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If Labour doesn’t change course, the next election will be closer than it should be

White flag

At my constituency’s monthly General Committee meeting this weekend, the mood was more despairing than any I can remember. They simply cannot understand how the party leadership can be accepting time after time whatever callous and unjust cuts Osborne throws at us – bedroom tax, withdrawal of benefit for the first seven days of unemployment, and now a welfare cap which hasn’t even the Tories themselves haven’t yet defined.

Is there no limit to how far this surrender goes, they ask? When is the pain of what is being inflicted on our supporters going to register some passion in Parliament? They don’t want to talk of betrayal, but they are bewildered, hurt, disoriented and despairing.

There are some in the party – Blairites – who feel that Labour has to show it is just as determined to take hard decisions as the Tories. But that is a grotesque misreading of the mood of Labour voters. None of them want Labour to out-tory the tories over cuts. They want three things:

  • that Labour has a positive vision for the next Labour Government that they can believe in,
  • that Labour has a plausible alternative to endless austerity, and
  • that Labour campaigns across the country with bold policies to build the alliance to throw out the most vicious Tory government in modern times.

So why doesn’t Labour do it? Why are we so cautious and defensive, locked like rabbits in the Tory headlights?

Why do we allow Osborne, presenting the most dismal CSR since the war, to get away with saying: yes, it’s awful, but it’s the best that can be done after the legacy of gross Labour over-spending, and you wouldn’t want them back in power again with a record like that, would you?

Why do we never exorcise this canard by pointing the finger at the real cause of the debt – the bankers’ unforgiveable greed and recklessness?

Why do we never say, when there is a pile of debt which has to be reduced, there are two ways to do this, either by cutting expenditure (the Tory way) or by increasing income (the Labour way) through public investment to kickstart the economy, cutting the dole queues, boosting tax receipts, and thus paying off the deficit far more quickly?

Why do we allow ourrselves to be mesmerised by their narrative of unending austerity?

If Labour doesn’t change course on these fundamentals, the next election is going to be a lot closer than it should be.

Image credit: anyka / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Johnreid says:

    Balirites…that’s a grotesque misreading of labour voters,

    But it’s not Labour voters, that we need its swing voters,

    Also aren’t opinion polls saying that labour voters roughly support the cuts?

  2. Robert says:

    Good on you John you tell them.

    Tory Lite V the Tories, think I’ll vote Tory.

  3. Johnreid says:

    And then Robert, you can moan how bad they are,designer angst?

  4. Rod says:

    “Is there no limit to how far this surrender goes, they ask?”

    My guess is that it will go all the way to failure at the 2015 general election.

    Michael, assuming you’re intending to remain in politics, isn’t now the time to start thinking about what might follow failure in 2015 and commence groundwork to establish networks that will be useful following Labour’s demise?

  5. Robert says:

    Poor old John why would I show anything against you , I really do not care much these days, whether Labour win or lose it makes no difference to the poor the sick the disabled or the low paid.

    You have always backed Blair and the Tory lite.

  6. Johnreid says:

    Rod I’m sure Michael will try to get Abour to be more left wing if we lose in 2015′ like the unions Sharon Atkins and Tony Benn saying labour lost in 83,87 as it wasn’t left wing enough

    My view is hopefully Yvette or Andy burnham will take over as leader

  7. Rod says:

    Johnreid: “hopefully Yvette or Andy burnham will take over as leader”

    This is the problem – as with most of Labour’s front bench, they’ve been indelibly stained by association with New Labour’s mismanagement of the economy and other New Labour disasters.

    Why not invite Rory Stewart or Sarah Wollaston to lead the LP? They often talk much more sense than is usually heard from Labour’s front bench.

  8. john reid says:

    i’d hardly call the new labour years a stain, neither were associated with our handling of the economy, that cost us 2010,

    Unlike the 83 election were anyone associated with it would be a disaster, the difference was that labor needed to get 13.6million votes to beat the tories, as that was what they were averaging, before 1997, labour only need to get 10million to win in 2015, whatever Burnham and Yvettes faults, they.d at least have the courage not to be pushed around by union bosses,rather than Ed, who’s silence on the smear campaign agaisnt Progress was deafening

  9. Rod says:


    Your enthusiasm for matters related to 1983, elected union leaders and what Ed has to say about an alleged “smear campaign against Progress” is only of concern to about .000000000000000001% of the electorate, at most.

    If you’re ever out canvassing for the Labour Party do yourself (and those unfortunate enough to answer the door) a favour and leave your hobby-horse at home.

  10. Johnreid says:

    Rod,the Falkirk situation in terms. Of union bosses telling labour leaders what policies to have, does ring true on the door,

    Irecall the 87 and 92 elections at the door step

    ” I’d like to vote labour ‘people would say ‘but you can’t control the unions,”

    And it’s the unions that tell labour what policies to have, like……borrow and spend!

  11. Nell says:

    If people only hear the arguments put forward by the media, that is what you’ll hear on the doorstep. Surely the role of those canvassing is to give alternative views, to explain what us wrong with the usual media and Tory portrayal. Who is leading who in the UK just now?

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