According to the Dutch Socialist party‘s magazine, the party advocates a new Europe of a “real democracy close to people, with space for local culture and identity based on social policy for the whole EU” (Extremes find common cause, 10 September). The model of centre parties defending our democracy against extremist parties of the left and right is more a product of ideology than reality. To compare the Socialist party, which will – if elected to participate in the government today – make society more liberal and more social, with the fascist Freedom party is beyond comprehension. History should have taught us by now that all anti-fascists and democrats should stand together against the racist ideology of the new and not-so-new right.
The lack of a political party in Britain like the Dutch Socialist party, the United Left in Spain, Syriza in Greece or Germany’s Die Linke tells us much about the poverty of our political culture.
• Gavin Kelly’s perceptive view of the 2015 election (Casting ahead to 2015, no leader likes what he sees, 10 September) refers to “fairness in austerity – fertile terrain for Miliband”. Labour can win the election outright with an emphasis on fairness and justice as the dominant themes of the manifesto and campaign. By stressing how much of the failure of the austerity programme can only be described by adjectives of exactly opposite meaning, and how none of it was in the Tory manifesto, Ed Miliband can win on the “fairness” ticket.
Putting forward policies which promote fairness – such as restoring the 50% band, perhaps at £140,000, appointing more tax inspectors and increasing corporate transparency, introducing a Tobin tax and a creating nationalised bank for investment in small businesses – could be a vote-winner. Let’s start with the conference speech, Ed.
• Peter Wilby (Comment, 6 September) advises the Labour leader to move away from the centre ground. I would suggest that Ed Miliband looks at history, rather than listening to the wishful thinking of Mr Wilby and others who promote this view. Since the great reforming Attlee government, only two Labour leaders have won general elections, both unashamed pragmatists. Harold Wilson won four times (one as a minority government) and Tony Blair won three (handsomely).
I have no doubt that he would have won another in 2010, had he not been pushed out – mainly by the Tory press, which knew it would never beat him. Remember, his last victory was in 2005, two years after the invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, the Labour left swallowed the Tory press line – believing, for some reason, that Gordon Brown, the friend of the City, was somehow to the left of Blair.
Labour leaders elected to move the party to the left – Foot (rather than Healey), Kinnock (rather than Hattersley) – made the party unelectable. Kinnock could not even defeat John Major, whom the Tories had set up as the fall guy for an expected defeat. Unfortunately, there has always been a body of Labour supporters who prefer to
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