Some Thoughts on Liz Kendall

A guest post by David Carrington:

Twice in two weeks I’ve seen people told they lack the proper opinions to be either a Labour member or voter. In one exchange someone on Twitter who suggested that they might vote Labour if Liz Kendall wins the leadership was told bluntly, “we don’t want your vote”.

The leadership campaign has surprised me because, against my instincts and natural inclination, I’m drawn to Liz Kendall. I’ve not made up my mind, but I’m certainly drawn.

This isn’t her being the candidate from a particular wing of the party and not because I agree with her on all issues. My preference is simply because she seems the only candidate who recognises what just happened.

We have to win in 2020 to do anything. I lived under a Tory PM for the first 17½ years of my life, if we lose in 2020 my three year old daughter will have to wait until she is a teenager to be free of a Tory PM.

Losing knocked the wind out of me, but the more I thought, the more I realised I’d seen it coming. I’d noticed people believing we were heading for victory because of the vocal anger against the Coalition, especially on Twitter. I read in the Guardian that we had to win and tried not to look at the rest of the press telling people we mustn’t. We’d been listening to ourselves for reassurance and talking to people who agreed with us to get their support.

In short, the transfer of wealth and power to the already wealthy and powerful won’t end with us demanding it more loudly, getting #endausteritynow trending for enough days or shouting to ourselves. We lost the election with that approach. We lost. We. Lost.

The hard, bitter truth pill of defeat we must swallow? We can’t change anything, unless we win elections; we won’t win in 2020 through demands to end austerity in 2015.

We should oppose Tory cuts and call them out on every vicious and cruel trick they pull, every lie they sell. But we must think beyond austerity, beyond the Tories. What can we build on the waste land left when we kick these bastards out? Look back, promise to reverse all cuts, pretend that what went before was a lost Utopia, we’ll keep losing. Fetishize the means and we lose the end.
“The language of priorities is the religion of socialism.” Our catechism has to be “what CAN we achieve?” more than “what SHOULD we achieve?” We have to know that by the next time we have our hands on the reins of power there will be little left to recognise of the welfare state, NHS, or BBC. It is our duty to ask what we will create in its place.

Kendall gets called a “closet Tory” for her stance on the deficit but her argument that spending public money on doing something instead of servicing debt, is bang on with left wing values. The Greek tragedy should open our eyes to the fact that servicing deficits and national debt only means transferring more public money into the private sector.

I believe Liz Kendall wants to speak to Labour and the country doesn’t accept they are mutually exclusive. I would love there to be a silent left wing majority waiting for the right Labour alchemy to turn out at the polls, but that’s not just fantasy it’s deluded ignorance. The last time a left wing Labour Party won an effective majority was 1966. Three years before the second Golden Age of Welsh rugby, oh and months before Bobby Moore got his hands on the Jules RImet trophy (hint about my loyalties there).

Demanding an end to austerity now is as relevant to 2020 as if Attlee had promised to reverse the enclosure acts and restore common land in 1945. It means missing the opportunity to build something for the world as it stands, not rebuild what was.

You win by building coalitions of voters. Thatcher did it, Blair did it, Osborne and Cameron have attempted it through harsh division. Liz Kendall is asking how we can do this. Policy can be debated, but we have to talk to the country, not just to ourselves hoping they’ll overhear.
Labour has to be a party for everyone, that doesn’t tell people from either wing, or any class, that they don’t belong and certainly doesn’t say to anyone that we don’t want their vote.


One Response to Some Thoughts on Liz Kendall

  1. Gary Hills says:

    Great article, agree 100%

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