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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    On a range of issues, from the Iraq war, to Civil Liberties, taxation policy, the Private Finance initiative, trade union legislation and how the party deals with internal democracy.

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


24. August 2010 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. I agree with you (for once) I think the labour party is in need of the internal debate to remake and revision the party for the future. As is increasingly become clear the Tories are Thatcherism with a shiny coat of paint added. Once we have a new leader, regardless of who it is, we need to refocus, rebuild and reorganise for the future. The Scottish party did some of that after 2007 and the disastrous Glasgow East by-election. This process has been ongoing in local town halls etc as well I think it is time for these essential discussions to happen and realign ourselves as the progressive force for the future.

  2. Blooming heck! The planets must be in some weird alignment John!

    Sense of mission, what the Labour party is for, etc is so important for the left. I often felt that after 2001 that winning elections had become an end, and not a means.

    If a party exists only to get elected, and not to do something I think disenchantment and disaffection will grow and grow.

    We will see what happens….

  3. As always a thought provoking and honest appraisal of current political events – very easy to read and understand. I read these bloggs with one thhought running through my mind – why on earth are you not in the National Executive of the CWU? Your work as a trade union activistst for the youth movement must have put you on the radar of every branch in the country. Your work at local level I can attest to you approached with empathy understanding a real sense of trade union values and most of all integrity. If not the NEC of the CWU then why not an MP at the next Labour victory you yearn for. I have known many trade union activist and can say you sir deserve to be recognised for your creative mind and tenacious work ethic – for my part it was a real pleasure working with you and I say if politics burns in your soul then make that push to become an opinion former at a bigger level – warmest wishes comrade ralph from jeff t

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