Thursday, 13 August 2015

Can a real Labour leader please step forward?

It is all so simple.  You stand for the leadership of the Labour party and say what we want to hear.  Student fees? Scrap them.   Spending on the NHS? No problem.  Social Care?  Increase spending.  The economy? Nationalise the energy companies.  Any questions? And there is the worry.  No questions. Why is the media not asking the questions it would ask if Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour party?  It is almost a conspiracy of silence.

Now I don't really believe there is a 'conspiracy' in the media to give Corbyn an easy time.  But Labour members and supporters should be wary.  Corbyn is not being tested in this election. It is time he was.  Labour needs to know if he can cut the mustard.  What would his answers be on the economy?

Should the improbable happen and Labour won the next election it would only do so if it can persuade voters it is sensible about the economy.  Voters are not without the ability to add up. They can add up the cost of promises.  If you offer the earth, then it will cost the earth.

Jeremy Corbyn has to date been unchallenged in the leadership debate. It is about time he was. He says what many on the left want to hear.  He sounds socialist.  But nationalisation isn't socialism. It didn't provide all the answers in the past and it won't do so now. We do not live in a society where the majority do not have a stake in the 'capitalist system'.  Most of us do, and some would argue, we all do.  Old rhetoric about 'workers' and public ownership won't do.  We need a more realistic approach to the economy.   We need coherent approaches to the cost of social care and the NHS.  We need sensible approaches to economic growth.  We need to address inequalities of opportunity, yes, but we need also a thriving economy to provide opportunities for success. Aspiration isn't a dirty word. We need a society where all can strive and achieve their aspirations: decent education, housing and job opportunities.

This doesn't mean Labour can't or shouldn't be anti-austerity.  On the unit-austerity argument I am with Jeremy Corbyn.  I have argued in this blog against the Tory and Lib Dem narrative on the economy.  But we do need to be realistic about the choices we need to make if we are going to pull the NHS and Social care out of crisis.  It will cost and we need to accept that we will have to demonstrate how it will be funded.  We need also to be realistic about welfare.  There are problems and there is unfairness at the margins of qualification for benefits. There is a poverty trap that needs addressing.  If Labour doesn't address these concerns it fail to reach out to voters who are concerned bout these problems.

Stand up the leadership candidate who will address these issues realistically and who will be capable of presenting a coherent voice for the Labour party.  The country needs you!

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