Tag Archive: New Labour


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As I’ve said before, Labour needs to move on from Blair. Not because New Labour was an intrinsically wrong approach to the issues Labour and the country faced in 1994, but because Continuity New Labour is the intrinsically wrong approach to the issues Labour and the country are faced with in 2013. Mark Ferguson is quite right that the old fashioned and out of touch nature of Blair’s calls for a bloodless, pre-social media, message managed approach that simply has no place in modern politics.

New Labour was born from terrible beginnings. The architects were right that Labour had become an electoral disaster stuck in a comfort mode of simply opposing and not offering a fully coherent and attractive alternative government. Labour cannot and must not fall into the trap of just being oppositional. But this is not a binary choice. We don’t have to choose between highlighting the cruelties and failures of the Tory approach and offering our own alternatives. A good opposition must do both.

I get that the result of the 1992 election scarred a lot of people in the Labour Party. But we need to move on from that too. Because the 1997 – 2007 way of doing things has become just as much of a comfort blanket to some Labour members as has the 1980 – 1987 approach.

There seems to have settled in some less imaginative members of the Labour Party an idea that there are only two ways of being Labour – new and old. If you aren’t one, you simply must be the other. But to those of us who are neither it’s deeply insulting. We’ve moved beyond both. Which is good because neither have the answers we need now. This is not about the battles of the past – be they Foot Vs Thatcher or Brown Vs Blair. It’s about the battles of the present and the battle for the future.

Just as Thatcher set the tone from the 80s for those who would follow her from Labour, so too did Blair set the tone for those who would follow him from the Conservatives. That’s why Lance Price is so wrong to argue that Ed Miliband is in trouble if the Tories agree with Blair’s analysis. The truth is quite the opposite. If Ed Miliband really is determined to be a politician who changes the consensus – as I believe he is – then surprising your opponents is essential. Cameron and Osborne are dealing with their own comfort zones too. Between their Thatcherite policy making and sub-Blairite politicking they show little attempt at truly being a Government that can change the political consensus. Cameron and Osborne agree with Blair simply becuase they lazily took on his approach to political analysis and communication rather than ever trying to define and carve out their own space and define their own style.

Ed isn’t doing that. Ed has his own analysis, and his own approach. That’s quite right but it’s also quite unsettling for those whose approach he is moving away from. But that’s why it is a million miles from either of Labour’s stifling comfort zones.

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So there it was, the 2003 show all over again. Only this time we had Twitter to amplify the reaction to every sylable, every utterence, even – it seems – every hand gesture. It seems that love him or hate him, some people just can’t stop talking about Tony. Yesterday was just the latest in a long line of occassions on which every utterance was disected and pored over by the lovers and the haters while the rest of us stood by in abject “huh” mode.

Does it matter? A little bit. If Blair is a keen as reported to get back involved in domestic politics, then these explosions will become more frequent and as a result more distracting from the real politics of the day. Which doesn’t work either for those who love him or loath him and is incredibly frustrating for the rest of us.

At the end of the day, Blair is just one man. He was and still is an extraordiany communicator. He was and still is largely (but not solely) responsible for one of the biggest political mistakes in recent British history. I’m less angered by him now than I was during the long and extremely divisive leadership contest. I don’t miss him, but with distance I can appreciate his better qualities.

But those qualities, the strategies that made New Labour successful and the policies he persued on everything from public service reform to the minimum wage are not confined to one man. And as long both extremes continue to act as if they are, they will continue to detract from the virtues of the case for either a continuation of those actions and politics or a differentiation.

These days I’m relatively neutral on Blair, though I accept that I have not come from such a place, and will be treated with suspicison by his fans and treated as if I’m rejecting all morality by his detractors. But if he is to take up a greater role in public life, we should not let that be at a detriment to the current political health of the nation. He’s an elder statesman and he has the right to be heard, he’s certainly earned that. But he’ll never lead Labour again and his time of doing so has passed. He is neither always right nor always wrong, but if his every utterance is treated either a the sole blueprint for the future or as the works of the devil to be avoided at all costs, then any value in what we can learn from Blair – for good or for bad – is lost.

If Blair’s fans want their man to have a role in public life, they will need to learn to behave more naturally when he intervenes, and less like a 12 year old at a Justin Bieber concert. If his detractors want to convince Labour to turn their backs on all things Blairite, they need to behave less like a convert at thier first stoning. Make the arguments about the policy, not the man. Criticise him where it is due of course. Praise him too where that is also due. But take on the arguments in thier substance not the essential ephmera of an all too human individual.

