I agree with Frankie Boyle. Five words that I never thought I would say – but the leadership election for the Labour party is between a man who lost against Ed Miliband and two women who seemed to have stumbled into the wrong party. We have three people vying with each other to persuade half a dozen people from Essex to vote for them, forgetting that in a sensible country everyone (see previous arguments on these pages) would vote for a left wing Labour party. It’s not about the policies folks: it’s the message and those that attempt to communicate it.
Miliband was (in my view) the best of a moderately bad bunch last time around. But he latterly came across as lukewarm about his own party, slightly too cerebral for the voters and not passionate about his message. So in order to collect a winning vote at the next election we are being asked to choose between varying different shades of grey (not 50 – more’s the pity) with nary a hint of vigour between them.
In the election a tiny majority of the voting public plumped (and I think that is the correct verb) for the Tories instead of our chosen team. As Frankie pointed out, press and pundits would be expected to point to too much ‘left-wingy-ness’ as the problem that needs fixing. The press in this country is more or less right wing, with a brave stab at left-ness from the Mirror. But what about the Guardian I hear you cry?. Yes, they said ‘vote Labour’… but they couched it with so many caveats that if ‘But’ had been standing it might well have got a Guardian readers vote instead. So why would any of the leading papers or punters suggest that a convincing set of left-leaning policies is the answer? It’s not in their interests, or that of their paymasters or the establishment that they all belong to.
And people almost literally queued up to vote SNP – I’ve been amongst those who have been mighty cynical of their drift to the left, however the voters don’t seem to share my scepticism regarding their social democratic leanings. I’m not dumb: I know that SNP policies don’t necessarily match a radical left agenda (like mine. Sorry) but I see more that I like in Scotland than on the Labour leadership podium. Independence for Scotland now seems to be a much more likely prospect than it did; I for one would rather be on the north of the border if it closes.
Ideally though, I’d rather have an exciting candidate for the Labour party. Someone who understands the difference between an argument about tough issues and falling over to accommodate right wing views. Someone who has passion and a vision of how one party could be good for all the people in this country (rather than someone triangulating their position on the basis of Daily Mail headlines). A female leader would be best – because it’s embarrassing that the Labour party hasn’t had one yet, but not one that seems to have forgotten that it’s women that have been on the frontline of Tory spending cuts. We want a good speaker – someone to put fire in our bellies – Alex Tsipras did it in Greece and Pablo Inglesias has managed to put Podemos in spotlight too. Both are anti-austerity and left-leaning. Both have attracted masses of voters, and whatever the outcome for the EU and the Euro, both have put the needs of their followers ahead of ‘liberal’, pro-austerity economics.
I think that given fair coverage of the issues, someone with conviction to make a good argument and good grass roots support, we could do the same here in the UK. Our press are poisonous and the influence of these right wing opinion shapers cannot be understated: they sell less newspapers than they did, but they set the right wing agenda for the country through establishment cross pollination. It’s going to be a battle for anyone to get their voice heard above the pro-government noise. But if you don’t offer something newsworthy, why should you get attention anyway? Being the same as the Tories with slight tonal moderations, a wee bit less racist than UKIP, less nationalist that the SNP and not quite as pathetic as the LibDem rump, who on earth would vote for that?