Jon Cruddas today sounds a stark warning about the health of the “mainstream left” across the West as a Labour “unity project” gathers to debate how the party can return to government.
Cruddas, a leading Labour thinker who previously worked to bring Tony Blair closer to the trade unions, will lead a conference in Westminster which aims to tackle the “trouble” facing the left.
The event, hosted by Labour Together, which he chairs, will feature Maurice Glasman as well as a series of current and former frontbenchers including Lisa Nandy, Rachel Reeves, Jonathan Reynolds, Steve Reed, as well as Sharon Taylor, the leader of Stevenage council, and Tom Kibasi, director of the IPPR. It has been organised with the Fabian Society.
Labour Together is one of several left-wing projects which were set up in the aftermath of the party’s crushing general election defeat last year. It was conceived as a way to bring together MPs, councillors and activists from across the spectrum of the left and its event today comes fewer than 24 hours after the re-launch of the parliamentary Tribune group last night.
Cruddas said Labour Together’s event was designed to support the “renewal” of the party.
“The mainstream Left is in trouble across the West. We have to rediscover a sense of energy and purpose. Labour Together wants to help in that task by pulling together members and MPs, people from our affiliated organisations and think tanks, academics and commentators to help reshape the future direction of the Left.”
MPs from across the party have used the last year to examine how technological change and shifts in working patterns, such as the rise of the “gig economy”, will affect society, public service needs and the challenges facing Labour communities. At the same time the vote for Brexit stunned many Labour activists and indicated a further fracturing of the core vote.
Nandy, a former shadow energy secretary, said Britain faces “huge” economic and social challenges over the next decade.
“Brexit, an ageing population and the transformation in technology will all have profound impacts on people’s lives. Labour must be at the forefront of responding to these changes if we’re to be relevant and give a voice to the millions of people who see that the current system is broken. Britain is at a crossroads and Labour must focus relentlessly on the future.”
Reed said: “Political parties only succeed if voters believe they are in touch with their lives and can help them face the challenges of the future. Labour’s been moving away from the voters for some time in a process that is accelerating. Labour Together is bringing all wings of our party together to find out how we reconnect with the people of this country because if we don’t we will never win power again and Britain will be condemned to Tory rule for a generation.”