Labour must rebut ‘the mess we inherited’ to expose the mess the Tories are making
Posted on 13 August 2013 | 11:08am
Just before the summer break, I did a fundraiser for Labour Welsh Assembly member Leighton Andrews, and during the q and a was asked if it was too late for Labour to fight back against the coalition mantra about ‘the mess we inherited.’ My reply, which seemed to meet with broad approval, was a very firm ‘no, it is not too late, and it has to be done.’ I have been something of a stuck record on this, but the fact is that during the long months it took Labour to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown stepped down, the Party paid insufficient attention to the mantra being put down with clear strategic intent. Added to which,Labour having just lost an election, there was a desire among all of the candidates to be seen as a break from the past. The unintended consequence of this, however – unintended by Labour that is, though not the Conservatives – is that the very good record of the last Labour government has been blunted if not lost as a political weapon. Steve Richards is absolutely right to be arguing in the FT today that Labour must be more robust in defending the record, including the GB/Alistair Darling handling of the global financial crisis. Britain is, I think, the only country in the world whose politics has somehow conspired to pile the blame for the crisis not on those who caused it but on those who led the world in solving it. Labour have played into Tory hands on this, and there needs to be an admission of that, so that even at this late stage, a proper debate and a proper reckoning of the record can be had. The right wing press and its broadcasting echo chamber will not be easy to turn around on this, and the coalition will scream ‘mess we inherited’ even louder. But it can and must be done. Britain had ten good years of growth and prosperity under Labour which is one of the many reasons we won three elections and stopped David Cameron winning a majority.