Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Who I'm backing for Labour leader - someone who doesn't claim to have the answers

I've left this reflection until last because it will inevitably draw on the debates around the leadership and the personalities pushing themselves or being talked up by colleagues.

I don't think we're anywhere near a sensible debate that could possibly lead to me coming out in favour of any of the leadership candidates.

I think this needs to be a far more searching conversation than a snap leadership election demands. The style of leader will be determined by the kind of party we come around to deciding we want to be.

Learn from history
So, to start that process again, I can only reiterate the analysis needs to include the lost votes to UKIP, the allure of the Tory offer and to learn how we won when Tony Blair was leader. If we don't, then we may as well bed in for a last heave and another defeat.

It has to be a starting point that as Kev Peel, a Manchester councillor, says "you can't just talk to families like mine".

Ditch the labels
We also need to ditch the labels and name calling - Liz Kendall on BBC Woman's Hour yesterday made the point that Left-right, Brownite, Blairite labels are unhelpful and pretty meaningless.

I also can't buy into the superiority of our morality argument, in fact, the opposite may be true. Sure, we all subscribe to values we believe are the right ones and are honest in our pursuit of them, but don't think the others are therefore "amoral". Read Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP, and grasp what he has to say about how far negativity can get you.

Loss of authority
Matthew Taylor broadens the examination to examine the even wider loss of authority of centre left and social democratic parties and the role in society of a party and what it seeks to be and do. This is the most inspiring thing I've read on the future.

Take this for example. "In terms of activism, progressive parties need to cultivate a politics of personal development and growth (learning here from the models of movements like Occupy, London Citizens, Ashoka, ‘Good for Nothing’ or even the RSA Fellowship). Instead of using technology simply as a transmission and fund raising tool its transformative potential is to open up debate, create platforms for new ideas and experiments and to personalise political engagement. Most of all, progressivism must be a model of politics that does not wait to win office to make change but is about doing the right stuff right now through partnership and collaboration."

In a review of Liz Kendall and Steve Reed's pamphlet on how change really happens, Jonathan Todd makes a valid point that relationships and alliances and entrepreneurship are the drivers that make change. That should be in Labour's character.

Finally, Patrick Hurley makes another good point, David Cameron will announce his departure at the end of this fixed term parliament. The Tories will have a new leader, a fresh face, elected probably in the autumn of 2019 ready to go for the election. Someone new to counter the battered, humiliated and media savaged leader we've had. A fixed term Premier. Why don't we wait too?

As you can see, I set out this day to be the one where I had absorbed so much material and thought that I would be getting some clarity about how we can build again. No such luck. This has been the most incoherent and difficult of my post-election pieces thus far. I make no particular apologies for that, but rushing out of the traps in indecent haste may seem like good politics, but it assumes the very thing that we've been defeated for - thinking leader knows best.

No comments: