Thursday, 21 January 2016


The other day there was a report on Len McCluskey's speech to the first policy conference of the Unite union in Scotland.  In it he used a phrase which has become common parlance among Scottish Labour politicians, to wit:
The SNP stole most of the radical clothes that historically should have belonged to Labour.
Originally the Labour party chose policies that reflected the hodden grey of the working classes.  A fair day's pay for a fair day's work.  Paid holidays.  Sick pay.  The welfare state.  All excellent ideas and ones that Labour had succeeded in implementing during the 20th century, for which they deserve praise and recognition.  However, a funny thing happened.  Labour politicians spent much time at Westminster, where they noticed that the Tories had much more colourful clothes and, what's more, the wealth to afford them.  And many of them seem to have become dazzled by the Tories' designer gear and decided they want some for themselves.  So they have cast off the old hodden grey of social justice and borrowed the Tories' more dazzling clothes, since those clothes seem to be much more popular with the electorate in the leafy suburbs of south-east England.  Fashion (turn to the right).

Now if you have old clothes that you don't want any longer, you can hardly be surprised if someone else comes along and wears them.  After all, you don't want them any more.  The SNP have given the hodden grey clothes a bit of a tartan twist, but you can still see the basic clothes beneath them.  Fashion (turn to the left).

Now, with Jeremy Corbyn as leader, there are fashion wars in the Labour party.  Some want to hang on to the designer gear, some want to go back to hodden grey and yet others want a mixture of the two.   The current wardrobe wars are entertaining for the rest of use, but are doing real damage to the Labour party with the electorate.

The thing about ideas of social justice is that you can't copyright them.  Labour have no more right to exclusive policies on social justice than any other political party, and they need to realise this sooner rather than later if the party is to have any chance of survival at all.  They need the political equivalent of Trinny and Susannah.

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