Prescriptions for Labour’s pain

Let’s be absolutely clear: the platform for change put before Britain over the last few years has been rejected… Labour’s first attempt at a post-new-Labour modernisation has sadly fallen short… A leadership campaign is already upon us. This is not simply a choice of personality; it is a choice of programme.

So writes Anthony Painter in an excellent column on social justice in changing times and in which he outlines an excellent perspective on what Labour’s future programme might be

Anthony’s isn’t the only prescription for what such a programme might be. Below are other perspectives it’s worth being aware of (and which I record here partly for future reference, and will add to when further key contributions are made).

Tony Blair:

The centre ground is as much a state of mind as a set of policies. It means that we appreciate that in today’s world many of the solutions will cross traditional boundaries of left and right… The centre is not where you split the difference between progressive and conservative politics. It is where progressive politics gets the breadth of territory to allow it to own the future. The Labour project must always be one oriented to the future. We win when we understand the way the world is changing and make sense of how those changes can be shaped for the good of the people. We have to be the policy innovators, those seeking new and creative solutions to the problems our values impel us to overcome… This requires real thinking with an open mind, not an attempt to find our way back to hallowed ground which represents a dead end.

Chuka Umunna:

We must stop looking to the past and focus on ensuring everyone has a stake in the future. Our vision as a party must start with the aspirations of voters: to get on and up in the world, to see their children and grandchildren do better than they did, to get that better job, to move from renting to owning, to take the family on holiday, to move from that flat to that house with a garden. That means offering competence, optimism not fatalism, an end to machine politics, an economic credo that is both pro-worker and pro-business and, most of all, a politics that starts with what unites us as a country rather than what divides us. Only then will we be able to build the fairer, more equal, democratic and sustainable society that led us to join our party in the first place.

Stella Creasy:

Our economic credibility is the core thread that allows us to show how progressive politics require not protecting the status quo but provoking change for the benefit of all… Rooted in the communities we serve, our cause must be renewed and reaffirmed for a generation that does not want to be told what to do but to shape its own future – and to support not just an opposition but an alternative to narrow Conservatism.

Tristram Hunt:

We in the Labour party now face a triple bind: the rise of nationalism in Scotland; the loss of confidence in middle England; and a lack of trust in large parts of traditionally Labour communities. Rebuilding an electoral coalition which has fragmented towards the SNP, Ukip and the Tories can never be adequately addressed by a series of tailored policy solutions. It is much more a question of instinct, message, trust and sentiment.

And, as a companion piece of all of those above, Ian Leslie’s 10 delusions about the Labour defeat to watch out for is excellent.


The Greens may have something to say, but Natalie Bennett’s performances put them in a double bind

Natalie Bennett has given a second terrible interview, this time to LBC on the topic of housing. (The first was on Citizen’s Income to the Sunday Politics.)

Yesterday’s mishap is terrible from both a content and a style point of view: content because she doesn’t appear to know basic numbers behind her party’s policy on housing; style because the pauses, coughs, erms, and “right, yes”-es don’t convey any confidence to listeners.

There’s another reason why this is terrible, though: the Green Party might have something different to say when it comes to politics. This is, after all, the reason why Bennett is being interviewed on LBC and the Daily Politics and why so many people are therefore aware of how badly her interviews are going. But we don’t know what it is the Green Party has to say because everyone is focusing on what a bad job they are doing in saying it.

Where does this leave us?

At the individual leve, I don’t know Bennett well enough to understand whether these interviews are just a blip or whether she isn’t necessarily cut out to be leader of a political party.

At the party level I can’t help but think that the Greens need more political professionals behind them – like strategists, media managers, policy people etc. – to try and get their house in order and prevent / minimise this type of thing happening again and again.

The irony, of course, is that whilst having more of these things might make them more effective it would also make them a bit more like the bigger political parties they’re currently the antidote to.

It’s a double-bind, and the quality of our political debate may be the worse for it.