John Reid, a former Labour Home Secretary writes:
There are those in the party who have argued that Labour simply needs a different leader, but that the politics, plans and policies of the past five years will be enough to get us over the line in 2020 – with a little tweaking, of course.
Others have argued that moving to the left, in response to a Tory government that managed to achieve the difficult feat of gaining an overall majority, is the right response. That the “false consciousness” of modern working people will somehow disappear as the scales fall from their eyes.
Neither of these approaches will work. Neither recognises the sheer scale of the challenge Labour faces. Both have been tried, and tried, and failed and failed.
The NZ Labour caucus should be reading this.
Of course, it can be comforting for party members to wrap themselves up in platitudes, to wax lyrical about our values, to regard the electorate as mistaken. Perhaps we should face reality and accept that it was the party rather than the people who got it wrong. In a democracy, to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, it is the people who choose their government, not the other way around.
Will you ever see this sentiment on some on the left blogs?
Labour’s only chance of winning in 2020 is to do what we did in 1945, 1964 and 1997 – get back in touch with the electorate, rather than simply telling them they were wrong, and change to meet the challenges of the future.
And that change has never been more crucial than it is today. The challenge Labour faces for 2020 is epic in scale. There are only 24 seats with a Tory majority of less than 3,000. The party must gain 94 seats to win a majority of one.
That’s less of a challenge than NZ Labour has of going from 25% to 40%.
Liz Kendall, by contrast, is the candidate who has best understood the scale of the challenge, and gives Labour the best possible chance of getting back into government. She has shown that deeply held Labour values need not go hand in hand with an antagonistic approach to those who didn’t vote Labour last time. She has shown she understands that only by working with businesses to create good, well-paying jobs can we build a fairer, more prosperous society. And she knows that Labour won’t be trusted by the British people if they don’t trust us to run the economy.
If the next election is on whom do you trust more to manage the economy – Bill English or Grant Robertson, I’m pretty confident of the answer.