OPINION: Will Labour blow it once again?
By Dave Young
Will the Labour Party really carry through on its support for a second referendum? If history is any guide, I fear it will bottle out. Under its current dogmatic, inspiration-light leader there’s little evidence of political courage and Labour seems set to replicate some of its more egregious historic failures.
During the1930s the party of the working classes declined (along with the TUC) to support the Jarrow hunger marchers. Then almost immediately they abandoned the democratically elected Republican government in its fight against Franco’s foreign-sponsored fascists in the Spanish Civil War.
Fast-forward to 1997, a landslide election victory and Tony Blair claims: “I’m going to be a lot more radical in government than people think”. Despite a large parliamentary majority, his cabinet immediately hobbles itself, agreeing not to exceed the previous Tory spending limits.
2008 and Gordon Brown arguably saves Western capitalism from collapse. Ordinary people – who bore the brunt of the recession – wanted systemic changes to financial regulation. Instead, Labour rolled over to appease the same City bankers who’d caused the calamity in the first place. A decade later it’s bad business as usual.
Ah, you say, it’s easy to criticise, but what would you do? Well, there’s no shortage of new and pragmatic ideas out there. Try a green ‘New Deal’ to invest in renewables, recycling and sustainable economics for a start. Consider the future facing the young people who so strongly supported Corbyn. Climate change is now the single most pressing item on the political agenda, although the news appears not to have reached Jeremy’s allotment.
How about actually challenging greed-crazed free market extremists, instead of letting them sponsor meetings at Labour party conferences? Or consider citizens’ assemblies as an alternative to remaining stuck in a bi-partisan, adversarial mind-set with a leader who ideologically never left the 1980s?
Currently Labour – hardly an opposition party – is internally riven and largely directionless. It certainly doesn’t look like a viable government-in-waiting. Forget the faux-radicalism of Momentum – the SWP with better dress sense. They are, to paraphrase political satirist Gary Trudeau, “sensitive to the needs of the working classes, that’s how they avoid belonging to them.”
Closer to home in Hastings, things don’t bode well either for Labour council leader and pretender to Amber Rudd, Peter Chowney and his brand of affable political timidity (see local planning decisions on affordable housing).
Anyone for a general election? I’m getting my disappointment in early to avoid the rush.
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