Labour has lost its ideals – now the Party of the People needs to find them again


Isn’t it desperately disappointing that, after the British people showed Ed Miliband in no uncertain terms that Labour is still going in the wrong direction, his first response was an appeal for us all to rally in support of his values, whatever they are.

No, Ed, no. It’s time the Labour Party gave up trying to force us to accept something we don’t want. It’s time you gave up being Tory Lite. It’s time – for crying out loud, this isn’t rocket science! – it’s time you gave us all a chance to believe you share our values!

Can you do that – you and your pseudo-socialist friends Ed Balls, and Yvette Cooper, and Tristram Hunt (and the rest)? If not, you need to make way for people who can – before it is too late.

The people’s response to Labour’s offer was written very clearly across ballot papers all over the country on Thursday: Too similar to the Conservatives! We won’t have either! In fact, we’ll support a party that is even more madly right-wing than either of you, just to show that we don’t want you.

And that’s just the response of those who voted. Those who didn’t were making an even plainer message: Why bother, when there isn’t a cigarette paper that can slide between any of you?

Look at this response from Terry Cook on the Vox Political Facebook page: “It [Labour] needs to prove it doesn’t share UKIP or Tory values; simple.”

Now look at the graph at the top of this article, showing that the public has lost faith in Labour every time it has supported reactionary, right-wing, Conservative, neoliberal policies – while announcements of policies that actually help people have restored support to the party.

The people don’t believe Labour should be having anything to do with anti-Socialist schemes. Here’s Alan Weir: “Labour lost my vote. They are no longer a socialist party and do not represent my views.”

He’s one of millions of potential Labour supporters, Ed! Why are you slinging them out wholesale in order to gain a handful of Daily Mail readers (a forlorn hope anyway)?

The evidence suggests increasing numbers of people are rebelling against Conservative control – but the lack of any credible alternative from Labour has left them with nowhere to go. In that sense, Labour may be said to be driving people away from democracy and into slavery in a complete U-turn – away from the principles on which the party was created.

Martin Williams: “He is totally ignoring the electorate because these people only do democracy when it suits them!”

Ros Jesson: “Some Labour people… on BBC’s coverage… their frustration with the leadership was almost palpable.”

Ed’s message highlighted his values of “hard work, fairness and opportunity”. What did people think of that?

“I am sick to death of ‘hard work’ being touted as a value, as if those desperate to find a job were of no value,” commented Pauline Vernon. “The Labour Party is still so determined to occupy the middle ground they are becoming indistinguishable from the Conservatives.”

Paula Wilcock: “Half hearted promises, no believable policies. I want to hear a realistic plan of what they are going to do to get voters like me… to go back to the Labour Party.”

Baz Poulton (who supplied the image), had this to say: “Why not actually stand up for Labour values and ideals instead of just subscribing to the same as the Tories? Labour’s support has been dwindling as they have become more and more right wing… Standing more in line with Labour’s original values sees an obvious climb in support, while their desperation to be more Tory than the Tories is seeing their support suffer.

“It’s obvious why that happens, and what they need to do to get the support of their traditional voters who are turning elsewhere now. Labour’s manifesto reads like the Tory one.”

The worst of it is that, looking at the historical context, this is what Labour wanted – from the New Labour days onward. Look at Owen Jones’ recent Guardian article: “For years the political elite has pursued policies that have left large swaths of Britain gripped by insecurity: five million people trapped on social housing waiting lists; middle-income skilled jobs stripped from the economy; the longest fall in living standards since the Victorian era, in a country where most people in poverty are also in work.”

That was exactly what Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley planned back in the 1970s, as revealed in The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain: “Their view was that defeat of the movement that had forced Heath’s U-turn would require, not simply the disengagement of the state from industry, but the substantial destruction of Britain’s remaining industrial base. The full employment that had been sustained across most of the post-war period was seen, together with the broader security offered by the welfare state, to be at the root of an unprecedented self-confidence among working-class communities.

“Very large-scale unemployment would end the ‘cycle of rising expectations,’ [and] permit the historic defeat of the trade union movement.”

This is exactly what Owen Jones wrote about on Monday. Nicholas Ridley put these ideas forward in (for example) the Final Report of the Policy Group on the Nationalised Industries in – prepare to be shocked – 1977.

