Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Why the Labour Party will not die

Amongst Iain Dale's 'Daley Dozen' pick of the best on the blogosphere from Friday - apologies only seen today - was an assessment that the Labour Party could be dead in a generation .

This assessment was coming from a Lib Dem supporting blogger who made a compelling and well written case for this to happen. However, many of us remember the same being said of the Conservative Party as recently as six years ago. Furthermore Labour have been out of power for less than a year after 13 years of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The Labour Party is too well funded through the union brothers for them to be eradicated. It is easy to think that this is all wishful thinking from a Lib Dem who supports a party currently on or around 10 per cent in the polls.

In 2005 Geoffrey Wheatcroft wrote a book entitled "The Strange Death of Tory England" where he used a snapshot of results and case studies as evidence for a wider trend in British politics. As a Conservative it is a useful book to refer back to as an insuarnce policy against falling out of step with the electorate ever again.

In his conclusion, Wheatcroft summed up the situation as he saw it nearly six years ago. Remember this was before David Cameron won the leadership of the party. This is a revealing passage and one where, if you substitute in Labour or Labour Party for Tories, it is possible to see exactly what Ed Miliband needs to do to ensure Labour is still around in a generation:

"...the Tories may well find themselves at a dead end. Over the centuries this party has shown a ferocious survival instinct and an endless capacity for re-invention, but it seems to have lost both, with dire prospects...No law of history says that any political party has to survive. In 1906, the Liberals won the greatest of landslide elections, and within ten years they had lost office as a party, never to hold power again. Whether the Tories are destined to follow them may depend on humility and a capacity to learn from error." 

David Cameron certainly did but can 'Red Ed' Miliband?


  1. The Labour Party may not be dead in a generation but we live in hope!!

  2. An interesting piece but I think that you hit upon the wrong reasons that the Labour Party will not die. Of course the cyclical nature of politics is important but I think that those suggesting that Labour will die totally misunderstand the nature of the Labour Party and its solid support.

    First, in many working class communities, the Labour Party represents more than just a political party, it represents an important social and cultural expression and remains rooted in many working class areas, where as Marquand said in the 'Progressive Dilemma' voting Labour remains an expression of working class identity. It is hard to see how that identity will not be strengthened by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties becoming engaged in a programme of cuts.

    Second, the Labour Party has now embedded itself in many areas where there were Tory MPs before the effects of Thatcherism created a cultural anti Toryism. Look at Scotland, Liverpool, Newcastle as just three examples. The past four elections have shown that it is easier for the Labour Party than the Conservative Party to win an overall majority.


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