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Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Besting of the Guardian’s CIF and the other Bourgeois Pundits

On Monday I submitted an article to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, for which I once wrote articles before the Zionist censorship juggernaut caught up with them.

Not unnaturally I received no response from Freedland’s harlots and all the other self-opinionated pundits in what passes for a community.  Indeed it gives me no pleasure (so far the exist polls have declared) to have called the result correctly.  Whether the exit polls forecast of 316 seats for the Tories, 239 for Miliband Labour and 10 for the Lib. Dems are correct, it is highly likely that the trends are in the right (or wrong) direction.

If so, quite uniquely among commentators, my criticism of Miliband’s campaign will have turned out to be correct.

Tony Greenstein

Sleepwalking to Defeat – Miliband Labour’s

 Election Campaign

In December 1962, the US Secretary of State Dean Rusk observed that Britain had lost an empire but not yet found a role.  The same could be said for the British Labour Party.  British social democracy is rudderless.  There was a time when it even spoke the language of socialism but today the best it can offer is small, incremental change.
It has been part of the received wisdom of political pundits that Ed Miliband has had a good campaign.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating, in this case the results on Friday morning. 
The success or otherwise of Labour’s campaign never depended on the personality of its leader.  The attempts by Miliband to present himself as the political counterpart of Clint Eastwood, ‘hell yes I am tough’ have been risible.  Clement Attlee didn’t win because he outshone Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher was never popular.  What Miliband needed to do was to earn respect for his convictions but there is little evidence of that.

Instead of a determined stance against those who seek to blame refugees for Britain’s ills, he has highlighted control, including discrimination over benefits, as one of Labour’s 6 ‘red line’ pledges.  In the process he has lent credence to the idea that migrants claiming benefits are responsible for untold ills.  The only possible beneficiary of this is UKIP.

Even more damaging has been the way Miliband has reacted to Tory taunts that Labour would depend on SNP votes to form a government.  Instead of asserting that one of the consequences of a United Kingdom is that a Scottish presence, including the nationalists, is as valid as that of any other party and that they have a perfectly legitimate right to take part in the governance of the UK, he has echoed the claim that an SNP presence in government would hasten the break up of the UK. 

Even Lord Forsyth, the Thatcherite Peer and former MP for Sterling and Nigel Dodds of the DUP could see that Cameron’s campaign was saying that SNP votes at Westminster were illegitimate and further, that playing the English nationalist card would hasten the very thing that Cameron was purportedly opposed to – the breakup of the UK.  Yet Miliband seems incapable of doing more than echo Cameron’s rhetoric.

The only moments in the current election that have produced any excitement or interest have been the debates between the party leaders, Question Time and Paxman’s interviews.  They were the only moments that the party campaign managers couldn’t finely control.  

What has been remarkable about this election is how the major party leaders have avoided contact with the general public.  They have been determined to avoid Gordon Brown’s Gillian Duffy moment when Brown described a voter as a ‘bigot’.  Time was when Harold Wilson relished putting down hecklers.  Today a heckler wouldn’t get within a mile of Cameron, Clegg or Miliband.

Miliband has decided to blunt the Tory attack by surrendering to the forces of austerity.  He accepts that everything should be costed first as if government is simply a matter of a train with a fixed timetable.

I wonder what Clement Attlee would have done, if he had been expected to cost his proposals.  Britain was bankrupt after the second world war.  It was forced to go cap in hand to the United States for a $3 billion loan and part of the price was accepting, in the days of the sterling pool, the convertibility of sterling with other currencies. 

If Stafford Cripps, Labour’s Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1948, had been forced to ‘cost’ the new NHS and Welfare State then we would have had neither.  What Labour did was to set out its goals and priorities and then find the money to pay for it.  The timid accounting clerk mentality of Miliband and Balls stands in stark contrast to the steely determination of the 1945 Labour government.

Consider Labour’s reaction to the Tory promise to extend the right to buy to housing association properties.  Instead of promising an end to the right to buy council houses and savaging Cameron for having nothing to say about homelessness, Miliband’s response was that the Tories hadn’t costed it!   He might have pointed out that a further decline in social housing will mean Councils having to pay out more for emergency accommodation for vulnerable groups. In the words of Oscar Wilde, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

If  Cameron proposed to bring back hanging, Miliband’s reflex would be to attack him for not costing the building of the gallows and the training of a new generation of hangmen.

Buy to let is the most profitable form of investment yet it creates absolutely nothing and is heavily subsidised by housing benefit.  We have unprecedented levels of private renting but on this Labour has nothing to say.  Three year tenancies are a palliative.  Before Thatcher there was  permanent security of tenure for unfurnished tenants.  The right not to be evicted at the whim of a landlord and not having to pay disproportionate amounts of one’s income for the right to a roof over one’s head, would be popular yet we have another tepid milk and water reform . 

There are many other radical reforms that would be popular, such as the renationalisation of the railways or the scrapping of Trident.  Yet Miliband seeks refuge in consensus.  That is why, although there is an universal consensus that no party will gain an overall majority, Cameron’s Conservatives are likely to emerge as the biggest party.  It is even possible that the Conservatives could gain an outright majority.  This is the consequence of a situation whereby Miliband’s Labour is afraid of its own shadow.

Tony Greenstein

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