A Lesson for Labor

Israel needs a strong party on the left that will work toward social equality and political moderation.

"My message to the country is this: I know we lost your trust. Today a new generation has taken control of Labour, a new generation that understands the call for change." With these words, Ed Miliband, the new elected leader of the British Labour Party, summarized the campaign for the party leadership in which he defeated his brother, David Miliband. It has been a while since such a direct and courageous statement was made by a political leader, and the impressive speech inspires confidence.

The conduct of the British Labour Party deserves our respect, and Israel's Labor Party would do well to learn from it.

After Labour lost a national election, ending a 13-year reign, Gordon Brown did not wait more than a few days before handing his resignation to the queen. Brown did not just step down as prime minister.

He vacated the top spot to new forces in the party and allowed them to revitalize the ranks, update the party's political platform and to renew its connection with the general public. The party members had their say and opted to place at their head the former cabinet secretary of energy and climate change, a leader with a clear ideology, instead of distorting the message and hinting suggestively at the political center.

Back in Israel, the Labor Party under Ehud Barak took a beating in the last elections, which marked a new nadir in its relationship with the public. The party, which has not represented the economic and political left for some time, is concentrating on holding on to its seats at any price.

Thus the former governing party, which played a central role in the creation and establishment of the state, became only the fourth-largest party in the Knesset.

Barak avoided taking responsibility for his failure in the elections. He opted to join a right-wing government and abandon the ideology of his party, and even drafted a new constitution for the party to block any possibility for change. Since then, Labor has been sinking into political devastation as Barak's ties with the ministers and MKs deteriorate.

Israel's Labor Party needs to learn from its British counterpart and revamp itself, with a revived ideology at its center. Israel needs a strong party on the left that will work toward social equality and political moderation.