Gordon MacMillan,  UK Politics

Renewed Labour

I blogged the other day about how the outcome of a Con-Dem partnership could be a very positive one for the Labour Party and now that it has come to pass it is proving to be just that. It really does offer an opportunity for those inside and outside of the party to engage in left of centre politics, progressive change and renewal.

I never would have thought it, but defeat has created a new energy about the Labour Party — as MikeS put in the comments in Brownie’s piece – “Renewed Labour is a more attractive proposition than New Labour stumbling on.” That’s spot on.

People are talking and ideas are being exchanged. Better still people are coming back to the party. In just a day 3,000 have signed up. That makes me feel very optimistic as it shows there is something to build on and go forward.

I don’t know what the Liberal Democrats are telling themselves or each other and I really don’t mind. It doesn’t matter whether Nick Clegg says these are the “new politics” he has dreamt of; maybe they are.

What does matter and what is almost certainly true is that they are the politics of compromise. Not of the left, of the centre and centre left compromise, but of the right and compromise with a party that has homophobia, inequality, racism and anti-progressive ideas at its beating core. So by all means compromise, by all means welcome those new politics.

The Labour Party this week starts the process of renew and rebuild. That begins with the election of a leader [insert your Miliband of choice here], but that’s only the first step that needs to be taken to ensure the party becomes more open, more engaging and modern. Only the first step in renewal.

Renewal not only means encouraging new people to join us, but bringing back lapsed members as well of those on the fringes of the party who share many of our ideas, which clearly includes many Liberal Democrats who are more interested in being part of the left and engaging in those “new politics” than supporting a party that is part and parcel of a centre right government.

A new leader and members are a start, but it has to extend beyond that to policy and how members can engage with it. That means looking and shaking up the “partnership in power” idea that the party came up with in 1997; it means more open and more frequent policy commissions and continuing to take the debate to the wider community.