Coffee House

Can Labour really resist class war?

23 April 2014

12:52 PM

23 April 2014

12:52 PM

There’s something quite amusing about a party that majored on the number of Etonians in the Cabinet as the substantive part of its response to the Budget briefing the Independent that it won’t stoop to ‘class war’ in its 2015 election campaign. Labour, apparently, will occupy the moral high ground next year, which suggests the party will have to change its messaging quite significantly from this:

‘What do this lot now call themselves? They call themselves the workers’ party. Who is writing the manifesto for this workers’ party? We have a helpful answer from one Conservative MP: “There are six people writing the manifesto…five…went to Eton”.

‘By my count, more Etonians are writing the manifesto than there are women in the Cabinet—no girls allowed. This week, we have heard it right from the top. Here is what the Prime Minister’s former best friend—[Interruption.] They do not like to hear it do they, Mr Deputy Speaker? Here is what his best friend—

‘Here is what the Prime Minister’s former best friend, his closest ally, the Education Secretary, had to say about the Prime Minister’s inner circle. He said it was ridiculous, preposterous, unlike anywhere else in the world. They know they are in trouble when even the Education Secretary calls them a bunch of out-of-touch elitists. Where is the Education Secretary? I think he has been banished. Ah—he is hiding! He has been consigned to the naughty step by the Prime Minister. It is time we listened to Baroness Warsi and took the whole Eton mess out of Downing street.’ Ed Miliband, 19 March 2014.

And this:

‘I hear that the Prime Minister did not properly understand what the Chancellor was saying. Apparently, when he told the Prime Minister that he wanted to cut taxes for Bingo, the Prime Minister thought he was referring to an old school chum: “Hurrah, another tax break for millionaires. Bingo, Bingo!”’

[…]

‘This weekend the Education Secretary took a further step in the Osborne rebranding. He said that it is “ridiculous”, and “preposterous” that Downing street is governed by a tight clutch of Etonians, and that that has got to change—we say “Hear, hear” to that, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, we all know what he was really trying to say through the pages of the Financial Times. He was saying, “Boris is a toff because he went to Eton, but George is a pleb because he only went to St Paul’s.” The Tory party is having a class war with itself. An Etonian elite has grabbed hold of the commanding heights of the economy, opposing the masses of Tories who went to lesser public schools. Old boys from Harrow and St Pauls, throw off your chains. What are they going to call themselves? The Bullingdon Bolsheviks? The Trust Fund Trots? Posh boys of the world unite?’ Ed Balls, 20 March 2014.

[Alt-Text]


The Independent reports that Michael Dugher will hold ‘detailed discussions’ with Jim Margolis, Barack Obama’s ad-man, who ran campaigns in 2012 portraying Mitt Romney as insensitive to the plight of working people. Obama also ran more negative adverts in 2008 than any other candidate in history, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project. Margolis has already put in the small print of his genius services that he can’t change the fortunes of every candidate – just in case things don’t worry out for Miliband.

The Tories think advice from Margolis will lead Labour to wage class war – although to be fair, there is a difference between suggesting someone is out-of-touch and shouting about Etonians. It’s just that Labour isn’t currently giving any impression it wants to distinguish between the former and the latter.

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Show comments
  • JackyTreehorn

    I hope the Labour Party does what it always does and fights the class war. They will lose because the only growing vote labour will get will be the under class they were so good at manufacturing.

  • Conway

    Well Labour can hardly position itself as the workers’ party, can it? It has done more to deliberately drive down wages (listen to John Reid on YouTube) than anybody and if people dared to complain they were called bigots (yes, you, Gordon Brown).

  • andagain

    Why shouldn’t Labour say all that? It would not be saying that Conservative back-benchers aren’t happy to say.

  • saffrin

    Labour in denial again.

