After the election the Blairites were first out of the traps, hurtling into television and radio stations to give long-prepared statements, with no evidence, about how Labour had shifted too far to the left under Ed Miliband.
But under Miliband, Labour’s approach was to accept the Tories’ argument that austerity was necessary but to promise slightly fewer cuts. In the last stage of the election campaign, the leadership bolted on some panicked, but real, social democratic pledges.
Now, even these limited ideas are facing the chop from the leadership candidates.
Andy Burnham, desperately trying to dispel rumour that he is the “union candidate” is pledging to drop the “mansion tax” policy and told an audience of business leaders that he may back further welfare cuts.
Liz Kendall says that cutting tuition fees, even to £6,000, is not a “priority”, though is agitating for the UK to reach NATO’s target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence and wants more private-sector involvement in the NHS.
Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, is trying to steer a course somewhere in between, and called for “controlled and managed immigration.”
None of these leaders will be capable of winning back the millions of working-class supporters Labour has lost since 1997. None will be able to give expression to a labour movement fightback against the Tories.
The unions should not back any of the declared candidates.
Meanwhile an estimated 40,000 people have joined Labour since the election, many of them out of a desire to fight the Tories. In this context, the failure of the Labour left to find a candidate would be bad.
With left-wing MP John McDonnell not putting himself forward, and Ian Lavery inexplicably backing Andy Burnham, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) is calling for soft-left shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett to stand.
A left-wing socialist candidate is needed but even a Trickett candidacy could create some space for socialists to apply pressure and shape the leadership debate.