Missing in action: two big ideas for Labour….
Yesterday, on LabourList, I said we need member-led policy creation to be the centrepiece of a reformed Labour Party. It should and needs to be; however, we do need to address the yawning policy chasm that exists at the heart of our narrative. We actually have a few decent, big ideas which create a grand narrative and a positive vision for the country. We had at least two that could be a starting point. However, both seem to have vanished without a trace.
I cannot honestly remember the last time Ed Miliband mentioned the living wage nor that Andy Burnham mentioned the National Care Service. This is a shame because both are ideas with huge transformative potential. Indeed, they could form a key part of our narrative on two key issues. The living wage has huge potential to alleviate pressure on our hard-pressed households. Its implementation would also allow space to reform the welfare system where it has been used to boost faltering incomes and it rewards work by ensuring it provides a decent standard of living.
The National Care service was Andy Burnham’s big idea during the leadership campaign but he seems to have done an equally mystifying disappearing act. Of course, since the start of his tenure, Burnham has been largely occupied with opposing the baneful NHS Reform Bill but still. stories about the crisis in our care sector have come and gone without hardly a peep from him on this issue. This is an effective counterblast to a government determined to destroy the NHS – an expansion of its role in the health and welfare of the nation. Electorally it would strike at the government right at the heart of its electoral base.
I can’t help but feel these ideas have been ditched in the timid dash for ‘credibility’. We should revive them as we start the long but necessary process of filling Labour’s policy void.