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Labour Left What Ifs

Blackadder Mk2

Well-known member
Any possibilities for Gould (I know, only soft left, but still) or Austin Mitchell at any point?

Hello my name is David and I live in New Zealand.
IIRC, I can't remember where I heard this, but Kinnock liked Gould and supposedly considered him for Shadow Chancellor back in 1987 after his work on the campaign, until he went with Smith and their relationship soured. You might need to remove Smith from the equation though.

I've thought about Labour's early years and wondered about the impact of an actual split in the party over the First World War. IOTL, you had MacDonald and Snowden out in the cold, but the party at least united around some principles and came back together. If you want a split, however, I imagine one condition is that Labour stays in the Lloyd George Coalition or whatever the government is and maybe avert Henderson's resignation/the League of Nations as a post-war goal.

The other big question is the impact on the Radical Left of no Lib-Lab Pact, which means getting into Parliament might be trickier and Taff Vale may have been overturned in the original form rather than Campbell-Bannerman going round his Cabinet to re-introduce no liability for strikes damages to unions. Might be the start of a gradual push to rejecting the parliamentarian path to socialism.
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
IIRC, I can't remember where I heard this, but Kinnock liked Gould and supposedly considered him for Shadow Chancellor back in 1987 after his work on the campaign, until he went with Smith and their relationship soured. You might need to remove Smith from the equation though.
Gould has the problem of being a little too... intellectually self-confident. It made him aloof among party leaders and I remember reading accounts of Shadow Cabinet meetings that often had Gould behaving as if he would rather be elsewhere interspersed with drive-by comments on other people's portfolios. Now, were he to become leader and then PM, it might have done this country a lot of good given his emphasis on the "real economy" and his admission that most parliamentarians suffered from a serious economic illiteracy that needed to be rectified.

I've thought about Labour's early years and wondered about the impact of an actual split in the party over the First World War. IOTL, you had MacDonald and Snowden out in the cold, but the party at least united around some principles and came back together. If you want a split, however, I imagine one condition is that Labour stays in the Lloyd George Coalition or whatever the government is and maybe avert Henderson's resignation/the League of Nations as a post-war goal.

The other big question is the impact on the Radical Left of no Lib-Lab Pact, which means getting into Parliament might be trickier and Taff Vale may have been overturned in the original form rather than Campbell-Bannerman going round his Cabinet to re-introduce no liability for strikes damages to unions. Might be the start of a gradual push to rejecting the parliamentarian path to socialism.
These are some very interesting ideas. I know that there was a PM list game on the Other Place that had no LRC as the starting point, but that turned rather silly once Leon Trotsky's son became Premier in the 1940s.
 

Oppo

Erik Ƭ̵̬̊
Pronouns
he/him
Any possibilities for Gould (I know, only soft left, but still) or Austin Mitchell at any point?

Hello my name is David and I live in New Zealand.
Smith offered to give Gould a clear path to being deputy if he didn’t run against him. If we go back and prevent Major from having a majority, and have his government falls sometime after Black Wednesday, Labour are poised to win the election. You might just be able to give Gould an opportunity by having Smith die during the campaign and have Gould as acting leader. With his position as Acting PM and no Granita Pact, he could pull off a victory and stay on as Prime Minister.
 

Blackadder Mk2

Well-known member
Gould has the problem of being a little too... intellectually self-confident. It made him aloof among party leaders and I remember reading accounts of Shadow Cabinet meetings that often had Gould behaving as if he would rather be elsewhere interspersed with drive-by comments on other people's portfolios. Now, were he to become leader and then PM, it might have done this country a lot of good given his emphasis on the "real economy" and his admission that most parliamentarians suffered from a serious economic illiteracy that needed to be rectified.
And, IIRC, he was against the general movement in Labour towards being Europhiles, which might make Maastricht debates that much more awkward.

These are some very interesting ideas. I know that there was a PM list game on the Other Place that had no LRC as the starting point, but that turned rather silly once Leon Trotsky's son became Premier in the 1940s.
PM List Games suffered the same thing that Map Games did; everyone was less focused on a narrative and more on making sure 'their side' won the game.

