Wednesday, 6 August 2008

2011: "Come Back Gordon, All Is Forgiven"?

Just some thoughts on politics both here and abroad at the moment…

One wonders how long the Labour Party can carry on without an attempt to bring down Gordon Brown. I think the only thing stopping a coup d’etat against him is the knowledge that once a new leader has been elected a General Election will have to be called soon after. Another Labour leader without any electoral legitimacy with the public would make a potential electoral wipeout even worse. If I was a betting person I think GB will stay on until the end of the year. Then he will be ousted (the only thing I can see saving him is a major national crisis in the next few months), followed by a leadership contest. The new leader (almost certainly a NuLab Bugger-All In A Suit) will achieve another “dead cat bounce” in the polls, before a General Election is called for May or June next year (same time as the local elections or the European elections). I imagine the Labour slogan would be something similar to Stanley Baldwin’s Tory slogan for the 1929 General Election: “Safety First”.

Whenever it comes, I think the Conservatives will be the largest party. If GB stays I think it will be a handsome Tory win. If he goes…maybe not. I think that, faced with a Con win, enough erstwhile Labour supporters will come out to stop it being a landslide. However, I think the Labour Party will be out of power a long time. What makes it worse than previous ejections from office is that the grass roots of the party are in a state of terminal decline. Also there is no ideological force that could unite or inspire party members. Since the collapse of the Alternative Economic Strategy and the retreat of the Labour Left in the 1980s, there has been nothing really on offer but managing Thatcherism with a smile. As I’m sure I’ve said before, publications by centre-left pressure groups such as Compass and Catalyst are frankly yawn inducing, which can inspire no one. If, as Harold Wilson said, the Labour Party is a crusade or it is nothing, then I think it will be nothing after the next General Election.

I can see some, if not all, of the Conservative readers of my blog (I have a few!) rubbing their hands at the thought of David Cameron re-establishing their hegemony over British politics after the next General Election. However, I would caution them, particularly if they are EU-critical. As is pretty well known, the Cameroonies have modelled their plan for winning the next General Election on how Tony Blair transformed the Labour Party in the mid-1990s. Due to the massive majority Labour achieved in 1997, one part of the NuLab game plan was not implemented. To quote from The Survivor: Tony Blair in Peace and War (2005, Aurum, p.171) by Francis Beckett & David Hencke:

“The Liberal Democrats were to join the new Labour government- even if it had a majority of up to fifty seats.”

“The most extraordinary decision taken by Blair was to reserve two cabinet seats for the Liberal Democrats in advance of the 1997 election campaign.”

Only at the weekend before the 1997 General Election, when it was clear that Labour would get a majority in excess of fifty, was the plan abandoned (ibid, p.173).

So if the weekend after the next General Election David Cameron announces that Nick Clegg is the new Foreign Secretary, you read it here first…!

I would say the EU is the issue that Cameron needs the Lib Dems onside. He is, after all, the man who complained about people “banging on” about the EU and called UKIP members "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". The Lib Dems are leading members of the Far Centre’s “My EU right or wrong” brigade, as their opposition to any British referendum on the Lisbon Treaty this year made clear. My own opinion is that Cameron will also reach out to the ultra-Blairite wing of NuLab in a “Government of All The Talents” [sic!]. After all, there are a fair few careerist chancers amongst Labour MPs who have no loyalty to the Labour Party and would, if offered a position (again!) in Government, have no qualms about jumping over to the Conservatives. Not least, if the Government is led by a man who claims to be “The Heir to Blair”. (A billboard poster of DC next to that caption would probably the best way for Labour to prevent a Tory landslide at the next General Election…!)

Returning to the Lib Dems, the way things are going they appear to be returning to the days of the “National Liberals”, whose political existence was dependent on the Conservatives not standing against them for Parliament, and which almost merged with the Tories in the early 1950s. The decision to oppose a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty appeared to have cost them votes in the London Elections, not least in their electoral strongholds. Furthermore, in Camden, where I live, the Greens pushed the Lib Dems into fourth place in 11 of the borough’s 18 wards, although sharing power with the Tories on the council doesn’t seemed to have helped.

In fact, Nick Clegg seems set on committing a form of political hara-kiri, as this article from the Western Daily News suggests:

Fighting Tories not a priority - Clegg
Western Daily News 02-August-2008

LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg has stunned party members in the Westcountry by announcing that fighting the Tories is no longer a priority.

Amid plummeting poll ratings for Gordon Brown, Mr Clegg said he would focus on unseating Labour MPs at the next General Election.

More money will be spent on the seats where the Lib-Dems are “taking on Labour,” he said.

But the move will come at the expense of battles with the Conservatives who are the Lib-Dems' main rivals across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

One Lib-Dem MP said he felt he had been “cut loose” while other senior figures warned that the party faced “wipe-out” at the hands of a resurgent Tory party.

Several said Mr Clegg should be concentrating on “consolidating” the 63 MPs he has at present instead of opening up a new battlefront with Labour. “I wish he had told me first,” said one Lib-Dem MP faced with a close battle against the Conservatives.
Current opinion polls suggest David Cameron's Conservatives could sweep the board in the South West, unseating almost all Lib-Dems without the most substantial majorities. Mr Clegg recently insisted the party was performing well in the region but his move to focus on Labour seats in the South East and the North of England left some activists feeling he had given up on the Westcountry.

The party released a list of 50 target seats it hopes to win – and not one is the Westcountry, traditionally seen as Lib-Dem heartland.

Mr Clegg insists he is directing resources away from fighting the Tories because the turmoil engulfing the Government is a “huge opportunity”. In a summer podcast for the Lib-Dem website, Mr Clegg said Labour was “tearing itself apart”, and he had “never seen anything like it”.

Labour had proved it could not deliver help with spiralling energy bills or run public services effectively, according to Mr Clegg.

“It's over for them,” he insisted. “There is no point voting Labour any more. There are no safe Labour seats. They will lose every by-election they fight in this parliament. And at the next General Election, they will lose in their heartlands to the Liberal Democrats.

“A Labour vote is now a wasted vote. This is a huge opportunity for us. We've got to seize it. So I'm shifting our resources to put more campaigners and more effort into those seats where we're taking on Labour.

Mr Clegg said the Lib-Dems would launch a fundraising drive in the autumn specifically to bring in cash for fighting Labour.

But the move was greeted with dismay in the Westcountry where activists had been hoping Mr Clegg would “take the fight” to the Tories.

It also risks reigniting speculation that in the event of a hung parliament Mr Clegg would be more sympathetic to a pact with the Conservatives.

The prospect of seeing financial help and campaigning muscle diverted from the region – once seen as the home turf for the Lib-Dems under Paddy Ashdown's leadership – provoked fears that Mr Clegg had given up trying to beat the Tories.

Senior Westcountry Lib-Dems in the privately fear they are “facing wipe-out”.
“We are going to be squeezed out again and again,” said one.

“I just think people from North Cornwall to Plymouth will be thinking 'what are we playing at?'”

In short, it appears the Lib Dems are planning to be junior partners to the Cons after the next General Election. However, there is plenty of time to go until the big day yet…

Well, if we are not getting a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish appear to be having one again, after failing to give the EU the right answer the first time around. Frankly, I think the whole thing stinks- if Ireland had voted “Yes”, an EU-wide putsch would have taken place without any more ado. No wonder less and less people vote any more…

What riles me almost as much is the way that the US Presidential Elections are covered here, compared to the near silence about the lack of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. If I hear one more pundit saying “why we don’t have primaries like the Americans? Isn’t it great how they care about their democratic process?” I will scream! I don’t want to get all Euro-centric about this, but more people this side of the pond vote than they do in our ex-colony. (bit below the belt there, but…) To quote Andrew Stephen, in an excellent piece on NuLab’s infatuation with the USA:

“voter turnout is much higher in Europe than here; in Britain it averaged 76 per cent between 1960 and 1995. In the 2004 US presidential elections voter turnout was 59 per cent, and plunged to 29.7 per cent in the 2006 midterms; maybe as many as a third of all Americans do not even bother to register to vote at all.”

As for Obama, he’s another “Heir of Blair”…

Finally, I’m glad tensions have gone down a little over Iran. However, I fear there are enough war-mongers in Iran, Israel and the US who want a war, and will try by all means possible to start one. Perhaps they should settle it by a Bush v Ahmadinejad drinking contest…


JO said...

If Brown is ousted after the party conference next month his successor will almost certainly have to hold a general election. If that election is held BEFORE the Irish ratify, and the Tories win, then Cameron is obliged to give the people a referendum on Lisbon.. he's stated as much. One reason why he isn't in any hurry to see Brown go?

Charlie Marks said...

Cameron can easily claim its' not possible to reverse the decision. His real fear is the economy. The typical response in the bust years is to cut spending and hold down wages. Cameron's nice-guy persona would have to be dropped, and all those hours spent practicing earnest expressions will have been in vain...