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A Bad Night For Labour At the Polls: Down But By No Means Out

24% is a worse performance than even John Major managed in 1995, the year that the zeitgeist moved in our favour and it became a done deal that the Tory years would come to an end.


That year Major polled 26% and everyone correctly predicted that he was a dead man walking for the remainder of that Parliament.


I am by no means in denial about just how bad things are for us, but there are crucial things in our favour which give the Labour Party hope that the disaster for the Nation of a Tory Government need not be a depressing inevitability.


Firstly there is no threat to Brown’s leadership. Major was in a constant fire fighting mode and even after he defeated Redwood in the 95 Leadership Election, he was struggling to assert his authority even to the extent that he had to appeal to his party not to “tie my hands” going in to the 1997 General Election.


We can’t change now, and no Labour Leader has ever been assassinated in the way Thatcher and IDS were. So the Tories have taught us at least one thing; once the Party gets the blood lust for Leadership victims it’s almost impossible to sate and feeling of permanent revolution is ever present.


Secondly Brown has a firm majority in Parliament, something Major never really had in his second Parliament, being forced into backstairs deals with the Irish parties and his own back benchers over the most Mickey mouse legislation meaning that he could never be bold.


Gordon must take the initiative and address the concerns of the voters on the cost of living, affordable housing and the economic slowdown reasserting to people that he is control and knows what he is doing. Additionally he should allow Cabinet Ministers to get on with their jobs and refer the media to them when commenting in detail on issues such as transport and planning.


And if he had any inkling of how the electorate are feeling, he should get Alan Johnson in front of the cameras as much as possible.


Finally, and most crucially this result puts the Tories firmly in the spotlight and means their paper thin so-called “policies” will be unpackaged by the media.


In 1995 the vote was actively Pro Labour and the voters were turning to us a real alternative, whereas in 2008 people are rightly angry with the Labour Party and are voting Tory to punish us rather than as a positive endorsement of Cameron.




 Up to now just Not Being Gordon and being all shiny and new has been enough for Cameron but if he stands any chance of winning in the long term he is going to have to show his hand and that’s out opportunity to show how we are the Party for the many, and they are the Party of the privileged few. 


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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