The Slow Death of the Labour Party

by Charlie_East_West on April 15, 2015

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What a disappointment. As pointed out by George East, the Labour Party manifesto saw Labour jump through the trap door and lock themselves into the deficit/austerity trap set by the Tories. For all Ed Miliband’s courageous behaviour in standing up to corporate tax evaders, Murdoch and negative media campaigning, it all represents small beer compared to the disastrous signing up to brutal levels of austerity if Labour win the forthcoming election.

Now, I have been toying with the idea of voting Labour on May 7th, but I am still unsure as to whether I can vote for a party that has been hoodwinked into the austerity myth and apparently supports both Trident and fracking. I am also turned off by their apparent lazy and neglectful presumption that they have bolted down safe seats in North England and Scotland. I also find their stubborn and shrill tribal behaviour a huge turn off. The only thing keeping me interested is that they would be better than the Tories.

For me, Labour had one job to do. They should be the party of the people. Since New Labour, they have failed to do this job. Since the mid nineties, they have slowly morphed into a metropolitan chattering class party of much ado about nothing. 20 years worth of disturbingly neoliberal policies aimed at toadying up to business, imperialistic military interventionism and a waterering down of their conviction-led socialist ideals.

As for the shambles in Scotland – Well, they have only got themselves to blame. In effect, Labour signed up to the Scottish independence referendum No campaign largely out of fearing the consequences of a Yes vote in eliminating their MPs at Westminster. Paradoxically, they are now facing the same scenario. Labour are now toxic in Scotland – due to standing toe to toe with the Tories on the No campaign, and also as a result of largely ignoring their traditional voter base hinterlands in Scotland. The ruthlessly professional SNP have continually outflanked them to the point of expected election wipeout in May – which will inevitably have dire consequences for Labour within the context of being able to form a Government after May 7th.

The Moniker of “Red Tories” has stuck like glue for Labour in Scotland. They are a busted flush. As for the rest of the UK, they are still secure in most of North England and parts of Wales and London, largely because there isn’t a progressive, left of centre party like the SNP to challenge them.

The tragedy in this slow ideological and credibility decline could have been avoided, if the Labour had done the following over the past five years:-

1. Not elected Ed Miliband as Labour Leader. He looks, acts and sounds weird. Yes, this is a shallow opinion, but this perception has implanted itself around the country. There is no going back from it now. Andy Burnham would have been a better choice of leader.

2. Distanced themselves from austerity. Millions of people have been savagely hit by Tory-led austerity. Labour should have acted as the go-to mainstream organisation against austerity. If they had taken this path, and articulated against the folly of austerity in an easy to understand and passionately convincing way (with Burnham as leader), this election may well have been won by a comfortable margin by Labour.

3. Clear the decks. Too much of the existing Labour elite smells of the previous Labour Government. Miliband, Balls, Harman, Alexander et al are tarnished by association. Labour should have cleared the decks in 2010. Burnham should have been the last one standing from the old guard.

4. Offering clear and modern distinction. Their sign up to austerity is a totemic symbol of being seen as Tory-lite, Red Tories etc. But, they are also campaigning and messaging like it is 1995, rather than 2015. If they had campaigned, narrated and debated along the lines of Syriza in Greece (or even SNP in Scotland) then they would have challenged preconceived confusion over what Labour actually stood for. The Luddite campaigning styles of mainstream parties is outdated. Less talking in three soundbites. Less over intellectualising the issue. Time for a gutsy, edgy, modern rebrand. One of the more compelling attributes of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon is their easy ability to combine intellectual rigour with plain speaking. The SNP gets the message across, and as a result, voters get them. This approach resonates widely with a jaded public in this 24/7 over saturated media age. The public want to be refreshed, but unfortunately, Labour continue to fail to reach the parts of the country that need political lubrication.

If Labour lose the election in May, I worry about their future. Unless there is a clean break from the New Labour shadow, they will continue to party like it is 1995 rather than 2015.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

John Stone April 15, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Poor Scotland. A choice between Red Tories, Tartan Tories and real Tories.

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Mike Killingworth April 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Labour is finished. Class politics depends on cultural/racial homogeneity.

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Charlie_East_West April 16, 2015 at 8:20 am

Mike – I agree. Labour has accepted Conservative precepts. The private sector & The City left unregulated and openly endorsed. Austerity has also been supported by Labour. This sets a huge long term trap for Labour. If they win in May, Labour will be forced to implement an austerity agenda which will turn its own remaining voters away in droves – just like what has happened to the Lib Dems. If Labour win, I can see Labour and Miliband ending up a bit like François Hollande sinking in the polls and even more of the traditional voter base (not just in Scotland) deserting them.

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Eddie Kaye April 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

I read the Green manifesto yesterday. All I could think was ‘stick Labour livery on this and we would be talking landslide’. Unfortunately, Labour (as we all know) are scared of their own shadow. I honestly think they do not want to win this one, they are convinced the prescription of austerity is the only way, they are hoping for the Tories to fire the bullets – they do not realise the backlash from the electorate will not be to return Labour next time!

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Mike Killingworth April 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm

If what’s happening elsewhere in Europe is any pointer. you’re on the money, Eddie.

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Charlie East-West April 17, 2015 at 11:11 am

Eddie. Completely agree. SNP, PC and Green policies are practically the same. All three have progressive, socialist, anti-austerity policies that were Old Labour territory. If Labour stuck their livery on SNP policies, the SNP would be outflanked. Yes, that even includes Scottish independence.
If Labour had been brave and backed the Yes campaign, their Scottish base would have been secure. They campaigned on the No ticket to protect their Scottish Westminster MPs. A tactic that has destroyed their support in Scotland and will with tragic irony, cost them the majority of their Scottish MPs anyway.

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David Short May 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm

This election may well spell the demise of the LABOUR party as a credible government forming party for decades if not forever.Its annihilation in Scotland has in my opinion crippled it maybe fatally.At least under the present 1st past the post system.The SNP knowing they where never going to be able to form a government for the UK.Worked on a strategy to get as many MPs from Scotland as possible SO SCOTLANDS VOTERS JUST COULDNT BE IGNORED,and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams Of course Labour’s failure to listen to its supporters concerns didnt help either,and it losing all credabilty in regards to the economy .Labour where never going to be able to form a government despite what the polls where saying.Its refusal to take responsibility for its part in the recession .Always Meant they where never going to be trusted with the economic health of the country Voters arnt stupid ,and well knew that alot of the hardship they have suffered,came directly from Labour overspending when last in government.Its not as if the conservatives had alot of options in 2010.Even if the people didnt like it ,they understood why it had to be. The SNP then hammered home the final nail in Labours coffin.By stating it wanted to work with Labour ,in stopping a tory government.With the polls pedicting the SNP landslide .All the undecideds not trusting Labour with the economy,and perhaps infuriated a little by being dictated to by a few millions scots .Voted Conservative in droves ,ensuring a tory majority ,and in one stroke totally nullified the SNP landslide at least in theory if not in practice .The SNP will have to play its cads very cleverly this parliament.As it inconsivable it will ever be as strong again as it is now

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Darren July 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

To the last commentator the labour government did not over spend in the last government. They did however bail out useless bankrupt banks, most of the debt is 1.09 trillion pounds and 122 billions to the banks this is done under the tories, it was allot less under labour

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