The Labour record is stuck on high taxation, backed by Mr Miliband

It comes as no surprise today to see a poll telling us that David Miliband would be no more successful against David Cameron than Gordon Brown. The problem is primarily economic. Mr Miliband has not put forward an alternative, is not a critic of the PM’s over his poor handling of the economy, and offers no reassurance to the British public that a government under his leadership would change things for the better.

When John Major was in a similar position to Gordon Brown, with the two Michaels (Heseltine and Portillo) widely tipped for his crown and endless speculation about their possible leadership bids, John Major told all of us in Cabinet to put up or shut up. I felt obliged to resign and take the argument to the country that I had been waging for years against his economic stewardship – as a fierce opponent of the ERM, the higher taxes he imposed and the failure to curb public spending. I had been putting (in confidence within government) a consistent alternative and felt I could not “shut up”. Major’s device stopped the two Michaels from prosecuting their leadership ambitions at that stage, and sealed their fate never to lead the party. Unfortunately John Major did not listen to the need for an alternative economic strategy, so that also sealed his.

Gordon Brown would be less at risk of a challenge if he tried what John Major successfully executed as a personal survival strategy as Leader. David Milliband would not run. He would not be able to show he had consistently opposed the mistaken economic policy the government has pursued. I find myself in agreement with both the government spin machine and the official Conservative one that David Miliband is neither the answer to Labour’s problems nor to the country’s. It shows a complete lack of political judgement to allow the story to emerge that Alan Milburn would be his Chancellor. That is no way to win more hearts and minds for a Leadership bid in the left inclining Labour party. It shows a lack of political maturity for someone to be counting so many chickens so soon.

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7 Comments

  1. David Gerard
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Oh, I dunno. I think Labour still has hope of picking a winner for the top job. (Or not.)

  2. Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I share your view of Miliband. His total contribution to government policy seems to be to call for a stirring arousal of the masses by producing more Green taxes & fewer bin collections. I just heard on the radio that he has announced that Russia’s war against Georgia was against international law – a position on which it would have been tactically wiser to remain silent bearing in mind our war against Yugoslavia.

    Perhaps Brown’s refusal to censure him is because he demonstrates that, for all his manifest faults, Brown is far & away the best PM Labour have on offer.

  3. Posted August 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh my god I wasn’t going to make a comment on that wonderful post Mr Redwood until you mentioned the ERM. A pet political hate in everyone’s book of course and how we ended up in it heaven knows. I blamed the back room boys personally although I’m without a clue who finally placed that nail in the UK coffin but I have what’s called intuition and the names Lawson, Lamont, Howe and Heseltine spring to mind ! I don’t know, I’m guessing again, but maybe Mr Major was persuaded by the gang of Euroleeches into signing up for it but sort of guessed himself that if it failed that he’d not be in the frame for it who knows.

    I did want to get to the point here however and declare my suggestion that people should read Margaret Thatchers archives which has a little to say about it along with independence of the Bank of England and who was actually to blame for Black Friday.

    Here’s an extract:

    http://www.margaretthatcher.org/archive/foi-uk.asp

    The ejection of sterling from the European Union’s Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992 was an event of fundamental significance for British politics. The Treasury released documents analysing the debacle on the request of the Financial Times. The timing of the request – months before a General Election – guaranteed controversy, compounded when sections of the papers held back from release were sent to the BBC.

    [released by Treasury, 9 February 2005]

    Now call me naive here or totally stupid but that reads like we were thrown out ? – And it also reads that our government at the time actually “reacted” to that as opposed to “causing” it ?
    Yes of course we shouldn’t have went in if we’d known we’d get booted out but I don’t happen to see much publication of the facts here in terms of trying to sway public opinion and rid this misnomer of it being “our fault” – Just a thought.

    As to Millipede and his team of other lowlife, he will swing to any tune but his own because he lacks a songwriter.
    Taxation is written all over his mush and so is spin and duck diving.

    Except for one matter and that’s got me very puzzled.
    Namely, my intution tells me that David Cameron was recently in Georgia prsumably to beat Milliped to it. But that said, I’d hazard a guess that he’d have to have been given the nod on this from the Privvy Counsellors at the Foreign Office.
    If I’m right about that then he’s fallen head first into the wrong set of circumstances where a politician normally waits for public reaction before launching off as an opposition leader to battle on his own accord against Russia whilst singing the praises of the American parasite Saakashvili ?

