No organisational wheeze will rescue my party. But a determined agenda to tackle unaccountable power could win back support—right across our fractured countryby Lisa Nandy / March 14, 2017 / Leave a comment
Whatever the future for Labour, it does not lie in backroom deals in Westminster. The breakaway of the Parliamentary Party from the grassroots, as floated by Ross McKibbin, might provide a short-term fix for the impasse over the leadership, but it would do little to deal with the depth of the challenge Labour faces.
Why not? Because the internal tensions in the Labour Party mirror the tensions in the country as a whole. The views and values in those community-minded towns which prize stability and continuity, is increasingly divergent from that in the liberal, fast-paced, diverse cities. This gulf was illustrated most starkly by the Brexit vote, but growing differences over immigration, climate change and LGBT rights are also apparent.
This disjunction is a global phenomenon. In the United States, a handful of dispossessed voters in mainly rural areas propelled Donald Trump to the White House, while in France depressed urban “haloes” on the edge of the cities are boosting Marine Le Pen. It is caused in no small part by globalisation, which has swept away many of the things—shared institutions, distinct local high streets, time with families and secure work—that matter most to those who have been more likely to lose them. It has cut the centre-left political class off from its traditional support base. That severance could not be more serious: the threat it poses is existential.
But while Labour is tugged in two directions, so too is the country. In the face of this, some parties—the Lib Dems and Ukip —have chosen confrontation. Others, like Theresa May’s Conservatives—have chosen compromise, with the two Tory sides living uneasily alongside each other, but with clear unresolved differences. This has left a vacuum of leadership that must now be filled by a programme to reunite a divided country.
That is where Labour’s biggest weakness becomes its great strength. There are clear differences between those Labour-held seats who voted overwhelmingly to “Leave” the EU and those that voted overwhelmingly to “Remain.” But consider what they have in common: Labour.
For decades, people in communities like David Lammy’s inner-London Tottenham, and my own constituency in Wigan have— despite long having lived divergent lives, with cultural outlooks and political priorities—nonetheless both voted solidly for us. In the past, from the creation of the NHS to the building of Sure…