Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, photo by Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, photo by Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Paul Callanan

The Labour Party has released its long awaited report into why they lost the general election. Authored by former Blairite cabinet minister Margaret Beckett, it runs to 35 pages and demonstrates a refusal to draw the necessary conclusions from Labour’s defeat last May.

A great deal of space is taken up making excuses. The report claims that Labour was treated unfairly by the Conservatives and the media who blamed them for the economic crisis in 2007-08.

While there is a kernel of truth in this it also true that under New Labour the banks were feted as the creators of wealth. The then Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown followed a policy of almost completely deregulating the banks.

At points the report does get close to reality. It does rubbish claims that Labour “lost because it was too left-wing”. They also acknowledge that what left-wing policies they did have, such as those on energy prices and taking railways into public ownership were their most popular.

They also acknowledge that they didn’t offer much that was different to the Tories on NHS spending for example. And that people opted instead to vote for the Greens and in Scotland the SNP who were “arguably seen as to the Left of Labour”.

Yet in the final section entitled “Learning the Lessons”, ironically, none of this is acknowledged. No hint here of how Jeremy Corbyn’s thumping leadership victory showed that people are desperate for a party than stands against the Tories’ austerity agenda. Instead, it’s all empty guff about how “excitement that has been generated by the leadership campaign, gives something on which to build” etc.

The report is more of a papering over of the huge fissure in the Labour Party between those who want to continue with the discredited New Labour project and those who want to build a genuine anti-austerity party gathered around Jeremy Corbyn.