SENIOR members of the Shadow Cabinet are to make a series of speeches in the new year designed to sharpen Labour's message and give a clearer account of what the party will stand for at the next general election.
The initiative will be seen as an implicit acknowledgement that despite its commanding lead in the opinion polls this is as much because of the Tories' unpopularity as because voters have yet positively and irrevocably identified with Labour.
A series of Speeches aimed at defining a positive appeal for Labour will be made by John Smith, the party leader, as well as by Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, David Blunkett, the health spokesman, and Tony Blair, the shadow Home Secretary.
The new campaign ing effort came to light yesterday as Sir Norman Fowler, the Tory party chairman, ended the season of political goodwill by launching an fierce and pointed attack on the Labour leader for 'inertia'. Sir Norman claimed in an open letter to Ross Coates, chairman of the Conservative Political Centre, that Mr Smith's agenda amounted to 'warmed-up Wilsonism'.
He said that after the last election, Labour's leaders had acknowledged that it would have to change if it was ever to hold office again. He added: 'That view lasted only long enough for John Smith to secure election as party leader . . . Sir Norman added: ' The reform of Labour's constitution . . . has ground to a halt, leaving the trade unions continuing to hold both the pruce purse strings and the votes d needed to control the party.'