Fourteen years ago, Theresa May stood up at Tory conference and told her party that they were seen as the “nasty party”. She knew the Conservatives were seen as uncaring and unfeeling. It was almost a decade away from power, and many had begun to question whether they could ever win again.
And now it’s Labour, in a different way, that’s looking like the “nasty party” – and it needs to stop. Or Labour will also face more wasted years in the wilderness.
In recent months, a climate of unpleasantness and low-level bullying has become the new normal in the Labour Party. Debates between members have always been robust, and disagreement is essential in any democracy. But now a small but significant minority engage in misogyny and anti-semitism, while MPs, councillors and even some ordinary members face daily hostility because of the views they hold.
Chasing ideological purity is a dead end for Labour and everyone who needs a Labour government. There can be no place for witch hunts against Labour MPs, councillors and party staff by the left or right of the party. But neither can we accept the grotesque farce of Labour MPs heckling their own democratically elected leader in the House of Commons.
The Labour Party has never been perfect – political parties never are – but it must be a place that is open to different viewpoints. A belief that the Labour Party is strongest and most electable when it unites all of our movement’s great traditions has always been fundamental. Yet there are some who are more focussed on taking over the party than taking over the country.
Jeremy Corbyn gets backing of UK’s second biggest trade union, Unison
Our union has renewed our support for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party after consulting our members. But there are a large number of people in our union who backed Owen Smith. Their views will always be respected in our union– that is our proud tradition. Those who do otherwise condemn our country to further Tory governments.
This piece was first published in the Daily Mirror.