The Problems with the Parliamentary Labour Party
As I see it.
My fingers have been hovering over the keyboard for nearly a week about this post because I don’t quite know what to make of it all. Last night I remembered the Isaac Asimov quote – that writing was thinking through his fingers – so here goes. Not quite sure what will come out…
- Moving left is not going backwards. It’s moving left.
- Moving left does not mean that the centre is completely abandoned
- Actually, all this moving anywhere stuff is completely bogus (backwards, left and centre) because no-one is moving anywhere. It’s like a heated argument over a map between a party of broke ass backpackers before they leave the hostel after a heavy night. Direction is meaningless unless you put one foot in front of another first.
- Jeremy Corbyn is probably appealing to people because he is moving, at least somewhere. The rest of the candidates are literally stuck, squabbling over the map, too scared to raise their arms in public lest they be counted. Hardly leadership behaviour.
- John Prescott is right; the conversation needs to turn to policies. The problem is that some of the candidates don’t seem to have any that they can articulate without sounding like they want to get into the tent with the Tories.
- Some party grandees and intelligentsia have it wrong. Young people want change – this does not make them naive and misinformed. Young people are fighting for a future and socialist values speak to that. This does not mean they are ‘dragging the party back to the 1980s’. If they pay their dues, they have an equal chance to shape the future of the Labour Party, whether the Roy Hattersleys of this world like it or not.
- The Labour Party has a long history and some members rightly fear that history will repeat itself in terms of electability. I would say you can’t tailor your message to appeal to what you think the electorate want or need because that’s a shifting sand place to stand. That’s counter-intuitive, I know. The Tories succeed because they have set an agenda that fits their values and ideology and whether we agree with it or not, the message continues to ring out across the right wing media, assured and clear. It is a message to organise around for most Conservative MPs.
- The Labour Party should stop worrying about getting right, and start focusing on articulating its message. That’s why Jeremy Corbyn is apparently doing better than other candidates. We know where he stands. This makes us feel safe. The other candidates might know that life’s not like that, that everything is more complex and nuanced than Jeremy makes it sound, but people want to feel that they are in safe pair of hands.
- The English electorate, particularly, are at heart conservative with a small c. To appeal in those heartlands the Labour Party needs to have a clear message that makes them feel safe. The Parliamentary Party might be up front behind the wheel, lost in the wilderness enough to beggar belief, but the kids in the back don’t need to know that. Occupy them with I Spy until we reach the destination, otherwise they will pick up on your fears and become unruly and intractable.
- And finally, despite his own beliefs that he was manifested somewhere in heaven, before being sent to earth to save us with his New Labour project, Tony Blair came on the back of Michael Foot, the ‘unelectable’ Neil Kinnock and the radical heft of John Smith. The party he took to power, was shaped by previous incumbents. That’s how things work on the arrow of time continuum. You can never go back.
Come on Labour Party. Stop playing this out in public. Stop making idiots of yourselves on air and in the House trying to be smart and clever and (some of you) downright rude to Mr Corbyn. Put up or shut up until September. The fact is not one of you will be leading us into the next election – whoever is elected you will be in the caretaker seat for now – and that’s the only outcome I would be inclined to back at the moment.