Seemingly and stunningly, in an act of desperate catharsis, the Labour Party is already well down the road in selecting Ed’s successor just days after it suffered an Election defeat that by any standard, was jaw-dropping.
The recriminations over its campaign strategy, leadership style and tellingly, ‘failure to get (the Labour) message across’, will plague the Party hierarchy for months if not years.
But don’t worry. Come September, once Yvette, Andy, Liz or whoever is anointed to the accompanying sound of heavenly choirs, as above, dark clouds are scattered and the Party faithful find themselves bathed in nourishing sunlight, all will be well, once again, in Labour world.
Act in haste. Repent at your leisure centre count.
Or perhaps not. As any respected brand strategist might not say, they’ve got it arse about face.
The Party is in danger of compounding its errors. Negotiations and horse trading will happen in smoke-empty rooms late into the night as the Party’s great and good prepare to fill the leadership vacancy at Conference, in September.
But for us mere mortals, the face of a future Labour Party is currently informed by vague platitudes delivered earnestly by the leadership hopefuls, each desperate not to disenfranchise any part of The Party or wider electorate. Not a good start.
Yvette talks about Labour being “connected to the day to day realities of life,” and that she wants “…to make life better for Britain’s families”. It gets worse; Andy wants to give “every single person the dream of a better life”. It can’t get worse. Yes it can. As a Cambridge English graduate Mr Burnham also keenly observes “Labour wins when it speaks for everyone”. Entrance exams must have got harder since.
The Labour Party is a brand, like it or not and, undeterred by the prospective leaders’ bland utterances, it has to decide where it sits in the political landscape, acknowledging that, like any political party, it will never ‘speak for everyone’.
There is no market share in politics; there is power or opposition. So there is too much at stake and it’s too soon to let Yvette’s, Andy’s or any one candidate’s hastily prepared view shape the Party.
Cancel the leadership election process now (what’s the hurry? Ask Harriet Harman to maintain a holding pattern); reflect, research, review and regroup; talk to the people who did and didn’t vote Labour; shape a credible, resonant and clear proposition for the Party based upon what will have been learnt.
Then, and only then, ask Tristram et al how they’ll help drive, develop and deliver the agreed Labour brand promise. Then pick the winner.
Note: I acted as PR Officer for the Labour Candidate contesting the Tewkesbury Constituency in the 1997 General Election. I voted for Alex Chalk, the now Conservative MP for Cheltenham, in the 2015 General Election.