By Emma Burnell
This post was first left as a comment on LabourList.
I’m not remotely ashamed of the British left or of Labour Party members. We are people who dedicate our time, energy, effort, intellect and shoe leather to the common cause of greater social justice. We believe the best political vehicle for justice is the Labour Party, and we dedicate ourselves to making it the best party possible.
And we are being let down. By the adoption of policies that are as destructive as they are electorally ignorant; by the posturing towards the right of politics for the gain of short lived headlines in the Daily Mail; by the cowardly behaviour of those whose sole job it is to report back to our NEC the feelings of the party but consistently refuse to do so in fear of the response; by those whose response they fear, who cannot understand the thinking and feelings of grassroots activists because they are not just not of them, but proudly so. We are being let down.
Well, this is my Labour Party too. I refuse to leave just because a few numpties can’t keep their schoolboy antics in check. I refuse to be drummed out and lose the chance of helping the party I love to re-find its way, and reconnect its roots to the future.
I’ve always been a believer in strong political leadership. I supported the changes to the party structure that allowed Labour to modernise, and I don’t want to return to the early 1980s.
But strong leadership is real leadership. Not following where the Daily Mail will take you and hoping enough tribal party members will support you come what may. Strong leadership is employing a strategist with an ounce of strategic thinking ability. One with a notion of positive politics and how to inspire. One who understands what people want, not just what they fear.
I don’t want to see the next Labour leader in hock to a party gone wild any more than I want to see my party dragged along by a leader who has lost touch with their party. There have to be better avenues of communication that don’t leave us constantly feeling like it’s “us and them”.
I’m not Militant and I never will be, I believe in democratic Socialism, and understand the necessity of compromise in party and in government I will happily work towards a compromise on the provision of public services, as long as they remain of excellent quality and free at the point of use. I’m not New Labour, I believe in democratic Socialism, and understand the necessity of internal debate and won’t acquiesce for media advantage on nuclear weapons, on Heathrow, on Inheritance Tax.
I know as a long term member of a political party that my list will differ from others. I think I have a case to make and I will continue to make it within the party. I will stand up and say “Enough” to those who are cheapening and making tawdry my party. As a democrat, I know sometimes I’ll win and sometimes I’ll lose. As a collectivist, I will accept when I do lose.
But I will fight these battles within the party I love, and when those fights are over, win or lose, I will deliver my leaflets, knock on doors and fight for the cause as a whole and for the majority of us who understand what we do it for.