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Labour’s strange response to Ukip’s success

23 May 2014

Labour has a strange response today to Ukip’s success. Ed Miliband has argued that ‘there is deep discontent with the way the country is run and a deep desire to change’, which almost suggests that the results have been resoundingly good for Labour. True, the party has won seats – 152 net gains so far – and reeled in big fishes from the Conservatives such as Hammersmith and Fulham Council. But Ukip is stealing votes from Miliband’s party, Labour is not doing as well as it could be expected to, and the Labour leader’s point seems to be as much about the factors driving voters to Ukip as it is about anything else.

On the BBC earlier, Ed Balls focused on the need for Labour to talk more about immigration and to show that it is ‘credible on these issues [immigration and job security such as zero hours contracts] in the general election fight’. He repeatedly returned to the issue of immigration and European reform, in contrast to Douglas Alexander, who has spent today arguing that Labour shouldn’t out-Ukip Ukip. The funny thing about that Alexander line, of course, is that Labour has already taken steps to toughen up its immigration policy in response to Ukip, so it is hardly trying to forge a distinctive identity on this policy area.

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Balls and Alexander have historical tensions between them but as I blogged  earlier, other MPs are frustrated at a lack of a Ukip ‘toolkit’ from party central command, even if Labour HQ is now taking on Ukip with more aggression.

Then this afternoon there was an amusing skirmish between John Mann and Michael Dugher about the party’s strategy. Mann was actually reasonably generous towards his party’s leadership in that he did not call for any of them to resign, resignation calls being one of Mann’s hobbies. But he was angry that Labour hadn’t taken on Farage as a Thatcheresque character whose policies would devastate the North.

Some are mocking Mann for simply being angry (Mann is never particularly overjoyed anyway) that no-one took John Mann’s advice. But here’s a word of warning for Labour HQ. You dismiss public moaners like Mann, Stringer and Danczuk at your peril. They might be irritating public whiners in the eyes of those beavering away at Brewer’s Green, but they can say things that other colleagues still think. They are not the only ones dispensing advice. John Healey is a former minister who is so popular in the party that he came second in the 2010 Shadow Cabinet elections. He is not a serial whinger on the backbenches and yet he is warning the party about its strategy.

If these MPs are ignored, Labour could find itself with a situation on its hands that is not dissimilar to the fury in the Conservative party when David Cameron thought it would be ok to ignore his backbenchers and dismiss their advice. Of course it wouldn’t be the mirror image of that: Ed Miliband doesn’t ignore his backbenchers and this helps him a great deal when the chips are down. The anger is as likely to be directed at Shadow Cabinet members such as Alexander. The fault lines in the Conservative party before the rows began were between the MPs and the leader; in the Labour party the fault lines run are a little more complex, but they run between members of the shadow cabinet, rather than a straightforward backbench/leader split. Now that the pressure is on, those fault lines are opening up.

One question for all the political parties as they consider how to respond to Ukip (Balls talked about a ‘wake-up call’, which is a little disconcerting for those who have been worried about the Farage effect for a while as it suggests Labour is only now starting to realise it has some work to do) is how to ape that sincerity and rough-around-the-edges appeal without looking, well, insincere. The three main leaders cannot start making slightly off-colour remarks and swilling pints, as this will only alienate their voters further with its desperation (like Gordon Brown smiling on YouTube). So how do you starting speaking human again without looking as though you’ve had a personality transplant? There’s only a year for the mainstream parties to work out the answer.

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Show comments
  • No Good Boyo

    Just a small point of order. UKIP isn’t “stealing” votes from anybody. They’re campaigning on issues which are important to many people, and persuading them to switch their vote to UKIP, something they have every right to do in a democracy.

    UKIP would probably be less powerful today if the other parties remembered that, and that they are not owed votes.

  • Jingogunner

    The truth is that Labour policy, as a Marxist led party, can only be to advocate membership of the Eu and all the other insanities, including mass immigration, multiculturalism, big government, high taxation and destruction of individual privacy. So there can never be a “toolkit” for the idiot Labour MPs whose majorities are reducing by the second – and now there is an alternative to vote for that offers hope against the EU, mass immigration and all the other nonsense forced on us by the filth in Parliament. If MPs want to stay in power then the obvious move is to join UKIP. Devising more lies and deceits for the electorate will simply disaffect more voters.

