Letter: Labour rift is just not there

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The Independent Online
Sir: Anthony Bevins sees the recent publication of candidates' manifestos for election to Labour's NEC as evidence for "an embarrassing display of Labour's continuing left-right divide" ("Labour battle plan reveals internal rift", 26 August).

There is nothing at all remarkable about the statements of the six candidates standing on the slate of the Socialist Campaign Group: their views are well known and, whilst I as a Labour Party member will not be voting for them, it would not surprise me if one or two of them are elected, since they do reflect a small but significant minority of opinion within the party.

What is more baffling is Mr Bevins's singling out of comments by Shadow Cabinet members as evidence for an "internal rift". In what sense is Gordon Brown departing from the leadership view by calling for "unifying socialist values" (it was, after all, Tony Blair who introduced the word "socialist" to the party's statement of aims and values)?

What is unusual in Robin Cook's pledge "to help most those whom the Tories have hurt worst" (surely the electorate would expect nothing less from a Labour Government) or in David Blunkett's promise to "eliminate the backlog of repairs and maintenance in our schools" (a promise contained in The Road to the Manifesto)? Anthony Bevins's analysis depends upon the false premise that new Labour's platform is based upon the abandonment of Labour's socialist values.

Nothing could be further from the truth: new Labour is, as John Prescott has said on several occasions, about "traditional [socialist] values in a modern setting".