Labour split or Labour unity?

This weekend, the case for a Labour split was given prominent coverage in the Observer newspaper. Party members were also able to read a rather more unifying message in an interview with the Labour leader in Labour Today, the party’s magazine.

Strip away the Westminster intrigue and the fact that the Splitters clearly don’t rate their party’s new leader, what do the political differences amount to? At a time when so much party policy is still to be developed, is there really a rational case for a damaging split?

Based on their own words, is it possible to make out what it is about these two camps which means they allegedly cannot coexist in the same party?

“We were intended as a radical force in British politics, telling a story about Britain that is optimistic, taps into people’s aspirations, stresses our tradition as a pioneering nation and shows how our creativity can help shape the prosperity and success of Britain in the future. We champion a society in which community and solidarity play a more important role.”(Splitter)

“We owe people a credible and inspiring party. This means that our party and our politics must change.” (Unifier)

“Successful political projects must do three things: 1. Have a driving purpose underpinned by values and principles, 2. Address the urgent needs of the country, 3. Respond to the desires of the public.” (Splitter)

“We have to re-engage with the people and involve them in our project to build a better society. Our party must be at the heart of every community in every part of Britain. We need to be more open, inclusive and participative.” (Unifier)

“Under our previous leader there was a need for fresh thinking on health, education and crime but little happened. Today, there is a need more than ever before for a modern, progressive values-driven party. At its heart would be a renewed sense of moral purpose – a commitment to social mobility – breaking down all barriers to people getting on in life.” (Splitter)

“Our defeat has lessons for us. We are in the process of rebuilding our party – our membership has doubled since the General Election and there is a real enthusiasm for politics and the party that did not exist before. We need to learn from each other.” (Unifier)

It is surely hard to disagree with any of these statements and they offer much to unite around and build on. The main difference is that taking the Splitters’ advice would almost certainly lead to defeat whereas the Unifiers’ approach offers the possibility of victory.

So maybe it’s time to take the advice to “get involved, have your say, this is your party as much as anyone else’s and you must play your role in shaping it.” (Unifier)


See also:

Developing Labour’s vision for education (September 2015)

Starting to think about a National Education Service (September 2015)

About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
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