  • Alexsandr

    well I heard Hammond, Mrs Balls ans Simon Hughes on the radio tonight. Yes they will listen, buyt they have to get their messages across better.
    Nothing about being plain wrong and out of touch. Just they are a Juggernaut that cannot be stopped. Oh, and a vote for UKIP is a protest vote. Er no -its for a party against EU and immigration.
    Can’t see any of liblabcon attracting me to vote for em in the near future.

  • Ron Todd

    Just back from work put the BBC news channel on to see how the election went apparently Labour did really well.

    • Alexsandr

      hopefully labour will rent asunder under the pressure.

    • Bill_der_Berg

      Well done, Ed. Labour should keep him as their leader. That would please the Tories, too.

  • Mr_Ominous

    Labour now have one party states in Manchester and South East London thanks to thick commie northerners and third world immigrants.

  • you_kid

    What success Isabel? UKIP banked 136 out of a possible 4,000 seats.
    That’s 3% of all seats – three percent. What success?

    This is a watershed moment in British politics. Will anyone pick up on that?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …you should shed some water on you and all your sockpuppets. You’re starting to stink.

      • you_kid

        We always knew you were an establishment stooge, lad.
        What further proof would anyone require?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …I don’t even think it’s possible to translate this tract of gibberish, lad.

          • you_kid

            big words (limited vocabulary you will have to admit), little meaning – that’s you dude, right there.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …nor this. You’re moving backwards on the evolutionary scale, lad.

            • Michele Keighley

              Keep going kid – every post increases the UKIP popularity, but then we know that you’re secretly one of them aren’t you you cheeky little chappie n:)

              • you_kid

                Your success is overwhelming – let’s summerise it:

                UKIP do not exist in London – 0.00%
                UKIP do not exist in Northern Ireland – 1.65% of the vote.
                UKIP do not exist in Scotland.
                UKIP do not exist in Manchester – 0.00%
                UKIP do not exist in England – 0.1% of all council seats.

                It’s over. UKIP is a regional phenomenon.
                After Sunday, UKIP only exist in Belgium.

    • Bill_der_Berg

      You are quite right. Labour and the Tories have nothing to worry about. They should not change their winning strategies.

      Onward. The future lies before us.

    • Lucy Sky Diamonds

      From a base of zero

    • global city

      They won 30% of the seats in which they stood and came second in another 50%….. quite unprecedented success by any standard you care to set.

      • you_kid

        Ah, glowballs, hello. No they didn’t do that – they stood in 25% of the councils so came home with 157 out of 1,000 odd seats.
        That’s not 30%. Not when you do the maffs.

        • global city

          You had to go and check it though, didn’t you? So now you know the actual statistics.

          At least now you may think before you make up then post your own wild assertions in the hope that they stick as ‘facts’.

    • Bill_der_Berg

      Enough of a success to cause concern in the ranks of the comrades, if the media are to be believed.

  • London Calling

    Firstly, congratulations to UKIP. they really shook the ground……UKIP the protest vote they say. well it really says a lot for the general election next year…the voters will have their revenge on politics by voting parties like UKIP and it looks like another hung parliament to come with Farage pulling another pint or two maybe…………..

    who will deliver democracy back to the people?…………..I wonder..:)

    • London Calling

      Labours response is to be expected, they lost seats, it hurt………..

    • Brentfordian

      Love your icon – not sure Joe Strummer would agree with the sentiments though.

  • colliemum

    So Labour will now toughen up its stance on immigration … well, isn’t astounding how UKIP – with not one MP – has influenced the policies of LabCon.
    One is now touting its “we’ll give you the EU Referendum” policy, which would never have happened without UKIP, and the other is now prepared to look at immigration.
    Not bad, is it, for a handful of fruitcakes and loonies …
    And then there are the results of the local elections – it’s like the calm before the storm.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      It is striking how influential they’ve been, and without a single MP as you mention.

      And when Farage attacked Call Me Dave’s glorious new military campaign he’d proposed for Syria, it gave the Millipedes cold feet and they backed out of the glory, after having voted unanimously to support Field Marshal Dave on the Libyan fiasco.

      So you can thank brother Nige for avoiding that Syrian quagmire, at least the direct bit, direct as in helping the islamofascists annihilate Christians, as Dave wants to do. And that vote in Parliament also gave the US Congress and Obama cold feet, and they pulled back from the bombs away precipice, too.

      See what principle can do, in foreign affairs too? Perhaps the LibLabCon socialists should take note.

      • colliemum

        I think LibLabCon gave up on principles in the 1950s.

        • global city

          the refusal to invest in Liverpool docks in the late 60s’ was taken ten years previously, because the future was the ports facing our new markets…i.e Liverpool was on the wrong side of the country to benefit from the new utopia.

