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. @Robert C

    It is intriguing that you can still in apparent good faith predict that what has been just about as dire a 7 months for the Lib Dems as could have been conceived has actually set them on a path that leads to a dramatic resurgence of their fortunes.

    If that is a typical view from the (remaining) yellow supporters, it suggests that what is needed is to throw away the rose tinted spectacles and take a reality check.

  2. Labour are still behind the coalition parties. In normal polling you would expect the LDs to be as opposed the the govt as labour.

    Labour are peddling the Tory led … line. So they have to include LDs in the group they need to oppose.

    So despite inevitable problems there is still support for the coalition.

  3. @Richard in Norway

    “even if the economy recovers(which it won’t)

    I rather thought that it had actually.

    Unless I am very much mistaken these are the ONS quarterly GDP change %s:-

    2008
    Q1 +0.5
    Q2 -0.3
    Q3 -0.9
    Q4 -2.0
    2009
    Q1 -2.4
    Q2 -0.7
    Q3 -0.2
    Q4 +0.4
    2010
    Q1 +0.3
    Q2 +1.1
    Q3 +0.7

    GDP at end 2010 Q3 was 2.7% higher than 2009 Q3

    …so your forecast of 15 years of stagnation or recession ( you didn’t say which) is certainly interesting.

    However, just in case the organisation whose members we will rely on to grow the economy, know what they are talking about-here are the current CBI predictions :-

    No Double Dip recession
    2010 Q4 +0.7

    2011
    Q1 +0.2
    Q2 +0.4
    Q3 + 0.5
    Q4 + 0.5
    2011 YoY + 2.0%

    2012 YoY + 2.4%

  4. I don’t think I can be bothered wasting the effort on making predictions. Whatever happens, it will be fun to watch.

    The only point I’d make is that in most (but not all) cases, after a period of very hard and quick movement in one direction, the most likely next development is some movement back in the other direction.

    @Nick,

    You may be right about the changes to the Conservative Party vote, but it would be wrong not to point out that the Labour share at the last election was a record low. Perhaps they are both dinosaurs from the past, and the future belongs to the LibDems (ha!)

  5. The Labour Party has been greatly helped by the LibDems turning to the far left. Nornally some Labour fool would have attacked the City or begged for more immigration.

  6. colin

    $ 100 oil means that growth will come grinding to a halt around the world

    china has a big inflation problem and is increasing rates slowing down their economy

    QE from the BoE and QE1, QE2 from the fed are pouring vast amounts of printed money into the financial system and yet growth is forecast at 2% rebounding from a slump, what happens if the QE money is taking away. growth would still be negative without QE. already the fed is putting out rumours about QE3!

    housing in the US has fallen by more than 25% and is still falling. 2 million properties are waiting to be put on the market. prices can only go one way. already mainstream tv analysts are saying that housing is in a double dip

    grease, ireland, protugal, spain, italy, belguim……i don’t need to make a comment on this

    according to the national audit office we are propping up the banks to the tune of more than 500 billion, are our banks solvent, why was barkleys first in line for handouts when the fed was giving away money and does that have anything to do with the BoE’s insane buying of US bonds, the Irish bailout was necessary to save our(and german) banks from collapse how badly exposed are british banks to more PIIGS problems or to more US problems

    talking about more US problems how about the fact that one of the worlds largest economies will probably default this year, yes i’m talking about California. but most states and cities are in the same boat

    japan; debt to GDP is approaching 200% and is forecast to reach 250% by the middle of the decade, now that really puts the PIIGS in the shade

    just a question for you. how far can interest rates go up before the UK housing market collapses taking the banks with them

    i could go on and on, but i won’t

    but even without all the debt problems, growth is not going to be significant for the next 15 years because we have run out of oil and it will take at least 10 years to restructure our economies away from oil. until that restructuring is nearly complete growth will be stopped by the brick wall of rising oil prices

  7. @ Jay Blanc and Phil

    Ha! Thought my predictions would get right up your noses. The thing is, mine are no more biased or partisan than anyone else’s.

    As for Phil’s “reality check”, the whole point is that Labour have been drifting even further away from reality in the past six months, and rather than criticising cuts selectively and admitting some responsibility for the current mess, they have moved into wholesale denial territory. While this may have won dividends in the short run, I think that in the long run they will suffer hugely in terms of credibility.

    Just as it would have been unthinkable in May for Labour to recover from 29% to 40% plus in just six months, it is also now unthinkable for many that the Lib Dems can recover. Yet if the last year has taught us anything about UK politics, it is that the unthinkable can happen and often does.

  8. @RiN,

    I certainly agree that there are plenty of pitfalls ahead, but I don’t necessarily think the UK is in a particularly bad position relative to some other economies out there. I think the Apocalypse is an eternal fear, and there is always a small chance it will arrive. But economics has an elastic way about it.

  9. PHIL

    “It is intriguing that you can still in apparent good faith predict that what has been just about as dire a 7 months for the Lib Dems as could have been conceived has actually set them on a path that leads to a dramatic resurgence of their fortunes.

    If that is a typical view from the (remaining) yellow supporters, it suggests that what is needed is to throw away the rose tinted spectacles and take a reality check.”

    I am not a yellow supporter and suspect many of Robert C’s predictions will not be borne out. However I think in the event that the LibDems win in Oldham or/and the AV vote is won (and both of these are in my view real possibilities) the LibDems will within a few months see a “dramatic resurgence of their fortunes”.

    My impression is that the LibDems are almost down to their hard core vote and there is much more upward than downward potential. They have demonstrated twice in recent years they can fairly quickly build up their vote both after Ming stood down and just before and after the first Party Leader’s pre GE debate). While there are obvious reasons why the Tory share of the vote may fall in 2011 Labour’s scope for moving further ahead may well be slowed down by “temporary” supporters returning to support the Lib Dems.

  10. neil

    have a look at the 19th century, there is nothing elastic about economics in those times

    the 1930’s were not elastic

    but the end of oil is much bigger that a mere liquidity crisis

  11. @RiN,

    I would argue that both the 19th Century and the 1930s were fairly elastic. After all, in the 19th century the advent of the railways and the expansion of Britain’s economic empire overseas saw opportunities for growth that a pessimistic forecaster in 1800 might not have factored in. And the Second World War made a huge difference to the end of the 1930s.

    What I mean is that you are worrying (rightly) about all of the “known unknowns” in the coming decade. There will almost certainly be some complete surprises coming, both positive and negative, which could render a lot of your concerns obsolete. As one example, the impetus generated by the decline in oil may well lead to the development of other ways of doing things that might even (in the long run) be more advantageous than reliance on oil. Who knows, by 2025 the world may be zipping along on ample supplies of clean fusion energy (or something else noone’s even dreamt of yet) and the idea that energy insecurity was the biggest issue of the century may seem laughable. On the other hand they may be dealing with some bio-engineered crop parasite that has destroyed the world’s agricultural system and be more worried about their bellies than their cars.

  12. neil

    fair dos, but i still don’t think we can get around the end of cheap oil and it annoys me that so little has been done to deal with a problem which has been predicted since the 60’s. 40 years warning is quite a lot

  13. Richard

    ” could go on and on, but i won’t”

    I’m relieved to hear it-I read the economic press too.

    “growth is not going to be significant for the next 15 years ”

    Now you are changing your goal posts.

    Before you said the economy will not “recover” for 15 years-ie there will be no growth in GDP.

    So “not significant growth” is a bit of a U-turn.

    What matters-politically- is that growth is “significant” enough to meet GO’s forecasts & provide the relevant component to his debt reduction plan by 2015.

    What happens in the global economy after that is only relevant to the next parliament in UK.

    As for your question-interest rates may well start to rise at the latter end of 2011. Certainly if Andrew Sentance has his way they will.

    THere are far more savers than mortgage borrowers, and a modest rise could actually boost consumer spending in a sector of the population with lower/zero debt.

