Posts Tagged ‘Gareth Williams’

Labour centrists should not abandon ship on account of the captain

20/11/2015, 06:23:42 PM

by Gareth Williams

Probably the greatest hour in modern television history is the magisterial finale of the second season of the West Wing:¬†Two Cathedrals. In it, President Bartlet, facing a tough reelection challenge and recently exposed as suffering from MS, is chastised by the figure of his deceased secretary over his indecision regarding whether or not to seek a second term. She issues him with the rhetorical ultimatum “if you don’t want to run again, I respect that. But if you don’t run cause you think it will be too hard or you think you’re going to lose…I don’t even want to know you”.

Harsh words and different stakes, perhaps, but Labour’s centrists face a similar quandary.

Is it worth fighting for a party which seems uninterested in fighting for itself? Should they go out on the doorstep for leaders who, themselves, do not see the merit in gaining office? Is there any point in putting up with voluminous and vituperative abuse day in day out?

My answer to all three would be a considered “yes”.

I did not support Jeremy Corbyn. I still don’t. I think many of his policies are both morally bankrupt and strategically nonsensical¬† – in addition to being electorally fatal. They will, if permitted, lead us to corporeal irrelevance and political extinction. I am not alone. While hard figures remain hard to come by, anecdotal estimates of membership outflows put the figure at 25 members leaving for every 75 who join.

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Labour can avoid a rerun of the wilderness years, but only if it modernises

26/06/2015, 05:54:25 PM

by Gareth Williams

Possibly the only redeeming feature of the Ed Stone is that it provides an apt metaphor for the Old Testament level of righteous anger Labour activists should feel. The fact that greater efforts were expended by party elites on debating what to do with the 8ft monstrosity in the event of a defeat than on what they could do to avert one, speaks volumes.

There are of course fundamental differences between the exodus from Egypt and the party’s utterly unnecessary exodus from electability. Labour will have faced 10 years in the political wilderness by 2020, rather than 40 in its literal equivalent. In the meantime, members and activists should channel everything towards preventing a slow-motion rerun of the election¬†train wreck.

Decisions made over the next few months have incredibly serious implications not only for 2020 but 2025 and 2030. The party must make the right calls right now.

The independent variable remains the leader. A leadership candidate who describes the manifesto which took the party to its worst defeat in a generation as one of its best should give anyone who truly wants a Labour PM on the steps of Downing Street in May 2020 pause.

Perceptions early on matter. The factory preset Tory attack will be to treat every Labour leader as Lenin incarnate; we can ill afford giving them further reasons to. Tony Blair won on a platform pledging a minimum wage and a windfall tax on energy company profits – both sizable interventions in the economy – largely due to the political capital he had accrued from Clause IV and the wider modernisation project.

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