Penurious progressives

There will no doubt be much soul-searching at this week’s Labour party conference. There will no doubt continue to be subtle – and not so subtle – attempts to distance the party from the legacy of the Brown government and its cataclysmic electoral implosion. Without, of course, suggesting that it is therefore inappropriate for some of Brown’s closest associates to be leading the party to a bright new dawn, whether red, blue or purple.

The biggest issue on the agenda is the party’s stance on the economy. How can it regain credibility for its stewardship of the economy, given the perception among much of the electorate – successfully promulgated by the Coalition – that the poor state of the public finances in 2010 was almost entirely attributable to Labour’s uncontrolled largesse with other people’s money? Personally, I don’t buy the narrative that it was all Labour’s fault. But it doesn’t matter whether it is accurate or not. It is the one that the party will have to neutralise if it wants another sniff of power any time soon.

Yet, there is a different way of thinking about the problem. And it perhaps highlights the scale of the challenge the party faces. Read more of this post

Progressive but not centre-left? Best not to …

On Sunday we had an interesting juxtaposition.

The Observer declared that Ed Miliband ‘opens the door to future co-operation with the Liberal Democrats’, contrasting Tory policies with ‘progressive ones’ and inviting Liberal Democrats to join him on the side of progress. This resonates with his previous attempt to appeal to the putative ‘progressive majority’ as the banner under which left-leaning Lib Dems might align with Labour to dislodge the Tories.

While I was reading this Observer piece Nick Clegg was interviewed on Andrew Marr’s show. Lib Dem commentators have already noted that Nick’s performance contained some promising signs of differentiation from the Tories, although some of his comments on health reform were perhaps not quite what some would have hoped for (as noted, for example, on Caron’s Musings here) . Read more of this post