Labour lost the election, got humiliated and Ed Milliband’s failed time as leader ended is a result that few predicted, but many people had predicted that Labour would have to overacheive to get Milliband any where near Number 10 and even then, he’d have to have relied upon SNP support, something many in Labour would never have accepted.
So the first thing I say to Labour is stop blaming the SNP for your loss. It isn’t their fault that in a democracy they provided an alternative to you which is of course anti-austerity compared to Labour’s austerity-lite. That added to Labour’s extraordinary hubris and lack of self awareness has killed them not to mention the fact that socialism is never going to win over the people of England, not that Labour have even been remotely socialist for decades of course.
And here’s the brutal point that will upset Labour supporters. Clinging onto socialist ideas while supporting a neoliberal party of the right in Labour is daft. It taints the idea of socialism and shows just how many people supporting Labour are stuck in old ideas that do have parts that work, but on the whole socialism is never going to be anything more than a fringe idea which doesn’t mean it’s dead. It just needs to stop looking back, and instead look forward. Labour tried the whole ‘we did the NHS, welfare state, etc’ thing during the election but it’s as backward looking as UKIP’s vision of a country that never happened apart from in Ealing Films.
The Tories presented a vision of the future. It’s a horrible fucked up selfish vision but people fell for it. Labour painted a lightly less evil version of that but with Ed Balls standing there, a man even more hated than George Osborne for many people and Milliband made a massive error making him such a prominent member of his shadow cabinet, but the Tories threw everything at this and did enough to break out their core vote, and got over the line. Just.
Labour failed to connect. They didn’t get out and speak to people in the schemes and estates. They had gimmicky ‘public meeting’ with bright eyed young party members or older ones that always voted Labour because their ma and da did.They didn’t meet the people on their terms. They seemed to avoid it due to them being scared it seems of being told to fuck off, or actually have to deal with hard criticism of a party that says it’s for the people but doesn’t act like it. Draping themselves in the Union Flag didn’t help either as embracing Unionism probably killed them not just in Scotland, but across the UK as Labour embracing Unionism (and may I point out Unionism is a form of nationalism, something Labour proclaim to be against) didn’t once convince.
Labour need now to pull themselves away from the path or austerity, and not drop socialist ideas completely but learn from the likes of the SNP, the Greens and even UKIP as to how to engage with people on a personal level. Look at Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas or Nigel Farage, you may disagree with their politics but all three have an extraordinary appeal to people outside of the political bubble. All three can speak to people on their terms, and yes the content of Sturgeon or Lucas’s messages are more informed than Farage’s drivel but imagine just one Labour candidate for the leadership who have even the popular appeal of any one of those?
I suggest Labour supporters across the UK read this article on Bella Caledonia and grasp it. It suggests a sensible set of reasons not only for the new politics Nicola Sturgeon has introduced to Scotland but how the SNP connected with the working class. After all, I look at many SNP MP’s and they look like real people. I look at the failed Labour MP’s and they look like over entitled careeists that were never really interested in serving the people they worked for.
A democracy though without the Labour Party is a lesser one. It needs it’s voice heard, once of course it finds that voice and it cannot win by returning to Blairism and going ever further to the right, and it can’t take the mantle of social democracy in Scotland as the SNP have that very firmly locked up, nor does it seem they’ll be able to pass as socialists as the SSP are going to ensure that doesn’t happen next year so for Scotland, they have issues greater than the rest of the UK. The party’s only hope there is to become independent of London and declare itself a party of self determination or independence. It needs an independent voice from the London party and fast as the Holyrood elections are only a year away.
And the English and Welsh Labour party needs to work out what it’s there for. Labour were on 29% of the popular vote. That’s dismal but ask people what Labour stand for and they’ll say ‘The NHS’, but this is also the party that allowed the start of real privatisation of the NHS, so there’s a contradiction because people are tired of Labour saying one thing and being another. They need to say and do what they mean. They could adopt social democracy and instead of considering a leader as another ‘big beast’ from the front benches, look elsewhere as I tell you now if Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper is leader at the next election they’ll again lose.
So the party in England needs help and although I no longer intend to ever vote for the party, I do wish to see them find themselves and soon. I’ve mentioned the Holyrood election next year, but the EU referendum is in 2017 and right now the UK is voting to come out, or to be exact, England will and Scotland will vote to stay and that means the timeline for independence comes down from the 2020’s most on the Yes campaign agree is the next likely time to by the end of this parliament.
Here’s the thing that’s going to stick in Labour throats. They can learn much from the SNP and the Yes campaign. They need to drop the old rhetoric as that’s over The Red Flag is never going to fly ever across any part of the UK, so if you want to fight the Tories (and remember, this is a victory that carries a huge trap for Cameron in the EU referendum and he’s not stupid enough to realise that Scotland is lost to the Union now) learn from the success of the largest grass roots political movement the UK has seen since the days of Labour in their pomp a lifetime ago. With the right people and the right sort of imagination Labour can come back refreshed and different enough to fight the Tory Party that may have won, but their majority is perilous. A few coke induced heart attacks after a George Osborne party or a few sex/expenses scandals will see that majority go, plus that EU referendum is going to get the large amount of radical rightwing English nationalists that sit now in the Commons frothing at the groin and they;d have no problem stabbing Cameron in the front and crossing over to UKIP.
But here’s where I get to my words to Jim Murphy. There’s just two of them. Leave now. If he indeed does remain as leader as he says he will and if indeed he thinks he’s going to be First Minister then he’s dreaming. This is purely about Murphy getting back on the gravy train, and if ‘Scottish’ Labour were smart they’d kick him out, tell him to fuck off and try to repair the real damage he’s done to Labour of today, and of the legacy of Labour itself. If Labour in England do find their voice and there’s Jim Murphy and his sad little gimmicky tin of Irn Bru standing around manufacturing outrage all the time, then the party will never be electable either side of the border. There needs to be a Labour Party standing with the SNP in opposition to the Tories, and if Jim Murphy is still involved with the party in any way that opposition is always going to be hamstrung because Murphy doesn’t care about anyone bar himself.
The next few months are going to be tough. There’s already offers of not just solidarity to the people of England and Wales from Sturgeon, but support and even this weekend there’s talk of affiliate parties to the SNP springing up in England. There are people clearly trying to take things into their own hands and they don’t see Labour as an avenue for change so unless Labour do change themselves they’ll be lost forever and the sad thing is it’s all been so avoidable and it’s all their own fault. So change and do it now, or the people of England and Wales will have right wing governments forever.