Thursday, May 15, 2008

Straws in the wind

Things look pretty bleak for Labour just at present. Not merely in the matter of opinion polls and local elections - though they certainly don't help. Neither is it just the forthcoming by-election in Crewe and Nantwich - though defeat here would be pretty shattering. The real problem is the sudden vacuum of ideas. What are Labour under Gordon Brown for?
That is what the real problem was over the 10p rate fiasco. Labour in opposition had a lot of ideas of what they were for. Civil liberties, ethical foreign policy, redistribution, helping the poorest, regenerating the public service: there was a list of solid principles that underpinned Labour's self-image. After the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the 10p rate fiasco, there's not much left.
So the next question must be: when's the first defection going to happen? When the Tories were ideologically exhausted, this was marked by a stream of defections, both to the Liberal Democrats and to Labour. We ought to be seeing similar moves in the opposite direction fairly soon, if Labour is as doomed as it appears to be. Whether we are talking about Shaun Woodward-esque careerist defections, Quentin Davies (hah!) style defections in a fit of pique, or even a genuinely principled defection on policy (struggling to think of a precedent there) surely there are going to be some rats who want to leave the sinking SS Brown?

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