The Labour party are back in their electoral strife. They are currently being attacked by three different parties, all targeting different constituencies and different voters. They look set to lose Scotland to the rejuvenated SNP, the Greens are closing in on them and could take a slice of Labour’s vote, and finally the UKIP juggernaut has already eaten into Labour’s vote in by-elections and looks to do so in the general. Labour’s most successful electoral leader, Tony Blair has had things to say about Ed’s leadership. These things weren’t too well received and thus the backlash against Mr Blair’s solid and erudite consistent criticism of the leadership began. While Blair has denied making these comments it ignores the very severe issues which currently surround the Labour party. Issues like Ed Miliband looking as prime-ministerial as a lost boy, the fact their policies have been roundly criticized even by those sympathetic and the shadow cabinet is hardly full of political heavyweights.
It seems many Labour activists, traditional supporters and insiders dislike the idea of New Labour and thus the man who led it. The problem with this argument and train of thought is that New Labour was electorally very successful and old Labour electorally is a failure, indeed the sheer amount of failure means brevity is essential. New Labour gave the party three terms and more than a decade of government with which to change the society they occupied. New Labour, for all the criticism of its lack of ideological zeal by some on the hard left, revolutionised society from gay rights; where before Labour were in office section 28 was in full force they ended their time in office presiding over civil partnerships. This remarkable transformation wasn’t only achieved in gay rights but in Education with the introduction of mass higher education, work wages and the reduction in child poverty which was outlined by their wish to eliminate child poverty by 2020 which is another measure which has gone backwards under the Coalition Government. These are just a few of the genuine social changes which New Labour brought in and were successful at attaining.
The current Labour movement looks lost, their by-election campaigns have lacked any originality, focusing on the NHS simply because that is one of their only solid issues they have. Whenever the Conservatives start to mention the economy, infrastructure, the deficit or even worse immigration, Labour flap more than a fish trying to get off the line. The lack of consistency in arguments which are being proposed from the Labour party is remarkable, on the economy as one example, they’ve evolved from the line that spending cuts have crippled the economy to support some spending cuts to you’ve missed your deficit target. This evolution would have been acceptable if they could garner political support, however, it simply hasn’t worked and Labour are paying the price.
If the Labour party want to do something useful they can look back to New Labour’s pledge card. Something which was derided at the time as boiling down important policy in bite size chunks. This along with increasing centrism which was symbolised by the long worn out clause 4 and a dying government was what propelled Labour to office. Of course Ed being the intellectual leader of the left finds such ‘easy’ policy as beneath him, but if he and the Labour movement want to be back in office, they have to descend to the depths of simplicity and memorability. Blair was right, Labour need to listen before it is too late.
By Sam Mace, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.