Friday, 29 May 1992


Tribune leader, 29 May 1992

The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, which opens next week in Rio de Janeiro, is set to be one of the biggest political jamborees of all time: no one in politics or the media can resist the idea of a meeting to sort out the fate of the planet.
But it is unlikely that the Earth Summit will come up with the goods. On global warming, the central environmental issue at UNCED, the govern­ments of the industrialised and the de­veloping countries have completely dif­ferent priorities, with no sign that they are anywhere near a workable and substantive consensus on what needs to be done.

For the governments of the industri­alised countries, UNCED is essentially a matter of public relations. They all want to give their voters, worried about the environment, the impression that they are "doing something" about global warming. But, also for electoral reasons, none of them will agree to a radical cut in their own countries' use of fossil fuels, which is the single most effective thing that could be done about the "green­house effect". (The United States and Britain go even further: they won’t agree to any significant action on carbon diox­ide emission reductions.)

Far better, think the powers-that-be in the industrialised countries, to let their voters keep their high-energy-consump­tion lifestyles and to concentrate instead on forcing the developing world not to cut down forests or follow the industri­alised countries' model of development.
Understandably, the governments of the developing countries do not see why they should take the lion’s share of responsibility for action to combat global warming, particularly when the rich countries caused the problem in the first place.

There is a widespread feeling that, af­ter a decade of unremitting austerity imposed by the World Bank and the Inter­national Monetary Fund as a "cure" for indebtedness, the poor countries are now being asked to forgo forever their dreams of affluence. It is hardly surpris­ing that Third World Governments want Rio to reassert the importance of devel­opment and the need for global redistri­bution of wealth and power.

The upshot of all this is that UNCED will probably come up with little more than vague declarations that develop­ment is very important and that every­one ought to do all they can to preserve forests and reduce greenhouse gas emis­sions. After Rio, it will be back to busi­ness as usual.

But it would be wrong to dismiss the Earth Summit as a complete waste of time. Even if it produces nothing but hot air, the simple fact that it is happening has already given a tangible boost to the public profile of the issues it was set up to address. That can only be welcome. Throughout the industrialised world, global development and the burgeoning environmental crisis are generally out of the po­litical limelight, a concern only for ex­perts and a small group of activists. The complacent consensus among politicians and pundits - apparently borne out by events - is that elections in the industrialised countries are decided by taxation policies and the voters’ sense of econom­ic well-being.

In the normal course of things, politi­cians steer clear of suggesting that the consumer society as we now know it is dependent on the pauperisation of the Third World and incompatible with the survival of the planet.

This is true of left-wing as well as right-wing parties. Labour might be better than the lories on the big environmental issues and develop­ment (it would be hard to be worse), but it remains dangerously cautious and am­biguous. At the election, Labour offered no more on global warming than a promise to stick to the EC's target of re­ducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the end of the decade.

Despite an undoubted enthusiasm for public transport, the party has said nothing to suggest that it wants dramat­ic reductions in car use. Its energy poli­cy, despite gestures in the direction of renewable sources of energy, remains based on fossil fuels. On development, Labour’s commitment to increase aid to the 0.9 per cent of gross domestic prod­uct recommended by the UN was hon­ourable but, frankly, a drop in the ocean. The scale of the problems of global warming and development are such, however, that the politicians in the de­veloped world win have to grasp the net-or later - and the sooner the better. If all the hype surrounding UNCED increases the pressure on the politicians to cease beating about the bush, it will have been worth it.

Friday, 22 May 1992


Tribune leader, 22 May 1992

As Tribune went   to   press,   it seemed that, despite the frantic efforts of the Labour Whips, there would be a substantial backbench rebellion on Thursday night against the Labour leadership's decision to abstain in the vote on the Maastricht treaty, with some diehard pro-European MPs voting with the Government in favour and a  rather larger group voting against.

The rebellion is a welcome sign that, for a little while anyway, Labour MPs are not going to swallow everything the leadership gives them. More important­ly, it also shows that Labour's fragile pre-election consensus on Europe is wholly inadequate as a basis for ap­proaching the next five years.

Labour's policy on the EC in the past couple of years has been a fudge de­signed to keep everyone in the Parlia­mentary Labour Party happy. On eco­nomic and monetary union, Labour agreed in principle to the creation of a single European currency and a Euro­pean central bank. 

