Needing right-wing policies to beat the Tories?

Submitted by AWL on 23 November, 2021 - 9:39
Labour campaigners

We had a friendly, respectful debate about the way forward at a recent Labour Party branch meeting in York.

It was prompted by members asking questions.

Why are the Tories still popular despite their incompetence and corruption? Do the Tories have a Trump-like base of support, impervious to evidence and argument? In the tussle between the left and the right within Labour, which side has the answers that can deliver a General Election win?

Some people had stayed loyal to Labour throughout the Blair years and said they were tired of being made to feel ashamed of New Labour’s achievements. Unlike Corbyn, New Labour won elections. They reduced poverty and invested in Surestart centres and the NHS. Their positive record shouldn’t be overshadowed by Iraq.

Some said left wing policies don’t win elections. In this country, elections are won on the margins. Ideological purity is pointless. You have to get dirty.

I responded that Blairism doesn’t have the answers for the problems that have arisen since the 2008 financial crash and now the climate crisis. Some people could see the need for more radical politics to address the current crises, but fewer are yet convinced that these politics could win an election.

Some people seemed to be groping for an easy-to-reach election winning formula, and gravitating towards Blairism out of despair rather than ideological conviction.

There will be lots of people genuinely grappling with the question of what Labour should try next. As life gets worse under this Government, people will become desperate for respite and there there will be pressure to row even further back from the Corbyn experiment and water down the programme to appeal to marginal voters. How can the left convince people that its policies are not just right but popular too?

Becky Crocker, York

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