Limping Labour and the Lack of Leadership Lament

Following the recent vote on the second stage of the pernicious Welfare Reform & Work Bill, so ably dissected elsewhere by Ephe, social media has been awash with complaints about Labour’s handling of the vote; and, to be frank, those complaints are fully justified in the main.  The leadership candidates have been singled out for especial criticism with the honourable exception of Jeremy Corbyn; Kendall and Cooper deserve pretty much everything thrown at them, but is the case against Andy Burnham so clear cut?

Burnham has stated

Under my Leadership, Labour will oppose this Bill with everything we’ve got when it comes back before MPs later this year.

to howls of derision on Twitter, variations on the theme of “why didn’t you vote against it then?  Maybe the letter released today and signed by 45 Labour MPs, including a number of Corbyn supporters, sheds light on it:

We are writing as MPs who voted last night to oppose the Government’s Welfare Bill, some by voting for the Labour amendment that said the Bill should be rejected and some by voting against the Bill when that amendment failed.

The debacle of last night must never be repeated.

We are grateful that Andy Burnham showed leadership in moving Labours position to an amendment opposing the Bill. He is clear, as we are clear that this Bill is regressive and hits working families and children.

Andy was right, as someone bound by the collective responsibility of the Shadow Cabinet, despite his personal opposition to the Bill, to abstain.  As someone who aspires to lead and unite our Party he was right not to lead a split in Labour, which would have weakened our ability to take the fight to the Tories.

The Parliamentary passage of this legislation has only just begun, this is not the end of the battle.  Andy has said that unless the Government make major changes, then as leader, he will oppose this Bill at every opportunity when it is considered by MPs in the Autumn.

He will have our whole-hearted support in doing so.

Yours sincerely

  1. Margaret Greenwood  

  2. Debbie Abrahams 

  3. Dave Anderson 

  4. Rachael Maskell 

  5. Ian Lavery 

  6. Peter Dowd 

  7. Gerald Jones 

  8. Ian Mearns 

  9. Jo Stevens 

  10. Iain Wright 

  11. Liz McInnes 

  12. Carolyn Harris 

  13. Andy McDonald

  14. Dawn Butler 

  15. Louise Haigh

  16. Tulip Siddiq

  17. Owen Smith  

  18. Michael Dugher

  19. Luciana Berger 

  20. Keir Starmer 

  21. Lucy Powell

  22. Anna Turley 

  23. Kevin Brennan 

  24. Bill Esterson 

  25. Pat Glass 

  26. Nia Griffith 

  27. Dan Jarvis 

  28. Barbara Keeley

  29. Ian Lucas

  30. Justin Madders

  31. Steve Rotheram

  32. Emma Lewell-Buck

  33. Paul Farrelly

  34. Nick Thomas-Symmonds

  35. Conor McGinn 

  36. Yvonne Fovargue

  37. Wayne David

  38. Kerry McCarthy

  39. Valerie Vaz

  40. Karl Turner

  41. Lillian Greenwood

  42. Clive Betts

  43. Mary Glindon

  44. Kate Osamor

  45. Harry Harpham

One of the reasons Miliband was ultimately unsuccessful in his bid to become Prime Minister was the bickering and infighting amongst the Left; certainly Liz Evans, who lost the Gower constituency by just 27 votes, might not be too enamoured with the 103 people who voted TUSC. Some sources say that just 900 votes across the country gave the Tories their majority.

One thing is clear, we’ve not learned that lesson yet and we continue to allow the Fourth Estate to manipulate us with ease.  I’m not advocating blind obedience to a party line, especially when that line is as yet undecided; debate can be healthy, in the main, but I’m unconvinced that the current debate is being conducted in that vein.  We need to remember who the real enemy is and, however we may feel about them personally, that enemy is not to be found in the ranks of the Labour Shadow Cabinet.

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5 thoughts on “Limping Labour and the Lack of Leadership Lament”

  1. Welcome back, TGS!
    I’m assuming your glitches are fixed…..

    Lovely (al-) literation, there, if I may be so bold.

