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

Monday, 1 December 2008

"The real death this week was not of new Labour but of Tory new Labour posturing".

I attended the annual Progress conference this weekend in London. As ever, it was full of the great and the good.

Gordon Brown put in a surprise appearance and gave a really fine speech about the economy. He was even better during the Q and A when his knowledge and personality shone through. I mention it because it surprised me. He was eloquent, confident, assured and knowledgeable - the kind of person you want in a crisis. I even got to shake his hand!

I think he probably reassured the Progress audience, many of whom don't instinctively warm to him in the same way that they warmed to Tony Blair.

James Purnell had a hard act to follow but he gave an equally fine speech in which he made a vigorous defence of new Labour. He laid into the Tories calling their modernisation a "spray job". He attacked them for their vacuousness: "Politics by numbers is what you get when you lack a politics of ideas" and he called time on Cameron's efforts to change the Party - "The real death this week was not of new Labour but of Tory new Labour posturing". He faced a little bit of criticism from one man in the audience about his repeated attacks on the Tories, saying this was what turned voters off, but I think this is exactly what we need. Many on the Labour front bench are bad at exposing and attacking Tory policies. James Purnell does this very well and made an intelligent, passionate case for sticking to new Labour core principles at the same time. Just the stuff we need.

The rest of the day saw Peter Mandelson in conversation with Martin Kettle and Ed Miliband addressing the conference hall. Mandelson came across as funny and charming. He was also brutally honest about his previous experiences in Government. He said he had never been more happy and relaxed now. This certainly came across. Ed Miliband did the whole "I am going to give a speech and walk around the stage at the same time" routine and did it very well. He was very good on energy and climate change and repeated the Government's argument for new nuclear. Good. He also said, in strong terms, that if the energy companies did not act on unfair prices and pre-payment meters the Government would legislate.

I also went to a public services seminar with Alan Milburn - who still remains a great thinker and passionate advocate of public service reform. It was good to hear him and Liam Byrne make the case for a personal, bottom up NHS - although this will require a big shift of power away from Westminster and to local communities - and I am not convinced the Government or the Party gets that yet. Why isn't Alan Milburn back in a role though? It doesn't have to be a Cabinet position - but he is wasted on the backbench.

This year's conference was much better than last year's which in my opinion seemed a bit flat. The Party is certainly united behind Gordon and I think we probably feel that we have a momentum behind us all of a sudden. Certainly, Progress people seemed positive and upbeat which is half the battle.

I hope that now translates itself into better electoral prospects.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A Future but at what cost!

The Hooper review report has been published on the future of Royal Mail. I have duplicated the three main elements that will have a devastating effect on CWU Members and the service to the public.

Here are the views of Hooper which the Labour Government support on modernisation, privatisation and our pensions for the future of Royal Mail


The Labour Government support Hooper’s view that he believes it likely that the UK postal service could operate efficiently with around half the current number of mail centres. This has been the experience in all countries where postal services have been modernised.

The scale of reduction in delivery offices depends on the business model adopted by each country. But in each case, the reduction in numbers is significant: between a fifth and two-thirds for this sample.

In a nutshell the Government support the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the name of modernisation!


The Government support Hooper’s view that he believes that the changes already made to reduce the cost of future pension provision are essential. They have been carried out after consultation. They do not believe that it would be in the interests of the business or its employees for these new arrangements to be the subject of industrial action. They believe a strike would do nothing to establish a sustainable future for the company. It would very likely damage the universal service, by encouraging more customers to explore alternatives to mail.

In a nutshell the Government support the increase of the retirement age of postal workers to 65 and the removal of our final salary scheme to be replaced by an inferior pension plan that worsens our conditions


The Government believe that If the universal service is to be maintained, a new approach is required.

To achieve the modernisation of Royal Mail and secure the future of the universal service, they recommend that there should be a strategic partnership between Royal Mail and one or more private sector companies with demonstrable experience in transforming a major business, ideally a network business, in circumstances comparable to those now faced by Royal Mail.

Based on experience to date, it is their strong view that the existing policy framework is not capable of supplying the commercial confidence, capital and corporate experience which we believe is necessary to accelerate modernisation. Change is required if the universal service is to be maintained.

In a nutshell the Government support the partial privatisation of the Royal Mail which is totally contradictory to their Labour Party manifesto which states that the Royal Mail will remain a Wholly Publicly owned Industry.

We have been betrayed by the Labour Government and we must all campaign with the public, local businesses, as well as our members to oppose the conditions of this report!.I ask you to join us in that campaign