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Another post about New Labour

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By Emma | One comment

There was an intriguing post on Labour List today. I think like the authors he clearly admires (those he directed specific attention to this post included Richard Angell and John Rentoul), the author was clearly enjoying the surety of being a contentious outrider. But to me, the piece seemed like a massively wasted opportunity. I’ve written many posts about New Labour , some more nuanced than others. I’ve generally written from my genuine position of always having been to the left of New Labour, but having a genuine appreciation for the victories of 1997 and 2001 ( as I’ve written before, I don’t think of 2005 as a New Labour win) and several of the policies we were able to enact as a result.There never seems to be a mirror from those who leaned closer to New Labour in its heyday. You don’t see an acceptance of its faults which would – in my opinion – bolster the efforts given to praising its virtues. This is utterly missing from this analysis. It may well take a dispassionate historian far in the future, and far removed from the passions aroused on both sides to truly do the story of New Labour’s rise and fall justice.

The other key problem with Alex’s article is that it offers an entirely false dichotomy. Labour must either be embracing of the monopoly-run utilities or anti-business. Labour must be New Labour as defined and sadly crystallised in 1994 or it is Old Labour as defined and sadly crystallised in 1983. There can be no other path.

During Alex’s wholesale embrace of New Labour, he offers a rather confusing argument where he posits that a hung parliament is extremely likely and that the electorate will do everything they can to avoid that. In doing so, he argues that we need to offer Lib Dem voters a manifesto they will be attracted to. I wholly agree, but feel that doing so would be quite dissimilar from any offer New Labour might have made on issues around security and surveillance.

Most glaringly, Alex completely ignores what was one of the key – and has become the most dated – strand of New Labour thinking, its top-down management of every aspect of the Party machinery.

While this always chafed with the membership, it was for some time accepted as a price worth paying both for moving on from the freak show that had been Labour in the 80s, and for power and the chance to enact a Labour agenda.

While that agenda became ever more diluted, by time and by the lingering fear of ’92, the world changed. Members started expecting a more transactional relationship with the Party. We wanted to be more than mouthpieces, we wanted our say and technology was enabling us to have it.

The collision of New Labour and new technology wasn’t pretty. Message control became a Sisyphean feat, but that didn’t (and doesn’t) stop people attempting it.

Sadly, New Labour got old and lazy. It didn’t learn and it hasn’t adapted. It became a parody of the fresh attitude it once became. To paraphrase, New Labour was the Future once…

Now is the time to keep not simply the best of what worked then, but only the best of what can and will work now. It is not the time to revist 1983, 1994 or 2010, but to look to 2015 and to work towards a new Labour. One fit for purpose, fit for the future and understanding or what that means in terms of the privileged few who will run it and the thousands of us whose shoulders they stand on.

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Every now and again there comes along an article that gets us all talking.

Sadly, what we’re usually saying is “Why are you Labour?” or even worse “Why aren’t you a Tory?”. These articles are either yet another swipe at Ed and his leadership or a policy proposal, the content or presentation of which puts us both on the wrong side of our shared values or on the wrong side of the electorate.

Some of the authors of such pieces have served the Labour Party for many years, though they spent much of that defining themselves against the membership of the Labour Party. In 1987 there was more justification for such a stance. But the worst salesmen for the continuation of the best of the New Labour strategy are those who still cling closest to the label. Those who have allowed “New Labour” to crystallise into a dogma of its own rather than the rejection of dogmas that exemplified its early years.

Worse, some of the authors appear to have made a conscious choice to define themselves as cankers. Stars have risen on this basis. Reputations must be fed and controversialists must remain controversial.

But for those of us who would like to present a more balanced picture of the views of the Labour Party and the membership beyond the Westminster bubble, a reaction as reactionary as the original pieces is just creating more noise.

The problem is that screaming “Tory” at Labour members who don’t agree with us about the direction of the party from the right is about as helpful as those who shout “Trot” at anyone who questions us from the left. It’s destructive and self-defeating. It leaves you with nowhere to go and no argument to have. It allows the argument, not the policies, to become the focus, and leads to endless playing of the man and not the ball. And our own men at that. While the opposing team laugh their heads off at us.

