Posts Tagged ‘Sunder Katwaler’

The big week uncut: what next?

03/10/2010, 02:00:39 PM

As Dan Hodges noted in Friday’s column (below), Labour reached the end of a long road in Manchester. If anyone needed closure on the New Labour project, we had it last week.

It was a journey which had begun where it ended: at Labour party conference.

Neil Kinnock’s 1985 speech in Brighton marked the start of a fight back which took 12 years to come to fruition and 13 more to end in failure.

Neil was the father of New Labour, but he was never part of it. With the passion that he showed in that brave and beautiful speech, he knew that we needed it. But he wished we didn’t. He would have preferred it the old way. By the end, he even knew that what we needed wasn’t him. (Just as he knew that it wasn’t John Smith either). But he could only be himself.

That is why he is so attached to Ed, who isn’t New Labour either. Ed was a contented but never ideologically committed member of the outer circle. He often notes that he wasn’t factional. This was helped by his not being political either.

There is nothing new or unusual here. Blair and Brown, for instance, were fellow travellers in Peter Hain’s Tribune group during the 1980s. It was a necessary accommodation with the prevailing orthodoxy.

Nor is it a weak position. It was Stalin who issued the Blairite dictum that “theory guides practice, but practice is the criterion of ideological truth”. And, whatever he was, Stalin was not weak.

Ed Miliband’s ruthlessness is beyond question. If he has a lack which comes to seem weak, it will be consistency, not cruelty.

Many whom one would call New Labour or old right very actively campaigned for Ed Miliband. And it is those influential individuals, not the facile nebula that is the term ‘the unions’, who are mainly responsible for Ed Miliband’s victory.

Which term (responsible) is apt in two senses: both cause and obligation.

So it is to them, as much as to Ed himself – and to his brother staked out in Primrose Hill-les-Deux-Eglises – that we pose the week’s overwhelming question: after New Labour, after permanent revolution and endless victory, what next?

Jonathan Todd warns of Osborne’s traps on the economy

David Prescott on David Miliband’s big speech

Kevin Meagher looks at the new leader’s in tray

Siôn Simon sketches Ed Miliband’s big speech

Peter Watt says the last thing we need is a membership drive

Jamie Reed MP looks beyond London for the shadow cabinet

Dan Hodges responds to Labour’s extraordinary week in Manchester

Sunder Katwala on Labour’s top baron: BAME voting in the leadership election

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon