A political ‘brand’ has, broadly speaking, two choices. It can either set out to ensure the survival of its core support at all costs; or accept change and look to find genuinely new and relevant policies in keeping with its values.
It’s difficult to see any sign of the latter in the current Labour leadership election – not even in the campaign of MilibandD…..for the simple reason that David isn’t saying anything policy-specific at all.
On the whole, I can understand why this is.
If you are the Party looking after victims, it’s handy to have lots of victims who will feel victimised – and thus vote for you. So that’s the ethnic, disabled and gay vote sewn up.
If you are the Party on the side of the disadvantaged, poverty is your ally. So that’s the poor, single mother and unemployed franchise in the bag.
And if you are the Party which believes in the State looking after everything from how kids are smacked through to when might be the right time to steal them off single mothers, the creation of unproductive jobs must be your main task. So that’s the civil servant, social worker, teacher, race relations, police, local government and nurse electorate on your side.
Does this sound callous and cynical? Think about it. Why would you – a Party on the side of the underprivileged – give a huge rise to middle-class GP’s, but effall to hospital nurses? Could it be because well-paid nurses are less militant? Why would you abolish a Grammar School system that had allowed bright working class kids to leap two social classes? Could it be because Uni-educated aspirants are less likely to vote Labour?
This is not just an anti-Labour rant: all politicians look for ways to engineer society towards putting a cross by their candidates. Otherwise, what on earth was Maggie Thatcher’s share and property-owning democracy about?
From 2000 onwards – and they no longer bother to deny it – New Labour let millions of new immigrants flood into Britain. Lovely, lovely votes for luvvy, luvvy Labour. New Labour rolled over like no other EU member in its haste to let deprived EU citizens into Britain. Lots of even lovelier votes for lovely asylum-seeker-poverty-loving Labour. Lots of lovely benefits for all those lovely, lovely Labour voters.
By the time the Day of Reckoning came around in May 2010, in theory Labour should’ve had an unassailably structural majority. Add together the poor, gay, ethnic, disabled, COHSE, UNITE, displaced EU, single-mother, unemployed, civil service, economically inactive, OAP and Islamic battalions, and you reach a figure in the region of 54% of the total population. Bearing in mind a Left-leaning LibDEm Party taking a further 20%, and frankly at the very least you should be looking at a natural ‘progressive’ majority of around 80 seats.
It is an everlasting tribute to Gordon Brown the electoral Anti-matter that he managed – given this huge downhill advantage – to end up the leader of the smaller of the two big Parties after the Election. Perhaps Tony, Harriet and Jack had decided he shouldn’t be let in on the secret: but certainly, the Milibands, Balls, Abbots, Dromeys and Guardians knew exactly what the game was. Otherwise, why would high-IQ MPs, hacks and Party faithful argue that one can:
* Spend forever and not face dire consequences.
* Persevere with welfare policies proven time after time to actually increase the numbers of poor folks.
* Create unproductive jobs right up to the end when they know the debt is already out of control.
* Allow unfettered immigration and then insist on highlighting ‘hate crime’ to a ridiculous degree?
There has always been a Bonkers pc hard-Left Wing of the Labour Party which wanted to tell the IMF where to shove its loans, and create the People’s Impoverished Soviet Socialist Anti-Normality Tribune (PISSANT). But adopting a more serious historical tone for a second, once the true patriotic Socialists of the Attlee regime had been shuffled off to various old folks’ homes, the New Technocrats began thinking in terms of futures and segments and niches and all the rest of the marketing drivel.
It was this that made Wilson talk about the white heat of technology, Benn order Concorde, Blair lie about Cool Britannia, and Brown talk about abolishing boom and bust: respectively, science, style and banking would, they alleged, leave the Tories miles behind as the Party of the disappearing shires (where foxes were sacred) and present Labour as the natural Party of progressive government.
But progressive government for Labocrats means all-women lists, overseas aid, a bureaucratic NHS, lowest common denominator teaching, quotas for ethnics, Health & Safety, a work-free life for the disadvantaged, EU distributionism…..and crucially, no aspiration at all: to excellence, property, betterment, fulfilment or independence.
Stateist Labour cannot deal with independence. For independence means moving on, not looking back, creativity, trying new ideas and taking responsibility.
Labour in its current form can only survive if everything stands still, and people remain beholden to them – while doing as they’re told. The epoch we are entering will be about the diametric opposite of that. And so if Labour wants to retain some form of relevance in that inevitable future, it must stop trying to be the reformer of Socialism. Rather, it must forget that cultural pool that has kept it going long after the sell-by date: it must step up and redefine what wealth-creating capitalism – a Benthamite capitalism – should be trying to do.
Thankfully, the chances of it doing that are nil. And regrettably, the chances of it doing that are nil.