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Remember, Labour: ‘electability’ is not a choice between principle and power

1 7 15
20.02.2020

It may feel as if the Labour leadership contest is never-ending, but with three candidates now on the ballot, buckle your seatbelts for the final stretch. Judging how “electable” each candidate is will surely be high on every Labour party member’s list, as the movement contemplates five more years of Tory rule.

Back in 2015, there was a lack of curiosity from much of the media about Jeremy Corbyn’s success; it was easier to cry “cult” than investigate why an objectively average candidate could inspire such passion and devotion. Corbyn’s election as leader largely came from two points: his willingness to stand up for the party’s principles, and the intellectual deficit shown by his opponents as they failed to offer any solutions to the problems of the post-financial crash era. In a party that had triangulated itself beyond recognition by voting for a welfare bill that would push disabled and working-class people into destitution, a leader willing to stand up for Labour’s traditional values of compassion and solidarity was a lightning bolt for the members.

And yet we now face a fresh task. While Corbyn’s victory came after just five years in opposition, by the next general election, Labour will have been out of office for 14 years. The path to power is also steeper: the party now needs to recover from its worst result since the 1930s. There’s no avoiding that, nor is it inspiring to attempt to. Genuine hope does not emerge from empty words or denial, but comes from acknowledging........

© The Guardian