August 6: Labour must learn lessons

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Politicians ignore the electorate at their peril, as is made plain in the Labour Party’s post-mortem examination of why it lost the general election.

POLITICIANS ignore the electorate at their peril, as is made plain in the Labour Party’s post-mortem examination of why it lost the general election.

Failing to heed voters’ concerns over its stance on austerity, allied to their mistrust of the party’s record on the economy sent it crashing to one of the worst defeats in its history.

Yet in an ironic twist that will exasperate many mainstream Labour voters, the party is very possibly going to elect as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, who champions the very things that turned voters away.

The review of why Labour got its campaigning so wrong, by the party’s former policy chief Jon Cruddas, is damning in its verdicts. Its anti-austerity stance was a vote loser because the public recognised the necessity of tackling financial problems.

Nor was Labour convincing about its economic competence, the electorate preferring to put its trust in the Conservatives. Mr Cruddas warns that the Labour wipeout in Scotland at the hands of the SNP should not be taken to indicate that the English electorate is in any mood for a shift to left-wing policies.

Rank-and-file Labour members contemplating casting their votes for Mr Corbyn in next month’s leadership election should mull over Mr Cruddas’s findings very carefully indeed before deciding who to back.

The stance taken by Mr Corbyn and his supporters is effectively that the public voted in a Conservative government because the Labour offer was not sufficiently left-wing.

As Mr Cruddas makes clear, this is completely wide of the mark. A Labour leader stridently proclaiming an anti-austerity message, as Mr Corbyn is, would alienate voters. That is why so many within Labour are worried at the prospect of him winning. Political parties which do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Lives at stake

Delays in drugs approval

THE moving plight of Sam Brown, the six-year-old boy from Otley who suffers from an extremely rare medical condition, could not fail to move anyone aware of it.

He is one of just 105 people across the UK with the ultra-rare disease Morquio Syndrome and the distress caused to his family by the possibility of a drug, Vimizim, that has helped him being withdrawn has, thankfully, been soothed by the decision of its manufacturer to continue providing it.

It is excellent news that Sam will benefit, and praise is due to Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland for his tireless efforts on his behalf.

Yet a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on whether the drug will be approved for use in the UK must wait until October, and this is illustrative of a wider issue, especially where extremely expensive new medicines are concerned.

The decision over Sam’s medication has been passed back and forth between NICE and NHS England, whilst other countries have pressed on and brought Vimizim into use.

Delays like this benefit nobody, especially not patients like Sam and his family, who have endured months of worry.

The decisions being held up by a lack of clarity over who will have the final say are not academic matters.

They are about saving or prolonging lives, and the quality of life patients are able to enjoy.

Mr Mulholland is correct in his assertion that decisions like this are taking far too long, and people are being let down in the process.

His call for a better and faster process for approving new drugs should be heeded by the Government.

Seaside sounds

Capturing coast’s essence

THE sounds of the seaside inspire as well as soothe, whether it be the waves crashing on the shore or the cries of seagulls overhead.

The project to collate the soundtracks of so many family holidays will strike a chord with everyone whose spirits lift when they catch their first sight of the sea.

Such sounds are so evocative that when heard, they have the power to instantly transport somebody’s thoughts to the coast, perhaps remembering a special moment, or sparking a yearning to smell the sea air once more.

Yorkshire’s matchless coastline is especially rich in these emotional triggers. Everyone will have their own personal favourite, whether it be the sound of waves against Filey Brigg, the cacophony of the vast seabird colonies of Bempton or the siren of a Scarborough pleasure steamer.

All, and many more besides, deserve their place in the archive of the soundtrack to magical days at the seaside.