LABOUR BACKBENCHERS DEMAND BOLD NEW NARRATIVE
In a joint article for Progress Magazine, 12 Labour backbench MPs, including six former ministers, urge the leadership to develop a convincing new narrative which has to be more than a series of policy initiatives in order to restore Labour’s fortunes.
Writing in the Labour Conference edition of the magazine, they say that Labour has no explanation yet as to how it will steer the economy through the troubled waters ahead claiming that one-off taxes and pay-outs, no matter how justified in their own terms, do not amount to a strategy. There is a yawning chasm which the Labour party needs to fill, or the government will suffer a hammer blow.
They suggest the government needs to be better at communicating what it’s going to do about the things that affect people day to day, noting that Harold Wilson’s pound in your pocket and Thatcher’s likening of the economy to a household budget may have been derided by the pundits but understood by the public.
The MPs label recent policies to deal with the crises of 10p tax and the housing market defensive and suggest instead Labour needs to be championing change, leading the debate about new ideas and renewing confidence in our economic competence.
They note the government’s strong investment in public services, but suggest there is a malaise. They write: “We have spent money, diversified, provided choice. But Labour needs to do more to give the public a sense of ownership of public services and a say in how we design and deliver services. This does not mean, they caution a return to a top-down command economy in the public sector but instead urge the government to shift power away from centralised institutions to the individual.”
The backbenchers criticise the failure to create a wholly democratic legislature as unfinished business and argue there is a lack of coherence in the devolution of powers to subsidiary tiers of government, and what should be the final settlement for Scotland. They suggest that fixed term parliaments could provide some certainty to voters and redress the balance of power between the executive and citizen.