Labour cannot afford to waste this defeat
Despite a Conservative media attempting to frame the Labour leadership contest as a stale and uninspiring process – the race is hotting up as the candidates put forward their arguments and priorities for the party and the country.
Colleagues turned competitors always meant that the race would endure a slow start, but the emerging debate is a compelling one.
Looking back to the dark ages of 2010-11 when the party decided not to learn any lessons of that defeat and instead chose to turn inwards – becoming intellectually inert in the process – we wasted an opportunity to bring out our dead. We chose not to undertake the heavy lifting necessary to rebuild public trust and re-energise a tired movement. We embraced foggy thinking and unconvincing platitudes. As a party and a movement, we got what we deserved. We wasted our defeat – hat-tip Ben Miller. Had we not done so, the reality is that we would either now be in government or genuinely within striking distance of victory at the next general election.
Alas, it is now incumbent upon Labour members of parliament to don beaked masks and waxed overcoats in order to roam through the sodden, plague ridden streets of this avoidable defeat, dragging our wooden carts behind us, calling for the dead to be brought out. Failure to do so will mean that the contagion of defeat will not be contained.
Profane in the membrane
Last week’s bon mots inspired a flurry of interest. Many journalists, like distracted pupils determined to obscenely deface their text books only to find that someone else had beaten them to it, seemed to appreciate the sentiment. However, Alistair Campbell had already made a similar argument – namely that Labour should also learn the lessons of victory.
Meanwhile, as the carts of our plague doctors become heavier, the cloying scent of camphor gives way to the stench of putrefaction. How did the Labour party ever allow itself to be defined against the most successful period of its existence and against the most successful leadership team it has ever had? This episode of ‘revolutionary suicide’ demands a thorough inspection – and it will receive one from me and others – but as the parliamentary Labour party and the party membership pours the last drops of Kool-Aid down the drain, Ipsos MORI has helpfully popped up to help us learn the lessons of victory and dispense with quackery for good.
In polling published this week, when members of the general public were asked which past Labour leader, if any, the next Labour leader should most resemble to make them more likely vote for the Labour Party, Tony Blair came out as the clear favourite.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said:
Tony Blair still outshines other past Labour leaders – even among supporters of other parties, and especially among the middle classes – but less among older people and working classes.
The public wants the big-tent approach of Blairism, with someone with the approachability and appeal of Tony Blair but from a working-class background? You don’t say…
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.