And the occasional glory of Dimebag Darrell.
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
And, IIRC, he was against the general movement in Labour towards being Europhiles, which might make Maastricht debates that much more awkward.
He was certainly one of the most Eurosceptic leading lights under Kinnock. Were he directing Labour's economic policy when the UK entered the ERM, then his steadfast opposition to it (and the composition of a Shadow Treasury team that wasn't "obliged to remain silent" on the ERM as he was) would have put Labour in a better position of attack when the whole thing goes belly-up.

PM List Games suffered the same thing that Map Games did; everyone was less focused on a narrative and more on making sure 'their side' won the game.
I don't know about that, but they did die a very sudden death. I think that the footnotes just got too unwieldy at one point and every game seemed to need breaking up into two or more posts after a while because the word count was getting ridiculous.
 

Oppo

Erik Ƭ̵̬̊
Pronouns
he/him
Smith offered to give Gould a clear path to being deputy if he didn’t run against him. If we go back and prevent Major from having a majority, and have his government falls sometime after Black Wednesday, Labour are poised to win the election. You might just be able to give Gould an opportunity by having Smith die during the campaign and have Gould as acting leader. With his position as Acting PM and no Granita Pact, he could pull off a victory and stay on as Prime Minister.
1990-1994: John Major (Conservative)
1992 (Minority) def. Neil Kinnock (Labour), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)
1994-2000: Bryan Gould (Labour)
1994 (Majority) def. John Major (Conservative), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)
1998 (Majority) def. Michael Heseltine (Conservative), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)

2000-2002: Gordon Brown (Labour majority)
2002-0000: Michael Portillo (Conservative)
2002 (Majority) def. Gordon Brown (Labour), Nick Harvey (Liberal Democrats)
 
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AlfieJ

left labour poster on here
Gould fell out of favour with Kinnock despite doing a lot of the heavy lifting of the Policy Review largely cos he was Eurosceptic and still maintained a pretty firm alternative vision to just adopting monetarism but with some nice social policies. He was actually a proponent of a national investment bank and other programs McDonnell had adopted.

According to Alwyn Turner, Kinnock had urged Gould not to stand in 1992 according to the logic that John Smith wouldn’t last the course and Gould should be able to pick up the pieces. I’m p skeptical about this as it doesn’t really follow Kinnock’s political logic but who knows.

Having Smith die from his first heart attack in 1988 could see Gould do better in 1992 and could theoretically win, but it would have also allowed Brown to stand
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
1990-1994: John Major (Conservative)
1992 (Minority) def. Neil Kinnock (Labour), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)
1994-2000: Brian Gould (Labour)
1994 (Majority) def. John Major (Conservative), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)
1998 (Majority) def. Michael Heseltine (Conservative), Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrats)

2000-2002: Gordon Brown (Labour majority)
2002-0000: Michael Portillo (Conservative)
2002 (Majority) def. Gordon Brown (Labour), Nick Harvey (Liberal Democrats)
Bryan, just FYI.
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
According to Alwyn Turner, Kinnock had urged Gould not to stand in 1992 according to the logic that John Smith wouldn’t last the course and Gould should be able to pick up the pieces. I’m p skeptical about this as it doesn’t really follow Kinnock’s political logic but who knows.
I was quite perplexed when reading that, but I think that it was a mixture of expressly wanting anyone but Smith (given how rocky their relationship was) to be the first Labour PM in nearly two decades and also a recognition that Gould was closer to him politically and personally. They might have disagreed on a lot, but Bryan and Neil at least had the same political beginnings on the Eurosceptic left of the party - it's just that Neil felt Bryan was always lagging behind a bit in terms of modernisation. They also had the same grasp of ideas and grand narratives - that poetic rather than prosaic nature - that eluded the cautious John Smith.
 

Blackadder Mk2

Well-known member
I think Elektronaut has made a good case once as to why Labour might have gotten an easier time with the ERM/Black Wednesday than the Tories, but one idea could be a small Labour victory in 1992, Kinnock agrees to drop the opt-outs Major negotiated but has trouble with his plan to devalue the Pound within the ERM as Smith is against it (historical reputation and the lack of consultation) which had deadlock. Black Wednesday hits and is worse as Labour have a worse reputation than the Tories and it leads to a double-resignation as stress worsens Smith's condition and Kinnock is tarred by the ERM.

