Thursday, June 05, 2008

Will Labour be out of power for a decade?

Will Labour be out of power for as long as last time if it loses the next election, asks Mike Smithson on PB.com today. I say no, for the following reasons:

1. The prevailing intellectual climate is still broadly New Labour. There has been no great shift in public opinion to the right, instead the main party of the right has shifted towards the centre ground. New Labour’s current problems are to do with personality issues and having been in power too long, rather than to do with losing any great intellectual argument as Labour in the 70s and 80s did.

2. There is nothing in David Cameron’s career to date to suggest that he will be anything more than adequate as Prime Minister. Comparisons with Blair were always wide of the mark, while comparisons with Thatcher are simply absurd.

3. The current ideological proximity of the two main parties would suggest a period of pendulum swings (similar to the 60s and 70s) rather than long periods of one-party hegemony.

4. For all Labour’s current problems, it is still more ideologically united than the Tories. The Tories underlying divisions, notably over Europe, would come to the surface again once they were back in power.

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul, you might be right but you might also be horribly wrong. The worst case scenario is that people reflect on this New Labour Government as nothing more than same old Labour tax and spend. Yes, for a long while they looked different, but that was down to an exceptional leader in Blair and a very favorable global economy. Come the (now almost inevitable) end, it just looks like the have absolutely no sense of purpose and have spent all the money for minimal public benefit. Middle England feels it has been conned and is very resentful. It was Blair 'wot won it' and without him it could take many years indeed for another chance.

Anatole said...

Paul, I read your comment on PB.com and was interested enought visit your own site here. I must say that to my (admittedly Tory)mind you are living in fantasy land if you think that the Tories are MORE split than Labour. As I wrote on my own posting, the Labour leadership is entirely at odds with most of their support, a situation which has never happened before. The Tories almost fell for this over Europe in the mid-1990s, but since that whole argument is pretty much at an end (and has been, I may say, for around 5 years or so now) there is not potential for it. Labour are the party that really stand to fall badly - there is just nothing to fall back on in terms of ideology. No-one, including you, can tell us what the New Labour project realistically stands for, whereas in the darkest days of 1993 - 2003 I could at any day still tell you what the Tories were for.

Also, must agree with the other posters which have pointed out that the Labour juniors are not a particularly talented bunch compared to anyone - indeed the whole New Labour era has been marked by a distinct lack of heavyweights on the front-benches compared to almost any previous administration. Of course this was pretty much a conscious policy of Blair in rebellion against the old ways but still I find it a little degrading ...

Patrick said...

'The intellectual climate is boadly New Labour'.

Do you really think people want more tax and waste and more nannying? You're deranged.

Anonymous said...

Broadly New Labour? With Health Apartheid and the West Lothian Question rampant?

Harry Hook said...

Patrick said... "You're deranged."

Agreed.

When I was t'lad the only time political debate got a bit heated, was in the pub after 10pm and even then it was no more than light hearted... including other subjects like religion it is what I identified as being 'British', that is, not being really bothered as long as it didn't intrude on life's simple pursuits... football, whippets, birds and booze.

It is different nowadays, a wide spectrum of people literally hate socialism and all its works, with a passion. It is a club that is expanding all the time, especially in England, and you don't have to be a National Socialist to join.

As far as I'm concerned, New/Old Labour will NEVER be forgiven for its treachery.

Praguetory said...

Ideologically, Labour MPs are all over the shop at present. Other than a desire for self-preservation I can't think of anything meaningful that unites them.

You may think that Labour is not losing the intellectual argument, I reckon they have completely lost it on crime, immigration, defence and public sector service delivery which explains the Tory-lite policies that provide a well of demoralisation for Lefties and contempt for the rest of the population.

The only significant policy area where they are (inexplicably) are hanging on by their fingernails is the economy, but continued property prices falls and further falls in disposable income is unravelling that last crumb of comfort.

Anyway, can't stop - I've just received details of 10 new Conservative party members aged 18 to 30 in my local area whose details have just been passed to me. .

stephen rouse said...

Some interesting re-writing of history going on here. For New Labour's first ten years, we were told this represented the triumph of the right, that Blair's policies were an acceptance that Thatcher won the arguments of the 80s. Now things are going a bit iffy, apparently we've all been living in a Marxist socialist experiment for the past decade. Simon Heffer had a particularly tortuous piece to this effect in the Telegraph a few weeks back.

Anyway can't stop - I'm behind on my tractor quota.

Tim J said...

And incidentally, it's probably a bit early to be writing off any comparisons with Blair and Thatcher just yet.

Blair in 1995 (ie 2 years before the general election) was still seen as a bit lightweight, though the work he was doing modernising his party was starting to be appreciated. Thatcher in 1977 was routinely second best at PMQs and was struggling to impose her will on the cabinet. If you want to make comparisons, either wait for five years, or compare like with like.

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stephen rouse said...

I don't get it. Is the above some enormously subtle reference to Brown's inner circle?

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No, it's a piece of spam I couldn't be arsed to delete.

Peter said...

Surely the biggest problem the Labour party's going to face over the next ten years is the lack of funding. Where will the money come from to make it competitive with the Tories?