    Mortgage holders have to understand that current interest rates are exceptionally low-the significant boost to their disposable income over the last year or two from the massive reduction in mortgage rates will not last forever.
    It is encouraging to read that a large proportion of them have been using that bonus to pay down the capital element-very sensible.

    re your question-It is the higher deposits now being asked by lenders which is depressing the level of house buying.

    There is a lack of housing in UK
    House prices are low .
    Interest rates are currently low.

    I cannot therefore see a direct link between a modest increase in interest rates rates & future house prices.

    Any increase in interest rates will give lenders the opportunity they always take to increase their own margins -and thus reserves.

    THe global economy is currently growing at 4% to 5% pa.

    Provided ( & it is a big proviso I grant you) UK plc can tap into the export opportunities of the major growth economies, we can grow our economy despite problems in the Eurozone.

    China is changing its economic policies to discourage cheap exports & grow domestic consumption. No doubt this has political a well as economic dimensions.

    The People’s Republic of China just declared a 20% increase of the minimum monthly wage, thus in effect making it higher than the minimum wage in Bulgaria.
    As of January 1, China’s minimum wage will become 1 160 yuan, a second 20% increase in 2010, after in July it reached 960 yuan.

    If you are a China watcher you will know how important a growing Chinese economy is to the rest of the world & how mindboggling are its numbers.
    Yes we will no longer have the advantage of cheap Chinese imports-if we want to buy Chinese goods they will be dearer.

    But our export opportunities will increase.

    THere is a great article on China in Sunday Times today -here are a few snippets:-

    Over the next 3 years, 300 million will move from the countryside to cities-the greatest mass urbanisation in history.
    50,000 skyscrapers will be built.
    1 Billion Chinese will be city dwellers.
    By 2025 China will have the biggest middle class in the world.
    More than 1,000 cars a day are coming onto Chinese roads.
    BY 2030 it will consume 25% of all global energy .
    In next 20 years it will add to its electricity grid more than total USA capacity.
    By 2040 its economy will rival that of USA-but its 1.3BN people will still only be one quarter as rich.

    If there are are not opportunities in China for our aviation & tourism, fashion & luxury goods, finance & legal specialists, banking, engineering, education industries, etc etc we should pack it all in.

    LOndon was awash with Chinese shoppers over Christmas. THey now account for 30% of the high value goods market in Britain-with British shoppers making up a mere 15%.
    Harrods reported that 50% of its clentele are from China.

    This is the new order of things.

    …..and then there is India-Brazil-Indonesia….

  14. What should upset the liberal parties in general, is that even the “junior partner law” applies in their case only if they are the junior partner. This is obvious both in UK and Germany, where the LDs and FDP respectively take all the hit for government policies. So, in Denmark, Finland and Eire, where they are the senior partner, they should be less affected than their minor allies by anti-government feelings. But this is not the case. In these three countries, the more dramatic drop in support is registered, according to all polls, by the Liberals, whilst their partners seem to suffer less, or even to increase their support, as is the case of the Conservatives and the Greens in Finland. Bottom line: ELDR parties, whether in government as senior partners (Eire, Denmark, Finland), in government as junior partners (UK, Germany) or in opposition (Italy, Poland) are polling very badly and 2011 will be a disastrous year for them.

  15. @ Colin

    The People’s Republic of China just declared a 20% increase of the minimum monthly wage.
    ———————————————-
    Thanks for being man enough to post this :-)

    I remember we debated this at length & one of the points I made was: High wage inflation in China was/is expected over the next few years, bringing them into line with parts of Europe & the US.

