Archive for category Labour Party

Blair was an electoral asset

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I’m completely baffled by the myth that the Labour Party have lost all electoral credibility thanks to the New Labour/ Blair years. People seem to have forgotten that Blair won a record three consecutive general elections and was Labour’s longest serving Prime Ministers. No other Prime Minister, since the Representation of the People’s Act 1919 has won a single election, with a majority exceeding 150 seats, let alone two consecutive ones.

Blair was many things; dishonest, corrupt, incompetent and a war-monger. However when it comes to electoral credibility, his record speaks for itself.

Prior to Blair being leader, Labour lost four consecutive general elections. Since his resignation the party has lost two (and is unlikely to win the next one).

13 people have been labour leader since 1945. Only three of them managed to win a general election. Of the remaining ten, Foot, Callaghan, Milliband and Brown all caused the party to suffer substantial losses. Wilson won 4 elections out of five – but only one of those had a convincing majority (the remainder had respective majorities of 4, 5 and a hung parliament). Atlee himself won a landslide in 1945, but lost heavily in the 1950 and 1951 general elections (losing nearly 100 seats in a matter of months).

Compare this to the Conservative Party. When William Hague resigned in 2001, he was the first Conservative Leader, who failed to be Prime Minister, since Austen Chamberlain in 1922. He was rapidly joined in the failed Conservative leader club by IDS and Howard. That changed when Blair resigned.

The Conservative Party were in power for 13 years from 1951-1964 – and only fell from Office after the Profumo Affairs and the Night of the Long Knives. 18 years of government followed from 1979-1997 – and was ended by Labour’s landslide victory of 179.

Without a doubt the Iraq war reversed Labour’s fortunes; their majority in the following general election was reduced to 66, with a net loss of 47 seats.  However this is still smaller than the 60 seats lost by Foot in 1983 (and Labour had considerably fewer seats to start with).

1997-2010 was the longest time in history that the Labour Party had been in government. There were first time voters in 2010, who had no memory of life without a Labour government. People can therefore forget that this was the exception and not the rule – prior to this the longest unbroken spell of Labour government was six years. The differing factor which caused the rule to be broken was Blair and ‘New Labour’. Their departure has caused Labour to revert to their default position of the natural party of opposition.

In conclusion the only time the Labour party has been a winning machine was during the Blair era. Prior to that it romped from one defeat to another.

Corbyn is not the solution to the Labour Party’s woes – rather he is destined to join the ever-growing list of Labour Leaders who failed to be Prime Minister.

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Labour should stop trying to be trendy

Politicians should fight for what they believe in. Keir Hardie’s maiden speech promoted concepts that are now taken for granted such as free education and the right to claim a state pension. I do not criticise Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to be on the ‘centre ground’ or ‘extreme left’; I criticise him because a lot of his policies are simply unworkable) I would urge him to abandon these policies because they are bad, not because they are unelectable.

The two main parties invariably act like that they are two major high-street chains, engaged in a fierce price war. All of the unpopular products are hidden at the back of the shop and all the loss leaders are advertised outside. The Conservative Parties pre-election refusal to discuss their Welfare CutsReforms equates with the Tesco horse meat scandal. The Conservative Party knew that if people found out the full extent of their legislation it would deter people from voting for them. Unlike major chains however, we can only vote against political parties every five years – with businesses you vote with your feet every day.

The suffragettes, Gandhi and the African National Congress all promoted ideas which differed from the established ‘centre ground’; votes for women, ending British Colonialism and the abolition of apartheid.

The centre ground also does not mean retaining the status quo – therefore in order to keep up with the centre ground, opposition parties have to keep moving the goalposts – in 1998 the centre ground favour University tuition fees of £1000 a year – now it supports £9000 ones.

One  reason I am drawn to minor political parties is they are indifferent to personal power – they want to shape the agenda, nothing else. Minor political parties can inspire government policy – it’s hard to imagine the conservative party introducing a referendum on EU membership, without the rise of UKIP – and the mainstream parties only became interested in the environment following the green party surge in the 1989 elections to the European Parliament.

I am amongst the third of the (participating) electorate that neither vote Labour nor Conservative (myself included). Personally speaking I do not vote Conservative as they have become too harsh on welfare recipients. The idea I am deterred from voting for the labour party because of them being insufficiently right wing, is a very strange one (after all if I wanted a right wing, pro tax dodgers, anti-poor people party I would just vote Conservative or UKIP).

I never voted for Blair and I would not vote for Corbyn (I consider Blair too harsh on welfare, a euro-fanatic).

One reason I support proportional representation, is that it would lead to smaller parties – if we had proportional representation Corbyn would not be fighting for the leadership of the Labour party – more likely a socialist party. A post election socialist party led by Corbyn and a post election labour party led by Burnham would work together and find common ground – as senior members of a single party they cause the party to implode. Arguably smaller principled parties could have a role in government with bigger parties who whore themselves to Murdoch and the Daily Mail.

