Monday, June 08, 2009

Unity, hard work and Labour values

Responding to disastrous election results, one former cabinet minister wrote the following:

"The message from voters on the doorstep during the local elections was very clear. I lost count of the number of previously loyal Labour supporters who said, "Not this time". Again and again I was told: "Tell them they've got to get back on track, in touch with us before we start voting Labour again."


This renewal [of the Labour Party] must be guided by clear principles and an understanding of the position we are in. These principles can be described as unity, hard work and Labour values.

Unity: Spending time fighting between left and right, or Blairites and Brownites, would lead us to certain defeat. Unity is something which everyone needs to buy into, and cannot be demanded by people who are not prepared to show it themselves. In the short term, it requires an end to the destructive instability and speculation over the leadership.

Hard work: Keeping in touch with local people and making sure that we are prioritising the issues that they find important requires a lot of hard work. It means demanding and delivering high standards of service at a local level, and responding effectively and promptly to people's complaints. This is crucial in defeating the BNP and others who feed off disaffection in deprived areas.

Labour values: All of our greatest successes have been possible because of our underlying beliefs in a fairer and more equal society. To rebuild trust, we need to explain better how what we do in government is based on these principles. We also need to attract people who care about improving their area to get involved and join the party."

Timely as these arguments are, they weren't actually written in response to this year's disaster. In fact, they were written by Oxford East MP and former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Andrew Smith in 2006.

And in 2009, when Labour nationally was getting its worst result since women were first given the vote, Labour in Oxford, under Andrew's inspirational leadership, were making gains, defeating the best efforts of the Lib Dems, Tories and Greens to elect nine county councillors (nearly twice as many as four years ago).

I spent last week in Oxford helping with the campaign. I met dozens of amazing, talented and committed people who gave up their time to volunteer and help Labour win. As well as the nine councillors elected, there were another five who had worked so, so hard, who would have been great councillors but who narrowly missed out.

Unity, hard work and Labour values. Now, more than ever, that's what the Labour Party needs. It's not a coincidence that where these three principles have guided Labour, they've gained support and elected hard-working community representatives, and where they've ignored these principles, they've got hammered.


At 9:48 pm , Anonymous Ed said...

Is that right? I thought the way to get things back on track was turn up at a "Progress" meeting and denounce the leader ...

I also thought resigning on the eve of an election and parading around with a silly badge was the best way to secure good local election results up and down the country.

At 7:55 am , Blogger Robert said...

Keep New labour in Power would we notice the difference if a Tory party took over, I think we would do we care nope.

At 8:32 am , Blogger Rachel said...

Hear, hear Dan! As soon as I heard the result I though, that shows: progressive, sensible policies, knocking on doors and pulling together work no matter what the political climate.

And then you pointed that out better than I could.

The Oxford party deserve their success and there are some very talented people elected who will do a great job for their constituents in the face of a Tory county council.

To the author of the previous comment: whatever your view of the national picture - trust me you would notice a huge difference if the Oxford Labour party was replaced by the Tories!

At 10:34 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well you vote Labour then.I've other things to fight for then keeping New labour in power.

At 9:09 pm , Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

I'm all for avoiding an embarrassing descent into bickering, but unity can only get us so far. After we lose a general election, whenever that may be, there will have to be an ideological conflict.


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