Polly Toynbee reckons the debate about policy direction in the Labour party - whether to move to the left or right, is missing the point. She is right, Cameron is proving that spin is all you need to win votes. Cameron is thinking of every possible right on cause he can support to improve the Tories image without actually having to mention any specific policies. So he backs the ANC and Nelson Mandela (20 years too late) and talks of removing chocolate oranges from checkouts and of children's clothing being too revealing. Stuff nobody could disagree with. He talks of social justice and reducing inequality despite only ever supporting policies that did the opposite. He talks of improving the work/life balance and the environment but opposes any law that improves these things. Yet it is working - he has opened up a nine point lead for the Tories - clearly, having policies really doesn't matter!
The evidence suggests that Cameron and Osbourne and the other Major government cast offs (Redwood, Hague, Duncan-Smith, etc.) are more Thatcherite than Thatcher. A Cameron government wants 'flatter' taxes, will suck up even more to right-wing America and Murdoch, thinks charity can replace public services, will be more enthusiastic about privatising the NHS, is already in a mess over Europe and even in opposition launders money illegally from dodgy businessman abroad to fund its party. People say to me that it is a weak argument to defend Labour by pointing out that the Tories will be worse, but what sort of logic is it to support the worst of two options just because you don't like the status quo?
Peter Wilby seems to think it is already too late for Labour to win the next election anyway (and being middle class he isn't particularly bothered if they did lose). He is obviously wealthy enough not to worry too much about a Tory government.
Of course all this talk of Labour renewing itself in opposition is rubbish. We all know what happened in 1979. Then the disaffected Left thought Thatcherism wouldn't last. Of course we had to endure 18 long years of it! It is dangerous to suggest that Cameron couldn't repeat this. For a start the Tories have made no secret of their intention to gerrymander the boundaries back in their favour.
It is however going to be very difficult for Labour to turn their electoral decline around. It will take something the current leaders have shown little of - courage. The courage to lead public opinion, the courage to surprise the electorate, the courage to choose the best path to win the next election rather than the best path to please Gordon Brown.
To convince the electorate that Labour has changed they need a fresh face, someone with integrity (yet enough experience) to choose radical politics. I believe there is an appetite out there for radical policies for changing the constitution, changing the electoral system and on improving the environment. These are the policies that could renew faith in the Labour party and John Denham is the man (untainted by the Iraq war) who could deliver this. Here's hoping.
The last word I leave with a commenter on Peter Wilby's post who I think sums up the core problem the Labour party should be trying to solve;
doow "All wealth is created by men's hands, the trick is the boss class get 90% of the wealth created. The workers, the real wealth creators get 10%...The base hasn't really moved since Robert Tressell wrote The Ragged Trousered Philantrophists."