January 7, 2020 - 4:57pm

Clive Lewis’ pitch to be Labour leader is based on the idea of a progressive alliance. I imagine this is supposed to be an inclusive proposal. But I do wonder how many of those who abandoned Labour for the Tories were remotely enamoured by that Whiggish, Tony Blair-inspired “things can only get better” thing?

Some of us wince at all this talk of progress — the belief that history is some continually running escalator from barbarism to civilisation. Progress is often code for getting rid of all that outdated stuff like Kings and Queens, the nation state, religion. Part of what makes people feel comfortable with the Tories — at least the old school Conservatives rather than the free-market loving libertarian variety — is their respect for tradition, their conviction that the past contains a wisdom that is too easily broken in the quest for the ever new. So come on Labour. There really are a lot of us. Let’s hear it for left wing regressives!

Yes, of course, the Tories often fantasise about the past. But the left fantasises just as much about the future; as if by the very passage of time, things will improve. And indeed, by concentrating on the future, the left won’t have to dwell too long on all their mistakes. Forget the election result. That’s done and dusted. Onward and upward. Poop poop, goes Mr Toad in his new car, as he drives once again and full speed towards another crash.

Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.