Every election defeat brings a slew of publications from the losing side about how to win again. Back in 1935 was “The Strange Death of Liberal England” by Dangerfield. In 1959 after Labour lost a third successive time it was “Must Labour Lose?” In 1997 the late Iain Gilmour co-wrote a book called “Whatever Happened to the Tories?” Now the hand wringing/ soul seraching is on for Labour.
I blogged before that I was contributing to a volume called “What Next for Labour?” Well it’s actually now out and I have my copy of this rather handsome volume here. The cover looks something like this:
The contents are a thought-provoking bunch of 29 relatively short and readable chapters grouped into sections on campaigning, equality and Labour’s future as well as various policy briefs. A bunch of different people are the authors: ex-NUS President Aaron Porter, ex MP Sion Simon, some current MPs, peers of the realm and serving councillors. A full list is here.
As a collection it can be dipped in and out of rather than neccessitating a cover-to-cover read. So far I’m enjoying the contribution of Lord Temple-Morris. Whilst I don’t agree woth everything he says (as in the 1959 defeat analyses he toys with the idea of abandoning the name “Labour” in favour of something less clunkily historic) he is an interesting figure – was son of a Tory MP and thrn a “dripping wet” Conservative MP for 23 years fighting 10 elections as a Tory before taking the plunge and joining Labour in 1999 after growing disillusioned with the Conservatives’ increasingly rightward shift. Temple Morris asserts:
“Labour does not quite seem to get enough credit for its considerable accomplishments. The foundation of our modern state occurred in the 1945-51 period yet seems taken for granted; the 1960′s was a vital decade of social change certainly made easier by a centre left Government; the achievements of the Blair period, constitutionally, electorally and socially are to be lauded and never denied; similarly the social spending of Gordon Brown together with his international financial management at a time of need- all represent considerable governmental achievements. That is progress to be proud of and to be built on. No blank sheets but rather a turning of the page.”
As Osborne ignominiously downgrades his growth forecast and a double-dip could be on the cards, the words are more true than ever.
Get hold of your copy of this required reading for anyone interested in the future of British politics for a bargain price of less-than-a-tenner here.