Jack Callaghan outlines the importance of a united Labour Party ahead of the next general election, in contrast to the drama of Conservative infighting of recent months.
With record polling leads of over 30%, the Labour Party are, in the words of Keir Starmer, “a government-in-waiting”. However, while the Conservative Party destroy their reputation with economic recklessness and infighting, Labour must not take their present lead for granted.
From the ‘left’ of the party to the ‘right’, Labour need now more than ever to unite under a platform of hope and progress. After 12 years of Tory mismanagement, the economy and the nation at large is on its last legs, with record NHS waiting times, sky-high mortgage rates, and an underfunded education system. This is why unity is so important within the Labour Party. A Labour government is no longer just a want, it is a necessity for large swathes of the public. It is a necessity for the disabled people and the pensioners who now have to pick whether to eat or heat their homes. It is a necessity for the families who now have to pay hundreds of pounds more per month on their mortgages. It is a necessity for the transgender people who are othered and used as political footballs under this failure of a Tory government. Disunited parties rarely win elections, and after 12 years of Conservative rule, a Labour government is needed now more than ever.
However, there are signs of hope for unity within the Labour Party. At Labour Conference, we saw a varied list of policies announced, from an increase in home ownership, to Great British Energy and the nationalisation of rail. These policy announcements were surprisingly varied, incorporating popular ideas from the left, moderate, and soft-left wings of the party in order to establish a hopeful yet sensible plan for our time in government. This is the platform that Labour need to mobilise and unify around; a plan with progressive approaches to economic and social issues, yet one that reappeals the party to voters in the Red Wall, who have seen first-hand a wave of Tory incompetence after the fall of the wall in the 2019 election.
It is also important for Labour politicians to remember who they are fighting for in Parliament. They aren’t fighting for ideological factions on either side. They are fighting for the cleaners, the nurses, the postal workers, the stay-at-home parents, the steel workers, the teachers, and everyone else who has suffered under this Tory government. Regardless of our allegiances or our ideologies, it is so vital to remember how Labour governments have helped the people of this great nation; the Attlee governments were responsible for the NHS, and, arguably, the first official form of the welfare state, while the Blair governments were responsible for the establishment of the minimum wage and the introduction of Sure Start programmes. This is a history of hope and progress which we must embrace, yet also acknowledge and learn from, if we want to achieve unity within our party.
The image of a united party, while the Conservative Party tear themselves apart over another leadership election, is an image which will only increase our lead in the polls and amongst the public. However, it is important that this unity is not a superficial one, and that all sides of the party extend the hand of friendship and solidarity across the ideological rift. After 12 years of Conservative infighting, the British public deserve and want a stable, strong government, and now is the time for the Labour Party to prove to them that we have the passion to unite for a shared goal. A shared goal to improve the lives of the British public. A shared goal to restore honesty and integrity to the government. And a shared goal to make the dream of a Labour government a reality.
As a party, we need to pledge ourselves to establishing a friendlier and more honest kind of politics. A kind of politics which prioritises and uplifts the public rather than treating them like fools, placing integrity over party politics, and ensuring that the public get a government that represents their interests. We should start as we wish to go on, making sure that we present a united front against the appalling actions of the Tory government. Returning to the words of Keir Starmer, we need to ensure that we are setting a good impression as “a government-in-waiting”, and that we are an honourable alternative to the nasty party who presently form our government. The key to this is unity within the Labour Party, or as suggested in the title of this piece, the cultivation of the Labour rose, without the thorns of infighting.
Jack Callaghan is an A-Level student from Hartlepool. They are interested in education, the environment, and socialist, working class politics.