by Ian McKenzie
We lost the 2015 general election in September 2010 and probably also the 2020 one as well. The result was bad for Labour but catastrophic for the millions of people who rely on us to look after their interests.
We let them down, and badly. If the Labour party – a major controlling proportion of it – doesn’t rapidly accept that the only chance to make amends is to stand in the centre ground, shoulder to shoulder with, listening to, working for the British people, and fight and win elections from there, then it will cease to exist and it will deserve to die.
Without the will and the means to win elections we are irrelevant. We might as well be Compass. Or a whelk stall.
As a strong supporter of the first decade of the last Labour government I am not crowing about being right about Ed Miliband; I’m angry and despairing and frightened of the consequences of his disastrous leadership. The whole grisly mess was predictable and predicted and all avoidable.
I can’t count the number of conversations I had with Labour people who agreed that we’d picked the wrong leader not just because he was clearly not up to the job, but also because his chosen strategy was so obviously bonkers.
Reshaping international capitalism in Labour’s image as if in an academic seminar, and simply hoping this newly left leaning British public followed us out to that lunatic fringe, sounded, to sane people, exactly like what it was: palpable nonsense.
It was also a gift to the people who are habitually used to running this country: the Tories, who are wasting no time moving to the right. By 12th September, when we have a new leader, they will have shifted the ground on us yet again.
To so-called anti-Tory luvvies in the Greens, what is left of the liberals, the hard left, the “real” socialists, the stay-at-homes, and spiteful proto-racist narrow nationalists in both Celtic fringes who thought they were going to get a supine minority Labour government to hold to ransom, I say you are wrong. There is a massive difference between the Tories and the Labour party and you are about to discover how different in the most painful way possible.
If the effects weren’t also going to be felt by millions of decent people as well, I’d say you deserve everything you get. But when you feel the effects start to bite you don’t come crying to us, we voted Labour.
The day after Gordon Brown lost us the last election I left a message on Andy Burnham’s mobile phone urging him to stand for leader.
I supported his candidacy because I believed he understood why we had lost, because he was (then, not now!) the most Blairite of all the candidates and because he would be best able to unify the party and appeal to most people across the whole country.
I knew he would be unlikely to win and I put what I assumed would be the eventual winner, David Miliband, at No 2 on my ballot paper and left it at that.
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