In this Guest Post, Young Fabian member Christine Quigley takes issue with calls for “a leader of the Labour right”.
For ten minutes, we were all playing nice. Labour had elected a new leader, and Party Conference saw a swell of support for (not-quite-Red) Ed from all sections of the party. Most of us were just relieved that the long wait was over, and that we could begin the serious work of winning back the country from the Conservatives, rather than sniping at rival supporters over Twitter. For me at least, the Manchester conference this year embodied a feeling that we were all on the same side.
A feeling that lasted right up until I read Sion Simon’s blogpost yesterday about the need for a leader of the Labour Right.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Labour Right has a leader. His name’s Ed Miliband. He’s the same leader as everyone else in the party has.
Calls like Sion Simon’s do nothing but further foster factions within the party. Debate is good; division is not. We need only to look at Labour’s implosion into internal wrangling after the 1951 and 1979 election defeats to know how disastrous this sort of infighting can be. Just last week, some Conservatives were attempting to capitalise on disaffected David Miliband supporters by extending the warm hand of friendship (and an invitation to join the party). I have great faith in all those who supported the defeated leadership candidates to back our new leader; putting party over petty factionalism.
We have always been a party that accommodates different voices, and we are stronger for it. It’s crucial that important decisions and policy positions that we take up over the next few years are discussed and debated, to ensure that we’re getting them right. But the scattergun support picked up by the leadership candidates itself demonstrated how individuals can cross factional boundaries. Setting up a candidate to channel right-wing dissent isn’t helping anyone. (And really – Ed Balls?) We have to stop talking about right and left and start talking about what we all believe in; fairness, equality and justice.
So, whether you’re a unilateral-nuclear-disarmament, nationalise-it-all, dyed-in-the-wool red, or the palest pink ultra-Blairite, now is the time to redouble your support for Ed Miliband and the new Shadow Cabinet team. We won’t all agree on everything the party leadership does over the next four-and-a-half years, but we can agree on one thing; Britain is better under a Labour Government. That’s something we all need to fight for.