IT was the richest man in the Cabinet who drove the last nail into Theresa May’s coffin. Jeremy Hunt followed Angela Leadsom in telling the Prime Minister her time was up.
Soon Ms May will tie on her hiking boots and head for the hills with her millionaire husband. Only the stony-hearted would deprive her of a period of quiet reflection in which she might consider just how fractured and dysfunctional her party has become. As an ardent Remainer turned reluctant Brexiteer in a party which has become an unreliable guardian of the now divided interests of our ruling class she has had an impossible task.
Her successor will have it no easier. Readers of these lines should be disabused of any suggestion that this constitutes an endorsement of the millionaire Boris Johnson but the two-faced hypocrite is the ideal person to lead such a party. For we can be sure that he has two speeches prepared for every eventuality and another one in case of surprises.
Tory MPs will get to choose just which two candidates go before the dwindling band of party members eligible to vote for our next prime minister. This process will consume their energies for the next weeks and will reveal much about the shifting patterns of opinion among this super-rich bunch who reflect the opinions of their party members almost as imperfectly as they represent the interests of working people.
It is a democratic absurdity for the choice of the next prime minister to be vested in a party that cannot command a secure majority in a Parliament that itself only imperfectly reflects opinion in the country.
Labour’s call for a general election must awake a democratic impulse in every person who desires release from this unprecedented period of political paralysis. Theresa May has bowed to the inevitable and recognises she cannot govern. Neither can the Conservative Party.
For the trade union and labour movement, for the working class as a whole and for every person for who desires the democratic renewal of our country’s economic, political and cultural life the election of a Labour government is the first step in what can become a renaissance.
Every person who presents themselves for selection as a Labour candidate must desire the election of a Labour government more than every other political objective.
If there is a scintilla of doubt about this then such a person cannot command confidence.
We have a Parliament that is disproportionately privileged and privately educated, drawn from a very narrow demographic where women and people of colour are underrepresented and where the proportion of skilled and semi-skilled manual workers is vanishingly small.
A Parliament that is so unrepresentative is one that will prove an unreliable vehicle for a government programme that puts the interests of the many before the few.
Parties represent class interests and Labour in Parliament needs to more convincingly represent the interests of working people.
There is much untapped wisdom in a crowd of working people. When polled, a popular majority is absolutely clear that it wants fewer lawyers and media types as MPs, more health professionals and teachers, more factory workers, more scientists and economists to represent them in Parliament
Labour needs to look to who meets the twin tests of loyalty to its mission to form the next government and credibility as a defender of that government when it comes under assault.
Beyond that Labour in government must find new ways to draw into active participation in the on-the-ground implementation of its programme the millions of working people in whose interest it would govern.
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