That pleased the Euro-enthusiasts. But to keep the Euro-sceptics on board, these commitments were hedged around with qualifications. The central bank would have to be su­pervised by Ecofin, the Council of Eco­nomic and Finance Ministers of the EC countries, and monetary union would be backed only when "real economic con­vergence" had taken place.

On political union, the story was the same. Labour argued for increased pow­ers for the European Parliament (but not at the expense of national parliaments) and an increased role for qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers. But it stood firmly against the creation of a European de­fence community, arguing that NATO should continue to be the basis for Britain's security. It also rejected the idea of a "European federal super-state". "Widening" the EC to include the Euro­pean Free Trade Area countries and the ex-communist states of East-Central Eu­rope was given as much priority as ''deepening” the EC of the 12.

The fudge was enough to keep the peace in the party last November, when only 16 backbenchers (an incoherent mixture of Campaign Group left-wingers and right-wing Keynesian Atlanticists) rebelled against the govern­ment's motion on Maastricht. Now, how­ever, it looks threadbare. A new consen­sus on Europe is needed.

That might seem a tall order. But there are signs that, despite the appearance of for greater labour division on Europe than at any time since the mid-seventies, there is the basis for a wider and more substantive agreement within the party than ever before.

Put simply, the argument has shifted since the mid-seventies. No one really believes now that Britain could or should get out of the EC. Hardly anyone believes even that the pound should be taken out of the exchange rate mecha­nism of the European Monetary System. The days of a medium-sized nation state being able to control its own destiny by means of Keynesian demand management are accepted to be over.

Labour’s debate is not about whether there ought to be management of the economy on a Europe-wide level but about what sort of economic policies Eu­rope should adopt and, most important­ly, how the process of Europe-wide economic policy-formation should be made democratically accountable.

Of course, there are a multitude of dif­ferent positions on all these questions. But there is also much common ground. Everyone, regardless of his or her atti­tude to Maastricht, agrees that economic and monetary union must be matched with convergence of standards of social provision across the EC.

Everyone, regardless of his or her views on devaluation of sterling, also agrees that common European economic and monetary policies should not only be about the establishment and mainte­nance of a stable anti-inflationary framework but must also involve pursuit of growth and the fullest possible em­ployment throughout the EC. There is a general sense on all sides that EC execu­tive institutions, particularly the pro­posed European Central Bank, must be made much more democratically ac­countable. There are near-universal worries about over-centralisation of power.

What this points to is the feasibility of a Labour approach to the EC that em­phasises the importance of Europe-wide alternative economic strategies and makes its central thrust the radical democratisation of all Europe's institu­tions. That means arguing for massively increased powers for the European Par­liament, particularly over the central bank, and a democratically accountable European executive, with a strong em­phasis on maximising decentralisation of decision-making.

In other words, there is in Labour’s current confusion the germ of a coherent vision of a democratic federalist future for Europe. It would be a tragedy if the leadership turned its back on such a vision because it mistakenly thought that a new fudge would guarantee a qui­eter life.

Friday, 15 May 1992


Tribune leader, 15 May 1992

Several   leading   Labour   politi­cians have dismissed the party's dismal performance in last week's local elections as a simple matter of Labour voters not bothering to turn out so soon after the disappointment of the general election result.

There is some truth in this, and even more in the idea that Labour Party members in many areas were too demor­alised by the defeat and its aftermath to campaign. But it would be wrong to blame the debacle of May 7 entirely on that of April 9.

In several of the councils where Labour did worst, it did not deserve to do any better, simply on the basis of its dire record in office.

The best Labour councils are indeed shining examples of efficiency and responsiveness but in many areas (much of the West Midlands, for example) Labour local government is lacklustre and incompetent. In a few it is simply corrupt and nepotistic.

This is nothing new. Ineffectual or rot­ten Labour councils (most but not all of them Right-wing) have been a feature of British political life for as long as any­one can remember, and for long periods local boss politics was the rule rather than the exception in large swathes of the country.

On the whole, Labour today has clean­er hands than for most of the past 50 years, which says much for the party's capacity to renew itself from the roots up. Since the early eighties, many of the worst old right machines have been swept aside by party members sickened by the abuse of council office.

There are, however, good reasons to wonder whether this healthy process will continue in the future. Labour’s ability to renew itself in local government has depended on there being a constant stream of vigorous young peo­ple joining the party, getting worked up about the way the local council operates and organising to get rid of the guilty men. That stream has all but dried up in most places and, even where it hasn't, Labour parties are finding it difficult to interest anyone in becoming a council­lor now that the powers of local govern­ment have been so drastically reduced by the Tories.

Unless Labour finds some way of at­tracting new blood, Tammany Hall poli­tics will become the norm again.


Tribune leader, 15 May 1992

A consensus is slowly emerging from Labour's centre-left and right about the way forward. Tony Blair says that Labour should be the party of the "individual against the vest­ed interests that hold him or her back" and Robin Cook declares that Labour should "stand up to big business, pri­vate or public, on behalf of the con­sumer".

There, is nothing wrong with Labour making a populist appeal to the "little man", even if such rhetoric comes strangely from someone like Mr Blair, an architect of Labour's 1987-92 strategy, which made a virtue of not attacking vested interests in the City of London, the military-industrial complex and elsewhere.

But talk of redefining the left's pro­ject as defending “the individual”, seen essentially as "a consumer", from "vest­ed interests" is not just a plea for populism: it is also, implicitly, a call to jetti­son the idea that people's common expe­rience as workers should be the most important factor in mobilising their sup­port for a left party.

Mr Blair and Mr Cook are effectively saying that the days of a party based on the working class (even if it also attracts other voters) are over. The upshot is that Labour must ditch its links with "producer interests", otherwise known as the trade unions, if it is to survive and prosper.
This is an increasingly popular view among the chattering classes, but it is profoundly mistaken.
Of course, the manual working class has declined and white-collar workers tend to identify themselves as middle-class. Certainly the consumer society has transformed everyone's expecta­tions of life outside work.

But employment remains the single most important aspect of most people's everyday lives; class remains the single most important determinant of political behaviour; the trade unions, for all their faults, remain the single most important way in which Labour can keep in touch with and mobilise manual workers.

Labour does have to make itself more attractive to large groups of voters whom it has railed to attract, and one way is to become a party which defends consumers. Another is to embrace elec­toral reform wholeheartedly, adopt a much greener environmental policy and take an uncompromisingly pro-Euro­pean federalist stance - not because all this might make it easier to work with Paddy Ashdown but because it is right and would further squeeze the Liberal Democrat vote.

(Mr Ashdown's call last weekend for Labour to join him in building "a non-socialist alternative to the Conserva­tives" is a desperate attempt to find a role for his party. It is entirely irrele­vant to Labour's need to think through how it can win the nest general election and should be shunned without reservation.)

There is also a strong case for Labour to be much more imaginative on a whole series of questions, from European secu­rity to the future of cities, which it has hardly addressed so far.
But Labour needs to broaden ha support without destroying its base. The trade union link should be radically democratised, not severed, and the par­ty's appeal to voters' interests as work­ers needs to be augmented and mod­ernised, not abandoned.

Friday, 8 May 1992


Tribune leader, 9 May 1992

The preliminary report on the gen­eral  election campaign  by Larry Whitty, Labour's general secretary, has come in for a lot of stick in the week since it was presented to the par­ty's National Executive Committee. Sup­porters of Bryan Gould have described it as a "whitewash", complaining that it skates over criticisms of the organisa­tion and content of the campaign, and others have denounced it as superficial. Some of this criticism is justified: the document does not have enough detail on several key questions, notably the ef­fects of Labour's taxation policy, and barely mentions others, for example the role   of  the   Shadow   Communications Agency in the campaign organisation, which many believe was too great.

But on the whole the criticism is un­fair. Given Mr Whitty's brief, to assess Labour's performance in the four weeks before election day, he has not done a bad job. He correctly identifies Labour's main problem during the campaign - a late swing away from the party in the last couple of days before April 9 - and rightly cautions against blaming any specific event or failure of the campaign before the last few days for what hap­pened, although he is critical, albeit mildly, of the national campaign's clum­sy handling of tax, health, education and constitutional reform, and he is cutting about the triumphalist rally in Sheffield a week before polling day.

He praises Labour's organisation and its concentration on key seats, which in­deed yielded impressive results, and he argues, again rightly, that Labour's poor showing among older women and younger men needs fuller analysis, as do its lacklustre performances among its core voters (council tenants, semi-­skilled and unskilled manual workers and the unemployed) and in Scotland. It is not a masterpiece of political analysis, but then it was not intended to be. For what it is, a preliminary report on what went wrong, concentrating ex­clusively on the election campaign prop­er, it is difficult to imagine what Mr Whitty could have done very differently. The campaign was a good one and the party cannot make scapegoats of the campaign organisers for the defeat.

