The soft left will not fall for factionalism

by Trevor Fisher

The idea of a ‘soft left’ is currently popular, with commentators seeing it as crucial to Labour’s future. I agree, but its not an easy option. Spencer Livermore, in calling for the publication of the Labour report into his former bosses’ election defeat referred to Miliband’s ‘soft left policies’; clearly incorrect – Miliband rose through the Brown machine. More sensibly, Jonathan Rutherford wrote on Labour List in October that “only the soft left can build a winning coalition”, accepting that the ‘soft left’ had given Corbyn his victory as the hard left did not have enough support. Others have made the same point. The soft left dominates the membership.

However the soft left majority is unorganised and has no leadership or structure. While the hard left and the hard right have websites and organisations, the soft left do not. In the leadership election, soft left votes went to the hard left candidate precisely because they did not have a candidate, though I myself, firmly soft left, voted for Burnham and Cooper as unity candidates. Though they were certainly not soft left, no soft leader leadership figure has existed since the death of Robin Cook.

Now we read Atul Hatwal seeking to co-opt the soft left as “getting rid of Comrade Corbyn will take time”, despite the fact that most soft left voted for Corbyn. He outlines a strategy which will produce a civil war which will aid no one but the Tories and SNP. So a few thoughts from a veteran soft leftist who spent most of the 1980s fighting militant (in the Labour Co-ordinating Committee), and most of the 1990s through to 2007 fighting the Hard Right, aka, New Labour (in Labour Reform and then the sadly prescient but largely unknown Save the Labour Party).

The key point is that the Hard Right, which most of this website’s contributors belong to, has lost its control over the Party – demonstrably so in the shift if votes from the 2010 and 2015 leadership elections.  But more fundamentally, it has lost control because it no longer wins elections and its strategy is clearly delivering Britain to the hard Right. Not something Corbyn can be blamed for. This is the crisis of New Labour.

The phrase ‘soft left’ can only mean the people outsider the hard left and hard right organisations. The hard left was marginalised till it was given a chance to win…. by the hard right. Corbyn could not get on the ballot paper through Hard Left M Ps, and Establishment M Ps were crucial in allowing him to run, particularly Beckett and Field. They now regret it and Field in particular wants mass resignations and a civil war. Apologies for this stupidity are nowhere to be seen.

One of the key background themes for any Labour discussion is that the hard right aka New Labour has been politically incompetent on a massive scale. Who lost Scotland? Not Corbyn. Wales and Southern England are very bad news, and the electoral trend since 2001 has been downward in most areas of the UK. Does New Labour ever admit it is the cause of Labour’s recent disasters?

Soft left members swung in behind the Corbyn campaign as it offered a change from a failed politics. It is this that Atul and others in the anti-Corbyn camp do not grasp. Taking his argument point by point, he argues (a) ‘the soft left needs to wake up to what is happening’. (b) ‘new terms of trade are required within Labour’s internal debate’ and (c) ‘a viable alternative leader must emerge’. The obvious responses are as follows.

(a) the Hard Right needs to wake up to what is happening. Its policies, notably triangulation, have been a disaster and after the landslide of 1997 it threw away a commanding position. Accept that all that is happening comes from the failure of the New Labour Project, or take up pure theology.

(b) the new terms of trade start by accepting democratic decisions. While I did not vote for Corbyn, I accept he won fairly and without significant entryist activity. He has a mandate and he has to be allowed to try it out. The Hard Right has lost elections inside and outside the party, and should confront a deeper truth. The Labour Party is not trusted. Blair was not trusted. Brown was not trusted. Miliband was not trusted. It  is not difficult to see why, they showed no sign of being principled politicians. And if the democratic election process of the Labour Party is to be undermined by factional activity, trust in the party will not regained.

(c) A new leader must emerge? This is clearly factional, and why exactly should the soft left back this? To keep the failed Hard Right in business? There are indeed leadership issues to be confronted, the rule book is dangerously badly written and in need of revision. And Corbyn himself has said that a mid term election process is desirable. So first things first.  Get the rule book sorted. Secondly,  keep the Party united.

The bottom line in all this is there is no attempt to start a civil war. Dave Prentis of UNISON is right to argue that  Labour must not ‘degenerate  into infighting’. To avoid this, any attempt to set up a party within a party, whether from the Hard Left or the Hard Right is unacceptable.

Organisations are welcome, as long as they do not seek to overturn the democratic procedures of the Party, including the elections for leader and deputy leader. Atwal mentions the Hard Left attempt to expel Progress. This was rejected so why raise a dead issue? Pressure groups are part of the scenery as long as they do not act as a party within a party.

Naturally situations may occur where there have to be decisions on the immediate issues facing the party, and this is the remit of the NEC. Not back bench parliamentarians, who should respect  party decisions. There is much choppy water ahead. But if there is to be a recovery for Labour, then it has to operate as a united party through due process. Not small factions operating off their own agendas.

The tipping point has been reached and the domination of New Labour is broken. Its project failed, leading to instability. The old left has not had any real clout for thirty years, since the soft left and allies won the last civil war in the 1980s. The majority of party members have since then been broadly soft left and remain the distinctive group that decides the leadership, Which they have just done emphatically. There is no future in giving soft left members orders any more.  How that soft left majority behaves in 2016 will be crucial: but one thing is clear. Back stairs plotting is not and cannot be the way forward. Dialogue is welcome. Factionalism is anathema.

Trevor Fisher was a member of the Labour Coordinating Committee executive 1987-90 and secretary of the Labour Reform Group 1995- 2007

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23 Responses to “The soft left will not fall for factionalism”

  1. Mike Homfray says:

    I agree with most of that – only i think that many on the hard and soft left have actually united in sheer frustration at the policies of Progress and the way Ed Miliband was treated. I actually think he is a decent man but he was too trust-ing of those who wanted to see him fail – from within his own shadow cabinet. At least Jeremy is aware that the PLP are largely hostile, so his focus is on the membership.

    And Momentum is by no means only ‘hard left usual suspects’ – lots of new people and non-aligned people have got involved including some who voted for Burnham. Half of Burnham’s voters are happy with Corbyn as leader.

  2. historyintime says:

    There are actually four basic strands of members and MPs at present.
    1. SDP (New Labour) right
    2. Traditional right
    3. Soft left
    4. Hard left

    The soft left will end up supporting the removal of JC because he is simply incapable of effectively leading a major party. Also, the soft left want the Labour party to survive. Whereas if JC stays leader beyond say 2 years there will be a split as there will be no serious incentive for the SDP right to remain in Labour, and some of the traditional right will also leave.

  3. This is a rather sensible article for Uncut compared to the usual ‘How Do We Get Rid Of Corbyn’ fodder. Much of what Trevor says is correct. I supported Corbyn in the leadership election, not for what he was, but for what he wasn’t. I can see enough good things in the so badly named Blue Labour that I wouldn’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater.

    What Trevor I think misses, and what all the ultras like Rob and Atul cannot face up to was that the dislike of the typical New Labour MP which has been out there in the public domain for a while had infected the internal party electorate also. The, for the sake of argument let’s call it the hard left, wasn’t that well organized and certainly didn’t expect the result they got in the leadership election. They probably didn’t at first think the opening up of the electorate to £3 supporters would particularly help them. The ideas of US style primaries were coming mainly from the New Labour right.

    Yet, in the public mind it seems the likes of Kendall, Burnham and Cooper from New Labour were just examples of what they disliked in our political class. (Gloria De Piero had been going around last year asking the public why they hated politicians so much. Whatever answers she got were not studied that hard by either the losing candidates or probably by Ed Milliband.)

    I wrote to Alan Johnson begging him to stand in the leadership election, again not because I was in that much agreement with him on policies, but because of what he wasn’t. He wasn’t another Oxbridge clone off the New Labour production line. The big question now is whether the other clones in the PLP can reconcile themselves with the majority of the membership. It’s worth noting that the fight against internal party democracy is coming from the likes of Luke Akehurst and not from the left. How quickly Luke’s arguments against machine politics were thrown aside after Corbyn won.

