There was an interesting piece in today's Eastern Daily Press about Charles Clarke highlighting the precarious situation Labour find themselves in at the moment.
"Former home secretary Charles Clarke, has warned the prime minister that Labour is in danger of losing power at the next election and that it may need a maximum, five-year, parlia-ment to rebuild public confidence.
In an article - written before he was passed over in last week's cabinet reshuffle - in today's Progress magazine he argues that “most people in the country believe that Labour has a long way to go to establish both clarity of purpose and the confidence that we are genuinely looking to the future and not backwards”. The Norwich MP says that “if Labour gets it right, it could easily win well again and even lay the basis of a more long-term, Scandinavian-style, progressive century”.But he also warns that “if Labour gets it all wrong the next general election will become the next major turning point, leading to more than a decade of Tory power”.
He adds that he now expects the election not to come until May 2010 - five years after the last one.
The publication of Mr Clarke's further views may generally aggravate his relations with Gordon Brown, which have long been tense and difficult.But there is likely to be warm appreciation in 10 Downing Street of one section of the article, in which Mr Clarke stresses that Labour has to move on from the policies and views of Tony Blair.“We have to understand that Tony Blair, though an outstanding Labour prime minister who massively changed Britain for the better, has departed the British political scene, and neither he nor his policy prescriptions have any future significance”, he says.
But he also warns that time is running out for Labour in terms of creating a new, election-winning, agenda. “By now, people are entitled to expect Labour to know what works, and not to need short-term reviews and pilots,” he argues. “Now, above all, we need clarity in each policy area. The current uncert-ainties are wide-spread and deb-ilitating and give ammun-ition to our opponents.”
The interesting thing is that Charles Clarke now has a very small majority in Norwich South over the Lib Dems, who also recently starting employing a full time member of staff and the Lib Dems also have permanant premises in Norwich, a phone bank and have a first class candidate in place in Simon Wright.
I was slightly surprised when catching up on the 18 Doughty Street Website with the "Election battleground" programmes Iain Dale did, to hear Iain Dale praise the campaigning skills of Simon Wright so openly and say that this would be a key factor in Norwich South.
I don't often agree with Tories, but Iain is right and Charles clarke is starting to sound worried.