I’ve got a piece in the latest New Statesman – really addressed at the question, ‘What’s an unhappy Labour supporter to do?’:
The behaviour of much of the Labour Party reminds me of the two main characters in Waiting for Godot. Dump Gordon or get behind Gordon? No matter how many times a deadline has been rolled out for Gordon Brown to turn things round, the malaise limps on. Just as in Samuel Beckett’s play, where Estragon and Vladimir keep on deciding to do nothing – because it’s safer or because something else may yet happen – so Labour carries on, neither happy with matters as they are nor acting to change them. There is, however, a simple way for Labour supporters to break out of this cycle. They should stop worrying about whether or not to change leader and instead think about changing party…
Compare Labour’s current political troubles with those of the Conservatives in the 1980s and 1990s. At that time, the dissidents – most notably Michael Heseltine, post-Westland – had an alternative set of policies. It was most certainly about personalities – but there was also no doubt that a Heseltine government would have had very different trade and industry policies from the Thatcher government. Again during the 1990s, there were real differences of policy at stake in the Conservative Party – and so genuine hope that a change of leader or change of political direction might bring substantive change.
The same cannot be said of the Labour Party in 2008. Take Charles Clarke’s intervention (NS, 8 September). What policy direction change does he really want, or what does his track record suggest? Perhaps a return to losing prisoners rather than losing data about prisoners, one might wickedly suggest. Is there a more substantive answer? I’ve listened to and read his words time and again, and beyond “I don’t like Gordon Brown” I can’t find one.
Labour’s supporters don’t have to play the “Waiting for Gordon” game any longer. The Liberal Democrats are ready and waiting to welcome them.
You can read the full piece here.