I have come in for a lot of flack since my recent post, ‘Concentrating On The Issues That Matter‘. People have misrepresented my position – and my values. I have, however, taken on board the feedback that it doesn’t have to be ‘either-or’ but rather ‘and’ when it comes to developing and communicating values-based policy and economic-based policy.
Just to clarify, however, my initial post wasn’t actually about Louisa or the Marriage Equality Bill at all, but about the strategy Labour has pursued so far this year. Most will know (or assume) that there is a process through which Labour private member bills pass before they are allowed to be entered into the ballot. Louisa’s bill passed through the caucus committee process, was drawn and Louisa did a fantastic job of mounting a campaign, rallying support and maximizing the opportunities. For this I have immense respect.
Anyone that knows me, my family and my politics will know that I value human rights above all else. Equality of opportunity is my guiding philosophy and the reason why I am involved in the Labour party.
That clarified, let me start with the premise that the left owns the political space around human rights; around the values that create neighborhoods and build communities. Voters don’t often question our values and most actually subscribe to them. Labour doesn’t need to convince voters that our values are sound: we do, however, have to convince voters that we are prudent managers of the economy; that we have ideas that can transform a faltering country into a prosperous, vibrant wealthy one where jobs will be created, sustainable wealth generated and companies encouraged to invest in the future. Track records count for nothing when it comes to asking the country to put its faith in Labour, but demonstrated financial competency and a clearly articulated vision does.
As a party what we now need to concentrate on is attacking National where they are perceived to be strong: the management of the economy. Very few, if any, of the Nats major promises around the economy, employment and ‘building a brighter future’ have been realised. Their major policy platform is the sale of state assets and relying on free market solutions to solve the current economic crisis. Excuse after excuse has been proffered as to why jobs are being lost, companies are closing down, people are leaving for good and child poverty is so high. What Labour needs to concentrate on is offering positive solutions: criticize and critique, but then outline what a Labour government would do differently. Tony Blair remarked that hope and optimism inspire: lets become the party of hope and optimism.
Labour’s challenge is age old: proving that we are prudent managers of the economy; that we do understand the problems and that our solutions are realistic. I know that David Parker has been doing some serious thinking about this and he is a man of huge integrity and intelligence; and a man of courage. I expect to see some pretty revolutionary ideas to come from his office.
I don’t believe the maxim that oppositions don’t win elections; governments lose them. I believe that 2014 is an election that Labour can win – or lose. The campaign started December 2011 and needs to step up to the next level: Now!
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