Sunday, April 18, 2010

Now new poll threatens Labour

Latest YouGov poll shows LD 33%, Con 32% and Lab 26%. Obviously the LibDems are now starting to eat into the Labour vote.

So what should we do? Nothing. We gain nothing by attacking the LibDems. It would be like attacking Susan Boyle (or like Hague attacking Blair over Diana's funeral - remember that?) We just need to wait it out and see if it blows over.

Suppose there is a hung parliament, what should we do? We should let the LibDems form a govt, possibly in coalition with the Tories. We should stay out of it. This might seem perverse, but just as having the SNP in power in Scotland suddenly revived Labour there, a LibDem govt would help Labour too - especially as the latest YouGov poll indicates the public doesn't really like their policies apart from the reform of the electoral system and their tax policies.

We need to play the role of Stanley Baldwin in 1923. It was a hung parliament and though his Conservatives had the most seats, he declined to form a government and Labour formed the government with Liberal support. The Liberals then brought down the Labour government and Baldwin benefitted - and apart from a brief interlude from Labour in 1929, the Conservatives governed from 1924 to WW2. Baldwin's calculation was that in a Labour coalition with the Liberals, one of the two parties would die, and as opposition he would come back to power. He was right and the Liberals faded for seven decades. [There is other evidence of this happening in coalitions: the grand coalition between the socialists and Merkel's party ended up with Merkel killing the socialists, and Labour's coalition with the LibDems in Scotland ended up with Labour killing the LibDems there.].

If the LibDems and Tories form a coalition, in these trying times, chances are that one of them will die. We need to get out of their way and be the opposition people turn to when it inevitably goes pear-shaped. If Lab go into coalition with popstars like Clegg's LibDems, we will be the ones who get killed

I know this is hard for people who want to fight back. But when there is a popular tsunami of the sort we are seeing, the best thing to do is simply stay out of it's way. Democracy has these flashes of mood and instead of intervening we should allow them to run their course.


DevonChap said...

It is unlikely the Tories will die. Almost all political systems have a centre right party and in the UK (England and Wales certainly) that is the Tories. After 1997 the Lib Dems tried to replace them as the second party and failed. So we can be pretty sure that in or out of government the Tories will continue as a major force in UK politics.

The fight to the death is between Labour and the Lib Dems. Both are parties of the centre left. Both are fishing in the same pool of supporters. The Liberals aren’t satisfied with being the party that keeps Labour in power, they want to be a major party of government and without the unions Labour has nothing to fall back on. Reform of party funding post election is pretty certain and both the Tories and Libs support curbs on union funding to 50k pa. Labour is finding it hard enough to pay its way now. Without the union money and with a strong centre left competitor on the rise with none of its baggage competing for donations from the soft left rich it is hard to see how Labour can function successfully. Lack of money killed the Liberals as a national force in the 1930s. It could do the same for Labour now.

Our system favours the party best placed to block the Tories. If that looks like the Lib Dems expect Labour seat to go yellow over the next couple of elections till Labour is a party of Scotland, the Welsh Valleys and North East England.

I doubt the Lib Dems would go into coalition with anyone, unless they are leading it. Support for a minority government is more likely so they can avoid the blame for the cuts while lambasting the other main opposition party for not supporting the necessary tough choices to solve Britain’s problems (You know the Lib Dems love the Janus faced line). Why support Labour which would either the party making the nasty cuts or the party that caused the problem? If you are centre left and support fairness, back the party with clean hands. I certainly could see some Blairite and careerist Labour members crossing the floor to the up and coming force of the left. At best Labour is in 1982 territory.

Make no mistake. The party with the most to lose from the rise of the Lib Dems is Labour. Only the Lib Dems enthusiasm for STV might save Labour as a national force, though condemned to play second fiddle in coalitions. Brown might be Labour last Prime Minister.

snowflake5 said...

Devonchap - not so long ago you were claiming that Cameron was "bound" to win the general election, because he was 25 points ahead. What happened to that?

This is the trouble with Tory thinking - you look in the rear mirror constantly and assume that just because something hasn't happened before, it won't happen in the future. That's wrong, as this election is proving so clearly.

If a party can go from 25 points ahead to losing an election, it can go into extinction. It's not as though the Tories were in govt these last 13 years, what's your excuse for not capitalising on the govt's woes and why have the LibDems started to replace you as the main opposition to Labour?

DevonChap said...

I don't think I ever said the Tories were bound to win the election, I thought them likely to but then I never expected Labour to slump to 27%.

"If a party can go from 25 points ahead to losing an election, it can go into extinction". This is a false analogy. You are linking two statements together as if one supports the other. You might as well say if a volcano can stop European airtavel, a chimp can write a novel. One is right (though I would point out we don't know if the Tories have lost the election until 7 May) but that doesn't make the other correct. Poor logic was always your weak point. Parties go from 25 point ahead to losing elections all the time. Labour were 29% ahead in April 1990. They didn't die after 1992 did they?

As a right of centre person I look to EVIDENCE, not just supposition. The evidence is that the Tories have fought off destruction in the non too distant past from both the centre (Lib Dems) and right (UKIP). It is fairly clear there is a constituency of 30% that will remain loyal to the Tories unless they internally self destruct. The recent Lib Dem surge cut them back to near their core but they seem to be making some of that back. Now 30% isn't a winning number but it is sufficient for survival as one of the two main parties. Under FPTP the key is the difference between the Tories and Labour and as of Sunday the average Tory lead over Labour was over 6% with ICM making it 9%. With marginal swings etc this puts the Tories on course to being close to a majority.

You should be more worried about Labour. At 27% you are polling below 1983 levels. Many Labour supporters look favourably on the Lib Dems. The key seems to be to stop the Tories rather than loyalty to a given party. Many have voted tactically for the last three elections. If the Lib Dems become the more credible anti Tory party of government then they may defect for good. Labour has a certain number of centre left careerist politicians who would also consider jumping ship if they thought that the Lib Dems were more likely to be in power in future than Labour. If you stuck with the Tories during the 13 years in the wilderness you are likely to stick with them now. Can you say the same of the Labour benches if it looks like you'll never regain power?

You are right to suggest the Lib Dems could implode. Their current support is shallow and unrealistic. It reminds me of the wave of sentiment that brought Tory Blair to power and that has resulted in disillusionment. Forcing them into the tough choices of government would put great strains to their coalition. Labour task is to ensure that the Lib Dem implosion happens before Labour's does. The Lib Dems know that and that is why the only coalition they will be joining is one they lead.