Friday, 8 May 2015

Is there a future?

Let us be honest, tonights election results are a disaster, and not just a disaster for Labour, they are a disaster for the country. As I write the possibility of an overall majority for the Tories is on the cards. So what went wrong for Labour.

Firstly we need to get real about the influence of mainstream media vs social media. The idea that MSM is losing its power is over. Some people have been suggesting that, because newspapers are losing sales of paper copies, they are losing influence over the electorate. They are not, online versions are still very popular and the go-to places for news. The MailOnline site is still one of the most-visited sites in the world.

Secondly we need to ubderstand the way the Tory commander Lynton Crosby manipulated Ukip to take votes from Labour, so although Labour won votes from the LDs lots of Labour votes transfered to Ukip. This is a strategy he ised in the past in Australia and it has worked here, divide and rule, pure and simple. He is playing the first-past-the-post system for all it is worth and it is working for the Tories.

Thirdly Labour needs to be honest about the party it has become; it is no longer a party that appeals to traditional working-class voters; it urgently needs to expand its number of working-class MPs and candidates. This is likely to be difficult.

The problem for Laboutr now is going to be that there will be two assessments of the result, one will be that Labour wasn’t left enough and another that Labour wasn’t right-wing enough. Both will view the results from their own perspective and both will be wrong, and both will be right. Labour will need to consider this carefully before deciding on who to elect as leader. A comprehensive analysis of the demographic it needs to vote for it will need to be done and policies chosen that appeal to that demographic. In my oipinion that demographic must be the working-class. They are the people who have suffered under the coalition and austerity; they are the people who will suffer from the inevitable break-up of the UK and withdrawl from the EU.  However we owe it to the working-class, the poor, the disenfranchised and the excluded to get our act together sooner rather than later. In a sense Labour is in a cleft; beeing more left-wing will attract more people opposed to austerity, but will expose Labour to criticism in the media about profligacy and worries about the economy. Labour needs to be clever about this and learn from this.

Finally we need to be careful to apportion blame where it is due, and that is not one single thing. The way Cameron has put party advantage before the needs of the country is going to be a feature of the next parliament; he will do a great deal to cement his advantage by changing boundaries and fixing seats, he will use the power of the media to ensure he has a huge advantage over Labour and he will continue to divide and rule and continue to use the threat of the SNP against Labour.

Finally the Labour conversations on the doorstep, that we have been having, we need a better ground campaign and we also need to recognise the limits of that style of campaigning. It has not worked. We also need to recognise the rise of an ugly nationalism in the UK which is going to reduce this country to ruins. The zero-hours culture, the NHS cuts, the privatisation of the school system, ever higher university fees and laws to protect people from bullying at work and to restrict unions power will proliferate, as will short-term renting and greater inequality. All these will make it harder for Labour to get back to winning ways. 

We need to have a more sensible conversation about whether to more to the left, the right, or to construct a new type of party which campaigns on the issues that the voters are really concerned with. We need to avoid a left-right fight, we need to be more analytical than that, and face up to what has happened with clear eyes and a clear head. We also need to accept that PR is the only way forward for the left in the UK, or what is left of it. 

Lastly, in 2010 I predicted that David Cameron would be the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It looks like this is going to happen.

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