Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where's this fresh new Labour Party then?

Personally I think Labour is going through a bit of an opposition bounce. They seem happier in themselves now they're not in charge of any wars or recessions, which has resulted in a detectable spring in their step in some quarters. Also some voters who had strayed from the fold seem to be tentatively returning to their old pastures.

I'm not detecting any specific Ed Miliband bounce though among party members, which is hardly surprising as he wasn't the members' choice for leader.

During the leadership election there weren't many highs or interesting points, but one of them was certainly Ed Balls' clarity over taking a new direction on the economy. I have many critical things to say about the man, as we'll come to, but I think he showed himself to be both an articulate and passionate advocate for a more left field economic strategy.

He seemed to want to put investment in public services and protecting ordinary people from these devastating cuts before this imaginary 'need' to cut the deficit right down, right now. I even developed some respect for the man. I think we can do much better, but he won a great deal of respect from former critics for his robust and brave approach which cut against the Westminster consensus.

Sadly, his virtues were seen as vices to the new leader, and having outlined an entirely different economic approach to New Labour's coy 'not quite so hard, not quite so fast' rhetoric Miliband was in a position where he either appointed Balls as shadow treasurer and adopted his position, or appointed someone entirely unBallslike in his stead in order to keep ploughing the same furrow. Miliband chose the steady option with Alan Johnson.

So where to put him?

Having refused to place the best candidate for chancellor in the shadow chancellor slot he faced a new problem - where to put Balls that was high enough that it didn't look like a purge of his rivals but where Balls could not pronounce on the economy. The Home Office.

Sadly Ed Balls is bloody awful on immigration and has a track record that would make any decent person blush on the issue. During the leadership race he raised the 'immigration problem' more than once and came up with such delightful ideas of preventing 'remittances', where immigrants send money home to their families living in poverty, which would directly result in misery in some of the poorest communities on Earth.

So now not only has Ed Miliband in one stroke refused to take a more left leaning approach to the economy he's appointed one of the most anti-immigrant Labour candidates to make pronouncements on immigration. Where's Miliband's fresh new approach?

To make matters worse Phil Woolas, who is utter scum, and has been at the forefront of Ministerial racism for some time has been appointed to hold Balls' coat while he kicks the heads of migrant workers. The man should have been expelled from the party years ago, not rewarded with a shadow cabinet post.

What a disgrace that Ed Miliband has taken a conscious choice not just to reject fresh new thinking on the economy, but has embraced two of the least deserving MPs to become his spokespersons on immigration. Not just old thinking, but some of the most backwards and rancid old thinking you can find.


Rowan Davies said...

Agree wholeheartedly with this, but I think it was me who gave you a bum steer on the remittances issue; I asked Balls about it later (on Twitter) and he clarified that he's absolutely in favour of remittances. He was proposing something different: the withdrawal of the right to claim child tax credits/benefits in the UK for immigrants whose children still live abroad (this is currently legal under EU law). Still not the most attractive policy position, but nothing like as bad as I thought.

Anonymous said...

We also have the Shadow Minister of Public Health who railed against blonde blue-eyed Finnish nurses...

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess if you can convince yourself that problems over the fiscal deficit are 'imaginary' then everything becomes pretty simple.

Unfortunately, whatever 'answers' you then contribute become worthless to anyone not prepared to follow you to your 'imaginary' economic land. Sorry.

Jim Jepps said...

Hi Rowan. I think it was based on something he'd said on Radio Four and then reinforced by you - glad to hear that given the chance to go into detail he backed off (sort of) and was just(!) in favour of withdrawing child benefit for migrants!

Anon: On the imaginary comment I think it's worth repeating what I said "this imaginary 'need' to cut the deficit right down, right now."

I think that's quite specific enough to dodge your attack :)

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