          The establishment had this planned all along.

          On that issue, does anybody know of ANY major country/grouping that views their seaboards as ‘the periphery’? neither do I. Just one little point that shows how inward looking and insular the EU elite are.

      • Bill_der_Berg

        Nigel Farage’s lack of enthusiasm for war probably counts heavily against him in the eyes of the liblabcons. There is also his insufferable lack of respect for the EU-lovers’ hero, Hermann van Rompuy.

        “There was a delicious moment in the chamber just now. Herman Van Rompuy made a sonorous statement to the effect that Muammar Gaddafi was a frightful chap who really ought to stand down. Then Nigel Farage stood up and brandished an excruciating photograph, taken as recently as four months ago, of the two unelected leaders grinning and holding hands (see above clip). “I have to say, I’ve never seen you smiling more or looking happier,” he teased the EU President.” (Daily Telegraph).

    • Mr_Ominous

      Labour need immigration to increase their voter base. Labour cannot ever have a credible immigration policy after what they did during the Blair-Brown years.

  • toco10

    Isabel it may represent an odd response to UKIP’s performance but never forget Red Ed is our intellectual superior despite never having had a proper job and being brought up in leafy Hampstead with a silver, albeit Marxist, spoon in his mouth.

    • Shazza

      Not forgetting how in touch he is with the cost of living……..

      • realfish

        …and all of those crisises!
        (a quick ‘Google’ uncovered around a dozen crises that have been declared by Miliband and his coterie in the past few years. It’s a wonder were not all dead)

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Indeed, his intellectual self-confidence, so apparent recently will sweep all before him next year – that and his client state/BBC/Unite allies.

      • realfish

        You’ve reminded me of when the BBC introduced us to the ‘great towering intellect’ that was Gordon Brown.

    • telemachus

      Yes toco
      Your superior in every way
      But a servant of the people who will deliver fairness back to our downtrodden poor

  • Maverick Ways
  • Rhoda Klapp8

    They are not serious about immigration. It is pathetic to see them trimming their policies to match a party they hate. And what’s more, the folks will not be fooled by such a transparent ploy.

    And you can’t get a protest vote back without a major change.

    • global city

      neither will they fall for the ploy of raising the straw man of ‘benefit tourism’ that they an then ‘tackle’ and win back ‘powers’ from Brussels to defeat this liblabcon concocted ‘Issue’

  • Hello

    It’s not about personality, though. Disraeli had it:

    “No Government can be long secure without a formidable Opposition. It reduces their supporters to that tractable number which can be managed by the joint influences of fruition and hope. It offers vengeance to the discontented, and distinction to the ambitious; and employs the energies of aspiring spirits, who otherwise may prove traitors in a division or assassins in a debate.”

    There is no formidable opposition.

  • cargill55

    British politics is now UKIP versus the Liblabcon /MSM / EU mafia.
    The old parties of the Liblabcon oligarchy are discredited through failure, cronyism , nepotism, parasitism and as purveyors of corporate fascism with their EU , big business, super rich and bureaucracy mates.
    UKIP is the antidote to this mix of liberal left extremism and corporate fascism which benefits everyone except the British people with I it’s philosophy of a sovereign, democratic Britain putting British people first with common sense policies.
    UKIP will destroy the oligarchy, it’s already causing chaos in Liblabcon.

    • realfish

      I enjoyed that, whatever it was supposed to mean. In the meantime you enjoy your success, but remember you’ll need to sober up at some stage.

      If UKIP are one of the big boys now, as you suggest, they will have come under fair and LEGITIMATE scrutiny…and you’ll need to stop blarting that ‘all these nasty people are out to get us’.

    • telemachus

      You crazy man
      One swallow does not make a summer
      This is the high point for Ukip
      Remember they are a one issue force who just happen to have a charismatic leader
      As the months unfold ordinary voters will wonder how they stand on the major domestic issues while within Ukip we will see factionalism that will destroy the party from within

      • Kitty MLB

        Little wasp, we already know Labours policies.
        And putting the head in the sand with Labours
        uncharasmatic leader won’t change a thing.
        Your party needs to wake up and smell the coffee,
        UKIP’s purple plotters are heading North.

        • telemachus

          Today Kitty
          Folks will wake up tomorrow
          Governments lose power
          Cameron’s time is almost over
          Only Miliband can replace him

        • Ricky Strong

          I am rather enjoying your wasp analogies – the ‘early morning buzzathon’ tickled me.

