Here at The Spectator, we take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others.
Here at The Spectator, we take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Watching a once great political party flounder in this undignified manner is almost as painful to us as it must be to them. So in the spirit of comradely concern, we asked some of the country’s brightest minds to come up with one idea each to help Labour get back on its feet. Here are their suggestions:
They must bring back into public ownership essential goods and services necessary for the development of a fair economy.
They are stuck with Gordon so they have no choice but to transform him in the public imagination. He must either be filmed rescuing a drowning child, or he must use Christmas to launch a small but victorious war against an unexpected aggressor. Could the Spanish be persuaded to pretend to recapture Gibraltar?
Labour’s best bet is to dress up this mirage of a bubble recovery (created by quantitative easing and printing money) as Gordon Brown saving the world’s economy and the banks. They should also seek to outflank the Conservatives on public expenditure cuts, as Ed Balls has realised. And go one stage further: say that neither overseas aid nor the NHS, desirable as they are, can be exempted from public spending cuts in such difficult times. That would be especially awkward for the Tories.
Labour should go back to being just plain Labour — give up the ‘New’ and the spin, stop being dazzled by the wealthy, and become again the party committed to social justice, democracy and decent standards in public life. It won’t be enough to win an election, but it will save the party as a credible force in British politics.
Push Brown before he has time to jump; then as a party you’ll be able to hold up your heads to the electorate again, and lose the election with dignity.
Send for the postman. It is not going to save Labour, a party that cannot understand why Tony Blair won three elections — or, worse, did not really like winning three elections. But it will help a bit, which is in the national interest.
In the short term, Labour is finished. If it is to save itself from extinction in the long term, however, it needs to reconnect the word ‘progressive’ with morality, justice and the distinction between right and wrong. Only then will it reconnect with reality and the lives of the mass of people who grasp that Labour has destroyed everything that they hold most dear.
Gordon Brown should have four new policies. First, a limit on non-EU immigration that would stuff the BNP. Second, he should double the threshold of income tax, as suggested by the Lib Dems, but pay for it by lowering the 40 per cent threshold, to stuff the Lib Dems. Third, he should announce a referendum on Europe — in or out. This would stuff Ukip. Fourth, ask David Cameron which way he would vote in that referendum, which will not make it easy for the Conservatives.
Call an election. Right now. It would have the benefit of surprise, and rebrand Brown as decisive. The media loves a good shock.
The left’s proudest boast, down the ages, was that it took power from remote elites and dispersed it among the people. How sad, then, to see Labour lining up with Brussels and the quangocrats — the very people that an earlier generation of radicals would have denounced as unelected Crown office-holders. One idea? Referendums: lots and lots of them.
Dumping Gordon is a vital, though not sufficient, condition for a Labour revival.
The modernised (or Mandelsonised) Labour party gained office but lost its sense of direction. Corrupted under Blair, it betrayed its nonconformist inheritance and ethic as the party of working people. Its deformation cannot now be remedied, and it can neither turn back to its roots nor advance in the foreseeable future.
Lose the election: after three terms, it is the only way you can start to think again.
Use Sarah Brown as much as possible, preferably have her give the conference speech instead of her husband. Invent a myth about having ‘saved the world’ last year with a bailout opposed by the wicked Tories. Develop ‘don’t risk the recovery’ as a campaign theme and keep it simple. After defeat, keep it together. This still could be a 1970 situation, not 1979.