Sunday, December 20, 2015

Quote of the day Sunday 20th December 2015

"With potential candidates from Alan Milburn to Alan Johnson no longer in the frame, and David Miliband beaten by his brother, the party was left in the hands of Ed Miliband. His time as Labour leader was more destructive to the Labour party than any that had gone before.

"It is one of the quirks of political parties that they often elect hopelessly weak leaders because they appear to share their values. It was obvious that the main task was to restore economic credibility but instead Labour became more incredible. There was a need for fresh thinking on health, education and crime but little happened. Labour under first Brown, then Miliband and now Corbyn showed almost no interest in education – the engine of opportunity, equality and life chances. And Miliband paved the way organisationally (through his potty new electoral system) and tactically (by making people believe that posturing rather than serious policy is the answer) for the Corbyn regime.

"Corbyn is heir to Miliband. It was Miliband who made it acceptable for Labour to rubbish its own achievements and treat winning elections as unprincipled. By denouncing the New Labour government of which he had been part, Miliband signalled to the electorate not that he was his own man but that he was no man at all.

"Let’s be clear – there is a perfectly valid and viable political party that is left wing, union based, led by someone such as Corbyn and appealing to a mix of metropolitan elites, students and some trade unionists. With a charismatic leader and clever politics (two things currently missing), and relying on tribal Labour loyalty that remains in parts of the country, this approach could gain the support of 15% to 20% of the public and possibly, with the infrastructure, money and backing of the big trade unions, up to 25% to 28% of the vote. Let’s not forget Michael Foot’s Labour party got 27.6% of the vote in 1983. But this is a party that will never be in power. There is some support in the country for pacifism, republicanism and anti-capitalism but there isn’t enough to win an election. Labour’s role has become, like that of Ukip, to put certain issues higher up the agenda. Labour is currently, and for the foreseeable future, the Ukip of the left."

(Peter Hyman, in an article on the Guardian site with the title "This is an existential moment in Labour's history. It may not survive. And it may never win power again.")

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