Saturday, 5 May 2012

Come on Shadow Cabinet - Time To Get Going!

 So what did 3 May teach us as a Party?


We are not yet on course to win in 2015
For me, the key moment was when Jeremy Vine showed us a graph of mid-term opposition leads, and related it to success or failure at the next election.  

Mid-term local elections are traditionally a time when the public delivers a verdict on the government ... they are not a time when they permanently change their voting preference.
So, basically, the way it works is that - until you are winning the local elections by somewhere approaching 20% - you do not win the next general election.  Tony Blair was 20% ahaed of the Tories going into the 1997 election; Cameron was 18% ahead of Brown going into 2010.


On 3 May, Labour led the Tories by 8%.
So, basically, the local elections told Labour that we are not yet doing well enough to win in 2015.


That is not to knock the shine off what people achieved on Thursday.
Given the wipe-out of 2008-2010 it was a great result.
And there is still a lot of time before 2015; 8% is 2% up on last year, and a great figure to build on.

But we are not strong enough yet.


Ed is at last becoming a leader
Secondly, did you not think that Ed came out of the local elections really well - much enhanced?

His statement and email hit just the right note of congratulation-with-humility.
It was a masterstroke to appeal to the non-voters.
And going to Worcester as well as Birmingham was just the kind of thing we have come to expect from this mild, reflective leader.

I don't think we have made enough of Ed's strengths in this respect.
In a political world where we have obviously been fooled again and again by 'smooth operators' - glossy celebrity-types who then have turned out to be utter charlatans - maybe the country is ready for a substance-not-show politician?

You wouldn't ask Phillip Schofield to mend your broken computer, for all his skills as a presenter -- you'd bring in a computer nerd.
Maybe people will realise that a bit-of-a-geek is what we need to mend our broken country.


The success of OPPOSITION
The main message I came away with from the local elections, however, was that - when we heard from the elected local councillors afterwards - the difference between them and the normal pronouncements of our Labour Shadow Cabinet could not have been clearer.

They ALL hailed their wins as a victory for opposition.
Every one of them promised to go away and oppose this wicked, cutting, pro-rich, anti-people government.
At local level, Labour has cottoned on to what makes an opposition part a winner ... opposing!


The contrast with the Labour leadership at Westmonster [sic] could not be more glaring.


Where is the Shadow Cabinet?
Today, I had an interesting tweet from suey2y, the 'Spartacus' campaigner, which appears to be a reply to her friend, who had explained why she had not voted:
Sue Marsh ‏ @suey2y
“@h******* no I didn't. Don't know exactly what #Lab r professing & never vote Tory or libs so stayed out of it” <The UK in a nutshell?
Although perhaps a little unfair, it emphasises that the Labour frontbench *still* has not got a coherent/clear/evident policy of opposition together which ordinary people can follow.

In short, we need the Shadow Cabinet to stand up and be counted - they need to declare themselves as implacable enemies of the government's policies - and if some of them cannot bring themselves to do so, they need to resign.

I have blogged-to-boredom about what I would want Labour to say, but quite frankly it's time we knew what the Shadow Cabinet has to say.  

Where is Twigg - #fail?  Byrne is also a #fail because too equivocal. Even Burnham seems to have wilted (sorry if this is unfair, but haven't seen anything of him since the NHS Bill was passed, even though protests against the Act continue). Has Yvette Cooper *really* made enough of May's bungling? Balls is doing well ... but Labour is still without a memorable economic policy. And the rest of the Shadow Cabinet is awfully quiet.



I am (perhaps fairly) chided that the Shadow Cabinet can only be heard when the media chooses to report them, but this in turn is not quite fair is it.  There are enough media outlets not controlled by the professional media - not least Labour blogs like LabourList - for them to wage a continual war against the government, and we could pick up and spread the message. 
Left wingers like Grahame Morris and Michael Meacher are able to do this well enough - why not the Shadow Cabinet.

The Need to OPPOSE

Rather, I am reminded of John Smith, who gave his Shadow Cabinet free rein to attack the government whenever and wherever they could. And also of the directive which came out before the 1997 election that we were to challenge the Tories every time they said anything - to let them get away with nothing.

People remember a New Labour in government which cracked down on all comment because it didn't want party members embarrassing a Labour administration.  They forget that, before - and especially in the run up to - the 1997 election, New Labour orchestrated a growing outcry against the government, its policies, its sleaze, its ministers and everything the Tories and their ilk stood for.

3 May - especially the London mayoral election - showed a huge fund of Labour loyalty. 

But it's time our Shadow Cabinet gave us something to cheer about.

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