Monday, May 07, 2007

Lessons for Labour

Elections in Scotland, Wales, and for local government in England over the weekend proved pretty inconclusive for anyone looking for decisive trends (Labour weak, but the Tories unable to forecefully take command), but confirmed the gut feelings of many observers that UK Labour does have some serious (if not insurmountable) challenges to overcome in order to win a fourth term of government. There are lessons in this for NZ Labour.

The Labour vote of has come in at what many consider to be the absolute base for the Party, while the Conservatives picked up 41% of the vote across England. So while New Labour is clearly unpopular, the Tories are simply performing credibly. They failed to significantly cut into Northern strongholds like Manchester and Birmingham, took fewer Councils of the Liberal Democrats than expected, and narrowly avoiding becoming the fourth party in Scotland.

All this to me is suggestive of a public that don't want a return to conservative rule, but are disallusioned by politics as practiced by New Labour. The rhetoric of choice that masks creeping privatisation of the health system, the banal infatuation with wealth and celebrity, increased costs in the tertiary education sector, and of course the utter folly of Iraq have all eroded support for a Party and an idea that most moderates and progressives in the UK still want to govern.

Fundamentally, New Labour has in its style and policies just departed to0 far from the core beliefs of the coalition that elected it to office so overwhelmingly in 1997.

NZ Labour must understand this if we are to win a fourth term, and I am convinced that in this regard, we are on the correct side of the ledger. On all of those core principles that have been backed by a solid 40% of the population for close to a decade, NZ Labour has largely steered a straight course. The privatisation agenda has been stopped in its tracks, the investment in core public services and capacity has been significant, the labour market has been actively intervened in to promote greater equality and fairness, and we have stayed true to our internationalist roots by wisely keeping out of the quagmire in Iraq.

Political management issues aside, this government has basically stayed faithful to the people that put it in place. So while also facing an invigorated Opposition, my feeling is very much that NZ Labour is in a far stronger position to hold on to a base of support large enough to make centre-left government possible in the medium to long run.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.
instant cash loans
payday loan