Saturday, October 23, 2010

Labour's strategic failure, continued... (Tower Hamlets episode)

I had a long-ish post here the other day that I should probably provide a shorter summary for before I add an addendum to it.

My argument is that Labour has cued itself up for three very severe structural defeats that will be difficult to reverse in recent months, because they've lost sight of what their mission is. Instead of a strategy to attain a sustainable progressive outcome, they've been transfixed with a tactical approach that guaranteed short-term electoral success (i.e. being able to win general elections on an ever-dwindling share of the overall vote until 2005).

My argument was that, if Labour had understood the centrality of a high standard of liberal democracy to achieving it's social democratic ends...
  • the LibDems would never have considered an electoral pact with the Tories on the spurious grounds that capitalist realism = liberalism,
  • the Tories would be unable to assault the notion of public service broadcasting and replace it with hugely valuable (to themselves) propagandists
  • we would have a coherent response to the CSR cuts - one that had a long-term provenance in the way that the Tories anti-state rhetoric has had in recent years
I say this because last night, Labour lost the Tower Hamlets mayoral election to a communalist candidate. That candidate was helped by tacit support from Ken Livingstone - Labour's next Mayoral candidate.

Now, it's not the end of the world if we sometimes lose local elections. If I had may way, we'd not have local Mayoral elections in the first place (it's another aspect of Labour policy that has been incompatible with liberal democracy).

Labour can neither bitch too loudly about losing to a communal candidate as we've not had an explicit and ideological rejection of the practice of communalism ourselves.

Neither can we bitch about the uneven application of party rules - especially where Ken Livingstone is concerned - because Labour disgraced itself in it's handling of the mayoral selection in 2000 and it still has active intervention from regional parties, unions and various central court jesters in local selection processes as Teresa Pearce learned to her cost a few years ago in the selection at Erith & Thamesmead.

Labour's real problems are not of a left-right nature. It's almost a spiritual failing. We're not that much of a good party any more, and we won't succeed until we become one again.

Just saying, like.....

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