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.