I seem to be writing pieces like this with monotonous regularity after crushing Labour election defeats nationally contrasting with record good results in Exeter.
Please, colleagues in the Labour movement and outside commentators, don't try to claim we lost because Labour wasn't radical, left wing or distinctive enough. Please don't force those of us, who are actually quite good at winning elections in Middle England, to go through those same old tired arguments of the 1970s and 80s. Surely, we learned the lessons forever in 1992: that a successful centre left Party in Britain wins from the centre left, not the left. Economic competence, combined with social justice. Without the first we can never deliver the second.
Ed Miliband has been a good and brave leader. He has held us together admirably since 2010. He has been courageous and inspirational in standing up to powerful vested interests, including the vile Tory press. He has overseen the development of a good programme for Government, that will now sadly not be implemented. Millions of people in Britain desperately needed and still need a Labour Government.
But Ed and his team bet on the British people moving to the left in response to the global financial crisis. The whole of our strategy was based on this. But it was not true. There was never any evidence either here or abroad that it would be.
The public feels growing disquiet at inequality, at austerity hitting the poor and our public realm, while a few at the top lead lives completely disconnected from the rest of us. People want a fairer, better Britain, but they also need to have confidence in the ability of a Government to manage the economy competently. We need our Party and next leader to celebrate our entrepreneurs and wealth creators and not leave the impression they are part of the problem. Economic competence combined with social justice. We learned that lesson finally, surely, after 18 years in the wilderness between 1979 and 1997. To recognise this simple truth is not to hark back to 1997, but, as John Prescott always used to put it, to adapt traditional Labour values to today's reality. That's how we rebuild and win.