It goes without saying that if UKIP were not in the mess that they are the press would be all over Labour’s internal troubles even more than they have been. So Labour must be glad of UKIP continually grabbing the political misery headlines (with the help of a BBC obsessed by UKIP) as it helps keep their troubles under the radar somewhat.
But just look at the facts, they are startling and they show how deeply troubled the Labour Party is despite it having a terrible far right Tory Party Government to hit against.
Here are just some of their troubles in no particular order as it is so difficult to know where to start and how to rank their difficulties.
* Is it me or does their Deputy Leader have difficulties being loyal to their Leader? Because that’s how it looks to me.
* On Brexit, why do Labour feel that their best interests and those of the UK are served by backing our far right Tory Government?
* How do you end up with a political party which has a Leader from the left whilst the vast majority of his MP’s are not of the left?
* How many times do you have to amend the membership of the Shadow Cabinet as Labour MP’s quit or are asked to leave.
* Just how unclear does a political party have to be about its policies? It seems that no sooner does their Leader say something than other MP’s and Shadow Cabinet members are queuing up to make their disagreement known.
* How come Labour seems to have almost forgotten that it’s the Official Opposition to the Tories in Parliament?
* How does an opposition party manage to lose a Parliamentary seat to the Government of the day (Copeland) – such has not happened for many a year.
* Why are Labour MP’s resigning mid-term (Copeland and Stoke so far) in seats held by Labour for generations.
* What on earth were Labour doing in the Stoke by-election trying to look for all the world as though they were a UKIP-lite Party?
And more locally
* How come that noises from within Sefton Central Labour are so openly negative about their chances in the future?
* It may only have been a Town Council by-election in Prescot last Thursday but Labour lost a seat to the Lib Dems by a huge margin. The Lib Dems took 68% of the votes cast with Labour tumbling down to just 28%!
* Why are Labour sources predicting that they will probably lose the Sefton Seat at the next election when the incumbent Labour MP is sat on a huge majority?
* How come Labour activists are openly speaking of their party coming out of the next General Election with 120 seats or less?
I could go on but this list is enough to make any political party wonder if it has a future.
My assessment of Labour is this. They have elected a Leader of the left but hardly a competent one, so the move leftwards has been made far more difficult than it needed to have been. Indeed, with so many Labour MP’s being not of the left (Blairites) a hardly functioning leadership keeps getting shot full of holes; not from Tories, Lib Dem’s or the SNP but from its own disgruntled ranks!
Labour has always prided itself on being both a broad church and having strong internal loyalty. The broad church is now the problem as the left and right wings of Labour’s congregation really can’t stick each other and loyalty well that’s very much a thing of the past. Interestingly, that once fierce loyalty came from the trade union movement that gave birth to the Labour Party and it was based on the fact that if the early trade unionists did not stand together at all costs they would be defeated.
The electorate generally does not like divided political parties so unsurprisingly, other than Labour’s core vote which will vote for it almost no matter what the Party stands for, progressive voters in particular are turning their back on Labour. What’s more Labour’s membership is falling too and the Lib Dem’s (and to a much smaller extent the Greens) are benefiting from that as people join them.
So what does Labour have to do to start to put itself back together? Well that depends on what it wants to be and there’s certainly no agreement there amongst Labour’s MP’s and members. The vast majority of their MP’s want a return to some form of a centrist/Blairite-type Party – just don’t mention the Iraq War or privatisation of parts of the NHS though! The vast majority of Labour’s members on the other hand want it to be an obviously socialist party. I think poor old Ed Miliband did try to bridge the huge gulf by nudging Labour leftwards but it was a hopeless compromise and as we all know the wrong Miliband had won their Leadership race back then and he was going nowhere.
Having been a member of a political party that pressed a huge self-destruct button (labeled Tuition Fees) and which only just survived it I can recall being in the self-dug hole and that almost unstoppable urge to dig it deeper. But the difference with that Liberal suicide attempt and the one that Labour is engaged in is that we Lib Dems stayed remarkably united even during our darkest hours.
Labour may be many things but united it is certainly not!