Sunday, 15 May 2011

What's Your Labour Flavour?

Blue Labour, New Labour, Purple Book Labour, Old Labour and Red Whoever [insert name here]. These different Labour flavours could be seen as divisions. There are are divisions in all political movements and division can lead to significant progress; there are probably many progressive ideas in the purple book, 'blue' labour may have something valid to say on economic development. While the Labour Party is progressive really divisive division should be avoided. The Labour leadership election was undoubtedly necessary but I think the Tories made some savage, harmful decisions while the Party was divided over the leadership. It is still my opinion that the Party should be more united behind Ed Miliband and save criticism for internal meetings rather than pasting all over twitter and blogs.

People need to belong, or more specifically people need to feel as if they belong. Belonging features highly in the psychologist Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. In biological terms belonging is a very basic need; belonging to a group has clear evolutionary advantages: Groups of early humans would be more likely to hunt successfully and therefore eat. Reproduction would also be more likely in mixed sex groups.

One feeling that appeals to many is the feeling of belonging to an exclusive club, I believe that it is this need for exclusivity that can lead to division. If you are reading this and you are a member of the Labour Party and you feel the need to belong to an 'exclusive club' then you could in a few years time, become the Prime Minister and join Brown, Blair (and Miliband?) in the 'Surviving Labour Prime Ministers club', or maybe that involves a few too many uncertainties. Alternatively you could just pop along to the next branch meeting of your local Labour party, I can almost guarantee that you will be in a very small, exclusive club of broadly like minded activists who are trying to make a difference in the local area.

Many divisions exist but the Labour party should not be about division. We are not defined by the North/South divide despite the fact that government cuts hit the North hardest. We are not defined by Old and New Labour or by clause IV, although the present version does read rather well; I quote it here because with the threat of redundancy looming large in many lives; I can't remember a time when a 'spirit of solidarity' was needed more.

"The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect"
I am probably a bit more red than blue, purple is a mixture of the two. Definitely not yellow but maybe a bit green, if I add that to the the mix then I would just end up with a shade of muddy brown. Which is exactly what you get, on football pitches as well as in politics if you try too hard to occupy the crowded centre ground.

If you believe that when a decision is made at any level of government from Parish to Parliament, consideration should be given to its effect on the most vulnerable in society, then we agree on at least one thing. If you believe that it is the job of politicians at every level to speak up for those who have no voice, then we agree on two. If you believe that the fortunate should not help other fortunate individuals but instead help the less fortunate then there's three. And I'm sure if we stopped arguing about what flavour of Labour is best we could agree on a few more things, and more importantly, act on them.

1 comment:

Eoin Clarke said...

Good piece Liam,

I appreciate the frustration...

Its important we get the policies right and keep our promises that's for sure..