The last thing the labour movement needs is a rerun of the toe-curlingly embarrassing pre-election televised spectacle of Gordon Brown simpering his serial agreements with Nick Clegg.
No matter how many times Brown uttered the words “I agree with Nick,” Clegg was enticed by David Cameron and George Osborne and remains so today.
Ed Balls’s efforts to seduce Clegg’s fellow Orange Book zealot Vince Cable into hedging his coalition bets by working with the shadow chancellor to develop a capital spending programme are doomed to failure.
They are a diversion from what should be Labour’s twin priorities of exposing the disastrous impact of government policies and promoting a clear progressive alternative.
Too many opposition policies bear the deadly new Labour imprint, affording Tory MPs hours of merriment laughing at Cameron’s parliamentary taunts that his policies were initially authored by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
New Labour’s handover of local authority schools to the private sector through its academies initiative has weakened criticism of the Tories’ free school extension to the scheme.
Opposition headed by the teaching profession and education trade unions is undermined by Stephen Twigg and Lord Adonis.
The shadow education secretary and former transport secretary still sing the praises of academies, with Adonis, who persuaded Blair to this policy direction, suggesting today that the Welsh Labour government should reconsider its rejection of academies.
Labour has not conducted a rigorous assessment as to why its electoral share declined inexorably from the 1997 landslide, as five million working-class votes were shed.
Some commentators claiming to speak for the “white working class” fly the kite that mass immigration has caused unemployment, lower living standards and pressure on social services, including the NHS.
Those problems affect the entire working class and their causes lie in government policies that prioritise bankers, big business and the rich over working people.
Labour should eschew gimmicky efforts to claim the headlines through “I agree with Vince” flirtations and listen to its allies in the unions about what needs to be done.
The economic proposals advanced by Balls and Ed Miliband are far too modest, representing little more than a PR new improved, blue whitener offer of austerity-lite against coalition full-blown austerity.
The trade union movement has had a coherent alternative to the bankers’ austerity agenda at its fingertips for the past three years since it voted to back the People’s Charter, but it has failed to transform this policy decision into a campaigning focus.
Each union will have its own priorities, depending on its industrial situation and internal democratic processes.
But there should be no contradiction between these and the broad principles that underpin the charter, all of which were included on the basis of having already been backed extensively at union conferences.
When the organised labour movement and public opinion are so solidly in favour of public ownership for our railways and other public utilities, it cannot be acceptable that Labour remains one-eyed in its obsession with the private sector.
The unions have a duty — to their own members — to champion People’s Charter policies for peace, investment in the productive sector, council housing, sustainable energy and raised living standards for the working class.
Stressing the need for substance over illusion they should also tell Balls discreetly that there’s clever, too clever and too bleeding clever by half.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.