Martin Bright

Is the Labour Party Thinking Seriously About Downing Street or Planning to Become BNP-lite?

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I have yet to get really excited about the Labour Party leadership race. I was deeply depressed by the manner of Andy Burnham's entry into the fray. Too many Labour politicians and activists were over-impressed by talk of immigration on the doorstep. They think that because the subject was raised again and again, then it is the key to Labour's failure and therefore its potential future success.

The point is that the issue was raised in 2001 and 2005, but Labour knew it would win on both occasions on so chose to ignore what its core voters were saying about foreigners. They believed they had their votes in the bag. That was probably a mistake, although the core vote seemed to hold up rather well even in 2010 considering what a useless campaign Brown ran. Ask most voters what their key concerns are and immigration will come pretty close to the top (and that includes Guardian readers). Ask them what to do about it and beyond the "send 'em back" or "pull up the drawbridge" arguments there is very little out there.

Now the Liberal-Conservative government has triangulated to the left on child detention the Labour Party looks at serious risk of becoming BNP-lite if it's not careful about reining in some of this populist nonsense around immigration.

But this is a potentially very damaging sideshow to the real issue for the Labour Party, which is finding new leadership and vision to replace New Labour. 

I don't see it emerging yet. The Miliband brothers are real political talents, But they are still flailing around in the post-Blairite miasma. They are also both products of the politics they claim to be replacing. There is time yet for them to develop a coherent election platform (and hopefully these will be more distinct than they are now), which will inspire beyond the party faithful. But it hasn't happened yet. David Miliband has called for the battle of ideas to begin, without proposing any ideas and his brother has informed us that Iraq was a mistake. 

This is not a good start.