On one level, new narratives around the economy, social security and immigration are really welcome. However, critically, little advance has been made on democracy and pluralism – or a strategy to fundamentally transform how politics is done, who by and with whom. The UK is made up of myriad communities, with differing levels of power, and a new politics is one in which every voice is heard. The whole Corbyn wave was a demand for a new politics – more networked, plural and bottom up. Instead tribalism, factionalism and parliamentarianism still dictate Labour’s Westminster mood. John McDonnell’s call at the weekend for Labour to back Proportional Representation is vital, but that still demands the Tories are defeated. The Labour Party can aim for a majority, but the reality is that it will have to talk to the Lib Dems about seats in the South West; do a deal with the Greens in Brighton to ensure Green votes go to Labour elsewhere; in Wales work with Plaid Cymru to see off UKIP and in Scotland talk to the SNP about federalism – especially now the rejuvenated Tories could pick up parliamentary seats in 2020. Labour has promised an all party Constitutional Convention and now need to deliver it. Worryingly, there have been no announced plans or process to reform the Labour Party itself and bring it into the 21st century. Will this be enough to hold on to those new members who expect a new politics?
For Labour, the strategic choice is this: does it want to be occasionally in office (when people get bored of the Tories) but never be really be in power? This would mean a failure to deliver a strong mandate with support in civil society to transform the country. Or does it welcome a negotiated and sustainable progressive consensus with other parties alongside deep support in society for far-reaching change? Vision, modernity, pluralism and a feasible electoral strategy still evade Labour.
Compass Post Election Statement: We Need a New Politics