In her reasoned essay on the failure of the Labour Party to retain a role as a voice for the poor and disenfranchised (Perspective, 21 February), Joyce McMillan might also have referred to the creation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 1980s, which probably knocked the stuffing out of Labour to an extent that it has arguably never bounced back.
The “gang of four” who founded the party claimed Labour at the time had moved too far to the extreme left, and deplored local corruption in the selection of parliamentary candidates. The SDP offered a party committed to the development of a classless society in which equality of opportunity would be paramount, and many of us, sadly, believed it.
In reality, the departure of a number of key Labour moderates left the party polarised between the far-left Militant Tendency and the New Labour right in a struggle from which arguably the party has never really recovered. As Joyce puts it, it has allowed the over-mighty voices of reaction in British society to drive it from centre-left to centre-right.
With the benefit of hindsight, if effective moderates such as David Owen and Roy Jenkins had stayed put, we might not now have a party indistinguishable from the Tories.
(Dr) Mary Brown
Joyce McMillan articulates such a depth of understanding about the moral bankruptcy of our political establishment and its obsession with the thought leadership of big business that I’m tempted to shout: “Joyce for First Minister” – or at least beg her to stand for election somewhere.
Without people with the capacity to take action over the state of the poor outwith the childish Holyrood/Westminster backstabbing/point-scoring bubble, there is actually no point in highlighting the shedding of the moral donkey jacket of working-class Labour for the Teflon skin of New Labour.
Actions are what we need now. Joyce hints that Labour may soon become a spent force and there may need to be a political revolution with the birth of a completely new party that stands up for the poor with conviction and the desire for real change.
Like any birth, however, there will have to be blood and guts and the time for words, however eloquent, will be over.