HILLARY Clinton can lay claim to being one of the best Presidents the USA will now never have, but it’s the manner of Donald Trump’s victory, rather than Clinton’s defeat, that should finally make the Labour Party learn some painful, obvious and overdue lessons.
As a British Labour MP with a close interest in US politics – I spent nearly six weeks learning about the US electoral system first hand during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008 – I’ve got a good idea of the important lessons that Labour should now learn.
The first lesson is to stop whining. I’m as disappointed as anyone else at Trump’s victory, but he won fair and square and whining won’t change anything.
We need to listen like never before to those people – the majority of the British people – who believe in the core Labour values of hard work, fairness and an equal chance in life – but who the polls now tell us are voting for other parties.
If my party refuses to listen to the very people who we were originally created to represent in Parliament, then not only do we stop being the Labour Party, but we can forget about ever winning again.
Secondly, Labour has to accept that the person who carries our message matters as much, if not more, than the message we are trying to communicate.
As a messenger, Donald Trump clearly mattered more than his message. Trump is on the record with some pretty vile racist, sexist and insulting comments, but in no way does that mean that every those person who came out to support him shared those particular views.
No, Donald Trump appealed to a broad section of Americans precisely because he has no political experience, isn’t a politician and wants to do things differently.
This was enough to convince people that even though Trump is a billionaire born into a super rich family, he was enough of an outsider to provide the kind of change they want.
And Trump never missed an opportunity to go on tv or radio. He never ran away from news reporters, he rang them up live on air to get his point across. A clear lesson for Labour, right there.
Third, Labour needs to listen to people’s concerns about immigration. These concerns are legitimate and people with legitimate concerns should not be branded racist.
Of course, there are plenty of racists who want to exploit these concerns, but that’s a different issue and it also falls to Labour to defeat this kind of racism – something we can best do by winning elections.
And as someone who campaigned for Britain to stay within the European Union, all of this means that Labour should listen to the wishes of the people and vote to trigger the ‘Article 50’ process that will enable our departure.
It’s time to put forward a positive Labour vision for Britain outside of the EU.
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