If the mood changes, Labour need to shape up quickly

by David Ward

As Eminem asked us, “Look If you had one shot. Or one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment. Would you capture it. Or just let it slip?”

Recent weeks have seen a palpable change in mood to that of last May. Front pages have been filled news of market crashes, while financial commentators debate if a new recession is on the way. Meanwhile the Prime Minister and most of his cabinet are at risk of winning a referendum but losing the support of large sections of their party, as well as the right wing press.

Granted, there is no guarantee of an economic downturn or of the Conservative party tearing each other apart over Europe. Nevertheless, any self-respecting political party should be thinking about how significant events could help remove their opponents from office.

Sadly, evidence of the current leadership’s capability in this regard seems lacking. The most remarkable thing about the current Labour party is the lack of any ability to capitalise on events or stories.

Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than Prime Minister’s Questions. Nick Tyrone compared Cameron on Corbyn’s first outing at PMQs to an opening batsman. Tamely patting back gentle half volleys in case there was some trap waiting. By now he’s worked out there is no trap. Corbyn’s buffet bowling courtesy of Rosie or Jim is dispatched to the boundary with almost humiliating ease.

Or take the doctor’s strike. Here was a chance to link an action with relative public support to reports of a stretched health service, and the government’s health reforms. Yet while a few urgent questions were tabled in the house, Labour seemed to be nowhere near the debate at all.

At least in one respect, the economy, we are beginning to make some headway. When John McDonnell says austerity has been a political choice he is building a narrative that, who knows, could be successful if a second global downturn struck. His approach to balance day-to-day spending while borrowing to invest is perfectly reasonable.

Perhaps there is more to Ken Livingstone’s suggestion that McDonnell will be the next Leader than meets the eye.

But even this is let down by poor media management. To complement coverage of John McDonnell’s recent speech on fiscal policy Livingstone kindly provided a story about changing rules for the election of leader to benefit his wing of the party.

It’s hardly unique. Sent onto news programmes to talk about the day’s news release we seem happy to have interesting conversations about the Falklands or nuclear disarmament. Not content with weaknesses in our positions on welfare or business, we’ve created another one on defence in solidarity with the National Union of Journalists. Fill those columns comrades.

Regardless of which leader we backed in September we surely all want our party to win, and to make lives better for the majority in our country. The editor of this site has suggested in the past that many members voted for Corbyn in a kind of desperation. No candidate was likely to win an election, so why not feel pure about your choice.

But things change in politics. As political conditions develop over the coming year, not least the elections in May, we can’t allow the leadership to let a big moment slip. Because if they don’t capture it, we might not get another for a long time.

David Ward is a Labour campaigner in south London

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11 Responses to “If the mood changes, Labour need to shape up quickly”

  1. paul barker says:

    I am sorry to be blunt but you still dont get it, there was an Election with 3 varieties of Social Democracy/Traditional Labourism pitched against a pretty explicit form of Revolutionary Socialism & the latter won hands down. Since then the mass of Labour members have shown no regrets, far from it, the tide has flowed ever more strongly Left.
    You, the mass of The PLP, The Party machine, the moderates & centrists gave it your best shot & lost, badly. Why do you find that so hard to accept ?
    Any “Coup” against The Left is going to have to be against most of the membership & most of The Unions – at best you will take The Labour name & the shell of an organisation, with no money to run it. What is the point ?
    If you want your own Party then split & build your own membership. Or, you could just admit that Britain already has a Centrist, Social Democratic Party & join that.

  2. Mike Homfray says:

    PMQ’s is of the utter irrelevance – its generally thought of if at all as nothing more than a silly piece of theatre.

    Of course Labour have been involved in the junior doctors strike – helping on the picket lines and promoting their cause locally. And the leader for the first time in my memory openly supported them!

    What we don’t want to do is what Ed Miliband ended up doing. Announce a policy, then watch the Tories take it, distort it, and present it as their idea

  3. Usual negative anti-Corbyn stuff we come to expect on Uncut, yet John McDonnell’s panel of expert economic advisers is far beyond anything that Balls, Darling and Brown ever put together. A bit more anti-Tory and a bit less anti-Corbyn from the right-wing ‘moderates’ and ultras would go down very well at the moment.

  4. Mike Stallard says:

    The Tories are split right down the middle. I know. I am one. And it is getting nasty too. Poor Mr Cameron is having to cheat and tell porkies to survive. He is crushed in the vice between the EU “colleagues” who are simply refusing to give an inch and his supporters (not the employees) who are broadly anti-Europe and want to LEAVE. Whatever the result of the referendum, he will have to go. If he wins, then he is going to have to face a huge backlash for cheating. If he loses, then he is certainly not the man to apply Article 50, nail down our EEA membership and then make sure of EFTA membership while the negotiations go on. On and on.
    Labour, at that point, will come upon Trident.

    And everyone knows that the real power lies, at the moment with Brussels which rules anyway through Statutory instruments and Directives. Parliament is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

  5. Madasafish says:

    I see a fairly reasoned article attracts replies by supporters and opposition who appear to live in an alternate universe and offer no voter friendly alternatives.

    As for “ yet John McDonnell’s panel of expert economic advisers is far beyond anything that Balls, Darling and Brown ever put together” I burst out laughing.

    Anyone who has Mr Blanchflower as an adviser is proven by history to be on the wrong side. Man has proven he is 100% wrong in the past and has no idea of how to change.

    I note LabourList have been overrun by UKIP…and they appear to be winning the arguments with the Corbyn supporters – or at least outnumbering them.. I wonder if the penny is slowly dropping ? Judging by some of the comments, they appear to think economists like Blanchflower are heroes.

    That way lies ruin.

    Not that Labour are likely to rule with McDonnell around..

  6. TrT says:

    “When John McDonnell says austerity has been a political choice he is building a narrative that, who knows, could be successful if a second global downturn struck. His approach to balance day-to-day spending while borrowing to invest is perfectly reasonable.”

    Spending has only been slashed in the loony lefts fantasy, its gone up by £80bn per year!

  7. Just for those above who have trouble getting past one name on John McDonnell’s economic advisory team here are the seven original members. David Blanchflower, Mariana Mazzucato, Anastasia Nesvetailova, Ann Pettifor, Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz and Simon Wren-Lewis. Doesn’t look too shabby, does it Madasafish.

  8. Madasafish says:

    Danny Speight
    Are you serious?

    I mean SERIOUS…

    David Blanchflower – the man who forecast UK unemployment would rise to over 4 million under Tory Austerity.
    The rest are academics.. who have no real world economic expertise ..

  9. Madasafish you are still stuck on Blanchflower aren’t you. The rest are just academics? I guess a Nobel prize doesn’t count much in your mind. Real world economic expertise? What does that mean, maybe work for a bank and bring down the financial system? Of course he could have got those two Americans like your guy Osborne found. You know the ones who couldn’t quite get the hang of Excel. Reinhart and Rogoff weren’t they? Totally screwed up Osborne’s first couple of years as chanchellor.

  10. Madasafish says:

    A Nobel Prize for economics means you write books. Writing books is not running an economy.

    As anyone who knows anything about economics understands.

    As far as Blanchflower is concerned, it’ simple. You run an economy based on the results you forecast your policies will achieve. If your forecasts are wrong, your economy may grow faster or slower, or not gro at all.

    Blanchflower was so far wrong only an idiot would put him anywhere near creating economic policy. As anyone who understands economics would immediately realise.

  11. Madasafish, so that’s all a Nobel prize is. Thanks for setting me straight on that. Just a thought, haven’t Reinhart and Rogoff written books too? You know the ones who advised your guy Osborne on austerity, but couldn’t work Excel correctly.

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