‘For a sense of the division now tearing through the Labour party, consider a moment that occurred during the Fabian Society conference back in January 2010. The day’s proceedings finished with a Dragons’ Den-style competition for a big idea for the next election manifesto. A pitch for a Green New Deal to provide a Keynesian stimulus, create good jobs, and decarbonise the economy was greeted enthusiastically by delegates but rejected by Gordon Brown’s pollster, Deborah Mattinson, who said that while climate change was “the biggest issue facing humanity” this was not an idea she could sell to voters.
There, six years ago, was the essence of Labour’s current civil war: on one side a grassroots bursting with ideas, determined to tackle the most urgent issues; on the other a party establishment so deferential to “political reality” that the survival of human civilisation has to take a back seat. This is the real struggle taking place in the party now: not one between “Blairites” and “Corbynistas”, but between conservatives and progressives.
We assume that the dividing line between conservatives and progressives falls between the two main parties – but it now runs through Labour’s heart.’