Sunday, 17 May 2015

Left, right, left, right...

And so the collapse of the Labour party continues, with the resignation of Jim Murphy, despite the fact that he narrowly won his vote of no confident (by a margin of 55% to 45% - delicious irony there).  However, his resignation will not happen until June, until which time Mr Murphy intends to lay out a strategy to revive Labour's fortunes north of the border.

The first thought that occurs is that his views on a strategy to win back key voters can easily be ignored by the next leader, whoever they are.  After all, Mr Murphy's scattergun approach to strategy during the recent election was hardly what one might call a resounding success.  The second thought that occurs is that it's interesting that he now espouses the 'one member one vote' approach to leadership elections for the future, but was happy with the electoral college approach when it saw him elected as leader.  Clearly he wants revenge on the unions, specifically Len McCluskey and Unite.

Meanwhile, down in London, the Labour party are also looking for a replacement for Ed Miliband, a task that seems as Herculean as the one north of the border according the this article in the Guardian.  There was one paragraph in the article that seemed to me to sum up the problem Labour has:

Last Monday at 6pm, Cruddas and most of the other remaining 231 Labour MPs (26 fewer than a week before) crammed into committee room 14 in the House of Commons to hear Harriet Harman, the acting leader, attempt to lift the depleted, demoralised parliamentary party off the floor. None of them, she said, should waste a second before getting stuck into the Tories again, as they prepared to elect a leader to replace Ed Miliband. They should also tear into what is now the third-largest party at Westminster, the SNP, and “own the House of Commons”.
There we have it.  Labour are still thinking in terms of 'sticking it to the Tories' and 'sticking it to the SNP'  It's all about power, and the electorate are simply a means to this end.  This was their problem during the recent election.  As pointed out in the article, they had no coherent story to sell to the electorate, and it seems that the current Labour leadership has the blinkers on and are in no mood for narratives.

Both north and south of the border there seems to be a dearth of talent to choose from in terms of leadership.  There also appears to be a huge divide between whether the party should move rightwards towards more Blairite policies or leftwards towards the Labour party of old.  The trouble is that Labour south of the border needs to appeal to the voters in the leafy shires who are traditionally in favour of lower taxes and a smaller public sector whereas north of the border the voters want to see more in the way of redistribution and social justice.  I don't think this is a circle that can be squared.  I can see Labour in Scotland breaking away from Labour in the rest of the UK over this.  I can also see Labour dividing into two parties, north of the border at least, to accommodate the two views.

If Labour in Scotland does break away it will contradict one of their stances during the referendum, which was that the Labour party should be a national party representing the workers from all parts of the UK, and that there should be no 'artificial' borders dividing the workers.  Logically that may then lead to the 'new' Labour party in Scotland to consider supporting independence.  Wouldn't that be a turn up for the books?

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