Wednesday 3 January 2007

New Year Statement: "2007: A Year of Choices for Labour."

2007 will be a year of critical choices for the Labour movement.

Over the last 6 months I have spoken at dozens of meetings of Labour Party members and supporters. As a result I have most probably met more grassroots activists than most Labour MPs or Party representatives.

A small but I believe significant thing that has struck me in these meetings is that fewer and fewer of our supporters refer to "our government" but instead say "the" government.

What does this mean?

I believe that it demonstrates the distancing of even our most loyal supporters and activists from what the government has come to represent under New Labour.

Of course there have been many policies over the last 10 years which we all support and nobody wants to see the Tories back. However the consistent message from the grassroots is that it's time to learn some lessons. honestly admit past mistakes and to move on.

People are worried that after a decade in office Labour has not realised the full potential of government and is at risk of losing power because it has made a series of catastrophic policy mistakes from Iraq to privatisation and the provoking of a forthcoming spring of discontent in the public sector.

People are crying out for a Labour government that provides real inspiration, describing the society we want to create and spelling out the small step policies we will implement to take us there.

At home they want to see a Labour Government transforming our daily lives by honestly addressing the pressures many face including inequality, poverty, low pay, debt, long hours and exploitation at work, housing pressures and, yes, a proper discussion on crime and community harm that goes beyond the failure of just locking more and more people up and attacking civil liberties.

Abroad they want to be able to take pride in a Labour Government playing a role in helping to secure world peace and overcome poverty, hunger, destitution and injustices in the developing world.

In 2007 the Labour movement has a clear choice to make.

Some will want to continue in the policy direction which has alienated so many of our supporters and put our hold on government at risk. They will want to spend their time justifying self evident policy failures and provoke even further disputes and disillusionment in our ranks by forcing through more of the same.

Others, like me, will want to use this year to explain what our society could look like under a transforming Labour government and to inspire people once again with the potential that we could have in government to enact this twenty first century socialism.