I'm at Gatwick airport at an internet terminal at the moment, so probably not the ideal circumstances for imparting my thoughts on the future of the Labour Party, but here goes.
It's clear - and kind of stating the obvious - that the Crewe result was about the fact that many people simply don't feel that well off at the moment. (The media would like it to be about Gordon Brown's leadership, as that lends itself far more easily to juicy gossip trading in Commons' bars, unattributed briefings, and dashed-off comment pieces; analysing policies is far more like hard work, and doesn't sell nearly as many papers).
We know voters are being hit by high petrol prices, rising food prices, high utility bills. Some are also concerned about the recent dip in house prices. It's no good telling them that they're still benefiting from comparatively low interest rates, low inflation, high employment - or to recite the mantra of Labour achievements since 1997, all designed to help people on low or moderate incomes (minimum wage, tax credits, record rises in child benefit, winter fuel payments, pensions credit, etc, etc).Nor is it the right time to draw to voters' attention what a Labour Government has done to rescue dilapidated public services, particularly health and education, although what's happening on that front in my constituency is phenomenal and we will go into the next election no doubt with leaflets adorned with pictures of brand new schools and health centres.
So what can we do about it? The simplest answer would be to say: put more money into people's pockets. Which we did with the Chancellor's announcement the week before last, about extra money for all basic rate tax payers. The Prime Minister is also taking an international lead in discussions with OPEC, trying to bring down oil prices, and similar discussions are taking place with the supermarkets... We could stop the fuel duty escalator kicking in in the autumn, having already delayed it once - or even reduce petrol taxes further, but is that the right path to go down, environmentally?
My money is running out, just as I was about to say something profound.... (!) so have to log off now!