Jordan on Labour’s future

Jordan Carter has done an excellent post on ’s future. First he notes the comments of two lefties – Tane:

Labour, on the other hand, just seems utterly bereft of vision. In the midst of the greatest economic crisis of our age, when they should be putting forward a bold alternative vision, Labour doesn’t seem have a clue where it’s going. Their miserable poll ratings don’t so much represent a rejection of their platform as a complete lack of relevance.

and Danyl:

I’d argue that left-wing bloggers are more relevant now than ever since they’re now in a position to critique the government instead of apologise for it, and the primary left-wing party is off on it’s own, weird journey into political irrelevance and oblivion leaving a great void for progressive voices to fill.

Jordan comments:

I am always interested when I read comments like this. Part of the purpose of the Labour Party is to be a credible voice for progressive politics that progressive people regard as being on the right track.

It seems obvious in retrospect that our alliance with Winston Peters and NZ First in the last Parliament did some serious harm to that part of Labour’s reputation, both with non-aligned progressives and particularly with supporters of the Green Party. The Labour leadership made a call about the stability and sustainability of the government it wanted to run, and we now live with the consequences.

I won’t declare I am happy with the state of Labour. Who could be right now?
I’m not posting these here to embarrass Jordan. In fact I think constructive criticism of your own party is one of the best things bloggers can do. And this is one of the few acknowledgements of how much it hurt Labour that they choose Winston over the Greens.
We got beaten in last year’s election for five or six broadly credible and understandable reasons. We face the unpleasant and somewhat daunting task of rebuilding our party, our policy agenda and our reputation in the face of a very popular government that people think is quite centrist. And we do so having baggage with both of the political parties with whom we will need to build rapport and support to form a government in the future.
This is the most realistic self-appraisal I have seen from a Labour person. Especially the focus on the challenges of building better ties with what should be natural allies in the Greens and Maori Party.
When we have got it right, bloggers like Tane and blogs like Dim Post will be supporting, or supportive of, Labour. Labour will be in the lead in the polls. Labour will have strong and deep political relationships with other parties of the centre and left that will allow it to form a government.

What would that Labour Party look like? It will be an open and energised organisation, with a big membership and good resources – staff, dollars, communications collateral etc. It will be an organisation where people know they can debate issues and express different points of view and that in so doing, their contribution will be respected. It will be deeply connected to the communities it seeks to represent and will have an authentic voice when speaking for them.

A nice aspiration.

This is the greatest opportunity that social democracy has had since the 1930s to build a new consensus around building a more egalitarian, more human society. Labour has to rise to the challenge.

The challenge I ask progressive readers of this blog to consider is this: what are you going to do to make that happen?
And even though I disagree with his policy prescription, a good analysis of how the credit crisis is a catalyst for change.
I’ve sometimes pinged Jordan when I think he has got too tribal (as I do also), so I think I would be remiss in not highlighting a really solid and thoughtful contribution that those on the left should take seriously.

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