Having been resoundingly battered at the poll, the Labour Party must painfully reevaluate itself in order to present a challenge to the new center right government in power.
For starters, they must listen to people like Jon Trickett, former private secretary to Gordon Brown. In a brutally honest article in the Guardian, Trickett lays out the steps Labour must take to reconnect with its base, and reminding his party why they fell out with the electorate:
The country was shocked to see a war approved by the Commons fought on a
false prospectus offered by a Labour prime minister. And millions of
people were profoundly uneasy at the way in which the European Union’s
free market culture, based on the free movement of capital and labour,
was intensified and steamrollered through the Commons in the form of the
Lisbon treaty. It had real effects on real people. It enabled
multinational companies to move production and distribution units around
the globe without a by-your-leave. It was accompanied by falling living
standards, especially for manual workers. At a time of profound
economic insecurity, this in turn fed the fear of mass migration, which
was being used by the employers to drive down hard-won deals for better
wages and conditions.
Trickett says that the key to a successful Labour rebirth is to shun its image as an over reaching, interfering elitist party bent on dictating how people should behave, and instead become the party of civil society, of functioning government that works for people and listens to their needs. And above all, Labour must become the party of the real Left:
In order to resolve the political crisis, we should place ourselves
decisively on the side of the governed and not be part of the elite. We
need to return to our tradition of being for civil liberties and opposed
to the authoritarian state. We need to embrace political and
institutional reform. It will also mean that our new leader must say
that the war in Iraq was wrong and that the mistake will never again be
repeated by Labour.
It will be a long road to recovery for Labour, but given the oppositions inherent instability (despite the shiny press conferences, the Conservative/Lib Dem pact will not remain cosy for long), Labour has a good chance of clawing back much of what it lost under Blair and Brown.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.