This is our truth, tell us yours
As Labour slides into its leadership election, it’s hard not to think of a newly divorced man, lachrymosely telling his new partner that he doesn’t want to talk about why he’s divorced.
I have a test for every Labour member and supporter. Tell me what’s new about the things that have been said by the contenders. Not the facts of where Labour is, adrift, rudderless and in denial, but the policies and political ideas. Liz Kendall is repeating the lazy Blairism of her generation of careerists. Jeremy Corbyn is repeating the same things he’s been saying since 1983. Yvette Cooper is adopting the Balls / Brown tactic of hiding meaning behind a deluge of words, and Andy Burnham seems determined to undermine his supporters belief that he is of the left by hedging and seeking to avoid commitments as if he has no memory of Neil Kinnock as Labour leader.
Labour has a number of issues it needs to talk about, to understand and to analyze. They’re issues about the internal structure of the party, and about the relationship between the party and the future of the United Kingdom. They’re issues about globalization add a transformed economy, and what that means for our communities, and they’re issues about what Labour believes about the world, and itself. Choosing a leader before those issues have been debated is folly, but Labour has chosen to follow that route.
Rather than get dragged into analyzing the merits of the leadership candidates, we think the job of the left is to ignore the leadership election, and get on with the job of imagining a twenty first century democratic socialism – so that’s what we’ll try and do over the next few days.