What Labour must do

Bryan Gould

In the wake of Labour’s third successive – and in some ways most serious – defeat, it is surely the merest prudence to ask ourselves whether there are not some things we could be doing a little better. There are, one might say, only two possibilities: either everything is perfect and need only be reproduced to guarantee victory next time, or something has to change. But it is not as simple as that. In the great Labour movement, committed to far-reaching change and to radical reform, the mere mention of change makes some people very nervous. The reasons are not hard to find. Many activists have become so accustomed to disappointment, and are so lacking in confidence, that they cannot conceive of change meaning anything other than a dilution of principle and a betrayal by the leadership. To take this view is, however, to accept a counsel of despair. We have nothing to fear, and everything to gain, from thinking through our positions – if only to reaffirm them – and from the free play of ideas. If we insist on standing pat on positions we took twenty, thirty, forty years ago, and refuse to accept that society and the challenges put up to us by our opponents are constantly changing, then we are dead.

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