Most of all, it’s not the kind of nuanced response that best articulates the democratic part of our democratic socialism. Collectivism is a Labour value I hold dear. It’s one of the principle reasons I support the leadership taking their time with the policy reviews and listening to as many members and experts as want to feed in. I’m genuinely hoping that the Leadership get a myriad of ideas from my left and from my right, and that they and we on the NPF pick the best and brightest from wherever they emerge to build a strong, coherent, radical and electable platform for Labour.

We cannot do any of this if we close down debate. We cannot do any of this is we simply reject as Tory any ideas put forward without making it clear why they don’t match our value of putting power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few. I can have those arguments. I can do so from both sides. I’m as likely to believe that some of the policies put forward by the hard left are as unelectable as I am to believe that some of the policies put forward by the ultra right are contrary to this aim. Like most Labour members I want to strike the balance between being electable and being elected for a purpose beyond beating the Tories.

Yesterday, fed up with yet more disconnect and discontent I tweeted the following:

“Labour Right Blog Formula: 1. Insult members. 2. Praise Tories. 3. Something vaguely sane. 4. Something off the charts dumb 5. end on a joke”

It was a response to how tired I am of reading what essentially boils down to the same article from the usual suspects reproduced in a variety of places. But it was deeply unfair to the majority of the Labour right wing who are loyal to the party and are making a far more interesting and nuanced contribution than those who give them the poor reputation. If they feel anything like the way I did about some of my fellow travellers on the centre left during the years Labour was in power, I know that they are probably find these interventions even more frustrating than I do, less able are they to shrug off the hurtful words of those they are close to.

I don’t like reading endless criticism of the party and the leader. I find it dull and repetitive, aimed at creating a poisonous atmosphere for the vast majority of Labour members in order that the privileged few can continue to play their power games.

But even more than this, I don’t like the response to these articles that I read. Dismissing someone as a “Tory” is not to defeat their argument. Reaching for hyperbole leaves you with no place to go. Equally, it gives those who share the majority of our values but offer different prescriptions no place to go. It isn’t right for us in the centre ground of the party to dismiss either our left or right flanks. We need them both for balance and inspiration. We also need to be a party that can be grown up and inclusive. We need to be able to agree to disagree, but also having disagreed, to move on.

If we don’t we are all – me included – giving the Tories a free and easy ride. And if we can agree on nothing else, we can surely all agree that we can’t have that.

This piece was first published on Labourlist

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Fear: An Apology

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By Emma | One comment

This column first appeared on Labour List:

I talk a lot about the fear I find among the more die hard New Labourites in the party. The fear, driven into the souls of a generation of party modernisers by the devastating defeat of 1992, has crystallised into a dogmatic fear of anything that veers even slightly to the left-of-dead-centre. I have seen this fear destroy good campaigners ability to run good campaigns and passionate politicians constrain themselves to turgid technological arguments in the mistaken belief that it is this that makes them “credible”.

What I’d forgotten when I chastised people for having the fear is how easy fear is to fall into.

The Labour Party is by its diverse nature a party which has disagreements. In the 1980s, those disagreements became nasty infected factional wounds that damaged our party for a generation and as much as anything else, kept us out of power. I was young then, but I remember those battles, I remember members screaming at each other with a fiery hatred over issues both real and trivial. I vowed never to let that be me.

So while I am happy to contribute to a critique of New Labour, I don’t want to destroy those who believe in its tenets. While I think that the marketisation of public services is the wrong approach, I want to defeat ideas of markets with ideas of communities, replace the objectification of competition with the championing of solidarity and find the threads that unite us in our common belief in democratic Socialism. I want to work with all members, who – by their joining of Labour – I know I share common beliefs and values with.

Sometimes I forget this. Sometimes I am not the example of my values I would like to be.

I remained loyal to my party, even when it did things with which I profoundly disagreed. I feel the Labour Party is closer now than it has been for some time to being a truer vehicle for my values. But even when it was a challenging ride, I didn’t let go. It was always worth staying and fighting the Labour cause.

I’m very happy with the direction that the Labour Party is currently taking. I think we are doing the hard work – the long, slow, unrelenting slog – of building a party that isn’t simply a credible opposition, but that when the time comes will have a viable, exciting programme for government. Back to the drawing board is hard. But it can be the most rewarding thing you can do. I believe in our long game and the way we are playing it.

