John Woodcock: Labour can regain trust by changing

Every new year marks a fresh opportunity to make your mark and show the country what you are about.

John Woodcock: Labour can regain trust by changing
John Woodcock: Labour can regain trust by changing
So both David Cameron and Ed Miliband used their re-entry after the Christmas break to take on the areas their opponents have identified as opportunities to attack.

The Prime Minister knows his carefully cultivated image risks being damaged by the charge that he is out of touch with the sense of unfairness that has pervaded since the financial collapse and global recession. His people will see the same polling as we do; it shows he is highly vulnerable to the sense that many at the top are continuing to receive unjustified rewards while the squeezed middle unfairly bear the brunt of the austerity imposed by his Government.

For Labour, getting a hearing for Miliband's speech on delivering fairness in tough times has marked a welcome return to reality after the nonsense of a week in which a typo in a tweet about Bob Holness ended up as The Sun splash. Miliband's message was simple: a future Labour government will need to act differently to improve people's lives in an era when resources are scarce. Being understood on that is central to Labour's drive to regain the public's trust on the economy after the last general election; expect to hear far more on this theme in the weeks and months ahead.

Over the years, successful media advisers have been held up as magical Svengalis who supposedly transformed the fortunes of their parties. In truth, that is tosh: what they can do is limited by the fact that the British people are cannier than many in the commentariat give them credit for. The public knows when the offer being made to it by politicians is genuine.

At best, the jury is out on whether David Cameron truly believes in making the hard choices that will be necessary to curb the excesses of undeserved boardroom pay and bonuses for bankers.

But take it from me: Labour is genuine about changing to tackle the new economic reality the country faces. We now need to keep plugging away to get that message across.

John Woodcock is Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, and a former spokesman for ex-prime minister Gordon Brown.

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