Tuesday 22 August 2006

Conservative 9 point Lead in Poll Confirms our Warnings and Requires a Radical Break with New Labour Policies.

Apologies for lack of postings over last 10 days.

I have been on holiday with my family sailing round the Norfolk Broads in largely wind and rain but having a great time. So it is particularly depressing to get back to a Guardian poll showing the Tories with a 9 point lead over Labour. It gives me no pleasure in saying that the poll simply confirms the warnings we have been issuing that New Labour policies and activities in Government are alienating whole sections of that broad coalition that threw the Tories out of office and decided to give Labour a chance in government in 1997.

This is just one poll but it adds further evidence to confim the trend of the 2005 general election, the 2006 local elections and other polls that more and more people are losing trust in Tony Blair and New Labour.

When people vote they do so on the basis of a leap of trust. They take a conscious decision for a whole range of motivating factors to place their trust in the party they are voting for. Often they are motivated by a longstanding commitment to that party, sometimes passed on over generations. For others it is because they have lost confidence in the existing party of power and have gained sufficient trust in an alternative party to enable them to undertake this leap in trust.

Labour Party members and the organisations affiliated to the party need to wake up fast to the fact that large numbers of people who have supported us and who have turned out to vote for us in past elections have lost trust in both Blair and New Labour. This breakdown of trust is so fundamental and deep rooted that without sigificant change the party is drifting to loss of office and allowing the return of the Tories.

Of course Cameron is vacuous when it comes to deatiled policies but that isn't the point. His strategy is simply to create an image of the Conservative Party as a safe pair of hands in which to catch the falling disillusioned Labour supporters.

Support for New Labour is falling apart because its policies, particularly its international policies, are not just unpopular but also have meant that members of the public are increasingly feeling that they just can't believe a word the Prime Minister or any government minister or spokesperson tells them any more.

This latest poll is interesting not because of the Tory 9 point lead but startlingly because it has demonstrated that trust in the Government under Tony Blair has fallen so much that only 20% of the public believe that the Government is telling the truth over the terrorist threat. For all John Reid's appearances in the media, people are not reassured about the trustworthiness of the Government. The poll also reveals just how out of touch the Government is with the judgements of the British public.

For over a year now minister after minister have repeatedly asserted that there is no link between the Government's policies in the Middle East and the risk of terrorist attack on Britain. This poll demonstrates that 72% of people do not find this credible and judge that Government policy has made Britain more vulnerable to terrorist attack. Staggeringly only 1% of voters think that the government's foreign policy has made Britain safer.

What has been New Labour response over the last week to the obvious plummeting of support for the Government? Extraordinarily New Labour is so lacking in anything new to say it falls back on the traditional neo con solution of offering a tax cut. Bizarrely the person they roll out to float this new policy of abolishing inheritance tax is Steve Byers, the very person who as a minister embodied along with his press officer Jo Moore the breakdown of trust the public had in New Labour ministers telling them the truth. This is how desperate and how far the New Labour project has sunk.

How do we regain the confidence of the British public? Only a radical break with New Labour will restore some basic trust in Labour. Simple changes of personnel in leadership positions won't be enough, especially as all of them Brown,Reid, Johnson, Hain, have all been architects, advocates and loyal supporters of the existing policies.

If one of the main reasons people no longer trust the government is its foreign policy then this is the ideal place to start the radical break with New Labour.

Step by step this would involve a declaration of independence from the foreign policies of George Bush, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, a return to the United Nations to seek new initiatives under the UN for Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and the reformulation of British foreign policy as a peacemaker lead by a new British Ministry for Peace.

A radical break of this kind would give us the chance of convincing people that Labour can be trusted once again. Without it we will continue to allow New Labour to put us out of office and let the Tories back.