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Labour renewal starts here. And the Left needs to back it.

Ed Miliband’s speech made a real break with New Labour. It signals a return to the core values of social democracy, a renewed commitment to liberty, to solidarity and above all to equality. Whilst celebrating the successes of the first years of Labour in power, he drew a clear line under the disastrous Iraq war, and made a clear commitment to foreign policy “based  on our values not just our alliances”. He stressed the need to blame ourselves not the electorate for our defeat and recognise the reasons for our rejection and the public’s mistrust of politicians and politics. It will uplift the party, but the enthusiasm was not shared by everyone in the hall. The über-Blairites will fight back, and the Left must not stand aside.

The speech reflected  his campaign, stressing his values and the need for change. He described his values as rooted in his personal and family history, in his parents escape from the Holocaust and their immigration to Britain, but also in the collective experience of Labour with a reference to 1945 when Labour also needed to reduce a deficit – one larger than today’s he pointed out – but which it did without failing to deliver on its values.

There were gestures to the right too: what he said on the deficit was intended to re-commit the party to fiscal responsibility, and he warned unions to remember the effects of their actions in opposing the cuts — to counter-balance his robust defence of trade unionism and trade union rights.

The reality is that Ed Miliband is not on the Left of the party — he is squarely in the mainstream centre — but he is a Leader the Left can and should support whilst also pressing for inclusiveness and democratic reform in the party. In return for that support, the Left need only ask for the right to argue its case in a fair and open debate.

2 Comments

  1. anonymous says:

    Good post but you’re still creating an ‘us and them’ attitude in the last paragraph when the whole point of your article is to assuage that divide.

  2. redtux says:

    Well there is an “us and them” situation

    See how long you would stay in the LP as a non-aligned marxist

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