Sunday 21 September 2008

David Lammy: not 'what works' but 'what matters'

David Lammy speaking on Can Hope Win? Lessons from America was careful to declare his formal, governmental neutrality in the US Presidential election in which his friend Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate.

But he argues that the lessons from both the US parties should change the content of Labour politics, as well as changing the way parties campaign.

New Labour and the New Democrats were concepts that were inter-related. If at the heart of New Labour was the adage that what works is what matters, it is no longer about what works; it is about what matters.

Whatever you think of the positions Sarah Palin takes [on abortion, etc], she is absolutely a ‘what matters’ candidate.

There are subjects in the public realm that come onto the table. We have to be talking about the nature of fatherhood, about the nature of childhood, about masculinity. We have to talk about the market not just about what’s happened to our economy, but because we want to protect children from advertising, because we want to regulate the market because climate change.

Lammy argued too that Labour's renewal depends on connecting to new movements who could provide 'footsoldiers' for progressive change.

The other thing that comes out of the States is the idea of movement. At our best, we are a movement: in this country, we are born from the trade union movement; and our movement gave us the welfare state, the NHS and schools. Ours was a movement movement that took a position on gender, race and sexuality, that tapped into movements out there and brought them in

“The Obama campaign has galvanised a base that has its starting point in student campuses, has fired up the afro-American community, has links to the anti-war movement, For the Republicans, the selection of Sarah Palin has fired up a movememtn that has a view – that has footsoldiers keen to campaign for McCain and Sarah Palin. They have rifle clubs – and take a position on that

So we have learned something about a core electorate that wants to join up to a political party, that wants to donate funds, that wants to organise for a candidate. That is very different to what has existed in this country. We as a party have to be about movement: we have to be about progressive ties. We can draw something from that birth of footsoldiers on the centre-left"

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