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

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Moving on from New Labour?

I thought James Purnell’s interview in the Guardian this weekend was interesting.

I think he is right to point out that we should all stop “hankering” for the heyday of New Labour in the late 1990s. As he points out (and Tony Blair would be the first to agree) we need to develop a new set of policies that is relevant for today, not for 1994.

Purnell states:

“We took the electoral furniture to be too fixed. We didn't think about creating a new coalition and I think that's what we need to do now. To be honest I think we were too conservative about our means, so it was easier to take on arguments on the left, not the right. So what I want to try and do now is be as radical on the left as on the right.

"I think we need to go back and clarify values which underlie new Labour and be very candid about what worked and didn't work”.

Even Tony Blair’s biggest fans, myself included, have to accept that what worked and what was right in 1997, isn’t necessarily what will work now.

We shouldn’t forget about the electoral coalition that got Labour elected in 1997 but nor should we get ourselves trapped in a permanent time warp. Sometimes even the best ministers still think they need to fight the 1997 election all over again.

That is why it is interesting Purnell will be talking to people like Jon Cruddas over the next few months, as he leads a three year project for Demos. Why shouldn’t Purnell, Cruddas and others start setting out their own ideas and vision for the party and the country? We need to be creative about what we we can offer the British public. We don’t need more timidity and indecision.

Even though Cruddas and Purnell offer different perspectives, I would expect both of them to be powerful voices in opposition. They both ‘get it’ that New Labour needs refreshing. The real issue will be whether, as a party, we are willing to listen to and give their ideas a chance.

Let’s wait and see.


Amanda said...

Purnell is right of course - too timid, too conservative, too lacking in confidence.
Blair lost touch and imagined that people were stuck in the centre ground like rabbits in the headlights.
But the British people were moving their centre of gravity leftwards and we failed to move with them.
Now it is time to catch up - rebuilding Labour's values for a new age. Trouble is we will be out of power for two terms before we can renew ourselves in Government.
But the process has to start now. Good luck to him and Cruddas as you say, but one other thing we should have learnt is that the Party is bigger then individuals.
It's our collective endeavour and spirit which will be part of the re-building.
And we should also remember that Labour is a party of the many not the few - so no tribal retreat to the margins and irrelevant and sterile debates. We must make policy for the majority, otherwise we are lost.

Alex Finnegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Finnegan said...

Spot on - absolutely agree.