The Futility Monster

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

Labour’s Opportunity

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 17, 2010 @ 10:38

Maybe the real wave of change hasn't hit us yet...

What is so fascinating about the current “new politics” of coalition government is the fact that, for the first time in decades, there is truly only one opposition party.

For the next five years – if that is to be the way things proceed – the Lib/Con coalition will be tarred with the same brush. I was hoping to avoid the marriage metaphor, because it’s so horribly clichéd, but this fact is simple: nothing expresses the way the two party’s fortunes will play out than the following phrase.

For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer.

If the Lib/Con coalition works, and there are a couple of turbulent years followed by definite steps towards a transformed economy and budget outlook, both parties will get their reward.

But if they don’t, and Labour pick the right leader, the possibilities are almost limitless.

Imagine, if in a year’s time, the Coalition’s emergency budget, combined with continuing European turmoil, causes unemployment to skyrocket. 3.5m? 4m? VAT has been increased to 20%, and there is talk of another round of serious public spending cuts to stop the rot.

Meanwhile, Labour are leading the charge, unhindered by a second opposition party, solely the ones able to reflect a growing anger within the British public that the coalition is not delivering. Ed Miliband, accompanied at every turn by Jon Cruddas, leading an ever more populist campaign against the ConDem cuts that have, once again, led to a mantra that unemployment is a price worth paying for keeping inflation down.

In those circumstances, the public would quickly tire of exhortations from Gideon Osborne that we need to sacrifice more to put the Great back into Britain. Tolerance of him is already wafer-thin; for now he will get a fair crack of the whip, but if his initial efforts don’t succeed, Labour will be able to say that the same old Tories just don’t care what their pathological and ideological love for shrinking the public sector does to the people of this country.

And worse, the Lib Dems will have guilt by association. They cannot just step out of this arrangement when it suits them. That would be so Lib Demmy, after all. Indeed, with David Laws in the Treasury, who is somewhat hawkish about the economy anyway, there will be no place to hide.

As a Lib Dem member, I recognise that this coalition was probably our only option when it became clear that Labour were ready to go into opposition. But I am truly fearful for the future of our party. There will be a generation of Labour voters that we will never rescue. Labour sympathisers in Generation X, who lived through the worst of Thatcherism, will never vote for us again. That is already a win for Labour.

But they will also be able to cash in on every generation after that and beyond if this Lib/Con thing doesn’t work out.

Maybe that progressive realignment of the centre-left so dreamed about for decades by the Liberal Democrats is going to happen after all.

Without them.

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2 Responses to “Labour’s Opportunity”

  1. paul barker said

    Can I refer you to the excellent article on long-term changes to vote shares ? Labour is fishing in an ever-shrinking pool. Now 2010 must have been fairly close to the bottom for Labour so they could well get another 2 or 3% in 2015 but they are far more likely to take those votes from the Tories than us.
    The last time Labour lost power they also lost half their members in the 1st year, that was before the split. Lets just wait & see.

  2. […] Labour’s Opportunity […]

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