In my first book I included a prediction that New Labour was an unsustainable election-winning machine that would eventually break down, fixed only by the progressive values that the party was founded upon. That’s what happened.
When Ed Miliband became a candidate for leader of the Labour Party, he was seen as the best hope for a realistic opportunity to take the party back on its progressive course. When he became leader via a total of votes cast by MPs, members, and union members, many of us celebrated. His statesmanlike yet Blairite brother was defeated, and it was the demise of New Labour; time to start over.
As I’ve discussed at length several times here, Ed faced an immediate backlash from:
So, straight from the start, Ed Miliband had it made clear to him that trying to pry himself and his base away from the clutches of New Labour ideology that sought to support much of Thatcher’s capitalist quests wouldn’t be easy: he was being bullied into backing off from the stuff that would’ve made his dad proud. But hey, he still had his party members and all the grassroots activists to stick by him, right?
They crucified him.
Party members complained about his presentation in public. Bloggers ranted that he wasn’t socialist enough. Citizens in cities across the country blamed him for “allowing” Labour councils to slash services despite their budgets being cut by the national coalition government on high. In spite of the fact he even brazenly spoke at the March 26th “March for the Alternative” organised by major unions and even being cunningly juxtaposed by Murdoch’s Sky speaking over footage of rioting protesters, Ed got nothing much from the lefties besides a bashing. It was incredible. Did they, deep down, long for New Labour? Had they long since fallen in love with their oppressors?
As the months went by, Ed’s language softened. He took baby-steps away from anything that could be spun as reinforcing his “Red Ed” image as all the knives came out from inside his party and other parties, while the press slaughtered him. Few rallied to his side to stand up for him, making it easier for these forces to pile on the pressure to have him change his position further.
The one hope Labour had in a leader considered by undecided voters to be the best bet – by proxy – of abandoning New Labour was, incredibly, actually lacking in support from the reds. With each passing month of his leadership, the armchair experts spent more and more energy criticising Ed Miliband than I’d seen them use even to criticise his New Labour predecessors. In turn, this vulnerability was capitalised on by the media. He was defenceless. He remains defenceless today.
If Ed Miliband actually loses the leadership before 2015, what would that do to Labour? Well, apart from the party resembling the mess that was the Tory Party from 1997 to 2005 and starting a series of upheavals that could last several elections, it would likely leave its leadership position immediately open to a more Blairite politician.
Sure, we all know that no matter what they tell the press, Labour would never wreak upon Britain the kind of devastation done by the Tories at the moment, pay freezes and spending cuts or no – because they answer to a broad base of left-wing unions and community members who forced even the odious Tony Blair to pass some progressive policies. But isn’t it better to stick by a leader who comes from a more progressive position on a personal basis, rather than one doing things for people under duress? Ed Miliband is, on paper, arguably the best Labour leader the party’s had since 1994 at the latest. The Labour party needs a strong leader, but any leader is only as strong as his followers entrust and empower him to be.
So far, too many of Labour’s followers have guided their party right into the right-wing media’s hands. If they want to win the next election at all, they’d better rally round their leader, and they’d better do it fast – activists, bloggers; all of them. While they’re wanting him to stay progressive, in this system he needs all the help he can get.
*TINA: There Is No Alternative