This is a very interesting time in politics, as the Reptile lays out below. I believe that the following themes are emerging:
- A new dissatisfaction with the underlyingt tenet of Nu-Labour, namely that personal tax must be higher to fund an active, intrusive state so that it can problem solve. This is as much Brown as Blair, probably more so, and it is losing credibility;
- The Lib Dem's internal divide, hidden for so long under affable leadership and the smoke screen of impotence, is yawning; and I can see no way in which the party can avoid splitting after the next election in the event of a hung parliament - with the Orange Bookers assuming Joe Chamberlain's mantle;
- A resurgent Conservative Party, focussed on the scale of the challenge and vitally (and for the first time in ages) working to change the language of politics, building up in incremental steps so that first, it throws off the legacy of instant-hate that has dogged it for years;
At the same time, we are watching the death throes of a great Prime Minister - that is in no way to say that I agree with him on everything, but just as Thatcher was a Great Prime Minister despite the carping of her critics as she fundamentally changed Britain - so too has Blair. This has to be ackowledged - regretted possibly, but ackowledged certainly.
For Labour, this is the time of maximum peril. The temptation is to retreat to their ideological fortress, blow the cobwebs off their ancient, twisted credo and re-emerge to fight again under their blood red banner. This is made all the more likely as the economic house of cards that Brown has stacked up starts to tumble. As taxes rise, the shouts of the Unions grow surely the siren call of pretending that it is all meat to be, as part of a classic leftist assault on 'privilege' will be too alluring. Brown will surrender to his inner-Socialist. Labour have forgotten that the Labour Party has NOT won 3 elections, but rather Blair has. This they will ignore - and once more fall.
For the Lib Dems, hobbling on under the remains of Ming Campbell, matters are coming to ahead. Ming is failing - and I don't think will lead the party into the next election. Simon Hughes is doing a great job of being everything Ming isn't: coherent, capable, and impressive (amazingly enough) and I reckon it is a matter of time before rumours lead to putsch and Simon Hughes becomes leader. What of Huhne and Laws and Clegg? I think that they will be swept along on the same coronation meme that held DD back in the Howard Coup of yesteryear - not least as the members will be up in arms after Ming seeks to reduce their powers, and will support Hughes. A Hughes leadership will drag the Lib Dems to the left, make a LibServative pact impossible - and drive out the Orange Bookers, the West Country party and the Thurso element. After many years the Lib / SDP alliance will split.
For the Tories, the threat is being forced to make pronouncements before people are ready to hear from us. This is why DC must not lay out our policies: first it allows Labour to attack on substance and perception, second, it allows a bankrupt Government to nick our good ideas and third it distracts from the rehabilitation of the party. DC must hold the line against the Right of the party who prefer ideological purity to power, and he must embrace the regionalist agenda of people like Gove - for this in part will rebuild the party in the North - and finally he must pump energy and effort into rebuilding the party machine at the local level. Oddly, what the Tories need most now is a John Gorst character - maybe it is Maude, if not he must be found soon.
Eeeeeeeenteresting times all round.