In response to, Paul T Horgan: Labour has performed a lobotomy on itself by purging the Blairites, Phil wrote:
Labour has multiple problems at the same time:
1] The people that voted for Labour at the time of Harold Wilson are mostly dead and have been replaced by younger voters of a very different type to those that voted for Wilson, nevertheless Labour insiders keep imagining they have “lost” supporters that they need to win back. They have not “lost” supporters – there are new voters that simply haven’t bought into the Labour ideology the way that voters a generation ago did. Labour cannot rely on tribal loyalties, because the tribe is dead or dying.
2] The NHS. The Labour Party honestly believed the pollsters that told them the NHS was the key issue that would win them the election. They were well ahead on the NHS but they still lost. They don’t see why. They lost because the voters don’t believe that Labour or the Tories will act any different with regard to the NHS, and in fact Labour has shown a greater tendency to privatise it than the Tories, thus undermining their entire argument for all time. Also, the pollsters got it wrong.
3] The Blair legacy. The problem is there isn’t one. Although Blair was as successful a leader as Thatcher, Thatcher didn’t taint her legacy by starting illegal wars, trying to silence awkward journalists, taking money from Bernie Ecclestone and joining JP Morgan to make pots of gold. Consequently, although being Blairite is the key to power for Labour, the term “Blairite” is about as attractive as the term “leprosy” both inside and outside Labour.
4] Lack of quality in the party. Andy Burnham was thrashed in the last leadership election but is now one of the front runners. This means the other candidates are equally as bad as he is. Anybody that was smart ditched Labour years ago, leaving the members with nobody decent to chose from.
5] The unions. It is very much the case that Unite pays for Labour and is currently paying its members to join Labour thus ensuring it has even more influence over Labour than it had at the last leadership election. No surprise, then, that the leading candidate is even more left-wing than Ed Milliband
6] The “Blairite” Tory Party. The Conservative party, which as I said a couple of days ago has always been more interested in power for its own sake rather than for ideological reasons, has moved way to the left of Joe Average’s opinions on immigration, criminal justice, welfare and so on. Consequently a Labour party that aims for the centre ground will find that it now has to move way to the right of the Tories to seize it.
7] The people running Labour are former NUS activists, mostly taken from the upper middle classes. They have no idea what their own voters are thinking. They keep referring to their own voters as “poor”. It doesn’t occur to them that the term “poor” is pejorative and rarely do people think of themselves as poor, any more than they like to think of themselves as “incompetent”.
8] They really don’t understand even their own form of economics. They don’t appreciate that Keynsian stimulus is only applicable when you have either a surplus to spend or some latitude on government debt. When you have spent both any surplus from previous years (we didn’t have any) and all the possible government debt, no further stimulus is possible. That is the situation Greece is in, that is the situation the UK is in. Austerity isn’t an option in the current circumstances, it is forced upon us by reality, and the current government is really approaching austerity at far too slow a pace – we are in grave danger of having no room to manoeuvre when the next global recession strikes.
9] They genuinely believe if we fleece the rich not only will the rest of us be better off, but the “poor” will be grateful. It doesn’t occur to them that even the briefest of examinations of the number of rich people and their annual income will tell us they just aren’t enough rich people to bail the rest of us out – but voters are clicking on to that reality. The voters are buying lottery tickets in the hope of getting rich themselves – they don’t want to see it all taken off them in tax. Blair at least understood that there is a huge desire to get rich which relies on there actually being rich people to aspire to being.
10] It has never occurred to Labour that people are living in the same housing stock now as during the time of Thatcher – consequently they can’t be “better off under Labour”.
11] Where people have been better off it is almost entirely the result of private industry providing the voting public with new products and services, from mobile phones to on-line shopping, from 52 inch plasma TVs to electronic cigarettes. Labour continually sends out the message that it is against all private corporations and all their evil works. The very things that make the lives of ordinary people materially better, Labour are against, while it is in favour of those things that make people’s lives worse – like mass immigration and feeble prison sentences.
It seems the Tories have moved over approximately to where the Liberal Party used to be, the Liberal party has died, Labour is intent on moving further over to the left where it will also wither and die and the trajectory of Ukip onwards and upwards to replace the Tories on the right will continue.