But the historic loss of Hartlepool and the generally poor local elections performance across England show that it is in the autumn of its life unless something drastic is done.
It could be argued that we have been here before. Its outlook was bleak when Margaret Thatcher went to No 10 after the winter of discontent.
But it survived the surge in her vote amid mounting unemployment which won her three elections in a row, two with a larger majority than Boris Johnson managed against the unelectable Jeremy Corbyn in 2019.
The “Gang of Four” also showed that trying to break up an extremist Labour by forming a new party (SDP) may get you precisely nowhere.
Tony Blair brought some relief until he blew it over war with Iraq and Gordon Brown compounded its problems by losing control of public spending, even allowing for the 2008-9 financial crisis.
Since then it has been just one darned thing after another. Ed Miliband paved the way for Jeremy Corbyn’s capture of the party leadership by introducing £3 a year membership, thereby encouraging the entry of those in the far-left bent on controlling HM Loyal Opposition.
Sir Keir Starmer may not be one of these but his acceptance of a leading role on Corbyn’s front bench is a perhaps terminal cross he has to bear.
In short, Labour, in hock to a curious union and woke metropolitan “elite”, looks to be up the creek without a paddle – or even a prospective paddler if only they could find an oar.
This is not good news for the nation since a healthy Parliamentary democracy requires a competent alternative government.
I shall not be thanked for offering this 10-point plan for Labour’s recovery:
1. Re-shuffling towards moderation is not much good unless you know what you stand for now that poverty is merely relative and opportunity knocks for all determined to get on.
Your pioneers have achieved more than they ever dreamed possible, though they would be worried about widespread evidence of a loss of public discipline.
2. Seek to provide a credible, unique appeal when the state of society has narrowed the options and the Tories seem to hold all the cards.
Carping from the sidelines or being wise after the event simply will not do. You have to be seen to stand for distinctive values and have the guts to pursue them.
3. You will get nowhere unless you resonate with the public on economic and financial responsibility, social discipline and pride in a nation bent on playing a constructive role in a dangerous world.
You can’t blame it all on the idle rich when parental discipline seems to have gone to pot – witness teachers’ complaints of a lack of potty training, knife crime and the scourge of litter.
4. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone as the party whose middle name is discipline and responsibility and which lives up to it on day-to-day issues.
5. Recognise that you can’t do this if the unions remain your paymasters, systematically raiding the public purse and seeing the world through class war spectacles.
They are relics of the past and have to be put in their place for the party to have any chance of convincing people it is politically serious.
6. If you are to attract alternative finance, you have to overcome Labour’s reputation for being financially loose with taxpayers’ money in the belief that money can solve everything. If it could, it would have done so by now in the NHS.
7. None of this can be achieved through the party conference, riddled as it is with “entryism”. The leader has to think clearly, organise support, carry opinion with him and put his stamp not just on Parliament but on the party in the country.
Labour has not only to look different but be different.
8. Convince the party that if it does not change the Tories will be perpetuated in power unless they drop a ton of bricks or bore us stiff.
9. Labour’s reform is desperately needed in the national interest. Delay is a recipe for disaster and a weaker country.
10. And this is the clincher: Keir Starmer has to decide whether he is the man for the job. If he thinks not, he should go. But who would replace him?
There’s the rub. Over to you, Sir Keir.
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