In the LRB this week David Runciman ends his column on the Labour leadership election (The Corbyn Surge) by writing that “if ever an election needed a bit of fixing, it is this one.” I think the situation’s fine. One member, one vote is a democratic arrangement befitting to the modern world in which “there are individual men and women and there are families” (and communities not based on work).
To my mind, a large proportion of individual members, and supporters, intellectuals and even Labour MPs don’t say clearly enough why ‘New Labour’ was so profound. For example: Tony Blair wrote in A Journey that ‘the Clause IV moment’ was a question of addressing the symbolism and the psychology of the party. Changing Clause IV meant starting to articulate the politics of the many without the socialist symbolism or psychology. That is profound. The task today is to address Clause I. Is the Labour Party rightly defined “a democratic socialist party”? It was this, proudly so, but hasn’t socialism passed? Until that’s agreed upon there’ll be no progress.
It might lead to a split: but today, parties’ fortunes can change rapidly too. One member, one vote is the right democratic process because rather than simply letting the political and intellectual leaders do what’s necessary, it necessites a deeper, wider, more open discussion about politics generally, and the politics of the many (or everyone?), and the Labour Party, and it will give a preferable result in the long run.