This is not, however, to argue that Mr Whitty’s paper should be the last word on Labour's defeat. However well he has done his job, there is another to be done. The party needs to look long and hard at what happened before the campaign it­self started.

The election might indeed have been lost as a result of a late swing away from Labour caused by "general perceptions of the party”, in particular the ideas that the party's leadership was not up to scratch and that a Labour government could not be trusted.

* * *

But this does not mean that there was anything Labour could have done differently in the few weeks before the election radically to im­prove its performance.

Deep-rooted perceptions of compe­tence and trustworthiness are built up over years, not weeks. At the very least, the post mortem needs to expand its terms of reference to take in the whole of the past five years.

If Labour's tactics need to be chewed over at greater length, its strategy needs to be subjected to a thorough, no-holds-barred critique. Better still, the party could open up a discussion of its values, its culture, its very raison d'etre.

* * *

Unfortunately, however, there is little indication of willingness to engage in anything quite so interesting at the top of the party. John Smith is now almost certain to be the next party leader. There are some hope­ful signs in his manifesto for the leader­ship campaign, launched last week: he is, he says, in favour of a serious discus­sion of the way forward, he has an open mind about constitutional reform, he wants to democratise the party, he will be an "accessible" leader. His proposed all-party commission to examine social justice could be an exciting forum for new ideas.

But the general impression given by his manifesto remains that of "business as usual": the discipline of the exchange rate mechanism, the importance of re-distributive taxation and supply-side measures as the core of macro-economic policy, going with the flow on Europe. It is a decent, solid social democratic pack­age, completely consistent with Labour's thinking in the past couple of years, probably election-winning - if only we were fighting the election we have just lost.

If Labour had fought the 1992 election on an uncompromisingly traditional leftist manifesto, if Labour had been ob­viously influenced by the 1968 genera­tion's libertarianism, if it had even just done a little better than it did on solid, decent, cautious redistributive austerity social democracy – if it had not been as it was, Mr Smith’s approach might have been just the ticket. As it is, Labour looks as if it is hanging on to nurse. Safety first fits the mood of the elec­torate today, perhaps, but it is already looking like a high-risk strategy for the next election.


Tribune, 8 May 1992

In the first of a series of interviews with the contenders for Labour's leadership and deputy leadership, Paul Anderson talks to the MP for Dagenham

“I very much regret that we're involved in a leadership election before we've had time for reflection," says Bryan Gould, who, despite his regrets, is now running for the party's leadership and deputy leadership. "We need to work out what we want to take for­ward to 1996. 'One more heave' isn't good enough."

The 53-year-old environment spokesman is very much the outside chance for the leadership and he knows it. When he launched his campaign last week, after managing to get eight more than the necessary 55 nominations from MPs to enter the race, he told journalists that John Smith, the shad­ow chancellor, was "clear front-runner" for the top job. Even some of Gould's supporters say that the best that he can hope for is the deputy leadership.

Gould, however, is convinced that he can win votes both from the Constituency Labour Parties and from those trade unions which ballot their members on the contest and reckons that he might just pip Smith to the post. “The picture is by no means as clear-cut as people think,” he says. "We've had a flood of offers of help from all over the country. I’m fighting to win the leadership."

Whether or not his optimism is justified, there is no doubt that his criticisms of the "insensitivity* of Smith's proposals, in his shadow budget, to in­crease income tax have struck a chord among party members in the south-east. Labour's plan to abol­ish the upper earnings limit on national insurance contributions (NICs), which are currently paid only on the first £21,000 of earnings, is widely perceived as the main reason for Labour failing to take many of its target seats in the country's most affluent region.

“I’m not opposed to tax redistribution: no social­ist could be," says Gould. "But a cleverer package could have been put together which had the same objectives but was not so crude in the way that it resolved the anomaly on NICs."

For Gould, however, the most important thing about Labour's tax plans was that they were just about the only macro-economic policy the party had on offer. "We can't just sit back and say, 'Let every­thing rip, let market forces take effect, and we'll come along afterwards and deal with the problems through redistributive taxation'," he says.

An alternative approach to economic policy is at the core of Gould's platform: "I don't accept the monetarist line, which 1 think has been accepted by the party by implication, that the only function of economic policy is to establish monetary stability."

