Owen Jones: Jon Cruddas is right: Labour must beware the dead hand | Owen Jones

An obsession with focus groups and gimmicky policies can only hurt the party it needs to present an inspiring alternative

Some policies are so wretchedly gimmicky, so blatant in their cynical political positioning, so insulting to the intelligence of the average punter, that it is tempting to drive to the nearest field and howl at the sky in exasperation. To mark Armed Forces Day, Labour trumpeted its plans to make it a "specific criminal offence to assault a member of the armed forces". As most of you are probably aware, it is already against the law to assault a soldier, or indeed anyone. Existing sentencing guidelines take into account aggravating factors. Why assaulting a teacher, nurse or firefighter is not made a specific criminal offence is left unexplained. If politicians wish to treat our armed forces with more respect, they should stop sending soldiers to be killed or maimed (or to kill and maim) in unjust foreign wars.

A minor complaint, but a revealing insight into the mindset of some of Labour’s top advisers. This cynical mindset was confirmed over the weekend by leaked comments from Jon Cruddas, head of Labour’s policy review, who said: "Interesting ideas and remedies are not going to emerge through Labour’s policy review." Cruddas is a thoughtful man despite a fondness for using unnecessarily clever-sounding words though I’m not sure why members of the Labour inner circle are stealing the job of columnists in publicly critiquing the party’s leadership. His suggestion that Labour strategists are creating "cynical" policies whose only purpose is to "chime with focus groups" and act as a "profound dead hand at the centre" is harsh but fair.

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