Friday, 21 April 2017
Labour's Road to Oblivion
Strictly speaking of course the election campaign has not properly got underway, but in reality there is no time to be lost. At the last election we all knew exactly when the big day would be thanks to the hated Fixed Term Parliament Act and so the campaign effectively got started the moment that the New Year ticked around and the last strains of Auld Langs Syne had faded away. This time, again thanks to the FTPA, and our poker playing PM, we only thought we knew when the election would be. It turns out we were wrong, for which we should all give thanks.
So now, though this Parliament has some business to complete, the campaign is underway. In 7 weeks time we will all be waking up (or sitting up all night in my case) to the results of an election nobody expected and many hoped would not happen.
It would be fascinating to know how the leadership of Labour feel now that it is all underway. They are trying to exude confidence of course, but they aren't even terribly good at that. Campaigning and evincing a consistent message? Not a chance. The best they could do on the opening day was to have their ever loyal, ever deluded supporters heckle reporters for asking questions they considered disobliging. Apparently it is beyond the pale to ask the leader of the party that hopes to form a government in 7 weeks time about his dire poll ratings.
Labour are 24 points behind the Tories in the polls, the public has already made up its mind about Chauncey and indeed Labour MPs are already talking about damage limitation. Many have simply given up and are either retreating to their constituencies to prepare for annihilation or are resigning in the hope that someone will offer them a job running a museum or part of the BBC. Channel 4 has a vacancy.
But there is a more than realistic chance that Labour will do much much worse than even the dire polls are predicting. Because Labour's first day, though certainly not a disaster, was an example of their woeful inexperience and ineptitude. It's not as if some Labour instincts, even those of Chauncey, will not chime with voters as he talked of some businessmen and their dubious practices. But nobody believed that Labour would be able to tackle any of this without causing damage to the country. And negotiating with Europe? Chauncey the pacifist would surrender. On their first day they managed to refuse to rule out a second EU referendum twice only to have a spokesman recant later much too late.
Best of the day though was when Dawn Butler managed to accuse Theresa May of trying to rig the electoral system only to be gently reminded that Labour voted in favour of it. She then accused the wrong company of not paying its taxes. The company she was thinking of also pays its taxes, it just avoids them, something Ms Butler might wish to read up about.
Will Labour get their act together? Don't bet on it. This is a front bench full of inexperienced people at best and the likes of Diane Abbott and Chauncey at worst. John McDonnell is nothing like as clever as he thinks he is and is widely reviled for previous stances, something you can be sure the Tories will keep hammering him about for the next 7 weeks. It will start to feel almost cruel, but then they knew this was coming. It's why Labour MPs tried to get rid of him and why they are now quitting in despair.
If they are lucky then the party will fall to the worst electoral result since Labour started to become a serious electoral force in this country. Labour are reduced to arguing that things might not necessarily be as bad as everyone thinks they will be. This means they are probably worse. Chauncey is determined, seemingly, to indulge his supporters' fantasy to the bitter end. Everyone is assuming that he will then do the decent thing and resign on the morning of June 9th as Wallace did 2 years ago. But then that was precisely the wrong thing to do. Chauncey was the result. Labour has a habit of getting these moments wrong. Chauncey will cling on and blame anyone but himself. The left will blame the media, Blairites even the BBC as Chauncey's brother did this week. Labour MPs, assuming they still are MPs, are in the hapless position of hoping that this election yields a result so bad that even the left cannot ignore it. Fortunately their leader is a man who may well satisfy this masochistic yearning. How long it will take Labour to recover is the real question.
Labour is in a mess entirely of its own making, a road they started down when they dumped Tony Blair for a man who had no more idea of what to do with the leadership than that he considered it his due. It then handed the leadership to a man who had no greater idea of what to do other than that he didn't want his brother to have the job. It then somehow contrived to elect a man as leader despite having checks and balances to prevent him even getting onto the ballot paper. It has consistently failed to remove him from the job despite his being clearly incapable of doing it competently and of having never had the confidence of his parliamentary party. In order to be a PM he or she must command the confidence of the House of Commons. Chauncey does not even command the confidence of the man who looks back at him in the mirror of a morning. He is a product of a middle class left wing upbringing typically cut off from the very people he claims to represent and fight for. He has no imagination, no sense of humour and no intellect. His education was minimal and disappointing and his career has been pointless and born of cronyism. He has never had a proper job and has spent his life spouting left wing drivel that history has consigned to the dustbin decades ago. He is unfit to lead his party and certainly unfit to be this country's Prime Minister at a time when we need our best and brightest leading us with strength, fortitude and resilience. The British public has seen through him since day one. His poll ratings have never risen above dire. He is heading to disaster and ignominy. A man as humble as he claims to be would have quit long ago. And so now he deserves to go down to a record defeat and likely his party's worst since it became one of the parties that aspire to government. After 2017 that may no longer be the case. It will be deserved. A chaotic party that cannot even run itself has no place aspiring to running the country.