Having predicted difficult years ahead for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, almost by default I’m going to have to predict good things for Labour. In terms of voting intention polls and electoral victories they should have a good year, what matters is what they choose to do with the opportunity, to use a well worn metaphor from the past year, will they fix the roof while the sun shines?

Since the election Labour have risen from 30% to around about 40% in the polls, the majority of this increase being at the expense of the collapsing Liberal Democrat vote (there is a small amount of churn between Labour and the Conservatives, but no great shift. The overwhelming majority of people who voted Tory in 2010 would vote Tory again tomorrow).

This means that Labour are narrowly ahead in all the polls just seven months after losing the election, and it will probably get even better next year. The cuts will start to come into play with all the consequential stories of this or that bad thing being attributed to them, further sapping government support. Barring an upset in Oldham, 2011 should be a year of electoral victories for Labour. The polls in Wales suggest a very strong Labour performance there, with the party on the edge of an overall majority. Scottish polling is less regular, but they too suggest a good result for Labour. They should also make good progress in the local elections. All of this suggests Labour should enjoy some healthy leads in national voting intention polls and the way the vote was distributed in the UK at the last election, that should translate into an easy Labour majority if repeated at an election….

But, there probably won’t be an election next year. Labour’s strategy can’t afford to be based upon the assumption that the government will fall early, that the economy will still be up the spout come 2015, nor that the spending cuts will automatically bring public services to the point of total breakdown rather than being adapted to over time (of course, things could end up in utter disaster, but in that case Labour will probably win anyway regardless of what they do).

Being ahead in the polls gives a lot of advantages. The party appears on the up, people take you seriously, and it gives the leader a certain authority to act and take the party with him. Labour need to utilise this time to tackle their underlying problems so they are ready for the next election.

At present Ed Miliband’s authority in the party is uncertain because the majority of Labour’s MPs and members voted for a different leader, who was also perceived as the better leader by the public. Miliband’s current ratings in the polls are lacklustre – he already has a negative approval rating, his brother is still seen as a better option and only 27% of the public think he’s up to the job.

The worst case scenario for Labour is that Ed Miliband is their IDS – little bit awkward looking, vocal mannerism that makes it hard to take him seriously, has the right ideas about reforming the party, but fatally underminded by the fact his MPs never actually wanted him in the first place and never felt any loyalty to him.

I’m inclined to withhold judgement on Miliband so far – he hasn’t made an impression with the public, but that also means he hasn’t made a negative impression yet. Think of the rapid negative perceptions Hague built up immediately, or Michael Howard brought with him to the job. There’s still time for people to warm to Miliband – more importantly, after May 2011 he should have some victories under his belt and that will give him the aura of success. People will think more positively of him as a victor, and it should win him some loyalty amongst his MPs.

I wrote earlier in the year about the problems that resulted in Labour’s defeat in May. Gordon Brown himself had atrocious ratings, their economic record was shot and they were seen as old and tired and out of touch. Gordon Brown is a problem Labour don’t need to worry about of course, but solving the other problems is less easy and in some cases contradictory.

Building an economic reputation in opposition is nigh on impossible. We saw in my post on the Conservatives that 47% of people now think the government are handling the economy badly compared to 40% who think they are doing well. However, ask people if they trust Labour or the Conservatives on the economy and the Tories still come out top.

On this front Labour also need to worry about the narrative the coalition government build around them. In 1997 Labour successfully painted the narrative of Conservative years of boom and bust and chronic underfunding of public services. The Conservatives will want to paint their own narrative of the last Labour government, of reckless spending pushing the country to the verge of bankrupcy, and have had some success in doing so: 60% think Labour haven’t faced up to the damage they did to the economy, 47% that if Labour returned to government they’d put the country into even more debt. Labour can argue with that, try to put forward their case for the last goverment’s economic record…but that conflicts with trying to distance themselves from Gordon Brown and the last Labour government.

How Labour respond to the cuts may be the trickiest. There will be pressure upon Miliband to simply oppose all the cuts and reap the rewards of public unhappiness. This may be superfluous anyway, as the only main opposition party, Labour are going to benefit from public unhappiness at cuts whatever, but it would bring with it its own risks – it can be portrayed as Labour not having their own plan, running away from hard decisions and, worst of all, raises the question of what happens if the cuts work… if the economy comes back on track, and public services don’t collapse?

