Labour needs to redefine itself and redefine the terms of political debate
Today we find out if 100,000s of Labour members will have their voting rights restored. I suspect that the judge will likely say that it’s an internal matter and that the joining conditions were flexible enough for them to be interpreted after the fact in the way that they have been. If not, if the judge finds for the members, then what next from the 171?
My hope is that Corbyn’s leadership team have been using these past weeks to create a plan for moving forward, with or without the majority of the 171. To this point it has seemed that the “plotters” have been permitted to dictate the pace and, frankly, because of their shambolic organization and leadership, the “plotters” pace has been tiresome. Time for the Labour party to move things along. Given that the NEC has been largely responsible for derailing Labour’s democratic machine, the NEC will need to meet and take the lead on getting the party back on track. That will mean restoring the rights for CLPs to meet and encouraging MPs to re-engage in discussions with CLPs.
What does the party need to discuss?
Owen Jones’ “inflammatory” contribution to the answer to that question really isn’t all that inflammatory when you boil it down:
How can the disastrous polling be turned around?
No one would argue that the current polling isn’t bad but … polling … Meh! Polls change all the time and currently they reflect the impact of the anti-Corbyn campaign, which has been the only “successful” area of the “coup”. If polls reflect public consciousness of Labour then the sooner we get the “coup” out of the way, the sooner Labour can begin to rebuild its image that the “plotters” have so badly tarnished. A sure fire way of improving public trust in Labour will be a clear message that the leadership have cleaned house and is ready to move forward.
Where is the clear vision?
Again, no one could reasonably argue that Labour hasn’t suffered from a lack of a clear vision in the past and Brexit is probably one example of where having a clear vision wins votes. Putting Britain first isn’t a terrible vision and Labour can define the best ways to do that. Spending where we need it so that the people of Britain benefit from the wealth this country generates.
How are the policies significantly different from the last general election?
This is really only partially significant, given that Labour didn’t lose the last general election on policies. The problem lay in not communicating clearly and coherently with the public. The public didn’t really reject the policies.
What’s the media strategy?
This is a tough one and something which Owen Jones could probably throw his hat in the ring for. The “plotters” have demonstrated that they have relationships with the media, which they have used in a negative way to brief against Labour but have not been able or willing to use those relationships to help Labour. Maybe Labour members need a strategy to pressurise media outputters into providing better coverage. News of the World were forced to shut down once companies withdrew all their advertising. If Labour membership reaches a million, then that consumer power might be brought to bear.
What’s the strategy to win over the over-44s?
Another tough one. Get the under-44s to vote in increased numbers would seem like a good start. Don’t patronise, don’t insult, don’t presume that they’ll vote in particular ways, have a clear vision of what voting Labour gains them.
But let’s get MPs and CLPs talking, let’s get the PLP and Labour leadership talking. Let’s do it before September.