Cruddas on Labour’s crisis

It was a toss-up between reproducing John McDonnell’s piece on the Comment Is Free site (which is worth reading) and the following from the Sunday Mirror by Jon Cruddas, the MP for Dagenham and a deputy leadership candidate in last years transition from Bliar to Brown.

I figured that since Cruddas got the backing of various union leaders and the pressure group Compass it might be of greater interest:

‘The 2007 local election results were supposed to be the bottom of the pit. The last disastrous kick in the backside for an unpopular PM who stayed in office too long. Things couldn’t get worse than 2007.

Well, 2008 is worse. And the bad news for Labour is that if we carry on as we are, it will carry on getting worse.

Over the last few years Labour has been losing elections because millions of our core supporters have decided to stay home on election days.

Well, the missing millions are back – but now they’re voting for the other side.

Evidence suggests that even when turnout was up in Labour areas last week – usually a good sign – it was the other parties that got higher votes. Actually, the safer the Labour area the worse our result was.

Let’s not mess about – our people are abandoning us, we’re sinking fast and no amount of hand-wringing and promises of “listening and learning” from election night will change that.

The senseless 10p tax band row hurt us – but it’s only one example of where we’re going wrong. Hitting hard-working people in their pocket is not bright – but the strategists thought it was. You see they needed some cash so they could cut taxes for the so called middle-class swing voters.

The New Labour attitude that you can kick the workers from pillar to post because “they’ve got nowhere else to go” has reached its ludicrous conclusion with the election – with working-class votes – of the SNP in Scotland, independent radicals in Wales and the BNP in industrial English towns like Stoke-on-Trent.

There were crumbs of comfort in the fact that Ken Livingstone bucked the trend and kept core Labour support on board. He has never played by the Westminster rules. But even for him it wasn’t enough. Elsewhere, after Thursday, the picture for Labour is bleak. The people we have let down found someone else to vote for after all.

We’ve shut ourselves in Westminster strategy sessions and policy wonk conferences instead of getting out there to understand the material concerns of our people. There has been a rupture between the political-class and the working-class.

The fantastic policies with which Labour has transformed this country – SureStart, the minimum wage, and, until last month, tax cuts for the poorest – amount to nothing if we remain focused on a tiny slice of the country and not all of the people, including our core supporters.

We need to focus on picking up votes from all sections of our country. With the economy on the downturn it is becoming clear that the issues that affect core Labour voters – like housing, debt, immigration, insecurity at work – are also hitting people in so-called “middle England”.

The political essentials are the same in Reading and Rotherham. We have to govern for everyone. That’s why we need to remember those forgotten millions. Working-class voters have been let down and patronised by a Government that was elected to represent them.

As times get harder and the cost of living continues to rise, the middle-classes are also struggling. They need to feel that Labour understands their fears.

We can speak with one voice. We don’t need to play one half of Britain off against another. It’s not too late to change – but choose change we must.’

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