Friday, October 3, 2008

Avoiding a McCain = Brown, Cameron = Obama meme

"Amazingly, Brown has thrown it all up in the air, after 15 months, and started again." - The Guardian

Sound familiar?

With David Cameron receiving positive Obama comparisons from the US media, Gordon needs to be wary of the development of an Obama/Cameron vs McCain/Brown meme. I applaud the move towards party unity (and think that it might just even achieve that aim) but I worry desperately about Labour ceding the change mantle to the Tories, something that the back to the future return of Peter Mandleson risks.

I was a strong advocate for a snap General Election last year and hated the decision to back out at the last minute. The chief reason for going to the country then (asides from the polls) was that for one brief shining moment Labour owned both the change and the experience mantle: a black swan political event that demanded immediate exploitation.

If Labour is to now have any hope against Cameron it must learn from the lessons of McCain's strategy-less campaign, avoid the temptation to throw more Hail Mary passes and settle down to executing good political strategy in the long term interests of both the country and the party. That means using policy for politics.

The brilliant columnist Polly Toynbee lays out the kind of policy agenda that could win back the change mantle for Labour:
  • Establish state funding for all parties to take money out of politics and restore voters' trust
  • Abandon the national ID cards scheme and 42 day detention without trail
  • Increase taxes on individuals who make more then £100,000 to pay for tax cuts for the middle class
  • Connect the minimum wage to earnings plus 1%, so the low paid keep advancing instead of falling behind as in the last 2 years
  • Adopt proportional representation and an elected House of Lords to make Britain a 21st century democracy
The approach may not work in the short term, but it would benefit Britain and Labour in the long term. The way for Gordon to win is not through the 'miracle move' but rather through radical policy that changes peoples lives for the better.

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