Sunday, May 04, 2008


Ray of Hope for Labour?

Deep in the catacombs of defeat and despair, I read the piece by Mathew Taylor today in the Observer and a flicker of optimism stirred somewhere in my slumped breast. The son of Laurie, reflects on how being a Tory has now traversed the territory from alien pariah to acceptable element of the mainstream over these past few years, especially since Cameron became leader. I have a deep suspicion that once in power a very different animal, blue in tooth and Thatcherite claw will emerge and that it is this hope which sustains those millions of suburban voters who have resolved to vote Tory next election. Of course it's also been a lot to do with Gordon, whatever Ken might have said in his speech on Friday.

So what of us in the Labour Party? Should we give up the ghost and accept we're done for? Taylor suggests this is the surest way for 'a slump to turn into a rout'; the Major experience suggests he's right. Instead, he says if he were still in Number 10 workihng on political strategy for the PM, he'd advise a big interview in which:

he should announce that he will dedicate his efforts to delivering a very short list of very important outcomes by the spring of 2010.

This list should comprise:

1. Family prosperity and economic stability;

2. Reducing poverty;

3 and 4 Improvements in key public service indicators.

Maybe this would not work- the rot may have set in too far, but at least it would be positive, would be in line with Brown's oft stated goals, and would appear decisive, optimistic and allow Labour to 'define the battlefield'.

It is a strategy which requires clarity, risk-taking, consistency and discipline. Not so far characteristics that have been overly in evidence. But it is in adversity that we really learn what our leaders are made of.

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