A guest post by Joseph Perry

Here is a guest post from Joseph Perry who is the Assistant Editor at the Backbench website. For some reason I cannot remove my name, however i wrote none of this content.

Labour Cannot Win in this Leadership Election, But Boy Can They Lose

Whoever wins this leadership election is unlikely to win in 2020. Barring extreme events, Labour finds itself in a similar position to the Conservatives at the turn of the century. Any policy so much as faintly associated with the party is automatically discarded by most of the electorate, whether that is in Scotland or in middle England. It is very much a lose/lose situation for the next leader to inherit.

However, David Cameron’s planned departure in 2020 means that it should be a whole new ball game come 2025 (should the Fixed Terms Parliament act remain in place). For me, he is an underrated leader who has been able to, albeit slowly and via a coalition, make a previously archaic party somewhat modern and, more importantly, electable. He has been able to do this without making too many enemies along the way.

Some believe his leadership will crumble post-EUref. I struggle to see that happening. Either, things will remain the same, and his backbenchers will be consigned to the same position they have been in for the last 30 years. Or we will vote to leave, which will please lots of his MPs, and possibly put him in even higher regard than before on the backbenches.

Rightly, he would be able to blame ‘Brexit’ on the EU’s inability to reach appropriate compromise.

But once he has gone it will be a whole new ball game. As Gordon Brown found out, receiving the baton from a stable, if not popular, Prime Minister is not as easy as it seems. Immediately a new level of scrutiny will be placed upon the PM and comparisons will be made at every given opportunity.

Along with the cyclical nature of British politics, this should give Labour the opportunity to return to public favour.

But they must be in a position to do that as early on to the next-but-one Parliament as possible. If they are having yet another ‘wide debate’ after Corbyn or Burnham’s leadership ends, this will not be possible.

However, if they have been following a sensible ideology since 2015 and can concentrate on external, not internal, politics from the get-go, they are in a much better position.

Between John Smith and Tony Blair, John Major’s own government was never given the opportunity to blossom into electability after 1992. This was largely down to a smooth leadership transition between Kinnock and Smith and then, sadly, Smith and Blair.

No ‘soul-searching’, no ‘wide-debate’, no ‘head versus heart’, just a willingness to get the party back into government after years in the wilderness.

The minimum wage, peace in Northern Ireland, paid maternity leave, the human rights act, building schools for the future, the 2012 Olympic Games, Sure Start centres, 28 days paid annual leave, a treble reduction in inequality, devolution, the Fox Hunting Act, the FGM act, the smoking ban, LGBT

rights – including scrapping section 28, writing off debt to the world’s 100 poorest countries, and a 45% reduction in crime.

These were policies imposed by Labour after winning from the centre ground.

The idea that being electable means copying the Tory manifesto is complete rubbish, promoted by the dinosaurs of the left.

Without the vision of Tony Blair, the UK would be a far more regressive country.

But it would be dishonest to say that New Labour was dreamt up and imposed nationwide in the three years Blair had as leader-of-the-opposition. This was a process started by Neil Kinnock.

If Blair, or a Blairite, had been elected leader immediately after Michael Foot, Labour could not have won in 1987, 1992, or 1997. The pace of change would have been too quick to win straight away, but would have left the party with nowhere to go in the future.

Labour needs to draw on its rich history now to path its way back to government, and back to improving the lives of people here and across the world.

Picking the leader who can take the party towards the centre ground, at a pace which maintains unity within the party – if only to save it from media storms, and at a pace which does not appear false or opportunist to the electorate is key.

Labour needs a night-watchman to put the party in the best possible position come the inevitable Tory leadership crisis.

After 1997, it took the Tories four leaders before they got back into Number 10. It is doubtful if Labour has the patience to go through that. There must be no room for error.

Now is not the time for a Michael Foot, nor the time for a Tony Blair (just look at the regard he is held in across the UK), but the time for a Neil Kinnock.

Presumably the next question is; who?


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