Martin Odoni makes important points in his article on The Critique Archives, as follows:
It irritated me this morning to hear veterans of Labour’s ‘Blairite’ era, such as Kate Hoey and John Reid, and the most free-market-loving pseudo-‘leftist’ in the British media, David Aaronovitch, all seemingly arguing on the BBC that Miliband had taken the party too far to the left.
The argument makes little sense. The bulk of Labour’s losses went to the Scottish National Party, whose rhetoric (though not so much their deeds) has long been the rhetoric of the left, and of anti-Toryism.
Miliband’s modest, very cautious attempts to move Labour leftwards have merely ceased the party’s post-Tony-Blair status as a ‘clone-in-a-red-tie’ of the Conservative Party, and therefore have not really carried things far to the left at all.
Given the runaway success of the SNP, had Miliband decided really to go all out and to endorse re-nationalisation and reversing Austerity – instead of merely stopping privatisations and watering Austerity down – he would probably have retained far more seats in Scotland. He also would have come across as far more of a genuine alternative, and so might not have lost so much English support to the UK Independence Party (who are still seen by their new support base as something ‘new’ and ‘different’, entirely because they have no experience of what UKIP would be like if they ever got into Government).
Moving the Labour Party properly to the left requires courage, because it will always lead to hysteria in the right wing media, but it is a courage that Miliband needed to find, and he never quite managed it, offering only compromises instead that his famous father would probably have sneered at; more attempts to ‘civilise’ capitalism instead of to implement an alternative to it.
This ‘Austerity-lite’ approach was simply swept aside at the polls by the explicit ‘anti-Austerity’ talk of the SNP.
However, you must pardon my skepticism over whether the SNP’s actions will ever match the progressiveness of their words. It has seldom done so since the Nationalists took over Holyrood in 2007.
Mr Odoni is absolutely correct in claiming that Labour was not too far to the left – in fact, Labour has not been left-wing enough. Members of the party must now fight to rebuild the genuine left-wing alternative that Labour was always meant to be.
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