Thursday, 14 May 2015

Labour's Dilemma

Labour members join because it is a party rooted in the real world of work, fighting for decent wages and conditions, for everyone, not just for themselves. It has values, of mutuality and altruism, instead of self. It defends against abuse of power by employers, landowners and the governing elites.

To be capable of electoral success, Labour must appeal, it is said, to those who are comfortably off, more self-centred as well as to society's more vulnerable. To ignore the middle class, it is argued, is to eschew power and thus the chance of doing good. We must pretend we are not unselfish in order to act unselfishly, no matter that this pretence goes against what we stand for.

What would you do: stick to principles and risk staying in Opposition; or compromise and have the chance of more votes and of putting decency into practice (assuming the mask does not slip)? It seems to me that looking a bit Tory will fool nobody. Those wanting to have their deeply held values represented will be let down whilst those looking for a more money-centred politics will head for its real proponents. Tory-Lite is nothing.  Look at the outcome to the LibDems of succumbing to the siren voices of power. No, despite the risks, a Party of principle should not simply follow votes. It can only hold its ground if it holds by its values. These can and must form the basis of its immediate role, in Opposition. There is a real and vital role, right now, for Labour, if it has the courage to be so clear in its stance, in: promoting our membership of the EU; defending the Human Rights Act; supporting decent, living wages; enabling Labour councils to build Council houses in their thousands; preventing selection from regaining a hold on education; fighting tooth and nail to stop social security cuts and more. Who knows, if Labour opposes well, maybe the votes will follow?
Tom Serpell

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