Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wilderness or Renewal

Frank Field certainly has it in for Gordon Brown. This is not a man to forgive and forget, in fact there is something old testament about him. I'm not sure politically where he comes from but I suspect his religion is what leads him into not accepting the usual politician's compromises. The government is backtracking and some of the backbenchers knives are out. It's hard to see how Labour will win the next election as the momentum after the local and London Mayoral elections seems unstoppable.

It's not too soon for the party to make plans in case the worse, a Tory landslide, happens. New Labour won power on the back of Tony Blair's charisma. They dropped their ideology in an Americanisation of British politics. They have tried, and succeeded for a long time, in being a better Conservative Party than the Tories themselves, a sort of Maggie with a human face. I'm not sure either Neil Kinnock or John Smith thought that was what they were starting, but I suspect not.

The Tory, and now the Liberal, answer is to find young, good-looking leaders with charisma. Gordon Brown's problem is this is an asset he doesn't have. If Labour is going to continue being New Labour they will need to find a competitor in the charisma stakes to take over from Gordon and then hope the Tories make such a mess of it they lose their support. But... there is another answer.

Get back to having an ideology. Modernise it if necessary, but stop trying to be more conservative than the Conservatives. By its nature the Tories have no ideology, no new ideas. They are there to conserve the status quo, always have been, always will. Fight charisma with ideas. Remind people that some of the worse dictators in memory had fantastic charisma but ended up doing their people no good in the long run.

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