Owen Jones has been worrying. Worrying about the future of Labour. It doesn’t seem that there’s a way out of this ever growing cesspit of hatred and division for the party and Mr Jones wants answers from Corbynistas and the Left on how we will solve this. Of course, there are no easy fixes and anyone who has been involved with the Left in this country will know that consensus is a struggle at the best of times.
Owen outlined nine questions which must be answered. Concisely (as we are living in Generation Twitter), I am going to give my perspective:
1. How do we turn around disastrous polling?
No simple answer on this. I’ve been speaking to people all week on the streets for Momentum and many have told me they don’t even know who Corbyn is. They turned off after Blair and Brown. However, of those set against him, many highlight the fact his party cannot stand him. If Corbyn wins this leadership battle then anyone who is not willing to fully support him must be deselected. No one will vote for a divided party.
2. What’s the vision?
Well, we know he’s anti-austerity, anti-Trident etc but Owen says that the message is not clear enough. Plans on a new Green economy should be outlined with the promise of actual stable work for the disaffected who have switched to UKIP and indeed other parties. If people feel they have the hope of jobs in a new, revitalising industry then they may just sit up and listen.
3. The policies are the same as the last election.
Well, some are and some aren’t. It has been near impossible to change policy or talk about what the membership want with that pesky PLP on his back. See point one on tackling this issue.
4. What’s the media strategy?
I agree with Owen here. Something needs to change. He needs help here. Someone to bash off the criticism and vitriol for the mainstream press outlets.
5. How does he win the over 44’s?
My instinct would be to say that he must talk more about pensions and how the state will provide and make corporate forces pay their way. Make an example of Philip Green. He is now loathed even by his fans on the right. Force him to pay up and sort out the BHS pensions or call for a jail sentence and recovery of monies from his personal wealth. Furthermore, perhaps there needs to be a rethink on Inheritance Tax. A huge issue for the over 44’s.
6. How does he win over Scotland?
Scotland is lost. There is no way he can work a miracle of getting the electorate back over the border. If he could encourage the party to support independence, he may win back some support.
7 and 8. How does he win over Conservative supporters and how does he tackle fears over immigration?
The big problem for anyone on the Left. Answers on a blog post please.
9. How do Labour mobilise the new joiners?
Labour need to get more involved in grassroots change. Whether that be saving the local hospital, campaigning against academies or just getting a zebra crossing up and running nearby. For me, that’s the key. Get people locked in locally and show them how effective you can be. Labour have become a centralised machine-driven entity. Let’s get the party back on the streets.
In conclusion, I think there are three ways forward for Labour:
1. Change party policy to support a PR electoral system. First Past the Post is never going to return a Labour government in the near (or perhaps distant) future.
2. Adopt Clive Lewis’ plan for an electoral alliance with the Greens, SNP etc until this is a reality. After that, PR would take care of a rainbow parliament and progressive coalition politics.
3. Get the party out of the council chambers and back on the streets talking about local issues and listening once more. People feel they cannot connect with the current Labour machine.
These, of course, are just my feelings and ideas. Let’s hear yours. Let’s have a debate.