Whilst the Labour Party have been bickering amongst themselves as to whether they should veer to the left, or return to the Blairite centre, the Conservative Government have been pushing through their own policies in a rather opportunistic fashion – seizing the power that has been unexpectedly bestowed upon them since their majority election win.With the recent budget and various other policies, the Tories seem to taking a far right “Thatcherite” approach to the way they intend to govern our country. This of course should be very worrying to anyone from a working class background (particularly those in the north), or those that believe in equality and social mobility: indeed the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) has reported that three million families will be an average of £1,000 worse off as a result of the decision’s made by George Osborne and his colleagues – so much for them being the party of the worker.
So what are Labour doing whilst the conservatives are pushing through their self-serving agenda, giving tax breaks to the rich and big businesses whilst the most vulnerable in the country are being victimised?
Squabbling! Is Jeremy Corbyn “unelectable”? Should Liz Kendall stand for the Conservatives rather than Labour? Are they opposed to welfare cuts or not? Tory supporters are rubbing their hands together, and apparently encouraging their peers to pay the £3 Labour membership fee to vote for Jeremy Corbyn to “destroy” the Labour party: behaviour I’m sure anyone of a sound moral standing would not condone.
Yes, Labour need to debate different ideas and ways of winning back votes, but the divide in the party is simply giving the Tories further ammunition. Some of the attacks amongst party supporters are simply not acceptable for a party with the beliefs such as that of The Labour Party. Labour, and its supporters, should inspiring people with hope (a word Andy Burnham has often repeated), not sinking to the Tory standards of using fear to win votes.
The left has begun to mobilize, with groups such as UK Uncut, leading protests against further austerity. But the Labour Party is being left behind, and again looking very out of touch with those that it purports to represent. The SNP, a good example of how to re-invigorate people’s interest in politics, have arguably been the Government’s strongest opposition to date, successfully ensuring a U-turn on the proposed relaxation of fox hunting laws.
And, of course, the Tory biased media have been out in force. The Telegraph has recently published articles titled “Who died and put the IFS in charge of everything?” and “Why social mobility could be bad for your health” – this alongside influencing the government to disembowel the BBC, for blatant self interested motives.
The power of the media however cannot be underestimated. Arguably the media’s personal attack on Ed Miliband and Labour’s trustworthiness during the election campaign played a major part in the Tory victory, but I would like to believe the general public are not as naive and easily influenced as Murdoch and his Tory friends seem to think. But “The Politics of Fear” has proved it can be a powerful tool is utilised cleverly.
A weak Labour Party is bad for the country, as the two party based electoral system means they are the only viable opposition. They cannot oppose until they know where they stand, they have little credibility until they offer their alternative to policy. Labour need to come back strongly for the good of democracy and the good of this country, but the common view at present seems to be that none of the leadership candidates inspire.
Labour are flailing around, wondering which way to swim and to what extent they need to pander to the media and the lost Tory voter. Their decision to abstain (bar the 48 MP’s who rebelled) in the vote for the new welfare cuts shows just how deep under they could be getting themselves. This is a decision, whilst aimed to make them seem more electable to Middle England, goes against the parties founding principles. It will have left its members, and core voters, feeling betrayed and disappointed – so at what cost will this decision have been?
Labour need a clear message, they need to appeal to those who feel victimised by this Tory government and those who have become disenchanted by politicians. They are fighting on various fronts and different sides of the political spectrum, winning back those who voted SNP in Scotland, those who voted UKIP in the north, and those who voted Conservative in middle England – but one thing is clear, they need to engage those who didn’t vote and capitalise on the Tory Party’s vulgar attack on young people (already being branded as “The Lost Generation”) who are being made to suffer for mistakes that they played no part in.
All in all, Labour need to stop arguing about left, centre and right, and speak to the people. They need to appear more human and down to earth than the millionaire Tory cabinet. People are unwise to write off the Labour party, claiming they may be damaged for an entire generation, because the regressive Conservative economic and social plan could bring this once great country to its knees.
Labour need to offer an alternative. They need to challenge the Tory Party and inspire hope and confidence that we can have a better future as a nation. They need to be ready to pounce on any given opportunity and pave the way for change – having a new leader and a clear message in place is a vital step, and cannot happen soon enough.
Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA – Labour leadership contenders (from left) Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn during a hustings debate on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.