It’s “answer time” for the candidates

Five candidates have been nominated for the position of Labour party leader. Left Foot Forward sets out the six areas that we want the debate to focus on.

With nominations now closed, we know that Diane Abbott, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, David Miliband, and Ed Miliband will all be on the ballot papers that get sent out in early August. Left Foot Forward is hoping to interview each of the candidates before endorsing one.

Three weeks ago, we set out some ideas for the questions that the leadership contest should address and asked for readers to comment. After a lively discussion, for which we’re very grateful, we’ve adapted the questions. These are the questions that Left Foot Forward wants answered by the five leadership candidates:

1. Economy: The financial crash and consequential recession has called into question the party’s economic assumptions. Do you believe that the Labour government was partly to blame for what happened? Do you still believe that pursuing growth is the ultimate economic goal of government? If so, how would you encourage growth and what structural changes to the economy would you want to see (eg away from financial services)? Within that economy, how large a component of GDP should public spending be? How should 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. Society: David Cameron asserts that Labour was responsible for presiding over a breakdown in society. Do you accept the charge that new Labour encouraged a culture of individualism? Do you think it eroded civil liberties? Do you think David Cameron is right to want a “Big Society”? How else can Labour pursue a culture of community and solidarity? How do you see the debate about immigration fitting into this? And what about the pursuit of less inequality?

4. New politics: The coalition government is now committed to a referendum on the Alternative Vote, House of Lords reform, recall, and fixed term parliaments. The Labour government arguably failed to deliver on its promises in these areas. What explains our inability to deliver full constitutional reform? Would you be in favour of a referendum that proposed a more proportional electoral system as well as AV? Which system will you advocate for?

5. The election: Labour did see a large fall in support from so-called C2 voters, but it also lost DEs. Since 1997, the party has lost five million votes. What in your view explain this? How can the party win back trust and, ultimately, votes? Where else has support been lost? How should Labour try and win it back? Trust lost over Iraq?

6. 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?

10 Responses to “It’s “answer time” for the candidates”

  1. Jonathan Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd: It's "answer time" for the candidates – the questions our readers want addressed

  2. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Will S

    I think you need to work on the questions and what Labour should do next to renew its connection with its natural constituency and develop new policies to give it back its cutting edge.

    Main issue is the limited gene pool involved in the leadership election, all too Oxbridge, all too professional politicians, all too middle class.

    On the specifics:

    1) Economy:

    The public sector investment was needed, no need to be defensive on this issue. Great things have been achieved.
    On the economy only recently has the civil service policy of the managed decline of manufacturing been challenged.
    Going in to the Credit Crunch the deficit was £10bill too big, 50% was emergency spending and 50% was the HMRC / IR being behind the curve regarding where the current dividing line was between tax avoidance and tax evasion.
    The tax management industry needs to be put in the spotlight.
    Along with all the sole trader / false contractor tax limiting employment practices, transparency is required at all levels.
    Long term average — tax = 40% / spending = 42% incl 3% investment.
    Public sector pensions should be tied to the stock of public sector infrastructure investment. You paid tax to build things in the public sector therefore you should be due a dividend / pension by the people who use them. Use some of the NI take to fund the projects. Not so much new money as hypothecation with a vengeance.
    If the Treasury don’t like it then tough.

    Going forward we should fight the cuts.
    As explained previously the £6.25bill “emergency” cuts put forward by the poisoned dwarf was an exercise in barrel scraping. I just hope that all the 10p rebels put as much effort into the CTF campaign as they did previously.
    The current establishment dog boiling orthodoxy shows that the lessons that were learned after the 1930’s have been forgotten all too quickly.


    Middle class religion for all the atheists amongst us.
    Global warming is an issue, but it is not the issue.
    Publicity stunts, lurid science and the prevailing wisdom / orthodoxy are limiting the public debate and turning lots off people of the basic message.
    Consumption taxes are needed to encourage thrift and recycling as demand from the developing world will increase the cost of raw materials and limit our ability to fund our current high usage lifestyle.

    Consequently needs work and it definitely should not have primacy in any policy review.


    Dave the Rave is wrong, we are a safer, kinder society than we were 13 years ago.
    Improvements need to come from the bottom and not be introduced from on high by a professional middle class empowerment nomenklatura. The left needs to get back to its roots and do better.
    Big Society is the big swizz, provision of public services by ladies who lunch. Free schools are the Inclosure Acts meet Education, 20% good idea which will be crucified by the grasping middle classes generating islands of privilege.

