McCluskey rejects 'left-wing Labour' defeat analysis

Posted On: 
13th May 2015

Labour should have spent less time trying to shore up economic credibility and more time developing its “central theme” during the election campaign, Len McCluskey has said. 

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary

Mr McCluskey, who is the leader of Unite, Britain’s biggest union and Labour’s biggest financial backer, rejected the analysis that Labour lost the election because it had become too left wing under Ed Miliband.

“The policy offer was not particularly radical,” he wrote in the Guardian.  

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“Radicalism would have meant taking railways back into public ownership, for example, or challenging the City’s grip on the economy. Labour didn’t lose votes by proposing to tax the wealthiest a bit more, or intervene in the housing and energy markets. It did lose support because of its muddled message on austerity.

“The “triple lock” budget pledge was allowed to entirely dominate Labour’s manifesto launch – surely securing not a single additional vote.”

Once Labour had committed to eliminating the current deficit, Mr McCluskey argued, it had undermined its pledges to protect vulnerable from the impact of spending cuts.

“Labour was left trying to protect the victims of the Tory cuts agenda while accepting its underlying premises, also depriving itself of a coherent narrative linking together popular individual policies,” he said.  

He hit out at Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, who at the weekend had criticised the direction of the party under Mr Miliband and called for a renewal of the values of New Labour.

The Labour peer also criticised Labour’s reliance on trade union funding, leading the Unite boss to accuse him of “becoming obsessive”. 

Labour MP Dianne Abbott also wrote in the Guardian to try to dispel the "myth" that the party's election campaign was too left-wing.

Ms Abbott pointed to policies such as tighter controls on immigration and a failure to challenge austerity as proof that Ed Miliband's campaign was not as left-wing as some critics have claimed.