As Labour's trade and industry spokesman be­tween 1987 and 1989, he developed a much more interventionist industrial policy than was subse­quently adopted, and he is is still in favour of the measures with which he was then associated: greatly increased planning powers for the Depart­ment of Trade and Industry, legislation to encour­age investment in Britain by pension funds and in­creased worker participation, strict controls on mergers.

More controversially (at least now that Michael Heseltine's appointment as President of the Board of Trade has made interventionism respectable again), Gould is also in favour of devaluation of sterling as part of a realignment of currencies with­in the exchange rate mechanism of the European Monetary System. "We have seen the damage we suffer if we try to run an over-valued pound. But the right way forward is not to take unilateral ac­tion. There is almost certain to be a realignment and I'd like to see the Labour Party ahead of the game for once. If we continue to defend an over-val­ued exchange rate, we will continue to crucify manufacturing industry."

Surely, though, the inflationary implications of devaluation would make it even more vulnerable to Tory attack at election time than promising to put up taxes? Gould agrees - up to a point. "We don't want to get hooked on these technicalities at the time of a general election, which is why we need to have the debate now," he says. "Handled correctly, getting the exchange rate right does not carry severe inflationary consequences. It stimulates production and that in itself is a pow­erful anti-inflationary fac­tor.  A devaluation does raise the price of imports by comparison with domestic goods, but we have to do that. That's the only way we can survive. We have to alter that price and val­ue-for-money equation, otherwise we continue to go down the drain."

Devaluation is one clear difference between Gould and Smith; another, intimately related, is Europe. A former parliamentary private secretary to Peter Shore, Gould was a leading parliamentary opponent of the Euro­pean Community for most of the eighties. Although he is at pains to emphasise that he is not an "un­remitting negativist” – "I've always been much more in favour of a co-ordinated foreign policy than most of my colleagues," he says, "and the notion that a European central bank should be in London was my idea" – he remains far more sceptical than Smith or most of the rest of the Labour front bench.

"I think the common agricultural policy was and is nonsense," he says. "And I'm very critical of the way in which the ERM operates as a deflationary mechanism.'' He argues that a single European cur­rency should be created only after convergence of rates of unemployment and growth across the EC, and voices support for the creation of something not far removed from the Tories' long-forgotten "hard ECU", a European currency operating along­side existing currencies rather than merging the currencies into one.

Gould recognises that there is a strong argument from the left that there is now no alternative to European management of the economy, but he is uneasy about its implications. 'The Left in post­war Britain and post-war Europe got very close to a very substantial achievement: within the confines of the national economy it had sorted Out a deal with capital to give labour had a fair share. But what then happened, almost as we were talking about it, was that capital found a way of escaping that deal by going international. The more we've gone down the road of deregulation of the move­ment of capital and all the rest of it, the more diffi­cult it has become for labour to keep that deal in place, to exercise control over capital.

"The obvious response is that, if capital is oper­ating internationally, we must have international political organisations able to deal with it. Of course, that's part of the answer, but it is also fraught with difficulties. It's very easy to say, 'Right, let's step up European institutions.' But, in the process of doing so, we're conceding defeat, on at least part of the socialist project, which is to keep power close and diffuse, so people have as much power over their own destinies as possible."

Decentralisation is one of the things that Gould wants to see being discussed in a United Kingdom constitutional convention, modelled on the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which draws in all the Opposition political parties and a broad range of non-party bodies. He is open to electoral reform, he says, but believes that the most important thing is for a wide-ranging debate to take place. "Our role as the major Opposition party is not just to contest damn thing and to go in sot product differentiation in respect of everybody. We should consciously be making common ground with other groups and parties where that's possible, in an at­tempt to isolate the Tories. That general approach would also do a great deal to overcome the gender gap, which is still a very worrying aspect of our performance. Many women are put off by the ma­cho style of our adversarial politics."

On Labour’s internal organisation, Gould is a cautious reformer. Although he wants to see a party far more con­trolled by individual members, and an electoral college for the leadership in which only in­dividual members vote, he doesn't want to see the end of the party's link with the unions or the aboli­tion of the union block vote at party conference.

