We are back to 1983. The New Labour coalition has fallen apart. Back when Michael Foot led the Labour Party and their vote collapsed to within grasp of the Liberal Alliance there was much said about the unelectabilty of Labour. It was widely held that a party based on Unions and working class votes could never command 40% of the vote. The changes that took place during the Thatcher and Blair years have further eroded the old Labour base. Union membership has continued to declined. The identifiable wider working class has shrunk. Public owned housing is diminished.
The magic of Blair was to take that old rump of the Labour Party and add to it a ‘progressive’ politics that appealed to Middle England. This was greatly resented by what it’s supporters called the ‘real’ Labour party. They had no truck to with the Blairite reforms to public services. They were not ’comfortable with the rich'. They were not happy with public private partnerships and said so. Civil Liberties were a bourgeoisie concern. Constitutional reform a distraction. In a number of seats it was possible to believe that 1983 was right course and to brand those who went along with Blair as traitors-even if it brought victory.
Bootle is one such Labour Party. They were unconcerned as they lost seats in ‘middle class’ places like Formby and Crosby. What business was it of theirs to be worrying about the concerns of such people? As there votes fell in council elections recording more third places they didn’t give a damn. They simply didn’t get the need to build a coalition that reached out beyond their comfort zone. No wonder they are comfortable with Brown. Not one of them saw the need to rebel over the Iraq War, but they are enthusiastic about defying their Government and supporting the unions over the Postal delivery changes. Identity cards, Asbos, detention without trial didn’t worry them. They are at heart convinced democratic centralist. It would not worry them for a nano second if they were returned to government on 20% of the vote. Once there they would have no qualm about using the state to impose their agenda on the 80% of the population. The idea of a decentralise participatory democracy is offensive as it diminish their capacity to achieve their plan.
We are back to where we were. The Labour Party has been chased out of middle England—as well a mainstream Wales and Scotland. As they gladly wish good bye to those who appeal beyond their ‘old Labour’ strongholds they are settling for opposition. Labour membership has dropped and most of those dropping off were those who signed up to the New Labour project. All that is left are the class of 1983.
I am always amused by those who rant on against coalition government. Never has it been more obvious that the Labour Party is a coalition. It is a coalition that is made in private and where the electorate have no influence.
It is instructive that when the Labour Party was forced to come up with a form of PR they came up with the Party list system. This gives the power to the Party to decide who gets a place on the list where they are elected. More proof of their top down centralising instincts. The electorate are not allowed the chance to choose between candidates from the same party-between a Hutton or a Skinner. Equally sadly because the system of PR they chose didn’t have a transferable vote the BNP got elected in the NW. If there had been transfers then the significant Green vote would certainly not have gone to the BNP!