Friday, September 14, 2007

Fisting Cameron

The clunking fist is well and truly swatting aside the Blair-lite leader of the Tory Party at the moment. Having gone from a Moses like figure intent on leading the Conservatives out of the Wilderness Cameron is beginning to look in desperate need of directions if he's ever to get to the promised land.

Iain Dale had an interesting piece in The Telegraph which is a pretty accurate assessment of the situation I think, that the Tories are in trouble and are punching well below their weight. Where the article is at its weakest though is whilst it identifies that the Tories need to take the battle to Brown if they are to stand a chance at the next general election it doesn't say how.

Nonsense like a government sponsored Duke of Edinburgh award dressed up as national service are not going to cut it. Moralising at disaffected members to stop rocking the boat wont quell their concerns. How do you counter Brown's government of all the talents strategy without looking like cheap copies or pointless light weights?

If Shirley Williams and Thatcher can both be pulled into the Brown orbit is it not likely that the opposition will have precious little prestige left with which to awe Joe Public. It's all very well for Rifkind to rebuke Thatcher for her disloyalty, but the only way the endemic fractiousness of the Tory Party can be tamed is by looking like real winners rather than coming up with a series of wheezes.

Frankly, for a party that has been consistently out performing Labour in the English elections the Tories are looking decidedly confused. At the last local elections the Tories won over five thousand seats whilst Labour managed less than two thousand. At the last General Election in England Labour won 8,043461 votes to the Tory Party's 8,116,005. Of course in the odd world of first past the post it still meant they gained 92 more seats - but that's a different post I suppose. If there were any justice it would be Brown on the ropes, but there isn't, so he's not.

Of course the other debate is around whether Brown will call an early election but in my view there is fat chance of that happening. They can't call it early because they have no money. They have to pay back all those "loans" and are totally bust. The question is a non-starter.

But for all of Brown's cleverness his strategy of marginalising the opposition relies on not giving a toss what the activists and traditional Labour voters think - and they are angry because he's showing in the clearest possible way that Labour orbits a ravenous capitalist sun.

But for Labour strategists it doesn't matter how few votes Labour get, as long as the Tories get fewer. The long term problem for Labour is that if they need to shift their ground it will be impossible without experienced, grassroots members - and where are they? Cameron is also neglecting the traditional Tory support in the hope of winning back old friends - but the flow is sadly still the other way. Well, sadly for him.

It seems to me that this is a vision of government without mass parties. Why have parties with hundreds of thousands of members if they can get along with a hand full of votes and thirty rich donors? More to the point what does it mean for democracy if the majority of the population absent themselves from party politics?

For anarchists this might see this as a great step forward - a rejection of the official crap - but for me I don't see the disillusioned moving in a positive direction en mass, only in a trickle with the vast majority just feeling demoralised and disenfranchised - and that's a dangerous position for us all to be in I feel.

The Labour left is spinning in its grave but their party has desserted them, not just at the top but down to the roots too. Who are the Labour members now after ten years of Blairism? Where once membership of a trade union was expected now it is unusual, where once there were modest branches - now these are a distant memory in all but a handful of places.

One Labour left blogger was recently told by a more mainstream member "now that our leader has invited Margaret Thatcher to Number 10 isn't it time you and the rest of your annoying bunch of pathetic lily-livered wankers fuck off and leave this party altogether? We don't want you, we don't like you, we don't need you. Good night!" This is not unusual but an unfortunate expression of where the Party has moved to.

None of the three main Parliamentary parties have anything real to say about the three fundamental questions of our age (war, privatisation and climate change) and they aren't going to any time soon.

The more untouchable Labour becomes the more like a one party state the country becomes where the key political fissures are played out within the party of government rather than between competing parties and currents. The key for progressives, in my view, is to ensure that there is a real movement outside of these parties that can rock and tip the official boat and create some movement on these key issues independent of the mainstream parties.

That means a well developed trade union movement, lively community campaigns and an organised progressive movement that is able to unite on the areas of agreement and host lively, intreresting discussion on the points of seperation. We may be a long way from that point right now, but it's a sight nearer than seeing a decent political alternative achieving a majority in Parliament.

3 comments:

LHBT said...

Are you sure about that title, or are you just trying to boost your ratings?

Jim Jay said...

The stories about the clunking fist of Brown and Cameron... seemed logical to me :)

Gabriel said...

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Gabriel in County Kerry Ireland