The Futility Monster

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

Posts Tagged ‘Labour Party’

Where Did All The Left Wing Go?

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 5, 2010 @ 09:16

As of this morning, this is the state of the Labour leadership nomination race. It’s hard to be certain exactly what’s going on, but let’s speculate anyway…

Was it a mistake for both John McDonnell and Diane Abbott to stand? Probably. They are fishing in the same extremely small pool of Labour left-wingers, and by getting in each other’s way, they have probably made it impossible for either of them to get on the ballot.

That is a shame, I think, but not much of a surprise.

Labour has been undergoing a dramatic internal transformation ever since the rise of Tony Blair. There can be no doubting that he pulled the rug out from under the left of the party, and since that point, election by election, the old guard have been retiring and not been replenished. Reliably left-wing cities like Liverpool that used to produce firebrand socialist MPs are now seen as the perfect place to launch the careers of people like Luciana Berger or relaunch defeated candidates like Stephen Twigg.

What has happened to the Labour Party at the grassroots level?

It’s probably related to the demise of the real working-class, blue-collar jobs that used to be a reliable path from workplace activism, into unionism, into socialist politics. Now everyone works in cushy white-collar office jobs, and don’t feel the same fraternal affinity for their fellow workers. This has cut off Labour’s blood supply. Local candidates in these seats, from the traditions of the Labour Party, are now almost non-existent.

Meanwhile, there is a different process going on in the intellectual breeding ground of the Labour Party: the universities. Once militant, hostile to 80s Thatcherism, they now swim along in a sea of debt and self-absorption. Perhaps it’s the commercial age where nothing but ourselves is important. Or maybe students just spend too much time drinking these days. I don’t know.

Whatever the reason, based on my experience, I’m pretty sure that the Labour tradition in the universities is no longer socialist either. University Labour people are reliably centrist, sensibly mainstream, and very much in tune with what the New Labour project was all about: cosmopolitan, metropolitan, and lots of other -itans that mean nothing much at all. They will all be backing the Milibands. Ed Balls, not really. Andy Burnham, possibly, if anyone knows why he’s running.

But definitely not Diane or John. That’s the past, and the New-New Labour members are just not interested in that any more. Even more so now they can get their teeth into opposition.

So fare-thee-well, the Labour Party. Thatcher did indeed destroy it after all. That’s one hell of a legacy.

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PMQs: To Attend Or Not To Attend?

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 3, 2010 @ 10:07

Clegg did sit on Cameron's right, honest! This is just an older picture...

Yesterday’s first Coalition PMQs provided much grist to the sketchwriters’ mills. And it also illustrated just how Labour intends to proceed taking on the cosy coalition.

After yesterday, the big dilemma for Nick Clegg will be to decide whether he should attend or not. Yes, it’s a coalition, and it would look mighty suspicious if Clegg was never supporting the Prime Minister, but it would also look mighty suspicious if he never left Cameron’s side.

The problem is this: the Labour Party’s leader is going to bring up, during one of their questions each week, a topic that potentially splits the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. If Nick Clegg is there all the time, the goal will be to make him look stupid.

Hattie tried that yesterday, with her discussion on the comedy married couple’s tax allowance. Nick Clegg sat through it with the same expression on his face. No nods. No shakes. No smiles. No smirks. Nothing. Just that neutral expression he has got down to a T.

Yesterday, he managed to avoid giving the game away and revealing his disagreement with David Cameron. Or, at least, I hope it’s still a disagreement.

But we’re only human.

At some point the body language will slip. The pundits will analyse these exchanges to death – even more than usual – looking for the merest curled lip or furrowed brow to indicate Clegg is feeling a little uncomfortable. That’s not going to be healthy for the coalition.

And it’s only going to get worse. Right now there is a comprehensive agreement outlining where the parties agree to disagree. All current issues are covered, and so they can be deflected by saying that Harriet is just trying to play the “old politics” of division.

But as time goes by, new issues will emerge, and Cameron and Clegg will not agree on everything. At least, I hope they won’t. Then Harriet, or whoever the new Labour leader is, will come forward with quotes from rebellious “senior Lib Dem sources” and make Clegg and Cameron squirm.

Clegg would be wise not to make sitting at Cameron’s right hand a regular fixture. Appearing too close to Cameron compromises the Lib Dems independence. But being too distant would undermine the tentative working relationship they have.

