Is it possible that the Blairite “New” Labour Progress (sic) faction conspired to make the Party lose the election on purpose? Is it possible that after over four years of wrecking Ed Miliband’s leadership they made a decision to let the elected leader have his head knowing that he would lose and they could swoop in with their placeman in the subsequent leadership election?
In opposition Labour made much of aping the Tories austerity agenda with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls constantly reminding everyone that there was no money to persue a programme to reverse the cuts, especially in local government. Hence we witnessed the grotesque spectacle of Labour Councils shutting down incredibly important programmes for our young people whilst decimating Adult Social Service provision for some of the most needy and vulnerable people in our society. Unfortunately these residents have no voice, and nothing to offer and that counts for everything in Town Hall politics.
On the NHS there were mixed messages. Some Labour MPs were prepared to be ahead of the curve and call the cuts what they are; a recipe for people to lose their lives. Others hung back to wait and see which way the career breeze was blowing preferring to say little of substance until they were sure it was a soft option and part of the mainstream narrative. Some were even ambivalent about the truly horrendous threat of TTIP.
But in the New Year things began to shift and I for one was delighted. I was proud to write dozens of press releases extolling policies that promoted a socialist message for our candidates. From rent controls, restoring local control of bus services, to a strong manifesto for devolved local government control of money and action to tackle domestic violence, day by day a story of an incoming Labour Government driven by people and not profit was being written. Granted it was far from perfect but it was a flipping good place to be starting from!
Thus, however confused the punters no end. Door knocking revealed that they didn’t get our message as one minute we were fir austerity and now we weren’t. The suspicion was that the SNP were bouncing us to the left. I never got this bit. Their record in local and national government is pro market and anti trade union but the myth stuck with the Tory press having a field day. Ed Miliband stepped up and had a strong campaign, finally espousing the policies we heard in the leadership race if 2010. But it was too little, too late. When you change so radically so near to polling day the public are bound to be suspicious. The four years of Tory Lite wiped out the few months of socialism. Now the message from the proto Blairites is we tried it your way….. Hence the tour of the newsrooms to push the anti Union, pro market bile.
So now we know the truth. Progress hated this programme with a vengeance. We should have guessed this when a Shadow Cabinet member told the media we were going to be tougher on Welfare than the Tories and then explicitly said Labour was not the Party for those who find themselves at the bottom of the pile. Now we hear that ex Ministers think the Unions are abusers within the Party and that we were saying the wrong things in our manifesto. We here the recycled garbage about aspiration which is thinly veiled code for dropping those in society who may not conform to what Progress think the UK public believe deserve help.
But actually the UK public are vastly anti Tory as the stats from the election show. 36% on a 66% turnout means it’s the system that is broken. This new Parliament is a gross distortion of the will of the public and has no moral authority. The Left has to articulate thus and mobilise to defend our residents from the coming Tory storm which we all know is on it’s way. IDS is chomping at the bit. Can Labour step up to the plate? It will take a monumental shift, a paradigm shift not seen since 1945.