I guess everyone going into politics fulltime must look on it at as career as well as a means of taking their beliefs to the public. Of course younger people probably see themselves on a path that leads to being prime minister. Amongst the British upper class a career in politics has always been a respectable occupation. Churchill, for example, followed his father into it.
With the Labour Party you would hope that balance of beliefs and career would tilt towards the beliefs side. I suspect the majority of pre-WW2 Labour MPs were like this. Before the 1945 election Herbert Morrison brought in more university educated candidates as he felt some of the older industrial and mining Labour MPs couldn’t do the job in Parliament. With the massive win in 1945 Labour ended up with not only the most MPs it ever had but also the best educated. Morrison was later to regret what he had done when these new labour MPs voted for one of their own, Hugh Gaitskell, as leader instead of him on Attlee’s retirement.
I suspect that beliefs were driving force in the likes of Ernie Bevin, Nye Bevan and even Clem Attlee although what they believed in may have been quite far apart. Most of today’s Labour MPs I could quite easily imagine being in another party. In other words the balance has moved in the direction of the career.
I guess the Blairs are my best example. Both came into politics via the law. Whereas John Smith had a strong christian socialist belief. Tony seems to be far more vague in what he believes. As we watch many of Labour leadership being hounded for sleazy financial donation scandals the lack of belief in ideas comes out strongly.
Until Labour can get back to having leaders and MPs that actually have an ideology it might just as well be a Tory or Liberal government in power. Maybe a walk in the wilderness will do the party good. For me the ideology of the Labour party is socialism. It comes in many forms and the left and right can argue about it forever, but it is the base of the party. If Gordon Brown and his MPs can not believe in socialism in some form they should leave and join another party.