Thursday, 23 July 2015

Watching the Labour leadership election is car crash TV in real Labour time

Let me give you three angles on the leadership election from my Labour MP friends in the Commons, from NE Labour and from normal voters.
Yesterday Tony Blair attempted to point out some home truths to his former Labour Party colleagues in a speech.
He said:
"We lost in 2010 because we stepped somewhat from that modernising platform. We lost in 2015 when we stepped even further away from it and lost even worse. I don’t understand the logic now of stepping entirely away from it.’"

The speech reads well,yet he is now portrayed locally and nationally as a Tory, a renegade etc etc; his description of Corbyn supporters as Star Trekkers did make me smile but even for the febrile world of Twitter and the Internet age this attack on him is laughable. To be honest I want a credible opposition. I want a party that challenges the government in difficult times. In the last parliament the labour leadership and MPs opposed every reduction in budget. This is not sustainable or helpful. Come up with alternative plans?
Amswer there was none.

Governments do not get every decision right. Nor does a family or businessman or woman. Proper oppositions create better law and government. They don't just oppose everything like a naughty child denied sweets in a sweet shop - to use the Chuka Umana phrase. In conversations in the pubs of Northumberland last weekend I was struck by the disappointment in the leftward lurch by local voters. These were genuine Labour supporters in Northumberland who definitely did not vote for me, but asking me - "what is going on with the Labour Party?"

For me three things are notable.
I) Locally in the North East we see Labour members and supporters urging and pushing for an ever more left leaning Labour Party. They are Syriza in all but name. Even hard left wing MPs are pilloried if they don't take an ever more left leaning line.
II) Those Labour MPs who argue that elections are won by parties in the middle ground, offering rational pro business policies that support job creation and speak to the aspirations of normal people who want to get on and progress are ignored. In Westminster they are shunned by the new intake of MPs. I have MP friends in the Labour Party who despair of the Corbyn / leftward lurch, but are powerless.
III). How does the Labour Party treat Tony Blair? There is a fine tradition in Westminster of venerating your elders, of seeking the wisdom of those who have done these struggles before. I, and many other newer MPs deliberately seek out the likes of Ken Clarke, and other veterans,to ask them for their opinions, recollections, advice and wise words. The Labour Party presently seem unable to afford such respect to their former leader. And given he won 3 elections that is particularly odd.
For those who are interested the Tony Blair speech yesterday is here: