If Labour doesn’t kill old ideologies, they will kill it

by John Clarke

We’re at that moment when Wile E Coyote has just missed the Road Runner again, run off the cliff and is now standing on thin air.

Labour seems happy when it’s flapping around on thin air. We’re good at it.

Old Labour, soft left Labour and New Labour have all failed and will fail again.

A Labour leader peddling any these old approaches will lose in 2020.

As things stand, to get a working majority in 2020 the best route is to win over 110 seats directly from the Tories in England.

Does anyone have any sense that Labour is capable of doing this? As it stands, I’m not so sure.

The Labour party has contributed to creating a politics that leaves people on the outside. That uses language that people don’t like or understand. That values systems over people’s lived experience, stunts over reality, simplistic messages rather than real engagement.

It’s a politics divorced from the lives of people.

We are completely unable to speak to people’s concerns about immigration. We are completely mistrusted on welfare reform. We’re not seen as being able to create a strong economy that works for everyone. No one knows what we stand for.

To top it all off we can’t speak to England. Those wondering why Labour are doing so badly in England may want to ponder a point made by Lord Glasman last year. It’s not that England dislikes Labour. It’s that England thinks Labour dislikes them.

This is why raking over the coals of ancient ways of doing things is so depressing. Do we really need to go through this again? An Old Labour candidate will not win in 2020, an Ed Miliband-ish candidate will not win in 2020, a Blairite candidate will not win in 2020.

The first leadership candidate to demonstrate that he or she is truly able to free themselves of these shackles will offer some kind of hope. But is the party ready for that?

The party, and whoever is the new leader, has a lot to learn from the current Pope. Humility and genuine regret for past mistakes would just be the start. For the most part though it’s the realisation that Labour as an institution has gone down the wrong path. Insiders rule and they are corrupting the party and making it distant from the people.

To quote the Pope – “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

The greatest risk is that various party factions cling to their own security blankets. We need something different, the country needs something different. What we’ve done before just doesn’t cut it anymore.

John Clarke is a blue Labour activist and writer

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11 Responses to “If Labour doesn’t kill old ideologies, they will kill it”

  1. Matthew says:

    Hoping that Blue Labour are very vocal during this time of Labour ideological introspection, they have a lot to offer the party.

  2. Steve Barker says:

    Wiki: “Blue Labour advocates the belief that working class voters will be won back to Labour through socially conservative ideas on certain social and international issues, such as immigration, crime and the European Union,”

    I did not vote Labour because – for example – Labour are to the right of the Tories on immigration, and have not challenged (but rather reinforced) UKIPs lies. If this statement means what I think it does there is no point in having a Labour Party!

  3. Tafia says:

    “Blue Labour advocates the belief that working class voters will be won back to Labour through socially conservative ideas on certain social and international issues, such as immigration, crime and the European Union,”

    Across huge areas of northern urban England and in the urban and semi rural areas of Wales that statement is true whether ‘progressives’ like it or not. The socio-economic strata that was the traditional working class is as a rule socially conservative and family oriented, tribal and they will not vote for a middle class party – and indeed, why should they.

  4. Bob says:

    Tafia, look how many constituencies both local and national in the NW have UKIP as runners up.

  5. Landless Peasant says:

    I didn’t vote Labour because of their support for Benefit Sanctions & because of their betrayal in abstaining following the Cait Riley case.

  6. Tafia says:

    Bob, and that’s why. Those that would be sympathetic to Blue Labour would also be sympathetic to large chunks of UKIPs idealogy.

    It’s no coincidence that Thatcher got more votes from that group than Kinnock or Foot did.

  7. Landless Peasant says:

    I won’t vote for Blue Labour, I thought Ed Miliband was too Right wing, and no I’m not Scottish.

  8. John P Reid says:

    Steve Barker, Capitalist bosses loved immigration to get cheap labour, as not enough jobs for too many workers, meant that Bosses could get people applying for jobs on a lower wage, as they knew, if so pence wanted the job that badly they’d take a pay freeze,

    So why do you say Immigration control is a right wing thing,a right wing thing would be more immigration to get the wages down.

    Being socially conservative, doesn’t mean you can’t be a socialist, I want to conserve the NHSa’s/welfare state, I want to conserve democracy, trade unions, I want to conserve innocent till proven guilty, ,Freedpm of speech, I want to conserve,our parliament making the laws, and that the state should be able to control us,

    Ecenomic liberal,liberal interventionist, specially liberal doesn’t mean one can’t be conservative regarding crime

  9. John P Reid says:

    Good article by the way,per to a few people today,get the feeling Yvette cooper is too nice to be leader, Burnham, would have been the best leader we didnt have last time,and would be a pcntinustion of Ed, Chuka at 37 should wait see if we lose in 2020 to stand David Lammy was absolutely right, the Westminster bubble don’t know why we’re out of touch, and Chuka is part of that

    Unless Cruddas can change his mind, didn’t think Emma Reynolds or Gloria De will stand, the best we’ve got so far is..
    Liz Kendall leader, and Caroline flint deputy, and that’s saying something.

  10. Ringstone says:

    “Old Labour, soft left Labour and New Labour have all failed and will fail again.”

    Three failed approaches, one common word.

    Can’t you take a hint?

  11. Landless Peasant says:

    Labour lost votes to Greens & SNP because they were seen as being too similar to Conservatives. A posh bloke in a suit endlessly repeating “hard working families” doesn’t speak to the unwashed masses in the dole queue or down the foodbank.

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