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We must discover our lost optimism

PUBLISHED: 17:41 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 11 August 2010

DAGENHAM MP Jon Cruddas said the Labour Party had lost its optimism and deserves to suffer defeat at the next election unless it rediscovers its identity. The damning self-diagnosis was made just weeks before the Labour Party conference at a summer lectur

DAGENHAM MP Jon Cruddas said the Labour Party had lost its optimism and deserves to suffer defeat at the next election unless it rediscovers its identity.

The damning self-diagnosis was made just weeks before the Labour Party conference at a summer lecture by the pressure group Compass on Tuesday (September 8).

Cruddas said: "We don't know what Labour stands for anymore. What we've lost is our optimism.

"We need to regain a sense of our own history."

New Labour had focused too much on materialism and self-interest and less on ideas and values.

However, he said the party was at a turning point where it could regain hope and re-define its identity by embracing a radical agenda based on the four cornerstones of equality, sustainability, community and democracy.

He suggested a more equal distribution of income and fairer taxation, more efforts to end child poverty, a graduate tax replacing tuition fees, a Fair Employment Clause, windfall taxes, a massive investment in social housing and a credit card Bill of Rights for consumers.

"We no longer live in communities in which people share the same customs and culture," he said, "but the ideal of community with its ethics of reciprocity and solidarity remains as powerful as ever - especially during moments of crisis.

"It means great help for those communities - often the poorest - who have experienced tremendous change through unparalleled levels of immigration."

Cruddas attacked the conservative party's plans for 'no frills' councils and said: "Why is it that after a summer in which the Tories have shown their true colours, we have barely laid a glove on them?

"Just think of this weekend's stories of regionalised benefits, mass privatisations and across the board cuts."

"We can still win. We just need to rediscover that old spirit of social democracy.

"It is an imperative - or else we will go down to catastrophic defeat and deserve to.

"Or else millions of vulnerable people will suffer at the hands of a nasty, extremist party that lies just beneath the veneer.


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