Labour leadership contestants need to break out of Tory cage

What is so disappointing (so far) about the Labour leadership contest is the failure to edge the party to any significant degree away from a look-alike Tory posture.   Osborne launches the biggest cuts programme of the last century, and we are told that if we wish to be taken seriously we must be as fiscally conservative as the government.   Osborne preens himself with running the economy on a permanent surplus, and Labour, not to be outdone, endorses the idea, absurd and unworkable as it is.   The Tories taunt Labour for being on the side of shirkers against strivers – a ridiculous claim when Osborne has just impoverished millions of workers in poverty by severe cutbacks in working tax credits – but Labour, for fear of being lampooned by the Mail for being soft on ‘lifestyle’ benefit recipients, lamely echoes its support for tightening the benefit cap.   When is Labour going to stand up and assert what it really believes in?

What do the leadership candidates feel about the egregious degree of inequality that now tarnishes British society, and how exactly would they tackle it?   Do they feel market forces are working well, and if not, how would they introduce a counter-balancing morality, justice and accountability into the economic system?   if the banks have too much power which they have now been shown to have grossly abused, how should be restructured?   Does Labour still believe in full employment, and if so, how should it be restored?   Can Britain ever really prosper again without a long-term industrial revival, and how should that be brought about?   As the Tories pile on pressure on the unions to try to make them wholly subservient to neoliberal capitalism, will Labour restore them to their rightful place as full partners in the industrial workplace?

Has Labour lost its real voice?   The public doesn’t want to hear how ‘responsible’ we are in clinging close to the prevailing ideology, or how readily we adopt the caricatures that the rampaging Tories are foisting on the public consciousness.   They want to hear what we truly believe in and proclaim out loud.   This may sometimes involve defending a stance which the Tory propaganda machine has made unpopular – like arguing why a welfare state is needed, why more money should be spent on rehabilitation rather than just banging up offenders in prison, or why Britain should contribute towards reducing migrant loss of life in the Mediterranean.   But that is what political leaders are for – not assuring the public they’re on side with every passing prejudice that the right-wing press has magnified, but declaring boldly and vigorously the values and principles that capture the imagination for any worthwhile society.


9 thoughts on “Labour leadership contestants need to break out of Tory cage

  1. Here are a range of comments from Facebook, following Harriet Harman’s appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, when she said that “Labour won’t oppose the Welfare Bill or the Household Benefit Cap.”

    – “Labour have got to stop chasing the 20% of the Tory vote and start chasing the 80% who feel they are NOT represented!! I am a Labour Party Member and I am backing/supporting Jeremy Corbyn!”

    – “People on twitter are saying “Labour unelectable as they stand: they’ve bought wholesale view people have broken bank with their benefit demands and not bankers |”‪#‎bbcsp‬ Harriet’s message this morning will have done much harm to Labour being elected next time…”

    – “People are quite rightly saying “Lets get this right:Labour agrees with benefits cap & tax credit children limits. BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT IT?Shame on u Labour shame on u #bbcsp”

    – “Harriet Harman says Labour will back benefit cap and two-child limit for tax credits. #bbcsp Any leader candidate that holds those views or votes for these loses my vote”
    “WTF is happening to Labour they seem to be morphing into Tories in the fight to turn right. NO,NO that’s the not the Labour Party as I know it. Its not the Party I joined! We the man in the street didn’t cause the banking crisis, I a pensioner don’t like my pension being called a benefit. I paid into it, the clue is in the name insurance! Benefits are there to help, a net to stop u falling into a black pit, certainly not enough to live the life of Riley on so where to u find all these people on benefits with 50′ TV’s Sky etc? All lies and myths, as is the reason for Austerity. We are in a worse shape now than we were 5years ago! Massive cuts sell off but £500+Billion deeper in debt! Jeremy Corbyn is talking to me even louder now!”

    – “It’s like they want to sell themselves to the devil to get elected. Never mind about us, the ordinary people of the UK. They have obviously forgotten why the LP was formed.”

