Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Labour Leadership: A broad enough church?

The Labour Party is at a crux. Will a new leader invigorate the party and guide them to victory in the near future, or will they spend years in the wilderness hop-scotching between impotent leaders? Only time will tell.

What is clear, is that they have the opportunity to revitalise the party and re-engage, not just with lost Labour members, but with the electorate as a whole. Now that the Milibands and Ed Balls have secured their place on the ballot for Labour leader, they should each ensure that the other candidates – particularly John McDonnell – also get nominated.

All of the candidates claim to champion a re-engagement with the grassroots of the party – but this can only be achieved if all wings are represented in the leadership debate. Only by defeating challengers from each wing of the party can the eventual victor get the mandate necessary to lead the party and realign its direction. Therefore, undecided MPs should forgo career considerations by nominating one of the candidates not yet secured on the ballot paper – be that John McDonnell, Diane Abbott or Andy Burnham. The Labour Party is a broad church made up of social democrats, trade unionists, socialists and social minded liberals – all of whom deserve their voice heard. The Labour Party has the perfect opportunity to re-establish itself as the party of progress and social inclusion – but this can only be done with open and broad debate. By showcasing its diverse make-up, Labour can reengage with working people and contrast itself to the white, male-dominated Oxbridge elite of the ‘new’ coalition government. Whether Labour takes this opportunity might inform how long the party remains in the wilderness...

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