EVEN THOUGH many on the political left still loathe Peter Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, they would be advised to heed his ruthless appraisal of Ed Miliband’s disastrous leadership and the need for the party to “remodernise” once again.
As Lord Mandelson knows, general elections are traditionally won from the centre ground – even more reason for Labour to regret how Mr Miliband, aided and abetted by Ed Balls, undertook a “giant political experiment” in moving the party back in time.
It is a profound point – their plan to redistribute wealth through state intervention was anti-business and patently failed to recognise the need to generate more wealth in order to fund public services policy commitments and reduce the ruinous budget deficit that Labour bequeathed to the nation in 2010. “There was a great hole in the middle of the Polo mint and it’s called the economy,” said Lord Mandelson who went on to criticise how the trade unions manipulated Mr Miliband’s election as leader.
It did not end here – Lord Mandelson’s former bête noire, John Prescott, waded in and accused Mr Miliband of presiding over a “bloody disastrous” defeat because “we fought a presidential-type election based on computers, charts, focus groups and even the American language”.
However, the worry is that the remnants of the Labour front bench are in denial about the reasons for the party’s defeat – the party’s business spokesman Chuka Umunna said the next election is within Labour’s grasp and that Jim Murphy, the party’s leader in Scotland, did an “excellent job”. He must be the only person who thinks so. Yet, given that is one of the leading contenders to succeed Mr Miliband, this does not bode well and suggests that Labour would be advised to make a clean break from the past and seek a leader who can construct a centre-left agenda that is more relevant to the changing dynamics of British society and the economy.
EVEN though today’s scathing reports into the inhumane failings of some care homes in Leeds will be regarded as a local issue, and just the latest in a lengthy list of such scandals, the ramifications are too serious to be ignored because of the national implications.
It is no secret that there is a huge amount of pressure on elderly care, one of the election’s great unspoken issues in this country. People are living for longer and the cost of looking after them is growing at a time when pressure on the public finances has never been greater thanks to the largesse of previous Labour governments.
With council-run care homes having been closed to save money, it means that it is more important than ever to ensure standards at privately-run residential homes are up to scratch. As such, the failings highlighted today by the Care Quality Commission could not be more disturbing – distressed residents pacing up and down corridors, failures to report alleged abuse appropriately and unhygienic facilities have all been flagged up. In fact, more than two-thirds of recently inspected Leeds facilities have now been deemed to be inadequate or requiring improvement.
This is a shocking situation that must not continue. Elderly care was not an issue that featured heavily in the election campaign, but it is clear that it is one which needs addressing as a matter of extreme urgency – there needs to be a far closer correlation between the NHS and those tasked with providing social care.
THE poignancy will be palpable today when Bradford falls silent for the culmination of commemorative events in honour of the 56 football fans who perished exactly 30 years ago in the horrific fire that engulfed a wooden stand at Valley Parade ground during the final game of the 1984-85 season. They paid the ultimate price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, it is to the credit of the wider football family that the deaths continue to be solemnly marked each year and that the memory of those supporters continues to be honoured by the inspiring sums of money that continue to be raised for the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit at the University of Bradford.
Set up in the aftermath of the disaster when hospitals were treating an unprecedented number of victims who had suffered disfiguring burns injuries, it is now a world leader in its field thanks to the lessons learned in the most horrific, and tragic, of circumstances.