Labour’s notorious “Ed Stone” of pre-election pledges was a mistake which slipped through 10 meetings because party advisers were obsessed with finding a way to counter Conservative attacks using the SNP, according to a report.
Tom Baldwin, a Labour aide, told The Guardian that the Tories’ repeated warnings that Ed Miliband could only become Prime Minister with help from the Scottish Nationalists were “murdering us”, but after much internal debate the party chose not to confront the issue and “lance the boil”.
An unnamed aide told the paper that during internal arguments about how to deal with one of the Conservatives’ main strategies – to paint Mr Miliband as being in the pocket of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon or her predecessor, Alex Salmond – the 8ft 6in slab of limestone with six election pledges carved into it slipped into reality.
“The only reason it got through 10 planning meetings was because we were all distracted, looking for a way to punch through on the SNP,” the adviser said.
It was agreed when the stone was commissioned that it would be destroyed if Labour lost the election. After the defeat, two ideas were floated for how to deal with the smashed-up stone: send the bits to a scrap heap or sell them to party members. Its fate remains unclear.
Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell wrote a speech for Mr Miliband that would have attacked David Cameron for using the SNP to attack Labour, but it was never used.
“Taking Britain to the edge of Europe and firing the flames of Scottish Nationalism, as Cameron did the morning after the referendum, are desperate acts of survival,” it said, according to The Guardian. “He is a man that cares more about a few more years in power than a few hundred years of a union that has served our country and served the world so well.”
However other aides feared that Labour’s “vulnerability on English nationalism was really very severe and anything that sounded like we were defending the Scots would be music to the Tories’ ears, and just make the problem worse”.
Mr Baldwin had argued unsuccessfully for Mr Miliband to hit back at the Prime Minister. “The strategic justification was obvious,” he said. “We had to lance the boil. Walking down Whitehall naked assaulting random passersby would have been better than having another day on whether we would do a deal with the SNP. It was murdering us.
“We knew it was murdering us because we could get another story up. But we blinked and chose not to do it.”
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