    This 20% increase in minimum wage is just the beginning of a rapid catch up in costs between China & developed nations. 8-)

  16. colin

    no u turn

    do you define recovery as as any amount of positive growth?

    if we assume 2% growth for the rest of the decade will unemployment go up or down. 2% is pretty much steady state

    but if growth is 1% for the rest of the decade then we could be talking about an extra 1 million unemployed, would that be a recovery?

    that there is a lack of housing does not make higher prices automatic. high prices can only happen if folk can afford them. the end of easy credit is bad news for house prices as is the fact that in addition to extra unemployment. many people have lost their second jobs which they relied on to have a life after paying the bills

    you have nothing to say about oil, are we running out of oil or does it not matter, how can we have strong and consistent growth if the most important commodity fueling growth is in limited supply and this is the most important reason that i do not belive in recovery

  17. China min wage hike is also part of accelerated strategy to boost domestic growth in ordert re-balance versus exports.
    I export to China and many large Chinese businesses are busy moving production ‘off-shore’ to Vietnam expect Cambodia and Laos in the next few years (maybe North Korea further out).
    It will be a long time before western economies can compete with asia on costs which have to be higher by less than additional delivery/shipping differentials.

  18. @ Jim Jam

    From the perspective of exports out of Asia, the production needs to be surplus to domestic demand to be exported from Asia to the US & Europe.

    Economies of scale hit an optimum then diminishing marginal returns of outputs to inputs kicks in. At which point, it’s time for a new factory or fab. More will be sited in Europe & the US in future. Not within 5 years but beyond 2015, it will happen fairly rapidly.
    8-)

  19. Richard

    I am focussed on the Red Book numbers & the OBR forecasts really.

    What happens in 10 or 15 years is anyones guess.

    If UK gets the growth forecast in the Budget for this parliament-it should get also get the employment outcomes too.THe next parliament is something else.

    But if we dont lay down the structural reforms required during this term, the downsides you mention will be all the more serious for us in the next term.

    I blow hot & cold on Peak Oil. The material on the Net varies from Apocalyptic to No Worries.

    Clearly it won’t last forever. Nothing does.

  20. @ JIMJAM

    “It will be a long time before western economies can compete with asia on costs ”

    If ever.

    But we can compete on product range & quality.

    In the long run though, I can see western living standards falling a those in Asia rise to meet us.

    There is also a massive hidden geopolitical dimension to all this Chinese consumption of basic commodoties which we alll need as well.

    The power-economic & military-which they will wield down the line is frightening.

  21. Amber – I understand what you say and maybe you are correct about how rapidly this will occur. Certainly as I impiled earlier the chinese govt have accelerated their long-term aims for rebalancing more towards domestic demand which is a reaction to the recession.
    FWIW I reckon other regions of the world and poorer parts of China will increase manufacturing output to meet demand and it will take a long time before Westen Europe andNorth America can expand meaningfully; parts of Eastern Europe maybe Central Asia and the Middle East will benefit first and Indonesia can take on a good deal by itself.
    Of course if Oil prices settle over $200 with no reduction in demand the costs of shipping goods around the world will increase drmatically encouraging production closer to market.

  22. jimjam

    i’m sorry

    $200 oil is possible at some point in the medium term but demand will go into reverse at that price. oil is close to 100 at the moment and it is starting to slow down the world economy, i would guess that it will be about 10 years before oil can be at 200 and not cause a downturn, that’s assuming that there has been quite a bit of restructuring away from oil

  23. @ Jim Jam

    Central Asia and the Middle East will benefit first and Indonesia can take on a good deal by itself.
    ———————————————
    Political stability, financial stability, power, water, transport networks etc. are all essential for attracting inward investment in manufacturing infrastructure.

    Fewer countries than you’d think actually meet all these requirements for inward investment.
    8-)

  24. @Robert C

    OK, your prediction wasn’t exactly in good faith. More fool me for taking your comments at face value.

    You do though seem to underestimate the difficulties that the Libs will have in recovering. For them it really isn’t all up for grabs.

    Don’t confuse the situation now with where they were in 1989 with the SDP split. Then, single figure polling was just a reflection of infighting associated with a messy divorce, and the recovery was just dependent upon how long it took the dust to settle and a degree of competance to be reestablished.

    By contrast, this time the Lib-Dems have really broken the mould that defined UK politics for the last 30 years, by nailing their colours firmly to the mast of an unreconstructed right wing administration which is being allowed to pursue social as well as economic policies well to the right of anything Thatcher attempted. They’ll be defined for this for years to come, probably for as long as a decade beyond this parliament if they remain in formal coalition until 2014 or 2015, whatever happens to the economy in the meantime.

