07 April 2010

Lord Mandelson takes the brakes off

Peter Mandelson, in powerful and well argued speech, has lifted the lid on how Labour will campaign for a fourth term:

It is of course in the nature of politics that all long serving governments make mistakes and disappoint inflated expectations.

And some governments do get exhausted.

The Major government did. Even the Attlee government, despite all its achievements – perhaps in some ways because of the scale of them – rather ran out of ideological and intellectual steam.

This government is emphatically not in that position. Look at the last year. Labour is fighting this election on ideas. It is energised, optimistic. We believe this election is about a bright, renewed, British future.

On the Tory party:

Britain needs a government with the credentials to seize this progressive moment. I know that when David Cameron became Tory leader he tried to lay claim to these credentials. But either he was insincere or the task proved too great. Either way, Mr Cameron has not transformed his party.

On public services:

Because a government that puts cutting taxes first has to have a convincing story to tell on public services. And this Tory party doesn’t.

After 1997, under New Labour public debt as a proportion of GDP fell to the lowest in decades. This allowed us to put in place on a sound basis the largest programme of catch up investment in public services this country has ever seen.

In 1997 we said we would save the NHS and we have.
When Mrs Thatcher saw public services she saw vested interests. George Osborne sees just a mountain of waste.

Well, I’m proud of the fact that in Britain today there are far more people doing decent jobs that make for a decent society: teachers, classroom and nursery assistants, doctors, nurses, paramedics and workers in social care.

He concludes:

Labour’s argument is not “better the devil you know, back safety first”. After “time for a change” that’s the second most vacuous argument in politics.

Rather, the case for Labour in 2010 is that we have the experience and depth, the instincts, the leadership and the energy to take this amazing country though a period of national renewal towards a bright and optimistic future.

Labour represents the coherent, credible and progressive change that Britain now needs. And that’s what we are going to go out and fight for in this election.

Now comes the hard part.  Labour has to take the message and sell it to the voters in bite-sized chunks.  Blair would be able to do with ease.  It may prove rather more difficult for Gordon Brown.

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