    I’m still not convinced by Burnham’s stance. Yes, he felt he had to do what he did in the interests of party unity; yes, he says he’ll do something more if he’s elected as leader (jam tomorrow?); but I still have a very sour taste in my mouth over all this.
    Obviously, it needn’t have happened at all if Harman had not done what she did; as a caretaker, she should have done her temporary job and oppose whatever the Tories threw at her for the duration. It’s not for long, after all; I feel very let down.

    I have a sneaking feeling that you and I may not agree about this – but although I agree the bigger enemy is the Tories and what they are doing, there are certain people on Labour’s front bench who are not too far away from some of those Tories.
    This issue is about social security. We already know that the shadow ministers agree with the closure of the ILF, they agree in principle with Universal Credit, they agree only that the WCA should be reformed but not that it should be abolished.

    There are way too many similarities for my liking, and it’s making me very uncomfortable about who will be the next leader and who will be in their cabinet – and most of all, whether I can still support Labour after the vote.

    We’ll have to wait and see.

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  2. No, problems still not fixed, but I can get on via public computers every now & then.

    Valid points you make. I held no great expectations that Harman would achieve much, the woman is Blairite to her core; and, yes, there are some on the front bench who are more than a tad to the right of the party, so I held no great expectations of them either. However (and, in Tim Fenton-style, this is a significantly sized however) neither of their candidates, Kendall and Cooper, are going to win this election so the movement away from Blairite New Labour will continue, even if the old monster attempted to breath new life into it yesterday.

    Cards on the table. I LIKE Corbyn and part of me would love to see him as leader; but equally I liked Michael Foot (partially for historical family reasons, my grandfather knew him) and Corbyn reminds me so much of him, to the point where I wonder if him winning would see a repeat of that time, with the right of the party splitting away to form a new party with the Lib Dem rump. Some might see that as a good thing, a chance to form a ‘proper’ left wing Labour party again, I suspect many who feel that are financially comfortable enough that they could weather the decade or so before electoral success became a realistic process again.

    So my vote will be going to Burnham who, to my mind, acquitted himself well with the health brief – his policies in the manifesto were spot on imo – and also has the ability to keep both sides of the party together and onside; with the changes made to the leadership election rules since 2010 he (and, to be fair, Corbyn) would not carry the baggage Miliband had to, the “union puppet, not voted for by party members” label. Corbyn does have my second preference vote.

    For deputy I’m plumping for Stella Creasy, largely because I think she talks a lot of sense but also partially because I simply don’t trust Tom Watson; Watson endlessly briefed against Ed, almost as much as Danczuk, and legitimized many of the baseless attacks promulgated by the media (especially the Observer). I’m not questioning the good work he is doing in the House on other matters, just his loyalty to anybody other than Tom Watson.

    I did say my initial post probably wouldn’t be popular. Guess I was right.

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  3. Greetings, TGS, Ephemerid213. Great blog addition with some salient points.
    It might be more engaging for voters if Labour focused more on people than on political strategy; Burnham’s last-minute clarification regarding his vote tactic left many Labour supporters hanging in mid-air and feeling very abandoned. There are many that feel his intent had more to do with his campaign for leader, than being transparent with the electorate about his position on matters vital to millions; the most he accomplished was to highlight the divide within the party and a scrum of leader candidates scrabbling for a top job. Where was any concern for the electorate in all of this, where was any focus on the people who will be most detrimentally affected by the Tory Welfare Bill? Burnham managed to make an early stance on his views on welfare, or social security if you prefer.
    At the beginning of June, the Independent reported that Burnham’s supported the Conservative’s plans to lower the level of the household benefits cap: the effect of this on millions already living below the breadline is not only bad social policy but bad economics on so many levels. Additionally, in defense of his stance he was quoted as saying that “people see Labour as being “soft on people who want something for nothing”.” —More divisive newspeak that divides the poor into categories of deserving and undeserving. As the good folk at benefits and work state: [more] “language of prejudice and division when it comes to benefits.” And note, I am not referring only to the ill and disabled, but the effects that benefit caps and reductions will have on millions of children -not merely the human cost, but the social and economic cost downstream as the consequences of enforced austerity are realised.
    I’m not a Labour supporter, as you may deduce from my comments; it doesn’t necessarily mean that Labour must be consigned to oblivion. But I do think that until Labour gets itself sorted out, and begins to put people first above political point-scoring, it is at sea without a rudder with lifeboats full of people who are counting on them to make the right decisions that will lead to everyone -not just a select, ‘deserving’ few- getting a glimpse of a safe shore on the horizon. I can’t see any other candidate who has this vision in mind, except Corbyn.
    Whatever happens between now and September with the Labour leader race is a matter between the candidates and their supporters, but there’s no time for swithering and prevarication, the Tories are coming fast and hard with policies that pale in comparison to Thatcher’s. The question is, does Labour represent the electorate or it it merely content with enabling a watered-down version of what the Tories think Britain should look like in a world where ‘those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter’?

