In recent weeks just about everybody and their uncle has had advice for the Labour leader - Ed Miliband - in response to his poor showing in the opinion polls which suggest that less than 1 in 5 voters can envisage Ed as Prime Minister of the UK.
One of the suggestions doing the rounds is that Labour should bring its 'big beasts' back into front-line politics - well known faces like Alistair Darling, John Reid, and David Blunkett's names have all been mentioned.
Now to my mind that would be a backward step, but that doesn't mean that Ed should listen to what the 'old guard' has to say - for example here's a strong yet sensible point of view on the need for Labour to challenge the 'benefits culture' which Chris Mullin felt strongly enough about - to put pen to paper, so to speak - back in 1999.
Yet all these years later Labour is still struggling with the need to come up with a sensible policy on welfare reform - having neglected the issue almost entirely during its 13 years in government between 1999 and 2010.
If I had my way, I would increase short-term unemployment benefits - by reducing the benefits paid to those who have been out of work continuously for years - through both good times and bad.
Because that's the point that Chris Mullin was driving at in his diary all those years ago - yet the party leadership failed to act and even now Labour has opposed every single one of the Coalition Government's welfare measures while claiming - somewhat disingenuously - still to be in favour of reform.
Progress Report (6 April 2013)
I thought I'd publish a previous post form the blog site - from little more than a year ago - when I wrote about the Labour party reviewing policies on welfare reform and the benefits culture.
Now if anything useful has come out of this policy review process, then you're much better informed than me - though I am keeping my ear to the ground.
Benefits Culture (4 January 2012)
I read somewhere the other day that the Labour party is reviewing its policy on what is commonly referred to as - the 'benefits culture'.
Apparently the party is going to take a tougher, much more realistic stance - and agree that there is a significant problem - in the sense that relatively large numbers of people would stay on benefits their whole lives - if you let them.
Me, I'd turn off the benefits tap after a period of time - 3 or 5 years at the very most seems reasonable, generous even, to me.
After that if you're not making some kind of contribution to society - the music simply has to stop - even if that means hard choices because that's what life is all about.
So it seems that Labour is finally catching up with what one of their own MPs - Chris Mullin - had to say back in 1999.
Even at a time of relative full-employment Chris Mullin's could see that the benefits culture was a big challenge for Labour to tackle - yet it failed to do so over its 13 years in government - when in fact the problem got worse.
So it's good to see the people's party waking up, thinking differently and - potentially - taking a new approach.
Better late than never - as the say.
Hand-Up v Hand-Out (September 28th 2011)
Listening to the proceedings at the 2011 Labour party conference convinces me of one thing - people attending these events hear only what they want to hear - and all too often leave their brains at the door.
Take the 'darling' of the conference so far - young Rory Weal - who made a good, if somewhat deluded, speech about the importance of the welfare state.
Young Rory has now been 'cursed' - by being tagged as Labour's answer to William Hague - another precocious 16-year old conference virgin from the days of Margaret Thatcher.
Rory's back story was that the welfare state is a good thing - which it clearly is - and vital in the case of his own family - who were down on their luck for a while, but are now back on their feet.
Good for Rory - and his mum and sister - but if he doesn't mind me puncturing his balloon too much - that's hardly the point.
The real point is that too many people have been on welfare benefits for far too long - not the majority but very significant numbers - for whom a 'hand-up' has become a 'hand-out'.
A way of life which they settle into and don't want to change - because they have no hope or aspiration to make anything more of themselves - or their children - and a lifetime on benefit will do fine - thank you very much.
And if you don't believe me - then read this entry from Chris Mullin's diary from 11 June 1999 - which is taken from his book - 'A Walk On Part'.
"Friday 11 June 1999
The surgery lasted three hours. Full of people locked into the benefit culture. Three were threatened with the loss of disability benefit on the grounds they were no longer deemed to be disabled.
Two were men in the mid-fifties and one a woman of only thirty who had never worked in her life. They all huffed and puffed about the wickedness of it all, but increasingly I find it hard to sympathise. They all seemed to have given up on life and could not envisage living without benefit.
The woman claimed a combination of gynaecological problems and stress. So far as the stress was concerned, I couldn't resist suggesting that work was the best antidote. The men, one of whom was middle class and seemed to be recovering from a nervous breakdown, both used the phrase 'I have worked all my life'.
When probed, that turned out to mean in one case until the age of forty-two and, in the other, until the age of about fifty-three. As if that somehow entitled them to take a holiday, funded by the taxpayer, for the remaining one or two decades of their working life.
The forty-two year old, who was the most indignant and laid claim to a vast range of symptoms, also used the phrase 'I am a socialist', which I find often features in conversations of this kind. This definition of socialism never seems to place any burden on the person laying claim to it.
On the contrary, it usually implies entitlement to live for the rest of his life at the expense of his fellow citizens. Am I getting too cynical? Have I been in too long in this job?
The more I reflect the more I am certain we are right to challenge the benefit culture, however painful that maybe to some of our natural supporters."
Chris Mullin was of course a Labour MP from 1997 to 2010 - a period of relatively full-employment - during which the Labour government never really got to grips with its declared intention of reforming the welfare state.
While people are free to disagree with the coalition government and its plans - the fact is that the Labour government failed to make any serious reforms - during 13 years of unbroken rule.
Even though MPs like Chris Mullin (not a mad right-winger) were acutely aware of the scale of the problem - and the need to do something about it - from very early on.