Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Planning for a Labour Defeat

It is now incomprehensible to imagine Labour will win the next UK general election.

Quite apart from the typical ageing of governments, Labour in government has lost its way in the UK. It has become a centralising, freedom averse, party with few links to its natural bases, and no idea how these natural bases are changing.

Unlike the Democrats in the US, Labour does not have to fear losing the working class. Its support there is challenged more by the BNP than the Tories, and the BNP will not take seats. Apathy among the working class might.

But it also has to have the support of the decent (i.e. non Thatcherite) middle and upper middle class. They want, like the college-educated mass in the US, to support a social democratic party which also respects the life of the mind, and the standard liberties aspired to by all educated people.

Nobody, not the workers nor the degree holders, want a hectoring bunch of post student politicians who always seem to start from a holier than thou "it's just common sense to [restrict XXX freedom]".

At this stage the best strategy for real left of center people must be to a) make sure no destructive Tories get in ( hard this - Cameron and Gove are OKish, Osborne still looks like his Bullingdon picture), and plan and hope that there is time for a quick Labour revival. Clearly Labour is planning to attack the Tories on a class basis, but that does not really work when you have spent 12 years telling people that being working class is something to be ashamed of.

The entire centralizing "aspirational" "stakeholding" "incredibly comfortable with huge salaries" team needs to go. And go quickly.


Bearded Socialist said...

If Labour does win the coming election, it could be like 1992 all over again. Labour losing the next election could be the best thing for them. There are too many of the people you describe, and too many glory hunters. too many with no real principles, who can't stand up and speak clearly and simply about what they believe because they don't know. The Tories being in for 4 or 5 years and being rubbish can help our cause. But running a class-based campaign will do no-one any favours

Obnoxio The Clown said...

But it also has to have the support of the decent (i.e. non Thatcherite) middle and upper middle class.

Woo ... balanced views there, a chip on both shoulders!

Allan said...

Excellent post.

Up here, there is a ready made output for those of us disilusioned with New Labour (I was an early adopter in this respect, i haven't voted for them in 15 years). They are called the SNP.

I think you are correct that Labour will lose, but my own hunch is that Cameron will only get a majority in single figures, so may have to face the people again within 4 years of the GE.

Armchair said...

I make you right on the inevitability of Labour losing power but this anti-Thatcherite nonsense really says it all.
Do you know, just for once, it would be nice to see a conservative government inherit and economy from Labour that isn't on its fucking knees. That way we wouldn't have to take the drastic action that Labour should be taking but dare not.....just like 1979.
No my friend, I expect that there will be 18 years of Tory government as from May 2010......Thanks God

Paul Halsall said...


How was the economy bad in 1951 or 1970?

Labour in 1951 actually got over 51% of the vote, but electoral disparities let Churchill back in.

In 1970, Heath did inherit a bad industrial relations problem, but hardly a bad economy. The ructions that he faced had a lot more to do with Nixon suspending the Bretton Woods agreement and going off the gold standard; the USSR's efforts to corner world wheat crops; and the Oil Shock of 1973.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by a Thatcherite? If you mean someone who works hard, supports their family, believes in free enterprise, hates state control, loathes Brown, pays their taxes, is honest to the point of stupidity and lived through the decay of the Wilson/Callaghan/Healey years and welcomed King Arthur in the shape of a lady from Grantham, then count me in.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Of all the very many things I blame Nu Labour for, there is one particular thing that I think has damaged democracy the worst.

You used to be able to broadly understand that voting Tory meant one style of government, and voting Labour meant getting another style of government. Lib Dems were always a mystery.

Nu Labour have stepped out of 'type' - doing things that no-one else expected and choosing not to honour election pledges.

No-one outside the Westminster Village has a gut feel now for how the Tories will be, or how New Nu Labour (no Brown stains) would be.

The run up to the General Election is going to be interesting, but whoever gets in won't get the pliant acquiesence of the people if they start more monkey business.

wv: holatio. No idea what it means, but it sounds fun.

Chas said...

"Osbourne (sic) still looks like his Bullingdon picture". Well you look like a rapist, but I am not so quick to judge.

Anonymous said...

Chas you're right, he does a bit.

Paul Halsall said...


I corrected the spelling of Osborne's name...

Victor, NW Kent said...

Class envy and incoherence together as usual. "They (nobody, not the workers nor the degree holders) want a hectoring bunch of post student politicians who always seem to start from a holier than thou "it's just common sense to [restrict XXX freedom]".

Why do they want a hectoring bunch? Is there a problem with no longer being a student? Are there only two groups in society - workers and degree holders? Have you any idea what you are talking about?

Paul Halsall said...