Peter Hoskin

David Lammy: Why Cameron has triumphed

David Lammy: Why Cameron has triumphed
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With Ed Balls and John McDonnell announcing their candidatures for the Labour leadership, it's clear that Labour's soul-searching period has now begun in earnest.  Speaking in front of the cameras just now, Balls reeled of the lines that he's been priming over the past week: "listening ... immigration ... listening ... beyond Blair and Brown," etc.  While McDonnell was keen to separate himself from the other candidates, describing them as the "sons of Blair and the sons of Brown".

Both of them might care to read David Lammy's appraisal of where it went wrong for Labour – and where it went right for Cameron – in tomorrow's issue of the Spectator.  Here's a sneak peek of his argument for CoffeeHousers:

"The Tories won the most seats not just because we looked tired and stale as a government. It was because under Cameron, the Conservative party stopped falling for New Labour's triangulation trap. Taking their cue from Bill Clinton, New Labour strategists made the decision to close down debate on certain issues, like crime, by moving to the right...

...From the Labour benches I watched the Tories fall for the same trick over and over again. Their response was to move further to the right, hoping to remain distinctive. They looked less mainstreeam and moderate with every stroke.

Cameron understood this trap. Instead of becoming ever more shrill on issues like crime and civil liberties, Cameron sought to claim the progressive ground that the government had vacated."

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"The coalition with the Liberal Democrats is ... hugely significant. It has done more to rebrand and modernise the Conservative party than anything during my time in politics. The new Prime Minister not only has a working majority, he has the opportunity to govern free from his party's right wing - Nick Clegg has handed Cameron his Clause 4 moment.

Many Tories feel their party has sold out and that it will all end in tears. Labour people feel the Lib Dems will inevitably be squeezed and centre-left voters will swing back to us. Maybe. But perhaps Tories should be relieved and Labour less complacent.

Clegg has given Cameron an opportunity to finish what he started. And the anti-Tory Lib/Lab alliance that Tory strategists feared, and many New Labour thinkers always hoped for, is further out of reach than ever. The coalition could yet prove the most significant event in British politics in a generation."