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The Modern Labour Party

A front divided cannot stand.

Journalists continue to ask a simple question - what are Labour’s policies? Five years ago we had a manifesto that inspired Britain to hope once again after Austerity; or was it a harrowing image of a future with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister? Today the strategy has changed. The fight for Downing Street is not on the basis of policy, that which the Conservatives simply do not possess, rather both parties have accepted this is about Johnson’s trust and personality.[1] Since the morally corrupt Conservatives have no policy base, why has Starmer refused to announce his policies for the future? In 2019, the campaign against Johnson was led by a manifesto which had a detailed plan to reorganise every inch of the UK, and yet it was presented as a maniac’s plan versus the simple Get Brexit Done. Sunak and Johnson have no morals; they will implement anything to gain political power. To have a reasonable and honest debate about economic or social policy with this Government is doomed to fail.[2] Rather, their lack of direction must be revealed as proof of buffoonery and incompetence. To do that, their true characters have to be shown, which will take the concentration of the entire party and media. Policy simply isn't priority.

Brexit unveiled a divide that had been forming all this time between those who see Britain as a force that can improve the life of all of its citizens so long as the rest of the world does not get in the way, and those who see Britain as a force that can improve the life of the entire world so long as our past does not get in the way. Brexit may be over but this divide is far from gone.[3] This is a fundamentally split nation between those who are liberal progressives, and conservatively regressive. Unlike the left-right divide, this Overton window on social policy is constantly and consistently shifting in only one direction. Every generation will be more progressive than the last, so long as education levels improve.[4] Brexit was the fight back of regressive politics; it threatened the very inevitable nature of social progress for the first time since John Major.[5] It shifted the Tories so regressive that they are actually attempting to send asylum seekers to the middle of Africa. The one thing that bridges both sides of Britain is morals and integrity, the government has betrayed the trust of regressives to such a degree that they are permanently weakened.[6] The future of Britain and the Conservatives hugely impact what The Modern Labour Party will look like, and it must be the party of competence and stability to win enough of progressive and regressive voters to get a majority of seats.

In decades past there were battles between Militant and Kinnock, with Trotskyites versus Blair, continuing until Momentum against the Labour MPs. These were all inherently battles between radical leftists and moderate career politicians, both sides being disingenuous with their motivations. I believe this battle for the soul of the Labour Party is finally over, with neither side being victorious. The far left cannot win over the necessary portion of the British public to gain the power they so crave. The one time they successfully conquered the party leadership, two harsh defeats destroyed fourty years of work. Top figures such as those at the top of Young Labour, and previous prospective parliamentary candidates of Momentum are in de facto political exile.[7] On the other side, Blair pioneered progressive politics, even if lacking in certain aspects, most notably tuition fees, parliament reform, and Iraq. The unrelenting march of progress swept the once traditional nature of trade unions and even the most regressive corners of Labour are collapsing under the sheer weight of the future. Those MPs who once held such power over the party have been deselected, unseated, or too scarred to continue. Finally, Miliband brought proper democracy to internal party systems, with STV in NEC elections being the final democratic reform in 2020. All of this is allowing a new generation of politicians who reject the former battle lines of left and right to join the fray.[8]

Some of this new generation are regressive sure, but the vast majority of them are academic, impassioned, and liberal. Labour’s future candidate program in 2011 built a diverse team of candidates that could have revolutionised politics, if only Miliband won in 2015. This could be Starmer’s Labour legacy, the party of Beckett and Skinner would be replaced by that of Nichols and Anderson. I cannot predict when or how the next General Election will play out in this political landscape, but if Labour wins a sizeable minority or even a majority, there will be a huge influx of new Labour MPs. Many of these could be affiliated with internal groups such as Progress or Open Labour. The trickle-up effect of this demographic change would existentially reform the entire party; never again would Labour internally fight on the false pretence of far-left versus centrist politics. Labour will be the party of stability, of fiscal responsibility, of progressive politics, because the Conservatives represent everything Britain must leave behind. Corbyn didn’t bring us into the 1970s, Johnson did, but Starmer will stabilise Britain then take us into a new beginning. He is only the first step, this is a generational shift that will take decades, but it is here to stay. That should be Labour’s vision of the future. This is a New Britain, a New Labour, a Modern Labour.


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