Friday, 2 May 2008

Local election aftermath

So the blood-letting begins. And already it has got off to a false start (and Mayoral results haven't been announced yet.) It has been characterised as the Progress line (don't forget the southern, middle-class) versus the Compass line (it's the core vote, stupid.) The reality is that if you read the Progress and Compass responses to last night's appalling results, they are basically arguing a similar and rather superficial point. Apparently, we have to assemble a winning coalition to win. Get it?

As Neal Lawson of Compass concedes, Labour has the to retain the support of both the working-class and middle-classes. The genius of Blairism is that it unified the interests of both. Now I don't see how a political strategy that achieved a majority of 64 in some the most trying of circumstances just three years ago can be described as 'dead' as Neal declares in his piece. My experience on the door-step yesterday is that Labour is hemorrhaging support from both the middle classes and the (white) working class. More worryingly than Neal Lawson suggests, the white, working class was often jumping straight to the Tories. The BNP were a fleeting concern and they have flatlined in this election with some local exceptions but it is the Tories who pose the major threat to Labour's core vote now.

Politics moves on and the priorities of the last ten years are not necessarily the same priorities of the next ten years. There is no doubt the Government has reached an impasse and only a new appeal will induce a recovery. This appeal can not be about sprinkling goodies on this group and that group as a desire to secure their allegiance. Instead Brown needs a clear vision, consistently and clearly communicated, and backed up by a political sensitivity.

What is that vision? Nothing I have heard so far is in any way convincing- 'big challenges', 'on your side', 'unlocking talents', it all sounds hackneyed and wan. We know we have to build a winning coalition. But how?

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