Monday, June 01, 2009

The Death of Labour?

Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging | Madeleine Bunting | Comment is free | The Guardian

Apart from a few diehards, it will be hard to mourn the defeat in 2010 of a political party that lost its moral bearings in its bid to woo middle England, slavishly reflecting back what it believed this narrow constituency wanted to hear. It won ballots by flattering and indulging a mythology of the good life as individualistic aspiration and material enrichment, and never challenged the multiple erroneous assumptions on which this was based. On the two vital progressive issues of its age – inequality and the environment – it wasted a crucial decade and squandered parliamentary majorities on contradictory and inadequate gestures.

What it palpably failed to grasp was how crucial political reform was to regenerate progressive politics. A party that had been professionalised and managerialised in the 80s, not surprisingly, did not understand how to respond to people's appetite to participate, and author their own lives. It only knew how to manipulate and manage public engagement, and earned deep resentment for doing both. Only out of the rubble of defeat in 2010 will a new progressive politics begin painfully to emerge well beyond the bankrupted conventions of Westminster politics.

Other Guardian writers such as Jackie Ashley today also seem to have given up on Labour.

Let me be clear. I think Bunting's criticism is right. But I still think the Labour Party will be the vital core of a renewed Left.

Apart from anything else it will still have probably 150-180 seats in Parliament.

The key issue from now on is how that rump interacts with the much broader center-left in Britain.

There is now no significant Militant/Trostkyist faction to be scared of. The center-left's main split now is between those who believe everlasting economic growth is possible and desirable and those who realise that the planet we live on is an exhaustible resource.

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