that this could be easier than the task for the Tories. But it is conditional on the party doing the right things: the voters won’t just come flooding back. He says:

‘I think if we frame the campaign and the choice facing people in the right way we can be strong. We can bring our supporters we’ve lost back more easily – essentially the Conservative supporters have split on the Right, ours have fixed on frustrations across the piece on immigration.’

Whether the party gives the impression it can satisfy that condition will be key in whether the story that we remember from these European polls is Labour meltdown.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • colliemum

    Mr Healey – it’s no longer about how you and your party ‘frame’ next year’s campaign. Too many of us still remember the way this was done during the Blair&Brown years.
    We’re ‘framing’ our own campaign, thank you very much, and it looks as if you are already reacting to that, with Ed Balls thinking out loud about talking about immigration.

  • Mynydd

    When you look at the figures, rather than the UKIP and media/BBC spin, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have nothing to fear from UKIP. The latest figures from the BBC:
    Labour 1271 seats control 63 councils
    Conservatives 974 seats control 30 councils
    Lib Dems 353 seats control 6 councils
    UKIP 134 seats control 0 councils
    If at the end of day if UKIP had more seats and councils than the Lib Dems then it still would have been only a very minor change. Let’s face it UKIP has not matched even the Green Party with their one council.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “Whether the party gives the impression it can satisfy that condition will be key in whether the story that we remember from these European polls is Labour meltdown.”

    I don’t see how anybody not suffering from false memory syndrome could possibly remember a “Labour meltdown” in these EU Parliament elections when they won more seats than they did in 2009, as they are set to do even on their most pessimistic opinion poll numbers.

    Have you forgotten that in 2009 Labour got only 15.7% of the votes cast?

    Now they may get close to double that, and close to double the 13 seats they won then; while the Tories will get nowhere near the 27.7% and 26 seats they got in 2009.

  • saffrin

    Interesting headline.
    What are Labour going to tell them? Vote Labour and for ever and a day risk your home, work and any hope of health or security as an ever increasing number of poverty stricken, desperate homeseekers, jobseekers, robbers, dossers, scroungers, pet cat owners terrorists and dodgy asylum seekers we can’t kick out to continue to descend upon us by the day as the ever growing, ever more controlling, spying, positively anti-democratic, politburo style European Union marches East and beyond.

  • Mike Barnes

    The fact that only London gets Labour these days say a lot. The party of middle class self-loathers and immigrants.

    The Labour backbenchers from the rest of the country are rightly seething today. The Labour politicians with London constituencies don’t see a problem. They might as well be different parties.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Both Lab and Con have that same problem, as they are bubble-centric. That’s why UKIP will likely thrive outside the bubble, and sap votes from both.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    You’re like a happy spaniel, lass, spinning out this Camerluvvie agitprop.

    Seriously though, don’t you feel a bit distressed, having to do this? It feels awkward.

  • saffrin

    I can’t say as I’m surprised Labour held up in London considering the vast majority of the 3.8M Third World immigrants Labour imported for thirteen years are now residing there.

    • Makroon

      Farage was on TV explaining that UKIP are not yet well organised in London, and need to work at it.

      • Kitty MLB

        NIgel Farage said those metropolitan and cultured
        people of London lived in a different country to
        the rest of us. But he did get 17% of the national

  • Makroon

    The Conservatives have taken the inevitable losses, and (probably thanks to Clegg’s lunatic decision to front-up to Farage), the LibDems have taken serious damage, but the real story of these elections (turnout est 36%), is that UKIP have indeed broken through in the Midlands and North.
    The BBC bias has now reached screeching proportions. An habitual Labour voter from Red’s home turf in Rotherham, had the temerity to admit switching to UKIP.
    The BBC interviewer gave her a complete third degree, – “but this is a COUNCIL election, nothing to do with immigrants!”, even though the lady had explained that there was a strong local issue of Labour helping Sheffield to snaffle a large area of Rotherham green-belt, to build houses for ‘Sheffield overspill immigrants’ (in her words).
    John Pienaar gave Balls a full five minutes to chunder on about Labour being “the party of immigrant control” – every time the charismatic one opens his gob, the lies come tumbling out and damage Labour more !
    It is a great pleasure to see the punditry in contortions trying to back and fill, and spin this as a win for Red.
    The Conservatives and UKIP would both be mad to form any sort of alliance – the numpty Carswell, as usual, just can’t do the maths.
    As more rural results trickle in, we will probably see more UKIP gains from Cons, and fewer Labour gains. Total Labour gains less than 200 ?

