Letters:Alternative to complacency

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Marr ("Labour can win, or it can make history", 15 December) believes that Labour will probably win the next election but warns against complacency. Despite Dudley he is right to do so.

Six months before the election the pro-Conservative press will suddenly see the light, drop their present criticism and exert their enormous power to influence electors to return this Government once again. There will also be big (temporary) income tax reductions.

Then, what does Mr Marr propose as the solution? Pacts between the Liberals and Labour to stand down in marginal seats where they would otherwise compete. It is difficult to see either the candidates now being nominated or their constituency candidates agreeing to such a deal. There are considerable policy and personal differences.

Even if agreement were reached, we should recognise the effects. In seats where Labour stood down, many of its supporters would be likely to prefer to vote Liberal rather than Tory. The converse, however, would not apply. Most Liberals faced only with a Labour and Tory would vote for the latter. It could mean, indeed, the victory of a Tory otherwise defeatable by Labour.

What is the way to oust this reactionary and corrupt government? It is by winning large numbers of the nine millions who did not vote at all in 1992 (as compared with the 33 million who did). These missing voters, as doorstep canvassers will confirm, aremostly very poor people, so depressed by trying to meet their bills, pay the rent and feed their families that they couldn't even be bothered to go to the polling booths. They have been driven down so far and for so long that they have lost the power tohit back. Ironically, they are those who most need new leaders.

A successful party should aim to attract the unemployed, underpaid, ill-housed, black, disabled, elderly and 18-24 year-olds. They need a vast programme of job provision, house building and minimum wage laws. This would not just be vote-winning. It is morally right to help those in greatest need.

Yours faithfully, FRANK ALLAUN Manchester 16 December The writer was Labour MP for East Salford, 1955-83.