Labour’s left: Problems of organisation and leadership….
Labour needs a strong and vibrant left-wing. It needs a well organised left-wing and, above everything else, it needs a united left-wing. We cannot take anything for granted as this weekend has shown. I wonder what Compass now feels whether, with a deficit hawk as Shadow Chancellor and the absolutely disgraceful appointment of Phil Woolas to the shadow Home Office brief, it can still claim with lazy and arrogant over confidence it is ‘the mainstream’. Of course there were good appointments, rightful recognition of rising talent (more in the junior appointments than the senior ones which awkwardly blended the old with the new), however, the appointment of Woolas shames this Party and it is clear to my mind that on immigration (and most likely the economy too) Labour is still headed in very much the wrong direction and it is defiantly not headed in the direction that the likes of Compass want.
Jon Cruddas, writing on the threat posed by the English Defence League, says this:
The threat of the EDL and the wider cultural war must be taken seriously. That is why we will soon be establishing a broad-based group to formulate a response. The right has become very organised; it is time for those of us who believe in a decent progressive society to do the same.
However, one of the problems that plagues the left in general (and this is also true of the Labour left) is an over abundance of organisations. It seems we over compensate for our lack of social weight with frenzied organisation-mania. A myriad of organisations exist, for example, to promote Labour Party democracy none of which makes any real lasting impact in this important area. Of course, some of them interlink with others but the point is if we present people with this bewildering array of choice it will burn them out and they will end up not bothering. Compass itself is in limbo-land as its not affiliated, however, I would probably prefer it to stay this way as it would lose something of its unique appeal if it were to affiliate. This fragmentation is reflected in the existence of numerous websites committed to the progressive transformation of Labour; Left Futures, Labour Values, Next Left to name just three.
On their own terms perhaps only Next Left can say it competes with the broad-church bigger fish like LabourList which in itself is a problem because it means the number of Labour activists exposed to progressive debates and argument is questionable. Lets be blunt now. The reason we are already seeing a drift to the centre by the leadership is simple. It’s all about the force exerted and left doesn’t exert nowhere near as much pressure on the Labour leader and leadership as the right-wing media does. So, its simples really; Ed is twisting in the wind with his direction determined by the direction the strongest gusts are coming from.
Also, I find the orientation of the Labour-left to be inward looking and rarely facing out towards the wider movement. In particular, things like drawing trade unionists into the Party are neglected which is a shame because they are more likely to be receptive to the left’s message. All-in-all I am not convinced yet another organisation is what the Labour left needs right now…..