The Force will be with us… fingers crossed

RECENTLY I watched a repeat of BBC2’s excellent Mock The Week comedy quiz show, originally aired last summer. Subjects under “discussion” were last year’s floods and speculation that the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, might take advantage of Labour’s 10 per cent poll lead and call a snap election.

We all know what happened next. But it struck me that the current Tory opinion poll lead, though significant in terms of per centage share, is a very recent phenomenon. Yet the Tories’ confidence of winning the next election is utterly unshakeable. The very idea that Labour might yet stage a recovery is not only fanciful but unthinkable (evidenced by the comments in response to this very post).

In terms of number of seats in the Commons, the Tories are worse off than Labour in the 1983 parliament (Labour under Michael Foot won 209 seats; the Tories under Michael Howard won 198). Election victories are only secured by a large and sustained opinion poll lead, criteria which, arguably, the Tories have so far only half met.

The public aren’t yet convinced that ‘Dave’ – the man who advised Norman Lamont and who personally designed the “patient’s passport” as a means of diverting billions of pounds of NHS funding towards the private health sector – can be trusted. He’s certainly no Tony Blair, however much he’s read the instructions.

Which brings me back to the original observation about the Tories’ opinion poll lead being a relatively recent phenomenon. I can honestly say that that degree of arrogance, where defeat isn’t even considered a possibility – has rarely, if ever, afflicted the Labour Party. We’ve always been aware that election victories are hard fought for, and hard won.

For the Tories, though, opposition – even opposition when they were reduced to a rump in the commons, facing a Labour majority of 180 – was never more than a blip, a mere inconvenience on the road back to power. And power, for the Tories, was never a privilege; it is their birthright, to be handed to them on a silver platter by an electorate that has taken longer than they expected to come to its senses. Any suggestion, nearly two years before the last possible date for a general election, that it might yet elude them, is to be mocked and dismissed with a wave of the hand.

There are those in the Tory Party who share the arrogance of Grand Moff Tarkin who, when the Empire seemed on the brink of victory, dismissed the Rebellion’s fightback against the Death Star with the words: “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances!” And we all know what happened to him.

There. I bet John Bloody Redwood never uses Star Wars references…

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25 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Conservative Party, Labour, Movies, Parliament, Politics

25 responses to “The Force will be with us… fingers crossed

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    I think it is to late, events is what it is called. Labour spin was able to con many people for such a long time ie those that want something for nothing. There came a tipping point when even these people could see what was happening ( and still is ). I have never known such anger and resentment over a party.It is far worse than for the last Tory government.Nothing is certain but I think you have a lost cause.You have just about upset everyone including your own.

  2. Letters From A Tory

    “the Tories’ confidence of winning the next election is utterly unshakeable”

    Obviously you missed Eric Pickles, Shadow cabinet member, saying that the Conservatives can still lose the next election a couple of days ago.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  3. Brian Hall

    I’m not going to condone Johnny, because his remarks are as daft and firebrand as usual. In particular since ALL politicians spin.

    However, it is true to say that 65% of the UK (south-west, central and southeast England) are traditionally centre-right. Whereas the rest of us are traditionally centre-left.

    Thus, as the traditionally centre-right have returned to voting Tories its very unlikely that Labour can hold on to power barring an international war (nothing rouses the centre-right to support the government of the day like war).

    Labour will bounce back in 10 to 15 years. This is simple and not to be questioned, the FPTP system makes it this way. Parties are able to hang on to power until enough people dislike then enough to vote for the other lot.

    Some could say that if Labour won the ?1992? election the tories would have bounced back by the last election.

    Of course, now Labour is hamstrung by playing to the centre-right so much that they have lost a considerable proportion of their core support in Scotland where the SNP have used centre-left policies (and actions) to woo the core electorate. This will make a bounce considerably more difficult in the future for Labour. But at least there is a fair chance of a hung parliament and centre-left politics could still be running the country come 2010 (unless Scotland cedes altogether).

  4. James

    It has taken 11 years for New? Labour to get this country in the poor state it’s in and it will take a lot longer than 20 months to put it right whoever wins the next Election.
    I’d like to tell you how you have got it wrong Tom, but that would take longer than 20 months……….

  5. “We’ve always been aware that election victories are hard fought for, and hard won.”

    “…facing a Labour majority of 180 – was never more than a blip, a mere inconvenience on the road back to power. And power, for the Tories, was never a privilege; it is their birthright, to be handed to them on a silver platter by an electorate that has taken longer than they expected to come to its senses. ”

    For “Labour majority” read “SNP minority administration”. For “Tories” read “Scottish Labour”.

    “Natural party of power in Scotland” – so said Labour leadership contender in Scotland.

    Pots and kettles, Mr Harris?

  6. Alison

    Unfortunately, stooping to class-based insinuations of the more ridiculous kind (silver platters? Really?) makes this sound more envious than anything else. It’s a bit sad that Labour Ministers are more keen to make these kinds of assertions than to take on the Tories in the political debate. Not sure it helps the cause…

  7. I agree with Tom. All the election results and polls have done is show we can win, NOT we will win. Complacency and arrogance (and Labour) are what we have to fight against and keep campaigning even if we think we have won.

  8. Madasafish

    Hm

    1. Has David Cameron said “we will win the next General Election”?

    2. Has any Senior Minister in the Labour Party suggested thay they are a party seen as arrogant and nasty?

    Of course not.
    1. Is a sign of arrogance.
    2. Is a sign the party recognises it is arrogant and needs to rethink its approach.

    The actual authors were:
    1. Gordon Brown interviewed in Kabul this week.
    2. Theresa May – Chairman of the Conservative Party…in 2002.

    As for arrogance and nastiness, I point out a statement from that well known Conservative Party – the Guardian…

    “The tactics of Crewe expose a truly nasty party: Labour”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/15/crewebyelection08.labour

    And we all know that Labour won Crewe.

  9. Angelin

    You surely have the opportunity now, given the latest security breach,to abandon the ID Card scheme. YOU are the ones being blamed for each and every breach that occurs. It is obviously not the right time to proceed with this project, both in financial and trust terms. Stop this scheme and you may start to reverse the disenchantment with Labour.

  10. Zorro

    “The public aren’t yet convinced that ‘Dave’ – snip – can be trusted. He’s certainly no Tony Blair, however much he’s read the instructions.”

    Please keep pointing out that Dave is No Tony Blair Tom, it’s important people realise this. Do you really think you’re helping your case here??? 😉

    People might not be sure about the boy Dave but believe me Tom, we’re all pretty sure about Gordon, and we don’t bloody want him.

    “In terms of number of seats in the Commons, the Tories are worse off than Labour in the 1983 parliament”

    You think that’s bad just wait and see where /you lot/ are after the next election.

    And don’t conflate people like /me/ crowing about how you are going down, with the conservative party. I hold no torch for them, merely that they will be the ones to get rid of Labour, which is what’s important.

  11. They can’t stop the scheme, a lot of big businesses are already heavily involved and that would also mean saying we have got this wrong.

  12. Angelin

    Labour have done some things right but ID cards are wrong and at the very least should be postponed (indefinitely).
    My household, like millions of others, has had to absorb many commodity price hikes and have had to ‘cut our cloth’ accordingly and reduce our consumption. I have yet to hear of any cutbacks this government (or local councils- apart from weekly bin collections)have made in response to the ‘credit crunch’. All I hear about is increased borrowing by it which will cause further problems for the next incoming government.
    This is why I believe Labour have resigned themselves to the certainty of losing the next GE.

  13. We watched a Mock the Week yesterday that I think was being newly broadcast (jolly difficult to tell in these days of PVRs esp. when in the hands of a daughter). Anyway the jolly contestants gave David “nice boy” Cameron a right going over. Is this:

    a) a good thing because he’s a smarmy opportunist who deserves to be mocked;

    b) a bad thing because all politicians should be treated with respect even by comedy TV shows;

    c) a bad thing because it demonstrates that the Tories are at last being noticed by comedy TV shows;

    d) a good thing because it demonstrates that the opposition has at last got into a condition where it’s being noticed by comedy TV shows and a healthy opposition is good for democracy;

    or

    e) none of the above.

    Discuss, type on one side of the keyboard only….

  14. Johnny Norfolk

    What have Labour done right ? . Everything they touch ends up a complete mess. This country is far better off with a Conservative government and a Labour opposition. We then end up with the right balance. Put the artisans in control and we end up with the mess we now have.

    I find it remarkable that Labour thinks it can win the next election by keeping to what has gone before.

  15. Brian Hall

    Now Johnny, I know that you may think Labour have done nothing right. Thats nonsense, the minimum wage was possibly the best thing done by the UK government in 20 years.

    Shame it hasn’t kept track with real rises in inflation.

  16. Madasafish

    Further thoughts:
    I am sure David Cameron can come across as arrogant. He certainly appears self assured. Just as well as last year it looked as it all might go pear shaped.. when Gordon was basking in his post appointment glow..

    Since I am not a member of nor supporter of the Conservatives I just do not know the man.. But one thing I do know: he clearly does not tolerate fools gladly. The Conservative Party has its fair share of them as do all parties..But you don’t hear much from them. they are quiet and disciplined in a manner totally unlike the past 10 years – or even in John Major’s time.

    In contrast the Labour Party.. well a clearer contrast cannot be seen.

    Now if you call party discpline “arrogance” the Labour under Tony Blair was “arrogant”. In its initial term it was controlled and purposeful and focussed.

    Now if the Conservatives genuinely believed they are the Natural party of Government as Tom suggests, firstly they would be wrong as in the past 40 years we have had nearly a 50: 50 split and secondly, why be so disciplined?

