I always enjoy the uncompromising leftist views of John Harris (though he seems most uncompromising with the facts of fiscal arithmetic.
He’s not bad doing telly either. Here in this video he follows a disappointed Labour voter, and a pre-election David Miliband, round South Shields. The DLV followed this up with a Cif Piece explaining why he can’t be a Labour voter any more.
Miliband’s stance is a sign that “next Labour” must be willing to change. Is it? Or is it more likely that the uneasy alliance between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats has presented just another rebranding opportunity for a party still driven by spin? Timing is crucial, but so is integrity, more so in the post-expenses scandal era, something Miliband survived relatively unscathed. He has the support of the majority of his constituency. But will he be able to convince the rest of his party and the public at large that he can turn Labour around?
What isn’t clear to me is what ‘turns Labour around’ means. There is a lot of stuff about reconnecting (which Chris does a wonderful job on). But two big themes of the video seem to clash, in my view. They are:
- the DLV and his wife both depend on the public sector. He ‘is a lecturer in media &cultural studies’. She, a management consultant on a public contract in the pension industry. Both are worried that (because Spending Minus Revenues >#150bn) public spending might be cut
- South Shields doesn’t make anything any more. Asda is their pride and joy.
Forgive me, and I don’t want to sound snide, but if I were a rightwinger sceptical of government spending, I would be ranting on my blog about how Labour has let the country go to rack and ruin, because instead of supporting manufacturing in some unspecified way, they’ve been lining the pockets of their ‘clients’ who do jobs like media studies and management consultancy. Something doesn’t add up; is Rob suggesting that South Shields can entirely and sustainably regenerate itself on his sort of job? Where does JH think the revenues will ultimately come from?
My other impression from the video is how DM comes across: wonkish, yes, but human, at ease with people, quite natural. The attempt to spin this video as “Miliband doesn’t even recognise his constituency” – the reason I went to watch it – doesn’t wash for me, and seems a little underhand.
My final observation is: if there are a bunch of Labour voters who have been turned off Labour because they have accepted the need for fiscal cuts in the face of a permanently lower state income to fund spending, where will they turn? I don’t think there is a ‘Deny the Reality of Fiscal Mathematics’ party out there – which suggests to me that they may just return to Labour. A bit dispiriting.