Let’s face it – Thursday night was painful for the Labour Party nationally.
In the last few weeks we have seen some of the strengths of our Labour movement. Hundreds of activists in every seat across the country – full of the energy and passion of our people fighting for our values.
But their efforts unfortunately weren’t enough to convince the electorate to overlook our national weaknesses over the last few years; confused communications and policies which never offered hope against the onslaught of Tory cuts. Our people and the institutions they depend on were suffering and we weren’t sure whether a Labour Government would save us.
Locally, our success at delivering on our promises of more schools, housing, jobs, and sustainability has been rewarded, but nationally we need to work out what the next five years will mean for us. And we should get it right. This new Tory government will challenge us on a number of fronts. Our narrative on devolution (local and national), benefits and welfare, the need for economic growth which gives people security and countless other policy areas has all been tested. It doesn’t seem like it now, but we will look back on some of these and be proven right. On others we are clearly out of step with the country.
We need to take our time and ask the right questions. Do we really understand how the country (all four of them) feels about what Labour has to offer? Are we offering the right things to both cities and rural areas? Do we really understand how the wider city regions and counties feel about what we want to offer?
Scotland is a case in point. The SNP haven’t locked us out of government – we lost the keys years ago when the mistakes were made. And despite fumbling around in the dark, we still haven’t found them again.
We have to face the reality that we have a lot of thinking to do. And we must do it together as one party.
Anyone who blames “new labour” or “compass” or any other grouping, is damaging the Labour party.
We need to come together and forge a new cohesive force for the country, before deciding which person we invite to lead us. We need voices from every part of the country to be included, not just those from the Westminster Bubble. We need to work out a policy direction which will give hope to every single part of our country. And we need to take our time doing it.
We have five years. Let’s get it right.