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Labour needs a reboot – and it could start with bringing back Ed Miliband

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30.05.2019

Labour needs a drastic reboot. The Tories may be in existential crisis, desperately flapping around in a rising tide of rightwing populism, but Labour’s hopes of securing the sizeable majority it needs to enact a transformative agenda are uncertain. The Brexit mire has robbed the Corbyn project of its core identity, a sense of insurgency; stripped away its optimistic, idealistic gloss; and suppressed the enthusiasm of Labour’s members and the voters most inspired by its 2017 manifesto. Its desperate, indeed honourable, desire for a Brexit compromise in a painfully fractured nation, to be the party that skilfully transcended the divisions bequeathed by a referendum result three years ago, was remorselessly kicked to death in polling stations last week. If the party’s position was intended to be a Rorschach inkblot in which remainers or leavers could see what they wanted to see, in the end all either saw was a splattered mess.

It’s clear that Labour is now pivoting to a pro-referendum stance in backing a public vote on any deal parliament agrees. Corbyn privately knows it must be done. While there is some internal resistance within both his machine and the parliamentary party – and it’s easy to empathise with those who fear another referendum – the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is among those pushing for a decisive shift in political strategy. That will surely succeed – the game is up here – even if there remains no majority in parliament for a referendum, but a political reorientation must be spelt out in primary colours, or the party might as well not bother. The mixed messages from leading figures must cease. When Corbyn eventually makes his big speech committing Labour to a new stance, it should........

© The Guardian