The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Labour: Looking To The Future

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 20, 2010 @ 10:23

It just doesn't work, does it...

The one thing that caught my eye this morning was a story in The Telegraph regarding how Labour intends to campaign for the next election. It is clearly written in a very scathing tone:

At a pre-election rally in the West Midlands, Mr Brown will warn his party to frame the election not as a chance to pass judgement on the Labour Government.

Most readers would think that that was some kind of crime, as if all elections are always a judgement on past performance.

I’m not so sure they are.

Elections are very rarely about the past. What’s done is done. They are more often a chance for the electorate to proclaim what they want to see different in the years to come. Even more than that, they are a verdict on the present state of the parties and their leaders: which one would be appropriate right now.

In 1983, the choice was a stark difference between Thatcher, emboldened by her Falklands adventure, and Foot, looking like he wanted to send Britain back to a renewed age of 40s and 50s state control. The dark, satanic mills of England’s past.

In 1992, the country thought they’d give the more calm, sober John Major another turn at the wheel, though they didn’t want him to get too carried away with his mandate, hence a small majority.

1997 – little needs to be said. 2001 was a case of Britain saying, “Let’s have more!” to dear Tony. 2005: we still like you Tony, but not a lot, and so we’ll clip your wings a little.

2010: the message will ring out clear: time for change. Again. We’ve heard that message before, of course, but it resonates with electorates throughout the centuries.

Labour would have to be utter fools to not appreciate the mood of the electorate. Rash, feeling angry, wanting to see a completely different style of government in the years ahead. They are verdicts on the past to some degree, but they are still more about wanting something different in future.

As such, Labour should not campaign on their record. Their finest achievements, e.g. the minimum wage, are so long ago now that to talk about them would be in danger of saying “Well, the best we did was in the previous millennium”. Very risky.

Their focus must be full-square on telling the country what life will be like under a fourth Labour term. How they will keep reforming Britain. How they will change the way we are governed. How they will protect our public services from harm in the worrying years of austerity ahead. How they will get the country growing again.

Dangerous, yes. It may mean they are admitting to mistakes. But maybe the voters will appreciate a little honesty in the face of a slippery David Cameron, promising all things to all people.

Renewed Labour, here we come…

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