But I need to accept that there are others in the party who are not happy. Almost by dint of my being satisfied, those who were satisfied when I was not will not feel we are on the right course. They of course have a right to feel this way. I admit when I first heard about The Purple Book, I was pretty hacked off. Like Luke Akehurst and Johanna Baxter, I felt the timing was inappropriate and the tactics and quoted language gauche at best. But despite these misgivings, I now feel that my initial reaction – anger at what I felt to be an ostentatious display of disunity – was the wrong one. It was a reaction born of fear. It was the same reaction I accuse others so easily of having to me and to the policies and strategies I champion.

So I offer today two apologies. Firstly I apologise for jumping to conclusions about the motivations behind the Purple Book. Even if my conclusions were right, I was wrong to dismiss the need of those behind the project to be listened to, if not necessarily agreed with.

But more importantly, I apologise to those whom I have judged for their fear. I still disagree with your analysis, conclusions and strategy, but I am wrong to dismiss how easy fear is to fall into and how hard it is to escape from. I will not stop challenging you, I will not stop promoting the things you fear, but I will try to be more collegiate in my doing so, and to be more understanding that fear happens to the best of us, and to me.

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A Call for Collectivism

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By Emma | No comments yet.

This post first appeared on Labour List

Recently there has been a lot of focus on individual players within the Labour Party. This is inevitable, and – as Mark’s recent piece observed – leadership matters. I understand this – trust me, I wouldn’t have devoted my summer to Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign if I didn’t – but it’s not the only thing that matters, especially in a party such as ours. It was Ed’s recognition of the value of our collective nature that – in part – led to my support for his candidacy.

The ranking of cabinet ministers by their profile in prliament and the press has some superficial attraction. We can see who is best placed at taking our messages out to the public, and who has the ferocity and forensic skills to represent us in high profile parliamentary briefs. Both of these are important in attracting future voters and scrutinising the current government. But there is something missing in this assessment, and that is the job some are doing in making the party itself a vehicle capable of winning and governing again.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of looking for a messiah to lead us from the darkness, believing that our path back is all about one person – the right person – and to ignore all the other things we need to do. The idea that we should put all faith and decision making into the hands of a charismatic leader has served us well in the past, and Tony Blair’s charisma and strength to carry out much needed reform worked well for Labour for many years. But then it stopped working.

It stopped working in part because Blair got tired and picked his battles less carefully, allowing the initially brilliant strategy of New Labour to become an inflexible dogma that in the end destroyed it. But it also stopped working because it can only ever be an illusion that policy and governance can be achieved through the work of one person.

It’s a dangerous illusion too. Because the more we believe it, the more we seek a person, the “heir to Blair”. Brown’s inability to be that person was in part his failure to understand that he didn’t have what it took, but more a failure to understand that if you aren’t, you need to offer something else, not just attempt to shape yourself into a leader. If we spend all our time seeking personalities, we will continue to play in the shallows of personality politics giving less attention to the truly difficult bit, the building of a party than can work together, using all its resources, to create policy that is both ideologically and politically satisfactory, and to build a narrative together that adapts to our separate communities. Some will read this article as an attack on Ed Miliband. It isn’t, not one bit. It is actually applauding the fact that I believe Ed sees the importance of this strategy.

This is why seeing Peter Hain ranked so low under the measures used concerns me. Because I’ve heard from Peter several times as he works with me and the party to have a conversation (one people can actually believe in) about how to change our party. I know that Peter is doing the work that won’t get him in the pressn and won’t get him parliamentary coverage but that is an absolutely essential part of making us able to win and fit to govern. He’s rebuilding the Labour Party from one that only functioned through the control of a small, exceptional group managing the message, policy, direction and process, to one where every member feels they have a real connection to the party and the ability (if they want it) to contribute to our policy making. It isn’t sexy, and it won’t generate press coverage, but it is the start of rebuilding a movement that has long term appeal in our more democratic age.

We don’t yet know what the outcome of the Partnership into Power review will be. I hear the same cynical voices as everyone else does about what has gone so wrong before with the NPF and the process until now. But if we are going to make Labour policy and politics about more than the personalities and something all members can be proud of being engaged in, we need to put aside that cynicism, and feed into an important process. If we take ownership of it, it will not only have the strength of mass acceptance, but it will also be far harder to dismantle or ignore. So let me return to conference next year and tell the Labour Party staff member who drunkenly told me that “the NPF doesn’t matter” that it (and the wider policy making process) does now.

Submissions to the policy review and in response to the review of Partnership into Power can also be made by email to PiP@new,labour.org.uk or in writing c/o Policy and Research Department, The Labour Party, 39 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0HA.

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Why Are You Labour?

