Philip Collins in the Times
Today's piece in the Times by Philip Collins claiming that Labour's "positioning has left it left of sensible" is really pretty tragic stuff - opening with a rather silly personal attack on the PM's motives for supporting greater equality.
Bizarrely, it accuses of lack of radicalism and reforming zeal a string of departments that include many - DCLG, Home Office, DWP - which are run by former Blairites.
I'm agnostic on public service reform issues. When I hear about a public service reform policy that will really deliver better services for ordinary citizens, like city academies, I back it. But when I hear about schemes that appear to offer little improved service delivery at a price of deliberately picking a fight with the unions or our own core supporters, or to be predicated on the basis that every existing public service is the wrong way of doing things, I don't.
Collins seems to have elevated public service reform to an end in itself, not a means to delivering Labour's objectives of equality and social justice.
He has misread a Tory Party that is moving to the monetarist right as having "moved gingerly across the spectrum" to the centre.
The reality is that voters really don't get as excited about the public service reform agenda as policy wonks do. They are interested in the end results - better or worse services - but not the positioning war over who is the more radical reformer.
Collins doesn't seem to get that we only have one Prime Minister and he is a bit busy dealing with the greatest world economic crisis since WW2 to focus on whizzy new reforms that will bring no electoral benefit and probably just cause a fight in our own ranks.
Similarly DWP Secretary James Purnell has been rather too busy making sure Job Centre Plus can deal with the dole queues to keep David Freud on side by pushing the welfare reform agenda.
Public Service Reform is a debate we can come back to when the economy recovers. Or one that departments and ministers not in the economic frontline should just get on with with the minimum of fuss.
In the mean time there's a more urgent task and voters would see any distraction from it into a "my reform is more radical than your reform, I've slain more sacred cows that you have" as frivolous and disconnected from reality.
Labour's focus on finding Keynesian solutions to the economic crisis isn't "left of sensible", it's the only sensible response to a crisis of this magnitude. Collins' obsession with the minutiae of a policy agenda that isn't where the debate or the reality in the country is at, and with point-scoring attacks on Brown based on yesterday's battles, is miles from "sensible" positioning. Someone needs to tell him that he is acting like the ultra New Labour equivalent of Japanese soldiers found in the jungle in the 1970s refusing to accept the Emperor had surrendered. Describing a Government with Peter Mandelson in it and Alastair Campbell advising it as "left of sensible" is evidence of Philip having lost the plot.