Thursday 3 June 2010

Regaining the middle ground for Labour

It is good to see Darren Murphy returning to the blogosphere with a pretty accurate assessment of how Labour lost the middle ground in its last three years of government and what it must do to regain it. As Darren puts it:

Even if Gordon had been the best communicator and the greatest debater in 2010, Labour would still have lost. We didn’t lose in the four weeks of the campaign but in the three years where we abandoned the middle ground, all but repudiated our record and resorted to a self-defeating ‘core vote strategy’..... Labour can only win by becoming a national party again, regaining support in the Midlands and the South of England, challenging ourselves to address and adopt difficult but necessary policy positions outside our comfort zone, with appeal beyond our core vote. We can not win if we simply become a party that complains about cuts or campaigns on single issues.

We can not win if we just keep telling ourselves that we are morally right and the public got it wrong. We have to shake ourselves out of the mistaken belief that this coalition will simply collapse and the public will then return to us because we are the ‘progressives’. We can not win if we continue to appear to be enthusiastic for equality but antagonistic to aspiration; angry about unemployment but unenthusiastic about enterprise; if we act like cheerleaders for public spending but remain silent on value for public money; or if we appear to understand everything about the need for constitutional change but have no idea why anyone would want a conservatory.

Equality and aspiration; social justice and entrepreneurialism; the public service ethos and public service reform; a living wage and middle income Britain. We do not have to choose between any of these. In fact, we have to choose to embrace all of them and more. We have to be led with a radical edge and led to the middle ground.

..... To win we need a leader who really does challenge the party to change. Not in a series of deliberate confrontations for their own sake but with a determination to make the changes we need to keep in touch with and lead public opinion. We need someone with the leadership skills and popular appeal capable of reassembling the winning coalition which delivered victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

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