It is very late in the day but if part of the answer to Labour’s problems is a new leader, we need an analysis of what is wrong in order to look for the kind of leader who might be able to put things right. I do not believe that anyone really knows the qualities of a politician until they have worked with them and this is particularly true know, when all speak the same sound bites. Potential leader spotting is led by the media on the basis of unexplained qualities that appear to be completely presentational. Underneath this is a pro-Blair versus pro-Brown division. But this too is entirely presentational. They created New Labour together. Brown was the brain, Blair the front man. For most of their time together, they were united. The clashes were of egos, ambition and hangers on, not of principle or strategy.
The reality now is that the New Labour project has collapsed. It lasted because we were living through a massive boom and could therefore afford to let the market rip and spend more on public services. Those days are over. So what do we need?
We need someone who respects the democratic process in the party, parliament and Cabinet, because that way you keep people together and get properly thought through policy. We need someone who wants to reverse the growth of inequality in the UK and is willing to adopt policies that will make us more like Scandinavia and less like the US. We need someone who is willing to re-orientate UK foreign policy, peel off from our craven, lap dog role and start to work with others for a stronger UN and a more equitable and sustainable world order. We need a leader who will cease to echo US/Israeli policy in the Middle East and work with others for a just settlement in accordance with international law.
The tragedy for the Labour Party is that there is no such potential leader in the PLP and little discussion in the wider party of how these changes might be made.