This post by the Norwich Radical is like a breath of fresh air in contrast to the closed and noxious tribalism that poisoned political debate during the election – and I mean the debate that took place on facebook in response to posts I and others made. For myself I can take it; I accept that this goes with the territory – but I worry about the future and about how we are ever to evolve a more mature democracy which embraces difference and disagreement and does not seek to denigrate those who hold different political views or – perish the thought – vote for different political parties! What became clear in the facebook comments I read, was that Labour supporters are no less capable of a narrow minded vindictive tribalism that poisons our politics and alienates voters – despite their avowed embrace of an inclusive more tolerant, compassionate and principled wzpolitics.
Like all of us on the left Olivia Hanks celebrates Corbyn’s electoral achievement and yearns for a change of government that puts Labour in the driving seat. More than this however – much more – is her desire for constitutional and electoral reform that puts an end to tactical voting and introduces proportional representation. On this point Olivier Hanks is quite critical of the progressive alliance initiative and the damage this may have done to the urgency of electoral reform. As she says:
The Green and Lib Dem supporters who backed Labour as a vote for change may yet find that their parties’ diminished vote share is used as an argument against reform. But those who campaigned during the election know that would be an injustice. Yet again, a great many of the votes cast for Labour and for the Tories were reluctant votes ‘against’, not passionate endorsement.
And she has a particular message for Labour supporters not to repeat the mistakes of the Conservatives and instead to embrace a new politics that is genuinely democratic in respecting the range of different political views and parties:
A ‘new politics’ must be one that respects difference, opposition and free debate. The Corbyn surge has defied Theresa May’s attempts to close those things down – but now Labour must be wary of the same trap. Overcoming their tribal instincts and accepting multi-party politics; helping to build cross-party consensus around reform; acknowledging that many votes last week were lent, not theirs by right, and that they impose a duty to finally back PR – these are monumental challenges for the Labour party. So, Labour supporters, make sure your leader lives up to the hype. Our democracy depends on it.