My disillusionment with the Labour leadership contest today has turned into contempt. The withdrawal of Mary Creagh (otherwise known as Mary Who?) represented nothing more than having one less then stellar candidate on the ballot paper, but her subsequent comments have woken me from my political slumber. And the reason for my contempt? This: “Labour cannot be the party of working people and then disapprove when some working people do very well for themselves and create new businesses, jobs and wealth.”
Now call me naive (I have been called much, much worse), but Creagh’s comment flies in the face of everything the Labour Party is supposed to stand for. The whole point of Labour, if there still is one, is to improve the lives of working people. It is to raise their standards of living, it wants them to get on in life. Surely, Labour believes that Champagne and Oysters should not be the exclusive preserve of the rich?
From where does Creagh get this ludicrous idea that Labour disapproves “when some working people do very well for themselves”? I have a number of friends who run businesses, some big, some small. Some are political, some are not. But they all work hard and many of them do very well for themselves and their families. As someone who believes strongly in the idea of a meritocracy, I want hardworking people to get on. If someone runs a business, employs people on a decent wage, makes good products for the consumer and lives a good life as a result, what’s not to love and where does Creagh get this idea that Labour is against aspiration?
Ah yes, aspiration. That word again. David Cameron frequently employs the word, claiming his party alone speaks for the aspirational and Labour doesn’t. At least you can understand him saying it because it suits his politics, but what does it mean? Does the person struggling on the minimum wage, doing a horrible job, unable to buy a house, lack aspiration? I doubt it. She or he will want to get on, to find something better, to achieve something in life. The same is with the person with a disability or the long term unemployed. Don’t believe the lie that everyone who claims benefits is a skiver. It’s a lie, a myth and a travesty of the truth.
If Creagh was saying simply that Labour shouldn’t disapprove of people succeeding, it might be different but the clear emphasis in her words is that it does disapprove. If she had the impression Labour was against aspiration, it is fortunate indeed that she no longer has the aspiration to lead the party.
That she is out of the contest is irrelevant to the campaign where all the candidates are lining up to attack Ed Miliband and blame him for losing the election and to admit that the Tories were right all alone and Labour spent too much before 2008, thus causing the worldwide financial crash, including the meltdown in the Greek economy. Well, it makes sense, doesn’t it? All except Jeremy Corbyn from the wild-eyed Bennite left wing of the Labour Party who has as much chance of being elected leader as I have of scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final for Bristol Rovers next May.
I’m sticking with Andy Burnham as the least worst of a bad lot, but with very little enthusiasm that he is the answer to Labour’s problems. Yvette Cooper isn’t and Liz Kendall certainly isn’t.
The only good news is that oppositions rarely win elections because governments lose them. If Labour can’t convince the voters that it exists to improve their lives and help make them better off, they might render that old adage redundant.