Gould manages to emerge as the victor as the one man in Cabinet who saw it coming and negotiates the Euro opt-out again at Maastricht and Labour under him turns away from the EU as it's seen as what lost them the election after.
 

AlfieJ

left labour poster on here
I was quite perplexed when reading that, but I think that it was a mixture of expressly wanting anyone but Smith (given how rocky their relationship was) to be the first Labour PM in nearly two decades and also a recognition that Gould was closer to him politically and personally. They might have disagreed on a lot, but Bryan and Neil at least had the same political beginnings on the Eurosceptic left of the party - it's just that Neil felt Bryan was always lagging behind a bit in terms of modernisation. They also had the same grasp of ideas and grand narratives - that poetic rather than prosaic nature - that eluded the cautious John Smith.
Yes this was my reasoning too.

The way I see Bryan is that he was an intellectual with a more rigorous concept of socialism than Neil, which I think was more rooted in the romanticism of Bevanism and the deliberately less systematic socialism of the Tribune Group beyond the traditional tropes. I think what separates them is actually their own ideas of what Labour's modernisation required. The Policy Review that Kinnock oversaw was the difficult process of Labour accepting the new economic realities while trying to maintain a programme of social justice, and actually John Smith was in some areas to Kinnock's left in maintaining vehremently pro-Trade Union and more pro-full employment than he necessarily came across as Shadow Chancellor.

Gould's policy review was still fundamentally rooted in challenging monetarism, like the emphasis you mentioned on "real economy", and I think his continued emphasis on the need to change the ideological/policy conversation in 1992 probably alienated a lot of people who were comforted by the continuity, safe pair of hands image of Smith.
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
Yes this was my reasoning too.

The way I see Bryan is that he was an intellectual with a more rigorous concept of socialism than Neil, which I think was more rooted in the romanticism of Bevanism and the deliberately less systematic socialism of the Tribune Group beyond the traditional tropes. I think what separates them is actually their own ideas of what Labour's modernisation required. The Policy Review that Kinnock oversaw was the difficult process of Labour accepting the new economic realities while trying to maintain a programme of social justice, and actually John Smith was in some areas to Kinnock's left in maintaining vehremently pro-Trade Union and more pro-full employment than he necessarily came across as Shadow Chancellor.
I reckon that's a fair summation of Kinnock's roots - it's what I got from his exposition on such during his visit to QMUL and interview with Peter Hennessy last year.

Gould's policy review was still fundamentally rooted in challenging monetarism, like the emphasis you mentioned on "real economy", and I think his continued emphasis on the need to change the ideological/policy conversation in 1992 probably alienated a lot of people who were comforted by the continuity, safe pair of hands image of Smith.
Kinnock's politics were still haunted by Thatcher even when she had left; Gould had been trying to exorcise her from the moment she first got into power. The fact that Gould was continuing his rearguard action against neoliberalism, even when it seemed like it was the only game in town, made his prospective leadership look like a step away from modernisation (which, generally speaking, equalled power in the political imagination at the time) and a stumble towards No But This Time Our "Loony Leftie" Is A Kiwi And Is Also Quite Young Actually. A weak minority for Major in '92 could see the government collapse by '93 or '94, which - if Gould has come to the leadership after 1992 by way of either Shadow Chancellor or Deputy Leader - gives ample time and space for Bryan to outline his more forthright left-wing alternative and affect popular opinion about the direction of the economy.
 

Elektronaut

Finnish Favourite
According to Alwyn Turner, Kinnock had urged Gould not to stand in 1992 according to the logic that John Smith wouldn’t last the course and Gould should be able to pick up the pieces.
This is true.

I think by far the most interesting thing about this is not that it shows Kinnock as Smith-sceptical, eager to keep the factional legacy going etc - but that I'm fairly confident he didn't give any such advice to messers Brown and Blair.

Smith offered to give Gould a clear path to being deputy if he didn’t run against him.
I doubt it. I haven't got my sources atm, but I can't recall anything like that.

Smith wanted Beckett as first choice. (English, female, former Campaign Group, had worked under him on the treasury team) He had nothing to fear from Gould, and was in a position where he had no need to engage in this kind of political bartering.
 
