THE BEATING HEART OF LABOUR

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by Natasha Senior

For the conservatives, the civil war waging within Labour is extremely fortuitous. Their borderline majority in the House of Commons was nothing to celebrate especially as they fully inherited the fractured Britain that they’d created in their last government and now the party itself is even starting to buckle under the pressure of growing Euroscepticism. Instead of capitalising on this unrest by raising up arms against them, the left-wing are too distracted by the arms they’ve raised against each other.

In the meantime the Tories have been getting away with murder. We don’t bat an eyelid as they rebrand the living wage, cut tax credits, and extend plans for fracking. This metaphorical war is starting to have very real consequences and if Labour cannot unite beyond the leadership election then without a strong opposition, these sinister policies will grow in size and intensify.

The centrist flanks of the party obsess only over economic credibility, but not an alternative plan.

The conservatives are master tacticians; they dictated the terms of the election by focusing solely on a single issue: reducing the deficit as a means of economic recovery. Armed with this goal, every public sector cut, pro-privatisation measure, and benefit sanction was given a rational purpose. And now, anything that Labour do to go against these moves will be perceived as a lack of commitment to economic recovery. The only way they can force the Tories to loosen their grip on the electorate is if they develop a credible alternative to deficit reduction itself, only once this is established can an anti-austerity message gain mainstream traction.

(David Cameron © Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The centrist flanks of the party obsess only over economic credibility, but not an alternative plan. Whilst the left seek to push the rhetoric away from the economy all together and instead focus on social justice. Both approaches need to work in tandem with each other if Labour is to build the strong opposition that Britain needs. But rather than acknowledge this, both sides have locked horns and as they do so, the headlines become ever more dominated by the bitter in-fighting within Labour — sweet music to Tory ears.

Only Jeremy Corbyn seems to offer the powerful message that they feel has been lacking for so long.

For those who have felt abandoned by Labour for years, all this talk of credibility and electability is dull and uninspiring. Only Jeremy Corbyn seems to offer the powerful message that they feel has been lacking for so long. However, his economic strategy only hints at the bare bones of a solution.  It adopts the cornerstones of traditional Labour policy: increased taxation, renationalisation, and public spending — however it does so carelessly.

(Jeremy Corbyn © Independent)

A relaxed attitude to borrowing, whilst vilifying the rich and alienating business is not tantamount to an economically credible plan, it is purely ideological and preaches only to the converted. His stance on many issues is hard-lined, uncompromising and divisive, and the caustic language of his supporters further divides Labour. Corbyn does say he wants to reunite the party, but does so through demanding their loyalty—suggesting that it is only democratic to support the wish of the people—despite having never given his loyalty to those democratically elected before him.

it is a mistake to think that adopting an ideology which champions social justice is the same as championing social justice itself, especially if it is done so at the expense of electability

Some even go as far martyrdom and say that they would rather have a leader true to their ideals than one who can win. It is a romantic idea to uphold principles above everything else, even if it means we lose.  But history will not be so kind as to applaud our noble behaviour and what we stand for will not be remembered. And it is a mistake to think that adopting an ideology which champions social justice is the same as championing social justice itself, especially if it is done so at the expense of electability. To willingly condemn the most vulnerable members of our population to the fate of the Tories, no matter how honourable our reasons, is every bit as ideologically driven as the austerity measures we want to oppose. Ultimately, blindly following ideology is dangerous and can sometimes go against the very foundations it’s built upon.

Bitter division within Labour will only help the Tories get away with their most punitive measures; a strong united front is what is needed. We need to capitalise on the revived left-wing fervour that is required to advance social justice. We also need to be able to deliver the economic alternative that the electorate are screaming for. Andy Burnham has shown time and time again that he is willing to do this.

To paint him with the same brush Westminster elite is reactionary and ill-judged; he has done nothing to deserve it.

Recently he paid homage to all the good policies that have come out of the leadership debate and especially welcomed the Corbyn surge. To paint him with the same brush Westminster elite is reactionary and ill-judged; he has done nothing to deserve it. He shares the same vision as Corbyn of renationalisation, establishment of a real minimum wage and abolishment of tuition fees, but he also commands respect from all corners of the party and has a credible economic plan that is not ideologically driven.

(Andy Burnham © Lynne Cameron/PA)

As war wages between the idealists and the power-hungry, there is a desolate void between them once occupied by Labour moderates. It is this ground that provides the key to Labour’s future. Andy Burnham is the only candidate brave enough to wander this no-man’s land. “Our challenge is not to go left or right, to focus on one part of the country above another, but to rediscover the beating heart of Labour”.

This heart is not the political pillars of socialism or the visions of Karl Marx. Nor is it electability or what the newspapers dictate. Labour’s heart beats for every student who worries about their debt, for every mother struggling to make ends meet, for every nurse working ever harsher hours, for every employee who doesn’t know when they’ll next get paid; it beats for the climate, it beats for international aid, it beats for the NHS, minimum wage and the welfare state.

Labour does not answer to the communist manifesto or to divisive Tory economic policies. Labour only answers to the people of Britain and it is with them you find our beating heart.

One thought on “THE BEATING HEART OF LABOUR

  1. I do agree with much of this, however, I struggle in your view of Andy Burnham, he changes his policies ( so presumably his principles) too easily. I am one of the vulnerable of which you speak and I would take principles over election into a corrupt parliament.

    Like

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