I am sure most, if not all, of you have been made aware that on Wednesday 14th August, Labour leader Ed Miliband was pelted with eggs during a routine campaign walk through East Street Market in South London. I must say it is becoming harder and harder to stop myself from calling him Egg Miliband, with all pun definitely intended. However, it has come to light over recent days that this eggy incident was not the worst for the Shadow Leader.
How many of you remember the much loved British comedy Only Fools and Horses? It has been said the East Street Market was the inspiration behind John Sullivan’s TV masterpiece and it is even shown in the background of the opening credits. OFAH is a story of two hard working brothers living in Peckham, South East London with a dream of one day becoming millionaires. Why am I including one of my favourite television shows in this article though? Well Roger Lloyd Pack, who played much loved character Trigger, has recently withdrawn his support for the Labour Party in favour of a new, further left party called “Left Unity”. One can hardly blame him; Ed has been remotely quiet this summer, not even taking the time to attack the holiday plans of senior Tory party figures, let alone ready to offer a party mandate for 2015. Having u-turned on issues such as the benefit cap and with Conference season right around the corner, does anyone know where the Labour Party really stands on pivotal issues?
But who are Left Unity? Left Unity is a socialist group hoping to become a political party, a real socialist alternative to Labour. Their main policies include: renationalising all privatised services, ending bank bailouts and defending public spending whilst supporting the working people. They even have an opinion on the EU referendum. They will vote to stay out of the EU, citing that any socialist would do the same, but are open to reforming the EU, with socialist ties of course. Having not taken a clear enough direction against austerity, Miliband has opened himself up to the possibility that this new party could entice voters away from his original working class party. Of course Left Unity is not a fan of the Conservative Party, calling their members “chauvinists”, but they are less than impressed with Miliband. In the letter signed by Loach and Lloyd-Pack they have condemned the fact that he “has turned his back on the union members who supported his leadership bid”, this is of course in reference to Miliband ending the automatic affiliation fee paid to the Labour Party, as a result of the Falkirk scandal.
So with a new socialist party on the scene in the foreseeable future, is there going to be further trouble in the tumultuous relationship between Miliband and the Unions when it comes to arty funding? Will Left Unity become the Conservative’s UKIP? With their Founding Conference on the 30th November and over 9000 people already signed up, I think it is fairly safe to say that they have the potential to become a thorn in Labour’s back side. With the Conservatives reaping in the glory of the economy finally heading for a turn in the right direction, and Labour MPs voicing their irritancies against their leader in protest of party direction (yes Andy Burnham) it has been a bad week for the Shadow Leader. In order to minimise the influence and attractiveness of Left Unity the Labour leader must make outlining future policies a priority at his party’s Conference next month. Voters need to be made aware of what the party will offer if Labour are to become the next Government in 2015. Left Unity may be small and lack influence at the moment, but times are still tough and Labour must take action on outlining an argument against austerity measures.
On the upside, Ed if you ever read this, just remember you aren’t the only Labour Minister to have been attacked by an egg... You’re following in the footsteps of Prescott and Mandelson (ok it was green custard) but at least you weren’t attacked in the Commons with paint-filled condoms like your predecessor Tony Blair. A silver lining?
By Victoria Watt-Smith