Kinnock on Kampfner
From the Guardian letters page:
"My friend John Kampfner (I want to vote for a progressive Labour platform. So I'm backing the Lib Dems, 9 March) is amnesic and myopic. His memory of Labour "changes for the better" omits the highest level of employment in UK history, the massive increases in NHS, education, science and overseas development investment, child and pension tax credits, and several other large contributions to social justice.
He evades the current reality of a government fighting against recession instead of fatalistically surrendering to it as the Tories did in the 80s and 90s, and will – if they get the chance – in a future of nominal market regulation. He ignores the future choice between Labour's measured halving of public debt over four years and the Conservative fiscal slicing "from day one", despite the expert warnings that such a course would inflict economic recession and social regression.
And then, having recognised the reality that Margaret Thatcher's best result was won with 44% of the vote because the rest of the electorate was divided (mainly) between Labour and SDP/Liberals, John campaigns for Liberal votes in 2010 – not tactically, but everywhere! No anti-tribalism can justify that inconsistency – especially when "a more pluralist politics" is only realistically likely to come through implementation of Labour's proposals for the alternative vote.
John Kampfner calls the memory and values of Robin Cook in aid. Robin was an inveterate, lifelong opponent of dilettante self-indulgence and always a principled, gutsy democratic socialist, never a sunshine soldier. He would see John Kampfner's "platform" as a scaffold, not a launch pad, for progressives.