  4. Harry says:

    I have to say that this is a very well constructed article and for the first time actually gets to the root cause of the current stand-off within the party. I am no fan of Corbyn, personally I think he will/is cause/causing a great deal of heartbreak, particularly if he gets close to leading the party into the next election, but the structure of any solution going forward MUST learn from this excellent diagnosis.

  5. Mike Stallard says:

    The hard right means BNP, surely? Are you going to call yourselves that? It is all terribly confusing for this Tory Troll.
    What matters in politics, isn’t being part of a right wing or left wing faction. What matters is doing what you know to be right for the whole country.
    Over the years, this has become obscured, and not just for the Labour movement. MPs know that if they are “good” they will be invited to take up a ministerial position. Politics has become, for too many, a greasy poll. It should not be like that and, I think, that is why the Labour movement elected Jeremy Corbyn. He seemed to stand for individualism against compliance and delivery.
    To win, Labour has got to have a crusade. It is like a bicycle: as soon as you stop moving forward, you fall off.
    Here are some ideas:
    1. Massive reform of the Civil Service, the NHS, the BBC, Social Services, the Army and the other very expensive agencies that treat taxpayers with contempt. We all know there is terrible waste in all of them – far too many “top people” who know nothing about their remit taking ridiculous salaries and creating chaos.
    2. The EU – time to start taking positions.
    3. Looking at multiculturalism closely. We do not want to create Northern Ireland in our cities. And it is slowly coming to pass. We need positive action there, the prospective Mayor of London is doing valiantly too.
    4. The Debt is not a Tory domain. Labour, too, can get worried that we are spending about as much on education as we are on debt interest.

  6. james says:

    Gawd it’s enough to make you weep. My head is hurting.

    Thank god i’m not involved in this ridiculous shower. Any chance of actually listening to people – those centre ground voters that change elections. Some may even have warily voted conservative (gulp!) the heathens.

  7. steve says:

    Wise words from Mr Fisher.

    “Does New Labour ever admit it is the cause of Labour’s recent disasters?”


    It is the Blairites belief in their own infallibility that renders them blind to reality and therefore incapable of critical reflection.

    Jim Murphy’s demise in Scotland offers the perfect illustration. When the narcissistic Murphy was humiliated by the Scottish electorate Murphy retreated into his comfort-zone and vented his rage with attacks on Len McKluskey.

  8. Madasafish says:

    I quote from the above article
    The tipping point has been reached and the domination of New Labour is broken. Its project failed, leading to instability. The old left has not had any real clout for thirty years, since the soft left and allies won the last civil war in the 1980s. The majority of party members have since then been broadly soft left and remain the distinctive group that decides the leadership, Which they have just done emphatically. There is no future in giving soft left members orders any more.

    I find the thinking involved in it difficult to comprehend.

    Whether you like them or not – and it clear Trevor Fisher dislikes them – New Labour was the most successful electoral machine ever for Labour. That is factual and undeniable.

    Labour has now chosen as leaders two men – Corby and McDonnell – who have proved within the first 10 weeks that they are incompetent to run a modern political party. Their ratings are abysmal.Their gaffes are many..

    So Mr Fisher obviously prefers another 10 years in Opposition to a chance of winning the 2020 Election.

    Why bother being a member of Labour then..?

  9. paul barker says:

    Go back to the polling around The Leadership election & its clear that even Kendall supporters were well to the left of most voters – calling such people Hard Right is bizarre.
    Labour Unity can only be on the terms of the new majority – a long way from the platform that most Labour MPs stood on just 6 months ago. The message of this article to those who didnt back Corbyn is clear enough – “Shut up or go.”