    This whole issue shows the vital difference between Labour and the Tories on the issue, TB + academies was a way of trying to kick start educational improvements in some of the worst performing schools. Smurf and the Tories have turned the idea on its head and want to reinforce advantage with a focus on the best performing schools.

    Give it 10 years and we will have a network of gradgrind schools where the parents get a £3K cash back for sending their children to part time education in classes of 40 with work experience in the afternoon sewing mailbags.

    4) New politics:

    Same old stitch ups, Cleggy will be the one to watch.
    Tories will split into Clan Cameron and UKIP light.
    Lib Dems will split into Orange Bookers and Beardy Weirdys.
    The coalition will become a political entity in its own right, the next election will involve a coupon.
    Labour is now the only truly progressive party, the Lib Dems, always the party of the middle class welfare state hiding behind a progressive fig leaf are now a busted flush.

    Voting = AV is only halfway there.
    Lords = 80/20 elected?
    Serve 8 years, half elected every Euro election.
    Fixed Parliaments = No.
    Anything else = Not sure.

    5) Election:

    Labour = unstable coalition of middle class ideology and working class pragmatism.
    Rational and emotional if you like.
    Too much of the first and not enough of the second on both counts.
    The people at the bottom were forgotten about unless doing something would get some kudos at middle class dinner parties.

    As noted before the leadership contest is doing nothing to help in this regard.

    The focus has to be on how best to engage and include the most marginal in society.
    That should be the white underclass, the lost, the bitter and the bewildered and not middle class asylum seekers who are playing the global migration game for their own benefit.
    Need to do more work for the regions and not just London and the South East. Progress was made but it was not big enough in scale and confident enough in its publicity. Unfortunately this point comes up in far too many issues —

    Pupil premium = We already have it in place, only it involves 17 different programmes and only comes tp £1,470.22 + 1/2p per pupil on school meals and it took the press to put it out in the open.

    Iraq = For what its worth I supported the intervention.
    Progress has been made although our military campaign in Basra was latterly a shambles and the military should take the blame.

    A’stan = UN supported intervention which is turning into a quagmire. However we need to stick at it both for our own security and the benefit of the locals. If we don’t we will need map-makers who can write “There be dragons” on increasingly large areas of the world’s landmass.

    Regarding the shenanigans surrounding the justification of the invasion of Iraq, Labour / TB / AC was trying to be too clever by half — the basic facts were there, what was not needed was all the flannel and the lurid headlines.

    6) Next Steps:

    Why did Carlisle and Dover go so badly wrong?
    We also need to work on Essex, awkward area as I know from personal experience but we need to have a message that registers in Bas Vegas as well as Edgbaston.

    One issue I do have was the media presentation that all the parties were not telling the truth regarding the deficit, I fear that a lot of them were purposefully pushing the “they are all as bad as each other” viewpoint to limit Labour’s attractiveness to the DE segment and so reduce the turnout which then hurt Labour the most in terms of votes.

    We should never have let this falsehood stand, straight out of the Tory media playbook to hurt the progressive vote.

    C2’s are Thatcher’s children and are much more volatile in their voting intentions, especially in the South. On top of that, I would suggest that all the lies and bile poured on GB did damage in the end.

    After Mrs D, the C2’s in the north went, “there but for the grace of God go I”, those in the south were a lot less charitable.
    Again the media played its part, I mean who goes into Asda and winds the workers up by saying “every little helps”?

  3. mike


    first Coalition cuts

    Boris makes 450 Met police officers redundant (after passing out)

    what happended to no front line cuts ???

    Broken Britain ?

    Dont worry the lib Dems will make a stand against front line cuts


  4. Anon E Mouse

    Fat Bloke on tour – The class war, in view of the fact there is no difference between the parties re: private schooling (something over which they had no choice), backgrounds etc – Harriet Harman anyone?, is really 1970’s dude.

    Labour no longer has it’s traditional heartland vote and came third in the European’s last year and the Tories have the majority popular vote in Wales for goodness sake. You need to move on or ask why all the Labour leadership candidates went to Oxford and realise that they are are all the same – Abbott excepted.

    Your remark “The public sector investment was needed, no need to be defensive on this issue.” shows a total lack of grasping the enormity of the task the new government faces with the debts your beloved Dear Leader, Gordon Brown, has left us with.

    The fact John Prescott is heading to the Lords to join Lord Hattersley proves my point – Labour *were* a bunch of hypocrites. (Note the *were* there).

    Look to the future Fat Bloke on Tour – you’re fighting a pre 1997 election and need to move on….

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