Letter: Labour's challenge: to win power and keep faith with the poor

Past illusions
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Sir: Congratulations to Andrew Marr on a very perceptive review of Tony Blair's new Labour ("Tony Blair's Victorian values", 23 April).

The traditional divide of left and right, a legacy of the French Revolution that has remained with us for over 200 years, is now largely a thing of the past. Today the debate is about who can best manage British capitalism. If nothing else, at least the Labour leader has been refreshingly honest in his pitch to the captains of industry that he can run the economy better than the present government.

New Labour seem much better placed to drive through the austerity measures and attacks on the working class necessary to revive a very sick economy. No doubt these measures will be presented in the language of "rights and responsibilities'', being touted at present.

It is striking how both the Tories and the left are united in the illusion that the patterns of the past will recur. The Tories try to strike fear into the hearts of middle England, warning that old Labour lurks behind Blair's facade and that the trade unions on the left will come out of hiding after the next general election. For its part the left desperately clings to the hope that somehow a Labour victory will rekindle people's socialist aspirations and herald a new period of political radicalism. Both are badly mistaken.

What is required is the beginnings of a real debate to clarify the meaning of anti-capitalist politics in the new millennium. One thing hasn't changed: capitalism still doesn't work.

Kevin Kelley

London N19