  10. John. Reid says:

    There were a few people ,soft left who disagreed with latter Blair who fought the hard left in the 80’s Dibson, Hattersley
    But by the time of your third paragraph, you’d lost mr,and hard right of the party, the 4.5% ,are hardly hard right, if that means a mixture of pro EU, Neo liberal/Neo cons, or those who disagree but agree with blue Labours social conservatism, I’d say that Hattersleys wing falls in there too.

    Yes the right of the party,and I’d include Kinnock, through too Cruddas, would be in that category, aren’t happy with things,the way they’re run.

    But if there are soft left people, John Denham Chris smith. Various, former Ed miliband items, from Garrett thomas, too.both the Angela smiths, or Fabians llike Sadiq khan, I can’t see, when things start going wrong, them being prepared to buy into the one more push category,it’ll be revolution, not evolution.

  11. Anne says:

    Yes I agree that the principle reason for Labour loosing the last election was that they were not trusted with the economy, but other influences also come into play such as for the SNP the growth of nationalism and a charismatic leader in Nicola Sturgeon, and for England the movement of the Conservative party to the centre ground ‘we are the party of the workers.’
    I disagree with your view that the hard left are seen as principled – I don’t recognise Mr Corbyn’s behaviour as particularly principled. Also leadership skills and ability should also should be in play.
    I would welcome a leader from the so called soft left provided they have ability.

  12. Hi Trevor,

    Thanks for the article, which makes me realise how little I understand internal Labour politics.

    I’ve heard supporters of Jeremy Corbyn describe (for want of a better term) the Centrist Labour members as neoliberals; but I never expected a member of the “Soft Left”, who voted for Burnham and Cooper, to call them the “Hard Right”.

    From my perspective, as a Lib Dem activist, this seems bizarre. When they were in government, these people nearly doubled health spending in real terms, introduced the minimum wage and significantly increased benefits for the working poor.

    It feels wrong that I, from an opposing party, should be the one defending the last Labour government, while so many Labour members seem to want to trash its record. Don’t we live in strange times?

    Although there might be advantages for my party, I’m appalled at what has happened (and I wrote an article saying that on LibDemVoice). We now have the prospect, not of ten years of Tory rule, but twenty.

    The damage to the reputation of the Labour party of their shadow chancellor quoting from the book of the biggest mass murderer in history is hard to exaggerate. What is happening now is far worse than what happened in 1979, and that was followed by 18 years of Tory rule, and such horrors as the Poll Tax.

    In this country, we still have a pretty decent welfare state. How much of that will be left if there is no realistic opposition to the Tories?

    In the Lib Dems, we’ve just formed a group called Social Democrat Group, which aims to reach out to social democrats beyond the party. We’re a party group, so membership will be restricted to party members. But if any Labour members want to go on the mailing list, you’ll be very welcome. And if moderate Labour organisations, such an labour-uncut want to get in touch, we’d love to discuss what we can do to prevent 20 years of Tory rule.

  13. ad says:

    The key point is that the Hard Right, which most of this website’s contributors belong to, has lost its control over the Party – demonstrably so in the shift if votes from the 2010 and 2015 leadership elections. But more fundamentally, it has lost control because it no longer wins elections and its strategy is clearly delivering Britain to the hard Right.

    Let me see if I understand this: The “Hard Right” has lost control of the party because it loses elections. And the “Hard Right” is controlling the country because it loses elections.

    Are you quite sure you know who or what you mean when you write about the “Hard Right”?

  14. Mike Homfray says:

    Seems that most of those calling for a soft left candidate are actually from the right of the party, recognising they could not get a Blairite elected

  15. John P Reid says:

    Mike, maybe the right or the party,would prefer a centre left candidate, as the blairite candidate this time, was to unexperienced, and they picked, one of the other two,or would have gone for Cruddas or Jarvis,

    Danny Speight, maybe you could submit a article why you dislike Blue labour, and how do you know the public, arent put off by Corbyn

  16. Jonathan Rutherford says:

    In response to Trevor’s article.

    The soft left has probably had its day and needs another name and renovation. There needs to be a politics that reflects the left opinion of a large number of members and a fair number of MPs, many now on the front benches.

    Creating its politics and leadership will require a shared agreement about what Labour’s political renewal might look like. Agreement about why Labour lost so badly in 2010 and 2015, and a shared understanding of the present ‘conjuncture’. And lastly, agreement on the obstacles that stand in the way of Labour’s renewal and return to electability. Its this latter which will define the politics.

    Here are some suggestions of the obstacles.

    1. The sociological and economic changes to the country that have shrunk the trade unions, disconnected the working class from Labour, and transformed party membership, such that Labour’s politics and culture is increasingly divergent from the mainstream middle and working classes.

    2. Two very serious electoral defeats that amount to systemic political failure and which have intensified the above trend. And associated with this and perhaps more seriously the Party’s continuing refusal to face up to the reality of these defeats.

    3. A new leadership that is a destructive farce. It draws its authority and legitimacy from a membership which through no fault of its own constitutes a small minority opinion in the country. This combination has, since May 2015, accelerated Labour’s detachment from the electorate.

    4. The leadership has opened the door to various hard left and Trotskyist groups whose principle interest is the capturing of the party machine for their own absolutist ends.

    5. A PLP that currently lacks a leadership role and has been undermined and weakened by political and cultural changes, public disapproval of politicians in general, and the control freakery and internecine battles of the New Labour years.

    6. The transmission out of Labour’s current political catastrophe must eventually go through the ‘soft’/strategic/pragmatic/realistic left. This left does not win Labour elections (see point 7). However it is an essential element in shaping a winning formula. Within the party it lacks leadership, has no rallying points and only a narrow range of defining ideas. It has no defining political economy nor shared understanding of the nature of capital, and no organisation. It is not only not fit to take up its necessary role, it currently doesn’t exist in any tangible form. A key job would be to constitute its political space.

    7. The modernising right can help do this. It is in the interest of this section of the party to have a vibrant, ethical, strategically thinking, electorally grounded left, generating innovation and political ideas and holding the idealism and values that make Labour attractive and culturally attuned to the more radical and active parts of the electorate. The modernising right is better organised within the PLP, but post New Labour it has no narrative or coherent political position. An electoral winning formula will emerge out of a centre ground in the party created in dialogue between these two sections. This isn’t the hard right, which in many ways can be a mirror image of the hard left being concerned with machine politics and capturing positions.

    8. Labour is in a very bad state. There was no new leader bounce for Corbyn. Labour is polling below 30 per cent. The response to the Paris shootings, the plethora of presentational disasters, all capped by the little red book incident have amounted to a kind of desecration of an historic national institution. The by-election next week in a very safe Labour seat with an excellent local candidate should be a shoe-in. It won’t be. The elections next year will likely see Labour losing support in Wales, and the North. In Scotland there are predictions of Labour coming in third. In both domestic politics and foreign policy Labour borders on the irrelevant.

    There are grounds for optimism and there is energy for change, but first the left has to accept the desperate state Labour is in.

  17. Mike Homfray says:

    Exactly what is remotely ‘left’ about what you propose, Jonathan?

  18. Delta says:

    Well done Jonathan, closest yet to identifying the truth.
    But you have not addressed how to bridge the gap.

  19. Richard says:

    A very interesting and fraternal debate, thank you all. However, I really have to take issue with much of what Jonathan states. Sorry.

    Point 1. There has clearly been a huge decline in union membership and there has also been changes to employment structures (a decline in the old ‘heavy’ industries) and the Labour Party has disconnected from the working classes as evidenced by votes in elections. Why?

    Are the facts you included associated with the decline, you never made that clear? Corbyns argument is that we need to reconnect with the working classes and to do this we need left policies, is he wrong? Working people are doing different jobs than in the past but pay and conditions need fighting TU’s and a Labour Party with policies in workers interests, today as much as they ever did, so we need not be the party of the desperate. What is more, sociologically we can prove as much a case for proletarianisation of the middle classes as we can for embourgeoisement of workers. This debate is at the heart of the current battle in the party.

    Point 2. The party has faced up to the reality of the defeats, the wings have simply reached different conclusions on how to reverse this. Cruddas argued we need to move right and much of the PLP agreed (though I take issue with the questions he asked and hence with his conclusions). The vote over welfare cuts during the leadership election was the evidence that the PLP agree with Cruddas. Meanwhile, the left believe we need policies based on workers interests. Both wings believe their route can win an election. Again, this is at the heart of the current debate.

    3. It may be that Corbyn is ‘farcical’ and not winning supporters in the wider electorate, it might also be that the right wing PLP egged on by the media is destroying Corbyns credibility. Perhaps if they got behind the result of the election we’d find out. Unfortunately, the ideological gap between the wings is so large that there will be no settlement, other than through battle. Hence the debate.

    4. Undoubtably the party’s doors have been opened to all political trends, Trots and liberals (in the economic sense of the term). This is a party that declares itself ‘socialist’, which group should be less welcome? In the CLP’s I have never seen avowedly liberal business types so they clearly don’t feel welcome down here, but somehow the political influence of the trots is unwelcome though that of Blairites is. Strange. Again, this debate about the nature and power of the membership is at the heart if the current debate, US democratic style party desired by the right versus a movement desired by the left.

    5. I agree with your views on the problems the PLP faces, but rather than reflect on the causes of the low esteem in which politicians are held and the cause of the Corbyn landslide they simply lash out. Each LP MP will argue their own reasons for this but I am of the view that the central leadership of the ‘fightback’ is taking an ideological position, like Blair, they wouldn’t want a left labour government, on principle. Hence the debate in the party.

    Point 6. The ‘soft left’ has never had a purpose other than an opposition to the ‘hard left’. What comprehensive platform have they ever stood for other than to play politics and move the party to the right and an attempt to divide the ‘hard left’. They have tried many times through organisation such as the Fabian’s but when push comes to shove they jump rightwards. Byrne is consciously doing this through Red Shift right now. Go read the stuff, strong on rhetoric, weak on actual policies in the interests of workers. It is neither fish nor meat nor fowl. It is about pretending to radicalised members that they can have both worlds, both what their instincts tell them they need in terms of policy and to have a united party whilst in reality they are giving up their platform and appeasing the right in an effort to become ‘electable’. Kinnock, Smith and then Blair all sold this to members, and for Blair it worked, twice. Until, that is, the membership realised that they’d lost their soul, they’d sold it for power, and decided to claim it back under Corbyn, hence the battle in the party.

  20. Labour Supporter says:

    Sorry Trevor but this piece plays into the hands of the Corbynista and is, quite frankly, fanciful. It’s also strange that a member of the Labour Coordinating Committee (the group that gave way to New Labour), is about as anti-New Labour as a Corbynista. Deep breath!

    1) Ed Miliband was soft left and it is wrong to suggest otherwise. Yes, he was close to Brown (just as the soft left Neal Lawson was close to the Brown machine) but he was part of Compass and was a soft left member of the Brown Cabinet. His leadership campaign was purely soft left. He got the support of the soft left (I bet Trevor voted for him) and he ran in 2015 on a soft left platform. It is dishonourable to disown Ed Miliband when he was one of yours, and did what you asked him to do.
    2) You can rightly argue that the New Labour project became too stale and technocratic by the end but to describe it as a ‘failed project’ ignores the fact that it did win THREE elections and people’s lives were changed for the better under the ‘Hard Right’. Scotland was lost by Ed Miliband – who was soft left – not by New Labour. Labour’s last two leaders have taken strides away from New Labour, in Ed’s case he rubbished it, and in doing so have taken large strides away from the British people.
    3) The idea that the soft left will not fall for factionalism is ludicrous. The soft left is a faction. Pretending to be holier-than-thou simply will not wash.
    4) The soft left, not New Labour, are to blame for Labour’s current woes. It was the soft left who told the Labour Party that the British people had moved to the left and we only needed to win with Liberal Democrat voters. Look at how that turned out! It was the soft left who produced Ed Miliband, one of the worst Labour leaders in history. It was the soft left that de-legitimised voices on the centre but willingly chose to make common cause with the left and gave them space to grow. It is the soft left that is deeply unelectable and are deeply incapable of building a winning coalition in this country. It is the soft left who have created Corbyn and have not made any attempt to try to make amends for their actions. Instead of this article from Trevor, the soft left should apologise and take a vow of silence. A little humility will not go amiss.

