If the kids are united

The four Labour leadership contenders have more in common than they disagree about. This should be pretty obvious. All want to lift people out of poverty, want to narrow the wealth gap, want good public services, etc. Of course there are differences, but in the main these are around the ‘how’ of what we do.

I think we can glimpse at how the PLP would behave under the leadership of the four contenders.

After last night’s shambles that was the vote on the Welfare Bill I think two things have emerged. One is that the leadership contest is badly timed and too long. The other is that indiscipline makes us look dreadful.

Whatever the merits of abstention (and I happen to think it was the wrong decision) all that emerges from last night’s rebellion is a sense of disunity. Whilst this is only one vote, and is not necessarily a harbinger of more to come, the sense of drift that arises from this is going to hang around for a while – possibly until the new leader has been elected.

Harriet Harman has a difficult job. Being temporary is a tough place to impose discipline from. Whilst she is right to acknowledge that what Labour has being saying clearly does not chime with the views of the electorate, hers is surely a continuity role. To do anything else is to somewhat second-guess what the new leader will wish to do.

To do anything but robustly oppose Conservative welfare plans seems a denial of what we fought on in May, and whilst I think we do need a serious rethink on the whole range of policy issues this has to be a proper process. The Labour position came across as a muddled compromise, made up on the hoof.

I wonder whether the move to OMOV for leadership elections has created an air of free-for-all. Under the old system there was a significant say for MPs in who was chosen to lead them, under the current system they could have a leader imposed on them who commands little support from the green benches. This is less than healthy. I can see this being the green light for some to cherry pick what policies they will support. I hope I am wrong, for if one thing is certain it is that the 2020 battle to come will not be made any easier if we are not united.

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2 Responses to If the kids are united

  1. After last night’s shambles that was the vote on the Welfare Bill I think two things have emerged. One is that the leadership contest is badly timed and too long. The other is that indiscipline makes us look dreadful.

    Do you remember about five years ago when another party’s spokesman said he was for a policy opposite to that in their manifesto, then against the policy, then reversed his position again and then his party got in a shambles some voting for a policy they said they were against, some abstaining, and a few voting in accordance with their previous manifesto? It really pissed off a significant portion of their supporter base.

    At least no Labour MP actually voted for the Welfare Bill – although some of the headlines look as if some spokesman now support savage welfare cuts, justifying it by saying Labour supporters now seem to be intolerant of those on welfare.

    “No blanket” opposition seems to have veered to “wet blanket” opposition.

    If you ape the Conservative Party – your supporters may decide to vote for the real thing – ask a few ex-Lib Dem MPs.

  2. under the current system they could have a leader imposed on them who commands little support from the green benches.

    This will occur if “the party in the country” has a significantly different point of view from “the party in the commons”. Surely that “disconnect” is the major “root cause” problem.

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