More in common than divides us.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember that. It’s sometimes difficult to even believe that’s true.
In Labour, as elsewhere, I believe that most people are decent individuals, with positive motivations for their actions and their beliefs. We each construct our own subjective truth and we each make choices over what we use to guide the truths that we construct.
For example, I believe that even a figure as vilified as Tony Blair acted, for the most part, from a sense of doing what he believed would achieve the greater good. With the Iraq war as his legacy, that’s a difficult pill to swallow. I can only imagine that his time in office warped the faculties with which he constructed his truth but when he introduced neoliberal driven policies into Education and the NHS, I honestly believe that he did so thinking that it would best produce the reforms that he was told were required. At the time, I don’t know if anyone could or was predicting the disastrous nature of neoliberalism, the all-consuming destruction it would usher in. For the Tories, the seeds that Blair sewed were manna and as soon as they were in power they doubled down on the destruction.
The signs of the destruction were plain to see in 2010 but would Brown have steered us away from the rocks had he won the general election or been able to build a coalition with the LibDems? Who knows. Maybe Labour needed to lose in 2010, for all New Labour had got right in government, maybe Labour needed the time on the opposition benches to see just how badly they had got it wrong in government too. Maybe Labour needed to witness just what the Tories did with New Labour’s policies to realise that a new direction was needed.
Had Ed Miliband truly learned those lessons? I guess we’ll never know. The country is certainly learning how ineffective the Tories are in government, surviving with the slimmest of majorities by being propped up by complicit, compromising and corrupting relationships within the media.
And what of Labour? In the maelstrom of the “coup”, putting aside the damage done to the greater public perception of the party, the most important thing that has been lost are channels of communication between the different voices within the party. Sure, the NEC banning CLPs from meeting and MPs hiding from them (sometimes literally hiding in rooms and turning the lights off) has hardly provided a conducive environment for communication. Does that look likely to end? Sadly, no. There are weeks to run of the leadership voting and the anti Corbyn side aren’t just continuing their negative campaigning, they’re actually reduced to repeating some of the same negative stories they trotted out weeks ago, suggesting they are prepared to string it out for the duration even if they have nothing new to say.
Is there a solution? I guess there are at least two:
1) Corbyn wins a second mandate and proceeds with clearing house in Labour after a thorough investigation as to who did what and when. A number of current serving MPs are deselected or lose the whip and are replaced and other persons are banned from having anything to do with Labour. The party moves on and has to rebuild its reputation. Lessons get learned.
2) MPs among the 171 accept the olive branches Corbyn’s leadership have been offering and re-declare their support for Labour and their willingness to move forward with the party, abandoning the current challenge. Communication is reopened and all parties work together to move forward. Lessons get learned.
It would be better for party unity and for keeping some capable MPs that solution 2) happens but I have no confidence that it will. 26.06.2016 will be an infamous day in the Labour party’s history, promotion of some very capable new MPs may yet make it a milestone.