The British Labour Party has been one known for its divides. It was created by a division in the Liberal Party, New Labour saw divides between the Blairites and grass-roots supporters, and now a new divide has emerged. ‘One Nation’ Labour appropriates the ideas of former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, an ideology considered exclusive to ‘wet’ Conservatives. The Labour Party seeks to rebrand the values of equality in society and re-acknowledge the difficulties of the poorest in society, but in doing so has added to the divisional history of the party. A cleavage has been created by the powerful in the party presently, and those who wish to steer it in the future.
In an interview with the Shadow Police Minister, David Hanson MP, Mr Hanson sought to reassure me of Labour’s core principles. He explained that “We have values that are about sharing democracy, social ownership, public expenditure.” David Hanson outlined a policy set in line with these values, mostly consisting of welfare policy. For Mr Hanson, maintaining the core party ideology appeared a necessity in ‘One Nation’s’ success.
In contrast, the Delyn MP recognised that in order for the party to win elections, it must appeal outside of the core supporters that would normally associate themselves with these foundational principles. Mr Hanson’s view on ‘One Nation’ Labour was “About saying we’re all in this together,” recognising that need to encompass a wider audience, however reluctantly echoing Conservative ideology.
Alexander Cordery, Chair of the University of Chester’s Labour Society, represents the junior rank support of the party. Mr Cordery recognises a necessary and potentially unpopular shift in the party’s ideology, explaining that for ‘One Nation’ Labour to solve the economic crisis, decisions involving “things that the Trade Unions would not like” (redundancies and harsh economic action) are necessary.
Furthering this idea, when asked if ‘One Nation’ Labour can succeed in 2015, Mr Cordery said that a change in the manifesto, encompassing some of these harsh measures would be paramount. This will undoubtedly create distance between the trade unions and the party, further exacerbating their historical relationship.
Ed Miliband said in his conference speech that “There is no future for this party as the party of one sectional interest of our country.” David Hanson has recognised the need for support outside of the core voters, but seems reluctant to relinquish traditional Labour values and to protect one section of society. The next generation on the other hand are prepared for certain unpopularity amongst the core support groups, but feel this is the only route back to power.
The divide therefore exists between the current Labour party in Parliament, and the junior ranks that view it from the outside in. Success of ‘One Nation’ Labour depends on a choice between popularity and necessity. MPs like David Hanson do not appear prepared to relinquish core support. The future like Alexander Cordery recognises as vital. Whichever side of the division the party falls will determine its power in the future.
By Samuel Mercer