Seven Questions Labour Can’t Answer
Tony 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?Tagged in: ed miliband, tony blair
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