A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress column this week looks at where the current Labour policy review sits in historical context:


Blogger Andre said...

Hey Luke,

Long time reader, first time commenter. Have you got the time (and inclination) to answer a question for me?

I’m confused about Liam Byrne’s policy review process and have been putting the picture together from various sources. Am I correct in my assumption that there are currently two Labour policy reviews going on at the same time? And if Peter Hain is managing the more grassroots, continuous NPF process, then is Byrne coordinating the Shadow Cabinet mission?

My confusion comes in the scheduling. You quote Byrne saying that they want "…to have had a million conversations with the public before the end of July to solicit public views." Which sounds to me like he has a July deadline. But this seems to coincide more with Hain’s schedule, whilst I understand the Shadow Cabinet are going to be conducting their review for the next two years.

I guess in the end I’m just kind of in the dark about Labour’s policy process!


11:18 am, March 17, 2011

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


Peter is doing a review of the formal policy making structures/process of the party (ie the NPF etc).

Liam is leading the shadow cabinet in reviewing policy, which will both gives us some immediate policy ammo to fight the govt with faster than the rolling NPF process can, and inform/feed into the slower NPF process (which Peter Chairs) which is aimed towards writing a manifesto at the end of 4 years.

12:17 pm, March 17, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, Luke's article does contain some obvious nonsense:

"...to argue why Labour should abandon unilateralism"

But the problem here was that Labour never made any serious effort to argue for its policy in the first place. Imagine a company that brings out a new product and then makes no real effort to promote it!

Labour's illogical abandonment of principle did not lead to victory in 1992 as Luke correctly observes.

'tax-and-spend approach to economics and public services, which scuppered us in the 1992 General Election'

Here, Luke uses the language of the Republican Party to attack the Labour Party. All governments have to 'tax and spend', don't they?

And, furthermore, no evidence is cited to support such a claim. The claim is, in fact, highly dubious at best.

A big reason for Labour's defeat in 1992 was the disastrous leadership of Neil Kinnock which ended with the catastrophic Sheffield rally.

In 1983, Labour would have been better off with John Smith. His plodding competence would have been much better than Kinnock.

Labour would then have performed significantly better in 1987 and could have won in 1992.

12:39 pm, March 18, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinnock was a brave, gutsy politician who saved the Labour party from drifting into irrelevance - a very real prospect following the 1983 election disaster.

He was mercilessly traduced and ridiculed by a cowardly, mendacious and corrupt Tory press. It is to say the least disappointing when supposed "leftists" parrot their nonsense.

BTW, Smith was never a contender for the leadership in 1983. Had it not been NK, it would have been Hattersley.

Hope this helps :-)

12:38 am, March 19, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12.38:

John Smith was not, as you rightly point out, a candidate in 1983. I am merely saying that it would have been better if he had become leader in 1983 rather than 1992.

Kinnock was greatly attacked by the press. However, the press can only fool the people for some of the time. If people see the object of that attack and see that he is not really like that then the press has a credibility problem.

Kinnock actually validated the attacks that were made on him. That is the problem. The term 'windbag' stuck to him.

I can remember Kinnock saying during the poll tax controversy:

"The poll tax is alive and well...
and still kicking the British people"

It was very clever and effective but, sadly, it was almost unique. If he had been like that more often then he would have been much more effective. To be fair to him,
his failure was not inevitable.

11:27 am, March 19, 2011


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