Nick Hopkins says in the light of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory there are five political challenges facing those who want to see Labour winning again, and it’s down to Practical Labour to meet them.
And so it’s over. The biggest act of self harm by a political party in British history is confirmed. Jeremy Corbyn, a clueless incompetent incapable of leading or uniting his party, utterly unsuited to the task of leading an opposition let alone a country, a man whose decency is much stated but little evidenced in his associations, has been re-elected. A Labour government now looks unlikely before 2030.
The 172, the majority of MSPs, AMs and councillors and the majority of long term members – let’s call us Practical Labour – need to think hard about our response.
I see no virtue in a split, with all the fratricidal hatred, worse even than the last few months, that that will cause. The result will just be the poisoning of the left, and the damaging destruction of any political rockets not able to escape into orbit.
Practical Labour have five political challenges now:
- to hold the Tories to account, wherever and whenever;
- to salvage what they can in council elections, by elections, and possibly in an early General Election;
- to think hard about our policy and politics;
- to bring about what change they can outside Government;
- and last but in some ways most importantly, to keep together, and bring others in.
The 172 will lead on the first task. Some will try to do that from the front benches, some from backbench committees, some from other platforms in the media. Whatever works for them. In doing so they achieve two things for party unity: they nail the lie that they are not prepared to fight the Tories and, in outshining Jeremy, they make clear that the future of the party lies with Practical Labour not Gesturing Labour.
The second task is for all of us, and easier in some ways – knuckling down to campaigning. No need for Practical Labour to split from Corbynista brethren here, just a focus on working hard side by side. Take one of your new colleagues campaigning and let them hear directly from the electorate how they feel about Jeremy. Show them that it’s polite conversations and shoe leather that wins elections, not, in the real world, bullshit memes.
Practical Labour needs to keep thinking. The task of the party remains what it always was, to make capitalism work so well for working people its results are indistinguishable from socialism. The data are on our side; the happiest societies are those with more equality, a strong welfare state and a vibrant market economy. Many of the brightest and best in the country are, broadly speaking, Practical Labour people, working across government, the voluntary sector, trade unions, business, the NHS and schools. Practical Labour need to organise, to tap into their resources, its thinkers engaging with this broader intellectual resource. And then we need to communicate, but with decent messages and readable publications.
Even in this darkest of hours, Practical Labour is not without power. We can pressure a Tory Government with a slim majority in Parliament and its committees, we can do our best in the teeth of Tory and SNP cuts in local government, in Wales and in London. And we can still make political weather with real results. There are cuts to local services to campaign against, the causes of places like Syria which need attention.
I think there are two other areas on which Practical Labour might focus particular attention and look to create popular movements; the crisis in social care, and the tackling of poverty. These are real moral causes, in areas where government cuts are driving quiet but deadly crises. The next Labour government will be nothing unless it can make progress on, and win the case for extra investment in, those areas. And they are areas in which as individuals and party members we can take personal action: getting informed, talking to and persuading our friends, continuing and extending our involvement on these issues within civil society, sharing our time and money.
Such movements would bind Practical Labour people together in a sense of shared achievement. Our people would be at the forefront, but open to folk from all parties and none joining in. The exclusion of Lib Dems and open minded Tories would be a mistake; the damage that will done in these areas by less open minded Tories over the next 10/15 years will take a generation to put right. That will require as clear a mandate for change as Blair achieved, and an even bigger cross party mandate for change on those issues. Shouting about Tory vermin will not achieve that. Hard thinking, thoughtful communication and getting our hands dirty side by side, just might.
And movements can bind together for negative as well as positive reasons, by defining themselves against other forces. All those who adhere to Practical Labour, whatever position they occupy, should be clear what they are against: a politics of posture, of platitudes, that does not deal in psephological or other evidence, and that does not have a strategy for winning at its heart.