On one hand, Labour are in opposition and by the time of the next general election the deficit will probably have been addressed. It’s not the opposition’s job to govern, and there’s no point Miliband tying himself into an inevitably tricky policy on a problem that someone else has the unenviable task of solving. On the other hand, if they don’t put forward some sort of coherent stance they will firstly be mocked for it, but more importantly, the government will invent a stance for them. If Labour don’t define themselves, then come the next election the Conservatives will paint the choice as being “the party that took the hard but necessary decisions while Labour suggested nothing” or “the party that took the steps needed to bring the economy back to health, opposed at every step by Labour”. It would fall on fertile ground: if you look again at the YouGov trackers on party image, the Tories have an overwhelming lead (58% to 10%) on the perception that their “leaders are prepared to take tough and unpopular decisions.”

Then there is the fairness agenda, this is the Conservatives’ great weakness. As I wrote in the first of these pieces, polls show people increasingly think the cuts are unfair and many still see the Tories as a party that puts the rich and affluent first. That’s an open door that Labour can push at. However, in order to win Labour need to appeal to middle class and aspirational voters. YouGov polling in August found Labour was seen as being closest to trade unions, to benefit claimants and to immigrants, with comparatively few people seeing them as close to the middle classes or people in the South. In opposing the cuts Labour mustn’t allow themselves to become too closely associated with the benefit recipients losing out from cuts, or the trade unions striking against them (hence, of course, Ed Miliband’s focus on the “squeezed middle”)

Finally Labour have to make themselves seem renewed and relevant again. It will be easy for Labour to say what they are against, trickier to say what they are for.

The short term position for Labour is good, and will get even better next year. It may be that the economy sours and they have an easy ride back to power. If not though, they have an awful lot of hard work to do – Ed Miliband needs to ensure that the relative ease with which the party has re-established a lead in the poll doesn’t lead them to think that it’s in the bag. The good news for Labour is they have the luxury of being able to do all the work from the position of an opinion poll lead.

413 Responses to “End of year round up – Labour”

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  1. In 2009 the polls suggested Labour were heading for meltdown. But by the time of the GE in 2010 – with a more popular leader – they may well have won another majority.

    Now I read in certain newspapers that Labour have “no chance of winning in 2015”. I’m not sure how they draw their conclusions but it seems to me that such comments are based on wishful thinking and not on the facts drawn from current polling evidence.

    At the moment, the 2015 GE is very much on offer.

    Whatever the case, Labour have certainly not been ‘wiped out’ as many were forecasting just 12 months ago. And so overall, you would have to say they have had a good year. Certainly much better than it looked like it was going to be.

  2. @all

    Happy New Year.

    Regards, Martyn

  3. I agree the economic narrative is key: it is a battle of ideas. The nightmare scenario for Labour is not so much the economy turning around, but if it doesn’t. Suppose Tory attempts to cut the deficit lead to another recession and with it a falling tax revenues and a widening deficit… what to propose then? “I wouldn’t start from here” or “I told you so” aren’t going to help.

    The problem is that having failed so far to make the proper case for deficits in time of recession, it’s going to be a hard sell proposing more deficit spending to fix it.

    No, better for Labour if the economy turns up. The public service reforms are bound to be a total disaster.


    “Labour have certainly not been ‘wiped out’ as many were forecasting just 12 months ago.”

    I don’t recall “many” suggesting Labour would be wiped out. Looking at the blogs on this site around 12 months ago I can only find just one such forecast. Many were then forecasting a tight GE result and some a Labour lead!

  5. Tories have an overwhelming lead (58% to 10%) on the perception that their “leaders are prepared to take tough and unpopular decisions.”
    Why do many people assume that this is entirely positive for the Conservatives? Decisions that are unpopular = doing things that people don’t want done.

    I’d give the Conservatives top marks in this category – but I wouldn’t vote for them because of it.

