Tuesday 29 September 2009

Labour: living in the past

It's quite remarkable that Labour have slipped to third place in the polls, behind the Lib Dems. This article in the Scotsman claims that this is the first time this has happened since February 1982 - before I was born. A different world in many respects!

I made mention yesterday about Labour's tendency to fall back on
dark days of Thatcher rhetoric. It's getting increasingly tiresome, and less relevant every day. The other side of the '80s coin turned up in the Scotsman article, reminding the world of part of the reason why the Tories were able to dominate for so long. The fault was in the Labour party, as much as the Tories.

The poll result can be partly written off due to the Lib Dems conference bounce, yet it demonstrates just how far Labour have fallen in a UK context. Labour's momentum has completely abandoned them, and they have no idea where to go next. Patching up and repairing the party is no good - it needs gutting and re-building.

The article acknowledges also that the situation in Scotland is different, and I wouldn't expect the Lib Dems or the Tories to have a strong enough foothold here to make significant gains.

This does highlight the slight difficulty of the UK media prism which will determine how Scottish voters see Election 2010.
Jim Murphy refered to this prism when he

"warned that a vote for the SNP could usher in a Conservative government through the back door.

He suggested the campaign slogan could be "Vote Salmond, Get Cameron", adding: "But we will put Vote Labour first.""

Lously slogan of course, but the issue for me is that while the UK General Election is of course important to Scotland, the 59 MPs we elect are unlikely to be a decisive factor in who forms the UK Government.

I see in my mind's eye the computer graphic of the seats in the south of England tumbling to Labour in 1997, and wonder if these voters will now return to the Tories. I think about middle class English voters in their thirties and forties, whose working life has been largely under a Labour Government, and wonder if they have an ideological reason not to switch to the Tories. Are the Lib Dems a factor to them? The British Election Panel Study believes that Lib Dem switchers were a significant factor in 1997, and I suspect they may be again.

These large swathes of voters in middle England will determine the colour of the UK Government. It's blatant self-interested scaremongering by Murphy, Gray and co. to suggest that those who vote SNP are ushering in a Tory government; Labour are almost certainly out of office regardless. I believe Scotland's interests will be better served by SNP MPs, who will fight to put Scotland first rather than continue the bickering Labour-Tory tribalism as Government and Opposition swap places.

Labour are, of course, doing their best to hang on in there and fight to the last. Events Dear Boy, Events, highlights that Bloomberg have got their mitts on 'the plan', which "gives activists specific tasks to perform on every day, granting them 17 days off between Oct. 1 and March 31." I don't see it, frankly, but I'm sure many of their MPs will have the opportunity to have a nice long rest aftert the results come in on election night next year.

PS Alistair Darling, also in the Scotsman article, gave me a wee giggle:

"The next election, he said, would see Britain facing a choice – "maturity and experience against the politics of the playground"."

This from the party of "bring it on" and "I dare you"....

1 comment:

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

Very fair minded piece I have to say.

The fact is that Scottish devolutionary politics has merely shown to the Scottish people that they don't need Labour anymore.

If you seek social-democratic redistributionary politics; you have a choice between LibDem and SNP.

If you want a centre-right option, which holds to either a One Nation patricianism or a free market libertarianism you have the Tories.

Tell me someone...what was it that Labour stand for again?...

...erm...no its not socialism...nor is it social democratic values [not after New Labourism- a small 'c' conservative government]..

If one thing devolution told us it is we don't need Labour anymore! 2007 also helped us poor voters understand how to use the options of PR to our advantage. Look at me, I voted Tory on the regional, but SNP in the constituency- we have choice now...and as you correctly say- we just don't need Labour's back to the 80's time warp!