The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Labour went wrong. Summing up my thoughts so I don’t have to think them any more.

To nutshell, the reason I think Labour lost the election – or at least, why they didn’t win – is because you have to give people something to vote for. And with Labour, the frustration of the last five or so years is that the Labour government didn’t seem to be doing very much of anything really, and what it was doing was not the sort of thing you’d expect from a Labour government. It was, on the whole, being a bit crap.

I mean, example; the whole nonsense with identity cards. A ludicrously expensive and unpopular way of (arguably) reducing civil liberties in order to cut down on fraud (arguably). This is not why I joined the Labour party, why I continue to pay my membership fees. I can’t imagine it’s why most of our MPs ran for parliament, so it must’ve been even more galling for them. It was a bad idea - one that was at odds with the ideology of the Labour movement - so to stick with it, seemingly out of an unwillingness to admit that it was wrong, was political madness.

And the same goes for privatisation, for the PFI scheme, and so on and so on. Of course, sometimes it turns out that the pragmatic thing to do is a compromise, but you shouldn’t end up in the position where the justification for a policy is ‘this would probably have happened under the Conservatives anyway’.

Which brings me to the war in Iraq. Which was entirely honourable, courageous and necessary, but where members of the government created the opposite impression but deciding to make up some extra, tabloid-friendly reasons for going to war. But the war wasn’t a mistake, I’m not voting for any leadership candidate who claims it was, and anyone who wheels out the whole ‘we should bring our brave boys home and leave these countries to be run by towel-headed wife-beating religious lunatics, it’s not our problem’ argument can bugger off, Diane.

The failure of the government to draw a line under this and move on was, I think, partly because for the last five years, it had lost all momentum. It was kind of embarrassing for Labour’s manifesto to be promising to end hereditary peers – you had 13 years to do that, FFS! In fact, there’s so many policy areas where the frustration was that Labour had 13 years to sort things out and didn’t – not just the constitution, but reducing poverty, making the tax system fairer, reducing Murdoch’s power over our media, ending the ‘market’ in the NHS, ending school league tables – a long, long list of things that Labour should have done when it had the chance and didn’t. Why did a Labour government undermine the BBC and let ITV go to shit? Why didn’t it impose punitive taxes on the banks that created the recession? Why did it take them so bloody long to wake up to protecting the digital economy? Why have we ended up with a more unequal society than 13 years ago? Why the FUCK were there appointed peers in the Labour cabinet? Why the FUCK was most of the rest of the cabinet made up of incompetent time-servers? And why the FUCKING FUCK were Labour members of parliament caught fiddling their expenses??? (We expect that of the other lot – but at least they’re good at it.)

That’s not what I joined Labour for. And I think that for people to vote for a party, it has to stand for something. Not for being ‘progressive’, but having a sense of purpose. And actually doing things to make the country a fairer place, rather than just talking about possibly maybe doing something one day if they get another five years.

You had 13 years to do that. Why didn’t you?

So what should the new leader do? First thing; chuck out all the shit policies and start coming up with policies that people, both within the party and without, might consider worth supporting.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on (I think all leadership candidates should be forced to read this). The loss of momentum, or drift, is a product of having had 13 years and become more attuned to the (perceived) reasons why things that hadn't been done couldn't be done and a lack of vision or imagination (with, as you say, a band of incompetent time servers). There’s only one way things can stay the same, lucky conservatives (with a small C), but for the progressives the choices for change are literally infinite. It’s a bit like a TV show that has a successful first season, following the arc plotted out for it, then when it gets renewed its not quite sure what to do (I can think of several of these). It feels like the plot drifted, the message got diluted, and it’s not just you didn’t know where it was going, you’re worried the writers didn’t either… Several shows like that recently got cancelled, and so did the Labour government.