Friday, 2 July 2010

Where's Labour?

Iain Martin writes witheringly of David Miliband's inability to engage in foreign policy debate. But it is no irony that the favourite for Labour leadership, foreign secretary for the last three years, leading Labour reformist and keeper of the Blairite flame, simply dismisses William Hague's speech as 'vacuous'. Brother Ed meanwhile (another leadership candidate), lazily attacks serious attempts at welfare reform as 'on yer bike Toryism'.

Time and again senior Labour figures - cabinet ministers up until a few short weeks ago - simply do not get it. From Harriet Harman's PMQ's performance downwards, the arguments have moved on. Labour has not.

Last nights Question Time reflected the same impoverished performance from Alan Johnson. 'I dont want to make it an Iain Duncan Smith benefit night' said David Dimbleby at one point as all four questions - on the budget, prison reform, immigration caps and job mobility -went unanswered by the former home secretary. Meanwhile Iain Duncan Smith argued lucidly on the geographic nature of poverty, its roots, the rehabilitation of first-time offenders and successfully absorbing immigration. No tribalism. No point scoring. Just intelligent and purposeful debate.

Later on This Week, Andy Burnham - yet another Labour leadership contender - could only muster the line 'it reminds me of the 1980s' as Michael Portillo (who left front-line politics five years ago) and a twenty-something indy folk singer (Roy Stride of Scouting For Girls), accurately took the pulse at the heart of coalition politics. Where's Labour?