Posts Tagged ‘elite’

Labour will not reconnect with the British people until parliamentary selections become more open

09/07/2015, 03:15:59 PM

by Daniel Charleston Downes

If you were to close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears and not participate in any hustings nor read any campaign material you would still be able to predict the shape and tone of the leadership election so far.

You would perhaps put good money on the word ambition to be lumped onto the phrase ‘working people’ and ‘working families’. A new favourite appears to be the maxim that Labour should help people to ‘get on in life’. You would correctly predict that much would be made of the fact that Labour did not understand the needs and wants of the electorate, that we are out of touch and need to ‘connect’ with the public once again.

Much of this rhetoric is platitudinous, but sometimes wisdom can be found in bitesize chunks, much like fortune cookie prophesy. The Conservatives have occupied the space once again of the safe choice for a governing party, the rogues that we all hate to love. People may complain about them, but they get the job done and a necessary job it is indeed. Just by being affable and in possession of reasonable wit, Boris Johnson is able to suggest a further cut to 40% in the top rate of tax with no fear whatsoever that it could isolate him from the Tory leadership. It is Labour that needs this touchy-feely connectiveness stuff more than our current government.

For all that has been said however we don’t seem any nearer to understanding what our relationship with the electorate means. There have been some suggestions of further devolution, in local and regional government, in communities and in public services – placing greater power in the hands of the individual. Ed Miliband spoke much of the power of local Constituency Labour Parties taking on responsibilities in the grassroots and building a national movement from a campaigning core, a concept that I am very passionate about. Both of these philosophies however only attract those that are already engaged in the political process, none of them reach out beyond already established ‘active’ citizens. This represents Labour’s central problem with their isolation from the public.


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