Ed Balls for Shadow Chancellor

Labour Party

Good to see that Geoffrey Robinson, one of Ed Balls most prominent supporters, has endorsed David Miliband as second choice in the Labour Leadership election in this article in the Independent today.

Since we are reliably informed that Ed Balls knew Geoffrey Robinson was going to go public with this endorsement, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Ed (Balls) agrees with Geoffrey.  In other words, supporters of Ed Balls should put David Miliband as their second choice.   

As ballot papers go out to Labour Party members today, it’s becoming ever clearer that second preferences will count.  So, if you are one of those who absolutely must vote for Balls as number one, please do follow his wishes and put David Miliband as two.

Geoffrey Robinson also makes a strong pitch for Ed Balls to be Shadow Chancellor.

There is no doubt that Ed Balls is head and shoulders above any other possibility for this key role, so important in shaping future Labour policy and leading us to general election victory.  It was, after all, Ed Balls who devised the five tests for joining the Euro, for which he must be given credit, even though I personally was disappointed that the five tests kept Britain out of the Euro in the early years of Tony Blair’s government.

I met all the Leadership candidates on separate occasions when they came to talk to the EPLP during what has proved to be a very lengthy campaign .  Ed Balls demonstrated a strong intelligence and unrivalled grasp of economics, pointing to the obvious conclusion that he is the ideal person to be Shadow Chancellor.  Even his legendary toughness would, I believe, be an asset in the job.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Danny Alexander, economy, Miliband brothers

The weekend papers were dominated with op-ed pieces about the labour leadership election. The gloves are off and the papers are focussing on the Miliband brothers: “David hoped Ed wouldn’t stand. Instead he became his greatest rival”, was the Guardian’s headline yesterday. The other candidates have been all but forgotten as the same article’s stand first read: “Battle of the Milibands’ approaches its finale. But who will win?” 

Similarly today’s Sunday Mirror has an interview with both candidates. The quick fired questions put to them by the papers political editor, Vincent Moss provide great insight into where each brother is coming from.

His interview is the most revealing yet. It moves away from a simple comparison of the policies each are so passionate talking about and which you can read all about in the Guardian. Moss’ interviews however, delve much deeper into the brothers’ personalities – he asks each brother what they think of the other and if it’s true they haven’t spoken for some weeks. It’s the most revealing interview I’ve read throughout the entire campaign. You can read it here.

In other news, a reduction in the nation’s tax burden has been ruled out by the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, who revealed the news in his first national paper interview.

They will stay at this level for quite sometime he says, but as we already know the emergency tax budget in June hit the poorest worst. The country’s leading tax experts branded the budget in June as “clearly regressive.”

Another ‘charge’ of unfairness will hit the coalition government tomorrow when the centre for economics and business research report reveals that there will be an “agonising transition” for the north of England economy which estimates that one in 10 people will be unemployed in the north of England between 2010 and 2015. This compares with just 7% in the south-east and 8% in the south-west.

You can read Danny Alexander’s interview in today’s Observer here.

Congratulations to Jon Cruddas for supporting David Miliband

Labour Party

The decision of Jon Cruddas to support David Miliband for the leadership of the Labour Party is extraordinarily significant.

As well as being renowned for his idealism and identified with the left of the Party, Jon is one of our foremost thinkers.  I was very impressed when he addressed Labour MEPs during his bid for the Deputy Leadership.  Jon will be an asset for David as a policy adviser as well as strategist.

This is also good news for the Labour Party as a whole.  We are woefully short of MPs and others in senior positions who have any kind of intellectual credibility.  I would go as far as to say that one of Labour’s real problems is its lack of brainpower, its inability to truly understand and analyse world events is any kind of rounded way. Jon Cruddas is one of the very few who has the intellectual weight to fill some of this vacuum. David Miliband is, of course, another.

I am supporting David mainly because I believe he is the only one of the Leadership candidates who looks like a Prime Minister.  Prime Ministerial capability will, I am certain, be the key test in a general election, and I want Labour to win.

I also agree with David’s platform for the Leadership.

The following extract from David’s speech yesterday at the King Solomon Academy sets it out in detail:     

“The decision of the Lib Dems to join a Conservative Government creates a big opportunity for the Labour Party to realign the centre left of British politics. But for me, that’s not enough. I see the primary task for Labour as shifting the centre ground of British politics.

“That means more than an agenda for changing Labour.  It demands an agenda for changing Britain.

“And that agenda  – of Change for Britain – requires that we recognise that the greatest threat to the good society we seek is and will remain a Conservative Party determined to rule for a generation.

“To win again we need working class voters, middle class voters, Conservative voters, Lib Dem and non voters as we drive the Tories out of power.

“Labour helped shape [the] post war period of security and opportunity.  And a strong, renewed, reorganised Labour Party is vital to the future of our country today.

“Three times in 80 years, in 1931, 1951 and 1979, an exhausted Labour opposition allowed either blinkered or complacent Tory governments to make the wrong choices and misjudge the key issues of the day – about Depression and the need to fight fascism in the 1930s, about democratising the country and rebuilding Europe in the 1950s, about social division in the 1980s.

“We cannot allow that to happen again.  And that is why I am standing for the leadership.

 “I am asking you to help make this time different from the rest.

“Let’s write a new chapter that shows we are a party that doesn’t give in, doesn’t look inwards, doesn’t give up, doesn’t look backwards.

“Change our party with our eyes firmly fixed on change for our country.  Change to put power, wealth and opportunity into the hands of the many not the few.

“That is the change Britain needs.  That is the Britain we have to build.  And that is the Britain we must build together.”

This is not about retreating into a “New Labour Comfort Zone”. It’s about putting Labour values into practice – improving our schools so all children have an equal chance in life, ensuring the very best health care free at the point of use and implementing policies so that everyone has a job.

This is why I will vote for David Miliband when the ballot papers are sent out next week.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round Up

Conservative, David Cameron


Today’s Observer has an extended feature in today’s main section by Anushka Asthana and Rafael Behr examining the first three months of the coalition government which if you haven’t read it yet you can do so  here.

The piece acknowledges the mistakes and setbacks but argues that legislation it has already passed will significantly change our lives. In the Labour Party I feel the last three months has been a quiet period of reflection. And now we are ready to fight once again. Once our new leader is in place the party will undoubtedly have a new, positive and clear direction.

The big news this week has been the decision by the Culture Secretary to close the UK Film Council. This is one of the country’s strongest growth industries, and for every £1 it spends it sees a return of £5 at the box office, this alone indicates that it’s not a charity or an organisation which just drains the economy of money. In fact it’s quite the reverse and there is a real return on investment.

I hope that we can put enough pressure on the government to re consider its decision and those involved directly or indirectly in the industry can save this organisation in some form. If you missed the story here is a piece from the ITN website which shows the feeling of Liam Neeson who is as outraged as many of the rest of us are.

David Cameron has acted naively and caused a full-scale diplomatic row after comments he made about Pakistan’s alleged links with terrorism earlier this week, upset the country.

A planned counter terrorism summit was cancelled after Pakistan’s intelligence officials said they would boycott the summit.

Today, David Miliband wrote a comment piece in the Independent and made a crucial point which was that Cameron would have been far better to discuss the ways in which we can support Pakistan. Miliband said: ‘Like a cuttlefish squirting out ink, his words were copious and created a mess.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself. You can read his article in full here.

My most recent interview for “The Record Europe” who also talked to David Miliband

Labour Party

I recently appeared on the BBC Record Europe  talking about discrimination in the film industry against older female actors, a topic I blogged about last week.

Please click here if you would like to watch the Record Europe

Unfortunately it is not possible to put the video up directly on this blog and also that those of you outside the UK may not be able to access it.

It was, I have to admit, rather pleasing to see that my nominee for the Labour leadership, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Miliband, was interviewed by Shirin Wheeler directly after me.  David had been in Brussels talking to Labour MEPs, making a strong pitch for his election as leader.  I believe David will win the leadership ballot.  He will be a strong leader to fight the Con-Dem Coalition and win the next general election.

Submitting my Supporting Nomination for David Miliband

Labour Party

I sent my supporting nomination for David Miliband to the Labour Party yesterday afternoon.  Catching up with my blog surfing later in the day, I came across this excellent blog post from Tom Harris MP on why David Miliband is the only Labour leadership candidate the Tories fear.

Tom’s main argument is:

“This isn’t about which candidate we, as party members, feel most comfortable with. It’s not even about which candidate has the best policies; there are processes in place for deciding the party’s programme.

It is not about making us feel good as party members. And it’s certainly not about being comfortable about, or even remotely acquiescent in, choosing someone who will lead us to a noble defeat. That would be a betrayal of our party and our country.

It’s about winning the next election.”

David is the only one of the five candidates who has the credibilty to lead us to victory.  Unlike my younger readers, I remember the 1980s and have very strong memories of opposition.  Not only is opposition, ie not being in power, extremely frustrating as we cannot put our values into practice, it also has the potential to be extremely divisive.

Labour was out of power from 1979 to 1997 to a large extent because we all fell out with each other.  We had the soft left, the Trotskyist left, the Militant Tendency, the Labour Co-ordinating Committee, the right wing, etcetera.  More damaging than the plethora of labels was the poisonous atmosphere of hate, destruction and general lack of trust.

