Peter Hoskin

Disgruntled Labour

Disgruntled Labour
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The two articles by the Labour MPs Jon Trickett and Charles Clarke in today's Guardian are well-worth reading. Both are deeply pessimistic about the party's prospects (perhaps indicative of the wider mood in the Labour camp), although they outline different ways to stem the rot. For Trickett, the Government needs to depart from the Blairism that it's been espousing in recent weeks. Whereas, for Clarke, the Blairite agenda needs to be more boldly applied.

Here's Trickett:

“In place of the New Labour promise of a modernised Britain, we saw an older Britain re-emerge: a class system where what your parents do counts for more than who you are; unrestrained markets; dominant private interests; fragmented communities; insecurity for many; unheard-of wealth for a few; 19th-century solutions for 21st-century problems. Britain's richest 30,000 now earn £33bn per year and pay little or no tax, yet ministers say we should celebrate "huge riches", while appearing to demonise council tenants and those on incapacity benefits. They are turning education and health into markets, proposing loyalty oaths to the monarch, refusing to address two-tier labour markets, and allowing millions of peoples' mortgages to be endangered.

These policies are neither New, nor Labour - they are neoliberal. They will not reconnect with our core vote, or allay the anxieties of the many in the south of England who voted for us in 1997. This progressive consensus needs to be reanimated, but this will not be done by triangulating to the right. Even David Cameron understands this. He is shifting leftwards and some are contemplating voting Tory again.

It was noticeable that Gordon Brown's emergence as prime minister with the watchword of "change" put us into a double-digit poll lead. With the re-emergence of Blair-like statements from leading ministers, our ratings have sunk catastrophically.”

And here's Clarke's take:

“The whole future of progressive politics is about where we go from here. That's the challenge for Labour. Oppositionism - stating stridently what is wrong - is easy. The challenge is to decide what in the real world we should be doing, now and into the future. That is what supporters and potential supporters demand, and what we have to offer through dialogue across our party.

There is little sign, in last week's budget or elsewhere, that Labour's leadership is facing up to this. We still lack the clear narrative that would enable everyone to grasp what Labour now stands for...

...we have to continue reforming public services. As Alan Milburn argued at the weekend, we need unequivocally to ensure that the consumer, rather than the producer, comes first and is able to exercise real choice.”

What are CoffeeHousers' thoughts?