Has Labour got what it takes?
As the party faithful assemble in Brighton for a stick of rock, a pint and a group hug, the press have taken a more than passing interest in the uttering’s of Ed and Ed.
Sandwiched between the Lib Dems and the Tories next week, Labour can upstage the Liberals, [not that hard at the best of times] and undermine the Tories; or so one would hope.
But the problem is that so far they have failed to do either. A succession of policies that look less thought out by the minute and statements that interviewers have delighted in shooting down does nothing to encourage the casual observer to view Labour as the party in waiting; moreover it could be seen that it is the party that is wanting.
Whereas we would have hoped for ground breaking policies that have that ‘wow factor’ we have had statements that are more designed to improve the Tory angle than change the mood music. Even statements like ‘we will repeal the Health and social care bill’ to save the NHS send shivers down the spine. Not because this half baked bill needs to be lost in the mist of time along with the Poll tax, but because you have to wonder what they will have in its place. It was the Blair administration that introduced Foundation status for trusts with Milburn at the helm and it was Hutton as Secretary for State for Health that paved the way for the independent sector. And the less we say about PFI in health and elsewhere the better. Even this leaves aside the concept of ‘patient choice’ that the Tories leapt on to champion further moves for private intervention.
But the concern does not end here. More money for parents, scrapping the one room policy and having all of this open to scrutiny in the hope that the Tories will play ball, leaves you to wonder what it is Labour can or will achieve if they want to be seen as the true alternative when much of what they have said so far is based on hope and a promise.
It is all very well Ed [Miliband] saying that it will all be all right on the night of the election because it is then that we will have the detail, when the electorate want to know what they are signing up to now and not bread today and jam tomorrow. There is the real danger that come the national election the voter will go for the devil they know then the devil they cannot trust or understand.
But there is another concern that appears to be outside the radar of Labour and its spin doctors.
Since the election there has been a large number of new voters and by the time we hit the starting blocks for the next round of electioneering we will have had a load more.
Many of these voters will, we hope, be keen to know what the parties will do to give them a future. To give them the comfort that they will work, receive a pension, an income and a quality of life. In short ‘what is in it for them?’ So far there is not a lot to see and many of the party politico’s on all sides are assiduously designing policies that will improve or affect the middle classes whilst throwing a few crumbs to the poor.
Labour has something to offer but the problem is that if it is not brave enough to be bold and instead assumes that by making statements that they hope will appease the masses this will win them plaudits. It will not.