Home Politicians Labor’s Next Leader: A New Hope

Labor’s Next Leader: A New Hope

255
1
SHARE

(While we’re waiting for U.S. election returns tonight, here’s a guest column by an astute British friend of mine on the future of the Labor Party. Enjoy. – promoted by lowkell)

Good to see the National Executive Committee of the Labor Party has decided that the race to succeed former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will now go on until September of this year. As well as giving the party a chance to renew itself properly and attracting a few new members, a longer contest will play a crucial role in raising the profile of Labour’s next generation, offering both the candidates and their senior endorsers a chance to endear themselves to the public…

Good to see the National Executive Committee of the Labor Party has decided that the race to succeed former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will now go on until September of this year. As well as giving the party a chance to renew itself properly and attracting a few new members, a longer contest will play a crucial role in raising the profile of Labor’s next generation, offering both the candidates and their senior endorsers a chance to endear themselves to the public. Such a move will render the opposition unable to box clever against the Cameron administration’s economic programme, but George’s Osborne’s premature spending cuts will damage the coalition no matter how hard its press officers spin. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King’s off-the-record comments about the levels of unpopularity the current government could plum are likely to prove far more prescient than his lousy inflation forecasts.

On top of getting the scheduling issue right, Labor also looks like it is all set up to address the reasons why it lost power last week. Rather than retreating to issues that are largely irrelevant to most voters (constitutional reform?), the party’s leading voices have shown a willingness to tackle economic and social problems that elements of the centre-left often shy away from discussing. In debating immigration, long the third rail of British politics, the main contenders have already moved the party onto interesting new ground. Their ideas on how to combat the motors of working class resentment – which includes everything from the poor quality of privately-rented housing to an unfair incomes policy – will stand the party in good stead, assuming they get followed through.

On the million dollar question of who should become Labor leader, I’m going with Ed Miliband. The former Energy Secretary has the charm and easygoing manner necessary to succeed in the big leagues. Periods spent as Brown’s envoy to Tony Blair’s inner circle mean he is ideally placed to heal the faction fighting characteristic of Labor’s time in government, while his service as the Chair of the Treasury’s Council of Economic Advisers gives him the gravitas to speak on economic matters. The commitment to making international institutions work that he showed at Copenhagen additionally suggests he’d be able to articulate a clear vision on global issues, including the question of Iran’s nuclear programme, which is set to rise in importance over the lifetime of this parliament. Brother David has obvious expertise in this area from his time at the Foreign Office, but his derisory comments about the United Nations at the Iraq Inquiry were troublesome and indicative of a hawkish incoherence that Labour has suffered from on foreign policy for a while now. It’s time for a fresh start.

  • Teddy Goodson

    Did I read this correctly, when Larry writes:

    Rather than retreating to issues that are largely irrelevant to most voters (constitutional reform?), the party’s leading voices have shown a willingness to tackle economic and social problems that elements of the centre-left often shy away from discussing. In debating immigration, long the third rail of British politics, the main contenders have already moved the party onto interesting new ground. Their ideas on how to combat the motors of working class resentment – which includes everything from the poor quality of privately-rented housing to an unfair incomes policy – will stand the party in good stead, assuming they get followed through.

    To me this sounds like: out with what I refer to as the “barnacle-encrusted” Establishment and really speak up on grassroots issues, which means more progressivism, less Conventional Wisdom-ism. Kick out the slothful, don’t rock-my boat old leaders, and really offer a coherent alternative. New frames. New policies from the ground up.

    Hmmm. Is this is teaching moment?