I’ve been a member of the party since I was 15 years old. I have stuck with it, as I have the sense to understand that it is when the left splinters that the right wins. I also know that it’s not about political parties winning and losing a giant chess game, but about the people the parties represent and the competing visions for Britain that our parties – at their best – represent.
I stuck with Labour in Government, through Iraq, through arms sales to Tanzania, through control orders and 90 day detention, through ID cards and being extremely relaxed about the rich” because I knew that on balance we were doing good. I was critical internally but loyal to the party, because i know that a civil war in the Labour Party will only hurt the people we are supposed to protect.
There are people int he party who differ from me. They do see the whole thing as a game, and there is definitely more than one opponent. They are playing games with the stability of the party, threatening war, rather than engaging in conversation. As Labour goes into a long process of policy making, they don’t want to stick around supporting the party through the result. They see how far we are from a General Election and, hooked on the adrenaline and testerone they overdosed on during first the election campaign and then the leadership, they can’t stop campaigning. They have decided to wage an addled permanent war with anyone who might make the Labour Party look vaguely different from the mould they set in 1994. They are also, to be charitable, scared. There are other kids playing with the toys they used to claim were theirs alone. They are worried about where they fit in a post New Labour future. Where once they were kings, now they are members.
Red Ed is – in reality – anything but. He’s a social democrat with some considered and nuanced positions on civil liberties that move the party beyond the Blair years, but he’s not Michael Foot. What Eed seems to be intent on doing, if having a conversation with the party, the unions, the Socialist Societies about how we develop a new raft of policy. He’ll get some of that wrong (and we’ll all disagree on exactly what he gets wrong, as we will all have our own ideas) but if he really listens to the whole party, he’ll also get a lot of it right.
The Milburnite Militant Faction will have to learn that their role is to be like the rest of us. Not better, not worse. We are here not to beat you but to converse, convince and hopefully convert you. Convert you back to being a democratic socialist who understands that
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. That it believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
Every time you lash out, you wound not the leader but the party. Every time you engage in constructive dialogue, you convince a few more people. Sometimes we will convince you. Sometimes you will convince us. But you will not convince me or anyone that your sniping and backbiting is done for the good of the Party and more importantly for the good a country cowering under the treat of horrendous Tory cuts.
The Party is at a good place in the polls. We are ready for a coherent policy process alongside a demonstrable fightback against this coalition. We have a leader and we aren’t going to have another contest anytime soon. Do you want Labour to win the next election? If so, and if you really think we’re going so badly wrong, get into the process, have your voice heard. But if you continue to brief against the party, knowing that it will lead to electoral defeat, you are the new Militant, and your nihilistic destructiveness will not be forgiven. Not by the party and not by the voters.