    • Kitty MLB

      Excellent post. Yes UKIP have made significant inroads
      to the working class North of England and Labours core
      voter, who they want.And caused a dent with the Conservatives.I believe the Conservative rural areas
      will still stay Conservative, especially if they have
      excellent councils. But just a few hundred seats
      for Labour just a year before the election is
      very bad news for that party.

  • toco10

    Red Ed and his trades union paymasters make Labour unelectable because hardworking decent people have experienced what disaster was caused to their and the country’s finances by Red Ed and the dysfunctional Gordon Brown when they last held power.Once bitten twice shy as far as Labour is concerned.

    • Kaine

      The biggest donor to Labour is Unite, a majority private sector union which determines it’s contributions to he party by democratic votes of the membership at policy conference, and by referendums once every ten years as outlined by law.

      But by all means if you can find a specific case of a union ‘buying’ a policy, in the same way private healthcare companies have bought the Tory party’s NHS reforms, feel free to share.

      • Mynydd

        One hedge fund owner alone donated £1,500,000 to Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party. Result, a cut in his top rate of tax from 50% to 45%

        • Damon

          But we Conservatives happened to believe that the top rate of tax was too high. It doesn’t necessarily follow that a large donation lay behind a decision which we would have taken anyway. Personally, I’d rather have seen the rate go back down to 40%, or indeed 38%.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          A typical lie from this Labour Troll.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          And the amount of higher rate tax collected has risen.

    • Damon

      But if the public were as perceptive as you suggest, they would hardly have voted for the snake-oil salesman and his wretched crew in such vast numbers in 1997, would they?

      Let’s be honest for once. The public are a bit thick. That’s why Labour will probably win in 2015.

  • BigAl

    Labour will have their lies and half truths ready to counter Ukip for the General Election in 2015.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      All of socialist LibLabCon will, just like this time.

  • Greenslime

    Tristram Hunt showed Labour’s true feelings about the public last night on BBCQT. Right at the end, during a discussion about education, Neil Hamilton commented that Labour seemed determined to stop parents having any say about how their children are educated. Hunt’s reply was that it is public money. The implication obviously is that it is no business of the public how this “public” money – ie, the money that has been taken from them in taxes – is spent, and certainly not something that they should be consulted on.

    That about sums up Moribund’s party right now. We know best. Bring everything back to the centre. Put controls on everything and never trust the voting public. They wander around chanting various mantras, most which have little or no meaning, promise to spend various special taxes multiple times and then expect us to love them and vote for them.

    A bunch of rich (usually), weird (usually), intellectual lefties who have majored in politics and the humanities but never had a proper job. Couldn’t be trusted to sit the right way on a lavatory seat or be out unsupervised with anything more dangerous than a spoon, the lot of ’em!

    • Kaine

      I do admire the capacity for double think among Conservatives who say they prize education, and then think “intellectual” is an insult.

      Also, what exactly is a ‘proper job’ in the context of a post-industrial service-sector economy? My first job was making Christmas lights, does that count?

      • Greenslime

        I am not a conservative. Nor am I a Conservative. For the record I do not claim allegiance to any party or creed.

        I don’t think the word intellectual is an insult. I am not one – I left school at 15. But I do think education is very important. I didn’t use the word as an insult. I said intellectual lefties which I meant as a phrase – in my opinion, intellectual lefties are those people who think that Utopia can be achieved by taking something off of one person and giving it to another without caveat.

        The other parties are starting to fill up with professional politicians too, but Labour is by far the worst of the bunch. These people often, and ever more frequently, come from a small nepotistic group of theory socialists who spend their lives chewing over political theory to create a take and give dogma rather than accepting that some people will do well, some will trend along the middle and some will bomb – and some will move around all three, sometimes frequently. Labour’s dogma appears to be that everyone should be dragged down to the bottom rather than encouraged to aspire and achieve.

        I believe that help should be available to all of those who need it. But that help should not be thrown around like confetti.

        Miliband is a millionaire. As a child he rubbed shoulders with the socialist elite. Mr & Mrs Cooper are millionaires and come from similarly rooted socialist stock. Burnham is a millionaire and ditto, no matter how much he would like to deny it. Most of the Labour front bench followed a similar path: university, spad or similar then parachuted in to a safe seat. They have rarely done anything other than political work and sucking off the public teet. What do they know about the little people? Close to nothing, that’s what.

