Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No more clothes pegs required

The ever predictable Polly in today's Guardian delivers a spirited party political broadcast which essentially boils down to this: no matter how bad the Labour Party have been, the Tories would be worse. It's not really worth extended analysis - her articles rarely are - but there are just one or two points.
Frankly Prof King should remind the Telegraph that never before in history has a Labour leader won three elections.
Apart from Harold Wilson, in 1964 and twice in 1974 of course. And Ramsay Mcdonald, who won as leader of the Labour Party in 1924 and 1929, and as Labour leader of a National Coalition in 1931. So apart from those two Labour leaders then. In fact, given that there have only been five Labour Prime Ministers, one of whom never won an election, this is not much of a boast is it? Three of the five won three elections, one won two (Clement Atlee) and one won none (Jim Callaghan). It doesn't speak to the wonderful uniqueness of Tony does it?
Will a Labour wipeout make the next Labour regime turn left, or frighten them into caution?...A mighty Labour thumping will only foster fears that there is indeed some ineluctable rightward tide. If that leads to dull timidity while the right looks livelier, it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, the best way to ensure that the Labour Party changes direction is to vote for it in these elections? While voting against it because it has drifted to the right (in the slightly off-centre view of Toynbee) will make it, um, go further to the right? I'm unconvinced by this. Political parties, when given a kicking by their core vote, tend to track towards their base to rediscover support. That'd be excellent news for the Tories, but rather less good for Brown.
UPDATE: Wilson, of course, actually won four elections in 1964, 1966 and twice in 1974.

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