It is over three months since the 2015 general election and I feel like I am still in mourning. The national result for Labour was awful and inevitably means we have to do some soul searching. I have a few thoughts about what happened and I will share these soon but in the meantime it has been decided that we will elect a new leader first and this looks like it will be an even bigger disaster than the election was.
Before nominations closed I speculated about the possible candidates. Unfortunately, Labour MPs decided to use their one special privilege in the new election system to nominate an unelectable leader which the vast majority of them could not serve under, Jeremy Corbyn. The candidates for London mayor obviously thought that this would endear them to some members but Sadiq Khan, David Lammy and Diane Abbott have made a huge misjudgement by nominating Corbyn. One commentator described the MPs who nominated Corbyn as “morons” and I find it difficult to understand their actions too. MPs have a special role in electing the Labour leader so they can’t blame the members (and supporters) if they choose one of the candidates which MPs put on the ballot paper. Everything which flows from the leadership result is primarily the responsibility of the MPs who nominated each candidate.
I’m backing Liz
Since I wrote my last blog on the subject, I have decided to back Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership. I even made a small donation to her campaign fund. I did this because I think she has the ability to challenge us to look properly about why we didn’t win the electorate’s trust in May. She is committed to Labour values but questions the old processes to achieve them. For example, she champions better public services such as social care and education but is open to new ways to make them better for the public who use them. This may be uncomfortable for some colleagues but if we just replay the 2015 election in 2020 then we should expect the same result.
Liz has talked about tackling inequality and reversing the inheritance tax cut. She has pledged to eliminate low pay, something George Osborne’s new minimum wage for over 25s will not do. Britain’s defences and our place in the world are under threat. The 1945 Labour government helped secure the post-war peace and Britain should always take the lead internationally. Liz has pledged to keep our armed forces properly funded and keep Britain at the heart of the EU.
If Jeremy wins I’ll remain a Labour member
Ballots will be going out in the next few days and the polls claim that Jeremy Corbyn will be our next leader. Jeremy has rebelled against the party position over 400 times since he became an MP so I’m sure he won’t mind a humble party member raising a few questions about himself. If Corbyn wins I will remain a Labour Party member. However, some of his people have suggested there may be purges of members who disagree with him so I guess it is possible I may be expelled for “defending my principles”, as Jeremy would call it.
Tony Blair said that if you stood for Labour in 1983 then you are true Labour. I would also claim that if you stood for Labour in the debacle of 2015 then you are true Labour too. A debacle it was: we were led to a position which the electorate could not agree with. We need to learn from this. Again. It happened before. I remember 1983 and 1987. Voters didn’t forgive us until many years after we eventually came to our senses again.
If Jeremy Corbyn wins, I will continue to oppose some of his policies. He proposes to print infinite money to fund public spending. Incidentally, this was one of the policies of the Peace Party in Guildford. They got 230 votes. The problem with the government printing money is that it devalues all existing money, people’s savings, incomes, company balance sheets, government gilts. Personally, I think this is a banana republic policy.
Corbyn proposes cutting defence expenditure even more than the Tories have done and unilaterally scrapping our independent nuclear deterent. He wants closer relations with Russia. This is a recipe for utter disaster. We should be increasing defence spending and making sure our borders and interests are secure.
Corbyn is against HS2 and the third runway at Heathrow. Both of these projects and many similar much needed infrastructure projects are needed to support British trade, business and links to the rest of the world. I will continue to speak up for such projects.
Jeremy wants to renationalise sections of British industry. I prefer to concentrate on what we want to achieve by intervening in markets rather than tie ourselves to one process. If Royal Mail is to be fully renationalised, will the shares be seized from investors and shareholders like postal workers? If not, how will the state pay the market price for hundreds of billions of shares in utility companies, rail companies, telecom companies and airlines? State seizures of assets have been tried before, such as during the Russian Revolution, with mixed results in the long term.
The Labour leadership election is great fun. For Tories and Trotskyites alike. The system means that they can all sign up to be “registered supporters” for £3 and vote in our election. If the Tories had such a system I would definitely sign up to vote for Bill Cash or Jacob Rees-Mogg. They would be out of power for a generation. They can’t believe their luck that they have a chance to remove the only other possible governing party from the field for a decade.
Jeremy Corbyn didn’t really want to be a candidate for leader. Diane Abbott did it last time so it was his turn. He doesn’t act or talk like a leader. Electing him as leader of the Labour Party would do immeasurable harm to the very people we wish to protect and to represent.
But I did not shoot the deputy
Choosing who to vote for in the deputy leadership election is harder. I wish this election had been held after we knew who the new leader was, or on a ticket system. My preferred ticket would be Kendall-Bradshaw to give us the best possible chance of organising to win in 2020.
However, if Jeremy Corbyn wins I expect he will get a metaphorical ice pick that will make his ears burn in a year or two to we will need a deputy leader in the co-pilot seat with the support base to drive things forward. Caroline Flint looks like the best candidate to me for this scenario.
If either of the two less radical candidates, Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham won (whom I both like), we would need a more radical deputy to make sure we reform. Stella Creasy would be best in this scenario.
I like Tom Watson too but I think a deputy needs to be very loyal and I remember his treatment of past leaders.
I have spent a lot of time talking to voters on the doorstep, including in marginal constituencies, and this is what informs my opinion. As a defeated Labour candidate for parliament in the momentous election of May 2015, I endorse Liz Kendall as our next leader. I like Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham too and I recommend placing them second and third respectively.
For deputy, I would prefer Ben Bradshaw if Liz Kendall was leader. However, I believe that the most likely outcome is that Jeremy Corbyn will win the leadership so I recommend voting for Caroline Flint first as the best person to pick up the pieces when his leadership implodes. Stella Creasy is a great candidate too.