Ceaseless criticism of our leader and his coterie now the election is done will not work, and too much of it will be toxic to the party. But standing up for Clause One Socialism, and being intellectually and morally honest about what is happening in the party and what the country needs, is necessary if the trickle of Practical Labour people to other political homes – or to no home at all – is not to become a flood. And if we don’t stick together, the chances of being in power to do what so desperately needs doing are gone for two generations, not one.
25 thoughts on “Time for Practical Labour”
“I’ve lost this is what I want….”
Duncan, I applaud your attempt to canvass views from all over the political spectrum but it might be better to bring the writing in-house.
With the exception of Jim and what you, yourself actually write its open season for anyone with an opinion and a 4th Year writing style.
I imagine your views are broadly similar to Nick’s and if you’d written it I’d still have disagreed, but at least it wouldn’t have come across as a petulant 15 year old; get some grown-ups writing about the issues facing the party now, not a petty greetin’ wean.
“PRACTICAL LABOUR”, what a heap of nonsense, you got tanked. Your little coup fell flat on its face, Corbyn ended up with a even bigger share of the vote than he did last year.
As for your ‘five political challenges’ here’s a starter for you, try not voting with the tories either at Westminster or Holyrood.
So the fight continues because you didn’t get the result you wanted. And England voted very differently than Scotland. But Better Together and respect the result eh?
I voted Labour in 1987, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2011.
But not 2015, because Ed Miliband’s leadership finally got me to the point where I could not stomach voting for a party that would defend workfare and the other Tory welfare “reforms”.
My constituency had been regarded as a safe Labour seat since WWII. After 2015, it was SNP.
I’d like you to consider this, Nick: why is it that a leader that makes me feel like I could vote Labour again in 2020, is to you “the greatest act of self-harm”? Why does so-called Practical Labour feel it would be so absolutely terrible if Corbyn convinced me to vote Labour again?
Blairites , Corbynistas , and now Practical Labour. Practicalicos? Not forgetting the Scottish Buttoneers.
Hi,If 3 months ago the 172 had no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn,is it possible for any of them to feel any different.
Jeremy Corbyn, a clueless incompetent incapable of leading or uniting his party, utterly unsuited to the task of leading an opposition let alone a country, a man whose decency is much stated but little evidenced in his associations, has been re-elected. A Labour government now looks unlikely before 2030.
So much for reconciliation then eh?
5 bullet points of meaningless unclear empty rhetoric.
” they nail the lie that they are not prepared to fight the Tories and, in outshining Jeremy, they make clear that the future of the party lies with Practical Labour not Gesturing Labour.”
How can they nail the “Lie” when all they do is abstain or vote with the Tories? How about writing a manifesto that doesn’t contain the same austerity commitments the same pledge to renew Trident the promise to keep tuition fees or the non commitment to abolish the House of Lords?
“The second task is for all of us, and easier in some ways – knuckling down to campaigning. No need for Practical Labour to split from Corbynista brethren here,”
FFS! “Practical Red Tory Labour” Don’t have the numbers to campaign against the Girl guides because the Labour ground roots membership supports Jeremy Corbyn and his Practical Social democratic ideology. Its a case of “Practical Red Tory Labour” No having any choice on the matter.
“The task of the party remains what it always was, to make capitalism work so well for working people its results are indistinguishable from socialism.”
Ah so in order to make “Labour capitalism” indistinguishable from socialism you first have to make it indistinguishable from Conservatism?
“Even in this darkest of hours, Practical Labour is not without power. We can pressure a Tory Government with a slim majority in Parliament and its committees”
You seem to be pressing them the hardest when you abstain relative to supporting their proposals.
And at this point I had to stop taking it in because it was making me ill.
This seems to be aimed specifically and very narrowly at the Red Tory demented and swivelled eyed Red Tory drone.
This is exactly why Jeremy needs to completely utterly and ruthlessly purge all of the Red Tory elements within the Labour party.
They aint ever going to stop stabbing him in the back or accept decent social democratic ideals and policy.
So now we have it – a new Clause 4 for the Labour Party…
“The task of the party is to make capitalism work so well for working people its results are indistinguishable from socialism.”
