Monday, June 27

If it wants to win another election, Labor needs nothing less than a re-foundation | Neal lawson

IIn the end, it wasn’t even close. The dam broke 18 months ago; now the floodgates have been opened. Like bankruptcy, political downfall occurs slowly but then very quickly. Labor leaders will rightly say that they have only been in charge for one year, and what an extraordinary year! But their problems run much deeper than they know or want to admit. They have wasted a year wallpapering deep cracks, another year wasted in Labor’s long decline.

Because Hartlepool was not lost on Thursday or in the last general election. It was not lost when the overwhelming majority of the city voted for Brexit or earlier, when austerity fell on it after 2008. It was not lost when New Labor set out to humiliate and marginalize old Labor, or when Peter Mandelson was incredibly thrown into the air. parachute to the seat. It was not lost when the Berlin Wall fell, the miners were defeated or when Margaret Thatcher screamed: “There is no alternative.”

For the truth is that Labor’s forward march came to a halt long ago, when the scale and musculature of the working class began its steady decline. It stopped and reversed when what we consume became more important to us than what we produce. Hartlepool was lost as the age of deference gave way to an age of individualism, and power was separated from politics when finance, investment, and jobs became global private decisions, not national public ones.

Over time, and inevitably, Labor has receded so far in the rearview mirror that people lose sight of it; they even forget what it is for. Meanwhile, almost out of sight, the Labor Party follows motions to elect new leaders and rehearse lines, backed by a voting system that now means it can never win, but never do worse than a second, leaving some with a work but a defenseless country.

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Not that Labor has lost Hartlepool: it has lost itself, slowly, and now very quickly.

Roberto Unger, the Brazilian political and economic theorist, describes institutions as the fossilized power of previous political movements. Today’s work is simply the trapped energy of an industrial age that is past.

So Hartlepool and everything it symbolizes won’t be taken back by getting a bigger flag or being seen drinking more pints of beer because that’s what the working class has been told to do. It will not recover by purging the remnants of the left and duplicating the 1997 New Labor handbook, which in the end did much to alienate so many in Hartlepool and all the places that share its heartbeat. He will not bounce back on the grounds that the Conservatives are the same old, for opposition like cross-examination in court, a reorganization or even a change of leader.

The only question now is, can the work be refounded? Ask any management consultant and they will tell you that starting a new organization is much more effective than trying to change an old one. But imagine for a second that Labor wants to change. What would I do?

To win another election, Labor must first shed its core Labor creed: the belief that it and only it carries the seeds of political hope, and that progress depends solely on its ability to occupy the state and pull the flags. levers of power. change made to people. In Hartlepool he imposed a candidate on the city and was still issuing scripts for callers to read. This is no longer the way the world works. If Labor doesn’t trust anyone, no one will trust it again. Can Labor stop being Labor?

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To show that it wants to change, the Labor Party should convene a “refounding process” to which all its members are invited. It would restore the purpose and direction of the party. It could be seeded by an assembly of citizens from the public to help set the direction of travel. One option to explore would be a name change, but only to identify an entirely new purpose and practice. Work would then reshape itself, not on the basis of the old trades, but on the new energy and vitality of an interconnected 21st century.

More immediately, Starmer must meet with all the leaders of the other progressive parties to formally declare a progressive alliance to build a good society and, in the process, fully support the shift to proportional representation. This, coupled with a Biden-like economic plan within sustainable limits, would form the basis of a new purpose for Labor. If you don’t do something like this, the party will die. And you will deserve it.

Keir Starmer is named after the first Labor leader and, as it stands, is named after the last significant leader. The job is one year old. It must be changed or replaced.

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