The next General Election is not for 5 years and Labour needs time to analyse why we lost and how we can win next time. From the blogs, articles and comments I have read in the past few days there is certainly no consensus on the answer to either question. Like most Labour members I have an open mind on who can win in 2020.
So why don’t we learn from the past? In 1992, after another unexpected and traumatic defeat, John Smith was elected as Leader and served until his untimely death two years later. In that two year period two MPs emerged as the potential next Leader – Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. That two year period gave both men (and others) the time to grow their political reputations, experience and profiles through their day-to-day combat with the Tories and to develop their ideas on the winning strategy for the next election.
In 1994, when the time came unexpectedly, Tony Blair emerged as the obvious choice as Labour’s next Leader – because we had all seem him in action and his high profile in the media had given him a popular appeal right across the country.
My view is that we need Alan Johnson to be Labour Leader for the next two years, with Harriet Harman as his Deputy, to lead a team of the young aspirants for the Leadership job. Alan and Harriet would be the wise and experienced Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, giving Front Bench jobs to all the leadership contenders so that they can show us – and more importantly, the country – what they are made of.
Alan Johnson commands wide respect and affection across the political spectrum. He talks human and knows about life. He can be the bridge between yesterday and tomorrow. Alan has already done more than most for both the Labour and Trade Union movements, but this would be his greatest service.
Of course, Alan has said many times he does not want to be Leader. But he can do it his way, not the traditional way. He can, for example, transform Prime Minister’s Questions by taking a totally different approach to the ‘yah-boo’ shouting match that currently alienates so many people.
That two years, up until the EU referendum, would give the Labour Party the time and space to reflect on the General Election result. More importantly, we can do that refection at the same time as holding the Government to account.
Let’s be grown up about this. Let’s see this as an opportunity. Let Alan and Harriet take the reins while we sort ourselves out and do the job we have now been elected to do – oppose the Conservative Government
When Tony Blair was elected Leader he had just three years to build on the foundations laid by John Smith and to get the Party in the position to win. The rest is history. We are not ready to elect a Leader for 2020, so let’s not be hasty.
If you agree email Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org and encourage him to run.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Opposition
Westminster City Council