Monday, May 10, 2010

Against the coalition of the losers

Jess Asato has a good article about the need for Labour to learn the lessons from the elections:

"If Labour is going to win back the key seats needed to form a government next time, it needs to identify the best campaigns across the country and replicate their winning elements. This means selecting personable candidates who are willing to work 24/7, appointing diligent consituency organisers and identifying local issues which galvanise the electorate to identify Labour as a party which cares about their day-to-day needs, not the demands of lobby journalists."

Jess could have added that it also requires candidates prepared to vote against their party when they think Labour is doing the wrong thing - whether that's Andrew Smith over Trident, Andy Slaughter over Heathrow, Gisela Stuart over Europe or John McDonnell over everything.

One implication of this which people haven't yet realised is that it means that Labour can't be part of a Lib/Lab "coalition of the losers". Dozens of Labour MPs got elected by pledging to be strong, independent voices who would put their constituents first. But in a coalition government, if as few as two or three Labour MPs put their constituents ahead of their party, it would lead to the defeat of the government on key pieces of legislation. Even if it were possible to get them all to vote exactly the same way on everything, it would be undesirable.

The electorate gave a clear preference for independent-minded, effective Labour candidates who are rooted in their communities, who keep in touch all year round and are on the side of the people they seek to represent. It's vital for democratic renewal and social justice that Labour learns how to campaign effectively in every constituency and every community, spreading and learning from the good work where this already happens. This is far more important for the people who need Labour's help most than trivia such as which Oxford educated former Special Adviser becomes our next leader.

This process of learning and renewal will take a little time, but will reap great rewards. But just at the moment, it means that Labour can't enter into coalition government.


At 5:29 am , Anonymous Gilesyb said...

Great post, Don. I hear that on Newsnight the opposition to the pact idea was strong.

I doubt they could carry an AV vote through right now

At 9:19 am , Anonymous Paul said...


Keep the Tories from power at all cost. Only a short time in power will be enough for them to wreak havoc.

This outweighs the other (worthy) factors you set out here. Hardworking local MPs committed to their constituencies can still get a lot done even if they have to toe the odd line to keep on keeping the Tories and their 'economic stability' narrative out.

At 11:28 am , Anonymous Will said...

Don, I see your point.

However, Labour campaigners have spent the last few months emphasising how terrible a Tory government, their vicious cuts and unfair tax rises would be for the country (particularly for the poorest).

If that's the case (and I think it is) how can you now stand back and let it happen? To me, as a Labour voter, that would be a bigger betrayal.

Is there not a danger you're putting the good of the party above the values you are presumably in politics to fight for?

At 1:31 pm , Blogger Shuggy said...

Not bollox. Good post. Those advocating a 'progressive coalition' aren't thinking of the medium term, let alone the long-term. Apart from anything else, the 'progressive majority' advocates are the grave-diggers of the Union. Why do they think Salmond suggested it? Some English 'progressives' might not care about this but I do.

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