Posts Tagged ‘Tal Michael’

Labour cannot return to the days of “no compromise with the electorate”

11/08/2015, 10:04:27 PM

by Tal Michael

A winning slogan? You wouldn’t think so, but it seems many in the Labour party have decided that this is the approach they want to take. Twenty five years ago, in the piece of academic work I took most seriously during my time at Oxford, I wrote an essay on the rise and fall of the Labour left. Conventional wisdom was that “the left” was at an all-time low as Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley crushed a challenge from Tony Benn and Eric Heffer.

My analysis was slightly different. I argued that following defeat in 1987, most of the left had concluded that it is far better to propose a modest programme of reform, and when in government to put it into practice, than to go into an election and either lose, allowing the Tories to make things worse rather than better, or to win power, but discover that the economic situation makes it too difficult to deliver on the promises made.

When Neil Kinnock lost in 1992, most of the Labour party agreed to accept the leadership of John Smith and then Tony Blair not because those of us on the left had redefined our own personal views of utopia, but because we recognised that a moderate platform of reform was more likely to secure electoral success.

Whether the 1997 Labour platform was moderate is a matter of contention. A national minimum wage, devolution, investing in health and education, getting young people into jobs, halving child poverty and tackling poverty in old age were all a radical departure from the previous Tory government. The introduction of a minimum wage was going to bankrupt the country according to the Tories – yet now they are pretending they are going to raise it to a living wage.


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