The Last Word is back, and it’s still not remotely personal …
It’s been a while since I emerged from my foxhole to impart missives of trivel and drivia about all things political.
As I emerge, blinking into the light, bearded, swathed in rags, pushing my scavenged possessions in a supermarket trolley, I survey the new postapocalyptic landscape that is British politics.
Catching my reflection in a shard of broken glass, my gaze shifts to my broken, splintered fingernails. Five months ago, I belonged to a group of people who believed they were about to form the government of one of the greatest countries in the world.
Curb your somnambulism
It’s been the longest five months of my life. The parliamentary Labour party, for so long dutifully unquestioning and inert, is now enveloped in a silent, grinding conflict. It emerged this week that the previous Labour leadership was in possession of private polling in the approach to the 2015 general election that showed Labour seven points behind the Conservatives.
How did an election campaign based upon a knife-edged ‘neck and neck’ premise become developed? In resolute defiance of the facts, why was such a campaign prosecuted? In the history of modern British politics, has there been a more indecipherable, stupefying mystery?
The answers may never be forthcoming. The accountable parties have disappeared. Slipping silently from view, those responsible for the defeat have taken a vow of omerta.
There has been no reckoning, no explanation, no exploration or acknowledgement of the scale of Labour’s defeat. There has been no public postmortem: there is no ‘closure’.
A Winter’s Tale
Winter’s edge has become an uncomfortable feature of life in the barren wasteland of opposition. The rime of denial continues its creep.
The new footsoldiers of this hoarfrost can be found on social media. Abstaining from the pointless public relations gimmick that is George Osborne’s fiscal charter on Wednesday evening, I was introduced to a new kind of Labour politics from new kinds of people on social media.
In no particular order, I am to be spat upon, sent to the gulag, condemned to the salt mines, ‘lined up against a wall’, deselected and more. Dutifully obedient and centrally controlled, this is genuinely a new form of politics.
The revolution will not be televised, but the #purge will be live-tweeted.
Jon Cruddas is doing more than most to usher in a new age of enlightenment. Historians should mark 22 September 2015 as a critical point in the evolution of the Labour party. Delivering an address at the Queen Mary University of London, entitled Labour is Lost in England, Cruddas established the base-camp of the next Labour government:
The economy is transformed. We are living in a post-industrial age; new kinds of work, a changing class system. Labour has struggled to change with the times. It has lost its connection with the English people. Many do not know what the party stands for. In May we lost everywhere to everybody.
A recognition of the brutal reality we face, but the beginning of the thaw and the first steps upon the long road back.
Photo: 2929 Productions
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