The sensible thing would be for Clegg to sit at Cameron’s side no more than 50% of the time, and possibly as low as 25%. It is just too easy for Labour, otherwise.

Politics in the media age, eh…

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Did Brown Do Enough?

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 30, 2009 @ 06:32

The man even told a few good jokes. Well, good in a political context...

The man even told a few good jokes. Well, good in a political context...

The switch in the Sun’s support to the Tories has got to be one of the most underwhelming and entirely predictable stories of the year. They have spent years now bashing the Labour Party, and all we’re seeing is a cynical, and successful, operation to divert attention from Brown.

Why would they do that? Well… there was the small matter of his speech yesterday: a thunderous hour-long affair which went down well with the conference. Then again, the previous day they had lapped up one of Mandelson’s most entertaining speeches, filled with political handbagging and extremely camp gestures. Nobody does it better!

So the fact that they liked Brown’s speech was no surprise. And, to be fair, it was a decent speech. It certainly did the job of rallying the troops, putting a little fire in their belly. That’s what Labour needed if it’s going to survive this next seven months in the run up to the election. Seven months which are bound to be the most difficult they’ve ever faced, if the polls are to be believed.

The most striking aspect of it to me, though, was the fact that Brown seems to have thrown all caution to the wind. The list of pledges was long: a new National Care Service, more free childcare, a fund for industry, more spending on benefits and international aid… as well as moves on electoral reform, the House of Lords, ID cards and the right of recall for MPs.

There was one thing missing from his speech though. A price tag. There was some vague promise about how it would all be costed, but I can’t possibly see how some of these things, particularly the pledges of personal care for those who need it most, can be met without very large sums of money.

And so, it seems, Brown has decided to gamble the election on one very last spin of the roulette wheel. There was a little talk of cuts and savings, but it’s clear Brown is going to Carry On Borrowing. The plan appears to be to offer a vision of a future, a vision that was indeed rosy and utopian, and hope enough people buy into the idea, rather than get swallowed up by the sometimes depressing rhetoric of both the Tories and the Lib Dems about the dark days of frugality ahead.

So the speech scored very highly for boldness and policy. There was a small amount of grandstanding about past success: but I think Labour have finally learned that elections are not just about the government’s record. They are essentially about the future, and Brown did a decent job of articulating his new agenda in that way he does best: a canny oratorical mix of assertion, delusion and haste.

Overall, I would say he has just about done enough. Brown will be the man fighting the next election for Labour, and Labour will go down to defeat.

But, perhaps, after this week, it won’t be quite so historic…

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Purnell: “Send In The Goats” (apparently)

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 24, 2009 @ 06:34

What does he look so happy about? He's jobless isn't he? Oh no, hang on, he was magically given the job as director of "Open Left". The result of a free and fair selection process, I'm sure.

What does he look so happy about? He's jobless isn't he? Oh no, hang on, he was magically given the job as director of "Open Left". The result of a free and fair selection process, I'm sure.

… says James Purnell:

British politics is better for the appointment of Mervyn Davies, Stephen Carter, Mark Malloch Brown and indeed Baron Mandelson. We should make such appointees accountable to the Commons so that this becomes an accepted way of attracting people with recent real life experience of politics.

One might think this is James Purnell coming out in favour of more appointments to the House of Lords who then become ministers, which is an entirely undemocratic process for our political system, especially when those same ministers later resign/retire and then become a burden on the House of Lords for the rest of their days thanks to cronyism. But wait…

peers should be elected and given the task of amending legislation

Well… it seems the Guardian headline doesn’t quite match the story. As usual, suckered in by the media.

Instead, what Purnell’s article in Progress Magazine is actually about is the question of democratic renewal and the best ways to achieve it. Number one on his list is my old friend, the open primary. He reckons that this is the way in which we will usher in a broader range of people from different backgrounds into politics. He moans about it being:

almost impossible to get selected as a candidate of one of the main parties unless you’re a political lifer. As an ex-special adviser and councillor, I’m not against people who’ve worked in politics becoming MPs, but we should be a smaller share of the total.

… which is an easy thing to say but rather difficult to achieve in practice. I’m not so sure the trend towards “professional” politicians is that bad; as long as our MPs are extremely empathetic individuals with a great deal of emotional intelligence, they will be good at seeing the world from the perspective of others no matter where they come from. That’s not to say I want a Parliament of career politicians, but they do have their role to play.

So what is Purnell’s real point? Coming out in support of an elected House of Lords is always welcome, but Labour won’t be delivering it any time soon. Neither will they be ushering in an era of open primaries, or party funding reform (Purnell suggests parties should be state funded), and suggesting the era of collective responsibility for Cabinet is dead and may it rest in peace.

All very nice. But Labour have had 12 years to do all this and spectacularly failed. The obvious conclusion is that there is clearly no appetite for his ideas in the party.

In other words the only way any of this is going to happen is if: a) Cameron does it; or b) Purnell becomes the leader.

So is that the real point? Is this merely a little piece of fluff to rebuild his reputation with the dying breed of radical reformers on the centre-left? A long term plan to not be the next leader, but the one after that?

Or should he just defect to the Lib Dems now, where it sounds to me like he’ll be more at home?

Well, we are supposed to be the party of all the talents. POATTs doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, though.

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What Is Jon Cruddas Up To?

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 9, 2009 @ 06:33

I'm sure I've seen Alan Sugar in a similar publicity photo for The Apprentice. Maybe they photoshopped Cruddas' face onto it...

I'm sure I've seen Alan Sugar in a similar publicity photo for The Apprentice. Maybe they photoshopped Cruddas' face onto it...

I don’t know about you, but for a Labour MP, Jon Cruddas seems to enjoy taking every opportunity possible to knock his party.

Last night he did it again, telling the Compass think tank that Labour had, “no compelling case for re-election”.

Having said that, the man does have excellent judgement. He refused a job in Gordon Brown’s cabinet in June 2007, which with hindsight seems a superb decision, but at the time must have been very difficult for him. After all, he’d never been anywhere near government; most MPs would never dream of turning down a chance to get their hands on the tiller.

But Cruddas did. Surely, even then, he was not doing what most people assume he is doing, and thinking that Gordon Brown would be a total disaster, a government job from him would be a poisoned chalice, and that guilt by association would be terribly damaging to any future leadership bid?

As it happens, time has proved him right. And now, with at most nine months to go until a General Election, if he really does want the Labour leadership, the time for him to lay out his stall is fast approaching. What would a Labour party under Jon Cruddas be doing different right now? What would its policies be?

Cruddas has actually been something of an enigma. He has gained his reputation as a tough talker on the BNP; he was one of the few Labour MPs to advocate that they must be tackled head on. Otherwise, what he truly stands in terms of actual policy is a little more hazy, apart from opposition to Trident and Royal Mail privatisation. But, as we know from history, having only a couple of policies doesn’t matter. After all, Cameron only had one!

Cruddas’ new-found prominence was built upon his excellent campaign for the Labour deputy leadership, which showed him as erudite and a decent public speaker, and the outcome was he came from nowhere to finish third against some of the biggest names in the Labour Party.

Since then, he has spent his political capital wisely – popping up at regular intervals to give a poke in the ribs to the party establishment. Just a little “friendly”  reminder that he is still there. Still waiting. Still scheming. Even when he is ostensibly “backing” his leadership – it’s always done in a way which still berates his own party and appeals to the base.

If Cruddas doesn’t make a leadership bid when Brown is soon toppled I’ll eat my hat. It all just adds up too conveniently now. Even if his decision to avoid high office in June 2007 was a pure fluke, his actions since then have been always indicative of someone waiting in the wings for the right moment.

He is playing a dangerous game by knocking his own party with such force, such regularity, but every swipe keeps him in the media agenda, keeps the attention of the party hierarchy, and no doubt appeals to what remains of the tired, beleaguered grassroots of Labour.

It is no co-incidence that the Labour Party conference is on the way. Maybe we could be seeing a move against Brown sooner than we think…

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Labour Builds A Strawman

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 4, 2009 @ 06:30

I was toying with a picture of Worzel Gummidge, but I wasn't sure if people would remember him. In any case, he used to scare the hell out of me.

I was toying with a picture of Worzel Gummidge, but I wasn't sure if people would remember him. In any case, he used to scare the hell out of me.

When I first read about the “plan” to slash health spending on frontline staff yesterday I didn’t really think all that much about it. It was just another contribution to the debate.

But with hindsight, I was wrong.

It’s all so convenient. Government department asks management consultants (evil, evil people!) to come up with ways of saving money. Management consultants (who are evil, by the way) co-incidentally suggest cutting 10% (heard that number before?) off the budget. But not just any old cut – a cut directly on the frontline staff. Labour government rejects the plan. Then they take the credit for rejecting something that only really existed in the mind of a PR man/woman.

