What on earth is ‘Next Labour’?
‘New Labour’ was always something of a myth; there never was a political party which was called New Labour although it became something of an iconic term to describe a very real process of change that did happen to the Labour Party. Now David Miliband has coined the term ‘Next Labour’ I hope it does not become as iconic a term because I for one don’t see the benefits of associating the Party with a well-known High Street clothing store in the publics imagination. Looking through the interview [D] Miliband thinks that the problem was Labour’s timidity;
“We all said we needed to renew but we didn’t sufficiently. People felt we were late to the game on issues like political reform. Antisocial behaviour – we lost focus on that. Immigration, late to the game with the Australian points system. Social care, late to the game.
“We were too timid on the role of government in the economy. We were too slow to see that climate change was not an environmental issue. It was an economic, security, foreign policy issue.
“We got told that political reform was a middle-class issue and we basically stopped. We did the freedom of information, human rights act, devolution of Scotland and Wales, London. But we basically got frightened off. It was at best half a political revolution. Maybe a third. We should have done the House of Lords, for goodness’ sake.”
Miliband deserves credit for the prescient observation that this timidity was down to the scarring inflicted on the Party in the 1980’s though why he can’t apply similar logic to our position on Trident (something where this scarring is so apparent it defies belief) is a little beyond me. David on this score is also hampered by the same problem as his brother; one of credibility, since both were part of a Cabinet that was collectively responsible for this timidity it’s not hard to wonder whether he any voiced any of these concerns in those legendary [non] smoke-filled rooms and arrive at the conclusion he probably didn’t.
Notice one thing missing from the words of the Miliband’s? Much talk about renewing and returning to our roots but nothing about the trade unions and giving them a fairer deal out of the Party they support and gave birth too. Nobody wants a situation where they have the controlling interest in violation of democracy but frankly, they are given a rough deal and also could be the source of a well-spring of new policy initiatives that do return the radical edge to Labour. Along with a radical change of Labour’s internal structures to invigorate them (something that also escapes the broad brush of the brothers Miliband) this is part of the process they say they want to take place. Members in this election have to remember that it is important not just to try to rally support and organise for their chosen candidate but they insist all candidates adopt an agenda that in terms of internal and external policies reflect their concerns and interests.