Blogspot: Labour’s Leadership: “A Fork in the Road’

News / Tue 4th Aug 2015 at 11:37am

By Jake Shepherd

FALLOUT from the 2015 General Election is still ongoing, the Labour leadership contest has threatened to divide the party before the election results in September are even announced, we really have reached a “Fork in the Road”…

Whilst Harlow Labour Party have declared their endorsement of Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy as their electoral ticket in September’s leadership elections, predicting the outcome of these elections within the party is by far more difficult.

Facing fresh claims from the Conservative Party of being the ‘Workers Party’, a mantra pushed further by our MP Robert Halfon, the Labour Party is struggling to find it’s footing on the political compass. An internal debate, which for many is long over-due, about the direction of the Labour Party has been ongoing over the past few weeks.

However, in a time where the Labour Party is contemplating the direction of its future it is equally important to reflect on its past. This year is the 70th anniversary of the Attlee administration, a time to reflect on the Labour Party’s monumental achievements in office, the publically cherished NHS being just one of many legacies to have survived the post-war consensus. The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, conceding this week that “Modern Labour could not have created the NHS” with the Labour Party being “Frightened of its own shadow”.
If the answer to unifying the party isn’t New Labour and can’t be found within free-market rhetoric then perhaps it is time to resurrect a relic of Labour’s past. Jeremy Corbyn emerged earlier in July as the front runner after previously being dismissed by press and pundits alike, narrowly scraping the thirty-five parliamentary nominations required to contend. Private Labour Party polling saw Corbyn take a 22-point lead in the contest, however Corbyn’s massive lead is not so certain as these figures suggest. When voters’ second preferences are taken into account, Corbyn is only ahead by two points, on 51 per cent to Cooper’s.
The day is by no means won, and the struggle to unite Labour with its historic roots is very much an uphill struggle. After the general election 35% of the electorate did not vote, seemingly uninterested in politics. Is Corbyn is the person to galvanize the public? Perhaps Corbyn is not so much the ‘Enemy Within’ but more the ‘Enemy of the Establishment’, a new opposition to an intrinsic inertia within the party to shift the Overton Window.
Having announced plans for free university education and nationalization before airing he’s intentions to make the Labour Party more democratic with elections for cabinet positions— in a time where the ‘left’ of British politics is divided, having been sentenced to five years of opposition, perhaps this is the leader to unite and form an effective opposition to Conservative dogma. The party that believes “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone” is the same party that must emerge out of these elections. Whoever is elected the party must once again come together regardless of its differences. The Labour Party must cooperate on a cross party basis if it is to effectively oppose the first Conservative majority government for nearly twenty years.
In closing, whilst there are no certainties in this upcoming leadership election. However, solidarity is surly the one idea that all the candidates, if not the party can subscribe to. My hope is to see a stronger and united Labour Party arise in September, equipped and willing to work with other parties to represent the 64% of people who oppose the Conservative government in the difficult times to kind.
Authored by Jake Shepherd

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