Latest post on Left Futures

What on earth is happening in the Labour party?

Byrne: sacked but lives on in spiritYou might have thought from the Tory tabloid screams at Ed’s conference speech plus the sidelining of the three older Blairites in the reshuffle that the Labour Party was taking a sharp turn to the left. Nothing could be further from the truth: plus ca change, plus la meme chose. The Left has been dropped or shunted out of sight, whilst the Right is everywhere dominant both in the shadow cabinet and in the Leader’s office. If this were a plausible plan for restoring a demoralised party or for winning an election, there might be a case for this.

But it isn’t. The new incumbent at DWP loses no time at all in repeating the mantra of her predecessor, which had made him so unpopular within the party, that ‘Labour will be tougher than the Tories on benefits’. Her new colleague at education, equally untried, has immediately cosied up to a version of Gove’s free schools and has said Labour will put ‘rocket boosters’ under parent-led academies. With Labour still stuck to the Tories’ expenditure cuts and presenting no clear alternative to austerity, this is clearly a consolidated shift to the Right.

It generates problems at almost every level. First, unless the policy review produces some unexpected surprises, it offers at the level of fundamentals very little difference from the Tories which might encourage people to vote Labour.

Second, it raises real questions about how policy is now made within the party. The Labour party used to be a democratic party in which policy was actively debated through political education and campaigned for up and down the country until finally settled through negotiation and votes at conference between party and leadership. That process is now defunct, or at least tranquilised, and replaced by top-down ex cathedra proclamation without apparently either consultation or consent (just like the Tories one might add).

Third, when is the party going to start addressing the fundamentals rather than simply tweaking Tory policies? Instead of protecting flank by saying we’ll be even tougher on welfare than the Tories (a pretty depressing prospect for everyone except the Daily Mail), why do we not point out that the right way to deal with the problem is not by punishing people for failing to get jobs which are non-existent, but by public investment to stimulate jobs and growth which will get people off benefits altogether?

And why don’t we, instead of aping Gove with Gove-lite policies, assert that success in education lies not with surface concerns about school ownership, but with the inspiration of the head teacher and the quality of all the teaching staff, as well as much more attention to the role of home and community on educational performance?


  1. John Wight says:

    Superb piece. Well done. I agree with every word written.

  2. Robert says:

    Well look at it this way Miliband has been in labour five minutes he has hardly had a real position or done anything in which he had to think, now he’s the leader, and if he does not win the next election he’s going to be gone. His whole political career will disappear he will be a nobody.

    So he is now thinking if I lose my life will disappear I will be with David flying Thunder bird five from Tracey Island.

    So Ed is looking and he is thinking and this voice in the back of his head is saying New labour New labour, then the voice gets louder and it scream for god sake Ed it’s me Blair, go towards the new labour light, Hammer the disabled the sick the unemployed , and the next time I say go to war in Syria bloody back me you idiot.

  3. Jim Moore says:

    They are so out of touch and think they are right literally

  4. Jon Williams says:

    New shadow cabinet MPs followed Ed M’s instructions not to rock the boat and play it safe by proclaiming we’re tougher than the current lot and we sort of agree with free schools!!

    Labour shadow team is targeting a wider audience in pre-election campaign i.e. marginal seats in the south.

  5. Rupertread says:


  6. Robert says:

    We are now in recovery mode for the minute anyway this will depend on the Yanks sorting out the budget, and unemployment is again down and the Tories are the party which will get a poll push for this or not who cares, the question will be who is going to win the next election the party in power with a recovery or the party which agrees with a lot of what the Tories are doing but will hammer down.

  7. Neil Stretton says:

    The Left in the Labour Party must organise and mobilise – just as the Right have done, through Progress. Tribune did it in the 80’s & 90’s – we need a Tribune group for the 21st century – but a wider body than the MP-focused one of the past. CLPD could be the core of that group, but it alone is too dedicated to one particular aspect – Party democracy. Any group must be policy-based, just like Progress – and needs to take them on in an effective way, if democratic socialism is to have any future in our Party.

  8. Mike Shone says:

    The Labour Party continues to have no sense of direction apart from being the”vote for us to keep the Tories out party”.

    No direction because it has no longer any real social or political roots. Long gone is the connection to working class communites, trade unions and left intellectuals.

    No direction because it lacks social awareness and political principle to guide it.

    All that is left is a hollow shell which fits into the Westminster village which provides careers for both those who care and have some connection with reality and the pretensious with little connection with social, political, economic and environmental reality .

  9. Alison Williams says:

    There is no democratic process to change things from within now in the Labour Party so think hard and if you are on the left look at the Green Party manifesto and join it, a truly socialist and democratic party.

  10. James Martin says:

    Not much evidence of socialism from the Green Party in Brighton under comrade Kitkat though is there Alsion? Unless of course imposing pay cuts on low paid workers is what passes for ‘green socialism ‘ these days…

  11. Mike Shone says:

    James Martin does not seem to have noticed that the equalisation of allowances required under the Single Status Equal Pay requirements , was a pay increase for the historically underpaid female employees like care assistants .

    “Single Status” one of the good things brought in by New Labour was designed to ensure fairer treatment of female and manual workers. However Brighton’s Labour Councils were frightened to fully implement the scheme which had a deadline of this year so leaving a very difficult task to the next council which has been a Green one.

  12. James Martin says:

    Oh dear Mike, yes, unfortunately I know all about single status and the fact that most councils (including most Labour ones) used it cynically to equalise pay downwards rather than level up.

    Of course no doubt were you around at the time of the heroic equal pay struggle at Fords b womenworkers in 1968 your solution would no doubt have been to cust the pay of the men and say job’s a good ‘un…

  13. Robert says:

    My council decided to go the other way as a Labour council it decided that mens wages would be brought down to female workers.

    Then after all the storm had died down , we all noticed that women wages for senior office workers had been rounded upwards this we were told was due to contracts and contractual agreements, the words these days labour council in the main means a bunch of w******.

    It worked well as the council has just stated they believe the task of emptying bin could be done cheaper by out sourcing, I await to see if this goes to the same company that took it over in another council and then claimed millions as it could not afford to run the job at the contractual price.

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma