Memo to Labour: Less bitching, more listening

There are times when I question why I’m even in the Labour party*.

Not because of our leader, who I support, or based on policies which I broadly agree with (no person could or should ever support 100% of a manifesto, unless they are a party of one).

It is the sheer sense of entitlement that emanates from every faction within.

You only need to look at the reactionary comments to Ed Balls’ speech to the Fabians to see this in all it’s glory.

If we are a party of all – which I think we are – why are we incapable of having a grown-up discussion about anything? Why do we immediately go to the default bag of tricks, muttering “sell-out” or “Tory”; “sack the leader” or “___ for leader”? It isn’t a competition, to see which pseudo-intellectual bollocks wins the idealogical-battle-of-the-week award.

Because the world outside of the activist bubble? Where people don’t really give a toss about which little nook of the big red canvas you’ve carved for yourself? Want answers.

And here’s a little secret for you – they can deal with tough answers. They aren’t children, like us; they appreciate facts and figures and the truth.

So, if we say to them Osborne’s plans are so bad that the economy will be awful in 2015? They’ll get it.

And if we say we will spend the next three years doing our best to get them to change course so this damage is limited? They’ll get it.

And if, at the end of all this, they elect us? When we say “we can fix this, but not this”, they will get it.

In fact, the only people that don’t seem to get this pragmatic, realistic telling of what has to be is … well … the Labour party.

Being credible is about being honest and – sometimes – the truth hurts.

The truth is, we aren’t in Government – all we can do is keep telling the country and the Govt they are wrong. We don’t want to be proved right re: the state of the economy (nobody wants to gloat at people’s suffering), but we probably will be.

The truth is, there will be no surplus money (in any country, courtesy of the Eurozone) to magically erase the cuts.

And the truth is, right now, that there are those more concerned with battling for internal, ideological dominance than listening to what is being said.

Listening costs nothing, but it is the key to everything.

*…well that was prophetic, wasn’t it?


About Stackee

All you need is love. Well, that, and ice cream, beaches, Sci-Fi and pi(e). Perhaps water too.
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2 Responses to Memo to Labour: Less bitching, more listening

  1. Jamie Robinson (@MCMLXXVI_ad) says:

    I’d broadly agree with that; but the dust hasn’t yet settled on this one.

    Needless to say that whilst Labour has, and probably always will be, the broadest of churches we should doggedly pursue the right of every faculty of interest within this church to air their views and present their case with intellectual rigour. In spite of whether we agree with them or not.

    As Owen Jones mention in his piece for the New Statesman this announcement by Ed Balls (hardly a policy shift as such but a definitive statement of intent) certainly wasn’t democratically arrived at inside Labour. The very least we should do is allow debate to happen internally and not deliberately stifle it. We are, are we not, a democratic party?

    My own view is that the leadership have started to move away from the actual mood of the Labour Movement itself as a whole. Which isn’t to suggest that I don’t feel Ed Milliband’s stance is wrong – anyone arguing against cuts has to de facto justify deficit denial. It is to suggest that, in a world where the Tory cuts agenda is bottoming out in the polls, it seems a political own goal to say “we hate them cuts but we won’t change anything about them”. We’re funded by trade unions and we’ve told them to take the hit with both job cuts and pay freezes – a stance they are vehemently opposed to. There is the broader question of why the public sector is being blamed for the cuts which is for another day. But are we really expecting them to be quiet about it? If, for kindess, we should substitute blindness – I don’t sympathize.

    I agree with you – we’re cutting too far too fast and that’s Labour’s policy and always has been – and some of us who came out against Balls’ move certainly do not hold the electorate with intellectual disdain. It’s about making an argument needlessly harder to win than it previously was.

    Fundamentally it is difficult to say that people should put up and shut up when, in actual fact, they disagree. Some inside Labour reject austerity outright: I’m not one of them but if I were I’d be upset at Balls’ statement and would probably say so. People like me feel that this announcement plays right into Osborne’s hands more as a PR owngoal.

    What worries me is – is there now only one way of thinking allowed?

    • Stackee says:

      I think the more people who contribute the better, but the problem is each set doesn’t want to engage on an equal level – there is too much right/wrong, good/evil being bandied about instead of reasoned setting out of which bits are OK, which aren’t and, in some cases, just a simple re-wording of our ideas may help.

      Austerity, sadly, is needed – not b/c of “Labour’s record”, but as Europe is slowly self-imploding due to the same reasons that caused our downfall.

      Our 2010 manifesto listed cuts – it had to – and we voted based on that. That basis of halving deficit for us hasn’t changed – if we got in tomorrow, we’d implement that. But the longer Osborne is there, the harder it gets.

      I agree with the pay freeze – regretfully, I add! – as we’ll need more jobs & more businesses created almost immediately to kick-start the flagging economy, save on the welfare bill, bring in more revenue to facilitate the unfreezing of pay.

      Otherwise, we’d be taking that money out of the small pot we’ll be left with, and that has to stretch too far already – *before* the worst of Osborne’s plan kicks in.

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