It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Atul Hatwal looks at how Labour is led
When Gordon Brown departed the Labour leadership, there was a sigh of relief across Westminster on both the left and right of the party. For many, the problem with Gordon hadn’t been the policies, though there was clearly room for improvement, but leadership.
Decisions would sit on his desk for weeks and months, sometimes years. By the time a choice was made, the moment would have passed and after all the haggling and deliberation, those involved felt exhausted.
The advent of a new leader was meant to change that. Regardless of his politics, Ed Miliband’s swift and determined decision to stand against his brother boded well for his style of leadership.
Unfortunately it seems that was the last major decision Labour’s leader made. Stories abound about landmark speeches being constantly rewritten with endless debate in the leader’s court on the correctly nuanced line to take.
Everyone has an opinion and all are heard with the result that little substantive is ever said.
This year was meant to be the one where Labour set out its alternative offer. The year when a good slogan, “One Nation”, was turned into something meaningful for voters.
On the central economic question – how to find the money – there is silence. No commitment to specific cuts, nor, despite the mood music, a hard and fast commitment to repeal any cuts either. No sense of whether Labour will raise taxes, introduce new taxes or rely instead on extra borrowing
Decisions that might give wavering voters an idea of how Labour would govern, or at least the direction of travel, are strictly off the agenda.
For most of the last three years the Labour party has been engaged in an apparently never-ending policy review. First it was under Liam Byrne, then Jon Cruddas. Policy groups are formed, merged, then split out again. Meetings are held, words are spoken and then silence reigns.
The missing element? Decisions. Those “tough choices” Labour politicians like to talk about but are petrified of making.
There’s a valid debate to be had within the party on the policy response to austerity and how best to win the next election, but it will all be pointless unless the leadership lacuna within Labour can be filled.
Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut