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"By God, believe in something"

This is what Labour should do:

1) Don't become the Tory Party. Labour's 30% vote share might be pretty dismal, but the Conservatives haven't won an ideological knock out blow like they seamingly did in 1983. Around 15 million people voted for right wing parties if the UKIP vote is added, and around 14 million people went for something different. That makes us a 50/50 nation, give or take. Furthermore, on a range of issues from bank bonuses to regulating energy companies, the public are more in favour of Labour policies than Conservative ones. Some have even suggested that as few as 900 votes in key marginal constituencies swung the election enough to produce a Tory majority. Thus, a complete shift to New Labour isn't necessarily what will deliver a victory in 2020.

2) Know whose vote you have lost and why you lost it. It appears that, from initial data at least, Labour has lost votes from working class people, and from the C2 group of skilled labourers. This suggests that they haven't frightened the middle classes any more than usual, and that it was their core support that felt abandoned. Thus, one should be deeply sceptical of Peter Mandelson's veiled language of ignoring the base and returning to those people with "aspiration", since it was this very arrogance that got Labour into this mess. It assumes that working people have nowhere else to go, which could have been true in 2005 but not in 2015 or 2020. With UKIP runnnng the party close in its northern heartlands, clearly the party has to think about why. Perhaps Labour's timidity on ending austerity might have been one factor. Competing with UKIP on immigration probably served only to add legitiamcy to Nigel Farage.

3) Make Thatcherism, Conservatism and New Labourism apologise for the crash. Lack of regulation allowed greed to spiral out of control; investments in schools and hospitals did not.

4) Abandon private involvement in public services: if anything it allows the Tories to justify what they are doing.

5) Think about the leader you had and the leader you wish you had. If Nicola Sturgeon comes to mind then you might just win back Scotland. Her effortless connection with ordinary people and formiddable debate performances make her a role model for all future leaders of political parties. How many votes extra would Labour have won had she been born a unionist? Do any of the current Labour candidates even come close to matching her charisma or clarity of message? A regional accent could help. Yes Andy Burnham, I'm thinking of you.

6) Make the clear and unequivicol case for electoral reform and constitutional reform. With the union likely to be transformed beyond recognition, it is unlikley that any one party will be able to significantly speak to all parts of it. Yet there is real potential for a progressive alliance, which Labour could hope to influence. It needs to abandon its centralising control freakery and get used to speaking and working with other parties, just like it has been forced to do in the devolved bodies. This work must begin with the campaign to save the Human Rights Act.

7) Join people on the streets and campaign with teachers and nurses. Labour did best in London where it has attached itself to community groups and campaigns. It needs to do this in all parts of the UK, not just in the marginal constituencies that it hopes to win back. All seats are marginal now, regardless of majority. Labour shoud change its name, replacing "party" with "movement". It should be the party of the environment and of sustainable housing.

8) Work out what you beleive in rather than saying what you think people want to hear: UKIP has proved popular because it is clear about what it is about. I find myself drawn once again to Michael Sheen's powerful speech on the NHS, where he quotes from Nye Bevan: "Those who stay in the middle of the road get run over."

Sheen's own words are even more pertinent: “You must stand up for what you believe, but first of all, by God, believe in something.”



Leaving blogspot

The day democracy died