  25. phil

    this jumped out at me from a mail editorial

    “But, being Conservatives, they have remained loyal, and they have not made a noisy fuss – unlike Liberal Democrats angry with their party’s smaller sacrifices.”

    it seems that the blues don’t agree with you about this govt’s right wing credentials

    apparently us libs have only made small compromises while the blues have made the most sacrifices

    this is a libdem lead govt?

  26. @Phil,

    unreconstructed right wing administration which is being allowed to pursue social as well as economic policies well to the right of anything Thatcher attempted.

    Can you explain this rather extreme view to me? It sounds rather partisan, and therefore not a terribly good basis for a dispassionate analysis of LibDem future prospects.

    Otherwise I agree that the LibDems are in a far worse bind than at previous low points. Once their fence-sitting was ended by a hung parliament, they were always likely to lose either their ABT or ABL supporters. There are more ABT than ABL supporters (I would guess) so the cookie crumbled particularly painfully for them. But no future outcome is impossible, so I’m certainly not writing them off.

  27. @RiN, Neil A

    Perhaps this might change your mind?

    h ttp://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/12/lib-dem-conservative-coalition

    Try perhaps comparing where the NHS might be in 2015 under Lansley’s plans compared to where we were in 1990.

    I do indeed contend that in a whole host of policy areas, by 2015 the UK will be far further down the road towards a neo-conservative agenda than it ever was when Thatcher left office.

  28. neil

    i will try to be dispassionate about libdem prospects

    we’re screwed

    but it don’t matter cos we have a little power and we can do some of the things that are important to us

    yes we might lose the AV vote but that was a possibility with a lab deal also(the rainbow deal would not have lasted long enough to deliver a ref, i think) but at least the argument get a public airing and maybe in 30 years the public will be ready for modern democracy

    we will of course get some kind of lords reform, 100 years after David Lloyd george first announced that the lords should be replaced with an elected chamber

    but without grabbing a chance at power we will have got nothing and we will have been irrelevant until the next hung parliament in 30 years time

    strange thing but hung parliaments only happen at times of national crisis

  29. phil

    re your link

    “they would say that wouldn’t they”

    you are reading too much party dogma, you should try doing your own thinking for a change

  30. RiN

    “i will try to be dispassionate about libdem prospects
    we’re screwed”

    And…

    “yes we might lose the AV vote but that was a possibility with a lab deal also…”

    My apologies for interrupting you exchanges with Neil A, but I was pleased to see your realistic assessment of the LD position … but also I felt the need to correct a possible misunderstanding.

    My understanding is that Lab’s mainfesto carried committment to introduce AV. So there would not have been a referendum.

  31. mike

    are you telling me that jack the lad straw would have voted for AV without a ref

    pull the other one it’s got bells on

  32. RiN
    The point is Lab were committed to AV.

    Increasingly it seems to me that LDs are seeking to revise history to justify their actions.

    NC bounced the LD party into coalition with the Cons. Fact.

    Moving on….

    The New Statesman article drawn to our attention by Phil should be compulsory reading for all LDs.

    Going dark now

  33. mike

    revise history, what me?! do you really think i’m a party hack?

    david blunket and jack the lad straw bounced the labour party out of the rainbow coalition

    fact

  34. @RiN

    Is Bruce Anderson in the Daily Telegraph more to your taste?

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/8230505/Now-the-Coalition-can-slay-those-dragons-that-escaped-Thatcher.html

    “The Coalition could, indeed, be said to be carrying on her work: she slew some dragons, but she side-stepped others which have continued to imperil the country.”

  35. phil

    no i didn’t like the sycophantic tone of that article, it was very nu labour

    has there really been much change since the election apart from in your heads

  36. @Phil,

    So, this NS article can be summarised as;

    The Tories got more and better departments of State than the Liberal Democrats. The Tories wouldn’t negotiate on certain areas (although one of these was Trident, on which it seems the LibDems have won a concession – ignored by the author). A tax cut for the poorest, which was a key LibDem objective, is indistinguishable from a tax cut that benefits only the richest (and the cutting of which is a Tory shibboleth). The (extremely right-wing, worse than Thatcher etc..) Tories are moderating prison policy all on their own without any influence from the LibDems.

