Labour must offer voters an optimistic vision of Britain – The Guardian

John Sommer, Paul Temple and Sue Hardman on how the party can win back the hearts and minds of the people if it stops dwelling on the negative past and focuses on a positive future
Last modified on Mon 11 Oct 2021 18.36 BST
Nesrine Malik’s excellent article (The Tories have persuaded voters there’s a threat worse than fuel shortages, 10 October) suggests that the purpose of the war on woke was to persuade the electorate that things would be worse if the left was in power and that Labour did not see this. The strategy is based on a glowing narrative of English history without the nasty bits. The more the left defends each individual attack, the more it gets enmeshed in a battle of the Tories’ choosing.
Jeremy Corbyn was offering a vision of Britain that was markedly different from the one offered by the Tories. The fact that it failed does not mean that it was wrong. Its near-success was because it was different, not because of the belief that people were specifically wanting a socialist government.

If Labour is to succeed, it must move away from just pointing out what the Tories are doing badly and what it will do about it. It must remind people what its vision of Britain is, not just offer vague optimism littered with detailed negativity. It should present new policies with optimism – policies that will deliver on people’s aspirations. It is important that past support for Boris Johnson or Brexit is not mentioned. A public change of heart will be achieved by offering an alternative bright future, not by dwelling on errors of the past.
John Sommer
Saltford, Somerset
Readers of the depressing pieces by Nesrine Malik and John Harris (Johnson will survive these crises because he can turn them into a story about Britain, 10 October) might assume that there is a Tory-inclined majority in the country to which the tactics described in the articles will appeal. But there isn’t: polling consistently shows a substantial non-Tory majority, and the Chesham and Amersham result showed what can happen when this majority is mobilised. If centre-right voters were confronted by a choice of three parties at national and local elections, in the way that centre-left voters are, then Boris Johnson would be known as a harmless eccentric on the margins of politics. He is in power because the non-Tory parties allow him to be.
Paul Temple
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
I agreed with much of Phil Burton-Cartledge’s article (Tax hikes, empty shelves and fuel shortages – why do the Tories look so invincible?, 8 October), but found some of James Frayne’s comments questionable. Yes, it seems that the Tories can do no wrong. But what happens when people start noticing the hit to their household budgets, with energy prices rising just as the cold weather approaches?
Older voters are constantly put forward as keeping the Tories in power, but many who are relying on a pension, particularly women who may not have worked outside the home, will be facing financial hardship, as they have little or no occupational pension. And many “red wall” voters do rely on public transport – the constituents of Heywood and Middleton, for instance – so for Frayne to sweep that aside with “most didn’t bother with buses” is unbelievable.
With waiting times for A&E and hospital appointments going up, and people facing a choice between heating and eating, many will question what the “certitude” is that the article says the Tories offer.
I grew up on the outskirts of Manchester in the Thatcher years. We called jobcentres “Maggie’s joke shops” and I, for one, will never be putting a cross next to a Conservative candidate.
Sue Hardman
Woodbridge, Suffolk
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