Frank Field MP most recently caught public attention by backing the I Want A Referendum Campaign along with Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart. When threatened with the withdrawal of the Labour Whip, all of them backed down apart from Gisela Stuart, who was banished from Westminster for three months while the Lisbon Treaty was squeezed through Parliament.
Although out of the news, Gisela Stuart has not gone quiet on the issues that concern her, and neither has Frank Field.
The notion that these four eurosceptic Labour MPs might be able to capture the leadership of the Party is heavily discounted by commentators, who see a continuation of New Labour under David Milliband as the most likely outcome were Brown to fall. And yet Frank Field is listed in betting as an outsider for next Labour leader by the bookies.
Field, pictured here as presented on The Happy Blog Of Harriet Harman (!) – (subtitled ‘My Relief From The Madness, Badness and Sadness Of Westminster), recently gave a lecture titled the Unnecessary Death Of Labour England. Unlike Harman, Field realises that Labour has to please its voters, not its leaders, if it is to survive.
Here is an extract –
Parties that consistently fail to represent their core vote are liable to die. The fate of the Liberal Party was summed up in George Dangerfield’s book The Strange Death of Liberal England.
Labour stands poised at a similar juncture to that occupied by the Liberals prior to 1918. Labour has failed to represent its core vote on two issues which these voters put towards the top of their agenda. It has allowed uncontrolled immigration with its impact not just on earnings but more generally on housing, schools and other public services, to the disadvantage of working class English voters, both white and black.
Here is another opening for the BNP. Just as Labour voters have been prepared to support the BNP as a means of registering their wish to see the number of new arrivals to this country controlled, even more maybe prepared to look around to find a party that will assert their English identity.
I would not question Frank Field’s wisdom, and indeed polling does indicate that support for Labour is crashing through the floor heading for the basement as the third largest party.
Labour MPs might decide that they prefer to go down with the New Labour ship, but equally a sense of personal survival might suddenly come over them, especially as all that is being asked of them is that they return to the principles that they themselves believe in. Does the Labour Party have the strength to throw off the coil that is dragging it into oblivion? Field explains in much detail where he sees the problem as coming from. It is worth reading, but the underlying problem is still the same. Labour has to challenge the power of Brussels, or curl up and die.
Read the lecture given at the University Of Hertfordshire on the 3rd June 2008 HERE. If Labour could start to listen and think, and not be cowed by its aggressive, poisonous and unpopular leaders like Harman and Brown, it might live to fight another day. There’s only an outside chance, but if it happens, Field and Stuart will be a key part of Labour’s revival.