Letter: Bryan Gould's legacy for Labour

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Sir: I am sorry Bryan Gould is leaving politics. But I hope and expect this is not the last that we shall hear from him.

Bryan is a tidy-minded person. He does not commit himself to positions or advocate policies without having a coherent intellectual case. Others may work by responding to the pressures of circumstances, and relying on the system to keep them straight. Bryan likes to have things thought out in advance.

On the real goals of full employment, decent housing accommodation for everybody, and an efficient public transport system, he does not differ from his Labour colleagues. But he is prepared to make them unconditional commitments because by allowing the exchange rate to slide he can mobilise our under-utilised resources. Certainly the currency can be overvalued, but in a market economy can it be simply ignored?

For years I have in vain encouraged Bryan to look at the evidence, use the models, or have his own built. How long would he be prepared to allow the exchange rate to fall and prices to rise as he stoked up demand in the hope that supply would catch up and stabilise prices? It is not a question of keeping a balance between the demands of Mammon and the imperatives of justice. It is a question of keeping the balance between the demands and expectations of pensioners and producers, of yesterday and tomorrow, of the sick and the needy, of the savers and borrowers, and certainly of the richer and the poorer.

Bryan is very articulate, but so far he has been prepared to cut intellectual corners in the content of his message.

The problem today is not getting the analytical apparatus to work. It is getting the media machine to take any notice. How dim it was to take so long to rumble the Tories on tax and mismanagement] Politics has to dramatise and inspire, simplify and sharpen issues, and it is a constant struggle to keep them in touch with reality. On the whole the Labour leadership is succeeding in this better than Bryan allows.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Motherwell South (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

10 February