I sometimes wonder whether I’m too optimistic for my own good.
I spent today taking calls at work from friends down about the result, thinking the game’s up. “We’re just fucked” seemed to be a common refrain.
Perhaps it’s a mindset from years watching the Tigers, but I was brought up to believe that it’s never over whilst you’ve still got time on the clock. Difficult – yes. Hard – undoubtedly. But impossible, no.
I think people know Gordon’s been given a tough hand – rocketing food prices, uncertainty in the housing market and speculators driving up oil. Some even think he’s getting persecuted for not having the best presentational skills.
But colleagues who campaigned up in Glasgow East and in the phone banks said time and time again, the voters were saying they didn’t really know what we stand for anymore.
People know we’re tough on security but 42 days detention without trial, ID cards and keeping innocent people on a DNA database are hardly the kind of policies to send people flocking to the poll booths.
I think it’s time to start telling them what we’re FOR.
- Helping parents give their kids the best start in life
- Providing the education and training opportunities to help people get decent jobs
- Supporting those who need help to get back in work
- A heath service driven by the quality of care
- Making sure pensioners enjoy the retirement they deserve
We need to get back to clear, deliverable and progressive policies and give the public compelling new reasons to back us again.
The 1997 pledge cards worked for three reasons. Firstly, people could see what our priorities were, secondly they were achievable and distinct targets and thirdly, they were easy to remember.
- Cut class sizes to 30 or under for those 7 and under
- Fast track punishment for persistent offenders
- Cut NHS waiting lists by 100,000
- Get 250,000 under 25s off benefit and into work
- Ensure low inflation
11 years later, we need to ask our members what those priorities should be for the next election – now. Your ordinary member, who doesn’t go to wards or GCs, rightly feels ignored, demotivated and unloved of late. No one likes to their team go on a losing streak.
Maybe that’s because we still live by the old politics, where policy is decided at the highest level and left to the grassroots to sell on the doorstep.
So let’s have a proper open debate – not a token consultation – about where we really need to go. But let’s also sell back the many successes of three successive Labour Governments.
Let’s see Progress, Compass and The Fabians work together to play the increasingly crucial part in making that convincing argument for the fourth term.
And most importantly, let’s forget all this talk about dumping Gordon. He’s by far the best person to get us through these tough economic times (though if I hear him saying he’s “getting on with the job” one more time, I WILL scream!)
So no, we’re not ‘fucked.’
We’re bruised. We’re bloodied.
But we’re not going down without a fight.