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Policy-free, but a good Labour speech

John Rentoul

jon cruddas 300x187 Policy free, but a good Labour speechOn the day that Ed Miliband, who usually makes content-free speeches, came up with a policy, Jon Cruddas, who is in charge of Labour’s policy, gave a speech that contained no policy. But I thought its tone of Bipartisan Reasonableness was significant:

Personally, I very much welcomed David Cameron when he began to talk about ‘a social recession’.

His answer was Compassionate Conservatism and the Big Society.

He recognised there is more to life than money and markets.

Many admired him for saying that we should hug a hoodie.

He said ‘working together for the common good is the way to create a new and inspiring sense of national identity.’

I believed and supported David Cameron when he said these things. Although from a different Party I believe he was asking the right questions. I still think that.

I fear however, that he could not carry his party with him.

His Big Society was for the economic good times.

The financial crisis has dealt it a mortal blow.

The notion of the Big Society has literally disappeared. Once it was the big idea.

I conclude that David Cameron has vacated this ground and now appears to be putting party interest over national interest.

The 10p tax rate may be effective Brownite dividing-line politics, but Cruddas on hugging liberal Tories, I say, is clever politics. Accept your opponents’ good faith and decent intentions, and then shake your head sadly at their failure to follow through.

One of the other reasons I find Cruddas interesting is that he has some strikingly right-wing positions wrapped up in lefty waffle:

We have fallen into the trap of believing that the answer to every social problem is a government programme.

And, once again, he endorsed the contributory principle in welfare, sounding for all the world like Frank Field:

People have lost faith in our welfare system. A social compact would mean a fair contributory welfare policy. Where people feel they get out when they put in. It would mean transforming our system of welfare from an expensive, complicated system that often simply contains families in crisis, to one which makes them responsible for the process of their own change.

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