What failure looks like: Hattersley and Kinnock
By the lil’ red mole
Just as pollsters put Labour eight points ahead, Roy Hattersley announces in the pages of the Observer that the party is in its deepest crisis ever.
For those too young to remember Mr Hattersley, he is a veteran Labour right winger and was deputy to Neil Kinnock. So, to be fair, he knows a thing or two about losing elections.
The Observer thought this article was so earth-shattering that the paper carried a feature telling you what it said, just in case you missed the point.
What’s the basis for this? Well, it’s those bad, bad people from Momentum – currently building a gulag near you. They’re “on the point of winning control of Labour’s policy, programme and constitution”. Why is this bad? Because it will see the replacement of “moderate” (those people that brought you the Moderate Iraq war, laying the basis for the Moderates of Isis, and rolled out the Moderate PFI that is currently helping cripple the NHS, lest we forget) Labour MPs and councillors.
“Momentum is winning by default,” warns Hattersley, as the left makes advances in Labour, most recently challenging through the democratic process the often deeply unpopular actions of Haringey council.
No, Roy – changes are taking place in the Labour Party – slowly, painstakingly – because that’s what the majority of members want. In the last leadership election, thrust on the members by the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, 313,000 voted for Jeremy Corbyn, and 193,000 for Owen Smith. The majority of members (a “narrow clique”, according to Hattersley) clearly support a shift away from the pro-market politics and electoral disappointment that were the bitter fruits of Blairism. This was endorsed by the promising election result in June that nobody in the establishment – May, Hattersley or the senior editorial team at the Guardian and Observer – saw coming. Nobody.
Hattersley dismisses the explosion of Labour’s membership – making it now the largest political party in Europe – as an “invasion”. That working class people by their hundreds of thousands are seizing an opportunity to build a better, fairer society, is something Hattersley and the Observer/Guardian deplore. We are all “politically disreputable opportunists”. That so many millions of others will vote for it is for them inexplicable.
Those like Mr Hattersley in the party who don’t have the stomach for the fight should put their alternative honestly, instead of resorting to red scare tactics. That they don’t, probably tells you all you need to know about their alternative: they don’t have one.
Our alternative is one we have consistently stated openly, and campaigned for democratically: we want MPs who will fight for the commitments made in the last election manifesto – for a massive expansion in housebuilding, decent state healthcare, properly funded education; for a government that will develop a foreign policy completely different from the slaughter perpetrated by the last Labour government.
We want councils that will build affordable homes in sustainable communities, not hop into bed with developers in the construction of housing beyond the means of most, and who will fight for the provision of decent local services.
We want local Labour representatives who will fight for the working people who elected them, and for their communities, not bureaucrats who will administer the decimation of those communities through gentrification and the erosion of services.
It’s what the majority of Labour’s mass membership wants. And, looking at recent polls, what a very large number of people increasingly see the need for.
If that’s a crisis, we’ll have more of it please.