Just weeks after penning a column for The Kernel in support of Labour’s enterprise strategy, Luke Bozier, a well-known figure in Westminster circles and a start-up entrepreneur, has sensationally admitted his defection to the Tories on Twitter.
Well-connected London entrepreneur and politico Luke Bozier’s defection to the Tories, just announced, is proof of the chaos among the ranks of Labour’s younger supporters. It is already causing major waves among the political classes online.
A long-brewing civil war between the likes of Dan Hodges (Blairite realist), Sunny Hundal (naive true believer) and Owen Jones (self-consciously “hard-line” Old Left) has finally exploded into hysterics after Ed Balls changed tack dramatically on Saturday morning.
Now Bozier, 27, – whose start-up, Municipo, a low-cost software platform enabling public authorities to use the Internet as their primary point-of-contact with the public, which launched late last week – has had a moment of truth.
Tony Blair’s former e-campaigns manager has realised Labour isn’t going to win the next general election. Worse, it won’t even have a coherent policy platform on which to lose it.
“Blair and New Labour had the reforming zeal to radically change our public services,” he said last night. “It was a pro-aspiration, pro-business party, which made sense to me and to the country. The party has moved so far away from it that I no longer wish to be a part of it.
“At the same time, Cameron’s policies have picked up that reforming zeal and are continuing in the spirit of Blair, so I have decided to join the Conservatives.”
Bozier told the Independent he had no plans to act as an adviser to the Conservatives, but would be an ordinary party member.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls seems pretty serious about embracing the coalition’s cuts – not that he has any choice, given the downgrading panic in the markets.That leaves Owen and Sunny miserably marginalised within a party they thought they had captured when “special Ed” was elected.
The awkward thing for them is that, unlike Bozier, they have nowhere else to go.
The full text of Bozier’s resignation statement has been leaked to The Kernel. We reproduce it in full below.
Dear Labour Party,
I became a member five years ago, in the final days of Tony Blair’s leadership. Back then, New Labour was still the intellectual heart of the party. A pro-business attitude and a commitment to revolutionising our creaking public services made sense to me. And it made sense to the rest of the country. I had the privilege to work alongside our most successful leader, Tony Blair, and I look back at that time fondly. But when I watch Tony’s old speeches, it makes me confused and sad about the direction the party is now taking.
Gordon Brown, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a terrible driver of the New Labour wagon. Most of his three years as leader and Prime Minister were spent defending his own position. As a result, we wasted the opportunity to continue Tony’s reforms and we were punished for it at the ballot box. Had somebody taken the decisive action to remove Gordon, we might still be in government today. But our Cabinet failed to stand up to him and in doing so they let both the party and the country down.
But if Gordon’s leadership was disastrous, the events and decisions made since May 2010 have been catastrophic.
Ed Miliband is a leader that Labour MPs and Labour members didn’t want. He was forced upon us by the Trade Unions and like most people, I wasn’t happy with the result. I tried for as long as I could to give Ed the benefit of the doubt. But look what it’s come to, with the party and the leader now a national laughing stock. Rarely in British history has a leader become so quickly defined by humiliating questions about his looks and personality.
Ed proudly declared that New Labour is dead; how tragic. With it, the passion for reform that made our party electable has gone. So too has the pro-business, pragmatic approach to wealth and enterprise. Instead there is a vision and leadership vacuum. At a time when the nation needs strong political leadership, Labour offers nothing. Labour seems to have learned nothing from the days of Brown.
And what of the alternatives to Ed Miliband? The Coopers, Balls and those who follow are out-of-touch careerists. Worse, they are Brownites, even more committed to the ideological left than Ed or Gordon. Balls’ u-turn on the cuts was delivered yesterday through gritted teeth. He was at the heart of Brown’s insane spending and can’t wait to abandon fiscal conservatism. Nobody believes him as a fiscal realist.
The reality is that student politicians have taken over the Labour Party. Simply put, Labour is institutionally unable to put aside its tribal prejudice and ideology. But it needs to in order to undertake the bold thinking needed to tackle today’s challenges. Instead Labour prefers to repeat the same negative patterns that have kept them out of office for 80 of their first 110 years of existence. Today, our education, health and welfare systems are unfit for purpose, yet at times in the Labour Party it feels almost treasonous to tell the truth about them.
I despair, because I love this country and I care deeply about making public services better. About dismantling the traps in our bloated welfare system. About projecting confidence on the world stage. About the deficit and debt. I no longer wish to be associated with Labour’s ludicrous attitudes to education reform or its dire mismanagement of the economy.
So Labour’s future looks bleak. David Cameron, sensing the intellectual and political paralysis throughout the Labour Party, has picked up New Labour’s baton of reform and is running with it. Cameron’s Conservatives have again become the party of the aspirational classes. Aspiration is what took me from a council estate in South Wales to start my own business and to political activism.
It’s Cameron’s Conservatives who are being fiscally responsible, doing the hard work needed to put the economy back on track. His party is taking the steps needed to improve our schools, our welfare system and to invest in new infrastructure like HS2. His party is instituting the regulatory reforms so desperately needed to allow private enterprise, the engine of the recovery, to flourish.
Those reforms are social justice. And social justice is why I entered politics.
I want my two children to have a bright future in a confident United Kingdom. That requires radical, bold, innovative management and change in our public services. Some of that work will be hard, and some of it will be unpopular, but it is absolutely necessary to safeguard the prosperity and security of this country.
But the Labour Party – which has comfortably turned back into Old Labour – no longer speaks for this country. And it no longer speaks for me and the sort of Britain I want for my children. And that is why, today, I am joining the Conservatives.
The Kernel will be running an exclusive interview with Bozier about his defection, and his new start-up, Municipo, later this week.