Labour’s Groundhog Year

January 4, 2012 1:00 pm

The New Year. Our thoughts and hopes for the future. A difficult year behind. Another one ahead.

Sound at all familiar?

In the film 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a character who realises that he is getting up to the same song playing on his clock-radio, I Got You Babe, every day and that all the same things are happening in the same order. After a while, he realises that he is stuck in a nightmare where the same day repeats forever: he must change and reinvent himself in order to break out.

Anthony Painter’s LabourList piece summarised rather well how the year has not been a good one. But there’s something more: already we seem to be in danger of restarting our own Groundhog Year, destined to go through the same in 2012.

First, the New Year’s message from Ed Miliband: as Peter Hoskin notes in the Spectator, it’s remarkably similar to last year’s. Yes, there is an important nod towards fiscal conservatism (perhaps the work of my good comrades Painter, Lent, Cooke and Sen in Into The Black Labour did not go unnoticed, after all), but essentially the same points are made. Brave troops inAfghanistan, check. Politicians alienated from the public, check. Optimism, check.

Not that repetition in itself is bad: sometimes you have to bore people to death with your message before they get it, as Peter Mandelson famously observed. But what if the message is simply failing to resonate?

Polly Toynbee disagrees: however her message, as Hopi Sen observed, is also essentially the same as last year’s. We need only hang on in there saying the same thing, and the voters will come round.

Troop-rallying pieces there have been several more, and welcome, up to a point. God knows, Labour’s troops are in need of some morale-boosting. But there is a distinct feeling that we have not moved forward. As a reaction, some have looked to deflect, rebut and generally silence internal criticism. But, as I said at Labour Uncut yesterday, trying to silence criticism is not the answer. It is essentially a position of weakness, not of strength. Besides, the obvious fact is this: it won’t work. The world has changed since 2000, and we can no longer control every blog-post that goes out by an informal system of peer pressure.

There is one very significant difference this year, of course – the polls.  We started 2011 in the lead, but no longer. We are either level, or behind. And our economic polling has been consistently awful all year. Why has this happened, because the coalition has had a brilliant year? No. The coalition has had a terrible year, by any standards. We are still in a sprawling economic crisis with the economy flat-lining and a string of wing-it decisions and policy reversals. We have nowhere to look but inside ourselves, with a little honesty and humility.

This is not a counsel of despair. There is hope and there is time to change. This is a counsel of wake up, people. I Got You Babe is playing, again.

The public may just have generously afforded us a “gap year” during 2011, although this is by no means certain. But they will not give us another.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Barker/1546990341 Paul Barker

    I will continue the Groundhog theme with my usual rant about The Elephants in The Labour room, falling membership, which you share with your English rivals & massive Debts, the result of your “spend & borrow” approach to money.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Think Labour has a number of problems, but falling membership is certainly not the most important of all of them. Particularly since it’s been rising since last year’s election.

  • Anonymous


    And our economic polling has been consistently awful all year. Why has this happened, because the coalition has had a brilliant year? No. The coalition has had a terrible year, by any standards. We are still in a sprawling economic crisis with the economy flat-lining and a string of wing-it decisions and policy reversals. We have nowhere to look but inside ourselves, with a little honesty and humility.

    The answer is simple. Ed Balls..

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Nah.

  • Anonymous

    I’d just like to say Rob, I agree constructive criticism/balanced debate healthy,
    and I usually enjoy your articles also.

    If I could just express some of my observations in general over the last 18 months or so:

    What I have a problem with is the apparent endless sniping and overtly negative,
    sometimes aggressive commentary expressed by some of the right wing allies
    and factionalist mentality via articles in the mainstream media.
    I don’t want to name names, but I’ve read a lot since Ed winning the leadership;
    some of these people are established journalists.
    (I’m not referring to any of the above.)

    It always seems to come from one direction, and I don’t think it is condusive
    to open debate or a fair analysis, seeing all sides of the arguments.
    In other words- it’s heavily biased, appears to have a constant subtext,
    and “agenda” being pushed- as if this is the only “progressive” option.

