A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

How about a mea culpa?

Earlier this week both Jackie Ashley and Polly Toynbee issued calls for the PM to step down. These two Guardian columnists have undergone a complete about turn having previously been the cheerleaders for ditching Tony Blair and replacing him with Brown.

I didn't share their judgement then and I don't share their judgement now.

What I haven't heard from either is a mea culpa for their previous views. Both their columns should carry the warning "I reserve my right to completely change my mind within 12 months, please don't take seriously anything I write, because my own retrospective verdict on my punditry is that I was completely wrong, so I'm quite likely to disown the opinions expressed here in 12 months too."

This week Toynbee tried to claim there was a Cabinet split between "Triangulators" and "Progressives". Quite apart from the mischieviousness of trying to conjure up imaginery divisions, politics isn't that simple. Many potential Labour voters would favour centrist policies on some issues and more leftwing ones on others. Some swing voters have quite leftwing views on certain issues whereas lots of our working class core vote have views that go beyond triangulation and Toynbee would call  plain rightwing on crime/immigration/security.

Similarly I would guess that most Cabinet members would be in different places on different issues and quite difficult to place in Toynbee's binary divide.

Finally many policies she would write off as triangulation are both popular with the poorest voters and arguably very progressive e.g. Welfare-to-work as a mechanism for breaking a cycle of poverty/dependency.


Anonymous David Floyd said...

Well, I agree that Toynbee and Ashley's failure to predict that Brown's limitations as a political operator - demonstrated time after time during his period as chancellor - would not suddenly evaporate when he got the top job hardly seems like top draw political analysis.

I also find the idea of a meaningful cabinet split along policy or ideological lines slightly far-fetched.

When I was doing bits of journalism, politicians generally went out of their way to hint that their views were a bit closer to mine than they appeared to be in public. This didn't mean anything very much, although it was quite funny.

In reality, I think the cabinet is more likely to be split between a 'still scared of Gordon' faction, a 'scared of losing my seat' faction and a 'just generally scared' faction.

6:14 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Simon K said...

There was a certain amount of mea culpa in this article from Ashley back in May.

6:20 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the facts change then you change your opinion.

Is that really so surprising?

Both have got no reason to switch dramatically.

The reason why they switched was as they have explained.

Brown has proved such a dysfunctional autistic misfit with such a poor grasp of language and idea that it would have been bizarre to call it otherwise.

8:46 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Dirty Euro said...

I am sorry to say but as a labour loyalist I have given up on the guardian. The paper is rubbish now. They cause more problems for the party than many right wing papers. OK in the london elections they were OK But nationally they are a waste of space, and as a with the milliband issue seem to be a major instigator of problmes ofr the party.
It seems virtually all their columnists have given up on the leader within 8 months.

8:50 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Dirty Euro said...

"dysfunctional autistic misfit with such a poor grasp of language" So in other words they fell for deeply offensive and insulting tory propaganda about him.

8:51 pm, July 31, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Jackie Ashley's last column stated that she had been wrong.

However, in both cases, I think the hope was that Brown would recognise that the NL formula had reached the end of its useful life and a different approach was needed. Instead, there has been a mixture of mistakes, short-term panic, and continuation of the things that had started to fail eg PFI

Brown is just not capable of doing what is needed as PM. I think his style and skill base just don't augur well. Too much of a detail man. Too depressing and dour. No connection with people. If the policies were working all that might be able to be overlooked - the problem is that in a time of depression, Brown makes you feel worse. What is needed is someone who has the ability to inspire without sounding complacent.

9:08 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rate Jackie Ashley as a journalist and political commentator, but you are right about Polly Toynbee,

More to the point the cheerleaders for her in organisations like Compass need to remember she was a leading of the SDP, so she should be persona non grata.

9:17 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Dirty Euro said...

I dissagree President Bush is hardly a misery he a drunken joker and it has not dumb him any good. This is just mid term blues give the PM until next year if the surveys stay the same OK but otherwise no way, it is just panic.

