How right is ‘Next Labour’?

Two more men threw in the gauntlet for the forthcoming Labour Party leadership contest yesterday.

Currently, the contest stands at: the Miliband brothers, Ed Balls, and John McDonnell

On Monday evening, at an over heated and overly cramped Progressive London discussion in the Trades Union Congress headquarters, Ken Livingstone laid down the following points that the party (and thus candidates too) should aim to address:

“One, Labour must recognise that the party lost five million votes after 1997, four million of them under governments led by Tony Blair, during times of economic growth. Therefore our assessment must go deeper than just this election. We have to connect with everyone Labour lost touch with.

“Two, Labour must be a coalition that includes both middle and low income earners. Labour cannot win by limiting itself to either or taking any part of its electorate for granted. We need a policy that leads the whole of society.

“Three, protect investment, defend public services. Bankers, not the public, must pay for the economic crisis. Bankers were paid £8.5bn in bonuses in the four months to April, compared with £7bn during the same period last year. For the bankers, nothing has changed, yet public services are going to be slashed. And for the British economy to revive investment must be defended.

“Four, we must draw a line under the military adventures abroad that revolted many electors and saw trust break down, even before the expenses scandal. Labour must recognise that the Iraq war was a disaster, making us closer to Bush’s America than Obama’s. The public must know Labour will not make this error again.

“Five, Labour must show it is looking to the interests of the next generation and the future of the planet, which means applying progressive levers of investment and planning to tackle the challenge of climate change.

“Six, Labour must defend its relationship with the trade unions from any attempt to demolish this vital link with the largest civil society bodies in our country, democratic organisations that enable Labour to counter the vested interests of multi-millionaire donors like Ashcroft.”

Whilst announcing his candidacy in the contest, John McDonnell said that:

Labour needs a wide contest, and that it must not be merely a battle between “the sons of Blair and the sons of Brown.”

The pool of talent in this race thus far iss limited.

With the narrow demographic of white/male/middle class/Christian/Oxford Graduate that became even more apparent after the instatement of “New Labour” and of Tony Blair as leader in 1994.

Whilst David Miliband campaigns for “Next Labour”, I have to question how ‘next’ or ‘post new Labour’ the party can become under such a narrow scope of thought? Having voted in favour of Iraq, for tighter asylum laws, for the introduction of ID cards, and many other failures in the Labour government catalogue: I am left wondering what the man is going to try to change about the party? Especially under the guidelines that were set out by Ken Livingstone above.

John McDonnell, however, has a more impressive voting record. Being a backbench MP.

  • Voted very strongly against introducing foundation hospitals.votes
  • Voted very strongly for removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords.votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a wholly elected House of Lords.votes
  • Voted moderately for introducing a smoking ban.votes
  • Voted very strongly against allowing ministers to intervene in inquests.votes
  • Voted strongly against Labour’s anti-terrorism laws.votes
  • Voted moderately for laws to stop climate change.votes
  • Voted very strongly against the Iraq war.votes
  • Voted strongly for an investigation into the Iraq war.votes
  • Voted moderately against introducing ID cards.votes
  • Has never voted on a transparent Parliament.votes
  • Voted very strongly for the hunting ban.votes
  • Voted strongly against introducing student top-up fees.votes
  • Voted very strongly against greater autonomy for schools.votes
  • Voted very strongly for equal gay rights.votes
  • Voted strongly against a stricter asylum system.votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against more EU integration.votes
  • Voted very strongly against replacing Trident.

We await a prolonged leadership contest. Behind the fruity photos of David Miliband and the “cool” image of his younger sibling; I would advise everybody who has a vote to look very carefully at which way the party would be taken under the ‘next’ Labour regime. Further to the right, or realigned and democratised?
Since publishing, Diane Abbott MP of Hackney North has announced that she will be standing for Labour party leader.

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