  • Tony_E

    There is a principle behind most left wing economic thinking that links right back to Marx’s theories on the simplest exchange of commodities. (C – M – C for those who have read Das Kapital). Money should only in principle be a medium for exchange of commodities, not a store of wealth. (The opposite of this is the gold bugs who prefer money to be an absolute store of wealth and inflation always close to 0%)

    The belief is that ‘capital’ or the money held by the capitalist is simply removed from the economic system – it becomes ‘Hoarded’ in Marx’s terms. It is also a belief that commodities should be valued by the labour input into them, so that the capitalist system adds no value (Marx differentiates between price value and use value). Almost immediate exchange renders inflation unimportant, as money is not a store of wealth – the proletariat who do not save and only exchange for what they immediately need are not harmed by inflation. This allows the state to control the money base for political ends.

    So therefore the left believes the capitalist system exposes the workers to ‘hoarding’ of the capitalist – robbing the real value of the workers efforts and hoarding it. (Capitalists believe that this is simply delaying consumption to maximise effect) The best way to remove that hoarding is to make saving difficult or unprofitable, taxation high, and then recycle that money to the workers in the form of rebates so that the capitalist cannot hoard that money. This then begins to level the class system because it removes the incentive to store wealth effectively.

    Labour today want: Wealth Taxes, Mansion taxes, more social housing (from an expanded money base – see PFI) and a more generous welfare state. Gordon Brown introduced the Tax Credit system. It’s always been about class war, whether they admit it openly or not.

  • Kitty MLB

    Can Milipede resist a hypocritical smokes screen of a class war, he lives for one.
    He has no answers politically, has no leadership skills and just recycled pages
    from the Brown note book with Balls dictating.
    So envy and division which pleases the caterwauling lowest common denominator
    will please him no end, it just deflects attention away from his failures.

  • Colonel Mustard

    No. War and negativity is all they understand. Their whole ethos is created on hatred of those they disagree with, envy and spite. All wrapped up in a pretence of aspiring to “progressive”, “improving” measures to promote “equality and fairness”. A sham as it leads to the complete opposite. Class war, division, grievance, sectarian and racial animosity. Look at how Britain has changed since 1997 and the problems that have been seeded for future generations. All down to Labour. Reinventing itself each time to escape the responsibility of its past. Delivering the same miserable message and ghastly consequences.

    Look at their trolls that frequent here and how they behave towards anyone who does not conform to their orthodoxy. Smug, scornful, dismissive, full of sanctimonious hubris and certitude that they have all the answers. And when challenged offering nothing but arrogant ad hominem retorts.

  • Shinsei1967

    I don’t think most people have a problem with being an Old Etonian, nor that they are over-represented in the current Tory admin, however the “out-of-touch” complaint has more power.

    The trouble is “out-of-touch” means different things to different people. Many traditional Tory supporters clearly think Cameron is out-of-touch on issues such as Europe and gay marriage. However to Labour out-of-touch seems to mean that Cameron doesn’t have any real difficulties in paying his utility bills.

    • Tony_E

      Everybody must be equal – equally poor and dependent.

      • Conway

        And “the rich” for many Labour supporters means “anybody with more than I have”.

  • Inverted Meniscus

    Thanks Isabel, I always enjoy a bit of breathtaking leftist hypocrisy and cant. This preposterous little man who has known nothing but privilege for the entirety of his miserable, unproductive life is now lecturing the rest of us on the iniquities of…..privilege.

  • WinterMonarch

    It is always amusingly hypocritical when the Labour party starts espousing class warfare. The sheer number of millionaires and people who received help from nepotism is just as present in the Shadow Cabinet.

    • telemachus

      I just cannot understand your hypocrisy argument
      The narrative is this
      Osborne is an arristocrat and wishes to keep it all to his own
      Miliband has family money and wishes to see fair distribution of the country’s opportunities
      *
      Who has more humanity
      Who deserves more praise
      Who should receive our vote

      • WinterMonarch

        Ed and David Milliband inherited a multi-million pound property from their Marxist father, with some very clever decisions on their part meaning they missed out on paying six-figure inheritance taxes. If they are so set on fair distribution, why dodge this tax? Why dodge paying money into the NHS, into public services? I do not deny, not for a moment, that members of the Cabinet itself are multi-millionaires, but to ignore the hypocrisy – and that is what it is – of the Labour Party is very naïve and tribal.

