Saturday, 23 October 2010

Ed's Week Defined

Granted, a week hasn't passed since Keir said this was Ed's Defining Week, but I can't help but worry that we, as a party, have failed.

Dan Hodges at Labour Uncut has started to sum it up.

And then YouGov, in their first poll after the Comprehensive Spending Review, showed that the Tories still had more approval than Labour and that, if you look issue-by-issue, there are very few areas where more people support than oppose Osborne is doing.

I have heard some people say this is just because people aren't feeling it yet (very unprofessionally, I can't reference where I've read this as I simply can't remember where it was), but this is totally besides the point. We can't just complacently wait until bad stuff happens and hope to capitalise on public anger.

I share Dan Hodges' gloom and anger at the lack of Labour response. Alan Johnson's jokes and put-downs were good, but people don't vote for put-downs. The Tories tried put-downs on us for 13 years but ultimately people knew we were the best party for government. The reason we held them in Opposition for 13 years was because we had plans and they didn't.

From Alan Johnson's response, I didn't get the sense we had any idea what our alternative was.

"Expose. Oppose. Propose." Johnson did the first two, but the third is the most important of all if we want to be returned to government. And frankly, I'm not sure the first two were done as well as they could have been anyway. Where was the exposing of the unfair impact that the cuts will have on women? The exposing of the ludicrous 12-month limit on contribution-based benefits for those out of work due to sickness? The exposing of the horrible insecurity that will result from the limit on social housing tenancies?

Every one of the leadership candidates agreed we need to learn from our mistakes of the last 13 years. But more importantly, we should be learning from the mistakes of the party that languished in on the wrong side of the Chamber for 13 years. They are what we don't want to emulate.

I don't think we've quite blown it, but we very nearly have.

We have time and we have talent at the top; there's no doubt about that.

We also have one other powerful tool: us. Tens of thousands of us. Over 40,000 more of us since May.

We can take on the cuts in our own communities even when it seems, on a national level, like the Tories have gained the upper hand. It's being done already. In Norwich, where the Tories were planning cuts to street lighting in an area already affected by poor security, people organised themselves and have delayed the cut for 6 months at least and a public consultation has been opened. Don't expect that cut to ever happen.


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