Ed Miliband lost the election because he ditched New Labour, says Tony Blair
|Blair and Mandellson|
The television and media, are full of speculation about who should be the next leader of the Labour Party. Blair and Mandellson have offered their "advice and guidance" and numerous Labour MP's have jumped in with their "Ed Miliband took us too far to the left" or "We lost our appeal to the middle ground" or some other combination of the same theme. Joining these MP's and the Blair Mandellson combination, are the usual suspects from the BBC and Sky television news who's questions to pundits, journalists or the casual passer by, are even more loaded than the planted questions in the House of Commons every week during Questions to the Prime Minister. The icing on this particular cake of course is the almost hysterical barrage of the press front page all carrying to some degree the demand that the Labour Party should somehow return to the good old days of Blair in order to win elections.
It seems that with one or perhaps two exceptions, the candidates for this leadership task are from the old guard Blairite right of the party who all take the view that the traditional party of working people, the Party created by the Trade Union movement to protect the interests of working people and their families and to protect those in society who are unable to protect themselves, the party which created the NHS and the welfare state, should now abandon principle and idealism to pander for electoral support amongst businesses, finance institutions and the affluent classes of the so called "middle ground". If this is in fact the way of politics, there is no point in voting for any party except the Conservatives, as they are far better at performing this appeal to the middle ground than the Labour party could or should ever be.
Chuka Umunna (heaven forbid that he should ever get the job), Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Alan Johnson have been suggested as candidates, but now that Dan Jarvis has excluded himself for consideration, only Andy Burnham remains as a credible candidate with Trade Union support from what may be considered as the Left of the party.
However, even Burnham has a cloud over him, having been health secretary at the time of the Mid Staffs scandal and his association with some of the more anti working people legislation passed during the time of the ConDem coalition and supported by the Shadow cabinet and the larger part of the Labour parliamentary party.
None of the potential leaders, nor the party generally have declared open opposition to austerity, as the SNP did in Scotland which, whether you like them or not, struck a cord with voters north of the border and inevitably resulted in more support at the polls. None of the candidates have declared a prospect of rolling back the divisive and punitive legislation of the past five years and more. Being in politics is not only about winning elections. It is about offering people a real alternative to "more of the same". The Labour party must take this on board when selecting their next leader. Alternatively, perhaps the time has now arrived for the Trade Union movement generally, to dump the current Labour Party and produce its own programme for this country and its own list of prospective candidates.