Monday, 8 June 2009

Where Left?

If you glance the Guardian over the next few days, you'll see the same mouldy old opinion piece again and again - this election was not the victory of Conservative, hyper-Conservative and Nazi ideology, it says. Instead, it's just that there's a lack of je ne sais quoi about the incumbent party, the clear fault of boring Mr. Brown.

Other columns have this redundant thesis - that there is a natural cycle, established by Thatcher and then Blair, in which centre-left and centre-right take turns to move the country forward a decade at a time. Labour are unpopular because the very forces of nature decree it, and we'll have our turn again in 2020.

Many left bloggers shout for a spontaneous eruption of feeling, either within the Labour Party or outside it, which will throw out the bad leaders and supplant BNP voters' false consciousness with a genuinely popular party, winning elections from the grassroots. Now these rats are hurling themselves suicidally off their sinking ship, but we still see no changes.

All these people are wrong. Not just wrong, but their pleasingly sewn-up conclusions are reinforcing the very apathy at the core of the problem. Our party needs radical surgery to survive, but it is much easier to take a placebo and pray.

What would this radical surgery consist of? I can't say exactly - but I can give a broad overview - the party needs to become accountable to its members in a way that makes party membership worth participating in. The party needs to become as radically liberal as the public mood, and throw off its hard-won reputation for being curmudgeonly and authoritarian by restoring a shedload of lost rights and finding a way to capture the national imagination by going further.

There is an enormous paradox hanging over our recovery in that it depends both on a grassroots resurgence and on being backed by the big money necessary to fight modern campaigns. Handled well, this can become a virtuous cycle, of election victories and populism of the sort that Obama courted. Handled badly, electors will smell the sleaze oozing from the heart of an abandoned party.


Harry Barnes said...

Labour : What Is To Be Done? See -

Madasafish said...

Enjoyed reading this.

You should have added: divest ourselves of the Trade Union Movement - run by overpaid egos and more out of touch and authoritarian than the Labour Party ever was.