Monday, 17 May 2010

David Milliband for leader? No Thanks.

Labour will soon elect a new leader to replace Gordon Brown. It badly needs someone who will turn his or her back on the disastrous New Labour era, and put up a fight on behalf of the people who voted for them. Whoever is elected Labour leader, must not continue to repeat the mistakes – and crimes - of the Blair days.

Unfortunately, the front-runner appears to be David Milliband. He is gathering support from the media and political establishment because they think he is someone who will restart the Blairite revolution. Nothing could be more disastrous for Labour, or the rest of us. If the Blairite’s retake control of Labour they will try move it even further away from its roots as being a defender of working people. With savage cuts on the way this is exactly the kind of Labour party we need, but it looks increasingly it is exactly the kind of Labour party we are not going to get. A victory for David Milliband will result in the Labour party shifting further to the right.

Milliband’s record on foreign policy speaks for itself. Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, described him as “the heir to Blair who voted to invade Iraq, out-hawked the Bush administration during the 2008 Georgian crisis and has continued to hanker after the marketisation of public services”. And Johann Hari notes that “Peter Mandelson is merrily pushing him as the Blairite who can most attract wealthy donors and remains unrepentant about Iraq.”

I hope Labour can do better than this. A lot better.

We badly need an alternative to the economic logic that lead us to the brink of collapse, and now seeks to punish the poorest for the crimes of the super-rich. We badly need someone who will stand up to the demands of the hawks in the United States and assert a truly ethical foreign policy based on peace and justice.

Until then, the millions of people who withdrew their support from Labour aren’t likely to return. And the need for a party to speak out for the values of peace, justice and equality remains just as urgent as it was when Respect was launched.