Monday, July 1, 2013

(Opinion) Labour Party: What Happens When You Try The Centre When It Doesn’t Exist

With the news of the conservatives being five points of the Labour party according to the latest YouGov/Sunday Times poll, I think it’s fair to say that Labour have paid the price of not attacking a coalition  government that has floundered for most part of its three years in power.

Labour  have failed to democratic how they will be different from the conservative led coalition as the have often failed to make simple but devastating arguments that would have put the conservatives on the back foot in policy debates. Instead for the last three years all we have seen is Labour make the odd strong argument against the conservative led coalition government on all issues except the ones that count.

Labour have largely been dithering in debates about spending cuts as part of the government’s favoured austerity programme as George Osborne, a far better political strategist than Chancellor, has managed to browbeat the party into deliberation by moving to the right and the Labour Party, often shirking the opportunity to make the key arguments against spending cuts, has now stated that they will stick to the same spending policy as the current government and not reserve any their cuts.

Despite the utter failure of the government’s policy of austerity measures, the question to ask in the face of Labour leader Ed Milliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls effectively backing the policy position of the current government is why? the only answer available is that they can’t and won’t. Both Miliband and Balls were part of the last Labour government and share views of the New Labour evangelists of moving the party to further to the right in the quest of reach the centre of the political spectrum which would not be a problem if they didn’t start every policy argument taking a less hawkish position than the conservatives.
Whether the government should be making such large public spending cuts at all is never debated, where to cut is, so is the speed of cuts effectively making the whole nation approach a wholly political issue as a bunch of managers looking for entry level staff to cull. 

We often hear the comparison often made by government looking to swing the scythe of the family who upon falling on difficult times look to cut their expenses but obviously, government cannot and should not be  a family as a family only have an obligation to its members while a government has an obligation to a citizenry that bankroll it and , in theory, hold it to account.And should the public favour a growth focused economic policy rather than the current policy in place that ineffectively tries to stop the bleeding,  the opposition should take a position that establishes that they would be different in power rather than try to establish ‘credibility’ by taking a slightly softer position than its rivals in power.

In sum, Labour have largely failed to attack a coalition government that has largely dithered in power and has overseen periods of negative growth coupled with growth so miniature it’s hardly worth reporting. Thanks to some smart strategy and the most vulgar use of the self /other distinction, Labour have been backed into a corner and as always moved to the right rather than making the counter argument and this pattern continue, Labour may end up being thankful for being five points ahead instead of the 10 they have been accustomed to for some time.

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