Sunday, 27 September 2009

Operation No Hope

The rows of empty seats at the Labour Party conference as Gordon Brown addressed his troops to launch 'Operation Fight Back' spoke volumes about party morale. An air of defeatism has now seized Labour, combined with an acceptance that the time has passed to replace Gordon Brown.

Brown's message sounded very Old Labour to me with some remarks about the market which do not fit with an article he wrote some years ago in Political Quarterly when New Labour was at its zenith. No doubt the intention was to rally the troops and consolidate the core vote but that was William Hague's strategy and look where it got him.

Bashing bankers' bonuses is good populist stuff, but Dave Cameron is not foolish enough to present himself as the bankers' friend and the general tone of Brown's message will have done little to win over Middle England or deserting professional and managerial voters.

Andrew Marr has annoyed Downing Street by raising the issue of how reliant Brown is on prescription drugs yesterday, something that has been bubbling around in the blogs and a few press reports for some time. Brown does look exhausted, but it's a demanding job and aged Tony Blair.


Shankar said...

Hi Wyn, Just wondering. Do you think Labour have any chance at all to win? Do you think that there isn't enough time for people's perception of the economy to improve enough to reward Brown?

Wyn Grant said...

I think that the best they can hope for is a hung Parliament. The economy was performing strongly in 1997 but it did the Conservatives very little good at all. This looks like an exhausted government that has run out of ideas and has lost confidence in itself.

Shankar said...

Thanks for that Wyn. Your reply got me thinking. Now that the New Labour government is in its death throes, what is the future for the politics of inequality and social welfare in the UK? Cameron has campaigned as a centrist and has committed himself to spending on the NHS and carrying on New Labour ideas on education (from academy schools to Surestart). And I think their ideas on apprenticeships are sensible. But I remain pessimistic
about inequality and low social mobility and even the meagreness of the median wage in the UK. Do you think there is reason for any optimism, or is this problem exaggerated?

Wyn Grant said...

I think it is evident that many prospective Conservative MPs are well to the right of Cameron and see an opportunity to roll back the state created by the fiscal crisis. Inequality could in principle form part of the 'broken Britain' agenda, but I doubt that it will. Restrictions in benefits are likely to hit the worst off, although many in middle England could be affected by changes in child benefit and tax credits.