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  • Writer's pictureHersh Thaker

Where is the new centre ground & how does Labour win it?

The centre-ground lies with economic growth, immigration & welfare. Unfortunately they are the very same areas that people feel we are not able to deliver on.

Labour has lost touch with the centre ground that it fought so hard for in 1997. Somewhere along the line we stopped evolving along with the mood and situation of the nation and hence find ourselves in this situation today;


1) “Labour cannot be trusted with the economy”

2) “Labour cannot control immigration”

3) “Labour gives benefits to those who cannot be bothered to work”


Without overcoming these sentiments and presenting clear policies which address the issues, we cannot expect to win another election.


Growth

New Labour, under Blair, had set out to achieve limitless growth with little regulation. He made no apologies for being happy to keep his hands off business’, particularly to prove New Labour really had broken away from its past, but this came at an obvious cost. However, looking forward we must continue to emphasise on ‘responsible’ capitalism and approach the economy with our hearts as well as heads. The crises and its aftermath has affected voters in such a way that bringing about prosperity is no longer enough, people want confidence and some ability to ensure that it will last. Hence, there is the potential for greater use of the cooperative model for industry in this new centre ground.


Immigration

Labour quite frankly had been too slow to act upon the growing immigration problem whilst in government. People are feeling insecure within their own country as there seems to be nothing encouraging immigrants to integrate into the mainstream. Above that, ordinary hard working families were often witnessing immigrant families living a better quality of life through the welfare system than they could possibly imagine for themselves. Labour must make immigration work. This means encouraging the intake of only skilled workers and at a sensible rate, we must ensure they can adapt to the national culture and identity rather than flooding immigrants into ghettos, en masse. Tighter checks and controls seems the obvious first step. Nothing less than radical policies which challenge the status quo will be acceptable, as failure to act will only draw momentum to the far right.


Welfare

The welfare system is the cornerstone of Labour’s identity and achievements. It is why criticism towards it is directed at us and why we should be the party responsible for reforming it. Immigration, ‘the benefit culture’, unemployment has all put strain on the contract of the welfare system. As a result, the already squeezed middle is being squeezed even more to pick up the bill for the ever increasing recipients of benefits. Labour must recapture the middle class votes, but won’t, until they can reassure that their taxes are being efficiently distributed. The benefit culture must be replaced by the ‘get up and get to work’ culture along with stronger constraints on the ability for immigrants to claim benefits. Of course, job creation is pivotal to make this work and so we must make it clear that our deficit reduction strategy will allow greater investment in job’s and enterprise.

 Work must once again pay and welfare should only be a safety net, if Labour can promise this then we are a third of the way there.

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