And I suppose the Conservatives will adopt as their raison d’etre…
“The task of the party is to make socialism work so well for wealthy people its results are indistinguishable from capitalism.”
Or how about the SNP?
“The task of the party is to make the United Kingdom work so well for the people of Scotland its results are indistinguishable from independence”….
Somehow I’m not convinced by this approach…
Well your first paragraph says it all.Vituperative. You do not want any real unity. Why bother? Let’s all keep on fighting… A few daft Momentum supporters can call for deselections. Puerile. Moderate Labour PLP can undermine the democratically elected leader. Puerile. You can write spiteful little tracts under the cover of being honest or Practical (now there is a new brand…surely no Corbyn supporters under this banner) You can help to esure unelectabilty by continuing with these sentiments and getting them online as quickly as possible. Why did Labour Hamen publish this?
Is this the way to begin repairing the party? “led by a clueless incompetent”. “Decency much stated but little evidences”. ” Unlikely to be elected before 2030.” thats going to rally people like your previous article writer, Gavin Yates, rally to the cause.
Another 14 years of Tory government. What will this country look like by then.
Doesn’t have to be. Independence has always been the only real alternative to Westminster perpetual Tory Government.
Everyone knew Corbyn was on track to win, but it’s still pretty depressing. Any realists can see he will get slaughtered at the next UK election if he hasn’t done the decent thing by then. A couple of hundred thousand hard leftists are an insignificant minority of the UK as a whole, the majority of whom see Corbyn as electoral poison.
Another 10-15 years of Tory rule on the way, maybe going down the road of a hard Brexit..
Oh well, Jeremy will be pleased with that at least.
What a joke. Perhaps if Labour had pushed for far more powers for Scotland, we would have a chance to escape the worst of it..
But Kezia will go on sacrificing Scottish interests, hoping for a chance to prop up UK labour at some point in the distant future. Totally scunnered with it.
He will only get slaughtered if his own PLP keep stabbing him in the back and promote the idea of no change from the present ideology.
The blue tories are in power with a 24% support of the electorate because right wing extremism is nothing but fringe cultist and unpopular. If it wasn’t for the FPTP system they would never be in power at all and it wont matter how they manipulate the constituency boundaries.
That’s what Red Tory Labour are trying to do. They are trying to fight for the same 24% of the electorate ignoring the other 76%!
And you wonder why you cant win?
Blair won on the back of a decade of right wing Tory Government on a litany of promises for change and alternative ideology which he failed to deliver and as a result lost over 4 million Labour voters in the process.
Corbyn is the labour leader people who voted for Blair wanted Blair to be. The man people expected Blair to be.
You want to be a fucking Tory then go join the Conservative party and be what you truly are.
Mike – It’s not about those on the margins.
Elections are won in the middle ground by moderate voters, and that’s who Tony Blair appealed to.
Corbyn’s history is just a turn-off for the average person in England, especially in this new nationalistic post-Brexit environment. The tabloids will have a field day with him in a general election campaign.
In recent polls, even Labour supporters don’t think he can win.
Blair might only be remembered for the Iraq blunder, but he knew how to get elected and could then deliver policies such as devolution and the minimum wage.
The average person knows Corbyn is unelectable including our Scottish leader, although she now has to pretend otherwise..
What’s the point wasting time? It’s frustrating.
“Mike – It’s not about those on the margins.
Elections are won in the middle ground by moderate voters, and that’s who Tony Blair appealed to.
That’s exactly what I just told you! Yes Tony Blair appealed to the moderate voters because he LIED TO THEM! He told us all he was a Social Democrat. John McTernan still claims he is. He told us he was going to deliver different ideals and policies from the previous 10 years of right wing neo conservative dogma but instead delivered more of the same!
That resulted in him losing over 4 million core Labour voters!
He had the chance to change the whole voting system he had a chance to abolish the House of Lords instead he took us to war kept PFI PPP moved forward the privatisation program taxed the UK to death and brought in Tuition fees. He kept Trident on the go by appealing for support from the Conservatives in 2007.