And Labour – in office – did nothing about it. This is part of the reason people don’t trust Labour now.

Let’s go back to Mr Jones: “For years Labour has pursued a strategy of professionalising its politicians: its upper ranks are dominated by privileged technocrats who have spent most of their lives in the Westminster bubble.

“The weakening of trade unions and local government has purged working-class voices from a party founded as the political wing of organised labour: just four per cent of all MPs come from a manual background.

“Special advisers are parachuted into constituencies they have never heard of.

“Policies are decided by focus groups; a language is spoken that is alien to the average punter, full of buzzwords and jargon such as ‘predistribution’ and ‘hard-working people better off’.”

All of these things are wrong. There’s no point in even going into the reasons; any right-thinking person will agree that an MP who has never had a proper job (working as a researcher for another MP doesn’t count) is infinitely less use than one who has had to work for a living.

What is Labour’s reaction to UKIP’s Euro win? “The likes of Ed Balls want to respond to the high tide of Farageism with a firmer immigration-bashing message.” In other words, following UKIP’s right-wing lead.

Owen is correct to say: “This is political suicide”. In fact, for Ed Balls, it should be a sacking offence. He’s got no business coming out with it and has embarrassed Labour and its supporters by doing so.

He is also right to say that Labour must be more strident about its policies. Not only that, these policies must address the problems that have been created by neoliberal Conservatism and reverse the trends. That doesn’t mean using the same tools, as New Labour tried – because when the electorate gets tired of Labour again, the Tories would be able to change everything back and hammer the poor like never before.

No – it means removing those tools altogether. A fresh approach to clean out the rot – and the vigilance required to ensure it does not return.

If Ed Miliband really wants to win next year’s election – and this is by no means certain at the moment – then Labour needs to rediscover the values of the British people.

And that means paying attention when we say what those values are.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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23 thoughts on “Labour has lost its ideals – now the Party of the People needs to find them again

  1. G Jones

    If Labour return to their roots and embrace a socialist platform, I’ll vote for them. If they don’t, I won’t. It’s that simple.

  2. Florence

    We need to give Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and their coterie a lesson from history. There was once a right wing of the Labour Party that despised “common” people, “forcing” Trade Unions and socialism on the Labour Party, so they flounced off (with Oakeshott as it happens, a triple traitor) to form the SDP. That didn’t get any electoral support, so they merged with the Liberals, whose right wing Orange Bookers were just their type. The Libdems then moved further to the right, with a minor aristo and his political class running the inner circle. Look how that’s turned out for them, now, with the LibDems rightly punished by the electorate, and facing oblivion. Look and learn that the right wing just destroy social capital wherever they are, whatever party colours they steal.

    The Right of the Labour party needs to understand they are not what we want, and not what we need, and certainly don’t want them using the Labour party as a vehicle simply for their political ambition. If they want to be Tories, have some shred of decency and just defect. Leave, and you will not be missed. Stay, and you will be punished by the electorate too. Ed Milliband needs to strip them out, and start using the resources in the party to regain the 5 million who no longer vote, who used to vote Labour. We need a policy that is a message of hope. We need politicians who actually want what we want. Simples.

  3. NeilW

    Unlimited unskilled immigration does indeed affect Labour voters. Being part of a free market mad EU does indeed affect Labour voters.

    The ideals of actual Labour voters does include rational immigration controls (just like they have in Canada and Australia) and a focus on providing jobs and an income for people in the UK (which is not compatible with kowtowing to the EU freedom of movement nonsense).

    This state only has the power to look after its own and should restrict itself to doing just that – showing the way for other states to do the same for their own people.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Indeed, I have stated many times my own support for rational immigration controls – that does not mean following UKIP into whacko-whacko land.

      1. Bryn miller

        Here you go again Mike knocking the opposition.I warned you about this before.This is one of the reasons of UKIPS success.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Labour’s opposition is still the Conservative Party. When UKIP can get more than nine per cent of the electorate on-side, we’ll see where we are then.

  4. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately after the last 17 years Labour are no longer considered the party of the working class.

    Those at the top of the Labour party have already shown their contempt for the working class by the announcement they wish to break all ties with unions and union funding.
    It will not be in their best interest to reshape either policies or the structure of the party. Too many Labour MP’s are now drinking at the same trough as the Tories and have acquired a taste for the high life and easy pickings of privatisation.

