30 December 2010

A nice round-up of 2010

Not from me (I just don't have the time at the moment), but from the New Statesman.

The bit about the election campaign is particularly amusing. It certainly was a long, strange trip - and all of the punters (including me) were pretty wrong about just about every aspect of it. Which just goes to show that you shouldn't read stuff like I post up here and believe a word of it.

I particularly like the fact that, if anything, Brown's ratings improved slightly after he called Mrs Duffy a bigot. It was similar to Prescott punching that guy in 2001. Unorthodox election tactics - working more often than not.

258 seats for Labour, on 29 percent of the vote, seemed like a miracle in the context of being 20 points down in 2008. And for a fleeting moment (about 10 minutes in my case) it looked like the 'rainbow coalition' would deliver us from the Tories.

But the hung parliament bred a new monster: the "ConDems" (I'll be using that word a lot more now, because Blairite Guardian columnist Martin Kettle doesn't like it.) And before we knew it, a programme a lot more right wing than the Tory manifesto was being implemented with aid and comfort from the spineless Lib Dem collaborators.

Chief comedy moment of the year has to be Tony Blair's neo-conservative and Coalition-supporting memoirs A Journey (brilliantly tweetsummed by my friend Chris Brooke of Virtual Stoa fame). The fact that ConDem ministers claim it is their favourite political book tells you all you need to know.

How is the Labour party doing? The answer depends on who you ask. The most "glass half full" assessment comes from Tom Watson MP who argues that Labour would have killed for a 5 percent opinion poll lead this time last year, when yet another coup attempt was being unleashed on an increasingly moribund Prime Minister. The opposite "glass half empty" assessment is taken by Dan Hodges on Labour Uncut, who argues that "the left is losing its marbles". Like Martin Kettle, author of the infamous Guardian editorial of a few weeks back castigating the unions, Hodges seems to think that the best way for Labour to get re-elected is to say nothing against the Coalition whatsoever, keep reading Tony Blair's A Journey", and wait.

Well, fuck that and fuck people like Kettle and Hodges. Ed Miliband will probably not be 100% happy with his start as Labour leader; he's made some good speeches but then most politicians can do that. He's had some very good PMQs and some not so good ones - again, pretty much par for the course for any opposition leader. The main problem for Ed is that a lot of senior people and not-so-senior people in the Labour party are incensed that this upstart won the leadership and are trying to take him down any chance they get. The only answer, in the short run (and it won't be easy because it's not Ed's natural style) is to roll a few symbolic heads, cut a few people down to size and say that if Blairites don't like it they can fuck off and join the ConDems.

Because the energy of opposition to this government is not with Martin Kettle, Dan Hodges, or Tony goddamn Blair. It's with the student protestors, the people fighting for a fairer tax system, and basically all the people who Gordon Brown should have listened to between 2007 and 2010 when he was trying to come up with half an idea for how to run the country. And mobilising THESE forces is the way to win - not the tired old D. Miliband Blairite snooze. Of course it has to be done within sensible boundaries - for example, people throwing fire extinguishers is fucking stupid, and I'm glad Ed said so - but for God's sake when the hell is Labour going to rediscover its basic sense of purpose, the basic energy which is going to put hundreds of thousands of volunteers out there canvassing on the streets to win a general election?

More on this over the next few days as I'm well short of time tonight, but the end of 2010 finds me simultaneously hopeful and fearful. The opportunities for a major advance by the left in the UK are in many ways bigger than at any point since 1945 - because the threat to our basic social structures is greatest. Labour's leader is potentially brilliant - but he is inexperienced, and under huge pressure from enemies within who are pissed off that their comfortable little Blairite operation has been disturbed. As Compass have suggested, perhaps the best hope for the long term lies in melding left-wing Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens into some kind of new progressive force. That's brilliant for (say) 15 years' time; but we need the ConDems to be beaten at the election in 2015 (if not before), not 2025 or even 2020. It can be done but it sure as hell ain't gonna be easy.


Van Patten said...

An interesting analysis. Leaving aside the media furore over 'bigotgate', you're absolutely right that Brown's poll ratings improved following the Rochdale contretemps. Indeed for most of the 'New statesman' readership, there is apparently no limit to the number of people the South East of England can absorb. By 2012, 1 million people from Rumania and Bulgaria will be on their way, and next year the train wreck that is our neighbour across the Irish Sea will see 2 million people head for our shores. I can only hope that the Irish community and indeed the local economy (which I think depends on the state for nearly two thirds of its output) in Liverpool can support maybe 10% of them. Otherwise 2 BNP MEPs might only be the tip of the iceberg.

I am.like you simultaneously hopeful and fearful. Hopeful that a mixture of franchise reform, serious action against the likes of the student protestors and other malcontents and major spending cuts can erode the left's power base sufficiently that it is never again a threat to the liberty of this country. Fearful, that as you recognise, the misnamed 'progressive' alliance might materialise through its stronghold in the disgraceful BBC, the unions and the non-productive public sector to progress towards a country where private transport between settlements is controlled by the government and wherein the borders have to be sealed to prevent the inevitable flood of refugees to a freer climate. Or,as an alternative, due to total failure to control who is coming in to the country, we are forced to live under a seventh century theocratic code of conduct. Neither particularly appeals. Best wishes for 2011 and I hope it keeps fine for you!

giroscoper said...

Not sure what you've got against the Romanian, Bulgarian and Irish people. UKIP stance tipping into xenophobia maybe? :-)