By Daran Hill of Positif Politics
Following the announcement by Peter Hain to stand down at the next General Election, Labour Leader Ed Miliband said, ‘A political activist and campaigner for over fifty years Peter Hain is one of the most experienced politicians in the House of Commons in which he has served as Member for Neath for nearly a quarter of a century. It goes without saying that his integrity, wisdom and firmness in speaking up for those least empowered to speak for themselves, will all be sorely missed. Whether on the backbenches, the front bench or in the Cabinet he has served the Labour Party and the country tirelessly.
‘He served with great distinction as Secretary of State for Wales, for Work and Pensions and as Leader of the Commons but it was as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that Peter will be most missed, negotiating the historic peace settlement establishing devolved government in North Ireland.
‘Whilst I will miss his personal friendship and humour on the green benches, and he will be greatly missed by the people of Neath, I know he will continue to serve our party and the country and remain actively engaged in politics and public life for many years to come.’
I may be wrong, but I think the Westminster bubble (media and politicians) is misreading the council and Euro elections.
Yes, Labour hasn’t done spectacularly well. Yet, despite the odd indifferent photocall and broadcast, Ed Miliband won Tory flagships from Hammersmith to Harrow and other key Tory-Labour marginals which will determine whether he or David Cameron is in No 10 after May 2015.
But the real point is that the goalposts have been moved. We are no longer in the two-party battle by which conventional wisdom has long – and, it has to be said, accurately – judged the political terrain. We are in new and psephologically uncharted politics.
The party political system is bust – and Ed Miliband is the only leader to understand that and to attempt to transform Labour from an obsolete party, like the Tories and Lib Dems, into a “community-based movement”. The result of Thursday’s poll is a “plague on all your houses”, and Ukip has capitalised on that anti-politics mood very effectively. So, for three decades, did the Lib Dems – before they sold their souls.
There has been a dramatic decline in voter turnout: from more than 80% in the 1951 general election, to 65% in 2010. In the 1950s and 1960s, Labour and the Tories regularly took 90% of the vote (it was 97% in 1951). That plummeted to 67% in 2010. For Labour and the Tories, a third of their voters have vanished. The Tories won with 40% of the electorate’s votes in 1951, but by 2010 could claim only half that – a miserly 23%. Even Labour’s “landslide” win in 1997 was achieved with only 31% of eligible voters.
Leave aside Ukip’s reactionary politics and plain bigotry. The writing should have been on the wall for the main parties. Tory defectors to Ukip have a visceral, ideological distrust of Cameron and the Tories – a deep sense of betrayal. They voted Ukip because they meant it – and most will stay.
White working-class Labour defectors were protesting against the political establishment which, for the past couple of decades, they feel has let them down. And with his radical policies for stable, affordable rents, 200,000 new homes a year, a living wage and attacks on the bloated elites who run our economy, Ed Miliband is the only party leader for decades to speak for their grievances.
When these Labour-orientated voters are faced with letting in the Tories who have so damaged them and are changing Britain from a compassionate to an ugly society, my belief is they will return to the fold, while the bulk of Tory defectors will not.
Don’t write off Ed Miliband – the fashion of the moment in the political class. He remains on course to lead the biggest party after the general election in today’s new and volatile politics.
Ed Miliband’s announcement that he will end the Bedroom Tax will bring hope to the thousands of Neath constituents that have been cruelly affected says local MP Peter Hain.
Peter Hain said, ‘This is one of the most callous attacks on the most vulnerable in our communities who, through no fault of their own, have been deemed to be under occupying their property. For many they have been at their wits end having to deal with the consequences and they will see this announcement as a glimmer of hope.
‘The rhetoric this Tory-led government has been peddling to defend this indefensible policy has deliberately tried to demonise people living in social housing but the reality is this is affecting disabled couples who need the space or a parent who sees their children on weekends is then judged not to need the room.
’Scores of constituents have come to see me and each case I’ve taken up with the Secretary of State, some I’ve brought to the floor of the House, but every response from the Government has been utter disdain towards the plight people are facing. So this announcement by the Labour leader will resonate with many in Neath.”
The Labour leader pledged to repeal the Bedroom Tax should Labour win the 2015 General election and fund the move by reversing Government measures including the recent tax cut for hedge funds, the shares for rights scheme (which opened up a massive £1 billion tax loophole) and tackling tax scams in the construction industry.
Peter Hain has welcomed Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze gas and electricity bills should Labour win the General Election in 2015 claiming it would help thousands of local people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills.
The Neath MP said, ‘Families throughout Neath have been hit by rising food and fuel prices whilst pay has been frozen and the Government’s inept economic policies have resulted in the slowest rate of growth for over one hundred years. The result has been many Neath families struggling to find work and struggling to put food on the table with growing numbers turning to foodbanks.’
Mr Hain continued, ‘for those constituents who have spent the last few winters worrying about their fuel bills the price freeze, which would save the average household £120 and a typical business £1,800, will be a welcome relief, so too will Ed Miliband’s pledge to break up the monopoly of the big six.’
During his speech to Labour Party conference in Brighton Mr Miliband explained that an incoming Labour Government would rush through emergency legislation in order to introduce a price freeze until January 2017. Labour would then use that period to push through a broad range of reforms aiming to reduce the power of the “big six” energy companies and increase competition in the sector.