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The Beckett report won’t help the 4.5%ers ’til they explain their own crushing defeat

Margaret BeckettIt’s unusual for a dull, internal party report to become a cause celebre, but these are unusual times. For the last week comrades who follow Progress and Labour First folk may have found them talking an awful lot about the Beckett Report. There’s even a petition about it. Commissioned to find out to explain why Labour lost the general election, it’s become something of a totem because, against the spirit of “straight talking, honest politics“, there is the suggestion Jeremy’s office has sat on it since November. The supposition is it will confirm the view that elections are won from the centre, not the left.

Anyway, save it being leaked to me, it’s all set to be published today and the BBC have had a preview. There are no rabbits out of the hat. Margaret has concluded that the party didn’t defend its record in government, and gave the Tories a free pass to pin the global economic crash on us. We didn’t connect on what the electorate – rightly or wrongly – regard as hot button issues, particularly immigration and social security. Nor, quelle surprise, was the Milibae viewed as up to the job. And to top it off the Tory scaremongering around a Labour/SNP coalition proper buggered us up. This is the thanks Labour got for saving the union.

This we all know. Even if your sole news source was my blogs, you might have caught my moans about fear and lack of policy coherence. And as sure as night follows day, the Beckett Report will be used to browbeat the left about the sort of political approach our party needs if it is to win in 2020.

The problem is not that Jeremy’s supporters aren’t interested in forming a government. Positioning for narcissistic reasons is, thankfully, a niche pursuit. Rather, they want a government based on “proper” Labour values. Defenders of Labour’s record in government can make a case that this is exactly what we got during our 13 years in office, but others might point out the record of privatisation, the benefit-bashing, the pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment, the blind-eye to the consequences of globalisation, and so on. If that wasn’t enough, from this point of view you can conclude that whatever one thought of Ed Miliband’s approach, on these issues the established line was barely deviated from, if at all. As far as Jeremy supporters go, two elections have been fought and lost on the tried-and-trusted, and been found wanting. Time to give something new a go.

If the centre and the right want its hegemony back, they have to think a bit more creatively about its response and use of Margaret’s conclusions, but I’m not holding my breath. For one, going by the mountain of comment, it hasn’t even yet faced up to why the “sensible” leadership candidates were crushed by the Jeremy juggernaut, nor even asked why many Labour Party members find Labour’s record in government less-than-inspiring. Until they can arrive at answers and employ them to inform their internal strategy for re-winning the party, signs of their coming back are set to be few and far between.

15 Comments

  1. John P Reid says:

    The beckett report isn’t about helping the 4.5% ers, it’s about, why the public felt we weren’t trained on the economy, Austerity, immigration and Europe or defence, the reason being the public felt a more right wing party the Tories were.

  2. John P Reid says:

    You imply the right of the party ant it back,after MAYthe 7th,that Ed was on the right of the party, funny I recall the CLPD giving Ed miliband their second choice after Diane Abbott, Ed miliband has sent hours coming out with anti right of the party/New labour quotes,

  3. Mick Hall says:

    Does she even mention opinion polls, which allowed the tories and its tame media to scaremonger over a coalition with the SNP (which it turned out was never on the cards)

    Published opinion polls should be banned during the three weeks of election campaign. They set the media agenda time and again in 2015. If you believe the polls got it wrong due to a mistake, I would just add this, funny how much their mistake chimed with Crosby’s advice to Cameron.

  4. Madasafish says:

    As far as I see it – and Ms Beckett did as well, Labour was untrusted on economics and immigration.

    So they elect a new Leader whose policies are indistinguishable or further Left than Ed’s and whose Shadow Chancellor makes Ed Balls appear very competent.

    Labour really are working hard at this job of losing elections… and they are succeeding.

    If Ms Beckett is correct on economic competence – and I believe she is – Labour have little chance in 2020 .. (barring a Global collapse of course – which will be bad news for everyone).

    1. Sue says:

      Labour was “not trusted on the economy” because that was the sound bite put into people’s heads u Tories and media and labour did not contest it! I watched parliament for hours waiting for a labour front bencher to call the Tories out on the lie. It didn’t happen. Corbyn and the excellent John McDonnell are now countering that claim. Socialist polices will win the arguments and the election in the end.

