If Rebecca Long-Bailey really wants to heal the Labour divide, she needs to start here

Rebecca Long-Bailey
Ed Sykes

Rebecca Long-Bailey wants to be the next leader of the Labour Party. And she’s the most prominent left-wing candidate in the race. But while she’s apparently seeking to heal the divide that’s engulfed the parliamentary party in recent years, she also needs to show that she’s willing to make a strong stand against the voices that fostered this divide.

Continuing with a “socialist agenda” is good, but it’s not enough

Announcing her leadership campaign in the left-wing Tribune magazine, Long-Bailey clearly set out a commitment to continue with the “socialist agenda” of the party’s manifesto:

 

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




She also promised that she would “fight the establishment tooth and nail”:

In the article, meanwhile, she called for “a new democracy” and said:

We must go to war with the political establishment, pledging a constitutional revolution that sweeps away the House of Lords, takes big money out of politics and radically shifts power away from Westminster.

She’s right on all of the above. But as Tribune editor Ronan Burtenshaw has insisted:

This fight against the hostile billionaire press and its establishment allies is indeed vital. Because this toxic coalition has played a key role since 2015 in ensuring that enough voters feared, disliked, or distrusted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. There was unfortunately no mention of Britain’s putrid media environment in Long-Bailey’s article, though. She did mention that “cosying up to Rupert Murdoch” in the past had been a mistake. Elsewhere, meanwhile, she said “Jeremy was absolutely savaged by the press… from day one” and that “we needed to have a rebuttal unit” to respond to the attacks against him. But she just didn’t give any signs of a real counterattack against the corporate media giants that dominate British politics.

‘Kinder, gentler politics’ doesn’t work when only one side participates

From the start of Corbyn’s leadership, he sought to promote polite and reasoned debate in politics. But his opponents simply didn’t play along. And Britain’s billionaire media and its allies had a field day, waging a years-long war of smears against him. As Labour’s Andy McDonald said in December:

[I have] never in my lifetime known any single individual so demonised and vilified, so grotesquely and so unfairly

Brexit and the issues surrounding it were a key factor in handing the 2019 election to one of the most racist, hard-right governments in living memory. But it would be disastrous to ignore the effect of years of despicable anti-Corbyn propaganda in the media – often fuelled and amplified by Corbyn’s opponents within the Labour Party.

Long-Bailey now seems to suggest, however, that Labour members and voters should just forget the constant attacks on Corbyn’s leadership from the Labour right:

This is a position that her running mate Angela Rayner also seemed to hold. But judging by the reaction online, many people feel that there should be stronger action to ensure that what happened to Corbyn never happens again:

In 2019, Long-Bailey condemned any comments “perceived to be” antisemitic. This came amid constant right-wing smears which weaponised and amplified allegations of antisemitism to attack Corbyn and his supporters despite Labour consistently taking strong action to stamp out the small amount of racism that exists in the party. For many, the fact that Long-Bailey would condemn even a ‘perception’ of wrongdoing is also a source of concern.

Two key questions that Long-Bailey needs to answer convincingly

Long-Bailey’s pledge to continue with the Labour Party’s current socialist vision is promising. But there are two major issues she needs to address in the coming weeks. One is how she plans to support independent, left-wing media in order to counter the right-wing propaganda from the establishment media which will almost certainly continue if she becomes leader. The second is how she plans to deal with Labour politicians who actively undermined Corbyn and helped to fuel the media onslaught against him.

Any future leader of the party needs to give a serious, comprehensive answer to both of those questions.

Featured image via YouTube – Labour Party

Since you're here...

We know you don’t need a lecture. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. And Canary your mention of RLB’s “perception of A/S” was accompainied in a tweet in June with her association of the Canary as being A/S and associating herself with JLM. She has many attributes but she seems a bit confused on some issues. Maybe a conflict with old friends and their hurt recieving A/S on social media and at the same time needing to keep a clear head as to the reality of the situation just within the party.

    2. I notice that Nick Watt (BBC Newsnight commentator) has already started laying into Long-Bailey. The attack machine that was directed against Corbyn has now turned its fire on her.

    3. Any new Labour leader, in no uncertain terms, needs to tell religious, trades union and other inner-Labour nobbling lobbying factions that none of them seeming to wield some kind of historic right exclusively ‘owns’ the Labour Party – or that the Labour Party is ‘the natural home’ of a defined demographic which insists Labour must be defined by their rules, diktats and cloth cap, kippah or any other head-topped wearing traditions. Wear a cloth cap or titfer if you want to. Don’t then demand I can’t wear my redoubtable sou’wester.

    4. For me Labour died two years ago. I voted for them in December but like many I guessed correctly it was a wasted vote. Wondering if Keir Starmer will lead this waste of a party is like wondering if Keir Starmer pisses up a wall or pisses down. Who cares?

      We need another party of the left, one untainted by Blair. I had hoped George Galloway would lead the way but I think he chose the wrong name for his new party. I’m working class but calling it the Workers Party of Britain leaves it open to attack purely from its name. Had it been something more inclusive like the Democratic Alliance or Grassroots Alliance I’d have been keen, but I doubt he’ll get far with the WPB.

    5. April 4th is far off, and the debate has just begun.
      But will there be any resolve to the hard fellings .
      I’d like to know why Chris Williamson was dismissed from the party even though he represented his riding so well. He was smart, and began to find out where this smear campaign was coming from.
      Where did it originate from beside the Intergriy Initiaitve?
      This is a issue to resolve on the way to finding any harmony. It needs intelligent answers.
      You can’t ignore this ,and to think you’ll be united will just be a fantasy. What has happened needs an answer to achieve any harmony at all. You need courage not to discuss this issue in a personal sense. Things went wankers for far too long.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.