Labour nationally is some ten points ahead in the opinion polls. But as the party’s conference opens in Manchester, there is worry amongst some the of the delegates who have been in touch with me, that the poll lead could easily narrow in the months ahead, unless Ed Miliband sets out a much clearer alternative that is believable and which gives real hope.
So, I was delighted to learn today that Ed Miliband and his Chancellor have committed the next Labour Government to invest 3 billion pounds in major new housing programmes. This would not only benefit areas boroughs such as ours where there is an extreme housing shortage, but nationally would help boost our seriously flagging economy. So far the years of Tory and Lib Dem austerity have only depressed demand and living standards further. On top of that, the deficit has continued to grow. Labour, under Ed Miliband, this week has an almost unique opportunity to show that it has the economic policies to get us out of recession – and create a more equal Britain.
On a separate note, I was very disappointed to read that a former Minister, Douglas Alexander, believes that Ken Livingstone was to blame for losing to Boris Johnson. Faced with the unremitting hostility of a deeply partisan press, especially the Evening Standard, and not helped by the fact that some prominent Labour figures such as Lord Sugar publicly attacked him, Ken clearly had an uphill struggle. Today, many Londoners are reflecting back on that missed opportunity, as Boris Johnson grandstands and uses the Mayoralty simply as a prop to get back into Parliament and challenge David Cameron for leader of the Conservative Party. Ken Livingstone would have been an excellent Mayor of London, and he deserves our heartfelt thanks for all that he achieved both as Leader of the GLC and as a former Mayor of our great city.