  5. David Pavett says:

    Based on past performance I was not expecting much from the Beckett report. Even so I was surprised by its superficiality. How on earth did this take months to write? Given that all the data was already known we might have expected some serious effort of analysis but there is none.

    Whole swathes of Labour policy e.g. on education go without mention. Labour offered only modifications of the system set up by Gove. It didn’t even have the courage to promise to end selection at eleven. It looked the other way when either the socially divisive expansion of faith schools was mentioned. What was there to inspire in any of this?

    The same can be said of other policy areas. None of this enters the frame of discussion of the election defeat.

    The only area to get a mention is Labour’s struggle to claim economic competence. This is discussed without ever mentioning the name of Ed Balls or considering his dismal record.

    I have just read it quickly but my first impression is that the Report is a waste of time. Its looking forward section is full of waffle e.g. “Our policy making – while dealing with the day to day – must be focussed on the likely conditions of Britain in the 2020s” and even more anodyne stuff. I printed it out so that I could read it carefully. Not a good use of paper.

  6. Sue says:

    I hope we can soon forget re the report. I’d have preferred it not to be published. Not to cover anything up but because I feel that Labour is now being remade! Corbyn has changed the game totally. Nothing from prior is relevant. All that double talk (trying not to say the wrong thing for the media whilst trying to hint at the right thing for the people etc) is going. Policies, socialist policies, are being formed. People are flocking to join the party and almost dead local wards have been reinvigorated. I dont care why we lost in 2015 and I am certain we can now win in 2020!

    1. John P Reid says:

      Nothing from prior is relevant, we’re still blaming the state of the a Country on Thatcher,and the past may not be iletanttothe current Labour Party,but,the rest of the country isn’t playing by that game

      1. Sue says:

        Maybe you misunderstood me John? Socialist policies, a socialist shadow chancellor, a socialist leader, a shift towards greater democracy in the party, hundreds of thousands of new and enthusiastic socialist members prepared to work hard for a Labour victory in 2020. We had none of that in 2015. So who cares why we lost in 2015? People could probably fill libraries with books about it ——- but those circumstances, what ever they were, wont be repeated in 2020.

        1. John P Reid says:

          no I understood you did we’ certain to win in 2020′ based on the latter examples you gave, even if there was hundreds of thousands of new members, I don’t think they’ll still be members in 4 years and.. Enthusiasm, well I haven’t seen them come out and do any canvassing for the London Mayor election, and even if they did, 200,000 new members who probably already voted labour in 2015′ won’t win us an election.

    2. David Pavett says:

      Inventing history from year zero does not have a good track record. The present is conditioned by the past and pretending otherwise means failing to understand that present and therefore how best to take the next steps.

  7. Bazza says:

    Yes middle class Miliband and his yuppie team were useless and Miliband couldn’t even handle a Tory business people ambush on the last TV debate when any left wing democratic socialist would have slaughtered them!
    And the Labour yuppies never addressed the reasons for the financial crisis and putting the blame on banks whilst again some of us were smashing the Tories on this on social media.
    The Tories only got 25% of the electorate whilst the biggest group was the 14m of non voters who we should appeal to as well as those who stuck with us.
    We should also try to politicise Green, Tory & Lib Dem voters and in Scotland the social democratic SNP.
    JC is refreshing because he stands for what he belives in and wants to empower grassroots members plus working class/working people including the progressive middle class.
    I am getting sick of these social democratic Labour MPs on £80k doing well out of working class people/working people and we all deserve better.
    It is high time they respected JC’s majority given to him by the grassroots because of ideas – the bourgeois social democrats are devoid of ideas which is why they resort to manoeuvring so brothers and sisters we need to organise and back left wing democratic socialists. Solidarity!

    1. Sue says:

      Hear hear!

  8. Danny Speight says:

    I wonder if a correlation could be found between the general electorate’s lack of support for the New Labour PLP in May and the Labour electorate’s lack of support for Kendall, Burnham and Cooper in September. Probably 90% of the PLP would prefer not find an answer to that question.

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