Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Mr. Audacious

12
Nov
David Cameron's speech isn't simply a raid into Labour territory. The speech declares war on Labour's reason for existence.

There have, over the past hundred years, been disputes over what Labour is or should be about. Whatever individual views protagonists have pushed, most have agreed that Labour exists to protect and advance the interests of the poor.

It is this belief in our very being that Cameron attacks by looking at this Government's record. His choice of figures is in a few instances dodgy. The data on those at the very, very bottom of the income scale are not that reliable.

But Labour has spent undreamt sums financing its anti-poverty programmes. Despite this expenditure the programme has in recent years stalled. Labour has been slow to draw the right lessons.

This has given Cameron his opportunity. Read the speech assuming you do not know who has given it.

I guarantee that most people would conclude that this was a speech by Tony Blair who had carefully blended in the best of Labour's left-wing thinking. That is the size of the challenge we now face from David Cameron.

On one track he takes the argument back to the advent of new liberalism. The idea that people should simply be free is not for him.

The conditions for freedom have to be created. And then the new Tory state ‘must actively help people to take advantage of this new freedom'.

Cameron also asks why it is that, when Labour has spent record sums on welfare, the results are disappointing. He cites the Institute for Fiscal Studies, report that the Government's ‘current strategy of increasing (means-tested) child tax credit is effective at reducing poverty directly, but its indirect effect might be to increase poverty through weakening incentives for parents to work'.

A more rounded conclusion would have been more devastating. Tax credit penalises two-parent households and therefore actively seeks to break up the natural social ecology within which children are successfully raised.

Acting audaciously he argues that the alternative to New Labour is first, to make opportunities more equal and then, second, actively, to help create a stronger and more responsible society.

There is a lot here for Labour to pinch in renewing itself. How can Sure Start and education be delivered in a way which most favours the poor while also increasing the power of parents and local communities?

His ideas are thinnest - but then everybody else's are as well - on how the state burns itself up in creating a stronger society. But at least he has started the debate on the role of social entrepreneurs and community activists.

This thinking needs to be taken much further, but it is a wonderfully bold beginning and Labour must rise to the challenge.

Labour's normal stock response of trying to ridicule him simply will not do. Cameron's aim is clear. It is to turn traditional party politics upside down. The time for jeering at Cameron is over. Labour's survival will now entail outmatching his programme.
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Comments

Showing comments 1 to 4 of 4

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I thought it indicated that Mr Cameron has accepted the the new Labour philosophy of the Third Way
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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An item in a press column last week conveyed that Frank Field may be considering joining the Tories. I presume it may bewith reference to the drift of the above article.As one of the relatively few mps with outstanding integrity coupled with perceptive and rational reasoning powers I sincerely hope that if you change at all it will be to become an Independent until a new party that truly represents the best interests of the nation and the community emerges from the wreckage of the present undemocratic shambles.Regrettably, I share the view that Cameron is too much like Tony Blair and will ultimately complete the devastion that Blair has created through myopic self focus. If many of the blogs that appear with reference to Cameron's performance are indicative of his prospects of success he is taking far too much for granted.       
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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But Labour has spent undreamt sums financing its anti-poverty programmes. Despite this expenditure the programme has in recent years stalled. Labour has been slow to draw the right lessons.Labour has spent vast sums as you say. It's also left people in debt. The average worker has 300,000 pounds of government liabilties to pay off. When the person in the street finds out, they are going to be so angry that most Labour politicians will have to go into hiding.The next problem relates to what needs to be done to solve it. It's hack and slash. The consequences is that people who deverve better are going to be hurt and the responsibility lies with those that created the debt, and those that let it happen.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
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You were asked to think the unthinkable by Blair and Brown and then sacked for your efforts. From what you have written Is now the time to ditch a discredited Labour party and join the Conservatives?       
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011


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