Political inspiration desperately needed for the left of UK politics

You might say ‘God help us we are desperately in need of dynamic political leadership on the left’, although in my case it would be your God as I don’t actually have one but you get my drift. And indeed drift is what has got the left of UK politics into the mess that it is.

But where did the rot start? For the Lib Dems after Charles Kennedy bowed out as their leader, for Labour probably when the wrong Miliband was elected their leader. Yes we can argue about when the rot started but when will it stop?

I don’t know about you but I’m desperately unimpressed with the direction progressive politics has been and may still be heading in. It could not organise itself to oppose a Brexit that virtually every progressive opposed whether they be members of PC, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens or Labour. There’s been no credible opposition to the Conservatives since 2010 at least. Yes there’s been a lot of shouting from the left but when push came to shove the left went in 5 or more directions all at once due to factional sects being unwilling to work with each other even on agendas where they shared common goals! The nearest we got was the Remain Alliance at the 2019 GE when the Greens, PC and Lib Dems tried to put out a nearly unified team, which then utterly failed.

Failure for the left is a comfortable old coat that gets passed down from one generation of left leaning party leaders to the next to give the Tories an assurance that the left is rarely going to get its act together and of course it usually tries not to!

Under our warped electoral system which virtually all other democracies ditched long ago we are left in almost every constituency with a binary choice. In most it’s left V right but it can be left V left but rarely if ever right V right. The right of UK politics is good at reorganising as the Conservative party morphs itself into UKIP when it was a threat to its ground and the Brexit Party when it reared its head. But the left stays in its own political silos pretty much come what may, no matter that it means year upon year of Conservative governance.

But the lack of serious opposition has meant the Tories have also become careless because they pretty much know they can get away with anything & everything. May’s minority Government was weak; Johnson’s is all over the place and both when the UK has needed strong governance and a clear direction. But even with a weak right the left can’t or won’t get its act together! It treads water, it shouts from the side-lines, it settles for keeping it’s own minority of backers on side. It all but takes out advertisements saying that it’s a waste of space and incapable of offering alternative leadership which folk can feel in any way enthusiastic about. Ask us in 2024 when we are near the next election and we may have woken up by then but don’t expect anything other than us going through the motions, at best, until then.

Blair understood that he needed to build an alternative movement and so did Ashdown indeed they did some of their planning in joint consultation because they knew that fighting each other would only be to the Tories advantage. Has the left learned anything from that? Clearly not and that’s because everything that Blair stood for is now policy of the devil amongst many on the left. They look upon him as being wrong about everything because he fouled up badly over Iraq and is perceived to have been too moderate and centrist. Of course he was not wrong about everything and the understanding he had with Ashdown was very far from being wrong – although it was sadly not followed through. As usual the left chucks the baby out with the bath water because well it enjoys cutting off its own nose to spite its face, it’s what the left does and in some left leaning minds it’s what it always should do.

I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of this carry on not least because it keeps delivering Tory Governments. But what can we do? Well the prospects aren’t good let’s be honest. To start with both the Lib Dems and Labour have middle aged white leaders who would do well to win a dull as dishwater contest even if they were the only contestants. Not sure where the Greens are going but the SNP at least has a credible leader. Ah but the Lib Dems and Labour fight like cats and dogs with the SNP because they’re unionist parties whereas the SNP is by definition a party of independence. Never mind that, putting that Scots Indy issue to one side, there may well be areas of social policy for example where there’s some common ground they still have to be seen to politically hate each other over everything. Oh what’s the point you may well say, indeed I’ve said it myself, but with the present Conservative Party having a free run to do anything they want the left simply has to stop kicking itself in the goolies and face up to providing an alternative vision. Doing nothing just puts the UK on the road to ruination, which is of course why many Scots want out!

So the two dull as dishwater leaders have to start talking and they have to find to try to some accommodation with the SNP. If they do nothing else they need to look back at the Blair/Ashdown talks of not that many years ago and as Ashdown is sadly no longer around even consult Blair.

You know there are good people in the Labour Party, in the SNP and even in the Lib Dems who can find ways of not declaring war on each other at the drop of a hat. If they don’t do this, if they can’t summon up some left leaning political inspiration to capture the hearts and minds of the electorate but particularly of young people then we all on the left deserve to go to the Tories version of hell in their rickety hand cart.

Thinking of voting Labour? Well think on this

Labour have always prided themselves on being a broad church with their members and supporters holding some very different views indeed.

It used to hang together as a political force as much because of its authoritarian approach to politics where internal disagreement was kept very much out of the headlines.

How things have changed with just about every Labour disagreement filling our national newspapers and splits of every kind being an everyday thing these days.

And this leads me to a question that I have been asked a surprising number of times already as we move towards a General election. The question? Do I agree that electors should vote for the candidate of a left of center party that can most obviously beat the Tory candidate in any given constituency. Well at one level, to me as someone of the left, the answer in the abstract is yes BUT….

The BUT is this for me. Before voting for any candidate (of the center left) you must look at what the person actually thinks, what their record is (if they have been an MP previously) and how easily they may be whipped to vote for things that their party wants but you as an elector may well not want. In other words just blindly looking for the best left of center candidate to beat the Tory in your constituency may at face value get you a non-Tory MP but it may also get you someone who is little more than a Tory under a different flag.

Some Labour MP’s are actually quite right wing in their outlook so watch out. For example you would probably be using your vote well if you live in a seat where the sitting Labour MP voted against Brexit (despite being whipped to back Brexit by Jeremy Corbyn) and you supported them. But what about those Labour MP’s who either campaigned for Brexit or were prepared to be whipped to vote for Brexit in the House of Commons despite having campaigned against it in the EU Referendum?

And why do I use Brexit as an example? Because Brexit will hurt the ordinary man and woman in the street hard and it will hit the poorest hardest. No one of on the left of British politics can support Brexit without realising that it is a social and economic disaster for anyone but the rich and powerful. So how an MP voted in the House of Commons over Brexit is a really big issue. An MP who voted for Brexit but who also says they support ordinary working people and those in society who are less fortunate are, in my view, running with the hare and the hounds. What I am saying is that Brexit and a caring social attitude are incompatible as far as I am concerned.

So yes please seriously consider the best placed candidate to beat the Tory in your constituency but don’t assume that the Labour candidate (should they at face value be the best placed) is all that you would want them to be. You may be in for an unpleasant shock if you don’t check out the candidates of the center left in detail!