Tagged: Smith

The Labour Party: Still missing the point

The battle for the Labour leadership drags on. The attacks on Corbyn continue, and his opponent tries hard to erase his past as a pharmaceutical lobbyist, and to establish some Socialist credentials. For his part, Corbyn does his best to rebut the allegations of anti-Semitism, and takes part in debates with the person who once happily worked with him, instead of against him. Expensive lawyers have been engaged to overturn the voting regulations for new members, successfully excluding more than 100,000 potential Corbyn voters.

The Conservatives must be enjoying watching this collapse unfold before their eyes. They just carry on doing what they like, as the only viable opposition disintegrates in front of the public gaze, and the glare of the media spotlight. Accusations are flying thick and fast. Some Labour members of parliament are accusing the Corbyn camp of seeking to undermine the very foundations of the party, by infiltrating this arguably moderate party with a secret hard-Left agenda behind the scenes.

The outcome can only be a loss for the party, either way. If Smith succeeds, they will be left with a Welsh M.P. who has a history of working for big business. A man who thinks we should have a second EU Referendum, and will almost certainly fail to engage with the working-class traditional supporters of that party. If Corbyn survives the vote, as many believe he will, he will be left in charge of a Labour Party where only the rank and file members really support him, struggling to find enough elected members of parliament to form a credible opposition, and under constant threat of yet more leadership struggles.

If they are ever to return to government, which currently seems highly unlikely, they have to respect the will of the people, and offer radical policies that hark back to the real Socialist ideals of the original Labour Party. It is obviously what the members want to happen, and would have the benefit of attracting undecided voters, and those transferring their vote from parties like the Liberal Democrats in the next election.

At the core of it all, is the need for Nationalisation. There should be a radical programme on offer, starting with the re-nationalisation of the railways. Rail commuters have never suffered as they do now. Higher fares, constant rises in ticket prices, and a mind-boggling fare structure that makes it cheaper to fly to most cities in the UK, than to take a train. Private rail companies have their hands tied by a different private company that manages the rails and tracks, as well as being restricted by short-term franchises that negate the desire to invest in improvements for the future. The answer is simple. Stop awarding franchises, and nationalise the lot. Offer reasonably-priced travel on reliable trains, and let the workers get to where they need to be on time. If nothing else, it would reduce road congestion in certain areas. Cancel the high-cost and unnecessary building of express links to cities that already have plenty of rail services running to them, and do a long-term deal with the unions to ensure safety and decent working conditions for all.

Once they have tackled the railways, they can get on with the utility companies, and the telephone providers too. Then they could stop contracting out expensive medical procedures and clinics to the private sector, and spend the money on improving the NHS instead. Once the much-disputed ‘Brexit’ deal is done, there will be money available for many projects, despite the gainsayers. Labour needs to formulate a real Socialist agenda, with Nationalisation and the NHS at the heart of it. A real alternative to more privatisation and cronyism under the Conservatives.

They have to learn that being The Opposition has to mean more than just having the same policies, whilst wearing cheaper suits. And they have to swallow the bitter pill of telling people the truth for once.

Will they do it? I doubt it, but they should.