If the leadership contest becomes a “Blairite, Brownite, New Labour, Old Labour” slanging match, we’ll learn nothing. And we’ll all lose


It’s only forty eight hours from Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader and the level of nonsense being talked about the Labour Party is already reaching industrial proportions. Plenty of people, it seems, are wise after the fact. Plenty of people, it seems, believe that if only the Labour Party had done what they privately thought then everything would have been fine.

Political hindsight is a remarkable thing.

Those of us who had believed there was a realistic chance of Miliband being Prime Minister this weekend (AKA, most of the Labour Party) need to be far more circumspect than to give – or accept – glib, swift, “politician answers” to the complex, long-term and difficult questions about how and why Labour was so comprehensively rejected.

Such a debate can’t be hurried. And such a debate needs to take place in the world as it really exists, not the narrow simplistic frames that the Labour Party and the media often wish to force people through for ease of explanation. So I couldn’t care less about post-hoc “Ed Miliband shouldn’t have rejected New Labour” entreaties from those who at times seem inclined to defend New Labour rather than build something else – the nostalgic modernisers. And I also have no truck with those who are so wedded to what Miliband built, that they’ll defend it to the hilt even when it’s sunk at the bottom of the political ocean.

I want a no-holds barred, no bullshit, straight-talking debate, in which no-one claims to have all of the answers and everyone accepts the shortcomings of *everything* that has come before.


So lets get one thing clear. If this leadership election is conducted through the language of “Blairite, Brownite, Old Labour, New Labour” – then we will learn absolutely nothing and we’ll miss our chance to learn from our mistakes. And we’ll probably be doomed to lose an already tough looking 2020 election before 2015 is done and dusted.

Because I don’t care what labels are going to be applied to the candidates who are already emerging for the Labour leadership. I’m not interested in whether someone was once perceived as being in the Blair camp or the Brown camp. I’m not interested in someone’s view back in 1994 on the decision to rewrite Clause IV. I couldn’t care less who people voted for in the last leadership contest. And I’m fundamentally disinterested in glib answers trotted out on Sunday that were mute on Thursday at 9.59pm.

And here’s the kicker – the public don’t give a toss about any of this either.

The candidate I’ll end up voting for will be the one that understands the sheer scale of the long road back from where the party stands now, and gives us the best chance of getting back into power. Smart-alec solutions and tidy soundbites might win a leadership contest, but they won’t fix a broken party – because they are indicative of a belief that the answers are simple, when they may be very difficult indeed.

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