Alan Johnson wrote in the Times this week that [moderate Labour] must “recapture this party again otherwise it’s dead and finished and gone.”
There is a deeper systemic problem in Labour than its politics. The problem is its lack of effective bureaucracy.
I joined Labour several years ago in order that I might participate in British politics beyond simply voting once every four years. Immediately I joined I started receiving approximately five emails a week, on different topics and different granularities. Some emails would be about a CLP local meeting. Some emails would be about a women-in-Labour London-wide meeting. Some emails would be about helping with by-elections, in which I have never indicated any desire or ability. The overall effect is incoherence.
These emails should be sent bundled together, once a week, with Labour branding. They should be sent by a centralized body with whom the CLPs schedule their emails for sending. This has the nice effect that you can see which CLPs do not send weekly emails, or perhaps send ten words, or ten thousand words, and you can support them from the centre. CLPs should of course still be able to contact their local party members directly.
I see no awareness that this is broken. I see no awareness that sending five emails a week, plus text messages, is worse than sending zero.
The lack of bureaucracy extends to the very top. Ed Miliband, shy Geography teacher, should never have been allowed to become Labour party leader. Corbyn, despised by the PLP, should never have been allowed to become Labour leader. Owen Smith, a man it is impossible to write an interesting sentence about, should never have been allowed to mount a challenge for Labour leader.
I want the Labour party to modernize. I want it to understand that the Millenials and Centennials consume completely different media from the generations before and that interacting with these media require intelligent curation. Previously, it might have been acceptable for each CLP to buy advertising space in their local papers – scalable, desirable even as each CLP becomes engaged in its local conversation – but today the world is decidedly non-local. Last Friday on the Tube some strangers were talking about the BART, and I butted in to mention that Shoreline is gaining cycle routes: our shared context was literally infrastructure projects on the other side of the globe. Last night I sat at the table of two French people and played with them Rummy. I had never met them before, and they had learned their rules from Wikipedia. We didn’t exchange names.
It is important to understand this change. Like never before low-paid work can be moved from country to country at will. A ‘medical data entry in London’ job can (and should by the laws of capitalism) be broken down into ‘scan these papers in London’ and ‘medical data entry from scans in Oregon’. Manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, and now informational jobs are all seeing the same pressure of non-locality. The gap between city and country grows deeper because of it.
The Labour party as-is cannot survive, no matter who is leading.