The Labour purge backlash could destroy the party

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” This saying, attributed to the United States' third president, Thomas Jefferson, rests uneasily on the ears of all who call themselves democrats. Yet in times of crisis, like those currently lived by the Labour party, it bears the ring of authenticity. Supporters of the different leadership candidates have succumbed to a mob mentality in their blunt and unrelenting attacks on one another. Hundreds of thousands of newcomers have joined the fray seeking to push the party into new and uncharted territory.


There is a new platitude floating around British politics: a leftwing Labour party is unelectable

This misunderstands the nature of politics. The assumption here has to be that the electorate has become inherently right-wing and will remain that way. We are at 'the end of history' as Fukuyama might say. Well, leaving aside the political successes of Syriza, Podemos and the SNP, politics simply does not work that way.


To AV or not to AV

This Labour leadership contest should sound the death-knell for the alternative vote (AV). A system that was ostensibly designed to allow the party to elect its “least bad” choice has instead led to a hopelessly complex situation in which ‘Anyone But Corbyn’ voters are relying on guesswork and dodgy data in order to come to their decisions. 


Whoever becomes Labour’s next leader, the losers must be told: this is your party too

Labour’s endless leadership election has badly damaged the party.  Whoever is ultimately elected leader, one of their first challenges will be to unite a party only recently rejected en masse by the electorate. To take the fight to the Tories and to stand any chance of winning the next General Election, those who backed a losing candidate must be told: this is your party too.

Whatever the faults of Labour’s new electoral system, its rules were agreed some time ago and it was supported by loud voices across the Labour Movement. Therefore, any talk of “halting” the leadership election at this point should be dismissed for the hogwash that it is. Serious questions will have to be asked about whether “supporters” should really have as big a say as “members” in deciding who leads Labour, but that is for another day.

Nonetheless, the system we have is not going to change at this point and, whichever way the outcome goes, nearly half of the selectorate will be bitterly disappointed. The great swelling of Labour’s support since the General Election must now be built on by whoever leads Labour. Which is why I was so disturbed when someone added me to the below Facebook group a couple of night ago.

 

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I have edited out the names of those involved and the conversations that took place because, to be honest, they would probably do a lot of damage to the participants if shared more widely. Now, the fundamental point that Labour MPs shouldn’t be mounting a coup against any leader – particularly one recently elected – is fair. But that hasn’t even happened yet, has it? So groups like this simply appear like pre-emptive, divisive witch hunts.

I don’t know why I was added to the group in the first place. I’m not backing Jeremy Corbyn and I find groups like this somewhat sinister. As soon as I was added to the group and saw what it was, I posted to suggest that it was a bad idea. This meant that I was immediately set upon in several comments for being “undemocratic”, “anti-Corbyn” and of course, “a Tory.”

Even more strangely, I was immediately made an admin. Laughably, this enabled me to add dozens of moderate members I know of to try and get the founders of the group to see sense. After a wave of condemnation from people explaining that this group was divisive, and hardly the right way to safeguard Labour Party democracy, it was taken down.

You may think that this is all rather trivial. I don’t. I don’t happen to think talk of Labour MPs forming a “resistance” group if Jeremy Corbyn is elected gives off the right message either. Perhaps you have been inspired by this leadership election. Well, good for you. But from the conversations I have had with passive observers outside of politics, the whole unedifying spectacle has merely served to push us further away from electability. And further away from helping the people who need us.

Those who support or are members of the Labour Party must remember we are the people who believe that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. If, when the next Labour leader is announced, we do not heal as a movement, I guarantee you that we will fail as individuals.

So, please, whoever you are backing to be Labour’s next leader: remember who the real enemies are. And let’s beat them.

 

Sam Stopp is a Labour councillor for Wembley Central, a Young Fabian member and Chair of 'The Labour Campaign To End Homelessness'.

Sam is writing in personal capacity, and views are not representative of the organisation.


In the midst of the chaos

As soon as Ed Miliband stood down, I warned against the party having a long leadership contest. Fearing it would result in a lengthy period of boring platitudes without much of value being said, leaving the public disinterested in us while the Tories were able to set the agenda. More than that, I feared that social media would allow bad blood to fester between Labour’s camps, with not only rank-and-file members but MPs and grandees able to air their discontent in public. Sadly I feel I have been more than vindicated. 


Forget Jeremy, we need to talk about Blair

This Labour leadership contest has been one of competing nostalgias. It has been easy and lazy to dismiss both Corbyn as some kind of mid 80s ‘Bennite’ whilst Kendall can be labelled as a post-Blairite closet Tory. Apart from focussing more on the party’s past than on its future it highlights the key failures of both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband as leaders of the Labour Party: neither have dealt with the legacy of Tony Blair.


The long read – a coffee with Kellner

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 tests to unleash the aspirational offer

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. 


Playing the long game

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.


The big three words: communicating economic competence

"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.


What is the path of renewal

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.


Can Labour re-emerge from the Scottish mist?

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.


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