Even though it was a little tongue in cheek, I said I was going to be an old statesman and until last week that was the exact role I tried to play, offering constructive, and sometimes critical, support to new leader and his team.
However, now is the time for a difficult conversation. When the time comes Labor Conference ending, we could be only 18 months into a general election. Boris Johnson does not want to risk going to the polls in the last year of the election cycle and he is desperate to avoid exposure to Covid asks, which I doubt he could have lasted much longer.
So it’s time for everyone Working members to make a realistic assessment of where we are electoral and why. When you’re in the face of two election defeats, no matter how close we are to 2017, you’ve been very truthful in assessing the party’s election prospects.
Labor support in the polls is bouncing along the back of the Conservatives with a corrugated trajectory. As every failure in Johnson or ministerial gaffe has been exposed, the Tory -led Labor is narrow, largely because conservative voters have moved in the undecided. When coverage of the incident was lost, the conservative lead was restored.
The other consistent story from the polls is the worrying size of the slide in Starmer’s personal ratings. This was at a time when, in comparison to its treatment of previous Labor leaders, the mainstream media was relatively benevolent and the Conservative artillery was virtually untrained to the leader of the opposition. Of course, being the leader of the opposition in a time of national emergency is always tough. People naturally expect politicians to suspend the usual knockabout party politics and put together a national crisis. However, they still want to hear someone stick around for them and offer hope of something better when things go wrong, just as they did during the pandemic: the highest number of died in Europe and belongs to the G7 second only to Trump of the US.
For too long, they have not heard the voice of Labor stick for them loud enough and apart from a few sporadic policy announcements there has been no offer to Labor of something better. The result has left people without knowing what or to whom the party’s stance is.
The fear also is that the public may already have a good opinion about Starmer and, judging from the polls, it is not one that believes he is a prime minister in waiting. He abandoned the platform on which he was elected head of Labor, sidelined most of the broad team that elected him and reached out to Blairite’s playbook and revived Blair’s former staff. Peter Mandelson as his consigliere, combined with an appetite for internal sectarian cleansing that makes the appearance of the Kinnock era unsettled.
The result is that we are witnessing something similar in the performance of a Blairite awards band with the same old stunts and techniques launched on the schedule but with more venom. It starts with setting up a confrontation with his own party members to show the strong leader, who uses mastery in his party. Serious political analysis within the party has been replaced by pointless group-focused statements on absolute ban. The prospect is a policy review undergoing a small policy program with the minimum denominator demands of media rights, big business and the City.
The New Blairites had to adapt their approach to the massive membership surge under Corbyn and they did so with an old-fashioned, ruthless purge of party members and an attempt to streamline rule change to neutralize the power of membership.
The party conference is planned as the main relaunch of Starmer. It is very clear that he needs to change course if Labor is to stand any chance of winning the next election but the New Labor regime will not work. That model fell to defeat in 2010, in Mandelson’s campaign run, in which the party fell to 29% of the vote. The truth is no Labor faction has found a winning formula post-bank crash-and we need to unite with a bit of humility to find that. Starmer took the lead on that basis, but wasted the goodwill internally and sought no one to talk to the voters.
The next six months could determine Johnson’s fate as the economic crisis rising energy prices, rising inflation and a public sector are paying the freezes strongly. This is the chance for Labor to come out fighting and break the defensive shield around Johnson that protects him so far.
That is why at this Labor conference it is too foolish to be wrong in discussing internal party broadcast disputes, whether Starmer should set the argument for radical change and the program that will bring about change. that. It should be a meeting to inspire our members, not attack and demoralize them.
As such, we wasted five days today completely obscuring Lucy Powell’s important policy announcements in housing and by Angela Rayner and Andy McDonald on workers ’rights. At all times, the government is floating while gas stations are running and energy companies are collapsing. Before any attempt at a re-employment in New Labor, it may be better to consider the words of an old German philosopher: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as a grave.”
John McDonnell has been Labor MP for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. He was shadow chancellor from 2015 to 2020.