Letter No 54  by Mike Allott:  email | back to directory
 

27 June 2013

The choice for Labour: socialism or pledge-cards

Falkirk constituency has been put into special measures by Labour's NEC following "stitch up" claims (Report, 25 June).

But the transparency of Unite's political crusade belies any intended malpractice: they have campaigned in good faith; their well-meaning socialist goals have been there for all to see.

No, the issue at stake is the lack of strategic direction from Labour's leadership. Old Labour and New Labour are not compatible and never will be. Socialism is the very antithesis of capitalism and no end of relabelling will make old values electable. If this severe and visible rift persists, 20 years of rebuilding credibility will have been wasted.

Labour has already had its modern revolution. Blair won our arguments in the country, and those that mattered within the party.

Remember, New Labour was conceived as a "programme for a new centre, and centre-left, politics" (see Labour's 1997 manifesto). The underlying assumption (then) of a Liberal coalition, in the event, gave birth to unexpected landslide Labour majorities and to what surely became the most successful and influential popular political movement in modern history.

These populist New Labour principles are still as relevant as ever. Pendulum politics will now likely exclude extremes, and even more likely reward centrist coalitions.

If the price of Labour's paymaster is to require us to withdraw into the ideological comfort zone of our core activists (in order to re-engage in our old internal battles), then Labour's generals will have perversely snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (well in keeping with our party's Old Labour traditions).

A party with discipline, clarity and pledgecards wins elections. Not a party that follows the line of least resistance.

Mike Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire

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This letter was published as part of sequenced debate concerning Labour's relationship with the Unions: See the online version of this letter at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jun/27/choice-labour-socialism-pledge-cards

The Guardian, Thursday 27 June 2013 20.59 BST