Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)
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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Weedy Ed's sour grapes (Labour leadership #2)

This is aimed at Mr Edward Miliband who, according to the Guardian, thinks the Liberal Democrats have
... been "betrayed" by their party's coalition with the Conservatives
He thinks ...
The coalition ... had not happened "by accident"
No. We know it didn't happen 'by accident', and there are a lot of reasons why.

The existing coalition was forced/precipitated by Mr Brown. He was the one who'd told us all that he had the right to form a government, because he was Prime Minister and because it said so in the constitution - the same constitution Mr Straw had been telling us we didn't have. Mr Brown had eighteen days, an unusual length of time to try to make a deal, but it didn't seem to be working out and he made what appeared to be a sudden, late in the day, decision to tell the Queen he could not form a government.

We've seen the pictures, we've seen who he was with at the time, and we've read the reports telling us what he/your party/Campbell/Mandelson wanted us to know and it seems he made his decision because talks about forming a 'rainbow coalition' with the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid etc weren't working out the way he/you/your negotiators wanted.

By scurrying off to the Palace he left the other parties with no choice. Mr Cameron, as the leader of the political party that won the most seats, HAD TO go to the Queen and say he would try to form a government. He had no choice, those were/are the rules – it's in the constitution, because the country is not allowed to not have a government for more than an hour or so.

Just think, Mr Edward Miliband, your party could have done a deal with the Conservatives and had a massive combined parliamentary majority. All it needed was a bit of wheeling and dealing. A bit of give and take and, who knows, you could have been in control of this country almost for ever. Imagine all those lovely new laws you could have made!

But no, you didn't think of that because people in the Labour Party hate the Tories, you hate people who might be Tories, and also hate making deals where you might have to make concessions. You want the upper hand, all the time – so you would never have approached those who had more votes and try to form a government with them. Frankly, it wouldn't have even crossed the mind of anybody in your party.

So, for the next few years your job is to be active in OPPOSITION. It is your party's job to, if necessary, try to rein in the coalition government if they try to take things too far and it's your job to try to negotiate, to fine tune bits of legislation so you get a little bit of your own way – and then you can tell the media how wonderful you are.

Trouble is, you haven't a clue how that works, have you?

You see, during the thirteen long years your party was in government you could do whatever you wanted, because Labour had a large enough majority to push through almost any legislation it chose - and you did. And you called the other parties names, said what bad things they might have done, but you didn't know for sure because although they were in opposition they didn't have enough parliamentary seats to be able to actively oppose anything and couldn't negotiate deals because you wouldn't let them – because your lot knew what was the best for the country and did exactly what you wanted. It was like letting a bunch of five year olds loose in a sweet shop.

The Tories, in the meantime, got themselves ready for being in government, because they knew that with the two-party system their turn would come. But it didn't work out that way, because we voters are fickle and unpredictable creatures, and we didn't want any party to have absolute power. So they had to make compromises, and so did the Lib Dems whose policies, to be honest, had almost as many holes as a sieve - but they meant well, and didn't imagine they'd ever have to see their ideas through to completion. But that's what's happening - with compromises and with concessions on both sides.

And you don't like it do you? You don't think it's fair. You don't think it's fair because you didn't win, and you're bad losers.

Ask yourself a question. Ask yourself why this happened and see if you draw the same conclusions as we Rigbys.

We think it happened because the election campaign, for Labour at least, started months ago. Public money was used to tour the country and 'electioneer' by telling everybody how wonderful you all were. Trouble was, you didn't bother speaking to ordinary folk, you only spoke to party activists and unionists who patted you on the head and smiled at you, said you were lovely - and they lapped up all the anti-Tory and, to some extent, anti-Liberal guff you were spewing out. There were no proper policy proposals, all we pleb voters heard was name-calling. It carried on too, and affected the ethos of the 'proper' electioneering and influenced those televised 'debates' which weren't debates at all.

