The Labour Renewal Project

How can Labour History help the Party move forward in the 2020s?

A report by Professor Rohan McWilliam, Labour History Research Unit April 2020

(Email: [email protected])

Dedicated to the memory of Jo Cox, MP (1974-2016)

This report, which derives from the Labour History Research Unit's recent publications, consists of six sections, including our response to the 2019 Labour Election Review. Please use the menu to the left to navigate between them.

"There are moments in the Labour Party's history when Labour has, tragically, been radical without being credible. At other times Labour has been credible without being radical." - Gordon Brown."

Key Points for Labour Party Renewal 2020-25

  • Corbyn or Blair? Labour needs to recognise these are NOT the only choices.
  • Engagement with British society as it is - not as the left wants it to be. An end to 'no compromise with the electorate'.
  • The left needs a renewed discussion of both aspiration and consumerism if it is to meet the challenges of the 2020s: its mantra should be 'aspiration AND solidarity'.
  • Labour can only win through a coalition of the left AND the centre. Renewal involves restoring the idea of Labour as a broad church.
  • The character and personality of left wing supporters matters. Activists' democracy is not the same thing as democratic politics at large.
  • In a contest between a party that focuses on the creation of wealth and one that focuses on redistribution, the former will usually win. Labour's economic offer needs to be credible. It needs to be able to show how it will deliver economic growth.
  • Inclusivity. There is no mileage in compromising on minority rights. We are all a minority. The working class is not just made up of white, male workers--and never has been.

[note: full references to books cited can be found at the end of this report].

Let us know what you think

Please send us your thoughts and comments on Labour Renewal using our online form.

Read the LHRU response to the Labour Party's official report on the 2019 election defeat. This is analysed in the light of the Labour Renewal Project.

Continue to next section: 'How Can Labour Renew Itself?'