Seven Questions Labour Can’t Answer

John Rentoul

photo 1 e1365682584821 225x300 Seven Questions Labour Cant AnswerTony Blair’s article for the sumptuous centenary edition of the New Statesman has been widely reported, including by me, as an attack on Ed Miliband for thinking that the centre of British politics has been, or could be, shifted to the left.

So it is, but Blair has said all that before, including in his memoir, A Journey.

What was more interesting, I thought, was that he urged Miliband not to move to “the right” on Europe and immigration. Miliband should be delighted with that (“Tony Blair says I’m too right wing on immigration”). Although he has said that before, too.

What was interesting and new, and much less comfortable for Miliband, was Blair’s list of seven questions:

1 What is driving the rise in housing benefit spending, and if it is the absence of housing, how do we build more?

2 How do we improve the skillset of those who are unemployed when the shortage of skills is the clearest barrier to employment?

3 How do we take the health and education reforms of the last Labour government to a new level, given the huge improvement in results they brought about?

4 What is the right balance between universal and means-tested help for pensioners?

5 How do we use technology to cut costs and drive change in our education, health, crime and immigration systems?

6 How do we focus on the really hard core of socially excluded families, separating them from those who are just temporarily down on their luck?

7 What could the developments around DNA do to cut crime?

Note the repetition of what my esteemed colleague Steve Richards so rightly called The Fred Dinenage Question: How?* I like the subtlety of the first question: namely, are we really sure that “build more houses” is the answer to life, the universe and everything? And, even if we are, how?

Number six I also think is important unfinished business from the Blair era.

On every one, apart from the last, the Government has an idea of what the answer is and is trying to do something about it. On every one, including the last, Ed Miliband has absolutely nothing to say.

*There are two other Fred Dinenage questions: one is, how do you spell that? and the other is, did you know his daughter Caroline is Conservative MP for Gosport?

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  • trottitout

    This is risible. You must be in a fan boy chorus of three if you think you can spin this into an analysis of what needs to be done by Blair rather than a clumsy attempt to show how he’d be doing things so much better- in his imagination. Fact is tomkyle nailed the motives and lack of substance Blair is dealing- yet again.

  • trottitout

    Actually, by giving them space they only serve to remind people of the hollowness of their thinking and that spin is all they have. Blair is determined to be loathed for as many things as possible and this is just the latest of a litany. He has developed a tin ear for the popular view, and is determined to go down in agony. He’s lost the plot. lol!

  • trottitout

    Excellent comment.

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