Labour Right in Retreat
Magnificent from Philip Collins in The Times today (pay wall) on how unhelpful “Blairite” has become as a label. As he says, for Labour “to turn its most successful politician into an epithet of abuse is … an act of quite astonishing self-immolation”.
Nor is it quite right any longer to define the division at the top of the Labour Party as one between Blairites and Brownites. Collins defines it thus:
There will be a serious division, as the election draws near, on the old Brown dividing line of spending versus cuts. Labour people do fall into those who understand how painful it will be to govern without money and those who are still to work it out. There is an important distinction between those who, by instinct, defend the status quo in the public sector and those who want to tear it up. At a level too subtle for classification, this is the fault line of the party. It runs between those who think experts should be in control and those who want to let go.
In the end, though, it goes back to Bevan and Gaitskell and the dispute, between the Left and the Right of the party, about where elections are won. Labour’s soft Left has got its party back and its Right is in retreat. These are now the terms we should once again use. Since the time of Bevan and Gaitskell Labour’s centre of gravity has shifted to the right. It will find out soon enough that Gaitskell was right and so, whisper it, was Blair.
Photograph: Aneurin BevanTagged in: ed miliband, hugh gaitskell, labour party, tony blair
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