UPDATE : The morning after writing this, I get David Milliband’s latest leadership email https://www.taomail.co.uk/labour-emails/web/100586/2168/2168/4/157/138869/6c9f25fffc902659faad22345e2dc0f1/ which I have to say covers a lot of the same ground as my post. He’ll be in my top two – still pondering about Ed Balls though
A bit of a rant this but I need to get it off my chest : -
Back in the days between Margaret Thatcher being elected in 1979, and Tony Blair being elected in 1997, politics wasn’t a great deal of fun for anyone who wasn’t a Tory.
The Tories to me lacked all conviction. No ideology, no guiding principles, other than make as much money as you can, protect your own people and to hell with all the rest.
They did however have a strong grasp of tactics and PR, and as unpopular as they were with me and many like me – that’s how popular they were with those who did vote for them. For every one of us that thought Maggie Thatcher was the wicked witch of the west, there were a band wagon load of Tories who thought that the Sun shone out of her proverbial.
If Labour were the main party of opposition they did a poor job of showing it. What we were treated to was a party that seemed intent on tearing itself apart – and more or less did. With the likes of Degsy Hatton and Militant, with the Campaign for Social Democracy led by Shirley Williams and the Gang of Four – which of course led to the breakaway SDP – condemning Labour (and any non-Conservatives) to years in opposition wilderness. There wasn’t much need for the Tories to rip apart Labour – the Labour party did it for them, in-fighting & factionalism were the order of the day
Wind the clock forward a few years and we find the Labour Party about to elect a new leader during it’s first year in opposition, after 13 years in power.
And what do we find. We have arguments about whether to go back to Old Labour, whether to revive New Labour, whether each leadership candidate is Brownite or Blairite, or in favour of a Core Vote Strategy. We have countless pundits slagging former Prime Minister Tony Blair off, we have supporters of Tony Blair slagging Gordon Brown off. Throw in a few nasty comments from Peter Mandelson – and the predictable backlash – and it all starts to add up to an 80′s style Labour Hara-Kiri fest.
Can we all get a bit of perspective on this please ?
New Labour – it was new for the 1997 election – well over a decade ago – it’s not new anymore. Whether you love or hate New Labour – it’s time to move on
Tony Blair isn’t the leader anymore – neither is Gordon Brown. They both did good things, they both did things that weren’t so good – Get over them ! They are quite literally – history !
I will say this though – Labour has to be the party which represents all people. Not just the poor, not just the workers, not just the under privileged. Everyone. If not, then every time someone is helped out of poverty or disadvantage, then they’ll have no choice but to abandon the party.
For me the broad church nature of the Labour Party should enable us to ensure that we can be the party that works for all people, not just some, and that we can secure votes from all sections of the public in future.
So whoever you vote for in the Leadership ballot, please remember what it says on the back of your membership card : “by the strength of our common endeavours we achieve more than we achieve alone”
For me that means fighting the Tories, and not each other.