Are Labour a real alternative for voters?

While the Labour leadership could point to a twelve point lead over the Conservatives in the latest YouGov poll as they headed into their annual party conference, the truth is that this has had nothing to do with what the Labour party is doing right, and everything to do with the practical and ideological ineptitude of the current government.

Under the obligatory showing of togetherness at this year’s conference with its smiling bromance of Eds Miliband and Balls, there’s been a tangible sense of a party caught between wanting to be a credible leftist alternative and the neo-liberal hangover of New Labour.

Alongside this was their leader, who for most of the week leading up to his speech looked like a dazed puppy who can’t quite believe how big stick he’s just been chucked is.

Ed’s speech, with its clever land grab of the One Nation label, will give the party faithful cause for optimism and more importantly increasing his standing more widely. But when you actually look at what the plan is it amounts to what I would best describe as New-Labour-lite. This is ultimately unconvincing.

There were some nice policy ideas to come out of the conference, such as better integration of post-16 education, bank regulation and most importantly the repeal of the insane Tory changes to the NHS.

Although beyond the rhetoric and the youngest Miliband’s confident performance, they will not change things fundamentally, as they are so clearly trying to plead the case for.

Again, the Labour party missed out on the opportunity at their conference to create a real alternative and disrupt the ever rightwards movement of the political establishment.

Of course there is still time at this stage for the Labour Party to change and become a party the left can truly get behind again. But if they cannot become a party offering a real alternative, which, once the Tories have finished giving away the next election on a plate, I suspect will come back and haunt them.


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Harry Edwards

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January 2022
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