Letter No 61  by Mike Allott:  email | back to directory
 

2 Jan 2015

Dear Sir or Madam,

Labour and a rejection of the tedious assumptions of Blairism

Neal Lawson criticises Tony Blair (Dear Tony Blair, maybe it’s your fault if the electorate hasn’t shifted to the left: you were only concerned about winning, not about reshaping society, so who are you to say Ed Miliband is too leftwing?)

Three responses (from me, not Blair):

First, the prime purpose of the Labour party is to continue in its existence (reshaping society is a bonus): “Its purpose is to organise and maintain in parliament and in the country a political Labour party” (clause 1, name and party).

Second, New Labour’s 1997 manifesto specifically declared a programme for a “new centre and centre-left politics”. The draft was supported by 95% of the membership; the rolling programme was endorsed three times by a comfortable majority of the national electorate. 

Third, Ed Miliband was subsequently elected as leader on a platform that was distinctly to the left of New Labour. 

So that’s where we were, and this is where we are now.

Remember, though, whatever the shortcomings of the New Labour project, it was undoubtedly one of absolute clarity, and one of total determination in delivery (the 10 key pledges were all well delivered).

Of course, no one doubts that the political centre of gravity can change. But, as with New Labour, Ed Miliband’s Labour must also demonstrate a clarity that is not only ideologically unequivocal but also specific and measurable in its practical aims.

As I am sure Neal Lawson would agree, a party that is quick to rubbish its own recent past achievements needs to be supremely confident about its present ability to predict and react to the challenges of the future.

Mike Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire

See the online version of this letter at:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/02/labour-rejection-tedious-assumptions-blairism