  6. what happens if the cuts work… if the economy comes back on track, and public services don’t collapse?
    Then we all vote Tory & live happily ever after…. ;-)

  7. The irony of this summation is that it all could have been applied to Cameron and the Conservatives in 2009…

  8. Labour’s vulnerability lies in the fact that most of its improvement in the polls is at the expense of LD.

    In other words the ABAT vote. The seat reckoner gives Labour a small overall majority and LD near wipe-out.

    This is not likely to be a successful stance going into a GE next year (can just about write that) because that election would be unlikely to happen until the autumn at the earliest. There would have to be a sense that there would be change and not a reinstatement. To this extent, I agree with our ex-correspondent from Belfast that Labour needs a new narrative (if that word is still in vogue).

    But it does not need it if there will be no Autumn 2011 election. Best keep Mum for now Labour.

  9. Seriously, there is not a single economic forecast with any credibility that expects the UK economy to improve much in 2011/12.

    That’s three years of this parliament gone. Maybe, in the two years left, the government can get a ‘mini-boom’ going in the SE & London. And that’s only a maybe.

    Does anybody really believe there will be significant improvement in the local economies of the Midlands, Wales, the North, Scotland & NI in those two remaining years?

  10. Hal
    Vote Tory?
    I know you are not entirely serious but I have been struck by the posed dichotomy- recovery or no recovery. The reality will be more interesting. I am optimistic about the economy but growth in current leadership will be concentrated if not entirely within the south and east. In line with recent experience new jobs will often be low paid and go to new arrivals (who have no vote). The tension between the public and private sectors will be great. the universities will be groaning. Immigration will be roaring and imposing huge strains on public services. Health will be on every news bulletin.
    Labour will do well in the north, Wales, Scotland Yorkshire, London. Key battle grounds will be in the Midlands and outer London.
    I don’t think we can take the parallel with IDS very far. He was, well, too dim. If anyone thinks that partisan can I just say how over the moon I was to hear Boris put down that dreadful Evan Davies this morning by pointing out that Antwerp did not lose its financial leadership due to fashion but to the silting of the Sheldt. Bravo

  11. @ Barney

    I think we crossed posts on the economy there – when I ceased being frivolous & posted a more considered view.

  12. At the moment Ed Miliband and Labour are keeping pretty quiet, hence the good opinion polls.

    Once we get to the next GE ( I think 2012) Labour will need to have a fully worked out manifesto to offer to people. It is ok not offering alternatives for the first year or so in opposition, but beyond that people are looking for firm policies, not just ideas.

    Whatever people might say about Ed being the union man who is not regarded highly by his parliamentary party, I think he is actually pretty intelligent and understands British voters a bit more than Cameron will ever do. If he can unite his team and score points against the coalition by appealing to voters day to day concerns, he could lead Labour to a double digit poll advantage by the end of 2011.

  13. amberstar
    Yes I realised. Don’t be put off being frivolous!

  14. @ Barney

    Thank you :-)

  15. @Mike

    I don’t recall “many” suggesting Labour would be wiped out. Looking at the blogs on this site around 12 months ago I can only find just one such forecast. Many were then forecasting a tight GE result and some a Labour lead!


    Maybe you need to go back 14 or 15 months rather than just 12. But everyone was predicting it back then.

    Every newspaper. Every political commentator. Every poll. And forum posters on most forums.

    The Conservatives even put together their current plan to govern on that very basis.

  16. Labour have failed to take the battle to the Tories. The fact that they’re narrowly ahead in the polls is due to the Tory cuts not Labour popularity. There’s still plenty of time for them to find themselves again but they need to get on with it. The next GE, whenever it may be, is not theirs. They’ll have to work for it and I can’t see anything yet that is enough to count as a start.

    The fact is that they’re all unpopular. I guess then that the contest is open to whoever can come up with something good.

  17. My summary of Labour’s year can be put succinctly and with more than a little passing plagiarism from the great Mark Twain – “Rumours of their death have been greatly exaggerated!”