    With Labour having all the hallmarks of a John Major Government – although less so as no John Redwood or Michael Portillo # exist to stab Gordon in the back – surely an arrogant Opposition would sit back and let Labour do their work for them?

    Perhaps they don’t think so and are working at it?

    Only a thought..

    # Anyone who compares David Milliband to either is surely having a laff?

  17. Johnny Norfolk

    Whats the point of a minimum wage with costs going up like they are. Labour are good at giving money away but have not got a clue on how to make it.
    You have to have a strong enterprise economy. Labour have, step by step dismantled it.

    Its 60s/70s Labour all over again.

  18. “Whats the point of a minimum wage with costs going up like they are.”

    Johnny – if there were no minimum wage, people would be earning far less than they do now. Under the Tories, many employers paid their workers poverty wages. Under the Tories, the minimum wage would wither on the vine, allowing wages to fall far below current levels.

  19. Brian

    You clearly didn’t read my post Johnny, The minimum wage is a great thing ‘shame it hasn’t kept track with inflation!’

  20. Johnny Norfolk

    Well we are about to see what a decade of Labour has done for us. Its no good spending on health, education, minimum wage etc if we do not have a vibrant enterprise economy to support it.
    The proof will be what happens in the next 2 years and it is going to be worse for Britain because we have a false economy created by Labour.

    I am sure Labour thinks money grows on trees. and they have spent what we do not have, that is the root of the problem. You will have to face up to it in the comming months. How you can continue to spend on capital projects with the economy as it is just beggers belief.

    You need to be drawing up lists of what you can cut back on with out hurting the most vulnerable.

    Ministers are spending as if nothing has happened.

    Some of my suggestions would be
    I/D cards
    Road pricing
    School building
    Government advertising
    Reduce civil servants
    Simplify tax .
    Remove Browns complicated ways of doing things

    Nothing is being done its like Brown is the captain of the Titanic who cannot see the icebergs.

    We are all having to cut back why shouldnt the government.

  21. I am always late commenting on your posts, Tom, because there are many more interesting ones to read than the “Tommy, Johnny and Brian” love-in.

    However, I keep coming back only because you write such amusing tosh. This particular example clearly demonstrates that you watch Dave TV. How deliciously ironic.

    I won’t bother to make any observation on the clap-trap you have cobbled together simply to come up with a punchline to justify the title – that seems to be your stock in trade. Except to say that you really should get out more and understand how low the Labour Party – and Gordon Brown in particular – is held in the public’s esteem. We are at laughing stock phase at the moment and will soon move into the anger and hatred stage. Mark my words…..

    [NB: The last three (relatively innocuous)comments I have posted on you blog have not appeared and so I will be interested to see if you let this one through.]

  22. Just to cheer you up even more, Tom, I thought you’d be interested in just one of the comments on Iain Dale’s thread on the SNP picking their candidate for Glenrothes ahead of Labour.

    “Richard S said…
    I’m one of those card carrying active members of the Labour party in one of the safest seats in country (one of the 20 odd we would not lose even with a Glasgow East swing)

    “Its completely true that there is a malaise that has gripped even the party membership. I always wondered what it would be like to be a Tory in the mid-90s with the electorate as a whole having nothing but apathy for you. Now I know.”

    I thought you’d like to know too, Tom. Still, I’m sure the party conference will see you surge back (even lower) in the polls. Ed Balls will make the speech of his life urging the faithful to re-adopt Clause Four, Alan Johnson will surge in popularity as he moves a motion to increase the powers of the Unions’ block vote while David Miliband amazes everyone by agreeing to be publicly hung, drawn and quartered for the sake of the Party. Gordon will be symbolically crucified on stage but rise again on the third day and all the delegates will return to their constituencies to prepare for an inevitable drubbing in the local and European elections next spring.

    Stranger things have happened…….

  23. Barney Waits

    “Which brings me back to the original observation about the Tories’ opinion poll lead being a relatively recent phenomenon. I can honestly say that that degree of arrogance, where defeat isn’t even considered a possibility – has rarely, if ever, afflicted the Labour Party. We’ve always been aware that election victories are hard fought for, and hard won.”

    Conveniently ignoring Neil Kinnock …

    “Well, awwwrrriighhhhttt”.

    Never mind. Selective memory is a fine thing isn’t it?

  24. Barney Waits

    Brian Hall August 22, 2008 at 9:38 am

    “Thus, as the traditionally centre-right have returned to voting Tories its very unlikely that Labour can hold on to power barring an international war (nothing rouses the centre-right to support the government of the day like war).”

    Quite so. Just in the same way, the whole country swung behind New Labour when Bliar lied us into Iraq. Not.

  25. Barney Waits

    Johnny Norfolk – don’t forget the Quangos. They cost us over £1 billion a year, are unelected and unaccountable, and more and more keep appearing.

    Didn’t someone once say – “no taxation without representation”? Well, Quangos would say – haha, fooled you. Tough.

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