I feel much, much lower today than I expected to. A pigeon very nearly crapped on my head as got off the bus stop this morning – so much for a ‘new politics’! Maybe it’s an omen of things to come. I’m tempted to be all “up and at ‘em” today, and personally I do feel compelled to get more involved with party stuff in the future. Realistically this may be restricted in the near future to grumpily mumbling “Yellow Tories” next time a Lib Dem canvasser appears on or near our (new) doorstep.
But despite my desire to take away the sting of losing, we do need a long, hard look at where we are. And pretty it ain’t. For example, Charlie is right to point out that Labour lost big time in terms of C1 and C2 voters, something that seems to have gone curiously without comment elsewhere. I’m less in agreement with him (natch!) that Labour is the party of public sector managers!
I’d also caution against the idea that a revival in our vote is somehow going to fall into our laps. Paul Waugh does a good job of skewering this argument here. I do think that the coalition will lead to some kind of revolt/split in the Lib Dems, but it might not be a biggie, and they might just fashion a lasting Liberal-Right tie-up.
I also think that people will get used to the new Government, and this will inevitably benefit them. Hopi is right that this could be a big problem in terms of the Lib Dems’ distinct identity, but equally it will destroy the argument that they will say anything because they know they won’t get elected. I’m sure they will grow in stature in the eyes of some voters.
On the plus side, I don’t get too worked up about the nightmare scenarios described (and hoped for in some quarters) for Labour. When I first got interested in politics (mid 80s) people were still asking if Labour could ever win again. Then from the late 1990s they asked the same thing about the Tories. It may well be that coalitions are the way of the future. It may also be that the Lib Dems disintegrate and the two big parties’ shares of the vote strengthen a bit (and memo to Green voters – look at how long Respect’s parliamentary representation lasted). Political commentary should also come with the warning that past results are no guide to the future. I believe it is in Labour’s hands to turn things around.
Finally, people have talked a lot in this election about tribalism, not just the unthinking way that some people vote, but also the way that some people feel left behind by their tribes. No doubt lots of Labour members and supporters have felt left behind in recent years, and we now have a bit of time to address that. I guess it is the turn of the Tory Right and Lib Dem left to feel that too.
Media-wise I feel that whatever vague loyalty I felt towards The Guardian has been extinguished once and for all. The decision to plump for the Lib Dems and some of the commentary since the election crystallised my feelings that it's not a paper I actually agree with that much. I'd rather read the Telegraph most days!
But in properly political terms in the last few days of the campaign, in the aftermath of the result and, most sharply, yesterday and this morning (particularly looking at some of the last pics inside Number 10) I have felt properly back at home with Labour.
Time to regroup on the ice planet Hoth.