Ed Milliband’s big decision on the future of the UK Labour party…

Interesting piece from Peter Oborne in the Telegraph, on the unresolved tensions within Labour in the aftermath of the Blair/Brown era…

Mr Cruddas’s remarks have highlighted a rancorous and philosophically very significant dispute that has been rumbling for some time.

One camp is occupied by the three most senior members of Labour’s front bench – Ed Balls, his wife, Yvette Cooper, and the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander. All three were modernisers who occupied senior posts in the Brown/Blair government. They all absorbed the central New Labour insight that 21st-century politics should be structured around the wishes of swing voters, who tend to belong to the aspirational middle class.

Mr Cruddas, the son of an itinerant Irish sailor, hails from a very different tradition. He has long warned that the Labour Party has been – in his words – “hollowed out” by the modernisers because they took Labour’s traditional working-class constituency for granted.

I believe that Mr Cruddas is right, and that May’s European elections, which saw Ukip surge ahead in traditional Labour seats, showed the wisdom of his analysis.

So Mr Miliband has two sets of voices in his ear. The modernisers, led by Mr Balls, are urging him to adopt the same cynical but brutally effective electoral strategy that secured Tony Blair three consecutive general election victories. Meanwhile, Mr Cruddas is telling Mr Miliband to take risks, to make enemies and above all not to forget Labour’s traditional supporters.

Time is running out for the Labour leader. He has one last chance to relaunch his leadership at this autumn’s party conference, and then the election campaign will be upon him. He must make a decision – something he has avoided ever since becoming party leader – and choose between Cruddas and Balls.

  • Kensei

    The decision is false. All parties are coalitions and the challenge is not to pick this group or that group, the challenge is to connect their problems and offer solutions. New Labour may have brutally targeted the swing voters, but a lot of what concerned them – particularly the state of the NHS – concerned everyone.

    Cruddas is right that risks need to be taken because Miliband won’t win fighting the last war. Given the scale of the last recession, you have also got swing voters that are a bit more nervous and insecurity than at the last boom – and so a bit more like the working class. But the challenge is to find the right blend of policies and tone, not to sacrifice one vs the other.

  • Greenflag

    The challenge for Miliband is to provide an alternative to the neo con austerity policies that are widening the gap between the haves and have nots in British society . As the middle classes are being gouged to pay for the neo con deregulation of the financial sector over the past couple of decades leading to the 2008/2009 financial meltdown it must be dawning on quite a few Britons that Cameron’s ‘Big Society ‘ was just another meaningless buzz word .

    Cruddas though is largely right . If Miliband simply offers himself as a replacement for Blair /Brown he’ll end up without a clear majority or losing .

    Miliband needs to make clear what his policies will be re the reform of British banking and how he intends to reverse the current vicious circle of the rich getting richer and the have nots being put to the wall while the middle class is priced out of it’s economic future .

    While the ideological right have absolutely no answer and indeed welcome increasing inequality in society the British Left have been seen as less than convincing in their response to the major problem facing capitalism in the early 21st century particularly but not exclusively in the UK, USA and Ireland (NI & ROI).

    MIliband may hope to win the election simply because Cameron looks like he’s lost it already as per polls . Neil Kinnock was home and dry too by all accounts prior to his electoral defeat .

  • Charles_Gould

    Agree with Kensei- both types of voters need to be kept on board.

    Have read though that Miliband is going for a “35%” strategy – he thinks he can win by getting the core voter out and not the swing voters – because the Tories are quite unable to do any better. He may well be right.