What Labour needs to do!

Dear Ms. Harman,

I believe that the Labour party has lost its direction and conceded the initiative to the Conservatives because it doesn’t seem to know what it stands for any more. The Tories have created a very successful narrative demonising benefit claimants as feckless, workshy scroungers and Labour’s failure to counteract this has alienated your core vote. Your decision not to oppose welfare cuts is just the latest example of your failure to respond to Tory policy; Ed Balls objection to previous cuts on the grounds that they would affect “strivers” rather than “skivers” is a classic example of how you have adopted the Tory narrative rather than challenge it. Of course there are some people who abuse the system, but most claimants want to work and are not scroungers. It is not just pensioners who should be entitled to dignity; you should be making the argument that most people are unemployed or sick temporarily and, having paid into the system, are perfectly entitled to expect that JSA/ESA will be sufficient to allow them to make ends meet until they find another job. They don’t need to be bullied into looking for work by having benefits cut to the point where they do not allow them to live. Most people did not vote Tory at the last election and so there is no need to slavishly accept Tory policies.

The other problem is that Labour has no credibility when it comes to the economy. The party needs to make it crystal clear that, contrary to Ed Milliband’s view, it accepts that it did overspend during the Blair/Brown years, when it failed to recognise the boom, and should have been paying down the national debt while times were good. Countries as well as individuals need to live within their means and so running a surplus should be the normal state of affairs, but that doesn’t mean accepting the Tory proposition of cuts for cuts sake. I believe that the Tories desire to cut beyond what is actually necessary will be their undoing, just as it was last time round. The euphoria surrounding Tony Blair’s election in 1997 was because he was seen as saving the nation from excessive Tory cuts to public services and the Tories have learnt nothing from this. It was Labour’s failure to recognise its past mistakes that allowed the Tories to stoke up fears that they would get into bed with the SNP whose economically illiterate anti-austerity policies will surely see them bankrupt an independent Scotland in no time. It is also important to accept that dealing with the deficit is urgent, as there is no way of telling how much longer the market will continue to allow the government to roll over its debt at the extremely low interest rates currently available. We really are not that far off going the way of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece.

A J Edgington – July 2015

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