Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Labour Party leadership contest gives members real choice

Jeremy Corbyn has found his way on to the Labour ballot thanks to the intervention of fellow MPs who do not share all his values. These nevertheless recognise that the membership in the country, which is rather more socialist than the amorphous Westminster party, needs to have a real choice. There is criticism of the impracticality of his economic agenda, though one wonders whether he is any more deluded than the Labour Treasury team of the noughties, which believed that there were no limits to borrowing. His rivals in the current contest acquiesced not only in that misguided policy but also in the erosion of civil rights at home and human rights abroad, another key difference between the contestants. Mr Corbyn has consistently spoken up on these matters, whether his party was in opposition or in government. I would like to see real debate in the Labour Party on this issue.

The trouble with the Liberal Democrat leadership contest is the opposite. Traditional Liberal belief in the rights of the individual and support for Beveridge's view of the social service state are well served by both candidates. It would have been more democratic to have someone from what is generally viewed as the "economic liberal" wing of the party, represented most prominently in the last parliament by Jeremy Browne. I would of course have voted against him or her.

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