This is our truth, tell us yours
When the Labour leadership campaign lurches to completion in September it will provoke not cries of joy but sighs of relief that it is over.
Whoever dreamed up the Labour leadership campaign was, frankly, either wrong, or committed to provoking a split in the Labour Party. The latter should not be dismissed out of hand. There are aspects of the campaign that are bizarre and either inept or working to a plan we can’t see.
Take for example the persistent leaks of Labour’s private polling as to the state of play in the leadership election. We all know Labour has its own call centre, and its own polling team. However, why would a neutral party machine need to be polling about the state of play in the leadership election? Surely it should be collecting data, about voter views and reactions to the party, that would help the new leader shape policy?
The decline in Party management and organization since the millennium has been marked, and catastrophic. With the solitary, cerebral exception of Matt Carter, party general secretaries have been either able administrators constantly looking over their shoulder at the leadership for guidance, or ambitious chancers with defective moral and political compasses. The result has been that there is no longer a core of party officials who can guide and assist the leadership; instead the tension in debates within Head Office is between the chancers seeking promotion and the rump of staff who no longer have a clear vision of where the party apparatus should be going.
Part of that party malaise will help explain in future histories, the sense, throughout the Milliband leadership, that Ed was a passenger on a bus whose destination he couldn’t choose. Since he wasn’t the preferred candidate of the chancers, he was routinely undermined and unsupported by the very people who should have been his most avid and determined cadres.
The end game for Labour is unclear, but one thing is obvious. This leadership election won’t resolve the issues in the professional party, and the sense that it has become detached from both the membership and Labour’s natural constituency.
UPDATE: I hadn’t heard this story as told by Arnie Graf about how out of touch the Labour organization was, but it was no surprise to me.