Panics and splits? Or not.

So the Labour leadership election, following the epic and some might say unpredicted by many defeat in May.

The media and the Tories and mischief makers of all sorts have been predicting that given the seemingly poles apart positions of the supporters of Kendall and Corbyn it’s impossible for a single party to contain their competing visions of society, and a split is inevitable.

What rot. 

Jeremy Corbyn stayed in the Labour party throughout the Iraq War, he was part of a robust internal opposition, but he knew that it was as part of a governing party responsible for Sure Start, the minimum wage, and Building Schools for the Future to name but three key benefits of the Blair and Brown years.

The idea that he and most of his committed supporters couldn’t remain in a party under the leadership of Liz Kendall who is a strong supporter of the (real) living wage, and an integrated social care system run in the interests of service users, with respect for the workers is ludicrous.

Now I don’t think that anyone in Labour should be complacent, Scotland showed us in 2014 and 2015 that the party has no right to exist. It certainly has no right to be considered the automatic opposition to the Tories.

Whoever is elected will need to help motivate people to engage with politics, they will need to offer a plausible vision that people can have hope in. Now one element of that is about adopting policies that address people’s self identified needs. The people whose needs the party champions are important as well – the party needs to fundamentally reconnect with its natural supporters – both those who have been lost to the Greens, and Libdems, and the left and non-voting; but just as importantly those who have voted UKIP and Tory.

This suggests to me that the issue is not about being more leftwing or more “centrist” but about relating to people.

This is where organising comes in. The party can learn a lot from how unions and community organisers like Citizens UK and ACORN are engaging with diverse coalitions of people around self identified shared interests.

And that’s why for me, the deputy leadership race is just as vital as the leadership one, and why from an organising point of view there is one candidate who stands well in advance of the others. Stella Creasy.

But whoever wins either race – we are not going to see a split in Labour, not for a while anyway.stella-givethemhope

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