Paul has just posted an excellent piece called “What’s wrong with Labour?” – well worth reading in full. I wonder as a result whether the problem with our left-wing politicians is that they are too ashamed of what they do – of the mistakes they have made and will continue, as ordinary human beings, to inevitably be responsible for.
Let’s look at it from a broader progressive perspective. Do we go into politics to do good and make the world better? If so, does going into politics to make the world better require us to be better people than the people who vote for us?
I note the Spanish experience. The losing candidate in the latest Spanish general election, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, is already reappearing on Spanish radio and TV with all guns blazing. Compare this behaviour with Gordon Brown’s post-election disappearance without a trace – and even the Shadow Cabinet’s relative restraint since then in the face of the biggest deconstruction of a body politic since World War Two – and we surely must ask ourselves why this is happening.
Is it, perhaps, because the UK Labour Party is far closer to the politicised Christian beliefs of Northern European Calvinism – and finds itself unable to accept the relief of redemption and repeated renewal which Catholicism unconsciously offers those peoples who still claim to be a part of its philosophy?
We must, it would seem, as British progressives, pay publicly for our sins and suffer for a respectable period in silence and political mourning.
So whilst the Coalition government has been getting away with figurative murder, the Labour Party and its followers have been affording themselves the luxury of repentance – at the expense of a hugely important minority of defenceless voters who neither have a ready-made voice nor the means to fashion one.
Perhaps it is time that those who would describe themselves progressives choose whether they are in politics to do right or be good.
For it would appear that – at least for now – any attempt to act out both sides of the coin is simply incompatible with the aim of forging a generation which might one day win an election.
There is one final thought which serves only to depress me even further: whilst some might effectively choose between doing right or being good, and still manage to serve a constructive purpose on the planet, others – on a quite different moral plane – might decide quite the opposite: that is to say, choose either to do wrong or be bad.
With the added advantage that it’s probably quite seamlessly easy to manage to do wrong and be bad at exactly the same time.