    It’s my birthday today and, as I always do on this double celebratory day in my calendar, I’m off now to undertake a little gentle carousing in a variety of welcoming local hostelries.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

  18. Ed Miliband is a very smart guy; & many Labour MPs only voted for David rather than Ed because:

    1. They thought David would win & it’s usually a good move to back the winning leader of your Party;

    2. The polls favoured David (rather silly in hindsight, given the way that the public can turn against its favourites);

    3. David was the continuity candidate & most people are nervous about change.

    What Anthony can’t consider – because there isn’t any polling on it – is:

    1. Ed M’s image within the Party. He is seen as being a team player who favours consensus or reasonable compromise once all relevant inputs have been listened to.

    2. As I said during the leadership election, Ed has the support of many Party ‘heavy-weights’ – & no, I am not referring to John Prescott. ;-)

    Ed’s star is rising in the Party. He has won u-turns on sports funding, book-start & housing benefit reforms; he has shown he is not intimidated by DC’s attacks at PMQs & Labour MPs are starting to warm to his calm, serious style.

  19. @ Nick Hadley

    Well, the Ashes are ‘coming home’ I believe, so you’ve already had your birthday wish, no? :-)

    Happy Birthday & a Happy New Year to you.

    x 8-) x

  20. @ Nick Hadley

    Happy Birthday to you! I hope the day treats you well. Make sure to have fun. And Happy New Year to you as well.

    I figure it must be awesome to have your birthday on New Year’s Eve because you have the celebration already planned and yet it’s not a holiday so everything is still open.

    As to your previous post, we won’t know now. I think that Burnham and whoever else pushed to scuttle the Rainbow Coalition talks was right….at least politically. I think that those Labour leaders who were pushing for it were not thinking of the politics so much as they were thinking about the constituents.

  21. Let’s make the last poll of 2010 a vote of thanks to Anthony W for his fascinating posts, sticking to the facts, and indulging rants from the floor. If we don’t always stick exactly to polling matters… that’s because Anthony has usually said just about everything there is to say.

  22. @All

    Happy New Year.

    Miliband’s strategy seems pretty clear to me, and is one that is going to reap dividends in the long run.

    1. Pick your target. When Miliband raised school sport at PMQs everyone thought “WHAT? What a strange thing to ask about…” Within a week, government policy on the issue was in tatters and a complete U-turn followed. Time after time, questions are about detail – “How much?”, “How is that going to work?”, “How will these people be protected?”. And whenever everything goes tits up on those issues, Labour will be there to say “We asked about this, we warned about it. The Tories don’t listen.”

    Every screw-up is more votes in the bag. People are generally willing to give the benefit of the doubt until something happens in an area they know about or that is important to them. And then the experience of incompetence or of damaging policies is extrapolated to other areas.

    2. Pick holes in Cameron. The right-wing press has been making predictable noises about supposedly poor EM performances in PMQs. Even ignoring the obvious successes (above), we’re starting to hear the same phrases, which are going to slowly embed themselves in the nations psyche. In particular, “We know the PM doesn’t do detail.” is going to become particularly damaging, as week after week Cameron fails to answer questions of detail, looking more and more like a snake oil salesman.

    3. No hostages to fortune. The policy review is an obvious strategy for an opposition. There have been complaints about a lack of a scaffold on which to hang new policies, but this too will take time. And will need to be couched in terms that contrast with the Tories, and so inevitably will take shape as the Tories define themselves by their actions. Yes, it’s a strategy based on not being the Tories – but is that a bad thing?

  23. Happy New Year everyone.

  24. Hal
    As you are still here, your query about the civilised nature of discourse is an interesting one in regard to Scottish nationalism. Of course mainly it is due to Anthony’s policy which keeps away the cyber-nats.

  25. Just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

  26. Labour could have a very good year in 2011 but it wouldn’t mean getting back into a majority. I think that this year was good in the sense that things could have been much worse for Labour. They lost but there wasn’t a wipeout. And the party has rebounded very quickly in the polls, obviously benefiting from disgruntled Lib Dems and the fact that they are the sole major opposition party. But nevertheless, they have rebounded.

    Ed Miliband hasn’t taken off yet with the public but he still has time to mature. Fortunately for him, the GE isn’t in 2011. Similarly, with the economy, voters have to be in a position to trust that Labour won’t screw around with the economy. I think that is Miliband’s challenge.

