1931 Labour Poster
The next discussion meeting of the Dronfield Labour Party on September 13th will be an open debate with the above title.
Below I give my own contribution to this topic as a means of opening up the debate. It is, of course, my personal viewpoint and emerges from a democratic socialist perspective; although many fellow democratic socialists are likely to disagree with me.
To join in the debate via our comment box, you don't have to be a visitor to our discussion meetings. Contributions will be both worthwhile in their own right and as preparation for our eventual discussions.
1. Labour is heading for a drubbing at the General Election.
2. There is no way to avoid this via a change of leadership, for there can be no smooth change of leader in the current circumstances.
3. We, therefore, need to prepare our minds now for the dramatic situation which will emerge immediately after the General Election. Remembering that New Labour will still hold a firm majority of the remaining Labour seats.
4. In the meantime we should work via the Labour Party to try to limit the scope of the coming electoral defeat, so that democratic socialists have a base to work through for the future.
5. This requires democratic socialists to be inside the Labour Party, working to hold onto whatever they can of Labour's traditional working class support.
6. We need to press for feasible programmes which are directed to tackling unemployment, poverty and communal deprivation. This involves stressing the importance of matters which the Labour Government are already pursuing in these areas.
7. Whilst such an approach is both correct in moral and economic terms, it is also necessary in electoral terms to enable Labour to hold onto as many seats as possible. It is, therefore, a position which is also likely to have a short-term appeal to elements of New Labour.
8. The moral and economic relevance of such an approach will also have significance after the coming electoral defeat as New Labour will be on the back foot after the election, as its overall approach will be in tatters.
9. The development of further feasible proposals for democratic and social advance will be easier in the above circumstances.
10. Democratic socialists need to operate in the above ways or we will be subject to the following judgement which was made about our predecessors from the time of the 1931 slump - "Socialism explained the past and promised the future; it had nothing of consequence to offer the present". The fact that the quote comes from Robert Skidelsky, does not mean that it is an an incorrect assessment of what occurred. It is imperative that we do not repeat past failures. Although on the plus side, it must be remembered that it only took 14 years from Labour's collapse in 1931 for it to achieve the triumph of 1945 for the best Labour Government in our history. So perhaps I can look forward to my 87th birthday.