12 August 2009

An Unfeasibly Wide Coalition?

Luke Akehurst is honest about his intentions for the Labour party, as indeed is Peter Mandelson. Luke is a tribalist, like Hazel Blears the party is a football team - you cannot change allegiance no matter what the policies.

Luke wants to see Labour firmly and unashamedly a centrist party. And he is angry with John Harris and anyone else on the left who still remain in the party. In fact he would be quite happy if we all just ****ed off and departed, as many on the left already have. Membership has tumbled from 400,000 to 160,000.

New Labour made its peace with the ruling classes (acquiesced) and this obviously seriously limited its left of centre scope. The centrist elements in the party quite clearly won the long battle for the Labour party in the 1980s and 1990s.

But the left in the party were so fed up with Tory rule they were willing to put up with the centrists being in total control as long as the odd bone was thrown their way - minimum wage, tax credits etc, and of course, we hoped for so much more. Like a battered wife we hoped things would change for the better.

Labour is a ridiculously wide and probably unsustainable coalition of factions and ideas signified by MPs from Alan Milburn to Jeremy Corbyn. The strain on this coalition is coming to a head.

The problem for those of us on the left is that the vast majority of Labour MPs are clearly from the right of the party and we get no say on this. We have to like it or have a Tory government instead. i.e. no choice at all!

Unlike under proportional representation, Labour voters do not currently get a say at the ballot box which part of the coalition they like best. So we have to put up with it or waste our vote on a party that will have no chance of being elected. But worse than that, deserting Labour means a Tory is more likely to be elected. Some choice.

To his credit, Luke does support electoral reform and maybe then his dream of a unashamedly centrist party could be achieved easily. Until then he has to accept that a lot of Labour members are ashamed of their party.

John Harris explores the factional fight that will go on when Labour lose next year. Of the runners and riders he rightly dismisses most as new Labour fodder. Unlike Mandelson, most - Miliband, Balls, Benn etc will pretend otherwise and maybe convince a few leftish members that they are progressives. However most of us on the Left, have a big choice.

Do we remain in a Centre party that will be out of power for 2 decades and try and remould it from within, or do we finally say good riddance and start afresh on the fringes, knowing that this might keep the Tories in power for another generation or more. An impossible choice, but I am now leaning toward leaving the party altogether. I already vote Green in local and European elections. An inevitable Tory MP is likely in Hove, so why not build the Green base up a bit and give them a chance in 10 years time?

The Greens of course, jar on my science conscience - against stem cell research and GM crops, ridiculous on mobile phone masts and flouridation of water. And support the pseudo-babble of homeopathy. They also oppose ID cards and CCTV in principle. This is against all I believe in. But, yet on social justice and of course the environment they chime with my views perfectly. Nothing as radical as a Citizen's Income, Land Value Tax and a real combating of the menace of cars is on the Labour party's agenda (Livingstone excepted).

So that leaves 'the third way', remain in the Labour party for now until it selects a leader and vote elsewhere if the Labour candidate is too right-wing. I think a lot of members are already thinking this way.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Neil,

    Quick suggestion on GM, try looking at GS- Genetic Selection. Which can easily be incorporated into organics and also means that the best clone of a particular variety of fruit, vegetable or grain can be produced time and time again. Take potatoes for instance, with GS you could find the one potato that is the biggest, less susceptible to rot, and more prone to growing in a particular soil. You wouldn't have to modify the genetic code of that potato, just find the best traits natural selection would have already given it.

    GS is widely practised in the Australian wine industry and produces superb results.

    I would like to see the Greens have a clear policy supporting Genetic Selection, rather than just saying no to GM.

    That's my opinion anyways.