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Charles Clarke: Labour has no credible economic plan and voters don’t see Miliband as PM

10 June 2014

Labour’s failure to offer a credible economic alternative to the Tories is going hurt them in next year’s election, according to Charles Clarke. The former Labour Education and Home Secretary proved to be a ray of sunshine on the Daily Politics today, arguing that Ed Miliband has failed to explain to voters why the Labour’s alternative plan for the economy is the right one.

When asked whether the Conservatives’ strategy is cogent, Clarke said:

‘It’s very cogent. I don’t think it’s true, myself, as a matter of fact. I think Labour has a much better story to tell about the last government and the economy than is widely believed. But I think, as you put it, you’re completely correct. The Conservatives have put this story across. It is widely believed in the country and Labour has not yet been able to contest it effectively.”

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Clarke also said that Labour has placed too much faith in the coalition’s economic plan failing, instead of producing an alternative:

‘I think we needed a much stronger narrative about what we did right and what we did wrong in government. We did many things right economically, and some things wrong. And we didn’t really do that. We haven’t been prepared to admit the mistakes that we made.

‘And then we have rested a great deal on assuming that the Conservative strategy wouldn’t succeed, that ‘plan A’, so-called, would not work and that has proved to be an unwise judgment because in fact, the Conservatives have succeeded in getting the economy onto a more positive path which leaves us very little place to be now in these current circumstances.’

Although Clarke believes the cost-of-living crisis is very apparent to voters, he doesn’t think people have any proof that Labour will solve it. On the topic of Ed Miliband, Clarke voiced the concerns of many in Labour — that voters simply can’t imagine him as Prime Minister. Does he think people will be voting for Ed as the next PM?

‘The polls tell you no. I think a lot of this stuff about being a geek and weird and so on is complete nonsense…politicians pick up lavels like that. But at the moment he still has to convince people that he has the capacity to lead the country. And that’s not my view actually, I think he does have the capacity to lead the country but people don’t believe that.’

And in a final bout of pessimism, Clarke doesn’t believe in Labour’s so-called 35 per cent strategy – ‘I never thought it was the right approach, you’ve got to appeal to the whole country’ — and doesn’t have much faith in Labour winning an outright majority next year:

“It could if from now on it really managed to get its position right. I have to say… I’m pessimistic. I think it will be very difficult for us to do that. But it could happen, it could still be done.’

Not surprisingly for the arch-Blairite, Clarke harked wistfully back to the days of New Labour and said the former PM is in ‘quite a tragic position’. He still thinks Blair could ‘contribute a great deal in the public sphere’ but can’t see a route back for him.

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  • The Commentator

    Sacked as Home Secretary Clarke lost his seat at the last election. A dispassionate and objective critique from Mr Bitter and Twisted?

  • BigAl

    Blair won 60+ majority on 35% so why not Milliband?

  • Airey Belvoir

    Is Telemachus on a tea break?

  • swatnan

    Charles has form on this; he said the same of Gordon. Stating the bleeding obvious is not going to help Labour win the next election; doing something about it might.

  • itdoesntaddup

    I’ve heard similar mood music from Hain and Rachel Reeves, who now fear the credibility of UKIP in eroding the Labour vote. When will someone pick up the attempted Putsch?

  • Mary Jackson

    Funny then that Labour are ahead in the polls, Mr Clake, you are miffed because David Milliband didn’t win the leadership, We don’t need you in the Labour party,

    • Kitty MLB

      And we don’t need the treacherous Labour party in this country and
      hopefully UKIP will pull their socks up and take all your working class votes.
      And become the Conservatives opposition in Westminster and leave Labour
      in political oblivion which such a treasonous party deserves.

      • Mary Jackson

        In your dreams kitty,

  • The Masked Marvel

    What Clarke fails to understand is that the two Eds actually have admitted they made (oh, ever so slight) mistakes economically, but even a fool can see that they’re dedicated to repeating them.

  • Inverted Meniscus

    How typical of a politician to try and have it both ways. He quite rightly points out that Ed Miliband is a preposterous incompetent quite incapable of eating a bacon sandwich let alone being Prime Minister and in the same breath says that’ it is not my view’. I also like the way Labour politicians grudgingly admit they might have made a few ‘mistakes’ with the economy but are never prepared to elaborate on what those mistakes were ( making Gordon Brown Chancellor is a good place to start). Incidentally, it is ironic that a Banana did for the ludicrous David Miliband and that another snack has done for his even more preposterous brother.

  • you_kid

    Labour are clearly getting far too strong. They must renew to regain credibility.

  • In2minds

    The end of Ed Miliband without a shot being fired?

  • HenryJMorton

    The former Labour Education and Home Secretary proved to be a ray of sunshine on the Daily Politics today, arguing that Ed Miliband has failed to explain to voters why the Labour’s alternative plan for the economy is the right one.

  • Kitty MLB

    Well said Mr Clarke and decent of you for being honest.
    Labour are economically and morally bankrupt and have shown no remorse or responsibility. They have done nothing in this parliament but be the voice of doom
    and much gerrymandering. Hoping the government will be wrong and they can
    become the government by default and that was their plan.. there was never one !
    They assumed Labour voters would never have any other options until UKIP
    made inroads. And they assumed the Conservatives would not pull their socks up.
    We now have the fastest growing economy have finished implementing most policies,
    we need to dump the Lib Dems and their bonkers yoghurt knitting ideals and now
    deal with immigration as we have everything else under control.
    What have Labour, the party that caused our economic firestorm and changed the
    face of the UK with their failed multiculturalism got to actually offer.
    Oh yes Gordon Brown’s old ministers starting off again where they finished..
    No thank you.

    • HookesLaw

      Clarke is of course being disingenuous, and the Tories do care about immigration, their avowed aim shows that.
      Clarke is bigging up himself and his own role and ideas whilst rubbishing those who smeared him in the past.

      • Makroon

        Labour believed that old fraud Merv the swerve: “whoever wins the next election (2010), will be a one-term government”.
        If Clarke and his chums had had their way, we would by now have been firmly ensconced in the Euro-zone, and in the middle of the mother-of-all austerity programmes, commanded by our German overlords.

  • HookesLaw

    And what please did labour do right whilst in power that is a story worth telling?

    • Hello

      Brought Ed Miliband back from the US and made him a SpAd, later an MP, thus positioning him for a leadership bid. You can’t fault them on that front.

    • HJ777

      The Freedom of Information Act.

      Don’t ask me for another example.

      • sfin

        Bravo! – the only thing that I would concede to the Blair creature – and coincidentally – the only thing he regrets!

    • The Commentator

      Well they performed the same economic miracle as Cameron and Clegg: doubling the size of the national debt in five years. That’s worth voting for…

      • saffrin

        Labour’s £1 trillion debt, add Labour’s £200 billion annual deficit, multiply that by the five years you mention and there’s where the doubling of that debt comes from.

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