Labour should not despair but get on the front foot

Labour Party members should not let the European election results tip them into despair. A lot was going on around these elections.

Yes, the Labour vote did fall significantly. And the two BNP victories together gave a nasty jolt. The wider context was that pro EU parties and parties on the Left did not do well (and note that the LibDems did not reap benefits from Labour's unpopularity; nor did the Tories gain as much as they should have expected). At the same time, last Thursday was the first opportunity the UK electorate had to express its disgust via the ballot box at the expenses scandal.

It was not all bad news of course. In Vauxhall we won a by-election with a candidate with a good local track record, with a clear message about what we stood for, and by a well-organised campaign.

So, with the Parliamentary Labour Party expressing its support for Gordon Brown this evening and a reshuffled cabinet in place, where should we go from here?

I am still convinced that we need a positive political narrative that recognises economic times are hard and recognises that spending limits mean we need to find other ways to promote our values. There is still time for creative thinking in this area which will also contrast Labour's policies and values with those of the Tories. But not a lot of time.

Stephen Beer, 08/06/2009

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