  27. I think Labour has both the greatest opportunity of a generation and the greatest challenge. The opportunity is to emerge as the only authentic party of progress….in a sense reuniting the ‘left’ that’s split between Labour and LibDems since the early 70s.

    But the very opportunity presents them with the challenge. In a sense Blair finessed it…Labour needs to find policies and a voice that talks as Anthony saiys to the ‘middling apsirational’ part of the nation. It’s often socially less conservative than traditional working class voters but economically conservative too and financially risk averse. Their concerns need to shape the politics.

    I don’t know whether they’re up to it but it’s certainly their moment to lose.

    I suspect Milliband’s personal challenge comes after May…if he’s seen a competent enough for Labour to do well electorally then peolple will listen to him. At the moment two parties are making the weather and Anthony is right Labour needs to use its chance to repair itself and make progress.

    I suspect that care of the elderly and those costs and the costs of education are the two worries that really trouble people…once they’ve got a job. Their main aspiration remains to be a homeowner…a progressive party worth its salt has to address those issues convincingly.

    If the Av referendum sinks then Labour also needs a convining constitutional package…something frankly its never achieved either…but that could cement those drifting LibDem activists and votes to Labour in the leafy suburbs.

    It’s really that simple….well of course that’s the real problem….it’s really that difficult.

    Great spectator sport though…

    Happy New Year….I’ve got to get back to the kitchen…more cooking!

  28. @ Barney Crockett

    “As you are still here, your query about the civilised nature of discourse is an interesting one in regard to Scottish nationalism. Of course mainly it is due to Anthony’s policy which keeps away the cyber-nats.”

    As Jacque Clouseau would say “Aha! Now were are getting somewhere!” Civilized discourse is usually not found on the internet. I’ve noticed now that several newspapers now allow comment sections on their online articles and usually, the comments quickly descend into namecalling, insults, and generally stupid remarks. And it’s not just politics. When the newspapers were covering Ronni Chasen’s murder, some bloggers just had to give their racist and classist tinge rants about how unimportant the story was and how the “LAPD” should be solving “real crimes.”

  29. @Amber Star
    Good post re E Miliband. I agree entirely with your points. His leadership style is indeed consensual and I sense that it is starting to build a degree of unity and common purpose across the moderate left that has been absent since the days of John Smith.

  30. I suppose EM will have to make some sort of decision next year as to who Labour is meant to represent.

    @All – Happy New Year/ Feliz Año Nuevo

  31. SoCalLiberal

    “Civilized discourse is usually not found on the internet.”

    How true. The key to it has to be the quality of moderation, and Anthony sets a high standard.

    As you noted, it isn’t restricted to politics. Occasionally, someone will suggest that all the baddies belong to the “other” party, but one would have to be really, really partisan to believe that.

  32. Happy New Year everyone, Happy Birthday Nick H and here’s to a fascinating 2011. No time for any other comment.

  33. On More or Less (Radio 4) there was a discussion of the ngood and bad use of statistics in the last year.

    We remember Gordon Brown’s massive howler when he was caught out claiming a real terms rise in defence spending every year since 1997. In fact for four of those years the increase had only been in cash terms; overall though, a 12% increase in real terms.

    Coalition pojected reduction in defence spending… 8% in real terms over the parliament.

    Statistics could well become a battleground in terms of attempting to cast Labour’s record in a negative light, but also for the coalition as it begins to generate its own array of useful numbers.

  34. It’s probably too early to judge, but EM may well prove to be an electoral liability. I suspect that Labour’s current favourable opinion poll rating is due to the increasing unpopularity of the policies of the Tory-led government, rather than any liking for the opposition. Labour is likely to need a new more dynamic leader before the next GE, as it will be a ferocious 2-horse race (as pre-1974) and the Tories will be helped by the boundary changes and the near-obliteration of the LDs. Labour’s mistake was to choose the wrong Ed, not the wrong Miliband.

  35. Ignore this dodgy Labourite website

  36. Roger

    Which one do you wish us to ignore? – your post was somewhat lacking in specificity.

    If you meant this one – where one finds the occasional Lab slogan such as Daodao’s “Tory-led government”, or Barney’s “cyber-nat” – then they don’t define the site.

