What should Labour’s leadership contest be about?

This blog will remain neutral during the Labour leadership election. But we want to ensure that the contest is about the future of the party's policy & organisation.

Left Foot Forward is looking forward to the splinters. Yep, we’re sitting on the fence in the forthcoming Labour leadership election.

We’re clear that the process should be months, rather than weeks, culminating in hustings at the Labour conference in Manchester. We want to see as wide a range of candidates as possible. And, critically, we want a genuine debate about the future direction of the Labour party in relation to both policy and organisation.

To kick off this process, we propose here five questions that we think should define the leadership contest. But these are very much initial thoughts and we’d welcome our readers’ views in the comments section as to whether these are the right points to address. This time next week, we’ll publish a revised list of questions and use it to frame our analysis of the leadership election ahead.

1. Economy: Public spending was 36 per cent of GDP in 1999 and has risen to 48 per cent (partly the result of the recession). Net receipts are currently project to reach 38 per cent by 2011-12? What does the Labour party believe is the right size of the state? How do we pay for that? And what is the state’s role once that level has been set?

2. Environment: Tackling climate change is more critical now than ever before. In the face of fierce lobbying by vested interests, and mounting public scepticism how do we inject a sense of urgency into addressing the problem? How would you take steps not just to build a clean energy economy – vital as that is – but also to dismantle the old, unsustainable economy in order that Britain can deliver on the targets set out in the Climate Change Act?

3. New politics: The coalition government is now committed to a referendum on the Alternative Vote, House of Lords reform, recall, and fixed terms. The Labour government arguably failed to deliver on its promises in these areas. What explains our inability to deliver full constitutional reform? How can we ensure that Labour pushes the new Government further on constitutional change and campaigns aggressively in a referendum on AV?

4. The election: Polling suggests that Labour support among skilled manual (C2) workers fell from 45 per cent in 2005 to 23 per cent. Support from 18-34 years olds fell from 41 per cent to 32 per cent. What explain this? Where else has support been lost? How should Labour try and win it back?

5. The party: Across parts of the country – particularly London, Birmingham, and the northwest – good local campaigns helped increase some majorities, hold ultra-marginal seats, and win back councils. How should the party reform to embrace this local action? How should Labour learn from the “respect, empower, include” mantra of the Obama campaign?

What do you think?

46 Responses to “What should Labour’s leadership contest be about?”

  1. steven III

    people of salford are scrounging parasites (have you ever been to the shite-hole?) of course they vote labour.

    labour stands for nothing but power. labour is a political deviance like paedophilia is a sexual deviance

  2. Denyse Nante

    I think it should be Trust. Not because of the reasons above (it was an all party problem) but because after the expense scandal and now the coalition deal lots of people feel betrayed. I don’t agree that Labour completely lost touch with its voters, but that it didn’t articulate well enough all the good it stands for, or express sufficiently its achievements that most seem to take for granted. So for me building Trust; continued aspiration for all and a reminder of its sound principles – all topped off with a sprinkling of honest answers and a touch of humour.

  3. Tory

    We are In massive debt. With a deficit almost as large as Greece’s, nobody can really argue that point. Progressives argue that only direct intervention and Market regulation can ride the recession storm and allow Britain to emerge unscathed.

    With this left-wing ideal in mind, please explain to me the logic of the VAT reduction. Those shops and businesses that did decide to lower their prices, things still did not really cost less. When the wealthy purchased their luxuries however, their wallets remained significantly heavier than they would have been prior to VAT reduction. The cost of this rich serving venture? A lot more debt…


  4. LiberalCommunist

    Agree that a longer process, including thorough debate, would be healthier all round.

    What about civil liberties? One of the most nefarious elements of the New Labour project was its obsessive attacks on democratic freedoms. As long as this obsession remains – and unless the Labour Party actively welcome the new government’s forthcoming repeals – their claims to be a “progressive party” are absurd. How will a future Labour government safeguard the civil liberties they spent 13 years divesting us of?

    Immigration: seems you can either respond to concerns about immigration by making populist promises to “sort it out” or by tackling the issues head-on, being honest about the fact that immigrants contribute (have always contributed) far, far more than they take. Issues such as wage depression and occasional pressure on local services can either be tackled through tougher regulation/trade union powers and appropriate investment respectively, or by blaming immigrants and stoking resentment. What is Labour’s approach to be?

    Big Society: Will Labour – given its history and roots – be dismissing calls for a renewal of civil society, or will they instead be offering an alternative, genuine and authentic committment to helping rebuild citizen participation in economic, social and political decision making.

    And, er, the proverbial elephant in the room: Iraq. How can any progressive voter be reassured that a furture Labour Govt will not pursue a criminally insane foreign policy?

  5. keyo

    Dont mention, trust or truth or freedom,British jobs for British workers, oops forgot you dropped that one a while back.

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