Wishy-washy centrism wrong for Labour, warns Lord Hain

Labour must not resort to “wishy-washy centrism” after its disastrous general election showing, ex-Welsh secretary Lord Hain has said.

The party had its worst UK performance since 1935 and lost six seats in Wales, leaving it with 22 of Wales’ 40 MPs.

Lord Hain said Labour must offer “a clear alternative to the Tory project” which would be “disastrous for Wales”.

But he said the “intolerance” to voters “not necessarily of your tribe” under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership must end.

Mr Corbyn said he did “everything he could” to get Labour into power and will not “walk away” until another leader is elected, after Boris Johnson swept back to power with a majority of 80.

Lord Hain, a cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, told BBC Radio Wales’ Breakfast with Oliver Hides: “The Corbyn project has some very searching self-examination [to do] that has to be done honestly.

“But I do not think the solution is to go back to just a kind of centrism that doesn’t offer a clear alternative to the Tory project, which is a pretty right-wing project, is going to take us down a hard Brexit road, which is in my view going to be disastrous for Wales in particular.

“We’re in for a very turbulent time in British politics.”

The former Neath MP said Labour had to be “honesty in every respect” in examining what led to it being punished so severely at the polls.

“That neither going back to a wishy-washy centrism is what we want but also accepting that this kind of policy of an intolerance at the top towards other electors, to voters who are not necessarily of your tribe or internally in the party, who are not necessarily in your clique, that’s got to stop and there’s got to be a really honest discussion,” he said.

“And then choose a successor who I think will probably be a woman, because there are very high calibre women standing in line.”

Lord Hain said there were “deep-seated issues” Labour had not confronted.

“For example, I’ve noticed how the whole base of the Labour Party has dissolved under our feet, as it were, in old strongholds like Neath and right across the south Wales valleys.

“Those organic links between big trade unions in mines and heavy industry and so on, and then social clubs, welfare clubs, rugby clubs and so on, that organic link between the party and those community roots has basically just dissolved.”

Pontypridd assembly member Mick Antoniw, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who sits on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, said the general election had been decided on Brexit.

“Clearly we have to be a progressive party, we have to tackle inequality and we have to tackle climate change and those require radical solutions and we have those,” he said.

“What we need now, though, is to have a leadership that will be capable of taking that forward.

“Clearly that didn’t work with Jeremy, for a whole variety of reasons.

“But the policies, I think, are by and large in the right direction.”

Mark Tami only just retained his Alyn and Deeside seat for Labour, with his 5,000 majority cut to 213.

He said the challenge now was to reconnect with traditional party supporters who had “lent the Tories the vote” over Brexit.

“But I think we have to be clear with them what our message is and what we can offer them,” he said.

Labour’s campaign in Wales was led by Mr Corbyn’s team in London.

Mr Tami said the party probably missed a trick by not promoting its Welsh Labour identity as much as it did at the previous general election.

“I think if you look back to 2017 there was a marked difference between how we performed in Wales as opposed to how Labour performed in other parts of the country,” he said.

“Yes, and I think that was a mistake, probably, that we didn’t push our Welsh branding as much as we did in 2017.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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