by Atul Hatwal
The Beckett report is a woeful reminder of the paucity of insight that characterised Labour’s pre-Corbyn establishment.
Commissioned by Harriet Harman in her second stint as acting leader, with Margaret Beckett -the only MP to have served in every Labour government since Wilson’s in the 1970s – leading the drafting team, this report is steeped in the mores and perspectives of Labour’s old guard.
The resulting analysis manages to be both asinine and anodyne in equal measure
Meaningless blandishments that would be laughed at if written in a GCSE essay are proffered as pearls of wisdom. For example, on communications, this is Beckett’s recommendation,
“We need a comprehensive media strategy, which includes local, regional and national media, print, broadcasting and social media. “
On Labour’s vision for the country, the report says,
“We must set out a vision for the country’s future, which shows both what we believe the country needs and what we will contribute to its achievement.”
Who would set out a vision based on what the country didn’t need and how Labour wouldn’t contribute to things getting better? Was the team writing this report ill?
Simultaneously, fundamental reasons for defeat such as Ed Miliband’s leadership are glossed over.
“Over the period 2010 – 15, what the polls did consistently show was that, when asked if ‘this man could be Prime Minister’, David Cameron was rated above Ed Miliband. Since he actually was Prime Minister, this response was perhaps less than surprising.
It is the fate of every Labour Leader of the Opposition to be the target of ferocious attack from partisan sections of our media. Tony Blair was called ‘Bambi’, and described as too young and inexperienced to be up to doing the job.”
This glib statement is tossed in without the salient qualification that Ed Miliband trailed David Cameron on preference for Prime Minister by double digits while Tony Blair led John Major by a similar margin.
Not only is Ed Miliband excused his obvious role in the disaster of 2015 but the report is actively misleading on one of the prime reasons that Labour was victorious in 1997!
Beckett is a product of the same mode of lazy, smug, wrong-headed politics which has gripped Labour’s upper echelons for most of the last decade.
It’s tone is reminiscent of the response of organisations such as FIFA, the IAAF and UCI when first confronted with evidence of their failings.
As with these bodies, Beckett tells a tale of an organisation that has fundamentally failed to grasp the magnitude of the problems that face it.
Jeremy Corbyn is patently a disaster. But anyone interested in the notion of another Labour government should be thankful for one casualty of the Corbynite deluge: Labour’s old ruling class.
No moderate should mourn the passing of these cossetted time-servers. While the hard left must be defeated, there’s little point to rebuilding the rotten edifice that gave us the 2010 and 2015 campaigns, which indulged Gordon Brown’s manias, that enabled Ed Miliband’s junior common room posturing and where something like Beckett would have passed muster as strategy.
No. No. No.
Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut