Ed Miliband: Forces of hell was “awful culture”

Ed Miliband has distanced himself from Labour's culture of briefing. He said it was a "self destructive, awful culture".

Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband has distanced himself from the culture of briefing and counter-briefing that became a characteristic of new Labour’s period in office. David Miliband’s campaign co-manager, Douglas Alexander, described the culture as “unconscionable”.

Speaking at a panel on “Learning from the 2010 election” at Progress’ annual conference in London this morning, the two members of the shadow cabinet answered questions from grassroots Labour members. Douglas Alexander said that culture of briefing, described by Alistair Darling as “the forces of hell” did “profound damage to our moral claim to office”. Later, he suggested that a lower tolerance to the briefing culture of recent years could be one of the reasons why the “rate of attrition” among female MPs had been higher than among men.

Ed Miliband said it was an “awful culture” which had been “self-destructive”. He called for a  “genuinely fraternal contest between all the candidates”. Earlier, the leadership candidate said, “people lost a sense of what we stood for [during the election]”:

“Sometimes we strayed from our values … We didn’t give the kind of response [to the banking crisis] that would have been true to our values.”

Mr Miliband said the party needed to have a debate about what it meant by equality, responsibility, and aspiration. Douglas Alexander said the challenge of future months was to “answer the question and describe the way forward” including on immigration, conditions at work, and social housing.

Earlier, Guardian journalist Jackie Ashley said Labour had developed a school teacherly “because I say so” attitude on issues including the environment and taxation. Peter Kellner said the party had to come to terms with the big issue of our time: “security – income security, job security, pension security, personal safety”. Opening the conference, Brendan Barber said the party had become timid on policy areas including banking, tax fairness, and climate change.

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9 Responses to “Ed Miliband: Forces of hell was “awful culture””

  1. Will Straw

    Douglas Alexander says "forces of hell" did "profound damage to our moral claim to office" at #progress2010 http://bit.ly/92OSfq

  2. Paris Gourtsoyannis

    That's an Ed Balls blam right there RT @leftfootfwd: Ed Miliband: Forces of hell was "awful culture" http://bit.ly/92OSfq

  3. Nik Darlington

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ed Miliband: Forces of hell was "awful culture" http://bit.ly/92OSfq

  4. Kathryn Corrick

    bit late now? RT @wdjstraw: Douglas Alexander says "forces of hell" did "profound damage to our moral claim to office" http://bit.ly/92OSfq

  5. Jacquie Martin

    It sounds like these people have finally got where it all went wrong. It’s a shame they didn’t take notice much earlier on when people, like me, resigned from the Party and told them why. That is, they’d lost touch with the people they should represent, lost sight of their values and simply wouldn’t listen to any argument against some of their ridiculous policies. Now we have a wholly unequal society, and a sense of hopelessness for far too many people. Fortunately, there’s a complete bunch of idiots running the show now, so I hope they use their time in opposition wisely.

  6. tomtiddler


    the people running the show (i assume you mean the government not the labour party) are not idiots. you may not agree with them but they are certainly clever people. mind you, lefties normally regard conservatives as evil, so it’s probably a step in the right direction.

    i’m guessing you are a public sector worker?

  7. Jacquie Martin


    You are incorrect on the following points:
    1. I’m not a public sector worker
    2. The current government is not Conservative, but a partnerhsip with the Liberal Democrats.

    Now we’ve got that cleared up. On your observations that they are ‘clever’ people: using the dictionary definition – clever means ‘displaying sharp intelligence or mental alertness’. This does not preclude the same people from being idiots – again dictionary definition is ‘foolish, senseless’ – at least some of the time.

    In line with this site’s vision of evidence based blogging, I will give two examples of apparent foolishness or senselessness (idiocy):
    1. Proposals for tax cuts, inclduing an allowance for marriage, when the coalition’s stated aims is to reduce the deficit reduction at a faster rate [than proposed by the Labour government].
    2. Reintroducing anonymity for rape defendents, without carrying out the research recommended in the Stern review into the level of false allegations of rape.

    I stand by my original comments. In my opinion, these are two crowd-pleasing proposals, not evidence-based policy making which I expect a ‘clever’, or competent, government to do.

    I will not take your comment personally as I see you have a reputation for this on this blog. I do welcome reading your reasoned comments on the article.

  8. John Green

    Miss Martin,

    The astonishing speed with which this incoming government has formulated, and begun to action, its plans is reassuring. I am pleased that you can find only two things with which to quibble.

    Firstly, the sum of money involved in the incentive payments to be made to married couples is peanuts in terms of the vast sums needed to eradicate Labour’s debt mountain and the structural deficit. Maybe two peanuts at most. To suggest that this proposal is foolish and senseless suggests to me that you have not read, or have not understood, the significance of Iain Duncan Smith’s acclaimed research.

    Secondly, the proposal to grant anonymity to rape suspects prior to conviction has been uniformly and widely welcomed, apart from the usual suspects.

    This government is putting together a progressive and radical programme that will eventually put this country back on its feet. It will take a long time, given the appalling legacy it has inherited. It will be a contrast to the regressive and incompetent government we have suffered for the last thirteen years.

    We have been taken back to the 1940s. I know, I was there. Ahead of us are the 1950s, grim, grey and austere. You won’t enjoy them.

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