People didn’t vote for Blair they voted against Neo Conservatism. Or so they believed at the time. He only got 3 terms in office because nobody wanted to bring back the Conservative Tories. He won each consecutive election with a significant reduction in support each time.
His second election victory came with a 59% turn out down from 71% on the previous. He had already lost his appeal at that point!
Moderate voters stayed away rather than vote for any of the Tory parties.
He won his 3rd election with only 35.2%!
That’s not support from moderate voters! A drop of support from 43% to 35% between 1998 and 2005.
That’s a history to turn off anybody!
Blair wasn’t a winner he was a worthless lying piece of criminal filth who should be in prison not swanning around the world making millions.
Corbyns history is only a turn off to Tories!
The tabloids have a field day with anybody who even smells like a socialist or social democrat because they are all run and owned by Tories. Which would explain why more than half of them supported Blair. He still only got 43.2% of the vote at his peak!
The only so called Labour supports who say Corbyn cant win are Red Tory Labour.
The average person voted to keep Corbyn as the Labour leader and rejected the Red Tory candidate 2 to 1. It would have been far more if the Red Tory PLP hadn’t rigged the election to disenfranchise over three hundred thousand Labour party members.
Its not as if your deluded or self deceiving you’re deliberately bare face lying yer arse off.
I don’t se any reason for all the doom and gloom, we have and excellent leader in Kezia, she leads fearlessly from the front, says it as it is and connects with the Scottish people.
Gordon Brewer was really unfair to Kezia today, every politician is entitled to change their mind.
I am supremely confident that we have the best of both worlds with Kezia and Jeremy, Kezia will lead labour to victory in Scotland and Jeremy will sort out England and the tories.
Both Kezia and Jeremy need 100% loyalty, and deserting voices must be stamped on quickly, I am in favour of deselection of those who cause turmoil in the party.
Lastly I am in favour of maintaining the union above all else, if that means building an alliance wit the tories in the Scottish Parliament to defeat the SNP so be it.
The SNP will never take my British passport from me!
“The SNP will never take my British passport from me!”
I’m sure there will be many British Passport holders like you in an independent Scotland.
Good luck renewing it….. 🙂
“Gordon Brewer was really unfair to Kezia today, every politician is entitled to change their mind”
In that case, I’m sure you will agree that the SNP are quite within their rights to change their feelings on timescales between Indy Refs.
After all 2014 was two years ago. Dugdale changed her mind between voting for Owen Smith and talking to Victoria Derbyshire outside the hall after the result.
Its is understandable that over a period of time that people in general can change their minds over matters and issues, however the frequency and the short time spans in relation to Kezia numerous changes are over the top and does not show good leadership I am sorry to say its time for Kezia to resign and go.
You think he’s serious? I thought it was satire.
It wasn’t that subtle more like clickbaiting.
“Both Kezia and Jeremy need a 100% loyalty” , “I am in favour of deselection of those who cause turmoil in the party.
You do of course know she voted against Jeremy, and that means you will have to deselect Kezia herself.
And you wonder why labour are going the way of the dodo, and the lib-dems.
I get people saying they don’t like Jeremy and usually its because they say he’s of the far left. In fact he’s not. His policies are sensible. When you lay them out to people they agree with them. The problem he has is communication. That’s where the PLP should be helping. No point getting all dispondant and saying we can’t win. We weren’t winning before. We had Jim Murphy as leader in Scotland and took a hammering. We had Ed Milliband in charge at the last GE and only saved one swat in Scotland. We went with austerity lite and it didn’t convince anyone. So we have to pull together and instead of bashing him give him support. Constant criticism and MPs running to the press to undermine him will almost certainly make us lose. Something different had to be tried because the party was in free fall long before Corbyn.
BTW meant to say talk of reselection is not helping either. Local CLPs decide who they put up and we shouldn’t interfere.
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