Now, excuse my cynicism, but it all just fits together too nicely. Labour gets a chance to rail against management consultants, whom no one has a favourable opinion of, and also gets the very fortunate opportunity to talk about their real plans to defend the health service from cuts as a result. Oh, and by the way, they also get to talk about the 10% cuts figure again… subconsciously planting the idea, once more, that the Tory plan is going to be bad. Even better, it now associates the Tory plan with management consultants.

If that all seems a bit too stretched, too much to believe, then I think you may be a touch naive. Politicians in this day and age plan media attacks to the letter, co-ordinating them with any compliant media they can get their hands on. Obfuscating the neutrality of the attack by using think tanks, pressure groups and so-called “independent” reports from experts or inquiries is also an essential part of the strategy.

In this case, it was a clever leak to the Health Service Journal. Note that the BBC article implies that the government also invited other management consultants to suggest ideas for savings. How come they haven’t been leaked too? Why cherrypick the 10% one for the spin exercise? Well, it’s obvious now isn’t it.

What this story does suggest though is that Labour still haven’t got it. Contrary to recent expectations that we are over the worst of it, the British economy is still in crisis. The government is going to have to borrow more than it predicted, saddling us with even greater debt, a burden to be passed on to future generations – all at a bad time when the costs of the public sector, and the pension and benefits systems, are just overwhelming.

But even if we accept this story at face value, the conclusion is that Labour is indeed planning for significant cuts in services. That’s somewhat contrary to their public image of Labour investment vs Tory cuts.

Either way: Labour’s demise continues.

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Boring Norwich North

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 27, 2009 @ 00:33

The depressing image of the future of British Politics. Young. Fashionable. Smooth. Give me old warhorses like Dennis Skinner and Sir Peter Tapsell any day!

The depressing image of the future of British Politics. Young. Fashionable. Smooth. Give me old warhorses like Dennis Skinner and Sir Peter Tapsell any day!

It has taken me some days to find anything interesting to comment on from the Norwich North by-election. But that won’t stop me trying…

The reason being quite simple: it was blindingly obvious that the Tories were going to win. So my right call – and they don’t come along too often so you’ll excuse my celebration – a whole month ago was entirely vindicated.

In many respects, these are the worst by-elections of all. They aren’t exciting or relevant because the result is a certainty – and yet they should be the complete opposite given the fact that the governing party have just lost a key seat on a huge swing. If a by-election were held in a government stronghold, which they win as easily as falling off a log, that would be equally dull. But at least then we’d understand why it got so little attention.

Instead, this one is frustrating. Indeed, in the run up to it there was so little coverage that we might have been forgiven for thinking there was no more need for politics in this country.

It was a simple result with a simple explanation. Tory voters came out to vote; Labour voters all found something else to do in droves.

Now, this has led to much comment. After all, the newly minted Tory MP received less votes as an absolute figure compared with the 2005 General Election. Consequently, elections “expert” Professor John Curtice assures us that the result should give David Cameron “a moment’s pause”.

Here’s my reasoning why it shouldn’t do anything of the sort.

Elections are about winning by any means possible. If you lose votes, but your opposition loses even more, and you come out on top, then you have done what needs to be done.

The argument goes that these Labour voters will return when the General Election comes around. It’s always been the same. For some reason, it is damn near impossible to get Labour voters out of bed when the government of the country is not at stake. We see it every time, local, European and by-elections; they’re just lazy bastards.

If the argument is true, then Labour should reclaim Norwich North at the next General Election. After all, they got 21,097 votes last time, 7,506 more than Chloe Smith received and won.

But I don’t think it is true any more. Some Labour voters will indeed return. The rest are, I believe, lost for good. The middle classes have already moved to the Tories. The working classes will never vote Tory: but they will sit on their hands or vote elsewhere (BNP?) as a protest. They have had it with Labour. They’ve always been prepared to overlook the middle-of-the-road tendencies required to win power, viewing it as a necessary evil to schmooze with the City and big business.

But the recession, the credit crunch, and the MPs expenses scandal have changed all of that. They no longer identify with the Labour Party in the way they did. They have – finally – woken up and realised that, in those immortal words, “they’re all at it”.

In other words, their behaviour has no excuse, and they’ve been caught with their hands on the till – and all these events taken together have been the straw that’s broken the camel’s back.

