Labour and the Euro Elections

IT STARTED with the Euro elections. An overtly confident party personified by it 's leader did not bother to campaign. Yet nobody was more thunderstruck than the Tories at victory. More than just the matter of defeat it was the nature of it which will trouble Blair. Of course a participation factor of less than one in four, combined with the core Tory vote turning out, is hardly Gradgrind evidence of a "seismic shift". It was not as if all recent converts had returned to the Tory fold or something.

Far more ominously, only months after declaring 'we are all middle class now ', a spectre returned to wreak revenge, albeit in a negative way. Explaining how Labour lost all 31 council seats in the Rhondda, Peter Hain put it bluntly: "the government appears gratuitously offensive to it's own natural supporters." Improbably blunt for a member of the Cabinet, but in reality not blunt enough. For after only two years of Blairism, Labour no longer has natural supporters to offend, nor the activists to campaign enthusiastically in order to get a core vote it no longer has, out. Rather than address the fundamentals, Blair in typical New Labour fashion simply decreed without benefit of any electoral mandate, and more or less off the cuff, that hunting was to be outlawed instead.

A gesture which earned him the undying hatred of the 'hunt an ' flog 'em ' fraternity, without altering in any way the catatonic indifference of Labour's former constituency. And where a mandate, as in Ireland, was waiting to be fulfiled, he who began with the trust of everybody broke 'his own rules ' so promiscuously he ended up without neither an 'Agreement ', nor the trust of anybody. To function without principles is one thing, to function without credibility something entirely different.

BIG ISSUE PREDICTION: Not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.

Reproduced from RA vol 4, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '99