Just before the summer break, I did a fundraiser for Labour Welsh Assembly member Leighton Andrews, and during the q and a was asked if it was too late for Labour to fight back against the coalition mantra about ‘the mess we inherited.’ My reply, which seemed to meet with broad approval, was a very firm ‘no, it is not too late, and it has to be done.’ I have been something of a stuck record on this, but the fact is that during the long months it took Labour to elect a new leader after Gordon Brown stepped down, the Party paid insufficient attention to the mantra being put down with clear strategic intent. Added to which,Labour having just lost an election, there was a desire among all of the candidates to be seen as a break from the past. The unintended consequence of this, however – unintended by Labour that is, though not the Conservatives – is that the very good record of the last Labour government has been blunted if not lost as a political weapon. Steve Richards is absolutely right to be arguing in the FT today that Labour must be more robust in defending the record, including the GB/Alistair Darling handling of the global financial crisis. Britain is, I think, the only country in the world whose politics has somehow conspired to pile the blame for the crisis not on those who caused it but on those who led the world in solving it. Labour have played into Tory hands on this, and there needs to be an admission of that, so that even at this late stage, a proper debate and a proper reckoning of the record can be had. The right wing press and its broadcasting echo chamber will not be easy to turn around on this, and the coalition will scream ‘mess we inherited’ even louder. But it can and must be done. Britain had ten good years of growth and prosperity under Labour which is one of the many reasons we won three elections and stopped David Cameron winning a majority.
November 24, 2011
November 25, 2009
March 26, 2020
My Latest Book
Alastair Campbell Diaries
"If the face that Brexit Britain presents to the world today had been the face we had presented when going for the Games… no chance.
In less than a decade it feels like we have taken that Olympic spirit, the mood of London 2012, and created a Britain which represents the very opposite of all it represented, and felt like, at the time."
– Introduction, Alastair Campbell Diaries, Volume 8
It’s 2010 and Britain stands at a crossroads. After thirteen years in power, Labour find themselves out in the cold as David Cameron takes office – with a little help from the Liberal Democrats.
As the country begins its journey into austerity and, eventually, to Brexit, Alastair Campbell must grapple with his own future. The Blair–Brown years are over, with the stage set for a bitter leadership contest that will test loyalties and friendships to the limit. There are battles closer to home, too, with Campbell still torn between domestic and political life while his own and his family’s mental health come under increasing strain.
From the controversial Rose Garden speech, through the sunny optimism of the Olympics, to Cameron’s cavalier attitude to not one but two referendums, and culminating in the critical 2015 election, Volume 8 of Campbell’s acclaimed diaries is a must-read for anyone wondering how we got to where we are today – and how things might have been different.