What to make of the ‘profound dead hand’?

The election situation is clearly febrile already, but the secret recording of a speech by John Cruddas at a Compass meeting which was then leaked to the media is pretty low stuff even by Tory standards.   But the real question is, is it true that, as Cruddas hinted, there is a “profound dead hand at the centre” blocking the radical ideas in his review which would otherwise see the light of day?   Is it the case, as he claimed, that “interesting ideas and remedies are not going to emerge through Labour’s policy review”?   Well, we shall soon find out at Labour’s policy forum at Milton Keynes on the 18th of this month.   But there are already some conclusions that can be drawn.   One is that there is a major struggle going on between those who want to say the least possible, just enough to stagger over the line on 7 May next year, in order to offer ‘least exposure of flank’ (as I can remember one very senior civil servant once cynically saying to me) to the Tory and hostile media machine.  The other is to project a commanding narrative that pulls together all the many evocative threats that Ed Miliband has been diligently sowing over the last few months in order to enthuse the 1-2 million Labour voters who abandoned the party in 2010 and stayed at home.

Another view going the rounds is that Miliband himself can’t make up his own mind on some issues and seems to swing both ways.   It is true that he is bombarded with contradictory advice from within the party on almost all important issues, and in the interests of party unity which is the pre-eminent issue for him he’s reluctant to come down firmly on one side or the other at this stage and risk splitting the party.   Cruddas himself is reported as saying: “the fact is that a lot of things haven’t really been reconciled – the different camps”.   In one sense this is the price that Labour pays for being a (relatively)  democratic party.  The Tory party, much more centralist and less interested in policy than in keeping power at any cost, can avoid upheavals over policy (except over Europe) much more easily, but of course only at the price of stasis. It is also true that Miliband is surrounded by advisers in his back office who seem (as is true of all offices of party leaders) ultra-cautious, impervious to influence, unresponsive to external requests, and entrenched in a compound.   It is also true that they are heavily weighted towards the centre-right of the party – curiously out of touch with the ‘real’ Miliband.   But even there the evidence is that he makes up his own mind when he comes to the point and he will not be put upon by anyone.

3 thoughts on “What to make of the ‘profound dead hand’?

  1. Personally I think this was absolutely fair game, but frankly it hasn’t told us, (the electorate,) anything we didn’t know already, no matter how embarrassing it was for Milliband and his new, “nu,” Labor.

    Personally if Labor were more concerned with principle and ideals, than simply winning back 2 million plus labor voter who’ve given them the finger they may have a chance of winning next election.

    As things stand, absolutely the only thing persuading many people, (myself included,) to vote Labor next time will be David Cameron, but given the extent to which Miliband had tried to dodge and to fudge every issue particularly the NHS, UKIP look more and more compelling by the week.

    Despite UKIP’s hostility to NHS, getting out of the EU although not without it’s cost may yet be our best, perhaps the only option to save it.

    Contrast:

    “On Wednesday, Mr Miliband set out his plans for campaigning in the the run-up to the election, declaring that the NHS and its waiting times would be a key battleground over the summer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…….”

    Which amounts to little more in practice, than allowing the NHS to wither on the vine accompanied by some cheap and disingenuous hand wringing.

    But then I doubt if Milliband or his family ever use the NHS anyway, (dear me no?)

    So once again no mention of how he intendeds to reverse the Health and Social Care Bill, return overall responsibility for the NHS to an elected secretary of state,(not the appointed and unaccountable quango of business people and commercial interests now running it,) will actively and vigorously pursue the individuals, (including David Nicholson, Andy Burnham and possibly Alan Johnson who were then responsible, for the Mid Staffs abuses,) and make it perfectly clear and binding that they will under no circumstances introduce any further charges and so on.

    Milliband, (or perhaps Axlerod or both,) seems to believe that the way to win the next general election, (perhaps, to not lose it, might be a better description, given his abysmal track record so far,) is to pretend he’s still living in America and that Labor party are a somehow bit like the American Democratic party, (they’re not,) and that all he needs to do is to attract rich and influential donators with hand outs and promises of future favors and concessions on disastrous American model regardless of the consequence for rest of us.

    To remind you of what most of regard as being the, real, issues that Labor should be addressing I refer you back to this excellent post from a week ago:

    Alice Freeman Says:
    June 30th, 2014 at 12:08 am

    (But this extract is key and sums up the problem perfectly and succinctly.)

    “The unions and the main part of the Labour party are developing an amnesia about their roots and purpose, with Labour seemingly proposing nothing more but a continuation of a decrease of benefit support, even as housing, energy and food costs are allowed to soar; and wages stagnate, aided by privatization.”

  2. I think that those who want to say as little as possible are either neoliberals or cowards. In other words, they believe in the rentier economy (I refuse to call it freemarket), or they lack the courage to do anything about it. Their conscience is limited to not making promises they cannot keep.

    Those who want a manifesto made clear are more likely to be real Labour politicians. They need to make sure that they make all of the dangers of the rentier economy clear to people – including the dangers of TTIP, a privatised NHS, and a continuing lack of control over the finance industry and globalised corporations. The social and environmental costs should be discussed in public.
    If Miliband is in doubt, perhaps looking at the growing costs and the failures in privatised monopolies and public services should help.
    The obvious failures of uncontrolled private credit creation and tax avoidance should help.
    Opinion is one thing, facts another.

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