Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Miliband bind

Labour must be wishing that they had spin doctors of the calibre that pushed Blair into Downing Street.  This week, the Tories have unravelled in the face of trying to act like fascist Kipper fools, and the entire edifice of venal idiocy should be tottering in the face of the Reckless onslaught in Rochester.  Instead there is continued speculation about whether Labour are fit to govern and more personal attacks on their leader.  This is not all the consequence of Lynton Crosby, but a wilful misreading of the political landscape by Mister Ed and his coterie.

From the dozy rhetoric you would be forgiven for thinking that the political landscape is a simple bipartisan plane - where Labour and the Tories are tussling it out for the right to govern, and where the lesser, non-engaged classes are passive spectators.  Labour have fallen into the delusion that the 2010 election was an aberration, joining their Tory soulmates in dismissing the section of the electorate that does not buy into this cosy duopoly.  Both parties are peddling the myth that they have absolute legitimacy through securing the allegiance of one third of those who bother to vote.

Miliband should be pondering the consequences of the shifting polity.  The Tories do not have a narrative that needs to accommodate pluralism - the use of electoral politics to the current paradigms of May, Osborne and Cameron is not about legitimacy but manipulation to perpetuate a cronyist oligarchy.  The squirming performance of Theresa May in failing to defend European-led law-and-order benefits demonstrates quite how far they will go to betray their own declared principles for a little bit of short-term electoral advantage.

Simple mathematical computation suggests that no single party in the current political landscape can claim legitimacy - even if it secures a majority in the Commons.  The regional and national disparities demonstrated most tellingly by the Scottish referendum, echoing local government and electoral contests outside the South-East of England, suggest that there is no way in which single-party rule can claim either to represent the settled will of the electorate or of a clear mandate to implement policy.

Labour's secular decline is clearly not worrying party strategists - but it should be.  Much as the Tories are not regenerating as their doddery membership goes to meet its maker (it's warm down there) or settles for the devil on earth in yellow trousers, Labour has not recognised the decline in its support base.  

With the election fast approaching, Miliband needs to pursue a dual strategy.  The first is to articulate a left-wing platform that does not bend over forward to appease the bankers, CBI and the other parasite groups who have a vested interest in keeping a neo-Thatcherite debate fuelled.  The second is to demonstrate why Labour are the major, but not overarching, force within a centre-left consensus that reaches out to the nationalist parties, Liberals and Greens - respecting the differences and creating a debate that would provide a sensible basis for post-election government.  Admitting that Labour are striving to "win" under the current system, but recognising that this is a second-best to a genuine pluralism might recreate a tactical environment where an anti-Tory (and if necessary anti-Orange Book Liberal Democrat) majority can be created and exploited, much as it was in 1997.

Miliband has little to lose.  The country has a great deal more.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.