UK Politics

In Denial

Martin Bright says:

The response that ministers will now listen and learn from the public is a curious one, because the message from the British people in the local elections was that they do not want the Labour Party in power. It is difficult to see what listening will do now when senior Labour figures have been standing with their fingers in their ears for so long.

At the moment, there is little evidence that Gordon Brown has a serious strategy for winning the next election and there has to be a suspicion that the Prime Minister still does not realise how grave the situation has become.

As Martin notes, everybody and his dog has a plan to put Labour back on track. The problem is that none of them are particularly inspiring or energising: neither to Labour activists, nor to the country as a whole. That is a great pity.

Meanwhile, those headline Labour policies that there are – proposing the extension of detention to 42 days, but without explaining precisely why there is an urgent need to do so, reversing the reclassification of cannabis even though nobody thinks that this is necessary, “harassing  young thugs“, and so on – give the impression of a directionless government that has run out of steam. Gordon Brown desperately wanted to be Prime Minister. By now, we should know why he aspired to that office. That we don’t merely compounds the impression that – in Lamont’s famous phrase – the Government is in office but not in power.

The Tory party is essentially a cypher at the moment. We can guess what it will be like, in power: because we’ve seen Tories in power before. So can much of the electorate. There hasn’t been a groundswell of love for Cameron, even among Tory voters. Yet they will win the next election for precisely the same reason that Labour lost London. Labour voters will stay home, while the Tories will come out to vote.