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Where now?

This post is about where the Labour party should go, its future and how it could change to include many who dont vote for it, or only vote because there is no other option. There isn’t going to be a revolution and Labour is the best chance of beating the Tories.

The day after the election mr jem decided to join the labour party. It was perhaps an emotional decision, but it was one I recognised and understood. He didn’t get very far however, since after filling in his name he was asked to put his gender, there were two options, male or female. Not even that dismissive and slightly insulting other. He closed the tab, and went for a walk instead.

It might seem a tiny thing, but its not. Labour should be a radical party, a party that sides with the marginalized and the oppressed, a party that understands intersectionality. It should be, but currently it isn’t. Part of this is a patronizing attitude towards the working class who are seen as living single issue lives. Part of it is, I am willing to admit, the hidden curses of homophobia, and rad fem scummery. Sadly Labour women (the group and conference) are dominated by the kind of second wave feminism that sees trans people and sex workers as the enemy. Terfs and homophobic dinosaurs combining to say oh, these issues dont matter, lets talk about the real stuff.

The problem is if you defy an intersectional analysis on one issue, you ignore it on all others. The disabled become either tragedy porn or scroungers. People of colour are handy for making leaflets look inclusive, but only if they fit a dominant white narrative, and are never angry. LGBT means gay cis and in a suit, and monogamous.

I know some will say if Labour returned to its “loony leftie” GLC radicalism then the media will have a field day. Newsflash 80% of our media is tory. The next leader could personally cure cancer and the headlines will read “Evil Labour take work away from pharmaceutical companies because they hate business” Labour needs to reach out to those who don’t benefit from austerity, and those who do, but because of their intersections have empathy and oppression with others.

Part of becoming a radical left of center party again must be embracing electoral reform. It’s about presenting a vision, a narrative, a story that says more than we know best. The poor are not an amorphous mass who need rescuing. Instead of telling Labour needs to become a party of listening. I dont often agree with left foot forward, but their conclusion here is spot on, Labour needs a narrative, that narrative needs to be more than we know best. It needs to be radical, in word, and deed.

So a 4 point plan, since politicians seem to need bullet points.

  1. Electoral reform, from a position of believing in giving people a voice, of the strength of multiplicity.
  2. An end to the talk of hard working families, of scroungers, of the undeserving poor. Challenge the narrative.
  3. Radical espousal of civil liberties and individual rights. In the process kicking out the dinosaurs. Become the party of the individual
  4. Work with local groups and communities across the country who are challenging austerity. WIth is the important word there. When the mums of Newham occupied it should have been Ed, not Russell Brand on every news show supporting them. The narrative should become where people are angry, are protesting, are fighting back, there is the labour party.

One dominant narrative, Labour are a radical peoples party. That would be a game changer.

*should probably mention mr jem is cis


6 comments on “Where now?

  1. ValeryNorth
    May 9, 2015

    Yes to all this.

    That “gender” 2-choice option on the membership form offended me deeply, but I wanted the voice within Labour more than I wanted to stand on principle at that stage (just as I often do with psychology questionnaires that only offer 2 choices, so maybe I’m used to putting up with it). However, I marked it in my mind, “Right, that’s the first thing I’m campaigning for my new party to change.” And of course, it affects me directly because of the genderfluid thing.

    “I know some will say if Labour returned to its “loony leftie” GLC radicalism then the media will have a field day. Newsflash 80% of our media is tory.”

    The Daily Mail headline this morning was “This is YOUR Victory: Middle England Rises To Defeat Threat of Red Ed”. And Ed Miliband was far from a loony leftie GLC days. Blair tried winning over the Tory press, and sort of managed it, but lost the party along the way. It’s what I’ve been saying: to win votes, you have to be willing to lose the votes of those who aren’t going to vote for you anyway.

    Totally agree, the Labour Party needs a narrative. Narratives are how people make sense of their world, so without one they aren’t going to make sense to people.


    • jemima2013
      May 9, 2015

      The Daily Mail thing proves my point, they think labour are extremists anyway, become the party of those who are about social justice, not just in an economic sense. Its more than economics


  2. Christabel
    May 9, 2015

    I agree with all this but the best way to change the Labour party is to join it and be active in it. There are many good people there but for the most part they’re older and fixed in their ways – we have the same discussions we were having 20 years ago and crying out for new blood – more often than not we can’t even put up a full slate of council candidates because we don’t have members with the youth and energy.

    I despair at voters saying “they’re all the same” and they “don’t speak for me” but it’s no surprise when I go to a party meeting and see the same four or five elderly blokes who spend the whole hour reminiscing about a local print industry that’s long gone.

    So please join and help us start to shape it into a better and more vibrant party – it can only ever reflect the views of its members after all.


  3. cartertheblogger
    May 9, 2015

    Hi Christabel,
    I’ll be blogging tomorrow, here, about what went wrong and how we progress from the perspective of a socialist humanist. However, I have to say the contrast between my union, which tries to recognize the rights of self organized groups and a kind of pre-intersectional analysis of privilege and power, and the Labour Party, which is obsesses with electoral structures and bureaucratic practices, is perfectly evidenced by Jem’s account of Mr Jem’s exerience.


  4. redpesto
    May 11, 2015

    Re. point 4: the Blair-worshipping UnDead have already taken to the media to argue that the party ought to become ‘New “New Labour”‘ and appeal to ‘aspiration’. Unfortunately, aspiring to have a roof over one’s head (as in Newham) is the ‘wrong’ kind of aspiration as far as they’re concerned. The ‘narrative’ of home ownership continues to trump that of having somewhere to live.


  5. Pingback: The neediness of New Labour: what Labour can learn from dating gurus | Valery North – Writer

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