|From Labour First (published in the interests of the labour movement):
You will have seen the leadership result.
This is probably the biggest reverse that moderates in the Labour Party have ever suffered, and we will need to absorb its full implications and develop a strategy for responding to them.
We should note that although we were defeated heavily in the leadership election, the new Deputy Leader Tom Watson made an excellent speech in the closing days of the campaign setting out clear red lines on a strong defence policy and opposition to attempts to make it easier to deselect MPs: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/elections/2015/09/tom-watson-whatever-happens-next-we-must-all-pull-together
Tactically, we do not have time just to mourn, we need to continue to organise now because the left may seek to capitalise on their victory at the Annual Conference in just two weeks time with rule changes that strengthen their position (such as converting all the £3 supporters into full members who can vote in selections and NEC elections) and policy proposals on contentious issues like Trident.
We have suffered grievous defeats before and come back, because it is our values and policies that are in tune with the British people and can win elections. Absolutely nothing has changed since May about the way ordinary voters, 98% of whom did not participate in this leadership election, view the world.
As Hugh Gaitskell said in the face of defeat on unilateralism in 1960:
“We may lose the vote today, and the result may deal this party a grave blow. It may not be possible to prevent it, but there are some of us, I think many of us, who will not accept that this blow need be mortal: who will not believe that such an end is inevitable. There are some of us who will fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we love. We will fight, and fight, and fight again, to bring back sanity and honesty and dignity, so that our party – with its great past – may retain its glory and its greatness.”
Labour First statement
Labour First did not support Jeremy Corbyn and our concerns about the impact of his political positions and even more, those of some of his supporters, on Labour’s electability are profound.
Of course we will work with him and the Shadow Cabinet to oppose the relentless Tory assault on workers’ rights and benefits.
However, one election does not change the position of the party any more than if one party wins the US Presidency the other party does not stop contesting the House, Senate and States.
Accordingly, we will continue to work to maximise the representation of moderate voices at every level in Labour’s structures. We will oppose policy changes where we think these take Labour away from the views held by ordinary voters. We will oppose any constitutional changes that are designed to give a partisan advantage to the Hard Left within the party. We will oppose any moves to deselect moderate MPs or councillors.
What needs to happen next
- We need to expand our network round the country. Please ask everyone you know who would share our concerns about the future direction of the party to join our email list using this link: http://eepurl.com/Nzh75
- We need a key contact in every CLP – someone who will attend CLP meetings and is able to promote our candidates for internal elections, our model motions etc., and feed back intelligence to us. If you are willing to do that please email me at email@example.com with your name, CLP and phone number.
- We want to set up local Labour First groups on the model that we already have in the West Midlands, a space where Labour moderates can meet up informally and build networks with like-minded people. If you can help initiate a group in your region, county or city please email me.
- We want to see you at Labour Party Annual Conference. Our fringe meeting will be at 1pm on Sunday 27 September at The Mash Tun Pub, 1 Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UE. We will have a panel of speakers addressing the next steps for moderates in the Labour Party following the leadership election – and the specifics of what will be voted on at conference. Details of who will be speaking will be promoted in future emails but in the mean time please save the date.
- We also need a team of volunteers at Annual Conference to hand out our flyers which will give guidance to delegates on the votes that will be taking place and promote the fringe meeting – the leafleting will take place earlier on the Sunday morning as people go into the first session. If you can help with leafleting (or indeed design and printing) please email me.
- If you can donate to help us cover the costs of our leaflets and fringe meeting at conference please send a cheque payable to Labour First to Labour First, c/o 125 Oxford Road, Old Marston, Oxford, OX3 0RB, with a covering note with your full name and address.
Secretary, Labour First