Historically, the Labour party has been a victim of its own great success. It was formed for two linked purposes: to raise the condition of the poor and to restructure the British economy along socialist lines.
In that second purpose Labour did not succeed. Nationalisation failed consumers and failed to invigorate industry or the economy. Even before Margaret Thatcher, Labour was losing its 1945 socialist nerve. Quite simply, the party had embraced a dud ideology and, along with most of the rest of the world, has largely come to understand that. Though the Marxist analysis is valuable, the prescription has been a catastrophe.
But in the first purpose — raising the condition of the poor — 20th-century Labour must be counted one of the most successful modern parties in western history. Nothing like the NHS or the welfare state as we know it would exist today without Labour governments and Labour support for Liberal ones.
The emancipation of women, the state pension, employment protection, conditions at work, the minimum wage, universal access to university — the story of economic and social progress among what Labour used to call the working class and we now call “ordinary people” is hugely to the credit of that party. Enlightened Tories have helped too, but it would be fanciful to suppose Labour (or Tory fear of Labour) was not overwhelmingly the driving force.His conclusion - that the political system is breaking down - is even less convincing.