Archive for May, 2008

Hansard: how to read between the lines

May 21, 2008

Remember Tracy Temple, John Prescott’s old bit on the side? Ever wondered what she’s doing now? Tory frontbencher Eric “eats too many” Pickles does and has. Yesterday he asked Ed Miliband, who’s in charge of the civil service, in which Department she works.

Parmjit Dhanda, a minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, was inexplicably asked to reply instead. He said:

“It is not Government practice to name individual civil servants below the senior civil service or comment on their employment.”

Erm, so that’ll be the DCLG then…?

What Labour should do next

May 14, 2008

These are some thoughts I’ve had over the past week or so about politics and that. Of course, if I was more committed to my art I would be writing in-depth about the draft legislative programme, but I’m not.

It looks like Labour will lose the next General Election. What Gordon will probably do is try and court the centre ground voter as much a possible, by pandering to the right-wing press. The trouble is, this hasn’t done much good in the past few months. The Tories have pretty much got the centre ground sewn up with Cameron’s changes, and I don’t think it’s Labour’s ideology that is doing them any harm in the polls but a string of blunders and half-baked policies that make them look incompetent and a spent force as a Government. The Tories have the initiative, policy-wise.

 

Labour’s undoing seems to be an obsession with polls and what the media thinks of them, and the way they act on this clearly isn’t working. Now that it looks highly likely the Tories will win the next General Election, I think they should abandon this and just be a bit more honest. Do what they think is right. Go back to core Labour values. They’ve got nothing to lose by doing so and maybe if people saw what the real Labour can do, they’d have a bit more respect for them.

 

If, somehow, like Major in 1992, they do manage to hang on in 2010, perhaps by ditching Gordon, there’ll just be another five years of division, dithering and unnecessary authoritarianism which will alienate Labour from the people, leaving the party like the Conservatives pre-Cameron. Another three or more terms in the wilderness. I agree with Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian today that a period in opposition would be refreshing the party – particularly all the young policy wonks who’ve known nothing but Government.

 

Cameron hasn’t got what Tony Blair has – sure he has some coherent ideas and a good joke writer – but I don’t think Labour are as hated as the Tories were by 1997. Obviously we’ll have to see how the recession goes. So assuming that we have only two more years in power, how about making the Labour Party something to believe in again? Ignore the press – except maybe the Guardian – and actually think policies through. Listen to and understand the swing voters but don’t go announcing the first thing that comes into your head in a shallow attempt to get them onside. Use the time also to push through things that the Conservatives are going to abandon when they get into office – target child poverty, for example. Leave the public services in a good state, so the Tories can’t beat us with the stick that we’ve beaten them with for the past eleven years. Then after four years of Cameron pissing everyone off with his smug, phoney ‘I care, honest’ line Labour won’t look as bad and might have a recovery.