As the dust settles on Labour's leadership election, Polly Toynbee and David Walker write an open letter of advice drawn from their influential new book on the party's time in power, The Verdict.
"Congratulations on your hard-fought victory. Before setting out on a new path, however, you need to lay out your own verdict on Labour's 13 years in power. As an adviser and as a minister, you were an architect of the policies that we chronicle in our new book. Our audit offers a reminder of what Labour did well, and where it failed.
As well as crunching the numbers, we look at what you did through the eyes of people on the ground, citizens in all walks of life. To them, the charivari of Westminster politics didn't much matter. The people we talked to in Gorton, Middlesbrough, Birmingham or Brighton don't despise politics; they are often passionately interested because they see its results around them, good and bad. All that Blair/Brown stuff and the rows over big organisational "reform" wasted energy, ignoring the day-to-day details for patients, parents, pupils and citizens at street level. Start change at the bottom, resist pulling on big levers.
You are not fated to repeat Blair and Brown's mistakes, nor to hare off in opposite directions to avoid them. Sifting through Labour's record of successes and failures, here are some lessons we drew:
Do learn from their intimidation by a mainly hostile media that blew them off course. Earn respect by refusing to kowtow to Rupert Murdoch. Nor can the Daily Mail be neutralised: shudder to recall Brown's pathetic attempts, even inviting Paul Dacre to the funeral of his infant daughter. Hatch a plan: restore pre-Thatcher media rules restricting multiple ownership and disallow non-British taxpayers.
Do be collegiate. Blair and Brown let the egotism of leadership marginalise their cabinets. Do head a government of all the talents – add some friendly GOATS of the Ara Darzi, Paddy Ashdown, Paul Myners variety, never Digby Jones-style enemies. Embrace the Liberal Democrats and plan to share future power.
Do be brave, at least sometimes: governments are also judged on policies they enact when public opinion is out of kilter with the facts.
Do cut the braggadocio. Blair and Brown forever promised the greatest, the best, the first, world-class and world-beating. Modest under-claiming might reap more gratitude.
Do tell a clear story. Your spin doctors will urge you to use euphemisms for redistribution and poverty, but recall how Brown's secretive tax credits arrived without recipients appreciating where they came from; Labour got no credit.
Do be honest about tax, the subscription for living in a civilised society. Income tax is fairest and least unpopular.
Do remember what ministers are for. They do politics, not management – for which they have neither training nor aptitude.
Don't be a neophiliac like Blair, chasing headlines with fidgety new ideas. Build on much solid Labour success, now being dismantled before our eyes.
Don't do structure, especially in health and education. What matters is the experience of the child at every desk and the patient in every ward. What worked was more and better teachers, nurses, doctors and, yes, managers too. Never lose professionals' hearts and minds, for they control public trust.
Don't promise instant remedies, marching thugs to cashpoints when the best policies are very long-term – think Sure Start.
Don't panic on crime. Don't respond to every passing horror with a hundred new Criminal Justice Acts. Don't overflow prisons with the non-violent. Understand the public need for tough punishment but know your only measure of success is reduced re-offending.
Don't spoil your digestion with a prawn cocktail offensive in the City. You need them – the UK economy depends on finance. But they need you. Strike a better balance.
Don't be afraid to back winners, whatever neo-liberal textbooks say (conveniently forgetting China, Singapore and the US): support manufacturing, invest in British-built wind farms, in home insulation and carbon capture.
Don't allow another housing bubble. If prices take off again, impose a land value tax and use the proceeds to kick-start building private and social homes, an engine for growth.
Do reform voting so elections no longer rely on winning a handful of middle Englanders in marginals. Make every vote count. Reform the Lords.
Don't take millionaire money. Be warned by the Bernie Ecclestone contamination and bring in state funding of parties.
Do renew all the best Labour did for children, with children's centres, childcare, breakfast and after-school clubs, Every Child Matters, nurseries – all at risk from cuts.
Don't do God. Respect faith groups equally with others, but no new faith schools, and make existing ones obey a fair admissions code.
Don't go to war without wholehearted national support backed by solid international law.
Don't claim an impossible ethical foreign policy, when arms manufacture supplies so many jobs. Downsize British ambition; no more expensive punching above our weight.
Don't agonise over Britishness: It will look after itself.
Do celebrate the BBC, free museums and arts that cost a fraction of their national value.
Do remember, when it's all over, you will judge your own success by how much fairer you made Britain. That is relentlessly hard work.
Finally, be assured this is not the essentially conservative-minded country Blair and Brown feared. Look back with regret at how a golden decade of secure power and a full treasury was often squandered. If there was a time for boldness, courage and imagination, it was then. Even after the crash, Labour had a chance to redefine national purpose and remedy growing inequality. Why were its ambitions so constrained? Look hard at the record. You have the chance to do so much more. Good luck."
All our love
Polly and David
[I wrote that bit - Ed]