24 November 2010


Jonathan Freedland gets it when it comes to the task facing Ed Miliband:
Rather than trying simply to repeat the Blair trick of 1994 – where he declared his intention to scrap the party's commitment to "common ownership of the means of production" – a better focus would be generating a coherent answer to the question of why Labour lost in 2010 and what it would do differently next time around.

To their credit, those close to Miliband acknowledge the party has become disconnected from the British public, that it no longer looks or sounds like them. Remedying that, the leader's camp insists, will be a challenge to the party – "It will not be comfort food," says one adviser, but it will lack the macho simplicity of crushing the unions, as the uber-Blairite scribblers demand.

In the meantime Miliband needs to look outward and do the job of opposition. Lord knows, there is no shortage of things to oppose. Above all, he needs to shift the emphasis of Labour's economic argument. Right now, the party begins with the concession that, yes, there have to be cuts – and then offers quibbles about the timing and degree. That doesn't work. The only way Labour can punch through is by saying that the coalition is taking a reckless gamble with the British economy – with Ireland as a warning from hell – and that any cuts in spending should wait until the return of growth. Otherwise it simply won't get heard.

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