        • Mynydd

          Mr Cameron inherited £600,000 tax free from an offshore fund setup by his Capitalist father. Of course using tax havens, to hide money from HMRC, is not dodging tax, it’s, just looking after the your children’s future. By the way, Mr Cameron and the Conservative party have gone on about, and condemned, aggressive tax avoidance, and you talk about Mr Miliband Labour party hypocrisy.

          • WinterMonarch

            I never claimed that the Conservative Party were not guilty of such actions as well. All involved should be called out on it, and all involved should be equally ashamed. That is not, however, to ignore the fact that Labour receives very little focus in comparison to the Conservatives, and they should be recognised as such. That hypocrisy is what I was addressing.

          • JackyTreehorn

            You don’t get it do you? The Tories (and I’m no fan of the Tories) are not attacking labour over wealth so they are not hypocrites it is always the left that use wealth as an attack weapon
            Which is hilarious when you look at how they filled their Bootsy ala Kinnock, Mandleson, Blair etc even Prescott and mcbroon have had a touch so stop pointing out how the Tories are avoiding tax and thinking you’re clever.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I object to the way you keep tagging the top posts with Labour party propaganda.

        • McClane

          I now no longer up-tick comments that telemachus has replied to. I object to seeing his name at the top of the page.

          I am sorry for the original commenter who has invariably made a very good point, but that sorrow is outweighed by impatience with the vacuity of telemachus’s replies.

          • Realpolitik

            Is there any way we can get him blocked? I say that having being blocked from the Guardian for espousing anti-Hamas sentiment.

            • Ricky Strong

              Surely if we tried to silence him we would be no better than those at the Guardian who silenced you.

              • Realpolitik

                Yes, but it would get rid of this loathsome creature.

              • Adam Carter

                The Speccie blocks people too.
                Sources close to James Strong, who used to post here, tell me he has been blocked. Apparently this was after he put up a comment alleging that it is racist to heap praise on a cabinet minister who is a member of an ethnic minority if such praise would not have been offered to a member of of the ethnic majority in similar circumstances.
                The sources do not say that the ban was because of this comment, just that it came very soon after it.
                The sources tell me that James Strong is resourceful, spookily so.

      • Ron Todd

        Miliband is a millionaire; Harman is a aristocrat; Balls is a public school boy. Given a choice between one lot of posh rich party leaders and an other lot of posh rich party leaders I will vote for the ones that let me keep more of my pay.

        • The Laughing Cavalier

          Actually, Hattie is middle class, she is not an aristocrat, though she is related by marriage to one.

          • Guest

            An aunt is Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford. A cousin is Lady Antonia Fraser. She is related to both through family and not through marriage.

          • Ron Todd

            If you think she is middle class I dread to think what you would call me.

            • Realpolitik

              I think he’s using the textbook definitions.

          • Alexsau91

            They called Anne Boleyn a ‘commoner’… are you basing your definition on aristocracy on the Tudor era?

      • Inverted Meniscus

        In a choice between the two, quite obviously George Osborne.

      • glurk

        I just cannot understand your hypocrisy argument
        The narrative is this
        Osborne is an arristocrat and wishes to keep it all to his own
        Miliband has family money and wishes to see fair distribution of the country’s opportunities
        *
        Who has more humanity
        Who deserves more praise
        Who should receive our vote

        4/10 Spelling, punctuation, logic.
        See Me

        • telemachus

          The logic is compelling

          • balance_and_reason

            Do you have a private sector job that pays tax?

      • HJ777

        Then why did the last Labour government, of which Miliband was a member, preside over a substantial increase in the number of people with an income of less than 40% of the median?

      • Alexsau91

        So being an aristocrat means that Osborne is less entitled to his inherited welath than Milliband is? That, my friend, is what’s known as hypocrisy .

  • snowright

    Labour party won’t have much to say if they can’t spout ‘class war’ or promote politics of envy.
    Why have they chosen to spend £100k+

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