Nothing is inevitable

I joined the Labour Party in 1984, and for the next decade, the experience was not a happy one. I approached every electoral test unjustifiably optimistic, only to feel a sickening emptiness in the pit of my stomach as the results started to filter through. In by-elections, regional, district and general elections, I prayed – literally prayed – that this time Labour would make the breakthrough. And time after time I had to pick myself up, dust myself down and start all over again.

There are very many Labour Party members today who don’t share that experience, who joined the party after Tony became leader, and who have never really had to experience the awful desperation of defeat at the hands of the Tory Party.

Which is why so many in the party have been, until recently, complacent. They believed the myth that the Tory party could never recover after the rout of 1997. Now, when it’s clear that that’s exactly what’s happened, they may be tempted towards the opposite extreme: panic.

Don’t let that happen. What we’re seeing s not the end of the world, but a return to business as usual, where Labour is once again the underdog of British politics, and where, for the first time in 15 years (but certainly not the first time in our history), we have to make the case for our party instead of sitting back and reaping the electoral benefits of a fractured and divided Tory Party.

Real politics is difficult. It’s hard work and it can be discouraging. Those whose first experience of national politics was 1997 could be forgiven for forgetting that.

The results of May 1 were a wake-up call, not a death certificate. The electoral arithmetic in Britain still makes it incredibly difficult for the Tories to win a general election outright. They still aren’t well represented outside of their heartlands.

What would win it for Cameron would be if party members started swallowing the media myth of Tory inevitability. Nothing is inevitable. The prize of a fourth term for Labour is something that’s worth fighting for. The media are bored with us, and they won’t do us any favours. And we will have to work harder than we have ever worked before to achieve victory. But it will be worth it.

And if we succeed, if we can bounce back after the last few months, David Cameron will become just another footnote in the political history of our nation, filed alongside William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.

And that would be worth fighting for.

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2 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Labour, Media, Politics

2 responses to “Nothing is inevitable

  1. Jane

    I am disillusioned. I am a long term supporter (joined in 1967)who has been penalised by the removal of the 10p tax rate (as too is my husband). We are liable to pay £232 additional tax each year. I am not happy given that I and my husband are retired and on a fixed income and are being penalised with never ending higher council tax, energy, water and food costs. I have always worked, saved for retirement and have never required any assistance from the state. I believe in fairness and a society that looks after those who are unable to provide for themselves. This is the first time in my life that I have felt that I have been treated unfairly. To add to my woe, I believe that the PM made the tax changes to gain politically. It was reported widely that he refused to accept the number of people who would lose out and in addition he informed the PLP that he had managed to achieve something that the tories had never been able to do by reducing the rate to 20%. Leadership is not about beating the opposition – it is about vision too. I also believe that he misled the previous PM as to the numbers who would lose under the tax regime changes. (Guardian). His main aim in life appears to be to fight the “Tories” not to govern.

    Added to this fiasco (from a Labour government), I was most unhappy at those who sought to remove Tony Blair from office. Yes – I firmly believe that the current PM was complicit in the coup and being a political anorak I have read every publication since 1997 which confirms my views. I loathe disloyalty and unlike many MPs have never wanted Gordon Brown as PM. We all know how he plotted and tried to destabilise Tony Blair in his bid to become leader of the party which he somehow believed to be his right. I have never believed that he held the necessary skills for the top job and sadly this is becoming apparent to all.

    Yes – I too remember the dark days of Tory Government. However, I do not consider that any government of any political persuasion would be able to behave in a similar way in the future. The world has changed, some of us are better educated, technology means that we have access to mammoth amounts of information and all governments in the future will be held to account by a more educated and informed electorate. The latest poll today is alarming and it may just bring to bear to the party how unhappy we are with the present leadership. I should keep some of the cabinet of the tv screens – Balls, Cooper, Alexander for example. Instead, Jacqui Smith, David Miliband , Tessa Jowell and the wonderful Alan Johnson should be the face of the party.

    I too am bored with you. We have lost our characters – John Reid, Charles Clarke and even John Prescott. I am sick of being lectured to by those close to Gordon Brown as if somehow they know best. I am upset that many of the good thin gs started by Tony Blair have been shelved or watered down. I am insulted by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who failed to answer my questions about how the 10p tax error would be adjusted. I do not need a lecture on class from her – I need a financial answer or an acknowledgement of the difficulties in resolving the issue. We need some humility from those representing us many of whom are as you say complacent. Perhaps they may also have woke up to the fact that thier core voters have deserted them. We certainly do not need policies made on the hoof or to satisfy some political need. The recent change to cannabis laws is an example. The change in drug category is against the wishes of all drug advisory bodies and the police. Nanny state and appealing to the Daily Mail perhaps?

    I do not know what is to be done. Even if the economy does improve there has been an awful lot of damage done to the government. Reputations have been lost. As you say the situation may be retrievable – I am not optimistic.

  2. As a political naif who’s activisism extends to vowing never to vote Labour again after the Wilson Government tore the heart out of the aircraft industry in 1965, I stand back in amazement at Jane’s lucidity and commitment.

    And here it is 8 hours later with no reply. I can hear the chanting on the terraces:

    (To the tune of Bread of heaven)
    ‘You’re not blogging
    You’re not blogging
    You’re not blogging anymore’

    Much easier to get chippy about ‘toffs’ like Boris and Dave.

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