  37. @Roger

    Labourite? NotMeGuv

  38. I think there is a huge amount of wishful thinking going on on the part of both the Conservatives and Labour about the Liberal Democrats simply disappearing into the ether. Without the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives would be on the brink of a massive ideological war between the Cameronite minority and the right wing majority. Remove the Liberal Democrats from the equation and the Cameronites will lose heavily. The percentage of the general public that will sign up to a hard right wing agenda is not enough to give the Conservatives a majority. Remember, around 5% of voters who have deserted the Lib Dems have gone to the Tories, not Labour, and could easily come back again. In fact, next time round, the Lib Dems could easily make even more inroads into Tory votes in seats in the South of England in particular, having shown themselves to be fiscally responsible in government.

    On the left, Ed Miliband’s leadership ratings, although it is only early days, are poor and getting poorer. While he has dodged a huge problem for the moment – what on earth to replace New Labour with – time is ticking for him and unless he starts articulating some new ideas other than “cuts will be disastrous”, then voters will start to ask questions. These will become even more pressing if (a) the economy really does revive, as most forecasters are suggesting for later in 2011 and into 2012 and (b) actually the cuts succeed in eliminating waste and avoid cutting useful services. Where you stand on the political spectrum obviously dictates your view of whether both (a) and (b) are likely. However, if they do occur, Miliband will be looking pretty silly by then. His doom mongering, if wrong, could prove disastrous for his reputation. If I were a Lib Dem in government now, I would be playing a waiting game, with much left to play for. Certainly cutting and running would be the worst possible option.

  39. @Robert C – “Without the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives would be on the brink of a massive ideological war between the Cameronite minority and the right wing majority.”

    How does that square with Vince Cable’s widely reported comments about a chaotic “Maoist” revolution currently underway? And that with a moderate Cameron supposedly in the ascendent.

    The longer this goes on, the closer LDs become identified with Tory fiscal policy, and the centre of gravity will be seen to be to the right of Cameron’s public face by some margin.

    Unless LDs can turn policy to a progressive bent – but then we are back to square one and the right wing majority – cutting and running could be the least disastrous option.

  40. To all the numerous posters who have offered intelligent and/or kind words on UKPR throughout 2010, may you have a rewarding 2011. I will not post but I will check in regularly to read your thoughts! :)

    Adh mor ort xx

  41. To Billy Bob and the millions of others who continually give we LDs such heartfelt advice, I am so grateful for your concern.

    Happy new year and all the best for 2011. Keep the advice coming as it brightens my day.

  42. In the same respect that the Tories and Lib Dems came to government because of the unpopularity of the Labour administration, Labour are now benefiting from the reverse.

    In 1997 Labour stormed in not only because the Tories were perilously unpopular but with the public genuinely believing they’d be better, different. Strange as that sounds to us now.

    We’re now on the verge of a cycle of gifting elections to opposition just for showing up.

  43. Happy New Year everyone – and it is all still too early to call. Let’s see what the VAT rise does in the New Year – which is a tax that hits people on fixed incomes hard – i.e. pensioners (mainly Tory voters) and the young (mainly non-voters)

  44. @ Old Nat

    “How true. The key to it has to be the quality of moderation, and Anthony sets a high standard.

    As you noted, it isn’t restricted to politics. Occasionally, someone will suggest that all the baddies belong to the “other” party, but one would have to be really, really partisan to believe that.”

    I agree. Barbara Streisand may have politics that I agree with but she’s apparently nasty and difficult in person. If she decides one day to support Scottish independence, she may do a great pre-election concert rally for the SNP but she’ll probably have slugged Alex Salmond in the kidney before the show is over. :)

    Have a very safe, happy, healthy, and above all Scottish New Year’s Eve. :)

  45. @ Eoin

    I’m glad to see you’re at least lurking. :) I miss your male, pro-feminist, Hillary Clinton supporting, Irish perspective. :)

    @ Howard

    I saw a recent clip from some news show where Ed Balls, some lady Tory, and Lorely Burt were on being interviewed. I think the segment was entitled ‘why the three leaders of all the major parties are hated by their MPs’ or something like that. I thought Burt, who is very articulate, gave a very cogent and strong defense of the LDs position in government. So the polling may be bad but if the LDs are getting a number of their policies they wanted established, they’re accomplishing something. If they’re helping prevent a major shift rightward on social policies that a Tory government might inflict (the backbenchers against the wishes of someone like Cameron), then they’re accomplishing something.