The absence of Labour voters almost gives Cameron a majority without him even doing anything. When you add in the middle class switchers, the next election is such a shoo-in that we might as well forgo the election process and hand Cameron the keys to Number 10 now.

Norwich North wasn’t particularly groundbreaking. But, in the same way Wirral South was for Tony Blair in February 1997, it was just another sign that the inevitable was drawing ever nearer…

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Government by Press Release

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 14, 2009 @ 02:15

What is churned out on our behalf every time those useless MPs get together. Boring stuff.

What is churned out on our behalf every time those useless MPs get together. Boring stuff.

If there’s anything around these days that indicates just what a fickle beast government is in the modern media era it is an article I read in the Observer on Sunday which stated that Gordon Brown has demanded ministers take only a short, low-key holiday this summer, and keep their respective departments ticking over with at least two announcements per week.

In times gone by it was considered that the summer recess was a time for MPs to go back to their constituencies and prepare for goofing around in their offices all summer long. It is well known amongst MPs’ staff in Westminster that the recesses provide them with a chance to live without their useless bosses hanging around all the time, and instead the constituency staff have to take their turn to suffer on a daily basis…

But now… it seems that there truly is no rest for the wicked. The government has targets for everything, so it should surprise no one that it also has one to keep the media entertained throughout those long, dark days when the country is left in the grip of despair at the lack of legislative activity.

Yeah, right. Personally, I breathe a sigh of relief when Parliament goes on its long vacation. Indeed, it might as well not even bother to come back right now. Not when it has rubber-stamped more new offences than the number of days it has sat for since Labour came to power.

But perhaps this is all part of Gordon Brown’s strategy. Since at least some of the media will be away, the ones that remain, perhaps the office juniors or even the interns, will be desperate for copy. And why not regurgitate one of Peter Mandelson’s press releases about his latest plan to save the economy? Or Alan Johnson’s latest musing about what he thinks identity cards are for? Anything for an easy life.

And as there’s no Parliament to question what the government gets up to, the Conservatives will have to run their press office at full pelt to keep up with the pace. They don’t have the luxury of the Civil Service cranking out new policy papers and other rubbish on a daily basis.

The net result may be a lot more coverage of politics, and specifically of the Labour Party, during the holiday season than we might normally expect.

But let’s face it: the whole thing is a desperate reflection on the state our politics is in. Legislative hyperactivity is the order of the day; merely using the public law of the land as a press release to “send a message” that the government is serious about tackling X. Never mind the quality, feel the width. It doesn’t matter what the principles are in government these days – as long as you look like you’re busy doing something – anything – no one will bat an eyelid.

And ain’t that the truth in real life too. How many people do you know who can’t actually do their job, but manage to exude an aura of self-confidence and bullshit that convinces the wider public that they do know what they’re doing?

I can certainly think of a few MPs that fit that description from the time I spent in Westminster.

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The Miliband Alternative?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 4, 2009 @ 20:12

It's easy to make people look stupid in photos

It's easy to make people look stupid in photos

A rather curious phrase usually appears in every article containing the words “David Miliband” in any political discourse.

However, it is my humble suggestion that the words “future Labour leader” should never appear in the same sentence as one which also contains the word “Milband”. (Yes, we’ll exclude poor Ed too)

I have been keeping an eye on him for a few years now. It’s hard to know the exact point at which David Miliband became the apparent heir apparent. When Tony Blair was having his local difficulties, eventually having his hand forced by a putsch in September 2006, many seemed to suggest that Miliband was the not only the right man, but the best man, to challenge the Gordon Brown orthodoxy.

On what they based this assertion I know not. Miliband is bland, dull, and charisma-free. Worse than that – he has no policies. Miliband’s latest attempt to get some headlines for his fake bid for leading the party is to say Labour must reinvent itself. Yet there doesn’t appear to be anything in there to suggest what that reinvention should look like. Apart from sucking up to the very same trade unionists which could help deliver him the leadership.

More bizarre bedfellows I can’t possibly imagine. I know the name “Miliband” is steeped in Labour history, but David has never struck me as one to cozy up to Derek Simpson, et al. It has widely been assumed that David Miliband comes from the Blairite wing of the party – largely associated with delivering public services via any means necessary, including by working with the private sector.

But perhaps he is more akin to the ideology-free Blairism which basically meant Blair adopted whatever policy was necessary in order to secure his goals. The object of power is power.

Now, excuse me if I try to claim that policies matter. I know David Cameron is not exactly awash with them either, and is still likely to win the election anyway. That’s very fortunate indeed for him that he faces Gordon Brown in the next election.

But for those of us who still wish politicians would not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, it is eternally frustrating to see that, once again, the electorate, and a pliant media, seem ready to anoint people “winners” and “favourites” or “successors” without barely a casual glance of a) their credentials; and b) the alternatives.

It seems that as long as we’re unhappy with whoever is in power or the leader, then it doesn’t matter what the alternative is, as they’re Not The Person In Power. See also the rallying around Alan Johnson, when it is equally unclear what difference he would make.

To me, Miliband has never justified his status. He hasn’t covered himself in glory in his record, and has no real vision for the future.

But just as much to blame is the media, who seem to have given us yet another fine illustration of their power to make things happen which really have no business taking place.

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What Should Labour Do?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 2, 2009 @ 00:42

Don't do it, Gordon! On second thoughts...

Don't do it, Gordon! On second thoughts...

I originally titled this post “What Should Brown Do?” – but then, in light of my first piece of advice, I decided it would be a very short post…

In my previous article, I said that Labour are finished at the next election. But is there anything they can do to mitigate their failure? The answer is, of course, yes. If they want to. I’m starting to get the sense that Labour are looking forward to a historic defeat at the polls in 2010.

But if there is someone still in there, still thinking, I’m sure they could do with a bit of advice. This is what I would be recommending if I were a senior Labour strategist…

1. Brown has to go. It’s obvious to everyone that Brown cannot win an election. The polling is consistent, spreading back years, that Labour do worse with Brown in charge. Perhaps at first Brown looked like he could be a winner, but that came on the back of the celebration of seeing Blair gone, and Brown appealed to the populist instincts of the right-wing press over super casinos; and then was seen to be dealing with terrorism and domestic strife (foot and mouth) very effectively.

But now? Brown looks tired, sounds completely insincere whenever he opens his mouth, and has no credibility left on any policy. He needs to step aside immediately, for “health reasons”.

2. Labour’s anointed successor will come from the Cabinet. I understand this is because, under Labour rules, the Cabinet gets to choose from amongst its number who it would like to be leader. This leader needs to assure the country they are an interim figure – in charge merely to act as Prime Minister while the Labour Party deals with an internal leadership election.

3. The Labour election will generate a storm of publicity during the normally quieter summer months, allowing Labour to dominate the airwaves and win the media battle. Cameron will be edged out in the face of a genuine, democratic, contest between the Labour candidates.

4. In the meantime, our interim Prime Minister will acknowledge to the country that it has been too long since an election; and in light of the controversy over expenses, will admit that this Parliament and the government have lost their authority to govern. With that in mind, the interim Prime Minister will announce that all legislative activity will be suspended – and the government put into neutral – pending a General Election to be held on October 22 2009 (or thereabouts). The only legislation the interim Prime Minister may wish to pass is the proposed reforms on expenses by Sir Christopher Kelly – and then a Bill to limit all future Parliaments to no more than four years.

5. The Labour leadership election would conclude some time in early to mid August. The new Labour leader would not become Prime Minister; instead the new leader would begin the process of formulating policy and a manifesto, ready for endorsement at the party conference in September. The other parties would do likewise. In the meantime, our interim Prime Minister steadies the ship, but tries to stay out of the political fray. They have to remember that they have no genuine legitimacy to govern, having lost the confidence of the public, and worse, have never faced a General Election.

6. The party conference season would rally the troops, and then dovetail into the General Election proper. By October 22, the country would have a newly elected Parliament, and a chance to start again with fresh mandates for whatever reform the electorate choose to endorse. If any.

To me, this seems a very sensible way to get ourselves out of the hole we’re currently in. As we saw again today, the government is listless, all of a sudden deciding it is going to abandon the Royal Mail part-privatisation after all.

We can’t go on like this, lurching from crisis to crisis, week by week. This time is simply dead time, all going to waste, all simply filling the gap until the next election, when it could be being used by a fresh, newly mandated government to pursue its agenda.

Now, I don’t actually think this will save Labour from defeat. But I think it could be good enough to reduce the Conservative majority to below 30, possibly even single figures. And if things go really well, it could force a hung Parliament.

Now that really would be exciting!

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