Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Labour's new dividing line

Two articles are published simultaneously that map out two alternative directions for Labour. My guess is that the short term will be about dealing with events, particularly those thrown up by economic difficulties. However, the intellectual debate will rage in the background. I hope so because this is the exactly the philosophical and ideological discussion that needs to occur for Labour to have purpose after the next election, win or lose.

The first is by Phil Collins with Richard Reeves. Phil is Tony Blair's former speechwriter. I haven't had a chance to read it as yet but a flight to Amsterdam to see my sister should provide the opportunity (if the magazine is out.) From the article in the Guardian reporting Collins' piece, he seems to be arguing for a post-state liberal social democracy and asserts that Labour is heading for 'tragedy' if it doesn't accept this new post-Blair agenda.

Jon Cruddas' viewpoint is more established. And he puts some flesh on the bones in The Independent today. His perspective is more of a post neo-liberal interventionist government providing enhanced social insurance. On one point he is absolutely, 100% right: Labour is just not resonating at the moment. There needs to be something urgent and clear to dislodge that.

On the surface, the two visions are very different but we'll have to see more detail. What is certain, is that given that Phil has just started working for James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary and putative leadership contender (once there is a vacancy!), the discussion will broaden and deepen over the coming months. Behind closed doors lads, please.

No comments:

Post a Comment