Gould's unease over Labour resurfaces: Opposition to EU led to disaffection

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Indy Politics
BRYAN GOULD'S deep unease about the Labour Party resurfaced yesterday in an attack on his party's fitness to champion ordinary people as he announced his decision to quit politics.

Mr Gould, the loser in the 1992 leadership contest who will resign his seat in Dagenham, east London, on 1 September, is set to be recommended for the vice-chancellorship of Waikato University in his native New Zealand.

Few tears were shed among the Labour high command. Mr Gould's observation that a future Labour government was unlikely to be one he could serve in or support with 'great enthusiasm' was met with a brief and less than effusive statement from John Smith, the party leader.

Mr Gould, 55 tomorrow, told Westminster journalists that after 25 years in active politics he had 'done as much as I reasonably can to bring about a victory of the ideas I think are important'.

But the end of an accomplished political career had been signalled at least by the October 1992 Labour conference, when the intensely Euro-sceptical Mr Gould resigned from the Shadow Cabinet over the leadership's stance on Maastricht. He later set up the Full Employment Forum as a catalyst, he said yesterday, for 'new thinking' in the Labour movement. Today he launches the forum's latest pamphlet, Jobs for All the Boys and Girls - The Choice for Labour.

A party source said: 'Brian was a very passionate anti-marketeer. All that he has said about the economy has been governed by his opposition to the EC.'

He was an original and leading player on the 'modernising' wing of the party only to dramatically part company with it over its failure to pursue a sufficiently bold economic policy.

The former trade, environment and national heritage spokesman said yesterday that when he and Neil Kinnock, the former leader, took steps in the late 1980s to free the party from entryists and 'worn-out ideological claptrap', they had little support.

Then they were 'trampled underfoot' as people rushed to occupy the space they had created.

Mr Gould said yesterday Labour's espousal of 'monetarist policies, and its emphasis on prudence rather than radical reform' meant the party was no longer the most obvious instrument to achieve the aim of taking economic decisions in the interests of ordinary people.

There were rumblings of discontent in the party yesterday about the timing of Mr Gould's departure, which means that the Dagenham by-election cannot be co-ordinated with the contest for the late Jo Richardson's nearby Barking seat, saving costs.

Leading article, page 21

Parting plea, page 22

(Photograph omitted)