A defining theme of Norfolk politics is a peculiar dislike of politics. Conservative and LibDems are at pains to emphasise how they work together and avoid anything ‘political’. Our local LibDem MP, Norman Lamb, who eagerly embraced the post 2010 coalition with the Conservatives, appears to have no worthwhile views on economic policy. In the middle of the election campaign all Churchwardens in our group of nine Parishes received the following invitation: ‘the Rector has issued an invitation to you and anyone in your parish to meet Norman Lamb at the Rectory, this Sunday’. When I complained I was told by reply that ‘There was never any sense of a political gathering in this invitation – Norman is very well liked by many people of all political persuasions …’.
I am therefore used to dealing with people who consider a declared absence of political views to be a virtue and that those of us who hold such views must be out of the ordinary and eccentric.
I would not expect a desire to avoid politics to be a defining characteristic of people seeking office in the Labour Party. However consider the following extracts from an e-mail I received from one of the candidates for Deputy Leadership. I will not identify the person concerned, who is no better or worse than the others in this respect.
We need a strategy for UKIP, the Greens and the SNP, but 4 out of the 5 voters we need to win back voted Conservative on May 7th. I am confident that with the right politics, leadership and campaigning we can do it. (my emphasis)
I will be a loyal and trusted deputy leader … I will be a trusted ambassador and communicator for all parts of the Party, and beyond, to the country and voters we need to win back.
I believe in an open and inclusive politics… It’s the politics the public prefers and the kind we need as a Party to broaden our appeal.
So what are the right politics? The last section above talks of ‘open and inclusive politics’. I for one haven’t a clue what it means.
The Labour Party is facing a huge challenge in formulating policies and programmes to can achieve a better society, built on social justice, in 21st century Britain. Some detail on how that can be done would be most welcome before we cast our votes.