I understand the need for compromise – but compromise should be based on reality – government bills should be thrashed out based on what would be a good idea for the nation, instead of what the government thinks it can get away with. Cabinet Ministers should not be bound by collective responsibility and no MP should have to kowtow to whips.

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Jeremy Corbyn is Unelectable

Corbynmania is sweeping through the Labour Party. It will not however sweep through Britain like New Labour. Corbyn cannot be Prime Minister for the following reasons:

1. Being re-elected in Islington North is meaningless

Corbyn cites his electoral history in his constituency as ‘proof’ of his electability.  Unfortunately for Corbyn and his supporters, there is little to suggest that this will result in an electoral victory for Labour at the next general election. In fact the evidence suggests the opposite. In 2001 William Hague, the leader of the Conservative Party, increased his constituency majority by over 10%. Throughout the country however this translated into a net increase for the Conservative party of a single seat. Being re-elected in a constituency, held by the Labour Party since the 1930s (barring a brief blip when the sitting MP defected to the SDP), is not a testimony of electoral credibility. Political parties do not win general elections based on performance in their safe seats – marginal seats are were elections are won (coupled with surprise victories in constituencies, thought to be safely held by their rivals). Blair’s scalps included seats held by Michael Portillo and David Mellor. These seats were later regained by the Conservative Party.

2. This is not the first time Labour has tried to beat Thatcherism with an extreme socialist

In 1979, following his general election defeat, James Callaghan tendered his resignation to Her Majesty The Queen, and Mrs Thatcher formed a government with a majority of 43. Labour responded by electing Michael Foot. The parallels between Foot and Corbyn are striking; Corybn is the same age Foot was when he became leader (66) and both men are republicans who support nuclear disarmament and public ownership of pretty much anything that moves. Foot also had held his seat for over twenty years. I will add also that both men could be described as personally likeable – showing such traits as decency, sincerity, politeness and an indifference to personal power. To cut a long story short, under Foot Labour lost by the biggest election defeat since World War One. Other variables were blamed of course – Foot himself blamed the SDP, and Thatchers critics blamed the Falklands War. Blaming the SDP is unfounded – Foot’s own extreme policies caused Jenkins, Owen, Williams and Rodgers, to form a centre left political party (incidentally a previously floated name for the party was ‘New Labour’). His manifesto (branded the longest suicide note ever written) alleinated Labour from alot of people (in the abscene of the SDP alot of these people might simply have not bothered voting or spoiled their ballot papers). The Falklands War was a controversial affair – not least because of the sinking of the Belgrano  – but I remain of the view that Mrs Thatcher was right to repel the forces of Leopold Galteri. Despite only being in charge for a matter of weeks, he was extremely unpopular with Argentina. His attempt to regain the Malvinas was nothing more than a cynical attempt to force his country to support him (and indeed he did manage to briefly turn the tide against him). It is impossible to imagine the Falklanders celebrating a Galteri victory (nor would Argentina have been grateful for a lengthy dictatorship under him.) But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is – yes Mrs. Thatcher demonstrated leadership skills and handled a difficult situation in the correct way (although arguably if she hadn’t reduced defence forces in the Falklands, this may not have happened in the first place). Nevertheless general elections are seldom won on a single issue (Heath and Hague can both attest to this).

3. His own MPs are already printing out his P45

Simon Danczuk has stated Corbyn will be ousted on day one (although in the same article he revises this to twelve months. Other MPs have called for the election to be paused. Prescott himself has called people ‘morons’ ([[insert own joke]]) for lending their support to Corbyn. Has there ever been such division over a leader prior to their election? IDS himself was the shock winner of the 2001 conservative party leadership election – and was ousted within 25 months. There is no precedent for the Labour Party removing a leader from power – the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives will drop a leader the second they become a liability – but Labour leaders will rattle on until they resign or drop dead. Nevertheless to quote Mrs. Thatcher ‘no general can fight without an army’. Corbyn’s opponents will undermine his authority – people will defy the party line, defect to other parties and openly criticise him. Update: There is now speculation that the Labour Party will ‘cancel’ votes after the election (presumably similar to how Jeb Bush ensured votes for Al Gore were discredited). Other reported tactics include refusing to share in his shadow cabinet, ignoring the party whip and disregarding collective responsibility.

4. His opponents have endorsed him

Louise Mensch and Tim Loughton (one ex tory MP, the other a current Tory MP) are all in favour of Corbyn winning. Toby Young also attempted to join as a supporter, declaring his desire to ‘consign the party to electoral oblivion’. It would be naiive to suggest the Conservatives were afraid of Corbyn – if they were afraid of him they would be trying to stop him winning, rather than encouraging people to install him as leader.

Update: The first poll taken since his election, reveal hardly any movement at all.

 

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