Sunday, 17 May 2015

Labour needs a leader. The left needs a new direction.

A week ago like many others I was musing about the country having it's "Obama" moment with the election of Chuka Umunna as leader of the Labour Labour Party and (eventually) becoming Prime Minister. In tandem with a female deputy, the Labour Party's fortunes could be turned around with a new direction.

A week later and Labour's leadership contest has changed dramatically. Who will lead? Nobody knows.

Already the General Secretary of the largest trade union affiliate is making noises about the "election of the correct leader" or he'll "split. To where Nobody knows.

Truth is that the Labour leadership is now wide open and various candidates have thrown their hat in the ring, none of whom seem to have inspired enough supporters to take a clear lead. None seem quite impressive enough though by all accounts Andy Burnham is the front runner.

As yet I remain unimpressed by the choices presented.

And yet this is a very important contest.

Over the next five years this country is going to face a quite aggressive Tory government that is hell bent on breaking the remaining unions, dismantling the welfare state and privatising the NHS and will probably take us out of the EEC which will allow them to further attacks on our rights without European legislation preventing their excesses.

More than ever we will actually need our unions. to protect us in the workplace and that means a change in the mindset of the left. 

The old politics has failed us and has done so for a long time. Leading from the "left" has only taken us backward. The experience of Michael Foot and now Ed Milliband illustrates this. It was the shedding of the old politics under Tony Blair that allowed electoral victory, but the left are unable to cope with the reality of modern politics and economics and are stuck in a mindset that should have dies with the end of the cold war when the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down.

The "working class" and "class politics" are despite the spurious efforts of the remaining Marxist ideologues a thing of the past. Yes there remains social injustice and this needs to be tackled but the nonsensical notion of "rights" must be tied to the notion of responsibilities. This means those who should pay taxes must not be allowed to avoid them any more than those capable of remunerative employment who do not do so.

The economic future will not allow this to continue. The world is changing.

We need a modern social democratic party that combines fairness and responsibility. A programme needs to be developed that allows for both economic growth with fair wages. Decent housing and health provision free for all.

The old, Marxist inspired left has no answers for the modern world, least of all on the notion of democracy where it has always been lacking. Communism may have fallen everywhere except North Korea but the spectre of Islamism and extreme religiosity has replaced the comrades as the main threat to our democratic way of life.

In a desperate attempt to survive the old left has through the blinkered lens of "anti-imperialism" lined up with the enemy in an attempt to remain relevant. Movements such as the misnamed Stop the war Coalition finger the West as  the problem ignoring the reactionary politics of the regimes they defend in the name of peace.

Appeasement is it's real name.

And it's a threat.

Turning to the "middle ground" should not be seen as some kind of "sell out" as the masked protesters and keyboard activists tell us. It should be seen as a return to or even as the beginning of a new rational and balanced politics.

Will there rise a leader capable of taking both Labour to a new outlook. That is and will remain the real challenge.

Our futures depend on this or the old left and the selfish right will continue in their current vein much to the detriment of all.

I have hope. There is always hope for the future, the challenge is to grab the opportunity.

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