The last two Sunday Times have carried stories suggesting members of my Party have taken leave of their senses.
Talk of rebellions, stalking horses and votes of no confidence fill the air. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened and it appears that some colleagues have not learnt the lessons of the past; divisions and infighting do not pay. Voters don’t vote for divided parties.
I know that there are many people- impressive, sensible people- within the Parliamentary and voluntary Party who have strong reasons to feel disenchanted. They point to the so-called Notting Hill set running the Party at the exclusion of other voices (and accents); the lack of diversity at the top of the Party (not enough northerners, state school educated folk etc); the supposed aloofness of the Leader and his closest allies; and the apparent comfort the PM has for coalition over Tory rule. There is no doubt that from time to time these sensitivities could have better managed and one or two MPs/Ministers could and should have been treated better and there is room for improvement in how power in wielded in the party. But it feels like it’s time for a dose of realism and some home truths.
– We did not win the 2010 General Election.
– We had no practical option but to go into coalition; not if we wanted, as we rightly pride ourselves on, to put our country before our Party. We did what was needed in forming a coalition.
– David Cameron is more popular than our Party. He remains a major asset to us in electoral terms. Despite the worst financial crisis in history and the constraining factor of being in coalition, limiting occasionally our policy ambition, Labour remain only around 8 or 10 points ahead in the polls. At this stage of the electoral cycle and with all the bad news around, they should be 20 points in front.
– Ed Milliband is untested as opposition leader and he remains best known for knifing his brother to get the leadership as opposed to anything he has done since claiming the labour crown. He is very, very beatable in 2015.
– Plotting against David Cameron, undermining him and the government and publicly exposing our disagreements will not help us.
Parties who deserve to win elections do their internal debating in private. They put their country before any party bickering and they keep their eyes on the big prize.
The 2015 election is in the balance. It can be won but what we need to do now is to hold our nerve. Stay the course. And stick together.