Labour leader Ed Miliband denied accusations he supported “bullies” or was a “coward” after an attack by disgruntled party members on a visit to the North-East.
Mr Miliband gave a speech and took questions from the public on a visit to Redcar, a town which the party hopes to take from the Liberal Democrats in May’s General Election.
He offered a vision of better jobs, fairer employment rights and more power and money for the region – but the event was overshadowed by a protest from former party loyalists.
The demonstration outside Redcar and Cleveland College, where the Labour leader was speaking, was led by former long-standing Labour leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, George Dunning, who brandished a banner saying ‘Does Miliband Support Bullies?’.
Cllr Dunning, a trade-unionist and former steelworker, and ten other councillors were deselected by the party earlier this year.
The councillors went on to resign from the Labour Party saying they had been “bullied.”
Cllr Dunning’s former deputy leader, Sheelagh Clarke, went further, branding Mr Miliband “a coward.”
“He called Cameron a coward because the Prime Minister won’t take part in the TV debates. But he can’t find a quick minute to talk to eight, nine or ten of us ordinary people. How can he be leader of our country if he can’t talk to a few ordinary people? It is cowardly.”
Mr Miliband said he was offering “a big plan” for the region which included increasing the minimum wage, more apprenticeships for youngsters, an end to ‘zero hours’ contracts and more high quality jobs. A key area where the economy could be boosted and high paid jobs created was green energy, he said, which with some Government investment and encouragement could be a major asset to the North-East.
Earlier, Mr Miliband welcomed the improved employment figures, with 45,000 new jobs created in the region since Labour lost power in 2010, but said many were “low paid, insecure and not good enough.”
But in much of his question and answer session with about 200 members of the public he focused on what he would do for young people, including guaranteeing apprenticeships for 18-year-olds and lowering university tuition fees.
Asked about the decline in Durham Tees Valley Airport he promised a future Labour Government would “look at the whole issue of regional airports.”
One Teesside woman spoke movingly of having to leave work for eight months to look after her severely ill, 11-year-old daughter with various authorities declining to offer support, while another talked of having to look after four grandchildren and having to give up her home.
Mr Miliband received his biggest round of applause after publicly thanking the women for their “incredibly important work” and said it was an issue the party was already looking at.
Source – Northern Echo, 07 Mar 2015
> Sadly, this scenario seems all too possible…
Posh Labour is leaving the door open for a UKIP victory – and Hartlepool could be about to prove it.
That’s the message of two academics who say the Labour party is foolishly ignoring the threat to its Northern heartland from the UK Independence Party.
With one eye on the 2015 General Election, and even the 2020 vote battle, the professors say Labour must learn that UKIP is not just a problem for the Conservative party.
Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin warn in their Revolt on the Right book that Labour leader Ed Miliband is about to get a big wake up call.
Prof Ford has told the Sunday Sun that voters in Hartlepool were probably still fed up with having Peter Mandelson made the Labour candidate in 1992, despite his lack of any local connections.
Prof Ford said the party was ready to start reaping the rewards of having local council candidates.
“The problem with Labour as regards UKIP is that is has a lot of people. Particularly in the contemporary Miliband Labour party, who are young, Southern based, university graduate, socially liberal, outward looking.
“The world of UKIP is a world they have basically no familiarity with, it might as well be Mars. They don’t realise how angry these voters are, how alienated they feel from Labour.
“Labour will say, ‘Look at these seats, we get 40%, 50%, there is no threat.’ But what they don’t see is the threat. There are now more ex Labour voters in some areas than there are current Labour voters.
“Those people who have sat out will not sit out forever, and they have lost the habit of voting Labour. You get a strong showing in 2015 for UKIP and in 2020 they will be selling themselves as the only party that can defeat Labour in the North and winning seats.
“UKIP will try to capitalise on the feeling that Labour takes the region for granted.
“South Shields is one of the safest Labour seats in the country and UKIP got 25% of the votes without really breaking a sweat. That’s not enough to get a seat, but it is enough to get second place and to make people think maybe I can have a voice now. It should be a wake up call but they have not taken this on board, Labour thinks it has it all figured out now.
“They see UKIP as an irritant rather than a real political threat.”
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “The professor from Manchester may sit in his ivory tower, but he obviously hasn’t visited Hartlepool. You don’t see UKIP in Hartlepool from one election to the next. I think it is important that candidates demonstrate how they are working for an area all year round, but you don’t see that with UKIP.
“That’s why they lost council seats in Hartlepool a couple of years ago. To think they will turn up six months or so before an election demonstrates they would take the electorate for granted and shows arrogance of the highest order.”
Jonathan Arnott, UKIP’s General Secretary and the Lead party candidate in the upcoming Euro elections, said the authors were right to highlight Hartlepool.
He said: “At the last European elections, UKIP took more votes in Hartlepool than any other party. We know that there is huge potential in Hartlepool, and this research merely confirms what we already know.
“Many Labour voters are attracted to UKIP’s policies such as ‘No Tax on Minimum Wage’ and our opposition to open-door immigration from Eastern Europe which has driven wages down for hard-working people. It’s not about the old left/right struggle, but about rewarding people who work hard.”
> And by definition punishing those deemed not to be working hard enough or otherwise undeserving ? Different arseholes, same old shit…
Source – Sunday Sun, 30 March 2014