        Your second point is facile. You know exactly what I mean but for clarity, a job which doesn’t consist entirely of sucking on the public teet. Regarding the fabrication of Christmas lights, quite probably yes.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Everything that pompous leftist oaf says is facile.

      • Andrew Smith

        Theorists with little or no practical experience who believe in the purity and applicability of ideas and who place greater worth on intellectual rigour whilst ignoring the insights of experience.

        One example: persistant calls for industrial intervention despite the failure of every such policy ever implemented in GB.

        • Kaine

          Industrial intervention saved Rolls Royce, lured Japanese car manufacturers and built all our nuclear power stations.

          The idea that collaboration between government and industry stunts growth is rather belied by the fact that it occurs in every single advanced economy. It is in fact the government’s refusal to properly partner with British industry, both management and labour, as is the norm in Germany, that has overseen such massive industrial decline.

          It is also worth noting that the vaunted financial industry is deeply enmeshed in government, and always has been so, which is of course why it does well even when it does badly.

          • Andrew Smith

            I would differentiate between a govt bailout (Rolls Royce) and pro-active intervention. The list of failures (starting with the African Ground Nuts Scheme and running over Kirby, Triumph, Leyland, Concorde, the truly awful Aluminium smelting idea and a range of others) and the millions wasted on them far outstrips the profit which GB government intervention has produced. Whitehall has never really picked winners, and its balls-up of the Post Office flotation just goes to prove its unsuitability for action in this area.

            The German record of govt. intervention is just as wasteful; the successes which it has brought are not the result of government planning, but the credit help, partnerships in R&D and not direct subsidy. The Federal Government is increasingly recognizing this and withdrawing a range of subsidies (Solar industry, coal).

            1945-1979 saw HMG try to learn the “lessons of abroad” and it failed every time. We could try again, but experience would seem to tell us not to.

            I’m no fan of our predatory financial industry, but this doesn’t mean we can plan manufacturing back into life. We need skills, credit and a healthy financial position, not a bureaucrat in Whitehall decreeing that industry must appear.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …the Camerluvvies are no different. LibLabCon all believe what it is you describe.

  • Colonel Mustard

    An open message to Labour’s Online Strategic Black Ops:

    Here’s an idea. We live in a democracy (supposedly) with political plurality (supposedly). Instead of seeing everything in terms of trying to undermine or discredit your opponents with negativity and coming across as sanctimonious smug, know-it-alls with patronising put downs try a positive, persuasive message instead – and no loony left stuff from the fringes of your party who seem to have risen to the top. You could do with distancing yourselves from the violent, anti-democratic thugs of UAF too. Those sort of SA-type zusammenstössen have no place in British politics.

    You could start by sacking telemachus and banishing him back to the SWP where he belongs. Do you really think an extremist serial tagger who openly admires Stalin and Mao, tries to blame Katyn on the Germans, thinks repression of dissent is a good idea and writes in blasé style about sending those who disagree with his extraordinary ideas to a gulag once you “seize power” is the most attractive advert for your party? He alone must have done much to garner votes for UKIP.

  • you_kid

    Labour care not about UKIP – the latter are doing a marvelous job splitting the right and delivering the outcome required. Why should the former care? Everyone knows the Tory-UKIP infighting will cause limited collateral damage to other parties. So be it.

    • helicoil

      Your Liebour chums in Rotherham will probably disagree, but you keep your head buried in the sand kiddo -it suits you.

    • Colonel Mustard

      See the mask has slipped a bit there. A “marvelous (sic) job” and “the outcome required” eh?


      • you_kid

        Oh come on Colonel, sir. A bit of tease must be allowed before dinner time.

        • Colonel Mustard

          A tease eh?


    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, I think you need to get a new briefing from central control.

      • belarusi

        I scrolled through a pile of you_kid’s contributions. – very peculiar,
        they reads like stream of conciousness twitter postings. He seem to have a mild personality disorder. – best avoided.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …it’s hard to avoid, as it’s got a gaggle of sockpuppets as well.

        • you_kid

          See my cracking verdict on other pages – this is not pretty, not today …

  • belarusi

    “Labour MP warns on party’s failure to equip activists for battle with Ukip”

    Bricks are readily available from any good builder’s merchant

Can't find your Web ID? Click here