    The author then points out that the LibDems are much less popular than they were, and finishes by making spurious comparisons to a different age.

    I am not sure this article contains anything new, is entirely balanced (or even true, frankly) or is worth anyone reading.

    As for the government health plans, I am no expert on them, but they are essentially another reorganisation with the aim of pushing decisions towards GPs rather than officials. Not necessarily a good thing (and I note the concerns of Sarah Wollaston MP) but still committed to the same level of spending and a service free at the point of use.

    I still think describing this government as more right-wing than Thatcher is complete claptrap. It is the same old “X is the evilest devil ever to walk the earth” where “X” is the latest right-wing politician or government to take centre-stage. Every Tory leader back to Edward Heath has had the same monotonous write-up from the Left.

  37. @Mike N

    You said “…My understanding is that Lab’s mainfesto carried committment to introduce AV. So there would not have been a referendum…”

    You are exactly wrong, sir.

    Section 9:2 of the manifesto states that “referenda, [to be] held on the same day, for moving to the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons and to a democratic and accountable Second Chamber…”

    I enclose a link below for you to check for yourself.

    Regards, Martyn

    h ttp://www2.labour.org.uk/uploads/TheLabourPartyManifesto-2010.pdf

  38. I commented earlier that EM did not appear to have a theme yet, but at the same time I advised him to bide his.

    I suspect strongly that a theme will come along (eg ‘save the NHS’)) so he may as well wait and see. He has a springboard of a tiny lead with all the cuts still to come (except excise on fuel which Old Nat so correctly advised me and not VAT for which we wait another day).

    If he is not at near 50% by August, something will be very different to how most of us think it will.

    So that’s his unspoken theme ‘wait and see’.

  39. Martyn

    Mike N went M but good to hear reminder. I think Lab leaders are split on reform, not just AV. I believe some would have offered PR if allowed (AJ and BB for instance).

  40. Bruce Anderson’s article is pretty much all prose and no substance. So far as I can tell the “dragons” to which he is referring are standards in schools and abuse of the welfare system. Hardly ideological hot-pototatoes, unless you are a teaching union with a cast-in-stone view of the way education has to be delivered.

    Breaking welfare dependency would be of huge benefit to everyone in the country. In one way this is a terrible time to try it (because there are few jobs available for the workshy to take up) but the public mood of austerity may keep support for it reasonably bouyant.

  41. Phil
    Spot on
    John B Dick
    I’d be concerned if anyone thoght this was other than a puff to vote Snp. Your last two posts have had the breathlessness of last minute Lib Dem by election leaflets, saying “it is too close to call” or “it couldn’t be closer” when the bookies are viewing it as ten or twenty times more likely that Labour will, as AW hints move ahead of the SNP to be biggest party than the SNP remain ahead.
    There is no polling evidence that votes are likely to move as you suggest from Labour to the SNP or that the Lib Dems will do better than in England or that the Greens will take more than one more seat, or that the Tories will lose more support.
    Of course, I would be delighted if the SNP in planning their campaign took a similar view to yours but no such luck for me I am afraid.
    Colin
    many will be pleased to see your confidence in and admiration for marxist and post-marxist governments. I’m more cautious myself. The increase in the minimum wage will, I am confident not apply in the countryside so will propel more off the land. The consequent move towards capital intensive farming should cause world-wide disquiet as the over-all supply of food in the PRC will go down iintensifying inflation in basic foods which is already roaring in regard to rice.
    Very interesting to compare with the trajectory of agriculture in the 1930s Soviet Union

  42. @Phil

    You said “…I do indeed contend that in a whole host of policy areas, by 2015 the UK will be far further down the road towards a neo-conservative agenda than it ever was when Thatcher left office…”

    Phil, I’m not sure you know what the word “neo-conservative” means. Thatcher was an Hayekian, a small-state conservative, a Cold Warrior and a class warrior. “Neo-conservative” means something different.

