So, now the social hysteria.
The 2019 election was a catastrophe – a failed test of the legitimacy of the Labour vision, a diagnosis of terminal rot, clear evidence of just how ‘hard-left’ Labour has swerved. Nothing will do but the abject acceptance of failure and a commitment to self-reform and to abandon Socialist ideas. Woe-betide any Labour politician who has the temerity to defend the 2019 Manifesto.
Well, if Corbyn’s Labour was ‘hard-left’, then Attlee and Wilson were raving communist loonies. Labour did not ‘win the argument’ at the election (though polled better than most Labour Parties in the past 40 years), but they produced a manifesto that spoke of economic growth, recovery of public monies, some small redistribution of wealth, environmental responsibility, public control of social utilities, and internationalism. In short, they presented us with a vision of a Humanist regime.
Corbyn’s incompetence in preparing the ground for this political harvest – surely a telling critique – takes nothing away from the manifesto’s legitimacy, reasonableness and enduring vision. I look in vain for those hysterical warnings of ‘danger’ and ‘extremism’ in a manifesto that is founded on the capitalist principle of continuous economic growth, tempered with social obligation. Would we have been so aggressively demanding of a failed Conservative party, where danger is more readily to be found, whose manifesto showed an absence of guiding vision, no social responsibility and no restraint of right-wing extremism?
The reality is that there is no mythical ‘middle ground’ to which Labour should beat a retreat (where were the votes for the Lib Dems??). Returning us to a pre-austerity fiscal regime of 2010 – as the Labour manifesto promised – is comparably superior to the real threat of a hollowed-out public life promised by the right-wing Conservative Party.
If we can overcome the social hysteria and slow the rolling myth of Labour perils, we can get back to defending a fusion of Humanism and government – and if you think that is a possibility under a Conservative administration of the contemporary stripe……