By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter
An extensive examination of Labour's strategy and leadership failure is conducted by Dan Hodges (one of the Left's thoughtful commentators) in the New Statesman this week. On the one hand, Labour's policy review is seemingly comprehensive:
Labour is currently consulting on as many as 25 separate policy initiatives. Titles include: "Family life. What helps?"; "Supporting the sustainable empowerment of women and girls in the developing world"; and "X Factor for the many, not the few". Liam Byrne is pulling together the party's "overarching" policy review, while also focusing on welfare. The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, is orchestrating an economic policy assessment.
On the other hand, Labour's policy review is flawed because it lacks leadership from Ed Miliband:
Here is the great irony of the new inclusive world of Labour Party policymaking: rather than binding people together, it has created a plethora of micro-policy agendas, mini-policy champions and isolated policy cliques. One Labour insider showed me an email sent recently by the party's general secretary, Ray Collins, which invites senior staff members at Labour's Victoria Street headquarters to "facilitate one-hour-long meetings within each team to discuss the ideas and contributions of everyone who wants to have a say". This is part of Hain's "Refounding Labour" consultation, a process that, staffers point out, was launched seven months ago. Only now are they being invited to contribute to it. "We're totally in the dark over here," one told me.
This confirms what has been apparent for some months: Ed Miliband is not in a position to suggest alternative solutions to the problems facing the country. He has criticisms of the Coalition, and has some token electoral strategies, like trying to attract left-wing former Lib Dems to Labour, in a spirit of progressive plurality or the like. But he hasn't got any policies.
His lack of policies trickles down to the way members of his Party behave. Peter Watt (another of the Left's thoughtful commentariat) writes today for Labour Uncut about the class war attacks on the Coalition:
…it’s just that our class based attacks are missing the mark. They are stopping us being objective and “knowing our enemy”. I remember that when Cameron first became the leader of the Conservatives, there was some discussion between Blair and Brown over how to handle him. Tony was always clear that Cameron was the most dangerous Tory leader that he had had to face. He felt that if he was given a chance to define himself then he would be formidable and could win an election.
When a Party has no policies of its own to offer as arguments against the government they tend to retreat to familiar insults and messages. The clear indication here is that a direction-less Labour Party is using class war attacks because it has no original ideas to contribute.