The public is not so naive as to believe that there are no differences in the party over policy. The fringe is full of ideas and contesting beliefs, from pensions to transport policy. Why does John Prescott talk about proportional representation rather than the shape of his stalled integrated transport policy? It is obvious that commuters, or parents anxious that their children are choking on car exhaust fumes, are concerned about the latter rather than about the detail of Labour's co-operation with the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Darling also has a series of real policy decisions to make. Does the Labour Party approve of contributory pensions? If so, will there be top- up contributions demanded from those on lower incomes? Are rates of personal taxation inviolable in principle, or could they change as part of a overhaul of incentives?
All these questions add up to one dilemma: does Labour cherish "enterprise", or public provision? The conference Labour is not having would thrash out an answer. Alone under the party's new rules, ministers can, and should, make those debates a reality.Reuse content