Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 25 May 2015

There is one thing Labour needs to do that is more important than who they choose as leader

So the Labour leadership campaign is off and running. It is of course important that they choose the right person to lead them through the next parliament and into the next election.

For what it is worth, from what I have seen so far I think Liz Kendall would be the best leader of the runners. I think she has the best chance of moving the party more onto the centre-ground where it needs to be and she is also not tainted by direct association with the Blair or Brown regimes unlike Burnham and Cooper. From a personal perspective she also seems to be more liberal than many in her party.

However there is something even more important than choosing their next leader that Labour needs to do. And I would suggest their window of opportunity for doing it is limited to the next few months before the next leader is chosen.

It is simply to make it easier to get rid of a sitting leader.

I have watched now, twice in succession Labour go into a general election with a leader who was not likely to win the election for them.

First Gordon Brown after "The Election That Never Was" in 2007 was damaged goods and was clearly not going to be able to win a majority or even be the largest party in a hung parliament. It was obvious that Cameron was going to beat him. But despite several attempts to unseat Brown (e.g. James Purnell resigning immediately after the Euro elections in 2009, the "Snow Plot" of early 2010 etc.) none came to fruition.

And more recently Ed Miliband. Although the polls seemed to indicate he had a chance against Cameron there were two indicators that militated strongly against him, i.e. his personal ratings against Cameron (who always led by a long way on this metric) and the party's economic ratings. There actually was not an attempt to unseat Miliband but given how difficult it is to unseat a Labour leader that is not surprising.

Labour just cannot afford to yet again find themselves sleepwalking into an electoral massacre with a leader who is not up to the job. So regardless of who wins the leadership the party needs to find a way to modify its constitution to enable an unsuitable leader to be removed from office as its leader much more easily than is currently the case. That way come 2017 or 2018 if it becomes clear that whoever they have chosen is not right they can get rid of them and try again.

The Conservatives got rid of IDS in 2003 when it became clear he was going to lead them into another disastrous defeat. And although they still lost in 2005 it was by a much narrower margin than they almost certainly would have done and hence paved the way for Cameron in 2010 to become PM. Labour need to take a leaf out of their book and create a structure that allows them to be more ruthless.

If they are serious about getting back into power in the next decade they absolutely have to do this,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surely getting serious about proportional representation and an English parliament is their way back?

Without Scotland and with the S.N.P used by the Tories to scare English voters, Labour are finished. Worse, they could even lose the North to UK I if the right wing media get their way.