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16 March 2012

Opposition politics

For the cause of Britain's indebtedness, one need look no further than the previous Government. Obviously, there were other factors involved, but Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had every opportunity to implement the required solutions – instead they chose to become the biggest problem.

This alone should be enough to condemn the Labour Party to an extended period of opposition – a fate which looks quite likely according to the Labour-supporting blogger, Hopi Sen.

In a rather brilliant post, he draws upon Tory Wars – Simon Walters' account of the Conservative wilderness years – to compare Labour now to the Conservatives a decade ago. Among his many insights, this one stands out:

  • "...when the change needed to win is too painful, too divisive, too unacceptable, those involved grab hold of any straw to support what they already "know" to be true. So ur-thatcherites find confirmation that tax cuts are popular in local council elections, social conservatives quote polls on immigration, or the liberal elite and modernisers talk about how important it is to be in "touch with modern Britain" and "people like me".
  • All of these, individually, are true. But each in its own way obscures the larger issue. What will the party actually do, in government? What choices will it make? What will it prioritise? At heart, the Conservative party from 1997 to 2005 seemed to suspect that their basic answer to that question would not win it an election.
  • Since it was unwilling to change course, it doomed itself to defeat, and consoled itself with polling figures, local election results, foriegn success and illusions of progress."

Reading this passage, one is struck by the repeated use of the present tense. In part, this is because Sen is commenting on a contemporary account of past events, while simultaneously drawing a parallel to the modern-day Labour Party. But, inadvertently, he also serves to remind us that, in actual fact, the Conservative Party has still to win an election.


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