    So in comes Milipede with a differnt tune, and I think that sounds better than Mr Cameron’s did which I believe is less in keeping with public opinion ? As I say, I don;t know, it’s only my intuition telling me he was wrong, albeit that I disagree fundamentally with Mr Cameron on this and find myself agreeing with Miliband ( hoyk pwew ).

    So if these events were orchestrated and Mr Cameron was dumped into Georgia this way, then I think he’s just been subtely overshadowed by the guy his own team is supposed to be shadowing.

    Time will tell I suppose but I think Mr Cameron needs to rescue his position, start looking at ways to engage with Mr Dmitry Medvedev on a personal level, and see for himself what Mr Medvedev has to say about the Georgian tanks running over his people along with the shell holes in their houses. i.e. Speak to the victim as well as the aggressor before making statements of guilt to the world.

    Could you give him a nudge on this Mr Redwood please before Milipede starts to run any faster on his own stage ?

    Best regards,
    Eddie Allen

  4. Jim Baxter
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I tend to give credence to the theory that the idea of Milburn as Chancellor was planted by the Brown camp because AM is disliked almost as much as Teamless GB. I am surprised to see you credit it as a Milliband proposal. If you know more than we do, and I very much hope you do, then please enlighten us.

    Reply: It is difficult to believe the press are so stupid as to accept a Brown plant re Miliband without checking it out with Milburn/Miliband themselves. Nor could someone be a serious leadership contender without having sufficient knowledge and power with the press to scale the story back and rubbish it if it were a hostile plant.

  5. Rose
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Eddie, I seem to remember Tony Favell (PPS to John Major)resigning over the ERM, saying the Germans could not go on a picnic without wanting to run it (he could say that as his mother was German), and Norman Lamont deciding to stay on in the Treasury despite it. Both courses suggest they were in fundamental disagreement with John Major who seems to have persuaded Margaret Thatcher against her better judgement – because he was more banker more than statesman, and believed he really could lock out inflation that way? What I also remember at that time was that both opposition front benches were in favour of our entry, as were the the Treasury, the FO, the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, the FT, the BBC, and half the Conservative Party. When, as a consequence, bankruptcy struck small business all over the country and unemployment soared, I don't remember any of them taking their share of the responsibility for that climate of opinion which was almost unanimously in favour our joining the ERM. Indeed, that was one of the main lies with which New Labour took power, another being that they were pure as the driven snow while the Conservatives were not.

    • Posted August 21, 2008 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Thatnks for that Rose, I'm always appreciative of insight and truth wherever I find it.

      That pain in the neck ERM – pre-cursor to the Euro, was inevitably going to do us more harm than good I felt, and I wholeheartedly agree with Margaret Thatcher's position on it and the Euro.

      Incidentally, I often question where the Euro would stand in the markets if the UK transferred its Euro reserve into bonds or another currency or even back into gold, because I think it was a stupid decision for Brown to do that and to my mind was hypocritical of the much lorded "free market" they sign on about.

      I note they call political decision making in these areas "interference", which again isn't really a nice word to give a politician who's simply doing a job. So I watch for these insulting words and phrases which have infested our world of politics and see what they really mean. Such as Globalization ( meaning rampant capitalism without social conscience ), or free market ( meaning capitalist bankers and speculators and their shareholders come before people.

      Obviously you will note I don't agree with these practices and I promote "Social Democracy" where people come first in my imagined new society, but that's a topic for another day.

      • Rose
        Posted August 21, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Eddie, if I were to reduce the most desirable form of government to one phrase, I would choose "Small Government. " The smaller the government, the smaller its mistakes, and it is from the mistakes of government that we suffer most, not its neglect. The worst one it ever made was to go into and stay in the EU. Most of its other mistakes, like joining the ERM, allowing recklessly uncontrolled immigration, ruining the railways, shutting the post offices, upsetting the constitutional balance, imposing VAT, showering us with Health and Safety Directives etc. etc. are but consequences of this one tragic mistake – but for some mysterious reason are never identified as such.

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