9:53 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I know lets slate every paper that says a bad word about labour, that way we can ignore all th bad press and win the next election. Mmmmhh that will work really it will.

Can I remind you at the very most you have 21 months before the next general election. Do you think Brown can win....Cameron wants Brown to stay trust me.

Why did anyone think that Brown would be any good as pm. Why is so bad that Milliband is willing to challenge Brown...didn't Brown undermine Blair. I think this is Karma coming down on Brown for the problems he caused Blair

10:27 pm, July 31, 2008

Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Whatever next, Bob Marshall Andrews will be giving lectures on loyalty!

10:48 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Oxbridge Prat said...

Hilarious new poll in the Telegraph: essentially Labour's only hope is to bring Blair back. Enjoy.

10:57 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup - I'am not the only Labour Party Member to stop buying the Graniuad.

Its worse than the Independant for confusing opinion and fact.

If i want stupid stereotyped oppinion I read the Mail. If I want accurate facts I will read the Torygraph.

In no case will I waste my money on the "Social Workers" collective rant.


11:43 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how well Miliband has taken the pressure from his Guardian memo.

Granted, Marshal-Andrews and the other one, whose name I forget, have proven useful idiots.

But Mili is fluent in English. Fuck me, he smiles. He's got teeth: I've seen him on one or two occasions go after sloppy interviewers.

Dave and George are ripe for a kicking. Take them out and there isn't much else,

11:49 pm, July 31, 2008

Blogger Dave Brinson said...

"Whatever next, Bob Marshall Andrews will be giving lectures on loyalty!"

For all his rebellions, Bob Marshall-Andrews was one of the few members of the Campaign Group who backed Brown instead of McDonnell...

11:58 pm, July 31, 2008

Anonymous Mrs Jones said...

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a livid midband
a midband livid
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divan midi bald
i midband valid
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livid diam band
livid dib adman
livid dib daman
livid id badman
livid maid band
livid midband a
mad bid invalid
mad bindi valid

I;ve got plenty more, when the anagram is broken down into four or more words. If you want ... that is.

4:31 am, August 01, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

I think I speak for everyone, regardless of political affiliation, in saying that won't be necessary.

11:59 am, August 01, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Does making the sick and infirm work too sound like it would be popular with progressives?

I am sure there are some people who are more than capable of working but chose not to, but just the thought of the injustice of making a genuinely ill people work whilst they are in pain is enough for me not to back this.

Surely the checking up of people on benefit is likely to cost us more to investigate?
Also the event of a monumental government cock up is also likely.

I've got a better idea why not tax better off people a little more and pursue rich tax dodgers in the same way we want to catch the poor?

12:24 pm, August 01, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

Are you in the wrong Party Luke ? Labour have quadrupled immigration gone soft on crime and increased welfare dependency as fast as they can. I notice that Milliband was on the left of the divide by the way , did you ?

How about a mea culpa from you !! Perhaps you just fell in with the wrong sort?

3:00 pm, August 01, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I think forcing the long term unemployed to work is a good thing as long as the work provided is useful in getting them long term employment. I think it is a good thing because no one wins if someone is out of work for a long time, the biggest loser being the unemployed.

What labour should do is tier benefits like they do in the Nederlands. For those who have paid in to the system for 5 years or more, they should get a % of their last salary. This stops them being thrown into poverty the moment they lose their job. After twelve months benefits should be cut to the bare minimum. For those who can't work bcause of physical or mental problems then these people also should receive more then they are currently getting.

We have to get back to the principles of the welfare state and remember it should not be used to support those people who do not wish to support themselves. The National Insuranc System was designed for protect workers from periods of unemployment and ill health and not as a means to support those who can't be bothered to work. At the moment the system does niether.

This is as much as about changing peoples attitude to work as it has with government policy.

9:18 pm, August 01, 2008


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