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  4. This is all fascinating – as time goes on, hopefully the candidates will clarify what they actually stand for. Corbyn has done that, and his ideas are gaining traction.
    Maybe it’s me, but I’m still not entirely clear where Burnham’s coming from.

    I like him – he did well on Hillsborough especially. But on health – Circle springs to mind; he hasn’t been hard enough on the people who have blamed him for Mid-Staffs, and I would have liked to have seen him fight his corner as he is now tainted on the basis of no justification whatsoever. Hunt and the ghastly Julie Bailey and CTNHS have done immense damage, and sadly Burnham has not rebuffed this crapola hard enough. Mud sticks, however unfairly. Until he sorts this out, he’s going to be attacked by the Tories and the media.

    Burnham will be my second choice – and in fairness, he has conducted himself with a bit more fairness and dignity than Cooper and Kendall…..which isn’t difficult. Is he tough enough to oppose effectively? Perhaps the next few weeks will see him get his act together but for me, right now, he’s a bit “meh”.
    His baggage pales into insignificance when I look at Cooper. Her expenses and flipping was disgraceful; her introduction of ESA, the WCA, and Atos was possibly well-meaning at the time but given all that has happened since then she really should apologise for her mistake and for giftng IDS an open goal to abuse the sick; her dithering over what she thinks on a number of issues, including the “Corbyn effect” has given the impression that she’s thinking long and hard before she gives the response she thinks people want to hear – and that gives the impression she is unprincipled and will say anything to get the top job.
    Kendall is just a joke. She has support mainly from people in the PLP who I have little respect for – like Umunna.
    Cameron, for all his idiocy, would tear her to shreds at PMQs. He would – with justification – accuse her of agreeing with all his government’s policies and she would be no opposition at all.

    Corbyn is of the left, he has a lot of support, and he shouldn’t be under-estimated, IMHO. He is a good speaker, and I think he could make a good Opposition leader. If he is who the membership elects, I hope that the PLP will get behind him. A lot of them won’t, obviously – but if they don’t, it will be their fault if the party splits. What’s needed now is unity, whoever gets the job.
    Personally, I’d love to see a move towards the left. I do not think that it would make Labour un-electable. Labour lost a lot of voters to UKIP – which, oddly, has some left-ish ideas in its’ manifesto. I’m inclined to think that Corbyn could take a lot of people with him if he led the party to the left, and I think he could be effective in getting the word out regarding what the Tories are really up to. So far, Labour has failed to do this – and whilst I admire Ed Milband’s principled stance on not engaging with the insults etc. he went wrong by not defending Labour’s record strongly enough.

    I suspect that if Burnham wins, we won’t have much change on the front bench. That would be a shame. If Corbyn wins, Cooper’s off to the back benches as she’s said she will not serve in a Corbyn cabinet. Silly woman. The Tory press will crucify Corbyn if it can – the Telegraph has an article about his alleged reluctance to do anything about child abuse in Islington children’s homes. Risible crap from John Mann, but taken as gospel. We can expect a lot more of this – all the candidates will get a drubbing in the press, Corbyn most of all – but all that shows is how scared the right is of anyone who might upset the capitalist applecart.

    As the execrable NicholasB would say – we will see…..

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