Throughout the 20th century, the Labour Party and the Labour movement offered so much in the way of change in Great Britain. Under Attlee, the Labour Party did something incredible. They created the welfare state, NHS, started rebuilding the nation after the Second World War through nationalisation. These policies were considered so ‘far left’ that Winston Churchill stated that Attlee would have to rely on ‘Gestapo of some form’ to implement them. With all these points considered, Labour achieved a landslide and a majority of 145 seats and with it, a mandate to carry out their post-war reforms. The reason for this Labour Victory was simple; the working-class had come together and voted in large numbers for Labour. Soldiers in particular, wanted to make sure that they had jobs after the war and had future prosperity. One ideology which is absent from this updated, new and electable party; Liberalism.
‘Old Labour’ and Clement Attlee more so, was heavily inspired by Christian Socialism, an ideology which is economically left but socially right. Those who believe that Attlee would admire how the Labour Party is now this middle-class infested, loony-liberal party, is strongly mistaken. The unity of the working-classes and the common people and the greater community was what made the Labour Party a strong force to be reckoned with and made it an electoral powerhouse. For those who might argue that ‘Harold Wilson was part of old labour and he was a liberal’ are rather wrong and oblivious to the facts. It is important to realise that most liberalising policy passed under Wilson were ‘private members’ bills’. In fact, the Labour Manifesto at the time didn’t even mention any ‘liberalising’ agenda. Harold Wilson was suspicious of change. It was only Roy Jenkins, who provided enough parliamentary time for these reforms to be passed.
Liberalism has always had no place in socialism or socialist ideas/policies. Therefore, the breakaway, caused by Roy Jenkins and others who deceived the electorate, soon came about. The ‘Gang of Four’ split in 1981 to form the SDP, which highlights this fact extensively. This just shows that, the more excessive power that the liberals have over the Labour Party, the more divided and more unelectable it becomes. The losses in the elections of 1983, 1987, 1992 are examples of Labour trying to appeal to the liberal fanatics, it just doesn’t work.
Fast forward past 1997 and to present day, many in the Labour Party have become disillusioned by Tony Blair’s landslides and majorities and wish to replicate it. His liberal policies have come back round to haunt the party with the Neo-Liberal factions of Progress and New-Labour, threatening to tear this party apart. The discontent caused by this and the party’s position on Brexit, has encouraged traditional Labour voters to flock to the Conservative Party. It is disappointing to see our voters go from hard-working, highly determined and aspirational citizens, to spoilt, easily-offended, millennials who get spoon-fed by their parents and still call them ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ at the age of 26.
The message from the recent elections and the electorate is clear, Labour as a party, must stop trying to replicate ‘New Labour’. Labour has only won a few times with a liberal manifesto. If Labour wishes to be elected back in office, they must first regain the trust of the working-class and the lower-middle-class and give the country something to dream, hope and be aspired by. Labour must become more socially conservative and must rediscover its ‘Old Labour’ roots. Labour must attach itself to nationalism and be proud of Great Britain. Only then, shall the party be in touch with their core voters and be a party which the likes of Attlee and Wilson, would be proud to be associated with today.