Monday, 28 October 2013

Change is driven from inside the tent

I was struck the other day by several tweets about members leaving the Labour Party because they were unhappy at the initial pronouncements of some of Ed M's new cabinet. Friends have taken similar positions too: either saying they would not re-join Labour because they were unsure that Ed had what it takes to be PM; or they would leave because everything was not as they would like it.
I have considerable sympathy for those who left the Party over the Iraq war but this was surely an issue of principle, far greater in magnitude than the party leader's presidential qualifications or Rachel Reeves' pragmatism. Those who want the Party to lean further Left or Right are equally sincere but neither group can help steer the ship if they have jumped overboard. The other day at a seminar of non-Labour, far left interests, despite considerable criticism and even dislike of Labour's policies, there was consensus that come the General Election the priority is to rid the country of this vicious Government and that this can only be achieved by voting Labour, no matter what longer-term aspirations there may have been in the room. If revolutionary socialists, communists and others of the left can take this position, surely Labour supporters should think twice about absenting themselves from the opportunities the Party does offer to influence its direction of travel. Standing outside the tent grumbling about what is going on inside has no impact. Indeed it could be argued that Labour should seek ways of bringing more progressive people into the tent to enrich the debate, one of which we have previously advocated: the creation of a Big Tent online social forum.
Tom Serpell

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