The big week uncut: what next?

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

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4 Responses to “The big week uncut: what next?”

  1. Dave Collins says:

    “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.”

    Funny, I seem to recall the Neath by-election happening in 1991!

  2. Editor says:

    @ Dave Collins

    And he became chair of the Tribune group almost immediately. At the height of Blair and Brown’s jockeying for power.

    But you are right, it was technically the very early nineties, not the eighties, when the Tribune group could most legitimately be referred to as “Peter Hain’s”.

  3. Dave Collins says:

    At the time of PH’s election to the House of Commons TB was Shadow SoS for Employment and Gordon Shadow SoS for Trade & Industry. They were more prominent than Hain – as demonstrated by the reaction to his and Roger Berry’s effort to establish a position on economic policy, it was not TB & GB accomodating Hain than their not stopping him taking the Chair of the by then well and truly castrated Tribune Group, but stamping on him as soon as he challenged the agreed policies … great blog btw!

  4. Editor says:

    @ Dave Collins

    We disagree. The Tribune group was far from castrated.

    George Robertson couldn’t get on the shadow cabinet because he was too right wing, even though he was more able than most who did and no more right-wing than Blair later turned out to be. He just refused to pretend not to be.

    Hain was more famous than Blair and Brown put together.

    Ray Powell was still a big player in the shadow cabinet elections. He would take guidance from Kinnock when he was leader, but not from the likes of Blair or Brown.

    Blair and Brown posed as soft left until Blair became leader. Fact.

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