Have the Government and its associates repented of their formative Communist and Trotskyist activism, admitting that it had been wrong at the time? Have they made it clear once and for all that, contrary to appearances, they have not merely changed tactics from the economic to the social, cultural and constitutional, without having changed their ultimate objectives one iota? Have they explained definitively that when they call themselves social democrats, they mean one of that term's two entirely different definitions (the one that almost all English-speaking people mean) rather than the other (the one relating to the Russian Revolution and to the original German party of that name, and subject to repeated Papal condemnations)?
Have the Government and its associates become instead supporters of the universal and comprehensive Welfare State, and the strong statutory and other (including trade union) protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, the former paid for by progressive taxation, the whole underwritten by full employment, and all these good thing delivered by the partnership between a strong Parliament and strong local government? Have they therefore taken to giving a political voice to trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies and similar bodies?
And have the Government and its associates now moved into the tradition of the trade unionists and Labour activists who in the early twentieth century peremptorily dismissed an attempt to make the Labour Party anti-monarchist, and resisted schemes to abort, contracept and sterilise the working class out of existence?
The tradition of the Attlee Government’s refusal to join the European Coal and Steel Community because it was “the blueprint for a federal state” which “the Durham miners would never wear”? Of Gaitskell’s rejection of European federalism as “the end of a thousand years of history” and liable to destroy the Commonwealth? Of the unanimous Labour vote against the Single European Act, of the 66 Labour MPs who voted against Maastricht, and of the every Labour MP without exception who voted against the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies every year between 1979 and 1997? And of the view of the European project that prevailed overwhelmingly within the Parliamentary Labour Party when it was comprised overwhelmingly of economically populist and social democratic, morally and socially conservative, staunchly Unionist and pro-Commonwealth, often church-based politicians?
The tradition of Bevan’s ridicule of the first parliamentary Welsh Day on the grounds that “Welsh coal is the same as English coal and Welsh sheep are the same as English sheep”? Of those Labour MPs who in the 1970s successfully opposed Scottish and Welsh devolution not least because of its ruinous effects on the North of England? And of those Labour activists in the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Borders, and in North, Mid and West Wales, who accurately predicted that their areas would be balefully neglected under devolution?
The tradition of the Parliamentary Labour Party that voted against the partition of the United Kingdom? Of the Attlee Government’s first ever acceptance of the principle of consent with regard to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland? Of the Wilson Government’s deployment of British troops to protect Northern Ireland’s grateful Catholics precisely as British subjects? And of the Callaghan Government’s administration of Northern Ireland exactly as if it were any other part of the United Kingdom?
The tradition of the Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce? Of the Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling? And of those, including John Smith, who successfully organised through USDAW against Thatcher’s and Major’s attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day?
The tradition of Attlee’s successful dissuasion of Truman from dropping an atom bomb on Korea? Of Wilson’s refusal to send British forces to Vietnam, but use of military force to safeguard the right of the people of Anguilla to be British? And of Callaghan’s successful prevention of an Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands?
And the tradition that helped to provide the backbone of the Police, the Armed Forces and the Prison Service in much better days for all of them, and to call millions onto the streets to celebrate such events as the Coronation in 1953 and the Silver Jubilee in 1977?
Merely to ask these questions answers them.
Indeed, the unrepented Communist and Trotskyist activity included ruthlessly purging the House of Commons of almost everyone even remotely like that, of whom there would be still be hundreds in a representative Parliament, just as there always used to be.
A return to Old Labour?