The Thick of It


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Labour = mess

Labour has a few problems at the moment:
Under Blair Brown was happy to use junior ministers to stir up trouble and had them writing to the press or resigning to call for Blair to quit. He is now suffering the same treatment from his opponents. While it is easy to say Brown has laid the ground for an ill disciplined party, the party should know better. Further, all these people calling for a "debate" or leadership election were very quiet a little over a year ago when Brown received his coronation. Very few outside the left called for a leadership contest.

No political party will ever be successful if it is preoccupied with naval-gazing and in-fighting. The electorate only ever takes notice of political parties that offer solutions to their problems, look disciplined and cohesive. Labour offers none of these at the moment. Laying the blame for this might be fun but is futile. Labour would look even worse to the electorate by triggering a leadership election and engaging in even more naval gazing and blame laying.

In the 1970s and 1980s Labour tore out itself apart and the country wasn't interested. In the 1990s the Tories tore themselves to pieces and the country switched off. Why hasn't the Labour Party remembered this primal lesson?

However, both Labour and the Tories learnt to change their leader to make themselves more popular, but only when an alternative leader was more popular with the public. Labour switched to John Smith in 1992, then chose Blair. The Tories were quick to dump Thatcher when it looked like they would lose.

Conversely, there wouldn't be any of this bickering if people were happy with Brown's performance. He needs to start behaving like the political bruiser he was made out to be. He is meant to be an expert on finance and economics so it would be good to hear Brown offering solutions to the meltdown of our under-regulated financial sector. The economic woes fill the news at the moment but there is very little comment from Brown or Labour about what we are going to do about it.

"At our best when at our boldest" Blair once said. If only Brown would listen.

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