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Point of no return

The crisis within New Labour shows no signs of abating as MPs stare electoral oblivion in the face come the next election. In fact, matters are getting worse. Wendy Alexander, its leader in Scotland, has broken ranks with Gordon Brown’s position on an independence referendum in a bid to steal some votes from the nationalists, while opponents of the abolition of the 10p tax rate are resuming their campaign. These are further indications that New Labour has reached and passed the point of no return. It seems inconceivable they can win the next general election – whatever Brown does.

The votes are simply not there any more (and, in truth, haven’t been for some time). Evidence from last week’s elections shows that New Labour sustained a double whammy, losing the support of both formerly loyal working class voters as well as the middle class who had benefited from tax cuts and rising property prices. So it seems that New Labour’s one great “legacy” will be to return the country to Tory rule, allowing a party that was almost wiped out in 1997 to recover sufficiently to take over the reins of power, as it has already achieved in London.

What of the future for New Labour itself as an organisation, and what can its remaining activists do under these conditions? They could and should:

A series of bold initiatives along these lines would begin to end the political impasse that New Labour has helped to create. The deteriorating economic position is equally an opportunity to discuss alternative policies and solutions and that’s why the LEAP/Labour Representation Committee conference “Beyond the Market Economy” on May 24 is timely.

Paul Feldman
AWTW communications editor
7 May 2008

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