Monday, June 08, 2015

Winning elections shouldn't be the aim

I occasionally feel the need to write about politics on this blog. There are a lot of people more qualified than me to talk about this of course, and they do. And there's all kinds of things I'd want to say that others can say better than me about politics and the election, and there's not a lot of use repeating it. But I've found myself shouting at the radio and TV a bit recently so I have felt the need to express these thoughts.

I'm thinking a bit about the Labour leadership election. I've heard some of the leadership candidates speaking and got so frustrated by the lack of any inspiring vision that I felt the need to think more deeply about this. What I haven't heard from many of the leadership contenders is the sense that winning elections is not an end in itself, but the means to an end. There's a lot of talk about "we have to do this and that to win elections" - but my question comes back to "why?" Why does the Labour Party want to win elections - what is the end to which winning elections is the means?

It occurs to me that a lot of the growth of the smaller parties has been due to those parties seeing winning elections not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. UKIP want to win elections so that the UK can leave the European Union. The SNP want to win elections so that Scotland can become an independent country. The Greens want to win elections to radical change the economy to be sustainable and more equitable (admittedly this is a less specific aim than the last two). Why do the Labour Party want to win elections? What is the Labour Party for?

I've not heard anyone answer those questions, and that's why I've found it frustrating to hear the Labour leadership contenders. It seems to me this is part of the problem. An organisation needs to know it's "why" before it can know its "how." I haven't heard anyone explain to me why the Labour Party wants to win elections. That's what it needs. That, in fact, is what "leadership" is all about. That lack of a vision is why people (such as myself) are not voting Labour.