Immediately on becoming leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband — in his acceptance speech — laid down the values and the principles that he felt must underpin Labour’s programme in rebuilding after one of the most party’s most serious election defeats. The speech acknowledged the need to take stock of policy and to deal with our failings in office as well as simply trumpeting our achievements. But the speech also began to set out the new Leader’s vision for a re-vitalised Labour Party one that was firmly rooted in community and based around an active membership.
Ed Miliband quickly instituted two reviews, the first on policy led by Liam Byrne MP, and the second on organisation — Refounding Labour — led by Peter Hain, MP. In establishing these processes, Ed Miliband spoke eloquently and passionately about how vibrant local Labour Parties are key to competing with the Tories.
Nine months on both Byrne and Hain have been swallowed up by the Victoria Street machine and delivered more of the same top down command and control proposals that lost Labour five million votes, and quarter of a million members.
Members' elected representatives on the National Policy Forum were sent an agenda and a document entitled: A better future for Britain 36 hours before the event in Wrexham on 25 June. If that isn't a sackable offence in its own right, I don't know what is.
As for Hain, he has had all the advice necessary to know the difference between an open and transparent consultation, and the black hole that is Victoria Street. Refounding Labour as set out in the private and confidential paper before the NEC on Tuesday means the end of members' rights in selections, no accountability of Labour Groups to local members and no point to being a fully paid up member of the Labour Party. Is that the new Leader's ambition? Is that what members said they wanted in their submissions?
What Ed Miliband's own staff think they are playing at, in advancing the case for continuity, is a mystery, other than to make sure they are on the right side of Victoria Street when it comes to looking after their future careers in the Labour Party.
Ed may have played a blinder against Murdoch. But to date against the Labour Party machine, he has proved seemingly powerless. Maybe a way forward is for him to sack his nominees for failing to deliver in a manner consistent with reaching out and rebuilding an active membership. That at least would be consistent with the abolition of shadow cabinet elections.