Letter: Keys to victory in Eastleigh

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The Independent Online
Sir: You are right to point out in your leading article (21 February) that if Labour does badly in the pending Eastleigh by-election then Labour's prospects in the south of England are not good, come the next general election. However many 'big guns' are drafted into Eastleigh by the leadership, they will face one overwhelming problem: details of Labour's policies are the best-kept secret in Britain. As a member of the Labour Party, I had hoped that the lesson of the last general election had been learnt, namely that elections cannot be won without offering a radical, socialist alternative to the Tories.

It is certainly true that Labour must have the support of a section of the middle class as well as disaffected Tory working-class voters. This support will not materialise by pandering to Tory prejudices, which to many of us in the party, appears to be the direction in which Labour policy is heading.

Labour must address the problem of unemployment with a major commitment to job creation. The party must address the concerns of young voters, many of whom care deeply about environmental issues. We must develop a serious policy on global warming by developing a total energy strategy, both nationally and internationally. These are some of the issues on which the voters of Eastleigh will judge Labour.

John Smith and the Shadow Cabinet must end their ludicrous refusal to enunciate policy publicly. We must throw open Labour's policies for public debate, not just in Parliament but also on the ground where party members can play a role in developing those policies and winning support for Labour. If we do not, then we face not only a humiliating defeat at Eastleigh, but also the distinct possibility of a fifth general election defeat.

Yours,

COLIN PENFOLD

Wallasey, Merseyside

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