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By Emma | 5 comments

I’ve been a member of the party since I was 15 years old. I have stuck with it, as I have the sense to understand that it is when the left splinters that the right wins. I also know that it’s not about political parties winning and losing a giant chess game, but about the people the parties represent and the competing visions for Britain that our parties  – at their best – represent.

I stuck with Labour in Government, through Iraq, through arms sales to Tanzania, through control orders and 90 day detention, through ID cards and being extremely relaxed about the rich” because I knew that on balance we were doing good. I was critical internally but loyal to the party, because i know that a civil war in the Labour Party will only hurt the people we are supposed to protect.

There are people int he party who differ from me. They do see the whole thing as a game, and there is definitely more than one opponent. They are playing games with the stability of the party, threatening war, rather than engaging in conversation. As Labour goes into a long process of policy making, they don’t want to stick around supporting the party through the result. They see how far we are from a General Election and, hooked on the adrenaline and testerone they overdosed on during first the election campaign and then the leadership, they can’t stop campaigning. They have decided to wage an addled permanent war with anyone who might make the Labour Party look vaguely different from the mould they set in 1994. They are also, to be charitable, scared. There are other kids playing with the toys they used to claim were theirs alone. They are worried about where they fit in a post New Labour future. Where once they were kings, now they are members.

Red Ed is – in reality – anything but. He’s a social democrat with some considered and nuanced positions on civil liberties that move the party beyond the Blair years, but he’s not Michael Foot. What Eed seems to be intent on doing, if having a conversation with the party, the unions, the Socialist Societies about how we develop a new raft of policy. He’ll get some of that wrong (and we’ll all disagree on exactly what he gets wrong, as we will all have our own ideas) but if he really listens to the whole party, he’ll also get a lot of it right.

The Milburnite Militant Faction will have to learn that their role is to be like the rest of us. Not better, not worse. We are here not to beat you but to converse, convince and hopefully convert you. Convert you back to being a democratic socialist who understands that

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. That it believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

Every time you lash out, you wound not the leader but the party. Every time you engage in constructive dialogue, you convince a few more people. Sometimes we will convince you. Sometimes you will convince us. But you will not convince me or anyone that your sniping and backbiting is done for the good of the Party and more importantly for the good a country cowering under the treat of horrendous Tory cuts.

The Party is at a good place in the polls. We are ready for a coherent policy process alongside a demonstrable fightback against this coalition. We have a leader and we aren’t going to have another contest anytime soon. Do you want Labour to win the next election? If so, and if you really think we’re going so badly wrong, get into the process, have your voice heard. But if you continue to brief against the party, knowing that it will lead to electoral defeat, you are the new Militant, and your nihilistic destructiveness will not be forgiven. Not by the party and not by the voters.

Grow up.

 

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Hopefully this is the last time I will ever post about Tony Blair. I won’t be buying his book, I won’t be reading his book (I hear the prose is terrible) and I don’t take his interventions very seriously, so won’t be reacting to any of his ridiculous statements about policy or politics.

My interest is in the future of the Labour Party and the policies a future Labour government will enact. Some of this future will be based on an analysis of history, so the only reason I am responding to Blair’s book is to put my take on the history of the Blair administration. This is in addition to my pre-election analysis of what Labour needed to change to get over 1992.

We won in 1997 because we offered a radical alternative to the Tories. for all Blair’s subsequent positioning, and for all the criticism of him at the time, this was a real Labour agenda with some real Labour achievements. The Minimum Wage, Freedom of Information, the New Deal and statutory holiday pay were all radical at the time and very Labour.

We were rewarded for this radicalism in 2001 when we won a second landslide. Turnout was significantly down though – at the time felt because the election didn’t seem to be much of a contest. Perhaps this lowering of turnout should instead have been a first warning, but it wasn’t taken as such. Instead,  forces within Labour decided that the reason for winning was not the radical policies we had enacted, but the triangulation and rightist presentation they had been dressed in. Slowly at first and then more rapidly as Blair became more and more disconnected from his party Labour started to ditch the radicalism, and dress up managerialism with a shiny right of centre wrapping. Blair’s regret of the Hunting Act strike me as an obvious regret over one of the last truly radical acts of that era of government.

In 2005,  Blair was incredibly lucky to be faced with Michael Howard as Tory leader. Had the Tories chosen a Cameron style change – someone not from the discredited Major years, someone young and charismatic – the election could have been a lot closer. We lost millions of votes and over 100 seats. Fought as tired New Labour with full emphasis on triangualtion and modernising (Forward, Not Back – worst election slogan ever?), we only managed to limp to a three point lead over the Tories in the national polls. We didn’t win that election as New Labour, the Tories lost it again as the Same Old Tories.