    You then said “…the mast of an unreconstructed right wing administration which is being allowed to pursue social as well as economic policies well to the right of anything Thatcher attempted…”

    OK, time for a sanity check. The Coalition government is not planning to remove the devolved institutions, recriminalise homosexuality, remove divorce equality, nor imprison people on grounds of being Irish. So it’s not trying for social policies well to the right of anything Thatcher attempted. However, it is not trying to extend detention without charge, imprison people on grounds of being Muslim, nor extend little Guantanamo-wannabe detention centres in (say) Paddington Green, either. So it’s actually to the left of the previous Labour government on social issues.

    What you may be referring to is the Coalition’s intent to reduce the size of benefit claims. I’ve no doubt Thatcher would jump up and down with glee with this, but this was not on her agenda, simply because that we didn’t have anything close to the 2010’s benefit culture in the 1980’s.

    Characterising this Government as “Thatcherite” misunderstands how different this government is. Just throwing random (and poorly-understood) right-wing words like “Thatcherite”, “unreconstructed” or “neo-conservative” at it is missing the point.

    Regards, Martyn

  43. Has anyone factored in demographics yet? Older people tend to vote, and vote Tory – younger people tend not to vote and according to latest polls are Lab or Lib. The cuts, pensions changes (RPI to CPI), VAT etc hot older people far worse than any other group – so Cameron is undermining his strongest base. The other group worst hit are the young, looking at unemployment due to the economic disaster that is now unfolding, and loss of access to higher eduction; this may turn them out to vote. This must work in Labour’s favour in the medium term

  44. @Howard

    AJ=Alan Johnson presumably, but who’s BB? Ben Bradshaw?

    Regards, Martyn

  45. @Eric,

    Err, OK. So the government’s plans are bad for the young. And for the old.

    Well, yes. That’s because they’re bad for everyone. Because they involved eliminating the deficit, which means higher taxes and lower spending across the board.

    Unless you’re suggesting that there’s some sort of “sweet spot” of voters aged 25-60 who will be better off? If so, then I’d suggest that their votes may make up for the very young and very old.

  46. Martyn
    Thank goodness we have someone who is so terribly clever they can explain all those things which we poor simpletons have not been able to understand. Here was me as a candidate in the last election failing to understand that I was arguing for a policy of arresting Moslems (the 4 million or so of them) for being Muslim while that nice Lib Dem man who was lambasting me for failing to commit to voting against any increase in tuition fees was also actually going to be forming a left wing government. Well I never. Please give me more of these enlightening explanations. I am sure that like Phil I will be won over
    Mr Alexander, I am sure will be giving his constituents in Inverness the same lectures and by golly, I bet they snap to it and vote for him

  47. @ Eric

    “the economic disaster that is now unfolding”

    Umm….the economy is growing actually…..has been since 2009Q4

  48. barney

    addmit it you were looking forward to marching 4 millon muslims to reeducation centres, weren’t you

    :lol: :lol:

    martyn is terribly clever but i don’t understand why his politeness offends so much

  49. Richard in Norway
    Your resolute cheeriness always dis-arms me! I am not offended but I have to admit to a secret suspicion that Martyn wasn’t there during the thatcher era and it does get me tetchy when the abstractions of “Hayekianism” replace any human understanding of the realities. I don’t think that many people under 50 have any real idea of what the proposed benefit changes will look like, feel like …..or will be reported

  50. Neil A & Phil:

    “I do indeed contend that in a whole host of policy areas, by 2015 the UK will be far further down the road towards a neo-conservative agenda than it ever was when Thatcher left office.”

    Surely that’s axiomatic? Unless Labour had reversed significantly more of Thatcher’s changes than they did we could hardly not be “further down the road.” To compare their effectiveness you would need to consider whether they got further than Thatcher could have done in a like period.

    What we have so far is aspiration and intention, only just beginning to be turned into plans. Achievements are something else. We can only make comparisons in retrospect. Till then the claim is partisan hyperbole, wheher for or against.

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