David Blackburn

Brown’s critics change their tactics 

Brown's critics change their tactics 
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Lord Falconer has an opinion piece in this morning’s Independent, calling for Labour to renew its progressive agenda to avoid a rout at the next general election. The policies prioritised in the article are clear, but the politics is ambiguous – restating the rumours that Lord Mandelson seeks to return to the Commons and is less than complimentary about Mr Brown. Here are the key sections:

We must show that we remain committed to our core supporters and to the middle-class voters. And to do this, we must change. And this is not just about a change of leader.

'Firstly, we must conduct a review of public expenditure in which we identify our priorities (jobs, health, education, properly equipped armed forces) and we identify in some detail how we deliver on those priorities. Make no mistake: this will involve cuts in some places. And the losers could coalesce against us. But we must restore the sense that we understand the harsh reality of public finances, and remain committed to progressive causes.

'Secondly, we must show we understand that it is the poorest who suffer most from the recession.’ Falconer’s endorsement of Brown is scarcely ringing, perhaps because Brown is a roadblock to change. The PM’s determination to see the Norwich North by-election exclusively as a rejection of the Labour party’s handling of expenses, not of him or his government, is a case in point. The combined force of this government’s fiscal and spending policies, pursued to the bitter end, are condemning the poorest in society to deeper poverty. Falconer has called for Brown to go before, but this latest attack indicates that the PM’s critics have changed their tactics – with less than a year to go, they will challenge Brown over policy rather than his leadership.