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Clancy’s election post-mortem: ‘Labour must be the party of hard work, not hard luck’

Clancy’s election post-mortem: ‘Labour must be the party of hard work, not hard luck’

🕔28.May 2015

Labour must reinvent itself as a movement that supports small businesses and wealth creators and move away from the idea that the party’s primary aim is to hand out welfare benefits, a leading Birmingham city councillor has claimed.

John Clancy says Labour must be “the party of hard work, not hard luck”.

His uncompromising comments are contained in a post-mortem on Labour’s 2015 General Election performance, one of the worst defeats in the party’s history.

Cllr Clancy adds that Labour must be seen as “the party of hard work and hard workers”.

And he warns that the “dignity of labour” should be a driving force for the party rather than being seen as a “patronising, middle class observation”. He says:

We are the party of work, the party of labour. Making sure work pays, making sure work is justly rewarded, whether you work for a business, run a business or help keep our vital public services going.

We are the party of competition based on fairness. We are not the party of short-cuts, the easy-ride, the fast buck, the subsidy to those who have already cornered the market and want to keep the hard-workers out – for fear of real competition when they might have to actually….work.

We are for the hard-working business owner, and his or her employees, struggling to compete in unfair markets – those too often rigged and full of barriers to real competition, skewed for the benefit of those coasting business folk who don’t want to work hard, don’t want to compete.

While he understands why Labour is regarded as the party of welfare, he does not believe this should be the movement’s number one objective.

We are seen as the party of welfare, the party of the safety net, the party of the downtrodden and the oppressed. On one level, that’s as it should be, as the party did more than anyone else, and before anyone else, to create the safety net, to create welfare.

But the perception has become that these constitute our Clause One. The perception which has come to dominate is that we are about benefits, about the poorest, about dealing with those who have it the toughest and for whom society has left behind.

Of course we are, but this should be our party’s fall-back position, our political safety-net. It is the party of work, of jobs, and one which repays hard work. Well-rewarded hard work for the common good whether in the public or private spheres is the real new deal for a truly ‘all-in-this-together’ economy.

In a thinly veiled attack on Ed Miliband’s election manifesto, which was regarded by many to be anti-business, Cllr Clancy says the Labour party will not “touch the real working people of Britain unless it looks to its small and medium-sized enterprises, looks to a country which invests in them and looks after them”. He adds:

Most working people do not and never have worked in the commanding heights of the economy: they work in small and medium sized businesses. If we are to have as our first concern those who labour, then SMEs, their bosses and their workers, should be of primary concern.

It’s more than a repositioning. It needs to drive what we do from a policy and a campaigning perspective. We will work for your work, employer or employee, to keep your work, to make it pay and to stop those things, and those people, getting in the way of your hard work, and from being justly rewarded for it.

There’s also an admission that the last Labour government made a mistake with the economy.

I’d say Britain’s political class, the Labour government supported at budget votes by the Tories and Liberal Democrats, approved spending more than we could afford in the long run without tax rises. We expected other things and other people to pay for it, not ourselves.

Had it been paid for by realistic actual revenue, rather than dodgy future expectations of economic growth revenue, then we would not have overspent.

The spending was good, did much for the UK’s economy and the common good, but was based on unrealistic judgements about an ever-growing economy based on an unbalanced and unsustainable model. The Labour Party relied on ever-growing big business, big commerce and big finance in the South East to fund the spending, not the ordinary British taxpayers. That was unwise.

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