          • telemachus

            Like Mustard

            • Ricky Strong

              Come on, you’re besotted with us. Why else would someone on the left spend so much time and devotion on a traditionally conservative publication?

              You’re like the young child begging his friends to participate in some silly activity but when you finally release we are all saying no you will inevitably concede and join the side who in the face of reality just makes sense.

      • cargill55

        Farage and UKIP have a vision, the Liblabcon oligarchy just has self interest , abuse of our political system, cronies and are parasites on Britain and the British people.
        UKIP v Liblabcon corporate Fascism (Costed , comprehensive 2015 manifesto coming soon.)
        Smaller v big state.
        Sovereign v Britain in a superstate.
        Lower tax and spend v higher tax and spend
        No political correctness or multiculturalism v political correctness and
        multicultural extremism.
        Defend Britain v illegal and unnecessary wars
        Functioning democracy v broken democracy
        Keep nation state v EU superstate
        Controlled v uncontrolled immigration
        Deal with illegal immigrants v let 1 million illegal immigrants stay
        Welfare as a short term basic emergency v welfare as a lifestyle
        Lower tax and spend and balanced books v higher tax and spend and soaring state debt
        Common sense Britain v cronyism, quangocracy, charitocracy, bureaucracy.
        Britain first v Britain last.
        No instant immigrant benefits v immediate immigrant benefits
        EU exit v EU
        Emergency humanitarian aid v £60 billion every 5 years.
        NHS with fewer managers and higher standards v NHS cronyism
        Tough on Law & Order v Soft on Law & Order
        No unnecessary foreign wars v EU/US expansionism.

        • telemachus

          I counsel you to listen to Any Question on catch up
          Hear the vapid nonsense spouted by O’Flynn
          But more listen to the audience
          You list may impress you but taken together in the cold light of day turns off Joe Public
          When we come to the real issues next May you will whistle

      • Christopher Horne

        Gosh, you are truly desperate and in a panic today!

        • telemachus

          No panic
          17% is all the racists could manage with all the publicity they have had on the back of Europe
          I am buoyant

          • Michele Keighley

            Racist? You do not even understand the meaning of the word. Xenophobic, perhaps – but certainly not racist. And it is quite OK to feel xenophobic if you are seeing the country you love being decimated and changed beyond all recognition and the cause of it all laid at the feet of the Labour Party.

            The majority of English people loathe you and while you might still be able to whip the blind obedient into rallying around the dying carcass, this is the beginning of the end for you lot. Thank God and good riddance.

      • Jingogunner

        I can see you’re rattled. We hear this a lot from panicked socialists and Tories alike:- “Its a populist flash in the pan, they won’t sustain this, as soon as the national issues like employment, taxation, the economy, crime and .. er …ah.. immigration etc surface, the electorate will see that UKIP has nothing to offer and they’ll return to we Marxists I mean socialists who know what’s best for them.” My advice is, start right now steeling yourself for a few more UKIP MPs than you had hoped for in 2015. You and your friends in the labour party are politically and psychologically unable to understand that your lies and deceits can no longer persuade voters – its finished, fool, once they’ve seen through you they will never believe you again.

    • Kitty MLB

      I Think some of you will be heartbroken if Nigel Farage
      joins the ‘establishment’ and behaves like all the other
      boys and girls on the green benches. With policies,
      speaking about bin collections, library closures etc
      The mundane everyday life of politics, not as exciting
      as battling the EU but never mind.

      • Bill_der_Berg

        There will always be the opportunity to ask the awkward questions that the other MP’s would regard as a bad career move.

      • starfish

        I think that is part of the problem

        Who cares what a govt thinks about bins and libraries. That is local council stuff anyway

        What I want is a govt with vision that takes on the big issues.

        Britain’s place in the world
        Energy security
        Economic growth
        Strategic alliances
        Reduction of interference in wealth generation
        Reduction in surveillance
        Reform of the voting system
        Reform of the law profession
        Reform of the house of lords
        Pension reform
        Tax simplification
        Making work pay

        Not how much fruit I should eat and whether kids can play conkers

        • Kitty MLB

          Have they stopped children playing with conkers, that’s
          outrageous . I shall write to the Prime Minister about that
          one. I am shocked to the core.

  • HilaryChapman

    Labour did rather well in these elections. It seem churlish of you not to mention it.

    • Pootles

      Er…see the second sentence of Hardman’s piece.

    • Robert_Eve

      Thankfully not as well as they need to.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Which is little short of incredible given what a rotten party they are.

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