Put aside the rainbow manifestos and unite.
We as the Labour Party are facing a multitude of problems that are holding us back from our true potential in opposition. No one is going to dispute that we’ve lost a lot of the general public’s trust, that we’ve yet to find a message that can engage the public, or that there’s a crippling divide between the decisions made at the top and the interests of the activists at the bottom. However, no one is willing to acknowledge (publically, at least) the source of our perceived weakness. Following the sour defeat in 2010 and the election of a new figurehead, every ideological corner of the party saw a long awaited opportunity to break out from 13 years of party-line conformity. Just as light stikes a prism, the blank slate of The Labour Party was ready to divide into any number of factions.
Before even pulling away from a begrudging embrace with his brother, Ed Milliband was put on a number of different leashes, their owners digging in their heels and preparing for the most counter-productive tug of war in this Party’s history. Tugging firmly from the right are Maurice Glasman and Blue Labour types, preaching a return to ‘Blairism’ and neo-liberal economics. From the left, the faceless Red Labour heave and yank with ceaseless Nye Bevan quotes and criticisms of anything that even mentions a free market. Hanging from above, Purple Labour have given Ed a little slack to share the party out amongst its members, but are more than ready to give a sharp pull should the bureaucracy be threatened. Meanwhile, scrabbling at his feet for even a morsel of responsbility or recognition, the everyday members and activists cry out to their leader to reform the party’s structure. Neither group will give way to the party opposite, debate nor agree on any policies, yet they all have the same principle in mind; to make our party electable once more so that we might bring about an end to this destructive government.
This situation has created two rifts within our party that our opponents in both Westminster and the media are all too happy to capitalise on; a rift amongst members that makes us all too keen to criticise one another without offering concrete suggestions of our own, and a rift between us and a leader who needs our support more than anything. Should he inch closer to one half of the party, the other half shouts of betrayal and threatens either a rebellion or an exodus. Because of this we are left with the leader we see now; a man afraid to make any decision in an attempt to satisfy all, yet for this very same reason angering everyone for his inactivity. If we expect our leaders to solve our Party’s problems, we musn’t devote ourselves so loyally to in-fighting which will only serve to divide the party. ‘And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.‘
I am in no way suggesting that we entirely abandon our personal beliefs for the sake of dedication for Our Glorious Leader. Nothing is healthier for a party than for its members to debate and discuss issues, this much is obvious. But painting yourself as Red Labour or Blue Labour offers no solutions, no more so than calling yourself a socialist or centrist does. It serves as an ideological calling card but contributes little to the discussions we must have to make ourselves a powerful opposition and an electable party for 2015.