Saturday, 11 October 2014

Labour can learn from Tories

As the general election approaches,and with worrying news from by-elections, Labour must not panic,and resort to idiotic attempts tp please Ukip voters with tougher immigration rules. In fact, it can learn an important lesson from the Tories! No, not on policy, duplicity, arrogance and self-interest, or any of the other hallmarks of modern Conservatism. There is one aspect, however, of the typical Tory`s DNA, which the Labour politicians would do well to emulate in the build-up to the 2015 election; its confidence! Not just confidence in Miliband as leader, but in winning the election with policies which will transform our society. Yes, those policies need some radicalisation, but if change after the election is not on the cards, why should people vote Labour? 
     Caroline Flint defended Labour`s energy initiatives strongly in a recent radio interview, but then said, "If labour win the election...". Similarly, Douglas Alexander and Spencer Livermore , respectively the chairperson and director of Labour`s general election strategy, wrote an article for the Observer, in which they said they are "confident the Conservatives are beatable". Of course they are, as are Ukip, but the statement does not inspire the reader with the belief that the writers have confidence; the statement is shrouded in doubt. Even the shadow business secretary said in his Campbell interview on an election victory, "I don`t know if we will, but we can, if we make the right calls", words  hardly symptomatic of a party confident of its own destiny.
      After four years of the Tory-dominated government`s cruel austerity policies which targeted the weakest and most vulnerable, whilst benefitting the richest and putting Britain into 28th position in the equality league table, selling the country`s assets at rock bottom prices, and taking education and welfare back fifty years, Labour should be displaying rather more optimism than that! The more confidence the politicians reveal about their victory in the election, the more likely it becomes that the voters will believe in them and their policies.Why do so many people still believe that the Labour government brought about the economic crash? The Tories repeated it again and again, Goebbels-like, and with no doubts; the fact that they had no evidence whatsoever never stops them making such claims. Farage does it too, while Labour leaders exude timidity.
     The electorate will not only remember the full effects of the Tory-dominated coalition government, they will fear what a Tory government might do over the next five years if given the chance, provided, of course,
Labour frequently reminds them. Tories have admitted their aim is to shrink the state back to 1948 levels, whilst having started already to dismantle the welfare state, take education assessment back to the 1950s, and privatise the NHS. Do fair-minded voters approve of such ideas, or do they want their beloved NHS retained, albeit better funded, and big businesses paying employees a living wage, and the tax gap reduced? Do they want prisons so overcrowded suicide rates rise frighteningly, energy prices so high many go without food to keep warm, or private rents so high as to make thousands of lives a misery? Do they want thousands attending food banks every week?
    With Tory-like confidence shown by all Labour shadow-ministers, MPs and parliamentary candidates, voters themselves will be more likely to be convinced that Labour can deliver on its policies. When Cameron and Osborne smirk their way through parliamentary questions and television interviews, Labour`s response should be to repudiate, not accept. Ed Balls`s prediction of soaring unemployment will be mocked, Miliband`s so-called "weirdness" will be ridiculed, so Labour leaders should retaliate with facts, confidently delivered. Tory claims of job creation can be explained by agency work and zero-hours contracts, and 540,000 resorting to self-employment. Shouldn`t Labour be shouting this from the rooftops?
Even with their appalling record, Tory politicians still expect voters to believe their lies, because they repeat them with so much confidence, as with their "long-term economic plan". But that plan is for a low-wage economy, which means the majority do not share in the profit, and a low-tax economy, with welfare services reduced even further; the "Tory lie-machine" and Ukip`s racist nonsense can be challenged with confidence, and when Labour leaders do it, there will be knock-on effects in the constituencies and on the doorsteps. Let`s have no "ifs" and a lot more "whens"! 


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