The Labour Troubles: An Odyssey Through Modern Times

“Hast thou, spirit,
  Perform'd to point the tempest that I bade thee?”
 – William Shakespeare ‘The Tempest’

And Ariel did make such a storm – enough of a thrash to crash Alonso and his crew’s ship unto the frightening shores of the uninhabited island – but as fate had it, they weren’t destined to be damned forever.

In 1979, the Iron Lady and her party achieved what was a landslide victory against a hard and unforgiving time for Britain. Subsequent reforms in fiscal and economic policy commenced to bring the kingdom out of economic recession. They would leave a scent on Britain’s schools, acts of punishment, taxation, unemployment, trade unions - water. And especially Britain’s mining industry with its effects still lingering today – all avidly controversial. These changes were to be known as Thatcherism. It was also during this time where Labour fought in confusion, teeth ready for the kill to anyone who thought different. Who did what to aid Labour’s fall were ferociously pointed at and fringe groups rose stronger than ever before, rattling saber for influence. One of these groups were Militant. With their roots nested deep in the 60’s, Militant Tendency became a stirring force in the Labour party during the 70’s and 80’s. Their call for the implementation of a Trotskyist-Marxist pulse into Labour was one that would come to alter the face of the party to its electorate for years to come. It subsequently gave confidence to the Avid Socialists and the Hard Left, harsh reactions to Conservative rule which angered more than many, not just the Militant. By the time of Thatcher’s ‘Community Charge’, Britain had taken enough of Conservative doctrine and revolted magnificently in what was to become a national riot, and in March of 1990 Britain had made its decision.
The Iron was smelted.
But who did it help? Labour was nowhere near ready to capitalize on the Thatcher defeat, infighting didn’t end yet. But by 1982 Tendency was already in decline. Their contravention in Clause II, Section 3 of Labour Party constitution by which groups containing their own ‘Programme, Principles and Policy for separate and distinctive propaganda’ ratified Militant deficient in affiliation. The following year five members of the Editorial Board for Militant’s paper were banished from the Labour Party. Disagreements of Hard Left policy and Labour policy continued to divide members under Neil Kinnock, following well into 1991 where the bubble sprained its first ankle. Militant tied MP’s were expelled from Labour, followers swept away and Militant entryism barred. The Tendency had changed identity, first to ‘Militant Labour’ and in 1997 ‘The Socialist Party’. Alas, the damage was pinned deeply. The party’s appearance to Britain was dusty, Militant and Hard Left leftovers were still lingering. In time, Labour pointed the party’s eyes to new dawns and disposed of the Hard Left rags that grew un-trustful to the outside electorate. Party squabbles were halted to show a competent Labour to the new electorate. The party changed dramatically in opposition to Major’s government beginning in the winter of 97. The Conservative Discontent. Labour gowned a new leader, fresh policies, a suit and a tie, and even a new name – New Labour. Eventually the party grabbed itself a new seat, one that settled as the helmet of Britain’s future for 13 years and helped improve the lives of many.

It’s so very important that the Labour party, whichever point they’re at, can pause infighting to look at themselves and think of why their fists are drawn so accurately. For all, Labour should, when it can, find balance with its keen differences and join together in turbulent times, to solve their issues orderly. It’s a hard thing to do, change comes gradually, but it must be done if Labour is to break the continuing chains of election disappointment – to see the light at the end of 2020’s tunnel. Labour shouldn’t be afraid to broaden its policy and thought, to open up and become a more inclusive party. Beyond Old tunes of reactionary times gone by. To open the doorway to new prospects and classes in the British Isles. It will seem the nightmares of Hard Leftism which distance Labour from their potential electorate, which many think, separates themselves from a Britain that will always be politically calmer by tradition. To not be roused so much with the trumpets of Marxist ideology, visions of the Cold War. Labour should try best to avoid the 70’s frightening past but take time to learn from its errors and history. From Ramsey MacDonald and the Old Fabians. Attlee, Kinnock to Gordon Brown. Through Thatcher defeats, Wilson mishaps and into the Cameron Era. To maybe learn from its enemies.
An Ode to the present day.

Alexander Buckley is a Young Fabians member

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