    Having spent the last 4 years braying about how much tougher they will be than the Tories on welfare and the unemployed, and how they are the party of “hard working people” (sound familiar ?) one can only wonder at their astounding arrogance in believing a few words now will save them.

    Their response to the UKIP successes (and in reality Labour’s loss) was complete ignorance to people’s concerns regarding immigration and jobs and a mere “we have to make our points clearer” rather than “we will listen”

    Racism is NOT the reason for all those voting UKIP nor is ignorance, it is the constant bashing of the poor, unemployed and disabled and Labour’s lack of any meaningful opposition to these measures.

  5. Guy Ropes

    If Ed Balls has to be sacked for his utterance on immigration-bashing then Mr Miliband should surely go too. When interviewed after his visit to a North West industrial unit over a week ago, Miliband was questioned by the BBC as to what measures, if any, Labour should employ regarding immigration to Britain. He replied – and used this phrase about half a dozen times – that Labour would “bear down” on immigration. If there wasn’t a problem he wouldn’t need to have commented in such a way, he could merely have said, “there is no problem, we don’t intend to do anything about immigration”. But no, he chose to use the phrase “we will bear down on immigration”. Unless one is entirely blinkered the use of this phrase concedes that there is some sort of problem and not just one of the “wrong type” of immigration; he could have explained if he felt that were to be the case but he didn’t. The phrase is aggressive. If UKIP or any other party had used these words, the inference would have been made that “bear down” meant that squadrons of Stukas were to be deployed. One of many other reasons why the vote went the uncomfortable way at the weekend is because of the lies the Europeans tell. Take the camps in Calais that were bulldozed today. France and the EU are guilty of not providing succour to these people – France is many, many time the size of Britain, they are able to help them but they won’t. Which seriously minded Socialist would ever, ever want to be part of such an inhuman construct. We are only paying Brussels £50 million a day – so no (small) change there then.

    1. Mike Sivier

      France is not “many, many times the size of Britain” and I think you’re exaggerating the significance of Miliband’s words. There IS a problem with immigration but the solution is to renegotiate the ‘Free Movement’ part of the EU constitution to ensure that it cannot be used for economic opportunism by people from poorer countries, as this overbalances state economies.

      1. Bryn miller

        It’s too late,the damage has been done and we are now feeling the effect of too many people in too small a country.And still they come.

  6. MrChekaMan

    There is no proper left wing party anymore. Labour has become right wing and the new left wing parties are mini proto-parties that will take decades to grow if ever. Sadly the votes that should be going left have often been captured by the ultra right-wing UKIP.

  7. Smiling Carcass

    I’m sure many of us had one of those emails from the Labour Party, “Why are you voting Labour today?”

    This was my response:

    “Perhaps you should be asking why we’re NOT voting Labour.

    Asking why people vote Labour is really asking for support for your policies.

    Asking my question may tell you why you may lose the next General Election.

    Because core voters like me, Labour supporters until the Blairite regime of the 90s are disillusioned with your Tory-like neo-liberal policies that seem to support the wealthy while placating the great masses of the creators of the wealth with the ‘trickle down’ theory that successful business = high wages.

    You and I know that is not true. You and I know that high wages come from strong Trades Unions and worker co-operative businesses.

    When will you take a stand for socialism, economic justice and what is patently right?

    Until then you will not enjoy my vote.”

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  9. Martha

    the real Labour party is lanquishing on the back benches. They have been rebelling against their party for decades and have stayed true to the original ideals of Labour and socialism calling foul at every turn. Time to bring some of the greatest parliamentarians we have ever known out of obscurity and into positions of influence. John McDonnell for Prime Minister with Jeremy Corbyn, Michael Meacher, Ian Lavery, Ian Mearns, Grahame Morris, Glenda Jackson, Debbie Abrahams, Dennis Skinner I heard a rumour that Ken Livingstone wants to come out of retirement, George Galloway and Dave Nellist should be invited back, I’m sure you can name several more. We could have one of the greatest governments in our life time. We’re going to need the strongest and the best because the mess they will inherit is catastrophic. Oh well it’s nice to dream…..

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