A few things have struck me about the debate that is now raging within the Labour Party since the election defeat last Thursday.
First, there’s the good. It‘s been incredibly heartening to see so many Labour members speaking up for progressive politics over the last week. Having just lived through a five year period where the politics of focusing on ‘ends’ (real life) have been so drudgingly vilified by the devotees of ‘means’ (dogma), it’s just great to hear the progressive (currently angry) birds singing once again within the Labour Party. For the sake of there being any prospect of this country having a Labour government ever again, I hope these voices continue to speak, and speak loudly.
It is also encouraging that those who were more confident of Ed Miliband’s approach are by and large acknowledging the huge challenge we now face to return to power. Indeed, there is the growing sense across the Party that the next Leader needs to be rooted in progressive Labour politics – to create a country where people are given the tools they need to live the lives they want, to help those who need our society’s support, and to not infantilise those who are capable of doing more for themselves. The stand-out person for me so far is Liz Kendall. I look forward to hearing more.
Then, there’s the bad. At the far reaches of Labour’s fringe, we have the ‘we’re-still-shouting’ people – those who haven’t quite grasped yet that the louder you turn up your megaphone the faster the country will be looking for the off switch. Most of these are lost to the cause of building an electable Labour Party, but that doesn’t mean they won’t angrily hurl their pennies at everyone’s heads during the Leadership contest. I sincerely hope the new Leader will resist these people far more than we have over the last five years.
And then there’s Len McClusky. His response to the defeat has been just dreadful from start to finish. He is every bit as responsible for the majority Tory government as Ed Miliband. If the money he spends buys him an influence that keeps Labour out of power forever – just a thought – is it really worth it?