Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Labour's strategy; what is it?

As we get closer to the European and local elections, many query whether the Labour Party has a coherent strategy or vision. A few policies have slipped out here and there - such as the energy price freeze and, just this week, plans to enable patients to get a GP appointment in 48 hours - but it is hard to discern a running theme. The squeezed middle and One Nation Labour are there, lacking focus, in the background, and frequently seem to be hiding in the shadows along with the Conservative's Big Society.

For Labour, addressing the question over their strategy becomes ever more important as their opinion lead has dwindled, or even vanished, in recent days. What is the Labour Party actually for? We know, regardless of who wins power at the next general election, that whoever forms the next government will have a mightily tough old time cutting more from public services to bring the deficit down. Essentially, the Labour Party is not offering a substantial alternative to austerity. So, at the same time as doing this, what would they offer that was different?

Ed Miliband, for all his undoubted decency, does appear to be struggling to get his message across. Ed Balls is carrying too much of Gordon Brown's baggage and the overall impression of the shadow cabinet is that they lack enough thrust and verve to put their case forward with any passion.

Step forward John McTernan, former adviser to Tony Blair and a whole host of other Labour figures; after a brief discussion on Twitter as to whether Labour was failing to oppose UKIP sufficiently, he put forward his definition of Labour's strategy. Here it is:

It is by no means a comprehensive list of policies, or a honed vision of government, but, on the hoof, this is a more coherent account offered than by any senior Labour figure. Perhaps it's time for Labour to produce some new pledge cards.

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