Letter: Labour should woo the non-voting millions

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The Independent Online
CONGRATULATIONS on your spirited editorial ('Spread out a bit]', 3 October). It listed some of the blows the Tory Government and its market economy have inflicted: VAT on gas and electricity, wrecking the National Health Service, the huge arms expenditure, further privatising of industry. You might also include mass unemployment, the Government's veto on councils using the pounds 5.5bn lying in their coffers on house building and repairs, and the abolition of wages councils and the minimum wage.

Even though there is a virtual state dictatorship between general elections in Britain it is unbearable that many millions will have to suffer for another three years. You advocate that Labour should harness the public's resentment and anger. I can assure you that this is the overwhelming mood inside the Labour Party and the trade unions. They want leaders with fire in their bellies who will express it.

At the last election 33 million voted and 9 millions did not (quite apart from those who didn't register in order to avoid poll tax). The 9 million included many of the poorest and most depressed people in the country. They are so hopeless, so driven down by their circumstances, they can't even be bothered to turn out and vote.

If Labour's parliamentary leadership went all out for the 9 million it would not even need one in twenty of them to secure an overall majority in Westminster.

It seems to many of us that some of our leaders are nervous of presenting Labour as being too closely associated with ordinary working people or the unions. As you suggest, the so-called modernisers are more concerned about fine-tuning the party's image to please some notional suburban image. We must be as ardent in supporting the downtrodden as the Conservatives are in pressing the interests of the ultra-rich. That would give new hope to the people and the party.

Frank Allaun MP

Manchester

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