    I am as sad as anyone to see Nancy Pelosi go as Speaker (though she’s wily enough to come back). Now some pundits are suggesting (wrongfully I think) that if Pelosi hadn’t pushed through universal health insurance, credit card reform, banking and Wall Street Reform, the stimulus package, and other peices of controversial legislation, she might still be Speaker. Now I don’t think they’re right but assuming, for the sake of argument, that they’re right. She had the power and the votes to implement what was good for the nation. So she did what she could. If you can’t implement your agenda, then what’s the point of being in power anyway? If that’s what cost her the Speaker’s gavel, so be it. It sucks but that’s life and that’s democracy.

  46. ” We are not yet a mass party and so need to be more careful when following everything the respondents to polls say.”

    The line taken by an established Liberal Democrat to explain why a higher percentage of LD MPs would disagree with the statement “Do political polls allow you to understand how the public think?”


  47. ” We are not yet a mass party and so need to be more careful when following everything the respondents to polls say.”

    The line taken by an established Liberal Democrat to explain why a higher percentage of LD MPs would disagree with the statement “Do political polls allow you to understand how the public think?”

    h ttp://www.scribd.com/doc/6829849/Listening-to-the-public-The-influence-of-opinion-polls-on-MPs-2006

  48. One final thought on Labour’s position. It used to be that Labour was not a party of the middle class and of business folks and higher income earners (except for maybe academics). And after the 1970’s, Labour had little credibility on the economy. New Labour helped give Labour the needed credibility on economic issues to allow big swaths of middle class voters and voters who were not traditional Labour voters to feel safe and comfortable voting for Labour.

    This is why in 1997, Labour took all these constituencies in massive upsets where voting Labour used to be akin to ordering a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant. What is fascinating about the 2010 election is that for as many seats as Labour lost, they were able to hold some of these seats that used to be firmly Tory (Birmingham Edgbaston, Gedling, Westminster North, East Renfrewshire, Sefton Central, Brent North, Harrow West) and even in some seats they lost, they ran remarkably close races (Harrow East, Hove, Enfield North). Now in most of these races, credit is given to local popular MPs for either winning the impossible race or keeping a race extraordinarily close. But in a Parliamentary system, incumbency and popular local candidates only help so much. To me, it suggests that for as badly as Labour did this year, there are still a large segment of voters who were willing to vote Labour who in the past were not Labour.

    Now I know that the term “New Labour” is one that is banished from the Labour vocabulary right now. And it’s associated with spin and bad foreign policy. But I think if Labour wants to get back to a majority, they can’t abandon every last aspect of New Labour as they move forward.

  49. Oh and I forgot to add to my final point….the rebound in polling and the election results seem to kinda confirm the opinion that Labour didn’t lose because it was too right wing or too left wing or espoused all these policies that people hated but mainly that people needed a break from them. I think what helps with some of the new leadership is that while they’re all kinda green, they make the party look reinvigorated and more palatable. After 13 years, the politicians just look stale.

    Anyway, happy New Year to you all.

  50. @Socalliberal – Agreed.

    I think some Labourites were shocked to discover that the Hoon-Hewitt plot to depose Brown was actually being hatched at Harriet Harman’s country house exactly one year ago.

    Much as I personally rate Gordon Brown, perhaps for the electorate it was a “time for a change” election. Blair and Brown got older, the electorate younger, and the opposition parties had fresh faces on offer.

    The success of Cameron’s strategy is due to a slavish adherence to the the lessons of New labour in 1997, as set out by Phillip Gould in his book The Unfinnished Revolution (which incidently advocated ever closer links between Labour and Lib Dems).

    However, on the evidence so far Cameron is probably more ‘son of Thatcher’ than ‘heir to Blair’.

    Under the thirty-year rule Macmillan’s memo of 1981has been released, warning of the dire cosequences that would follow from Howe’s budget of that year. As one commentator put it, we wait to see if Cameron is “for turning” in 2011.

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