Labour has changed irrecoverably. Conservatives can’t let the public forget it
BY TOM HARWOOD
The Labour Leadership race will officially kick off today, with the party’s NEC having set the rules for the contest. The half dozen or so serious contenders for the role are attempting to position themselves to varying degrees in contrast to the previous regime, and no Conservative should let them get away with it.
On issues ranging from trust, to nationalisation, and defence, yesterday potential candidates paraded around the TV studios to try to argue that they can herald a change in direction for the Labour party. They are wrong.
No matter the spin that any candidate applies to their message in the coming three months – and more crucially afterwards – the fact of the matter is that every single Labour MP stood in the 2019 election campaigning for Labour’s mad Marxist manifesto, with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm.
To a man and woman, every current Labour MP stood in that election knowing they could make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. That is a reality which will not be wiped away with a slick re-brand.
It is always a lot of fun to criticise the hapless anti-democratic Tigger defectors – but at least those ‘moderates’ who left the Labour Party had the courage of their convictions. Alongside other principled MPs like Frank Field, these Parliamentarians could not countenance making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister, and they did something about it. Every single Labour MP who remained in the party risked imposing Corbynite catastrophe on this country. They cannot escape that fact.
What the leadership election of 2015 revealed was that the Labour Party never really changed. Despite superficially more moderate leadership, under Blair a virus -not noticed by far too many- lay dormant. It was never far from the surface and struck when everybody least expected. No whitewash or rebranding exercise will alter a party with a fundamental rot at its core.
It’s clear that the problem is no longer dormant. The sinister forces behind Jeremy Corbyn control every facet of the party, from the NEC down. The party structures both national and local have been thoroughly compromised in a way that cannot be undone by a new leader – least of all one who stood by as the Momentum mob sapped politics of civility and respect for individual rights.
The five long years of a momentum-led Labour Party selected new MPs and attracted new members who are not going away. Labour cannot claim to be a social democratic party – it is at its core Socialist, and the case has to be reiterated that these people, however they dress up their message, cannot be trusted to respect property rights or the sovereignty of the individual.
It is so telling that within the Labour Party, the argument is not about what is right or wrong, but what is politically expedient or not. Even the so called moderate candidate Jess Phillips is on record as proudly saying “if I could have a pure Socialist ideology and win.. you can bet your bottom dollar I would take that chance… if I could nationalise every single inch of this place I would.” This is the fundamental dishonesty at the heart of the Labour Party.
In the Conservative Party on the other hand, the arguments are over policy rather than electability. Conservatives in general argue for what they believe to be right, not what they believe to be electable. The task of free-market Conservatives at the start of this new decade is twofold.
We must make the case for free market capitalism as the best means to lift up everyone in society. And we mustn’t let the public forget how Labour could still tear it all down.
Tom Harwood is an award-winning journalist and commentator. Follow him on twitter: @tomhfh