    So if Labour are trying to pander to the electorate, they’re going about it in the wrong way!

  2. The lesson hasnt been heard the writing on the wall is there get rid rid of the blairites or its the end for this party the people ask they tell you but do the greedie mps listen nay its like that doomed ship sailing around without a captain but the people will one day work out put our own forward who once again be labour

  3. I got this in my SPAM folder today, have you ever read such a complete load of crap?

    Hello JPC-W,

    As Deputy Leader I would use new technologies and new techniques, to enable our activists to take the lead in rebuilding our movement. That’s why last week I launched an innovative discussion forum to ask you all how we can best work together.

    I’m delighted hundreds of you from across the UK have already contributed. I’ve taken the time to read all your comments and responded to many – here are some of my favourites :

    “We had a 25 minute PowerPoint presentation from the Secretary arguing her case. Is that why people join the Party? Is that encouraging people to be active participants? We need our Regional Offices to support us.”

    “Make stuff and flog it. The constituency next to mine made a charity cookbook type of thing called ‘Labour Saving Recipes’ and sold copies at the May Day March as well as at party events, I think they made a good bit of money from it.”

    “There are lots of people who want to make a difference in their communities, whether on seemingly small issues to being involved in national campaigns – it’s impossible to be everything to all these people but the party needs to be good at helping these people find their own voices.”

    If we want to become a movement again, we need to find new ways on and offline to not just talk about, but act on our shared ideas. We put Britain’s legal loan sharks out of business by working together to campaign – now we have to do this across the whole of the Labour movement.

    Labour needs a Deputy Leader who knows how to build the ability of our activists – and won’t wait until the next election to get started.

    That’s why I’m already helping members who have raised ideas at the Deputy Leadership hustings. They want to campaign for all tutors in colleges and universities to be trained to spot young people who are struggling early with mental health issues, and refer them for help. If you would like to help develop this campaign or know others who would be interested in it, please share this with them or get in touch using this email address.

    So keep your ideas and feedback coming – let’s make Labour a movement again, not a machine.

    Stella Creasy MP

    P.S. Here’s another one of my ideas to help campaigners in Labour – a training academy for activists in local and national government.

  4. Power point hum it should read shut the door behind you harriet has for a movement its little tory

  5. lets look at this another way our mps have become to greedie forgetting they who should be looked after yet year in year out awarding themselves bigger pay rises whilst we suffer the austerity isn’t it about time they got labelled the social scroungers has they use this house to line their pockets forgetting the peasants isn’t it about time a oliver c came forward and real sorted the house out has carpet baggers swindlers liars roam these corridors of power but then they cant see the people are starting to learn voting for tory or the little tory party isn’t for them until the blair babies are shown the door or cross over to their true vocation the torys and leave whots left to support those 99percent who aint rich jeff3

  6. I truly believe that politics needs to be redefined it’s not working for any party. If you have a worn out, cant be fixed vehicle, you change it as it’s of no further use and you scrap it.

    You can if you so wish have it restored as a classic there to be viewed as part of motoring history, not used on a daily basis.

    Who is running this country the press or a combination of Politicians and the press and if you accept either it’s not working.

    So you change it, time and time again Labour are supporting so much Tory Ideology and it’s in total chaos.

    So are they one and the same party, many seem to think so, Labour abstain from voting knowing to well the Tories will get their way, but by abstaining Labour are agreeing with the Tories

    Move into the modern world, get out of Westminster move into a modern building, something like EU building in Brussels, stop all this old historic dressing up in gowns and funny hats, banging on doors with a stick it costs money and is wasting precious time.

    Yes have a one day a year session with all the regalia to celebrate our history, but move into the modern world.

    Politicians shouting at each other form either side of the house and the speaker intervening like a headmaster maintaining order over a classroom of unruly kids.

    It desperately needs radical change, its become a laughing stock amongst the electorate.

    We need a group of clever academics to spend time bringing about a totally new way of governance.

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