Letter: Lead the crusade, win the election

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Sir: It is now clear, after John Smith's speech, that the Labour Party is engaging in a serious debate about why it lost the last election and what it needs to do to win the next one. This is not before time and should have begun much earlier. As a Labour candidate in the last election, it has become increasingly clear to me that a basic reason for defeat was encapsulated in that awful phrase used by party leaders, candidates (including myself) and canvassers that Labour would implement all kinds of policies 'when resources allow'.

This was such a negative phrase, and convinced hardly any floating voters. Above all, it heightened the lack of trust that is apparent in so many voters who are not prepared to vote Labour, even though they share many of our concerns about what Tory governments have done in the social field. The simple truth is that Labour concentrated on social policies and hoped that the lack of a clear and distinct economic policy would somehow be ignored by the electorate - we were wrong.

Thatcherism created a crusade which said that Britain's economic woes were due to the inefficient practices of the workforce. This project has clearly failed when there is now a deeper recession than the last one, and even when recovery happens, the economy will be much weaker than before, still incapable of providing work for much more than 90 per cent of the productive population.

The solution lies in conducting a crusade against those parts of the state responsible for managing the economy, the City and other financial interests, and industry for gross dereliction of duty. They have failed to deliver an economy that is successful for all the citizens of Britain.

'The economy, stupid]' was a potent strength of the Clinton campaign, and this must become the sole driving force behind Labour's renewal. It is simple why we lost, and it will be simple why we will win.

Yours sincerely,



9 February