Exclusive: Labour to show "Against the Odds" film in election broadcast

Victory for blog campaign

The Labour Party has decided to adopt as its next election broadcast the well-received film used before Gordon Brown's conference speech, called Against the Odds, Newstatesman.com has learned.

The two-and-a-half-minute broadcast, praised as "moving" by Labour delegates and journalists alike, runs through a brief history of the labour movement's leading figures, from Keir Hardie to Gordon Brown.

It begins with the words "It's the fighters and believers who change our world", and goes on to say that although it was said the son of a miner could never become a minister, "no one told Nye Bevan", a reference to the working-class architect of the National Health Service. Later the film moves into images of Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair and Brown with the words: "So here's to the fighters."

The decision by Labour to capitalise on the film is a victory for bloggers, especially the student Ellie Gellard who has been leading the campaign to persuade Labour to adopt the film on her site, The Stilettoed Socialist. Party insiders say it is indicative of an enhanced listening process aimed at grassroots campaigning, including on the blogs.

Miss Gellard, who describes herself as a "Bevanite", has won the support of Alastair Campbell and Eddie Izzard in her attempts to have the film used as the next Party Election Broadcast (PEB).

The decision to go ahead was taken during a conference call on Friday afternoon and is likely to be formally announced later today.

Miss Gellard says on her blog: "In a blogosphere dominated by right wing, angry men, I feel a certain responsibility to counteract or merely dilute their poison with a different viewpoint."

 

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James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.