Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Renewal is the watchword

Labour must identify clear dividing lines with the Tories to secure a fourth term

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We must start the campaign for the next general election the day the next leader and deputy leader of our party are elected. This has to be the top priority for the first 100 days of the new leadership team.

The last 10 years have demonstrated that fundamental change can only be achieved through disciplined and concerted effort in power rather than futile protest in opposition.

So we must set out clearly our values and identify clear dividing lines with the Tories. Our watchword should be renewal, not an excuse for reversal. Having shifted the centre ground of British politics to the left, we vacate it at our peril.

First, we must show that it is Labour that will ensure that everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential, irrespective of their background. As education secretary my priority has been to close the attainment gap between social classes and promote greater social mobility. This can only be done through continuing investment in our public services. We must show that the Tories’ spending cuts would put this at risk.

Second, we must stand up for families and greater equality. In the past I highlighted the scandal of women’s pensions and fought for the legislation that outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I took through the package of reforms that introduced paternity leave, extended maternity leave and provided the right to request flexible working. At the next election the clear dividing line with the Tories is that our family policy is bias-free: we will focus on the children’s welfare, not the marital status of their parents.

Third, we must stand up for our belief in the power of independent trade unionism as a force for good in our society. While I was leader of the Union of Communication Workers I defeated the Tories’ plans to privatise the Post Office. In government, I negotiated the agreement that reformed public sector pensions while protecting the rights of existing staff – an agreement the Tories have said they would rip up.

With a fresh team and the right policies in place we next need to organise to win a fourth term. So I would do four things:

• Continue to listen to members as we reshape the party. As part of my deputy leadership campaign I have already established a commission to look at ideas on party reform. I want to extend this and make sure we follow through on suggestions that come from the bottom up.

• Establish a new Labour Leaders’ College to train the next generation of councillors, MPs, MEPs, AMs and MSPs. I will also ensure that talent, especially from those groups not properly represented, is pulled throughout all levels of the party and turned into a high calibre front line force for the future.

• Enhance not diminish the union link, making sure that funding can continue, not in secret via large donations from wealthy overseas backers, but through highly regulated, transparent funding from working people through their trade unions to the Labour party.

• Develop a key seats strategy for the 40 most marginal seats in the country by establishing a vice chair of the party with specific responsibility for marginal seats, a specific campaign fund and a bespoke 36 month political communication campaign.

As deputy leader I would bring the voice of the party to the heart of government, play a prominent role in the process of renewal, enhance the leadership team and help us remain the party of government.

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Alan Johnson

is editor of

1 comment

  • Johnson’s approach is becoming more and more appealing. Having initially made my mind up to support Hain I’m now very tempted to jump onto the AJ bandwagon.

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