.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The electoral cul-de-sac tempting Labour activists

There is an interesting piece by Andrew Rawnsley in this morning's Observer in which he outlines the dilemma facing the five candidates for Labour leadership - embrace the Blair legacy or reject it.

Rawnsley makes the valid point that whatever his faults Tony Blair knew how to win elections, and he did so by grasping that political parties must constantly renew themselves to keep up with events, the world and the voters. His key insight was that centre-left parties win and hold power only by creating a broad appeal which embraces not just their natural and traditional supporters, but also voters without any tribal allegiance to Labour.

None of the candidates he says, really comprehends how anyone cannot be as Labour as they are. That is an essential problem that is already reflected in the attitude of Labour MPs and activists towards the Liberal Democrats and the coalition government - they think they can sit back and reap the dividend of oppositionism:

I've heard little to suggest that any of the candidates has really come to terms with the scale of the mountain that Labour will have to climb. They have too often tried to console their party with the idea that it won't be all that difficult to get back on top. One chimera – Ed Miliband is the most guilty of pursuing this one – is the notion that there is a secret army of millions of voters who are more left wing than they presently know. The delusion is that they will flock to Labour's banner just as soon as the party has a fresh young leader who can raise them from their false consciousness.

Another refuge for those who don't want to confront reality is to think that all their problems can be simply solved by recruiting hacked-off former Lib Dems. One of the worst illusions is to believe they need not do much more than condemn the government for making spending cuts, sit back and wait for the coalition to fall apart. At which point, they assume, the electorate will collapse gratefully back into their arms.

Comrade Balls made a recent speech which was both superb as a stinging analysis of the coalition's economic policies and dangerous for his own party because it implied that Labour need not adopt a credible position on how it would address the deficit. Labour may well prosper for a while by screaming against every cut. The spending squeeze is almost certain to be horribly unpopular. There will be a substantial segment of the electorate, probably a very large one, which will be receptive for a while to the message that all this pain is unnecessary. Michael Foot was well ahead of Margaret Thatcher in opinion polls in the early 1980s when her economic measures were at their most unpopular. Neil Kinnock also enjoyed commanding poll leads over her for long stretches of time. Fat lot of good it ultimately did them. She won the general elections because swing voters felt that she had credibility and Labour did not.

He concludes: Whatever wing of the party they hail from, the serious people have not forgotten the lesson Tony Blair taught to Labour. You achieve nothing without office. And that is secured not by saying things that make your party feel happier, but by persuading the country to entrust you with power.
Well, I've tried to engage Rachel Reeves (Labour MP) in 'discussion', but it seems she doesn't want to 'play'.

If Rachel Reeves (RR) is 'anything to go by' then Labour are heading for an "electoral cul-de-sac" at Warp 9.9

While cosey in their cul-de-sac Labour politicians can co-mingle and make friends with various shades of left of left.

It seems RR only wants to discuss taxing the banks - narda on how that will help small businesses who are desperate for a return to normal bank lending practices.

Meanwhile the Conservatives are keen on telling Brits to cut-back while ignoring Hague's arguable misuse of public money.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?