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OwenM

The patronising flippancy of youth
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Colwyn Bay/Manchester
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Since I see some 50s PODs being mentioned, how inevitable was Frank Cousins running the T&G?
Another one that springs to mind is whether USDAW being slightly less willing to humour Audrey Wise means they don't propose the 40/30/30 formula? This means no CLPD-Tribune split over the events at Wembley, but otoh AIUI USDAW were planning to back the 50/25/25 formula once their obviously-never-going-to-pass formula was inevitably rejected (which is part of why CLPD backed it over Tribune's), so Benn probably still doesn't become deputy leader... idk.
 

AlfieJ

left labour poster on here
Another grossly under explored POD is if Michael Foot had stuck to his initial plan to endorse Peter Shore in 1980.

Shore as leader would have inevitably been a far more competent and effective leader than Foot, taking the Govt to task on the economy and unemployment rather than just focusing on the pet projects of unilateral disarmament in 1983. A stronger performance in 1983 could have allowed Shore to stay on and perhaps become an elder statesman PM in the mid to late 80s after the wheels fall of Thatcherism, perhaps around the miners strike.
 

Nomad

Well-known member
Another grossly under explored POD is if Michael Foot had stuck to his initial plan to endorse Peter Shore in 1980.

Shore as leader would have inevitably been a far more competent and effective leader than Foot, taking the Govt to task on the economy and unemployment rather than just focusing on the pet projects of unilateral disarmament in 1983. A stronger performance in 1983 could have allowed Shore to stay on and perhaps become an elder statesman PM in the mid to late 80s after the wheels fall of Thatcherism, perhaps around the miners strike.
I actually did a thread about this on the old site. The strange thing about Shore was that although he was a very strong eurosceptic and on the left economically, he was also thought of as being to the right of the Party by some people, especially when it came to internal party matters, and could actually have been more willing to take on the Bennites than Healey was. So he might prevent the departure of the Gang of Three as well. He was probably the best leader Labour could have had for that time period, but 1979-1983 was always going to be a difficult time for Labour, and barring any other PoDs, the perfect storm of 1983 would probably mean they would still lose seats at that election, at which point both the right and the left would have lost patience with Shore, and probably decided it was time for someone who were more firmly grounded in their own camp.
 

Elektronaut

Finnish Favourite
Another grossly under explored POD is if Michael Foot had stuck to his initial plan to endorse Peter Shore in 1980.

Shore as leader would have inevitably been a far more competent and effective leader than Foot, taking the Govt to task on the economy and unemployment rather than just focusing on the pet projects of unilateral disarmament in 1983. A stronger performance in 1983 could have allowed Shore to stay on and perhaps become an elder statesman PM in the mid to late 80s after the wheels fall of Thatcherism, perhaps around the miners strike.
But Foot only stood because an awful lot of people on the left were firmly convinced Healey was unbeatable against anyone else.

As I said when this issue came up on the other place, whereas Foot was very much a unity candidate, I think Shore was equally alienating to just about all wings of the party. Though his 1983 run was not a serious one, he still came behind Heffer even in the PLP section...
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
But Foot only stood because an awful lot of people on the left were firmly convinced Healey was unbeatable against anyone else.

As I said when this issue came up on the other place, whereas Foot was very much a unity candidate, I think Shore was equally alienating to just about all wings of the party. Though his 1983 run was not a serious one, he still came behind Heffer even in the PLP section...
Agreed on Shore. Had he taken a run earlier in the 1970s at some point, he would have had a better shot at the leadership for a number of reasons - the most pertinent of which is probably his more straightforward ideological tendencies. Knowing where a candidate stood was integral - as attested by Bryan Gould in his own memoirs (which doesn’t mention an offer from Smith, but that logic of dropping from the leadership race does come up in advice to Bryan from Kinnock and multiple other sources) - to courting MPs’ support during the campaign. Ambivalent older MPs and uninitiated new MPs could be swayed to almost any candidate so long as they had proven momentum and a position from which to reach out across the party - any candidate of eclectic opinions faced being pilloried from all sides and never gaining momentum because they’re always tripping over themselves to make their case for the leadership.
 
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