And your real electioneering showed us all just how impoverished your party really is, how little money you have in the coffers and why you hate people such as that Tory donor - because you were jealous, because couldn't have his money and thought it should be yours. The moment Labour had to pay its own bills all the fancy jets, all the chauffeurs and limousines and police outriders vanished - to be replaced by minibuses and coaches and, sometimes, the front half of a regular train that you commandeered all to yourselves. And even then you didn't care about all the other people who'd bought tickets to travel. You were all much too important to even notice them.

The election campaigns left us ordinary people with difficult choices. Those who were 'floating voters' had a tough time making up our minds, because we didn't know what we were voting for. The one thing we did know was that we didn't want your lot to stay in government any longer, and the result showed just that – it showed that the country couldn't decide which party to put in government, although it most certainly put Labour out of office. We'd had enough.

We knew that your party's manifesto promises might as well have been written on rice paper - they were worthless, and tasteless too. We knew that your party was happy to break manifesto commitments if it suited you. We knew that members of your party were willing to lie to both enquiries and parliament, and we knew that your party would happily ignore ECHR rulings it didn't like and you did it, as one minister said, “To protect us from ourselves.” (and from all those horrible terrorists)

No amount of spinning and weaving stories will change the election result. Labour came second, and a poor second too. The party did not get enough seats to be able to form a viable coalition with the party that came third - maybe all the boundary changes were a bit of a mistake after all, because sometimes, just sometimes, you need friends.

And now? You're still bleating, and blaming the other guys for not being in your gang, and you're trying to split their party down the middle – because maybe you think it'll help you win. Win what? Mrs R isn't quite sure.

Frankly, their political party is nothing to do with you! How your political opponents organise themselves is none of your business - and it isn't good form to blatantly try to steal people from another party by telling them they're unhappy. Anyhow, it's pointless because ... let's say it again ... Labour is in OPPOSITION.

It's time to stop posturing, time to stop whining, time to stop moaning about the other chaps and time to start looking at your own party, your own policies and your own mistakes.

Once you can truly and honestly admit your party's mistakes, admit that the electorate doesn't really like you, then you can move forward and start to try winning the hearts and minds of those you alienated – the Mrs Duffys of Britain. All the ordinary folk who you brushed aside, along with the factory closures and jobs that were outsourced to India when you were looking, and who you called racist or xenophobic when they complained.

Mr Edward Miliband, you said in your interview that you and your brother never fought as children because
"I think we were too weedy for that. It wasn't really our style,"
Maybe that was when you learned to blame somebody else for your own mistakes, instead of learning to fight either physical or mental battles that you would either win or lose. Maybe that was when you, and those like you, failed to learn to be good losers, when you failed to learn that acknowledging a victor and being humble in defeat can be as powerful a thing as winning, because it shows the true character of the individual.

Mr Miliband, if you truly want to lead the Labour Party, then admitting to being 'weedy' might not have been the smartest thing to do, because the Labour Party needs a person with courage and integrity. It needs it because the party is in tatters, it's lost the plot and it's lost its' way. All you have are 'the faithful' and the Unions. The same Unions who are currently ruining people's long-planned holidays, because they want their travel perks - and it's alienating the electorate. Your media friends will help you all they can, but it's the ordinary people of the country you need to convince - and we will take a lot of convincing.

Our memories seem to be much longer, and more accurate, than yours.
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4 comments:

John R said...

Horray!!

It's a real shame there's no way to tie him down, pin his eyelids open and force him to read this. Oh, hang on, that might help them start to recover...forget it.

Hooray anyway.

opsimath said...

A fine piece, Mrs Rigby - thank you for your clarity of thought and your eloquence.

Mrs Rigby said...

@ John R

No, there's no chance he'll ever read it, not really ... and if he did he probably wouldn't believe it.

Thanks

Mrs Rigby said...

@ opsimath

Yikes, that's me blushing! And thank you too, for your kind comment.