Thursday, 28 July 2016

Labour's fractured future

For years, Labour has failed to define its purpose in society and to engage effectively with the public. It is naïve even to pretend that Labour can win a General Election in 2020, when it has, at least for a period, lost Scotland and stands to lose dozens of English seats through boundary changes. It devotes the time it should be opposing Brexit and the destruction of public services and trade unions to internecine warfare. Little wonder that voters crave new stars to follow, be these apparently perverse: UKIP; nationalists; egomaniacs.

Even if the reborn socialism of Corbyn can take root beyond its long-standing adherents, it is impossible, surely, that it can gain sufficient ground for electoral success in under 4 years, let alone any "snap" election Tories may try to call to further damage Labour's credibility. So what options are we left with? A united party would seem to be the priority for most. Corbynistas claim that this is within their grasp if only all MPs and party members will loyally come behind their leader; deaf to the reality that the former have already refused in droves to do so. Owen Smith, whether a short-term stalking horse expected to be removed once Corbyn is out of the way, in favour of some as yet unnamed centrist; or a genuine long-term prospect, is the only other show in town. He is unknown to most but may just be seen as having the potential to re-build both party and popular engagement beyond the mere faithful.

Whichever prevails, there will remain that group of once-big hitters from Brown and Miliband's teams, waiting to stab the new Caesar or to lead a split and a new party. This could leave a true red Labour Party of under 50 MPs and a new Opposition Party of arund150, until each suffers the judgement of the electorate. Neither could do anything in the lobbies without he support of the other but also of the nationalists, LibDems, Unionists and even Caroline Lucas. And here lies the silver lining: the birth of a new politics, requiring cooperation instead of unity; alliances rather than a broad church. A progressive alliance no longer  "what-if" idea but a necessity. Maybe the unthinkable split can be a good thing in the longer term. Even the Right may try it eventually.

No comments:

Post a Comment