Since my involvement in London Labour politics began in 1976 I was there when all of this took place.  And I never want to go through it again.

It’s for these powerful reasons that I am grateful that this leadership contest has so far been good natured, constructive and conducted in a fair and reasonable fashion.  Let’s keep it that way.  We want to be back in govenment not in 18 years time but at the next general election with David Miliband as our Prime Minister.

A Message from David Miliband

Labour Party

I am putting this letter from David Miliband on my blog as it’s important that as many Labour Party members as possible see it.  Please do read David’s message and circulate it as widely as you possibly can. 

David is saying:

“It’s a privilege and an honour to be nominated as a candidate for the leadership of the Party I love.

Yes I’d like your vote. But I’m not writing about that today – this is about something bigger.

 I’m writing to ask you to join me on a journey to examine, redefine and rebuild our Party. Because to be frank – I need you.

 Robin Cook was exactly right when he said that “Political parties do not achieve renewal by shuffling staff in their Leader’s office, but by changing the culture, priorities and direction of the organisation.”

 And I believe that the change we need can only happen if each of us come together to rebuild our Party from the grassroots up.

 So I come to you with a single and simple request. To ask you to join me in our campaign to rebuild our Party:


 For too long Labour has failed its members. We’ve hidden you away in the shadows – when you should’ve been the heart and soul of our movement.

 This cannot and should not go on. By coming together I believe we can unite every part of our Party.

 Together we’ll guarantee that members have a central role in Labour – and the first step towards that is an elected Party Chair.

 We’ll fight the Tories tooth and nail as they try to gerrymander the political system including our link to the Unions.  We’ll rebuild, with 1000 future leaders across the length and breadth of Britain trained in community organising, and we’ll double our membership.

 We’ll reinforce the vital role that local elected representatives play by welcoming the Leader of Labour’s Councillors to the Shadow Cabinet.  And we’ll make sure that Scotland and Wales have an active role in the NEC.

 But I don’t want our Party to just be a reflection of my ideas – I want it to be a reflection of yours.

 The first step in that conversation is joining me in our campaign to rebuild our Party:


 I know that the road ahead is difficult. But we need to change politics not just policy. Dialogue not deals is the key to our future.

 Throughout my adult life, Labour has given me so much. It is truly humbling to be considered as Leader. But this campaign means more to me than that.

 Win or lose I want this campaign to leave a lasting legacy that defines where our Party goes in the next few years – and that means putting you at the heart of our movement.

 We cannot wait for someone else, somewhere else to fix our Party – it’s up to me and you. And we don’t have a moment to waste.

 Please join our campaign to rebuild our Party now:


 I believe I have the values and vision to inspire our movement to dream of a better future.  I believe that I have the character and judgement to turn those dreams into reality. I want Labour to win again. I believe we can.

 And I want to do it, with you, together.

Thank you for your time.

David Miliband”


David Miliband – EPLP Leader should sit in the Shadow Cabinet

Labour Party

Speaking to the European Parliamentary Labour Party yesterday, David Miliband, frontrunner in Labour’s leadership contest, told Labour MEPs that he believes the EPLP Leader should sit in the Shadow Cabinet team. 

David wants to bring European matters closer to our politics at home. European issues deserve a strong voice in Brussels inside Labour’s Shadow Cabinet team. Having the EPLP Leader in the Shadow Cabinet also sends a signal to the wider movement – from the shadow cabinet to our CLPs and activists – that Labour is a party that wants to lead in a strong, outward-looking European Union.

David argued strongly that it is important for Labour to listen and engage on Europe. British engagement can see us leading and supporting an agenda of economic reform and social justice at home and hard-headed internationalism abroad.

We need to put to one side institutional squabbles and focus on the substantive issues facing the EU.  With a strong EU we can achieve more on climate change, energy security and international crime. Leading in Europe we can further our foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, on Iran, Pakistan and Russia.  As far as economic policy is concerned, we need a Europe-wide growth strategy not competitive austerity.

It will be no good at all for the British Prime Minister to be sitting in the corridor at the forthcoming European Council while the other heads of Government, all of whom occupy places in the centre of European politics, make the real decisions and invite him in afterwards for the toast.

However, whether the Tories move back to the centre of politics in Europe is ultimately a matter for them.

I am supporting David Miliband principally because I believe he is the best candidate to win the next general election for Labour.  I am also pleased that he is so positive about Europe and about the importance of Labour MEPs.

David Miliband for Labour Leader

Labour Party

I am supporting David Miliband for Leader of the Labour Party.  As an MEP I can make a supporting nomination and will vote in the MPs section of the electoral college.

