Alan Milburn chats to a local resident in Prescott Street today.
I see there's a jeering comment from David Davies on the Tories' Darlington Future website wondering how I'll spin the Crewe and Nantwich result?
Well, trying not to be too "pompus" (sic), I don't think I'll bother. It was awful. I could draw comfort from by-elections in the past that governments have lost heavily, and then gone onto win the subsequent General Election (Mid-Staffordshire, won for Labour in 1992 by Sylvia Heal being the most striking, on a 21% swing). There's no doubt, however, that the electorate in Crewe wanted to give us a good kicking, a mood echoed in the London Mayoralty poll and the recent local council elections.
Have I given up? Should Labour just crawl away into a corner and quietly die, as David clearly expects. Well, actually, no, and the reason for my glimmer of optimism lies in the tone of David's piece, and similar comments from David Cameron on Friday.
The Tories think they've got the next election in the bag. New Labour is apparently "dead". A full two years out from the final date at which a General Election must be held, Gordon Brown's position is irretrievable. The Prime Minister should apparently resign now. As Pvt. Frazer would have said, "we're all doomed".
I have to tell both Davids that triumphalist talk like this helps activists like me get out of bed in the morning, rather than pulling the sheets over my head in despair. The braying Tories are being drawn into a false comfort zone, which will end they believe in a landslide for them of 1997 proportions. In fact the analogies drawn with John Major's embattled regime, or the last lingering days of Jim Callaghan's Prime Ministership, are false.
Fundamentally, New Labour isn't divided now as the Tories were over Europe, or as old Labour was leading to the SDP schism. In both those cases, factions considered their own positioning to be more important that the wider good of their parties. There is absolutely no sense of that in New Labour. And we still have to hear what the Tories' programme for Government will actually be. Before 1997, Tony Blair produced policy after policy which both chimed with the public mood, and was carefully costed. The Tories haven't even started that phase of their development yet under David Cameron, and when they do, there will be plenty of opportunites to expose the Tories for what they are.
Finally, as we know, as General Elections approach, stratospheric opposition poll leads shrink, and the nerves set in. So for the time being, I'll push aside the pearl-handled revolver.
And to indicate this, we had an excellent turnout on Albert Hill this morning when our MP Alan Milburn, the local Labour councillors and Party members knocked on doors and chatted to people about their concerns. In streets like Prescott Street, Grey Street and Bowes Court, we had a very good reception, picking up a few local complaints whilst Alan talked to some residents at length about national issues which touched them.
For sure, Crewe hasn't gone away, and Labour is in for some difficult days. The message for the Tories however, and indeed for the wider public, is that Labour isn't going to curl up and die, and will work to win back people's trust. Everything is still to play for.