Denham frustrated by 'blurred' Labour vision

John Denham speaks out on Labour's southern discomfort
John Denham speaks out on Labour's southern discomfort

Cabinet minister John Denham has spoken out against Labour's lack of "vision" following last week's humiliating local election results.

Speaking last night in a speech organised by progressive group the Fabian Society, the innovation, universities and skills secretary warned voters would not forgive the government "for apparently not understanding what is happening in their lives".

The Southampton Itchen MP focused his attention on the south of England, where he argued both the benefits of Labour's policies and the difficulties currently faced by the economy are being most keenly felt.

Mr Denham said the region should be "at the heart of... [Labour's] election strategy" because the problems it faces are likely to become more and more applicable to the rest of Britain in the future.

"The type of economy, the type of jobs, the type of pressures, the type of opportunities will be more like those we face in the south," he explained.

"If we want to be trusted to govern Britain in the future, in a Britain more like the south, we must want to win the south."

Unfortunately, Mr Denham argued, winning such trust requires big changes in a region which has seen Labour support sliding slowly since 1997.

"For several years, we have tailored different messages to different people, at the cost of a vision of society that unites voters from different backgrounds," he pressed.

"It has simply left too many confused about what we stand for.

"There will always be what Harold Macmillan called 'events'. What carries you through is public confidence that you know where you are going.

"Of course we do know, but we need to spell it out again."


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