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Gloria Del Piero on the state of Labour

By Labour MP Gloria de Piero
 
PEOPLE thought Labour was bonkers back in the 1980s when the Party said it would raise their taxes and ban the bomb — and, of course, they were right.
 
Fast forward a few years to 1992. No change.
 
A dip into Peter Mandelson’s memoirs The Third Man is a reminder that, even then, voters thought Labour only wanted to look after “losers, not the ordinary man”.

 
And in 2010? Research published this week reveals that six out of ten former Labour voters reckon the Party represents the past not the future.
 
OK, the fact that David Cameron failed to win an outright majority in May made Labour’s election defeat seem less serious than it was.
 
But the plain truth is that this was a party abandoned by working people who want to get on in life: In 1997 Labour led the Conservatives by 23 points among skilled workers, but by 2010 they trailed the Tories by eight points.
 
In other words, there’s a mountain to climb.
 
Traditionally, this has meant rubbishing the other side for all you’re worth. Except the other side isn’t always totally wrong (though I thought letting more people out of prison and abolishing ASBOs was barmy).
 
This week, for example, the Tories proposed to end council home tenancy for life and suggested that tenants could receive incentives to move to council accommodation in places where there are more jobs.
 
As I said, when you’re the Opposition party, it’s tempting to object to everything — it can feel like the easy option.
 
But while I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to give up their home, more mobility in the system may be a good thing. In essence, if you say “yes” to some things, people are much more likely to listen when you choose to say “no”.
 
I think David Miliband gets this. He knows we have to get the economy back on track while making difficult decisions about how to get the deficit down.
 
I’m sure he’d make a great PM, and polling suggests most Party and union members agree. But, as Mandy’s book reminded me, what we think doesn’t mean much at all.
 
The judgment of the voters is the only one that matters.

 

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