Monday, September 04, 2006

John McDonnell: Leadership contest? Bring it on

Labour left leadership hopeful John McDonnell points out that if the party is ever going to win back its traditional supporters and rebuild a mass membership base, it will take more than a change of figurehead. This is how it puts it in a press release issued today:

‘Many Labour MPs who have supported Blair for over a decade and voted for virtually every policy he has put in front of them have suddenly woken up to the need for Blair to go.

‘For some it is a fairly desperate attempt to save their seats which successive polls now clearly demonstrate are threatened at the next election. For others it is just Brown's acolytes stirring in the background for their man to succeed Blair sooner rather than later.

‘All this is pretty cynical and more importantly pretty futile. Of course Blair's position is increasingly unsustainable but changing the leader is futile without changing the policies. To coin a phrase "it's the policies stupid.

‘The challenge to those MPs who are calling for Blair to go is what changes in Labour's policies and political direction do they want to see after Blair? What is their post-Blair agenda? If their resignation calls are simply to change Blair for Brown, the architect of most of New Labour's policies, many may well ask what's the point? There would be no change in policies and as a result no effect on the electoral unpopularity of New Labour.

‘Yes Blair should go – but if Labour is to survive in Government there must also be a radical break with the neo-con politics of New Labour.

‘Bring on the leadership election and let's have that debate on the policies not personalities.’

He’s right. A switch from Blair to Brown would have no more political substance than Thatcher’s handover to Major.

If we are to break out of the stranglehold that small c Conservatism currently exercises on British politics, Labour supporters need more than a choice between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi.


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