I wish Luke Bozier well! If Luke truly believes that the Conservative Party is where his heart lies, then it is right for him to leave Labour and join them. I do not think he is a traitor, or any such terms if he is genuinely following his political heart.
Yet on only January 9th, in his last blog for Labour List he wrote, "Labour politics is meant to be the politics of care and attention to those in the world who need it, it’s about finding a vision of a better Britain and spreading opportunity as far and wide as possible. We have achieved lots in our time in office, but what purpose does it serve being the perpetual party of opposition?"
The Tory-led government is failing to provide that, 'care and attention to those who need it,' and as the reaction from both left and right to the Welfare Bill has demonstrated, this is felt across the board. So, we need to look for other reasons for Luke's defection.
In his interview in today's Independent, he says he believes that the reforming zeal of New Labour has now been picked up by David Cameron and the Conservative Party. That Cameron has moved onto New Labour territory is something many of us have been saying for the last two years. Therefore, it would seem only natural for Luke Bozier to join a party that seems much more in keeping with his beliefs.
On August 4th 2011, Luke wrote for Labour List an article entitled, "Does Labour need its own Tea Party movement," in which he more or less repeats the Conservative Party line that 'it's all Labour's fault,' and that Labour should follow polices of, 'legal limits on deficits, national debt ceilings and links between the deficit limit and the employment rate.'
Now this isn't to say Labour can't do better, any party that says it got everything right is deluding itself. However, Ed Miliband has said money could have been better spent, but that is not the same as saying we spent too much. And before any Conservative readers jump up and down, think about how much your government has wasted on multiple u-turns in the last eighteen months, and proposals to spend millions on a new royal yacht, and a possible state funeral for Margaret Thatcher.
Indeed, it could be argued that Luke has in fact moved further to the right than David Cameron, as he speaks of 'fiscal responsibility,' debt ceilings and the like.
In November last year he wrote in an article for Labour Uncut, "Nobody in politics seems to know how to fix the economy. The Tory-Lib Dem government is scrambling around trying to appear as though they are boosting it. Miraculously, in an era with very little money in the public coffers, the treasury seems to be able to find a billion here or a billion there to support half-baked pro-growth policies."
So now he seems willing to go and join a party he doesn't believe has any idea what it is doing. There is nothing wrong with promoting enterprise, but only a few months ago he didn't believe the Conservative Party was the party to promote it, and said of Ed Miliband:
"Things are starting to change for Labour. Since that TUC rally in March, Ed Miliband has slowly started to move closer to the centre ground, and we have realised as a party that until we’re seen as serious and leading the way on business and growth, we cannot win a general election. Chuka Umunna was promoted to shadow business secretary, a shrewd move by Ed M. It was wise to change the party rules in order to bring people like Umunna up more quickly. Chuka has a firm grasp of the business brief, and is serious about pushing Labour to be more comfortable with business."
He finished the article stating that the government was in disarray over how to fix the mess, and this was only two months ago. So what has led Luke Bozier to leave the Labour Party and join the Conservatives at this time?
The easy thing to do would be to say he was a Tory all along, and that like all Blairites we're better off without him, and them. I disagree with this rather knee jerk analysis.
There will be many Blairites who will look at Luke's actions with dismay. Not because they don't sympathise with his views, but because they still believe that Labour is still the best party to deliver their mix of social and economic concerns.
I think what we have is a young man who is politically confused, and unsure of the direction he really wants to go in. He's obviously a very intelligent and enterprising young man, who in his role as e-campaigns manager brought expertise, and worked hard to win the last General Election.
I expect he will find it hard to find a place in the Conservative Party, because although in some areas he may find allies, he joined Labour for a reason (if his protestation that he's not just following power is true) and not the Conservative Party (as David Cameron had already begun to make his changes by the time Luke became politically active), and he will find it more difficult to voice his concerns about the way policy on the NHS and welfare are going there. Luke my well believe public services need to be 'smarter' but whether he will feel entirely comfortable in a party that wishes to privatise them is another matter altogether.
As a supporter of Tony Blair and New Labour, it is understandable that he is frustrated with the Labour Party at the moment. Less than two years after a big defeat the party is taking its time to find its feet again. This is natural, the Conservatives took nine years following their defeat in 1997, and the Liberal Democrats (in their previous guise as the Liberals) took nearly a century. Labour won't take that long, but it is inevitably a painful process.
Last November Luke believed that Ed Miliband was moving in the right direction, but now that has changed. I think he detects a shift to the left and is unhappy with that, but if he believes the party, and its leader are failing to provide real opposition, it does seem odd for him to now join the party he's been opposing all this time, and does not have a clue what it is doing.
Perhaps the most significant words for most party members were, "The Labour Party today is not the Labour Party I joined six years ago when Tony Blair was leader." Many on the left of the party have complained there seems little movement away from Tony Blair's more neoliberal agenda. So this could be Luke Bozier's biggest contribution to the Labour Party, by defecting he's shown we have shifted decisively to the left, and are now in a position to provide that real alternative to the coalition.
So as he moves onto new pastures, I hope he finds what he is looking for, but I fear that he is just heading for more disappointment.