Some silver linings if the coalition does last.
Having recently blogged about why I think the coalition is most likely going to last the best part of a whole term of Parliament. It is now time for the companion piece about why I am not even sure it would be desirable to bring down the government quickly. On balance, I really want to see the back of the coalition as soon as possible and if they fail quickly, proving my last blog wrong then I would be delighted. But if that doesn’t happen here are a few reasons why it might not be the worst thing in the world.
- First up would be the state of the Labour Party finances. At the 2010 general election Labour were in a large part hamstrung by the state of their finances. There was simply no ability to compete with the millions poured into the general election campaign by Lord Ashcroft.
Subsequent to the general election Labour’s financial position is even worse, there is no realistic possibility of Labour at this juncture being able to finance a rigorous general election campaign; this leaves the somewhat unsettling possibility of short-term timing actually benefiting the Tories rather than the left.
There is little value in bringing down the government if we do not have some sort of confidence that it will bring forward a better one. If the left is completely unable to fight a general election and have prospects of victory because we simply do not have the money; then the time is not right to force the end of the coalition.
- Next the Labour Party has not yet had sufficient internal debate about the reasons why we lost, the election, the battle of ideas and its activist base. I have previously blogged about how I definitely felt the Labour party have lost its way, I found it more difficult to vote Labour at the 2010 general election than I ever have done before.
Until such a time as the Labour Party has elected a new leader, and had its important internal philosophical discussions about what kind of party it wishes to be; then I think it is very unlikely that the Labour Party will be in a position to win a general election.
After 1997 the Tories spent a long long time believing all they needed was one big push of more of the same to come back into power. The Labour Party has to learn the lessons of this, for the left to win we need to understand the reasons why we lost, we need to understand how we can start winning again, we need to regain a sense of the mission and purpose in the values of the party and the movement. I don’t believe the Labour Party is yet in that place.
- Now we move on to the issue of cuts, the economy and the budget deficit. I think it’s quite easy to the left at this juncture to engage in some collective amnesia, to either forget, or pretend to the contrary, that the Labour Party had every intention of making cuts had they won a fourth term of office.
We have to be absolutely clear that the balance of how the deficit would have been arrested within very different under a Labour government. The pace at which this happens, the balance between increased taxation and cutting spending, and where increased taxation will fall and on what gets cut, would all have been very different.
But despite all of that cuts would have been coming. The wider left, trade unionists et al, would no doubt have been very unhappy at many of the fiscal policies that a fourth term Labour government would have engaged in. It would have absolutely been better if this had happened, no matter how unpopular this made the party, because we would not have the almost class warfare the coalition has waged on the poor.
But given that the last election was lost a silver lining surely has to be the way in which right will be tarnished and tainted by the fact that it is they who have been carrying out the cuts.
Further if, as is seeming increasingly likely; bad economic calls by the Tories push us into a double dip recession, or a least a slower and more sluggish recovery. Then this has to help the left as and when a general election comes naturally.
- Lastly, and most importantly the polls. The reality is that at the moment the poll information does nothing to suggest that the Labour Party are likely to be able to imminently win a general election. In fact looking than most of the polls the likelihood is that quick an early general election would probably result in a Conservative majority.
Things are close, and I am not Nostradamus, and we all remember from 1992 how badly wrong in the polls can get it. But is it generally received wisdom that the opposition need to have a healthy poll lead going into a general election. As the left does not have this I think this is the strongest argument for why the coalition hanging together, at least for the time being, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Almost certainly a degree of clutching at straws here from me, I don’t want the ConDemNation in power, I really wish that they would go away and us have something better in place. Every time it looks like there is going to be a close division, where the government might lose an embarrassing vote, I am obviously going to be cheering for that to happen. All the same it does in hurt to think with your head and not your heart about these things.