23 August 2009

The one remaining option for Labour

So, we come to the little matter of Gordon Brown and what the Labour party must do if it to have any chance of narrowing the Tory lead.  John Rentoul's article addresses this and also sets out what Cameron has to do if he wins power:

The reality is that cutting public spending is very, very difficult. I do not believe that anything like the 10 per cent real-terms cuts in non-health spending implied by the current government's plans will be achieved, whoever wins the election. That means that taxes will have to rise. Cameron, for all his "bravery" in promising spending cuts, hasn't even got to that bit of the manifesto. He will need a mandate to take the tough decisions to avoid his government being broken. He has hardly begun to ask for it.

Yes, taxes will have to rise.  Public expenditure cuts take time to work and the Whitehall machine will not deliver what is proposed.  But why does Cameron have to set out exactly what he will do if he wins the election?  No Opposition leader ever has.  Did Blair say that independence would be given to Bank or England?  Did Thatcher mention the word “privatisation” once in any of her election campaigns?  Of course not.  Elections are all about selling yourself to the voters, no matter how bad the economic situation is.

It is the ‘selling’ that neatly brings us on the Labour party.  The polls have not moved in Brown’s absence, the not-serious-about-power element of the Tory party, which is further exposed in the Indy, has made little difference to the Tory lead.  As John Rentoul explains:

Nothing has changed my view that Alan Johnson as prime minister could improve Labour's prospects. Brown's temporary absence may not have made a difference, but his permanent departure would. I do not claim it would make a huge difference; the Labour brand itself has become tarnished. But a lot of the party's unpopularity is personal to Gordon Brown. The only thing that propped Brown up was the fear among Labour MPs of an early election. Now the election is imminent anyway. It will take a flashpoint to trigger the mechanism. Labour is waiting for its Sarajevo.

Well, there was a flash point in June and Labour missed the chance.  He continues:

Let us leave all that aside for the moment, however. It may not happen; the party may be too demoralised and disorganised to do it. New Labour's 13 years may end with a whimper rather than one last effort to obtain a hung parliament.

He can say that again about being disorganised.  And yes, Labour may not have the stomach for the fight with so many MPs leaving at the next election.  However, these are excuses rather than reasons.  If Labour wants any chance of winning the election then change has to be made.

Let us play September out.  Brown comes back, lights up the sky with initiatives galore, pulls a few rabbits out the hat, has a reasonable conference but the still the polls do not move.  Then what.  Does the party just accept defeat?

It is still worth Labour considering the options so long as doubts remain about team Cameron, as Alan Watkins demonstrated.  Labour doesn't need for the polls to narrow that much for a hung parliament, but this will not happen, as Rentoul says, with Brown in charge.

Mandy is not stupid.  He must know that Labour has to make the change.  He also knows it will not be him, but how he loved teasing the media about returning to the Commons.  The unanswered question at the moment is why won’t he move against Brown.  Maybe he does have an Exocet missile that he will launch to change the political weather in Brown’s favour but it is doubtful.

So, let us assume that Rumfeld’s famous unknown unknowns do not bubble up, that Cameron doesn't drop that famous Ming vase, but doubts remain about his party.  This being the case, then Labour with Mandy's management, that he has so ably demonstrated, has to make the change to Alan Johnson if the party is serious about a fourth term.

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  1. Howard, Megrah's 'temporary' home in Glasgow is mention in the Wiki entry about him but it doesn't mention his wife and family have been living there.

    I'm looking for more.

    Here's the Herald this month:

    And a quote from the article:

    The interview, at the family home in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow, was sanctioned by the Libyan authorities

    Four of their five children, aged between 11 and 25, now live in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, but all have experienced Scottish life and education for some of their formative years.

    Who paid for the house I've no idea but Newton Mearns is a well-heeled area of Glasgow.

  2. Thanks. Is this information pivitol or not? what are your views.

  3. My opinion is that it is important, but it's also important to know who paid for this. A house is that area of the size the family occupied is expensive, possibly around the price a 4/5 bed home in London would cost.

    I'm just fed up with people saying he's gone home t die with his family.

    Although I can't give you the basis of my evidence that his family saw him regularly (although the wife says in the Herald article they just saw each other for 6 minutes a week or something), I believe my source.

    I think the fact should be more in the public domain and it's been ignored.

    Bit like my suggestion that MPs should be on salary incremental scales similar to the military.