As the Young Fabians embark upon a wide-ranging project to set out our view on the Future of the Labour Party, Jessica Toale talked to Peter Kellner about the General Election, the future of the Labour Party and the imperative young people have to bring a fresh perspective to politics…
The election result was categorical from the voters and harsh to the Labour party. Hate the Tories, as we do, there is no denying that David Cameron and George Osborne received two million more votes than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The latter even lost his seat. Miliband resigned from the leadership.
One of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who is called The Long Game. In it, the Doctor unveils a centuries-long plot by the Daleks to conquer Earth. The villainous pepperpot robots are discovered lurking on the edge of the solar system, patiently awaiting the perfect time to strike. When the attack comes, it is sudden and overwhelming. Earth doesn’t stand a chance.
"Let there be no doubt – May's election results were nothing but devastating. But out of such a low point, there is no alternative other than to keep our heads high. We must re-build and re-organise so we can look towards 2020 and win.
It was with this objective in mind that the Young Fabians hosted an event in Parliament last month on "the Path to Renewal". The event provided a space for members and guests – including Diane Abbott and Wes Streeting – to give their views on what went wrong, and what to do next.
On 18 June 2015, the Young Fabians hosted ‘What is the path to renewal?’ in the House of Commons to discuss the future of the Labour Party. The member-led discussion sought to be broad and inclusive by drawing on the views and experiences of ordinary members.
The fall of the Scottish Labour Party has been well documented as of late, especially by the right wing press, and the post-mortem has begun. Much soul searching is required if Labour is regain its presence north of Hadrian’s Wall, and the party may well have to evaluate some harsh realities.
It was not a perfect day.
On June 20th, I joined an ambiguous but nevertheless large amount of people who marched against austerity from the City to Parliament Square. I wish I didn’t have to. I voted to oust the Tories on May 7th in the only credible way to do so; by voting Labour. The protesters in this crowd, however, probably did not. They were from the SWP, TUSC, the Greens, Communists, Left Unity. It sometimes makes me wonder whether the left, or at the very least leftist puritans, enjoy being in opposition because they enjoy the outrage and opportunities to stage protests. The protest for me wasn’t a fun day out, it was a legitimate grievance of my fears and anxieties of, having grown up under the Tory-led coalition would now spend my early twenties under a Tory majority. I am anxious. Anxious because my future feels utterly bleak. It was not a trendy or fashionable day out, it was an expression of that fear. For some attending it was possibly the same, but I was as angry at the people who had pitted my future on voting TUSC or Left Unity at this protest as I was at the Tories overlooking us from their Whitehall offices.
On October 20 2012 I took part in an anti-austerity march through central London. I trudged down police-lined streets with comrades from my student days under a gunmetal grey sky, every now and then belting out the lung-busting chant: “David Cameron! Get out! We know what you’re all about! Cuts, job losses, more money for the bosses!”
More than any other event in the political calendar to 2020 the promised EU referendum has the potential to drive a wedge between the Labour Party and its voters in the deindustrialised areas of Northern England. Just as the Party suffered in Scotland from its association with the Conservatives and the wider establishment in the Better Together campaign, it may soon find itself campaigning alongside its political rivals in the battle to keep the UK inside the EU.
Amidst the wreckage of an overwhelming electoral defeat, there is one point of light to inspire Labour activists in the months to come: the chance to shape the party. The Labour movement is just that – a movement, driven onwards by thousands of people from across the country, north and south, rich and poor, young and old. We are the movers. The party’s future direction is ours to define.
On 7 May Labour faced an evening of disbelief and a night of saddened realisation. As a party we are now finding the strength to reassess, learn and rebuild. At the forefront of that process is the election a new leader.
“It is not seemly for you to mourn, it is not seemly for you to delay. You have received a legacy soaked in the heart’s blood of your brothers. The pregnant deed waits for you.”