John Prescott wants Andy Burnham to lead ‘Now Labour’ (see what he did there?). Yvette Cooper wants Labour, in the wake of its historical defeat, to ‘move neither left nor right’. Brilliant, really. Labour should stand still in the middle of the carriageway ‘NOW’ and get run over like a badger.
Or, how about none of that dreary, uninspiring, lazy nonsense? How about, instead, Labour takes a leaf or two out the playbook of the most successful party in UK politics at the moment, and becomes insurgent? How about Labour stands against the values and institutions it’s always avoided booting with gusto for fear of offending Middle England? The fact is that, ironically, there are plenty of things Middle England isn’t keen on either – things the Tories are stout defenders of, but which are basically ridiculous.
Why not start with the House of Lords? When I had my last look, at parliament’s pro-rogation, I was struck by the nonsense of the ‘storehouse of wisdom’ argument – the last ditch of the desperate. There are certainly some super, if ageing, famous professionals in there, from doctors to architects to professors. But there are a lot more folk who were never able to get voted in anywhere else – folk like Baroness Royal and Lord Falconer, who speak grandly about all manner of weighty matters of democracy without having ever managed to get themselves elected, or even selected in some cases, anywhere as anything. The Lib Dem benches, especially, are full of mid-level professionals who just hung around long enough to pick up a giveaway peerage, like dogs waiting for bones. Besides, since when did being an ageing professional give you a special right to legislate in a democracy? And since when did democracies let people actually buy a seat in one of their legislatures?
The third largest party in the UK just doesn’t play ‘House of Lords’. They say it’s utter bollocks, and a monstrosity that is undefendable in a democracy.
Why doesn’t Labour do the same? How about one of the Labour candidates saying: “Tell you what, from day one of my leadership, Labour will pull out of the House of Lords. We’ll find a way, as a nation, of coping – but the solution won’t consist of more smirking, ermine-clad daftness at the other end of the corridor. Constitutional crisis? Too right. How’d you want it? Unicameral? Regional representation? Elected upper house”?
Would the people of the UK think Labour were wreckers? No. They’d think it was radical, but in a good and popular way. In a way that folk would actually cheer and get behind. Which would make a nice change, eh?
Will we hear it from Cooper or Burnham? Don’t be daft. Only the SNP’s going to be saying that stuff in the House of Commons. Still, it’s a mystery to Labour and everyone else why the SNP’s so popular, isn’t it?
I’m indebted to this blog post by STV’s Stephen Daisley, and the Kevin McKenna article he quotes, which got me thinking.