To learn these lessons properly, we need to deny the braying voices on the right of our party who are frozen ever further into the New Labour dogma of eternal rightward shifting and triangulation. We won and were then rewarded when we offered a radical but electable alternative. We started to lose when we offered little but managerialism and attempts to outflank the Tories on the right.

We will continue and deserve to lose if we don’t just talk about offering something radically different, but do so too. Our leader – whoever they end up being – must understand the need the electorate will have to see a difference, a radicalism about our offer and must be able to sell that vision with passion and conviction. Brown went wrong not because he abandoned New Labour, but because in promising to abandon it and them failing to offer a definition of what his vision of a post-New Labour government meant, he failed to actually move on but ended up merely offering a blurring of the presentation.

We must now – after too long – define Labour for the 21st Centuary and make an attractive offer of that definition.

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Tonight I’m going to a campaign event with the Kinnocks supporting Ed Miliband for leader of the Labour Party. I mention this because I have nothing against party elders taking sides in our leadership election.

On the other hand, I do have a problem with them going negative. If Ed does win this campaign, Mandelson knows that his quote will be dragged out at every opportunity to damage Labour. He used to run our communications, he knows full well how these things work.

So I can only conclude that Mandelson has put the protection of his own legacy above the interests of his party and the electorate they want to serve. Ironically, in so doing, he has only served to further tarnish his own reputation. What was once a caricature he played up to when it suited him has now hollowed him out from the centre leaving nothing but a hapless New Labour shell.

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I’m not surprised or disappointed that Alan Milburn has agreed to work for the coalition, I’m surprised and disappointed that a man like this ever managed to make his way through the Labour ranks in the first place.

For every Labour Party member who makes it to Parliament, to Government, to leadership, there is an army of people who made this happen. these lucky few aren’t uniquely blessed by God, they were chosen among a number of other suitably qualified candidates and fought for by a determined army. We praise and appreciate their talents, but don’t ever think that doesn’t mean that we aren’t equally aware of their weaknesses. They are there because of us, and while they are elected to serve the country, their first mandate is to do so in the democratic way that we as a party agree is the best way forward. We have different ideas from the other parties, and we know in our hearts that ours are right. They should never, ever forget that they are there as our representatives. They are not bigger than the party, and the way we all know this is that they wouldn’t be elected as an independent.

We don’t work this hard for the betterment of one other person’s career, but because we believe in a better way of organising society. That’s important to us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need or want  to be challenged. We understand the need to be constantly evaluating what this organisation means and would mean to our modern citizens. It does mean that when we take you on as our representative, this underlying belief is what you are there to represent. That we will only accept a challenge when presented through the prism of our unchanging values.

Having this army of volunteers work for you must feel good. I can understand how a person may come to think that it is their unique talents that is important and not the collective values they are there to represent. My understanding this doesn’t make it right. It isn’t.

Neither does this make our party one of narrow interests. The myriad interpretations of our values always make for interesting policy discussions and debates. But in the end, we do come back to our core values in an understanding that they are what unites us.

The last time I saw Alan Milburn speak, it was at a Fabian Conference. He spoke shallowly, attacking the concept of Social Housing seeing only an outmoded model of community based housing vs an ownership society. His model of Social Mobility is well meaning, but narrow and shallow. His willingness to work with the coalition doesn’t surprise me, as he is exactly the kind of New Labour politician who forgets why he was elevated and what was holding him up. He believed far too much in his own mythology, and I’m sure has taken this position with the coalition is the certain and unswerving belief that he is the only person for the job.

But anyone who shared  in the values of the Labour Party would have no faith that this ideologically manic government would implement the kind of solutions we believe will actually work. And anyone who was willing to implement the kind of small state sticking plasters solutions to the gaping wounds this government is already inflicting could never have shared our values.

Labour must learn that we will only survive while we champion, rather than hide, our values. The New Labour Milburn days are thankfully behind us, but what is to come is still unsure. I hope for the sake of our values and the people we champions (as opposed to the people we choose to lead the championing) that we get this crucial next phase right by basing it on our core values.

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The views stated are those of Emma Burnell and the other occassional contributors.
They are not the views of any employer or organisation with which these individuals are involved.
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