Monday 8 June 2009

Why this is going to be the last ever Labour general election campaign

I know this is heresy, but I’m starting to feel sorry for Gordon Brown. Politics has a habit of projecting the worst kind of horrors onto those it appoints as fall-guy, and it’s certainly tough in human terms watching it happen.

That said, I believe we are seeing the demise of the last Labour government in history, and possibly the last general election platform by the Labour Party. It has no organising idea, there is no great policy debate between the plotters that might allow it to regenerate in intellectual terms, there is nothing left apart from vague and discredited management-speak. After the election, it will split three ways: Old Labour (to join the fringe lefties), New Labour (to splinter in turn into two factions: Managerialist and Lib Dem) and Brownites.

That puts the Liberal Democrats on the frontline. They are all that stands in the way of permanent Cameronian rule. All that stands also to prevent the slow mutation of the Far Right. We have to hammer out a platform that is angry enough, radical enough and new enough to fill that vacant opposition space.

I know this is irritating of me to put it like this, but I don’t believe that we can do that by trumpeting the usual ‘technocratic dross’ (I quote a senior member of the parliamentary party), or the same old Fabian mush that has allowed the BNP to get a foot in the door.

No, what’s going to make a difference is radical localism, real community politics, genuine handing power back to people, and a whole new approach to public services which chucks the whole massive edifice of factory call centres, IT bureaucracies and monster schools and hospitals into the nearest scrapheap – pointing out, on the way, that it has been such a feature of New Labour and Conservative rule.

We might also say, if we’re honest, that that hugely wasteful and expensive edifice – the real explanation why our services don’t work – also lies behind so much of the frustration among the white working class, and which seems to have led 6.5 per cent of them to vote for a party that blames minorities.

The truth is, of course, that the minorities suffer just as much. Worse, in fact, because they have to be supplicants to the Kafkaesque abomination we know as the government’s immigration service.


Liberal Eye said...

I agree, socialism is a spent force and we are seeing the death throes of a Labour Party that has lost its organising principle.

I also agree that we need radical localism as part of that answer.

However, how this might work out in party terms is very unclear. On the face of it this should all play right into Lib Dem hands but... I wonder.

The clearest call for radical localism I have yet heard from any elected Briton was from the Conservative Dan Hannan MEP. In contrast Lib Dems have been muted to say the least.

Change is coming but Lib Dems cannot expect to inherit as of right. There is competition and, as ever, that will favour the bold and the fast.

Bernard Salmon said...

I think you possibly underestimate the resilience of the Labour Party. I recall after the 1992 general election having discussions with some people in which we wondered whether Labour could possibly win another election, given it had then lost four times in a row and didn't seem to have anywhere else it could go. Five years later it won its biggest majority in its history.

ian said...

I don't think Labour is dead yet. For the Lib Dem's to make an inroad they have to have to be seen as much more radical than they are.

Bring back Jo Grimond!!