Back to article index

4. Where now?

The basic problem of the Labour Party remains unresolved. The membership and PLP are two rival and antagonistic centres of power. The chances are that the next leader will either have the support of the PLP but not the membership or vice versa. But the antagonism is largely a matter of instinct rather than well thought out ideas. A vague notion of 'Socialism' versus an equally vague notion of 'realism' (within the existing economic framework). Is it possible to produce an inspiring and realisable ideal that both sides could share so that the argument would turn on the practical means for achieving it? Could that ideal be the 'Green Industrial Revolution'?


The election of Sir Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour Party has put an end to the hopes vested in Jeremy Corbyn. But so far it has not marked a great change in the behaviour of the Labour Party in Parliament. While Jeremy was leader the PLP simply ignored him. It needs to be recognised that the Labour Party IS, first and foremost, the PLP - the corporation of men and women with the unusual and perhaps unhealthy ambition to make parliamentary politics their profession. They cannot be forced - either from below through pressure from the membership or from above with a principled social democrat as leader - to do things they don't want to do. The task of those who think they have good ideas which can only be implemented at the level of the sovereign government is to win them over or to join their ranks in greater numbers (that is where 'grassroots organisation' has its most important role to play, in the selection of candidates) or to make an impact on the wider civil society. The fight for inner party democracy is no substitute for the development of clearcut simple policies and the ability to defend them in political discussion.