If you have five minutes to waste, why not go to the ‘policy’ section of the Labour Party website. Click any of the policy issues and you will not be lead down a bewildering path of innovative depth and analysis, but come face to face with a space of vast hollow emptiness, a cavernous non sequitur derelict of ideas. It is not that the ideas are wrong; it is that there are no ideas. These are the fleshless bones of New Labour’s promises.
What is most dispiriting is the ‘Points to Consider’ at the bottom of each page. It is a record of government failure. Formed as a list of questions on each issue, it reads like a primordial plea for policy into the ether of the Internet. For example:
1. How do we keep our economy competing in the world economy and make the most out of the rise of countries like China and India?
2. How should we help more families to build up assets for their children?
3. What more can we do to encourage volunteering?
Luckily we have the answer to many of Labour’s questions:
1. Cut unnecessary red tape.
2. Adopt Fortune Accounts.
3. Don’t. Voluntary groups are undermined by the state.
There are many more simple questions that we have answered, as well as some pointless ones not worth the time of day. This page is the outward manifestation of a government devoid of vision, as has been seen in weak or stolen policies devised on an ad hoc basis in reaction to events, with the smell of unrest leading to retreats and bewildering u-turns.
Tony Blair reinvented Labour. In making them electable he hailed the defeat of the socialism that still runs through the Party. With his departure we have seen a crisis of confidence. The cupboard is bare, the Emperor is not wearing any clothes and virtually everyone thinks they are just plain bad at running the country. It is time, perhaps, for the Liberal Democrats to fully embrace the Gladstonian Liberalism of the Orange Book, challenge Labour for the mantle of second party and in so doing take politics away from the status quo. Wishful thinking?