This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

What does Labour do next?

Well, the first thing is 'Don't Panic.' Things are very, very bad for the Party at the moment but I do not believe the Tories have yet won over the public and this means there is still everything to play for.

But, how can Labour recover? Here are my initial thoughts (and excuse me if they are written in a sort of breathless prose):

1) Stick by Gordon Brown. Whatever his personal shortcomings, Gordon Brown remains the right man to lead our Party. If there was an obvious and credible alternative candidate waiting in the wings to take over then things would be very different, but there isn't, so we stick with who we've got and we show loyalty and self-respect. I do not accept that the British public would tolerate another change of leader without the Party going to the polls in a General Election and if this was held in the next three months we would lose. Whatever the pundits might say, Britain is not being badly run and a change of leader would be too risky. The Party's problems are bigger than one man anyway. As Polly Toynbee wrote in the Guardian today, "There is no point in changing leader, without changing direction."

2) Be radical when it comes to policy. Follow Frank Field's example and "think the unthinkable." We need to help people who are feeling the affects of the economic downturn the most. I would introduce a windfall levy on the gas and oil companies (generating around £10 billion) that would then go straight back to every home in the country to help with rising fuel costs.

3) Raise tax on the top 1% of earners to pay for tax cuts for everyone earning less than £25,000 a year. Its about fairness and helping bottom and middle income households.

4) Push ahead with the choice and market agenda in our public services - even if this pisses off the Unions. When it comes to the Unions, we should listen and act. Obviously some of their demands like re-introducing secondary picketing are complete baloney but some of their other demands are exactly what Labour should do and it would be madness to reject them out of hand. I hope that the deals being done at Warwick this weekend are genuinely radical and commit Labour to a programme of social democracy. I have always considered myself an uber-Blairite but I don't think showing some red water between us and the Tories is such a bad thing. People want us to act and make their lives a bit easier. Labour can do this.

5) Cut tax where possible for the poorest in society and scrap the duty on fuel but strengthen our environmental credentials by introducing forms of taxation that penalise the user rather than everyone across the board and are genuine attempts to change behaviour rather than raise revenue.

6) Push ahead with Labour's popular policies and start comparing them with what the Tories would do - school building programmes, Sure Start centres (we need more of these now!), house building, help for first time buyers e.g. joint-mortgage schemes, implement Lord Darzai's recommendations, more training and work schemes, re-introduce school nurses. Stuff like this.

I watched Ed Miliband on the TV the other night and what he said struck me as right. The big problems facing Britain and the rest of the world - climate change, globalisation, economic slowdown - are problems that require a role for an active, dynamic government. They demand Labour solutions. But if we don't start delivering them then we allow the Tories to set the agenda and claim it was all a failure in the first place. This would be the real tragedy.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agree with all of these ideas, but we need to get on with announcing them before they become established wisdom. Rather than having the inquiry and the consultation, so they just become seen as something we were always going to do, and the Tories get the chance to say they'd have done the same, just a little bit better. There is a difference between making policy on the hoof and making good decisions faster than the opposition and we need to be confident and do the latter.

Joe said...

so you really believe There Is No Alternative - Whither David Miliband now?
Also Ed Miliband's appearance on TV was distinguished by him unaccountably grinning at the camera like some kind of bazoomi idiot, a la Gord. Very unsettling.