[Marxism] Guardian: Labour MPs call for swing back to left

Jack Cade jack.cade at btinternet.com
Wed May 25 17:47:06 MDT 2005

I fear the definition of 'Left' and 'progressive' used in this
piece is questionable, to say the least. Plus no conception of
real politics at all. 40 seats with a majority of less than 5,000
and five more years of New Labour should finish their chances for
a long time.

Jack Cade

Labour MPs call for swing back to left

Election review urges return to 'conviction politics' in next

Patrick Wintour
Chief political correspondent
London Guardian, Thursday 26 May

Labour should make the next election a clear choice between left
and right, according to allies of Gordon Brown, the man likely to
be leading the campaign.

At a frank and often self-critical election postmortem this week,
a number of senior party figures expressed concern at the nature
of this year's campaign.

Among them was Ed Balls, the former chief economic adviser to the
Treasury, now a backbench MP close to the chancellor. He urged
Labour to emphasise conviction politics when it seeks
re-election. "The overriding argument must be within right and
left," he said.

He called on the party to ensure that "when we set out our
positive agenda, it is based on values 
 that are Labour values
and a Labour programme in contrast with a Conservative

"There are 40-plus seats where the majority is less than 5,000,"
he said. "We must start planning for the general election now
rather than spend three years having an internal debate."

He was joined by another ally of the chancellor, the Europe
minister, Douglas Alexander, who called for Labour to set out a
stronger moral vision next time.

Politics must be about a fundamental moral choice and vision, he

Labour needed to adapt to the Liberal Democrat challenge: "There
is a real risk of them splitting the progressive vote. We should
be honest about some of the factors that drove people to vote Lib

Lord Kinnock also criticised the government for failing, over the
past four years, to articulate the connection between its
achievements and its politics.

Its achievements appeared to be "anonymous" and "hardly
understood by the electorate", he said.

He added: "It's not enough for Labour to claim credit for high
employment. Labour must refer to unemployment as not just a waste
but as a social evil. People need to understand there is a
conviction behind the achievement."

Such calls for a clear definition of Labour values contrasted
with comments from some Blairites at the meeting. They emphasised
the need to renew the wide coalition of support that helped
Labour win landslide victories in 1997 and 2001.

"It's not apathy which is turning people away from Labour but
anger," said the minister for work, Margaret Hodge. "They are
cross because they think we're not listening to them, or
responding to them."

She claimed that many Labour voters, angry at the slow pace of
change, had put Labour in the last chance saloon.

At the meeting on Tuesday night, organised by Progress magazine,
she also called for Labour to take a firmer stand against the
Conservatives on immigration.

Labour needed "a completely different leadership on the issue of

Speaking after the BNP's strong showing in her Barking
constituency, she said: "We're culpable in allowing an atmosphere
in which racism can flourish.

"We've focused too much on immigration and asylum, human
trafficking and sometimes terrorism. We've allowed racism to
become an orthodox way of expressing your views. The mixed
messages to date have fuelled the fear, not lessened it."

"We must beware of decay in our grassroots," said Stephen Twigg,
the former education minister who lost his Enfield Southgate
seat. "We must be confident about our progressive politics. We
have rarely allowed the radical underpinning of what we are doing
to get across for fear of being misinterpreted."

A long-term supporter of electoral reform, he said he was now a
convert to compulsory voting. "The lowest turnout was in Labour
strongholds — a system which focuses only on some constituencies
distorts our politics."

• The cost of the general election in England and Wales was put
last night by the government at £71m.

Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman said in a Commons
written reply that £43m was the cost of returning officers and
£28m covered the delivery of candidates' election communications.

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