David has the right experience to lead the Labour Party at the present time.  As a former Foreign Secretary he understands  government at the highest level.  Since our task is to win the next election so that we can get rid of the Tories (and the Lib-Dems if they last that long) and govern according to Labour values, it is of the utmost importance to have a leader with first-hand knowledge of governing the country.  David is, I believe, the best candidate to take us to victory next time.

As a MEP I have met with the candidates, seen them give speeches, worked with them on policy and have had a chance to assess their qualities (I’m pictured here with David at a Westminster North CLP fundraiser). Labour is fortunate that we have several talented candidates, and for me David Miliand is the most able. We must also not forget that the Labour Party is the selectorate and we need a Leader who can relate to the wider electorate. On the doorsteps from my campaigning experience David is widely admired and respected by people. Of all those standing he is the one who voters have given me the most positive feedback about. I think it is important the Labour Party selects a candidate who relates well to the electorate.

One of the other main reasons I will vote for David is that rights for women is one of the key planks of his campaign.  He is committed to  looking at the issues preventing women from entering politics and break down those barriers so that women see it as a job for them, a job which suits their lifestyle and their ambitions.  He also admits that  the long hours culture of the Commons and the adversarial, combative style of Westminster politics are often off-putting as well as the relentless scrutiny of family circumstances which many women are not prepared to expose to the public glare.

It’s up to the women in the Party to build on David’s clear commitment to women’s rights.  The next Labour Government should put women at the forefront of its policy programme.  We must be aiming for improvements in childcare and maternity and paternity leave and pay, to name but a few key matters, especially since many of the gains made for women will be eroded under the Con-Lib-Dem Coalition.

In the absence of a credible woman who will get the requisite number of nominations to stand as Labour Leader, David Miliband is the candidate who will do the most for women.

As many of you will know, I did not support the war in Iraq and was vocal at the time in my opposition.  However, I believe we should now move on from this stain on our record and look to the future.  David Miliband is the man for the future, the person I believe will be our next leader.

I am pleased that the contest so far appears to be friendly, conducted on the basis of reasoned argument.  This must continue.  We must, at all costs, avoid a return to the internecine strife of the 1980s which kept us out of power for 18 years.  Once the Con-Dems honeymoon is over and their public expenditure cuts realy start to bite, I believe people will return to Labour, a Labour Party with David Miliband at its head.

Helping Karen Buck fight the Ashcroft millions

Labour Party

It is an annual pleasure to attend Westminster North MP Karen Buck’s magnificent fundraising dinner.  It has found a spiritual home at the Phoenix Palace restaurant in Marylebone. Word has spread far and wide and tickets sold out weeks ago. Karen commends a strong personal loyalty from both activists and constituents.

Arriving early I had the opportunity to catch up on City Hall affairs from London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi.  Murad and I are pictured with Camden Labour activist Diana Broad and my partner Chris Underwood.

Guest speaker, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, gave us a rousing speech with his trademark stringent intellectual analysis.  David’s contention that there are three myths we need to rebut – that Labour is going backwards, that there are no great causes left and that the Tories have changed – resonated with his audience.  I certainly know from my own experience in Europe that the Tories are still the hard right nasty party and that there are more than enough great challenges, reducing poverty and improving education to name but two.  It is also nonsense to believe that Labour is doing anything other than progressing, as the Prime Minister’s support for the Robin Hood tax shows.

The event was again compered by Mathew – I’m going to tell you lots of funny stories about Joanne “Cash for Questions” – Taylor.  Mathew is gaining such a reputation for being very good at doing this sort of thing that he’s now in demand by Labour Parties across London.  A special thanks was also given to Helen Hegarty who organised the whole show as she also did last year.  Helen did a fantastic job in ensuring everything ran smoothly- no mean feat with 150 guests and a celebrity speaker.  My personal thanks to the Phoenix Palace restaurant who put on their customary excellent spread.   

Karen rounded off the evening with a call to all of us to campaign as hard as we can, or even harder if we can manage it.  We know now that Labour has a strong fighting chance and it’s up to us to make sure Labour is returned to govenment in a few months time.  Karen is one of the most respected and highly regarded MPs in London and, I suspect, in the country as a whole.

Tributes were paid to Karen during the evening, in particular from three local government colleagues, Paul Dimoldenburg, Leader of the Labour Group on Westminster Council, Jane Roberts, former Leader of Camden Council and Lambeth Councillor Florence Nosegbe.  They will,of course, be candidates on the London Borogh elections due on 6 May.

We owe it to all our Labour councillors, to Ka ren and to the Labour Party to do everything we possibly can to make sure Labour gets back into government and wins for Labour in London.  The Tories may have Lord Ashcroft’s millions.  We have something far stronger – a real belief in our policies and our government and the will to win.