Carnage and rebellion – the solution is a democratic revolution….
It has been something of an extraordinary day for the Labour Party. The first signs were apparent last night when it began to leak out that the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party had been very rowdy indeed and that Harriet Harman had faced an extreme level of criticism for her forthright shutting of the door on Phil Woolas. Reading the reports must have given Ed Miliband an extra reason to be glad for the arrival of his new son because it could well have been him in the hot seat.
Ed’s hope he would end backroom briefing obviously hasn’t been realised. Indeed, it seems to have intensified. Secondly, we can tell that the PLP is not afraid of throwing its weight about. This is dangerous and is contributing to a weak center; something I have already noted. However, on this occasion it seems the PLP has simply gone too far – its been subjected to a barrage of criticism all day and from all sides, left and right, on the Labour Twittersphere. Liberal Conspiracy launched an open letter in support of Harriet Harman which received alot of support and a House of Twits poll found overwhelming support for Harman. In this fight, the leadership can count on the virtually united support of the wider Party.
The PLP has shown once again it is an alienated cultural elite which has no conception of how the world is for those it is supposed to represent. It is also isolated from the wider public in this fight. A YouGov poll found a clear and decisive majority against Woolas and in support of the court judgment against him. It stands alone with nothing but its self interested opportunism for comfort. It has brought shame on the Party and I would think the first casualty will be Labour’s chances in Oldham East and Saddleworth which are nose diving with every passing hour that this crisis grips the Party. We must realistically reconsider whether it is worth standing.
However, this crisis, and it is a crisis, has deeper causes and it is time to tackle them. The leadership must carry through democratic reforms which severely curtail the power of the PLP; that is, unless it wants more days like this. The only solution left to it is are these radical measures or else it will remain a prisoner of the PLP which has spent the day holding the entire Party to ransom. Automatic submission to re-selection of sitting MP’s must now be considered a serious option; this would keep the PLP’s feet on the ground somewhat. The only answer to the problems of today are a democratic revolution in how politics is run within the Labour Party and the decentralising of power away from the PLP.