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Labour must rebuild – and the left must lead the way

We must ensure that we never allow an entitled party bureaucracy to overrule democratic decisions with a sneering disdain for those who made them, says IAN LAVERY

IN DECEMBER the worst fears of many were realised as the Tories were granted a huge mandate from the British people. 

Many factors were cited as having caused the disaster, but the fall of seats that had returned Labour MPs for a century was had been decades in the making. 

Right across our party, but particularly on the left, the heartache of the loss was tough to bear.

The left suffered another setback in the elections that followed, with our candidates defeated in the leadership and NEC elections. 

Many in the party have openly mused on whether they should stay.

Over the weekend an explosive leak from the Labour Party came to light that documents an astonishing level of factionalism at the very pinnacle of Labour’s paid staff team up until 2018. 

The report highlights a privileged elite at the very top, working against our purpose and against the election of any, even mildly, progressive Labour government.

The contents are truly shocking and many who have read even snippets of email and WhatsApp conversations could be forgiven for wondering whether the largest party in western Europe really was the place for them. 

It might feel tempting for those who had already been wavering to rip up their membership cards and to leave. But this would be entirely the wrong thing to do.

In the summer of 2019, along with Jon Trickett and the then MP for Crewe and Nantwich, Laura Smith, we prepared a document called “Northern Discomfort” which was not published until earlier this year. 

It gave us no pleasure to see the worst fears outlined in its pages played out in the general election. But to rebuild again we must look closely at its analysis.

It was clear to us that the chasm that opened up between Labour and the communities it was founded to represent was riven even further apart by the question of our EU membership. 

To many of our former voters, Labour had become the harbingers of an authoritarian liberalism that took them and their views for granted.

That many of those named in the document as having sabotaged Labour’s electoral chances made their way into the People’s Vote campaign is perhaps something to be explored in a further piece. 

However, what is clear is that, while many people in the Labour Party genuinely believed that remaining in the EU was and remains a priority, there were some who wanted to use the issue to destroy the left and its electoral chances.

These have been a difficult few months and particularly a difficult few days. 

For those who have questioned their membership, I urge you to stay. This is our party.

We must ensure that we never allow an entitled party bureaucracy to overrule democratic decisions with a sneering disdain of those who made them.

The road ahead is long. We must start by electing a united left slate in the upcoming NEC elections that can hold those responsible for the internal wrecking exposed by the leaked report to account. 

But most importantly we must ensure past mistakes are never repeated, that the ideas of Northern Discomfort are expanded upon, that our history is never forgotten and the irresistible allure of working-class socialism is put back at the heart of our party.


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