By Christopher Herman
We must look back at Hugh Gaitskell and “fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we love”
Fifty seven years ago in Scarborough, of all places, the Labour party like today was at a crossroads. The party was licking its wounds after the humiliating election defeat of 1959, with Gaitskell believing that the party had to change fundamentally to become electable. He found himself, like many of us today, to be in a civil war against the fundamentalist ideals of utopianism to gain the heart and soul of the Labour Party. Gaitskell attempted to crush their faith under his boot with his opposition to the four motions calling for unilateral disarmament.
He argued that Britain should never disarm whilst the Soviet Union maintained its nuclear arsenal. He believed that if the Engineers Union and the Transport and General Workers Union had got their way, which in Scarborough of places, they had then the Labour Party would not be trusted on the issue of National Defence. That the policy of unilateral disarmament would leave our country defenceless and alone. Gaitskell vowed to fight and fight again which in return managed to move the party back to multilateral disarmament in 1961, and had therefore paved the path to Government for the 1963 election.
Today we are in even more dire circumstances. Not only are we not trusted on national defence, we’re not trusted on the economy, Brexit, or any other major policy area troubling the British electorate except perhaps the NHS. Though if the Copeland by-election is anything to go by our strength on the NHS is simply not good enough to hold seats we’ve held since the 1930s. The people of Copeland had to make the difficult decision between saving their A&E department and protecting their livelihood in the nuclear industry. They chose their livelihood.
Now like in 1960 we have the intervention of a fat cat elitist Trade Union General Secretary, who happens to be going against the views of his own members, preventing the Labour Party from reaching out beyond those who already agree with us to the wider electorate. With McCluskey being more focused on maintaining the Corbynista experiment than defending the prosperity of nuclear industry workers. With McCluskey more focused on keeping hold of his £417,300 central London flat than standing up for the four million children growing up in poverty, in spite of the fact that two thirds of them have a parent in work.
We’ve found that in an unprecedented power move that Len has planned alongside John Lansman, the founder of Momentum, to bankroll the far-left pressure group without the support of his union’s members. That same group which directs its members to take control of Labour Party structures and organise inside Trade Unions. A group determined to deselect moderate Labour MPs.
For those of us who want to see a Labour Government in our lifetime we must look back at the example of Hugh Gaitskell. We must be willing to fight and fight again against the forces entering the party, which wish to carry on moving the party as far away from the attitude of the British people. We must like Gaitskell before us fight to reclaim our great party’s sanity, honesty and dignity. So that our party, with its great past. can reclaim its glory.