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

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The Independent Online
Sir: The vital point in Andrew Marr's opening article (22 April) in your series on Tony Blair's politics is to be found in his penultimate paragraph: Will they "really help the poor, or turn their back on them? Is Labour capable of winning and holding power?"

Like many thousands of active Labour Party members I am deeply upset by recent policy changes and hold that the party should stand firm by its long-held aim - to help those in greatest need. We believe that this is the way to win votes too. To ignore or, worse, to injure working people would lose millions of potential voters. Apart from Robin Cook no one in the Shadow Cabinet seems even to mention the poverty class.

Labour should strive to satisfy not just the upper middle class but the far bigger working class as well. Consider the millions dependent on shrinking health services, the unemployed, the pensioners, homeless, the sick and disabled, one-parent families and those employed at sweated wage rates.

Labour should fix a minimum wage of over pounds 4 an hour for the five and a half million earning less; oppose recent proposals to end child allowances for the 16- to 18-year olds; plan to build at least 100,000 new houses to rent for the ill-housed; refuse to permit cross-ownership by the big five national newspaper owners and the commercial TV companies; adhere to universal pensions and thus avoid means tests and stop weakening Labour's links with 8 million trade unionists and their families.

Further, they should accept, carry out and campaign for the policies decided by our annual delegate conference (our supreme policy-making body). That is what democracy means.

Frank Allaun

Manchester

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