« Home | How not to persuade people to vote Ken. » | State terrorism without a purpose. » | The magic of pixie dust churnalism. » | Gordon Brown, politics and courage. » | Scum-watch: Diverting the blame. » | Minor blogging transgressions. » | Political biographies and Lord Levy. » | Scum-watch: Going soft on immigrants, but not on "... » | Ashley and Hillary. » | Kill your middle-class indecision. » 

Friday, May 02, 2008 

"We're all fucked. You're fucked. We're all completely fucked."

However much spin Labour loyalists and supporters put on last night's local elections results, and the very likely victory of Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral contest, whether it's Gordon Brown's "disappointing" to Hopi Sen's "pretty bad", none of them can surely really see this as anything other than the last gasp of Labour in power.

The threshold for a "bad" Labour night was to lose 200 councillors; they managed to beat that by another 131, losing control of 9 councils in total. Despite the Conservatives still offering very little in genuine difference to Labour except Blairism/neo-Brownism with even less pity and crocodile tears, they grabbed an astonishing 44% of the vote, Labour receiving their worst result since, appropriately, 1968. This isn't just the sort of result that would give the Tories a election victory, it would give them a landslide akin to New Labour's in 1997, the sort of result that no one, not even the most slavering sycophantic Conservative could claim that they would deserve.

Yesterday's vote also exposes another of the myths that has built up around the most ghastly of the Blairites. Those who argue for the ever more assiduous targeting of the so-called "super marginals", courting the "aspirational" voters especially in the south-east and elsewhere have just had their entire world turned upside down. Their whole plan rests on those in the Labour "heartlands" turning out whatever the weather, political or otherwise. Yesterday Labour lost 6 councils in Wales, were turned out in Southampton, and also took a battering in Nuneaton and Harlow, the voters either staying away or going elsewhere. These are the people that New Labour has taken for granted, in some cases perhaps stealthily helped, as La Toynbee often argues, but who have had the 10p rate show just how much Brown really cares for them when he needs a short-term political boost. Along with the fuel bills and food prices hitting at the same time, they were already being walloped, and then their pay slips came through. How could the doubtless hard-working activists persuade them to turn out or stay loyal? Labour can't win in the super-marginals anyway; to pursue such a policy now would be suicide. Sadly, don't rule out such madness when Brown has decided that the solution to all his problems is to get ever more PR advisers.

Prior to the vote, Labour were making all the usual noises about this being a disaster, hoping that like 2004 and last year that the results would actually turn out to not be as bad as they first briefed. This time round the results were even worse than they had predicted, yet they still went through with the plan, picking on the slightest good result, like almost taking back Liverpool, which they couldn't even manage despite an Audit Commission report which gave the Lib Dem-led council the worst rating for financial prudence in the country. It was painful watching a succession of both the worst and least worst in Labour trying to put on a brave face, from the egregious Tessa Jowell and Geoff Hoon through to the likeable and affable John Denham. The only two who spoke honestly were John McDonnell and Charles Clarke, one an actual leadership candidate and the other a rumoured possible one.

None of them however have any real idea where to go from here. The response is the same it has been over the last 3 years: that "we" will listen. Blair promised to listen after the last election; he instead went knowing for certain that he was doing the right thing and everyone else was wrong. Brown promised change and to listen; he has done neither and has no intention of doing either, except to those opposed to the very values he is meant to represent. Ruth Kelly is currently on Newsnight trumpeting how the great unwashed (i.e. the public) will come back to Labour because they'll find the Tories out for being nothing more than a marketing exercise with no policy behind it. How on earth does she expect anyone to be able to tell the difference?

Over on Justin's they've been discussing what might turn the tide. The truth is that nothing will now. While Labour's share of the vote couldn't possibly be as bad at a general election as it was yesterday, if the Tories don't at least get a workable majority then they might as well, to turn Tony Blair's comment on its head, get out of politics completely. The hope will have to remain that either Brown turns it around somewhat or that the Tories don't manage completely to convince, resulting in the almost mythical hung parliament that might finally force PR onto Westminster, the one thing that will help to re-engage and give a choice beyond the current staleness of two parties that have hardly a cigarette paper between them.

Similarly, Neal Lawson is convinced that this is the death of third way, for the same reasons I think it's the death of the fatal super-marginals thinking. He's wrong because he hasn't yet realised that the Conservatives under Cameron are the new third way, the inheritance of the same radical-centrist dead end, and that's why the likes of Simon Heffer so loathe what has gone on, striking out at Boris in lieu of going after the leadership itself. The only real difference between Cameron's third way and Blair's third way is that the Tories are going to do what Blair wished he could: raising the inheritance tax threshold, directly bribing the middle classes, further attacks on the trade unions, but all with the same kindly wet face that only a ex-PR man educated at Eton can provide.

In this, the real blame lies not with Brown, but with Blair. It was he and his acolytes that created this situation, and left Brown to pick up the pieces after he hung on for too long, Brown too cowardly and without courage to get rid of him when he should have done, far earlier. Brown has had a go, it worked for a couple of months, then it all went pear-shaped, the real Brown rather than the one the adoring Guardian columnists had created unable to pull it together. Now Blair's real heir is getting ready to take over. Labour can't say it hasn't had the chances to change. To paraphrase Richard Mottram, the party now really is completely fucked.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

Did type a load of stuff but the stupid login thing below managed to wipe my comments. In short I think this is a good post but I don't think I quite agree with your prediction.

If labour come out with a new strategy really centering around good PR for an upcoming election doinng the things Brown said he would but didn't then they could scrape a co-allition. If they decide not to and "stay the course" then they deserve the shafting they get.

I actually think that in this turmoil of elation and depression simultaneously, though more elation. I actually think I would prefer a shit tory government than the utter shambles of a labour one for the next 5 years or so.

Hallefuckingluja. Finally somebody putting the blame where it belongs. Yes, Brown is a wanker. Yea, he's as maldroit as an ice-slating elephant. But the biggest wank of all and the biggest share of the blame goes to Blair and his bunch of public-school careerists.

Do Balls, Miliband jr, Cooper, Blears, Kelly, Smith and the rest not set your teeth on edge? Who TF is going to listen to those who who have treated traditional labour supporters like canon-fodder?

After 20-odd years as a member, I left the Labour Party 2 years ago, I could see where it was all going. It was going to fuck. And it has. And we are fucked.

Most people want Gordon brown to say this:


What annoys me is that this is a local election with standing candidates who have barely any connection with their national compatriots; and yet everyone is talking about how this affects national policy and interviewing national candidates who weren't standing in this election.

Even on our local news I have yet to see one newly elected councillor interviewed.

Post a Comment


  • This is septicisle


    blogspot stats

     Subscribe in a reader


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates