Labour’s task isn’t to fight for credibility – it’s to demonstrate the Tories have none.
“Gaining credibility” is not a plan. It’s a myth.
By trying to convince the public of its own credibility, Labour often sacrificed its principles in its attempt to achieve this; aligning itself closely to the policies of the elected government.
Below, we outline a few reasons why credibility – far from being an aim – should be forgotten.
First, no one gets elected showing how similar they are to those already elected. What would be the point? Why vote for Coke Zero when you could have Coke?
Second, if Oppositions spent their time trying to appear “credible,” the government would go un-challenged. Oppositions don’t have the luxury of being pro-active. They have to be re-active, and then provide an alternative. Agenda-setting comes primarily as a response to a perceived failure; not as a proposal to an unchallenged agenda. Context is key.
Example: Theresa May wants to introduce grammar schools. Opposition fights against; outlines benefits of state schooling, negatives of grammar schools, then proposes – instead – of putting more money into state schools. Good. But if Theresa May instead presided over failing state schools, and Labour proposed grammar schools as a solution; two things would happen: first, Labour’s proposal wouldn’t be accepted because, if it was; the government would have legitimised a major Opposition proposal. Second, the force of argument required for a revolution in schooling can only be carried by the government. Oppositions do not carry the weight of argument to propose radical policy changes in a void of information.
The key is to discredit the incumbent and – through this – appear credible. Credibility doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Credibility is an accidental by-product of discrediting a pre-conceived-credibility.
Third, people don’t vote for a “safe pair of hands.” They vote for a “’safe-er’ pair of hands.” This can be achieved two ways: a spectacular failure of governance by the incumbent, or presenting a real alternative and vision for the future.
As things currently stand, Labour could get lucky – and get both.
Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour once-again has a vision for a radically-different government – where society and individuals are supported to reach their full potential. To harness our gifts, talents and abilities. To live in a free and safe world where social and economic justice prevail.
Theresa May is doing her best to reveal her Cabinet as a Cabinet of cronies – hell-bent on economic and social destruction; flirting with war on Russia, supporting Saudi Arabia’s war crimes on Yemen, consigning the environment to yet more destruction via Heathrow and fracking (against the wishes of local residents).
The Tories are warring against their own constituencies, forcing by-elections and annihilating their core vote. Boundary reviews will reduce the democratic accountability of MPs through larger constituencies in the same way larger class-sizes result in poorer education.
The Conservatives have demonstrated absolute contempt for the democratic process. Even Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister was a tragic accident; unsanctioned by the British public and with no mandate even from her own Party.
The failings of this government are plain for all to see – but we need a strategy which allows them to be seen in a new light: that almost all major initiatives under Theresa May have no mandate. Not even a hard Brexit.
Fighting the Tories through this malaise of totalitarian chaos is perhaps the best place to start to undermine this government. All issues can be summarised in two words: No. Democracy.
It’s up to us to expose this. To use it. To demonstrate that Labour should not be elected just because the Tories are a mess – but because it deserves to be on its own merits. Merits of fairness. Of democracy. Of accountability.