For the last three years there have been three tendencies in the Labour Party:
- a group of tribalist fools who have justified their position by blaming the Liberal Democrats for going into a Coalition with the Tories, despite the electoral and political machinations making another outcome impossible;
- the Miliband faction, best typified as a Billy Bunter waiting for something to turn up, rather than taking the battle to the Tories and exposing quite what an unpleasant beast continues to lurk beneath the modernising skin; and
- a Blue Labour cadre who are doomed to failure by assuming that the way to victory is to appeal to the party's shrinking traditional class base.
None of the above is totally wrong in their analysis or prescription, but taken individually or collectively they cannot provide a convincing reason to vote for Labour. Labour has not yet really come to terms with modern political reality and pluralism - their hubris was punctured in 2010 but only marginally - and they have yet to make convincing inroads into the areas where they will need most success in 2015. Scotland and the prosperous shires do not make particularly heartening targets at present.
This may well be because Labour is scared of admitting that it got many things wrong under Blair and Brown. By collaborating with the prevailing direction of ideological travel, they did nothing to redress the balance nor to create a political climate where pure economic determinism can be trumped by putting the citizen at the centre of discourse.
Miliband should be tapping into the folk memories of the Depression and the incompetent and partial response of politicians to the current crisis - papering over the cracks in a service-driven, greed-focused financial system is not acceptable while there continues to be greed, snoutage and rank hypocrisy from the apostles of capital. Blaming "the cuts" solely on the Tories won't wash, but a message of social justice alongside acknowledging that simple economic growth is not a panacea could be the start of creating a progressive climate of hope.
People aren't valued - and people aren't treated as anything more than cogs - either productive props to the economic titans or as nuisances and parasites. No wonder social cohesion is diminishing. No wonder that there is a feeling of despair and isolation. A radical position is much closer to the libertarian than to the financially-determined, and we don't seem to be getting anything out of Labour. If Osborne's luck changes and, despite his incompetence and malevolence, the economy is massaged into picking up, Miliband offers nothing more than a slightly-shifted managerialism. This will not be enough - and time is running out for a more radical proposition that could form the basis of a Labour-led revival.