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Pinch yourself, comrade, but Labour is exciting again

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1I guess I’ll never make it as a bureaucrat. When people start droning on about paragraph this, subclause that of any organisation’s rulebook, I usually interpret it as a cue to get another pint in.

But if there is now going to be a debate over what  precise mechanism Labour should use to elect leaders in future, let me say this now; the current arrangements have proven a huge success.

I’m not just saying that because they are perceived to favour the candidate I have backed from the beginning, namely Jeremy Corbyn. My point is that they have enabled Labour to engage the electorate in a manner I haven’t witnessed in decades.

This was brought home to me forcibly when I attended a routine City drinks reception, and I was struck by the number of people who – knowing that I am a Labour Party member – raised the subject of the race.

I should stress here that the attendees were not in the main high rollers with telephone number salaries. Instead this was in the main a gathering of what you might call ‘the real City’, middle-class commuter belt people on what most of the country would consider a good whack, but hardly enough to lead the life of Riley in expensive London.

They were there for the free plonk and canapes and the networking, but many spontaneously buttonholed me and started talking politics.

It’s not that any of them were raving Corbynistas. The first of the many double-cheek mwah-mwah kisses I got that night came from a young woman I had assumed to be apolitical, who looks like Liz Kendall, dresses like Liz Kendall, and was most impressed with – yeah, you guessed – Liz Kendall.

Similarly, a man who once sat on the board of a company you will certainly have heard of revealed that he had been a Labour Party member as a young man in the 1970s, and had signed up as a three-pounder with the intention of voted for LK.

A guy who has set up his own successful PR outfit – yes, aspirational businessman to a Tee – mentioned that his wife had rejoined as a full member after the May defeat, and was supporting Burnham. That had, in turn, increased his interest in what Labour does.

His colleague confided that he had not voted for many years. He liked some Corbyn policies, detested others, but was glad that there would again be a clear choice between opposing parties. Maybe that will get him to the ballot box next time.

To top it all, a multimillionaire corporate lawyer who had taken a drink revealed that his father had been a Communist partisan in a southern European country in world war two and that, if anything, he finds Jeremy insufficiently assiduous in promulgating the needs of the toiling masses.

Now, the last few months have – probably unavoidably – seen Labour Party members too wrapped up in the internal battle to notice that we are talking to the public again, in a way that I haven’t seen in years.

As it goes, I live in Hackney North, one of the few constituencies where the CLP still boasts a four-figure membership that enables it to be a genuine force in the community.

But we have all heard the stories of areas where Labour barely functions and it is hard to even get a quorate meeting together.

The oft-remarked-upon energy that has been generated in the last few months has presented us with a one-off opportunity to rejuvenate our structures up and down the country.

Let’s stick with OMOV. And the one-year free membership for registered supporters looks like a no brainer.

Yes, I have heard old stagers argue that they shouldn’t have the same rights as those us who have been around for yonks, but from a marketing perspective, this idea is a clear winner.

What’s more, the need to win over people who voted other than Labour in May is a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. We need to go easy on the social media Thought Police routine.

Let’s declare an amnesty for those who may have tactically backed the Lib Dems in hopeless seats or voted Green in disillusionment with our offer four months ago. Nor should past support for the Tories or UKIP be any bar to involvement now.

If people have changed their minds, they should be welcome on board.

Now the voting has closed, thanks are due to Jeremy, Yvette, Andy and Liz alike. Yes, things got harsh at times, but as the standard marital advice cliche goes, least said, soonest mended.

Comrades, Labour is exciting people again. When was the last time you could say that with a straight face?


  1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    “Now, the last few months have – probably unavoidably – seen Labour Party members too wrapped up in the internal battle to notice that we are talking to the public again, in a way that I haven’t seen in years?”

    I’d actually have put that somewhat differently; Labor have always talked, (generally have talked down,) to, “the public,” in fact they seldom miss any opportunity to harangue us all endlessly about our faults and deficiencies; which is rich.

    I’d argue that what’s different now is that the public are talking to Labor again, or are at least trying to.

    The real question is are Labor finally listening?

  2. John P Reid says:

    We need to go through Twitter find the cobyn supporters who out up anti Semitic comments or violent sexist comments directed towards Kendall and Cooper

    If by a odd chance Yvette wins, the the £3 supporters should be asked do they still want to join

    It’s still possible to be in a union affiliated and not a member those who voted should be offered a cheaper rate to join,

    The deselection idea by unite of those who vote against a potential Jeremy whip,should be put on hold it’ll lead to another SDP

    If any candidate wins and is 25% behind in the polls 2 and3/4 years from now they should resign

  3. Robert says:

    Lets hope labour can now get on with starting to look like labour, the problem is the Chilcott report will soon come out and we have a few other reports which will see labour dragged through the mud and rightly so.

    We need another clear out of the right wing nuts jobs who think labour cannot return to the left.

    I think thought we have not seen the end of Blair and his lackeys.

    1. john says:

      look like labour again, so you mean tory landslides destroying the country, and.. us ripping ourselves apart

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