    Do these people have any inkling about ordinary members’ views or thinking,
    or do they just talk amongst themselves or in think tanks?

    For me, reforming politics is about reaching out more widely,
    actually talking with and respecting views from ordinary members and the public,
    not merely making assumptions or talking in the abstract.
    Also, seeking out ideas, encouraging open debate; not a top down
    formulation or lumping people together.
    I think this applies to all top heavy organizations or parties;
    it is arrogant.

    I agree that far more progress needs to be made, but a few positive aspects
    include the substance of conference speech, and perhaps the aims of
    Refounding Labour; although for some reason this seems to have stalled?

    I actually don’t understand why there seems to be such an impasse;
    but I get the impression that might be partially due to “factions” pulling
    in different directions, trying to maintain a power base, which is
    perhaps a kind of fringe interest compared to the big tasks ahead
    and basic priorities which have to be addressed.

    I speak as someone not at all au fait with internal politics,
    but have experience working in a large organization
    over many years, and much face to face contact with the public/
    addressing social issues.

    I too feel generally disappointed at present, but I’d like to see
    a very different approach and direction from how things panned out
    under New Labour, especially in the latter years.
    I think times have moved on from old or New Lab;
    we still need those traditional values and principles,
    but applied fundamentally differently- and seeking
    a far more pluralist and wider consensus/movement perhaps. 

    Just ideas and impressions- thanks Rob.

    Good luck in 2012 also.

    Jo.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      Yes, I think I’d agree that Refounding Labour has not achieved what it needed to. Not sure “factions pulling in different directions” is the reason behind what you call the “impasse”, from what I understand there is no attempt being made to balance different sections of opinion within the party (and in my view, rightly so).

      My only other thought is that when you mention ordinary members, I’d like to see much more taking account of opinions of the public at large, rather than just our members. If we only have policies which appeal to other members, we’ll be in opposition for 100 years, not 18, this time!

      • Anonymous

        Rob, when I refer to members, it also implies the wider supporters and public;
        ie reaching out rather than being too inward looking, or top down as a power base.

        I think it’s the wider issues at stake which need a more pluralist approach, not a further lurch to the right for example, or complying with current economic strategy.I’d like to believe it’s possible for the development of a centre left movement, taking in wider views and groups where there are shared values and principles.

        When I think of members and the wider public in current context, I think of the kind of people who attended that demo back in March; it looked more like the
        big society than a union rally! It was a combination of “middle England” and ordinary workers, health professionals, teachers, academics, small business owners,
        off duty police and low paid ancillary workers for example.

        The big issues as I see it are about multiple ways to “grow” the economy;
        creation of jobs, protection of vital frontline services, education, health, social care,
        culture, and ensuring justice and fairness in society.Also, community and well being.

        I think there must be myriad ways to approach this; I don’t believe only a few options available, or that we must be pressured to take one path over another.

        I think we have more or less had a rather restrictive agenda over the past 30 years; also that the media does at times appear to dictate over any sense of a public voice or democratic discussion.

        So for example, I’d be in favour of opening out wider debate, flattening hierarchies in areas like big business, top down led institutions, and creating conditions for community led initiatives- eg in improving town centres, or diversifying in business; more “green” projects. 

        This is just a small suggestion, but I’d like to see far more diversity of ideas being aired from a wider group, or wider networks; perhaps it could be called
        “people powered.”

        How this is managed would be crucial; but the key concept is- participation
        at grassroots level, but also a creative hub that is shared by everyone,
        regardless of role or position.It is about ideas, and sharing of experience;
        it can create energy and formulate into more tangible policies and actions?

        I don’t want to see more of the same, or ordinary members and the public feeling sidelined from debates to shape a bigger movement either, if that is at all possible.

        Above all I think politics should be inspiring and relevant- but we can all be involved; ideas are not the preserve of one group over another; also I think it’s time for more radical action in the current context.

        Hope this explains a bit more clearly what I have in mind Rob.

        I suppose there’s a tendancy for any of us to label one perceived type or group within party politics, but the truth is probably more nuanced and mixed.

        Jo

        • Anonymous

          “I suppose there’s a tendancy for any of us to label one perceived type or group within party politics, (eg “Blairite” or “unionist”;) but the reality is probably more nuanced and mixed”
           
          Joanne, with the greatest respect, there is a world of differnce between, say Liam Byrne’s attitude and that of, say, Denis Skinner. They tolerate each other (probably) but broad church or no, their outlooks and philosophies are entirely different.
           
          The fact that “Labour” people like Frank Field, John Hutton  and Kate Hoey can work so comfortably with the Tory led coalition government (Field and Hutton) and Boris Johnson’s London Administration (Hoey) really proves they are right-wingers, whoi, like so many current and only just ex (Purnell) “Labour” MPs are quite symp;athetic to Tory thought and policy.

          • Anonymous

            Hi Alan, I acknowledge your view on this, and you may have been involved longer than I over time?

            You’ll have to forgive me when I say I’m not that interested in any kind of speculation about individual personalities, although I appreciate there are strong views expressed by some in particular areas, like welfare reform.

            My earlier comment was just an observation about how easy it is to get into polarized positions and perhaps carriacture groups of people or individuals, when the reality is probably more mixed?

            I was including myself in that; for example, I get immensely irritated by what appears to me almost a conspiracy from one group of the party and their allies in the media creating overtly negative waves and undermining any chance of future progress that embraces public participation and an outward looking view.

            I do not include Rob in that, as he has the decency to engage with people here and makes sincere attempts to explain, even if there is disagreement. Likewise, other writers on LL.

            But I guess many of us feel fairly passionate about our views,
            and there is bound to be lively debate and discussion; hopefully with some kind of humour and basic respect for other people’s positions and where they are coming from.

            My tolerance is fairly low though for the stream of commentary
            being presented as “news”or factual when it appears to be a very specific agenda, and narrow part of the party which may be out of touch with public feeling or possibly at grassroots’ of the party.
            I’d guess it’s very mixed- but I would like to see and hear balance of views, and fair play.

            I particularly respect the type of MP’s who have the capability to work across party in all directions, for the sake of national interest ;
            also a more pluralist approach rather than a narrow path.
            Yes, our core values are vital- eg identity of party; but there can also be a wider consensus- eg centre left, in different forms.
            I’m also very pro union involvement, but not in any hierarchical sense.

            Basically I think of myself as a combination of pragmatist and idealist Alan; but I’m also very against any kind of hierachical workings or process.I want to see politics being opened up and outwards.

            Thanks- and hope all well with you.

            Jo 

          • Anonymous

            Well, Jo I can only say to you that Field seems more at home rubbing shoulders with Duncan-Smith than he ever did when he was just sitting on the Labour benches. I lost count of the number of times Field would go on The World At One, for example, to slag off Labour colleagues. He never has much negative to say about the coalition, though.

            I strongly suspect that Field (and others) put the red rossette on because they have or intend, to, become a Labour MP in a strong Labour area. I rather suspect that if the Tories could offer him Dorking he might jump ship. And good riddance to him. As for Kate Hoey, Vauxhall is a working class area in South London. I am sure her constituents support  her pro-hunting stance, and no doubt shout Tally Ho when she’s off to a meeting of the Countryside Alliance. Offer her Norfolk and she might defect to the Tories too. And again – good riddance to her.

  • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

    So basically it’s moved to the right and you’re happy about that, but because the Tories have solved nothing and the issues are the same you’re unhappy?

    Is IS a council of despair. You’re asking for MORE moves to the right, to shed MORE of the labour base in favour of MORE fighting for a fringe of a party in power, who WILL hold those voters even if they’re having a disaster because they /are/ in power.

    Why not argue for merging the parties? There’s basically no difference, and the left will stay at home as the Union dissolves and the country plunges into darkness.

    • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

      I’m afraid you are missing the rather important point that you don’t have to ditch your core vote to reach out to the centre. It’s the usual false choice given by those who want to stay within the comfort-zone range of views of party members only (i.e. ignoring the public).

      Being in power does not give you a necessary advantage over swing votes, by the way. Where did you get that from?

      There is always a difference between the parties – another fallacy. The worst possible Labour government is always better than the best possible Tory government. And that’s not me saying that, it was Nye Bevan.

      There’s one of us giving a counsel of despair, and it ain’t me.

      • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

        The core vote HAS been ditched. Where do you think the massive drop in support each election after New Labour’s ascension has come from?

        Fine, you’re giving a suicide note. At the point of a gun.

        And true, but the sort of right wing infiltration which has happened to Labour was also unthinkable in Bevan’s day!

        • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

          Er, I know New Labour is dead, but I assume you are talking about the same  New Labour that won three consecutive General Election victories. How does that reconcile with a massive drop in support, exactly?

          Finally, there has always been a “left” and a “right” within Labour, and there always will be, just like there is in the Tories. There is no right-wing infiltration, though, and people towards the centre of the party tend not to be mad entryists, either. Anyone who has ever worked for the party (including me) will tell you that there is a world of organisational difference between a New Labour centrist and a Militant, SWP or Trot entryist (of which there certainly have been many). So that theory’s just wrong, I’m afraid.

          • derek

            Do you really want to talk about the new labour project? that lost votes consecutively after the 1997 election? where many gave up their memberships. Maybe you’d like to “trot” out the Bryne expense scandal or the “filthy” rich attitude that applied to a few? Rob, power for power sake? what the point in different party’s then?

          • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

            Because, er, there was a massive drop in support?

            1997 – 14.3 million, 43.2%
            2001 – 10.7 million, 40.7%
            2005 – 9.5 million, 35.2%
            2010 – 8.6 million, 29%

            “There is no right-wing infiltration, though”

            What rot. There is VERY clear Tory infiltration.

          • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

            Your logic is, I’m afraid, bonkers. Rather than focusing on the rather important fact that we won three unprecedented general elections, you prefer to focus on the fact that our vote dropped between those elections, something fairly normal for a ruling party. That said, a significant amount of the fall in the vote was down to a lower turnout across the board, as reflected in the smaller drops in the % figures. It would be amazing – and unprecedented – if your vote at the end of 13 years were the same as at the beginning.

            And as for Tory infiltration, please explain where and when rather than making rather wild assertions. I can quote you chapter and verse on the hard left, as can most people who lived through the 1980s.

          • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

            I’m not totally au fait with the battle lines here but, on reading Rob’s post, I can’t really work out what he is saying/trying to say. Perhaps it’s a little too nuanced for me.
            While I’ve never voted for any party other than Labour it was the Iraq war that caused me to abstain until an acknowledgement of error was was voiced.

            Something did go seriously wrong and we’ll be living with the consequences of Blair’s ‘beliefs’ for more than a generation. Mention of three consecutive General Election victories should be tempered by the fact of grievous errors committed. What is most shameful for Labour and causes me the most embarassment as someone who voted for Blair (pre-Iraq) are those who have unnecessarily died for Blair’s vanity, namely members of Britain’s armed forces and countless civilians.

            It really does sometimes seem that, for some, power itself has become the priority, not what is done with power.

          • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

            Dave, well, to explain any nuances. What I’m trying to say is that we have been doing the same thing for a year and it’s not working. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

          • Anonymous

            Hi Rob, I’m not party to any kind of information about what’s been happening over the past year, other than what I’ve read; but there may be different factors involved?

            For example- this long wait for outcome of policy review, which as yet can’t be judged?
            Also-early stages of Ed M’s leadership; internal dynamics of party post 13 yrs of being in power;
            massive economic recession;opposition to coalition govt; Tory agenda etc. 
            I think a long list could be compiled, and I guess we all have a different “take” on events and factors.

            What I can say is that I attended the People’s Policy Forum last March in Notts, and it gave a very diffferent picture to what I keep hearing via some sections of the media.

            It was an uplifting and positive experience, shared by about 2000 people; some Labur members, others, i think- supporters and the public.
            I listened to an excellent speech by Ed M and a long Q+A afterwards, which was actually very impressive, and clearly well received by the audience.
            Also workshops on specific policy areas- excellent and well thought out.I still have some of the paperwork.
            These are examples:

            “People’s jury:Rights and wrongs-how should we balance security and liberty in the fight against crime?”(Y.Cooper +S.Khan.)

            “Opportunity for all:Building a better future for our young people;”(A.Burnham+J.Denham.)

            “Supporting families throughout life;”
            H.Harman,L.Byrne,A.Eagle.)

            “Growth and Jobs;”
            E.Balls.

            “Labour’s Policy Den:Ideas to change Britain for the better;”
            T.Jowell,L.Byrne.

            (I attended one on debate about social care with A.Harrop(Age Concern,)C.Flint,J.Bakewell and a Labour peer.An excellent discussion and lively input from the public- many who have had extensive experience.

            This was my first experience of any kind of high profile olitcal event; also many opportunities to meet face to face with MP’s and members of the shadow cabinet to discuss specific areas and share ideas.

            This all seems very different to me than how I’ve perceived “big government”under New Lab- top down and behind closed doors.
            It seems like a genuine attempt to connect with and actually listen to people up and down the country; seek out ideas etc.

            What is disappointing is the lack of feedback since then, and any sense of following through the excellent groundwork, or the enthusiasm generated.I have a sense that much is happening behind the scenes- eg as Luke A has indicated;
            but it all seems to have become an internal process
            rather than continuing with that public engagement.

            So I do hope we will actually hear something meaningful and clear soon, otherwise people might feel confused and just switch off/lose faith.

            As already said, I’m also heartily sick of all the overtly negative commentary out there in various mainstream media outlets- it is hardly balanced or fair; it is just a specific agenda which completely excludes or closes off any possibility for public participation in shaping future direction for the party, or broadening out into a wider discourse; eg on “values” in context of global economic crisis.

            It seems to me some of this is about power of platforms and process of democratic engagement/participation.
            It’s useless if politicians and the media spend all their time talking amongst themselves, and imposing these concocted agendas on the rest of us.

            I belive we should all be involved in political process, in myriad ways; for example- big public debates on specific issues, or community projects/
            Co Op type of mutual networking etc.

            I also think it’s important to actually instil some kind of hope and sense of ownership if people are to get involved; also respect for others’ experiences and what they have to offer.
            For example, I’ve read posts over time on LL from engineers, teachers, people working in research,
            health professionals, social workers,business managers,writers, journalists; others who have compelling life experiences to share which are highly relevant to these debates.

            That may reflect a microcosm of the kind of experience out there in the public domain; it seems a waste to me not to draw upon this and get people involved in shaping developments
            and innovating in their local areas; having a say about national policy etc.

            I suppose what I’d like to see is a whole new approach and radical changes to the way politics has always been done- and this is an opportunity for Labour to build something much bigger and more outward looking in my view.

            Thankyou.

            Jo

          • Anonymous

            Apologies for length of comment here, but have been attempting to explain.

            I might be completely wasting my time
            blogging in general!

            J

          • Anonymous

            Rob I get sick of saying this, but though there were three wins, we went to bed one Wednesday night in 2005 with a Labour majority of 167 seats and by Saturday morning they had a majority reduced to  66,  so they shine was already coming off the New Labour project, because many people rightly perceived Blair as more Tory than Labour.

            A reduction of 99 seats, Rob: doesn’t that suggest a drop in support?

            People like John Rentoul, wittering away in the IoS and his blog and Paul Richards wittering away on LL keep trying to buff up the image, they can’t have heard that you can’t polish a turd.

          • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

            No-one denies there was a drop in 2005. But the thing was that Labour had a massive, almost unprecedented mandate for ANY party, for eight years. However you might not like to admit it, it’s an amazing feat. Why you should focus on the fact that there was a drop in 2005 instead – when we still won handsomely anyway! – is beyond me. John Major would have killed for even that size majority.

            Just be happy we had a Labour government for 13 years, not a Tory one.

          • Anonymous

            If we had had a Labour government I would Rob, but the fact is that the warmongering Blair turned the party very much to the right, and then when Brown came along he bought back the oft-discredited Mandelson, and encouraged the likes of Purnell to keep right.

            We didn’t have a Labour government after about 1999 – and that is being generous

      • derek

        Sorry Rob, but if you stand in the middle of the road you’ll get knocked down! Blimey Blighty! are you aware of the points you try to make?

        • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

          Derek, you have to be the first person on LabourList to accuse me of being in the middle of the road – lol!

          • derek

            @Rob, your seriously kidding yourself on, if you think Bevan would endorse today’s labour party?

          • http://twitter.com/rob_marchant Rob Marchant

            Sorry, I must have missed that, Derek. Where exactly did I say that?

      • Anonymous

        “The worst possible Labour government is always better than the best possible Tory government”Nye was saying that before the Blair years.

        I hate to say this, but, one fact

        1979-1997 1 war (Falklands 1982)
        1997-2010 5 wars

        All avoidable, especiually Iraq, which only happened because Blair wanted to be George Bush’s most sycophantic friend

        Though I disliked her, at least Mrs Thatcher was prepared to stand up to Reagan and to go back in Labour’s own history we can thank Harold Wilson for having the sense to say no to Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam

      • GuyM

        I can’t think of many governments of any colour that were worse than either Labour of 74-79 or the more recent debacle under Brown. Bevan of course wasn’t around to see those two disasters.

  • Anonymous

    Could I also add Rob, I really appreciate the fact you are prepared to engage with debate here, not ignoring people or just lecturing!

    I genuinely appreciate that.

    I do think lay people to politics and with varied backgrounds should have that opportunity to have a mutual/shared discussion; we might all actually learn stuff from each other!

    Many thanks again, and good wishes.

    Jo 

  • Franwhi

    Up here in Scotland the Labour Party have been Groundhogging for years and I suspect it quite suited a few of them turning up at Holyrood, collecting their salaries as bagmen for the party while constituencies sunk deeper into poverty and despair and further away from true representation.
    Well you know what they say – every groundhog has its day !    

  • Anonymous

    The left have lost the argument..

    http://tinyurl.com/7nw3hoe 

    • Anonymous

      No they haven’t.

      Try looking at what Compass are doing for example;
      this is not just about narrow party interests.

      • GuyM

        In terms of politics, government and elections it is very much about narrow party interests.

        What compass is or isn’t doing is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of the UK and beyond.

        • Anonymous

          I take a longer term view.

          At the moment policy review is underway, and that includes
          wider debate and input from other groups and people.
          It’s about ammassing wider views and ideas for future
          direction of party and movement.

          We’ve been hearing about initiatives like Blue Labour,
          the Purple book, etc; there are also thinktanks
          such as the Fabian Society and Compass. 

          These are forums for shaping debate, not the
          “finished article.”

          More importantly I believe, should be public engagment.

          J

        • Anonymous

          I take a longer term view.

          At the moment policy review is underway, and that includes
          wider debate and input from other groups and people.
          It’s about ammassing wider views and ideas for future
          direction of party and movement.

          We’ve been hearing about initiatives like Blue Labour,
          the Purple book, etc; there are also thinktanks
          such as the Fabian Society and Compass. 

          These are forums for shaping debate, not the
          “finished article.”

          More importantly I believe, should be public engagment.

          J

    • Duncan

      That article is barking, not least in that begins with an assertion that the Blair and Brown governments had something to do with “the Left”!  The problem is that articles like Robert’s (and the stuff that Dan Hodges and others write) will inevitably give rise to this sort of article, because it is the inevitable consequence of their arguments: it doesn’t do anything to help Labour, it merely serves to justify the actions and arguments of the coalition. Recent comments from the leadership suggest that the Blairite campaign has been successful, which is a disaster.  This is a hugely unpopular government, the stupidest thing we could do is to try and convince the public that we’re not that different.

      • Anonymous


        This is a hugely unpopular government,

        Sorry it is not. See the opinion polls.

        When you quote lies as a support for your argument, don’t be surprised if  you are not believed.

        • Duncan

          Are you taking the polls to suggest that Tory  + Lib Dem = support for the government?  Because that would be an odd thing to do. 

          “Hugely unpopular” might be the wrong expression, but it is not a lie.  Those who oppose the government (and they would appear to be a majority of people) do so very strongly; it is not a government that initiates indifference.  I accept that they are not polling peculiarly badly and apologise if that was what I implied.

          • Anonymous

            Duncan

            The Government has c 38 to 40% poll ratings.. on a par with Labour. That is not “hugely unpopular”.

            Since a Conservative administration is always going to be disliked by Labour, their opinion in this matter does not count. It’s what the others think. And the others largely think they’re Ok ish.

            What Labour thinks is a given: tribal loyalties etc.

            If the positions were reversed, Conservative voters would hate a Labour Government..

          • Duncan

            Where is your evidence for saying that that most “others” think the government is “ok ish”?  Approximately 40% of people would vote for them (in a good poll) – I agree that’s not too bad considering where we are.  My assertion is that the other 60% are pretty pissed off.  The reason only abut 40% would vote Labour too is because they’re still pretty pissed off with us as well.  I fail to see anything in that that would suggest Labour would benefit from moving closer to the Tories?

  • Anonymous

    Rob – I couldn’t disagree more with your analysis of Ed’s New Year meassage. You pick out: 

          “Brave troops inAfghanistan, check. Politicians alienated from the public, check. Optimism, check.”

    Here’s a cut and paste from Ed’s message:

       “Britain faces enormous economic and social challenges which go beyond
    the here and now: the rise of China and lndia, the unacceptable
    inequalities that scar our society and the need to build social justice
    in tough fiscal times.

    To address these challenges  we need a more responsible capitalism, a new approach to our economy and our society.

    Building
    an industrial future which goes beyond financial services to create
    more well-paying jobs. Tackling vested interests – from banks to
    utilities – that hold our economy back and squeeze living standards. And
    a fairer sharing of rewards so that we discourage irresponsibility at
    the top and the bottom of society. ”

    While I might agree that there is still a lot to be done to flesh out the policies that will tackle this lot I do think Ed has very much hit on the right message for the times.

    If you want a different message then at least engage with what has actually been said and say which bits of it you want changing and to what.

  • Anonymous

    Rob – I couldn’t disagree more with your analysis of Ed’s New Year meassage. You pick out: 

          “Brave troops inAfghanistan, check. Politicians alienated from the public, check. Optimism, check.”

    Here’s a cut and paste from Ed’s message:

       “Britain faces enormous economic and social challenges which go beyond
    the here and now: the rise of China and lndia, the unacceptable
    inequalities that scar our society and the need to build social justice
    in tough fiscal times.

    To address these challenges  we need a more responsible capitalism, a new approach to our economy and our society.

    Building
    an industrial future which goes beyond financial services to create
    more well-paying jobs. Tackling vested interests – from banks to
    utilities – that hold our economy back and squeeze living standards. And
    a fairer sharing of rewards so that we discourage irresponsibility at
    the top and the bottom of society. ”

    While I might agree that there is still a lot to be done to flesh out the policies that will tackle this lot I do think Ed has very much hit on the right message for the times.

    If you want a different message then at least engage with what has actually been said and say which bits of it you want changing and to what.

  • Steve Jennings

    The right have lost the argument.  The neoliberal consensus is not working

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