Live from Miami: Challenge for the centre left is to stand up and lead.

Future Labour’s Darren Jones, with Labour Party colleagues, campaigning in Florida for Hillary Clinton.

Europe will face new challenges following the election of Donald Trump, writes Darren Jones.

Donald Trump’s election spells the end of progressive politics, unless we stand up and redefine the centre left.

I’ve just returned to the UK after a week in Miami campaigning for Hillary Clinton. The result is clearly not what I was hoping for.

I’ve been involved in election campaigns continuously for about 12 years now. As a Labour Party campaigner you won’t be surprised to hear the jokes I’ve been receiving about taking up a new hobby: a decade of (largely) losing elections on the centre left of politics raises the question as to whether I should substitute my passion for gardening.

But, following my loss at the 2015 General Election (nationally and in my own campaign to become the Labour MP for my home seat of Bristol North West) and then Brexit and now the US Presidential election, I’ve come up with a theory.

In my view, the US election being so close with a Republican candidate as repugnant as Donald Trump spells a much longer term problem for the centre left of politics than it does just for the outcome of this Presidential election. And the parallels apply equally to UKIP and our impending Brexit too.

The traditional working class – which arguably affiliated with Labour and the Democrats out of class and not just political ideology – seems to be shifting to a politics of nationalism, protectionism and fear. And this transition isn’t just going to be an issue for the working class, but will increasingly be so for the middle class too.

The cause, in my view, is globalisation and the start of the fourth industrial revolution – the next phase of digital technology and connectivity transforming our industries, jobs and ways of life. The centre left of politics needs to start spelling out its vision for that future now before it’s too late. We must, once again, be the change makers.

Take a breath and think back to 1939. World War II ensued and, after our victory, the left in the US and UK brought about the post-war era of politics – an interventionist state which delivered security, housing, education, health and jobs.

Fast forward to 1979 and the era of Thatcherism and Reaganomics. Suddenly the state was no longer serving this purpose. It was all about the market, and you were on your own.

Now fast forward to 2008. The global financial crash, the state floundering with how to cope. Big business bailed out and the people hammered with austerity to pay for it.

As we approach the 2020 general election we approach too the start of a new political era. Post-war consensus, post-Thatcherism and now pre-fourth industrial revolution.

The “take back control” slogan of the Leave campaign worked magically because of this. People feel that politics has lost control. They want those of us involved to set out how we’ll secure the future. The centre left is failing at this and failing hard.

We have a much larger problem on our hands than the election of President-elect Trump, not least with the French and German elections in 2017. The outcome of failure is frightening – a political move to the extremes and an assault on the values we have all fought so hard for. The challenge for the centre left therefore is to stand up and lead with a vision for the future that rings true to the people, and clearly sets out why hope should win over fear.

This article was first published in the Western Daily Press on Saturday 12th November, 2016

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