  21. John P Reid if you read what I wrote my complaint against Blue Labour was for its stupid name. ‘Blue’ Labour seems to be more an insider joke among the Westminster political classes. If you are going to resist being called a Red Tory why name it thus. As I said there are some ideas that should be looked at in Blue Labour and the baby should not thrown out with the bathwater.

  22. A little more, John. One of those Blue Labour ideas that needs to be looked at is immigration. Labour in general and the left in particular hasn’t found an answer. Open borders, as nice as it may sound, isn’t something the country could afford to do without driving much of its unskilled citizens into poverty. When your Scottish namesake revealed that during EU expansion discussions Blair’s cabinet at Brown’s insistence saw more EU immigration as adding flexibility to the labour market few can miss the true meaning. Flexibility equals pressure on wages. It may well have led to higher growth, but the cost was wage stagnation.

  23. Jonathan Rutherford says:

    Some responses.
    Mike Homfray. I’m identifying the obstacles not writing prescriptions. Do you think the obstacles I’ve identified are wrong or not ‘left wing’?

    Delta – I don’t know – how do we?

    Richard. Corbyns argument is that we need to reconnect with the working classes and to do this we need left policies, is he wrong? He’s half wrong – the electorate is economically radical but fiscally conservative. If he can’t come up with a reforming political economy and instead just wants to tax and spend more, he’ll fail. Unfortunately for those who supported this is an academic point because his political position on a host of other issues, plus his general ineptness as a politicians means that he never will be prime minister, but maybe that doesn’t matter.

    Corbyn’s support doesn’t come from the working classes. I would guess he’ll drive away increasing numbers of those still supporting Labour. His support base is the public sector and the metropolitan progressive minded middle classes alienated by the New Labour years.
    Labour has to figure out how to build a new kind of coalition in England to hold on to its metropolitan social liberals and recover its lost ground amongst more small c conservative middle and working classes in the country. Corbyn is not suited to do this, nor right now is the Labour Party.
    Point 2. Since when did Cruddas argue we had to move right? I worked on the inquiry and I don’t recall this message. Labour has to take the opinions of the electorate into account. The Inquiry findings were set out in a series of articles on Labour List and one on the New Statesman website. There were plenty of comments refuting the finding, but no empirical evidence was offered to contradict them. In a longer piece in the IPPR journal Juncture the inquiry sets out the three lessons it takes from the polling: the electorate is economically radical and fiscally conservative. That identity and belonging drive politics. And that Labour is becoming a culturally exclusive brand. Since when were these ‘right wing’? From these lessons Labour faces 5 challenges – see Jon’s Mile End speech here
    They offer a way of building a new kind of coalition in the country, but it requires dialogue and not dismissal as ‘right wing’.

    Blair has gone. His politics have gone. There is no New Labour Third way political force of any significance with the Labour Party. Its main exponents acknowledge that a different kind of politics is now needed. The problem for the left is its own lack of political and intellectual substance. Too many on the left guard the purity of its soul and measure everyone else as falling short of its righteous moral standards. And while they are guarding their treasure they fail to reach out to others and build the kind of political coalition that could win Labour political influence and power to actually do something for the people it represents. But that would require compromise, and facing up to some difficult intellectual and political challenges, so opposition remains the better (and easier) path to righteousness.

    In the end though a lot of the harder left is not very fraternal, too set on polarizing every argument and looking for enemies and betrayers amongst all who disagree with it. It is mirrored by parts of the right. Until Labour can rescue itself from both extremes it will carry on in its decline.

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