Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Intra-party divisions, inter-party consensus

Two months on from the election, and Labour remain in complete disarray - a fact most recently and clearly underlined by the disagreements over welfare policy. No sooner had acting leader Harriet Harman made a declaration that the party wouldn't dispute some of the Tories' proposed changes (including reducing the benefit cap and placing restrictions on child tax credits) than it was savaged by some of those hoping to secure the role on a permanent basis, including Andy Burnham, Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper.

Harman's rationale is that the election results showed the nation has lurched to the right, politically speaking. In order to win back the balance of power, the argument goes, Labour have little option but to bite the bullet and actively seek to appeal to those who voted Tory (and UKIP) in May.

And yet, in effectively endorsing these latest cuts rather than challenging them, Labour are dooming themselves to repeat the mistakes of the very recent past - namely, giving a pathetic impression of an opposition party. It's appalling that Labour can continue to tacitly endorse the austerity measures, rather than robustly criticising them in the spirit of their long and distinguished history. Until they can prove they're capable of offering a credible alternative to the Tories (and are not divided by internal squabbling), they'll remain on the political sidelines.

Of course, the whole situation also serves to underline the fact that if it's genuine opposition that you want, then you need to look to the Greens...


Here's Mhairi Black making much the same point rather better and more forcefully than me, in her maiden speech to parliament. If she wasn't my favourite MP before, she definitely is now.

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