Wednesday 12 May 2010

Last political post for a bit (probably)

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.


Bryn Davies said...

Can I recommend the FT. You know where it is coming from and the weekend edition is manageable. If you do ever need to read anything in the Guardian it's all there, for free, on the web.

chris p said...

My view is that the rank and file members will come forward at next years party conferences when they have a year of coalition to comment on. Then the extremes in the libs and the Cons will exercise their votes to sustain or dimolish the coalition makers and put the agreement under threat.

Andrew Curry said...

Just a couple of thoughts:

- It's still surprising that the Conservatives failed to reach a majority against a vulnerable tired Labour government with an upopular leader
- If Cameron had failed to get to Downing Street - or with a feeble minority government - he would have been eviscerated by the party's right/ right wing press; the Liberals have bailed him out of a hole - possibly at quite a high price to the party
- If the new Labour leader can dump some of the authoritarianism of Brown/Blair - ID cards, terror legislation, stop and search, DNA databases - and start looking like a progressive party again, it should gain a bounce just from that (I couldn't vote Labour this time - even for a good constituency MP - because I couldn't stomach his record on liberties.) More consistency on environmental issues would help.
So - even without a popular reaction to the coming cuts - the Labour bounce could be 3-4%. 1980-81 is relevant here; had Galtieri not invaded the Falklands, Thatcher would probably not have managed a second term - even through the mood music at the time was predominantly individualistic and conservative.

CharlieMcMenamin said...

I'm tribal Tom: it's just my tribe has moved on from what I understood to be its household gods.

In government Labour became reduced, in policy terms, to a moderately authoritarian (ID cards, asylum, ABOs and all the rest of it) technocratic group who seemed to produce policy for no group so much as public sector managers and who reveled in a culture of box ticking and audit rather than trusting and motivating the workforce with a vision of public service. (Actually, as someone who knows quite a lot of public sector managers most of them weren't over keen on this policy thrust either).Their economic policy was predicated on expecting sufficient crumbs to fall from the City's table to allow the PFI bills to be paid. & as for their foreign/defence policy...

Labour were reduced to 29% of the vote, lost huge number of C1/C2 voters and are effectively broke. It is possible to imagine rebuilding the Labour vote and Labour organisation but not without a long, long look at the politics which brought them to this impasse.

I don't want to be unnecessarily downbeat or sectarian towards those friends and comrades who are in the Labour party but I really don't see this happening any time soon.

I voted Green. You're right to imply that their vote, outside Brighton Pavilion, was very, very low and that single MP parties are vulnerable to defeat (or, pace Respect, leadership megalomania). But, Christ, at least I felt clean voting for them and at least I felt I was in some way honouring the principles of my tribe.