Labour left finds unlikely guru.
In his latest piece in a series of articles that lay out the case against all the candidates for the Labour leadership, Hopi Sen, whilst setting out the case against Diane Abbot, seems to have taken on the unlikely mantle of political Guru to the Labour Left.
As he’s said at the beginning of each of these articles, he’s hoping to ruin any chance of future employment with the party. Perhaps he’s feeling a bit rebellious, I might send him a membership form for the LRC..
I don’t usually like reading anything from devout centrist types, that sets out to discuss the left of the Party, it tends to raise my blood pressure somewhat. But surprisingly Hopi has some pretty good pointers for us.
The next few years are a major opportunity for the Labour left.
Labour has just lost office thanks to a crisis in capitalism and the failure of the Labour centre-right to respond to that crisis it in an electorate pleasing way.
As a result, we have a government which will run an anti-public services, anti-social spending, anti-housing benefit and welfare agenda, while pursuing policies that will, at the very best, slow the decline in unemployment.
For the first time in a generation, the left could have a coherent intellectual and electoral argument. If the face of the left is Diane Abbott, that argument will be less likely to be taken seriously.
I find it hard to disagree with that. I think the left should be careful not to allow Diane to become our default mouthpiece once she loses the election, though Hopi go’s on to say pretty much the same thing of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, with which I don’t agree.
John is by far a more effective communicator, in fact I think the only reason Diane is on the ballot is because David Miliband was shit scared of sharing a platform with John! And rightly so, he would have embarrassed him on any number of issues, up and down the country for weeks on end.
I’m glad Hopi points out that this is an opportunity for the left-wing, in fact its nice to hear someone say it. Too many lefties seem to have got into a perpetual state of despair about the Labour Party, to an extent that a vital opportunity may be missed.
I especialy liked this last bit;
Instead they should focus on developing a new generation of strong voices for whom the chance to stridently oppose the government, challenge their own party to be more radical and win applause from party members will be attractive. Most of these won’t be in Westminster – they could be council leaders, or trade unionists, or simply fluent, passionate activists.
The challenge for the left isn’t winning this leadership election, it’s becoming strong enough to ensure that in conference, NEC and shadow cabinet, it’s people and ideas are taken seriously.
I would say that this wouldn’t just be a good thing for the left of the party, but for the whole. Regaining a more pluralistic type of politics is essential for the Labour Party, the only other option is a slip back to the top down, control freakery of the Blair years.
So I wonder. If the time really is now, and the above were used as a loose set of aims for the left over the next couple of years, how would we best start to get things moving at a grass-roots level? This will no doubt be the subject of numerous meetings in the coming months, but hey, if we don’t put the comments section to use for things like this, then whats the point in having it!?!