"What I want to see is a means by which individ­ual political levy-payers who want that money to support the Labour Party are somehow entitled to indicate that, and that then becomes an individual membership of the Labour Party. I don't say that that's an easy thing to arrange, but that must be the way forward. At the same time, I think it's per­fectly right for the trade unions as organisations to have a vote on all confer­ence decisions: there should be a substantial proportion of votes, at least 20 per cent, for affili­ated organisations. They should also have represen­tation on the National Ex­ecutive Committee."

Now, though, his priori­ty is winning under the current system – and that means a period of hectic activity between now and July 18, the day of Labour's special leadership conference. The Gould campaign has set up in offices in the same building as the Fabian Society's headquarters and is busy organising meetings at trade union conferences and with constituency parties, stuffing envelopes and canvassing support, on the telephone. Any weariness in anyone's manner can only be because so recently they were all doing exactly the same in the hope of winning the general election.

Friday, 1 May 1992


Tribune leader, 1 May 1992

The morning after the election, Labour supporters everywhere were in a very bad way. Not only had Labour lost, it had done so in the belief that it would win.

Nevertheless, everyone who had been involved in Labour's effort felt a strong sense of pride in having done something worthwhile as part of a team. Of course there had been mistakes, and the party needed to think hard about what had gone wrong. But everyone had pulled to­gether; everyone had done their best.

Three weeks later, that sense of pride has all but disappeared. Ordinary party members are now not just depressed by the result but sickened by the way in which the post mortem has been eclipsed by a leadership contest and embar­rassed by the manner in which trade union leaders, MPs and party officials have made a farce of that contest.

First there was the spectacle of a cou­ple of trade union leaders with a large number of electoral college votes mak­ing it obvious that they wanted John Smith as leader. To party members who thought that a change of leader was not a priority until after the post mortem, the move to rush a contest was bad enough; that it was crudely arranged to bounce one candidate into the job, particularly when there were several other serious contenders, was an insult.

Then there was the unseemly rush of MPs to back what they saw as the win­ning ticket of John Smith and Margaret Beckett - unseemly because it was so blatantly motivated in many cases by the hope of preferment when front-bench jobs were being doled out.

By the middle of last week, so much of the Parliamentary Labour Party had flocked to Mr Smith's and Mrs Beckett's banner that there was a real danger that there would not be a contest for the leadership or for the deputy leadership because no one else would secure the MPs' nominations needed to enter either race. Mr Gould asked the party appara­tus whether MPs could make more than one nomination. "Yes," came the answer on Friday evening. By Sunday Walworth Road had changed its mind. And Labour had the nerve to accuse John Major of "dithering".

There will now be two contests: Mr Gould got enough nominations to stand for leader and deputy and Mr Prescott got enough for deputy. The worst-case scenario, of a Smith-Beckett leadership being elected without a contest, has been narrowly averted.

* * *

But  it  will take  a lot of work for Labour to repair the damage it has done itself in the past three weeks. It is now clear that, for a variety of reasons, only two or perhaps three of the top six unions will ballot their mem­bers on the leadership. Labour looks im­pulsive, incompetent, divided and undemocratic, dominated by cynical fixers and careerists. It has to find a way quickly to clean up its act. The easy bit is a thoroughgoing reform of its structures. The 20-per-cent-of-the-Parliamentary-Labour-Party nomi­nation threshold for leadership elec­tions has proved itself iniquitous and must go. It is also essential to move to­wards abolition of the block vote at con­ference and reform of internal party elections and parliamentary selections on the basis of one member, one vote. This does not mean abandoning the trade union link but democratising it: it would be possible and desirable to give union members who pay the political levy a direct say in key elections, count­ing their individual votes as worth one-third of those of full members.

* * *

Changing the rule book is only part of the story, however. The par­ty  needs  radically  to  transform and renew its entire political cul­ture, and the block vote is by no means the biggest problem. Even without it, the party would be unattractive if noth­ing else changed. Labour's whole way of doing things is outdated, elitist and bor­ing.

The party does nothing to encourage participation of its members except at election time. There is little serious, sus­tained, public, political debate at any level of the party: the real arguments take place behind closed doors among a small elite of sycophantic advertising executives and academics. Labour's po­litical education programme is non-exis­tent and its rituals and language are incomprehensible to all but a handful of cognoscenti.

During the campaign, it was possible to forget all that and concentrate on the prospect of victory. Now, however, it is clear that if Labour does not become a party of democratic, open, plural, participatory political debate rather than one of carve-ups and knives in the back in smoke-filled rooms, it cannot expect people to join or support it.