Ed Miliband at Labour Party Conference

Labour Party

Here’s the third and last of the videos from the London Labour Party reception at Labour’s Conference in Manchester earlier this year. Ken Livingstone is available here, and Harriet Harman here. After the formal announcement of the Leadership election result Ed was due to speak at the London Labour Party reception. Hundreds of people piled into the room in anticipation. The demands of the media meant that Ed was diverted to do interviews.

The room eased a little, but as soon as Ed arrived after a little delay the room was the place to be. The fervour at the beginning of the meeting shows how keenly Ed’s speech was anticipated. The video is just over 6 minutes long and covers, Ken, Harriet and London of course.

David Miliband talks Sense on the Alternative Vote

Labour Party

As you know I am a supporter of changing our outdated first past the post voting system to something more proportional and fairer.  I therefore think it’s a good idea to have a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) system.  I am, however, totally opposed to the Coalition’s proposal to reduce the number of House of Commons seats to 600, which I, along with many others,  view as gerrymandering for the benefit of the Tories.  Putting the AV referendum and reducing the number of seats in one bill is quite shocking, a blatant bribe to get Lib-Dem MPs to vote for the reduction in seats.

Steve Richards excellent interview with David Miliband in the Independent newspaper (the whole piece is worth reading) says it all:

“Labour’s possible next leader has a direct message for Nick Clegg on electoral reform: “I am strongly in favour of the Alternative Vote, but if the Liberal Democrats want AV they are going about it very oddly. Let us be clear. They need Labour to be in favour of it, yet they support a package that includes other constitutional changes being rushed through to help the Conservatives. It’s student politics and not clever politics. If Liberal Democrats want electoral reform they should think very carefully about supporting amendments to the legislation that we are putting forward. Remember we want AV to succeed and there are Tories who oppose electoral reform who are rubbing their hands about the way the Liberal Democrats have gone about this … if we want AV, which I do, we have to find a way around this.”

My thoughts exactly and demonstrates why David Miliband is the best candidate to lead the Labour Party.

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.

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.

Why are there not more MPs, MEPs and elected representatives using new media?

Labour Party

I don’t often post about using the web, being web-savvy to use the jargon.  However, I was inspired to write something today by this excellent post on LabourList

 As a web user – blogger and Twitterer with a serious Facebook operation – I believe strongly in the power of the new media. 

 There were two main reasons why I started blogging almost three years ago.

  •  to reach both constituents and Labour Party members in London.  The regional system of representation introduced in 1999 made MEPs remote, some would say even more remote, from their electors and the activists and members of their political parties.  New media offered a solution.  Meeting your MEP online may not be quite the same as doing it in person and it certainly doesn’t get the reach of traditional media, especially TV and radio, but it does work.  My thanks to all those who read the blog, follow me on Facebook and look at my tweets.
  •  to provide news and views on what happens in the European Parliament and the EU in general as well as politics more generally.  Since a large part of the written media in the UK is anti-EU, much of the news reflects that particular perspective.  Perhaps more worrying is the general lack of interest in EU matters across the board, both in the press and the broadcast media.  My blog seeks to fill some of those gaps, albeit in a very small way.

 New media has most definitely arrived.  The Labour Leadership candidates are using websites, blogs and Twitter with varying degrees of success.  Harriet Harman made full use of new media in her successful campaign to become Deputy Leader.  My only real question is why don’t more elected representatives make use of what can be a very useful tool?

I’d be genuinely interested in your views.