New broom required for UK politics
You could, if you had a mind to, pity the Labour party. For that's what it has become, the prefix has been dropped, so no more 'New' Labour or Nulabour. It's back to where it was all those years ago. Either through shame or a desire to try something new the party changed its name following the 'Wilderness' period of 1979 to 1997. So within the lifetime of many voters we've had the pre-prefix, prefix and post-prefix years. I know many of these voters can't tell one phase from the other! We now see that the 18 years from 1979 onwards were started then maintained by an internal party feud. So history repeats itself and most voters who lived through the period can't describe the factions involved or the arguments of those days either; and can you tell one Miliband from the other today?
It's now clear that new-fangled-labour was simply a shop front for Tony Blair to sell his wares, only a fool would think otherwise, so the richest ex-PM since records began conned the country. It's also clear that none of the candidates for the job of leading the party has a clue as to the extent of the damage it suffers or how to repair it. This is the Blair legacy. And there's more. In 1979, the start of the Wilderness years, Blair was 16 years old. Today the youngest Miliband is 41 years old with Andy Burnham one year younger. Blair was 44 years old when he became PM. If you add another period of Wilderness years to David Miliband's current age he will be 63 when it's all over. The term "Prime Minister in waiting" springs to mind.
So it could be the next PM is still at school, let's hope it's a good one, perhaps the next PM will have been a pupil at one of 'Free' schools Michael Gove is setting up! Looking at the outgoing people, Blair, Brown and Mandelson for example, it's only the latter that has any political tradition in the family.
Thus the next PM could also be an unknown quantity, that puts paid to all that shoving by Tony Benn. He frequently appears in the media giving some teenager who shares his name his blessing, although to some it seems a curse! As we wrote in the post (link above) -
One of the many strange things about Nulabour is its stance on the hereditary principle. On the one hand they do all they can to mess up the House of Lords, which was not without faults but working well when they came to power. But on the other hand they are without shame when it comes to finding jobs for their own kith and kin. The ever tedious Tony Benn is always willing to push one of his younger relatives into 'a nice little earner', a job in politics. And of course the ultimate job, seen as a birthright for some Nulabour heavyweights, is a seat in the House of Commons. Philip Gould, the pollster Tony Blair depended on, has watched his daughter, Georgia, try and fail to get a seat. Also Tamsin Dunwoody tried and failed to win her mother's old seat, Crewe and Nantwich.
As said before, strange is the word. Emily Benn, the latest member of Clan Benn with natural governing tendencies, was just three years old when grandpa quit the House of Commons. But there she is with him in tow on the campaign trail without a hint of embarrassment; was he really an advantage? What will she do next, wear her mother's clothes? Very strange as us older folk remember Tony working his socks off to get rid of the family title via Peerage reform; how times change.
But what sort of party will Labour be all those years hence? Michael Foot went into whinge mode following the 1983 general election, he suggested that Labour was suffering as the SDP-Liberal Alliance "siphoned" votes away from his party. Talk about history repeating itself as, led by Gordon Brown, the entire labour movement has picked up where Foot left off. Now the LibDems are blamed but the mindset remains intact despite the passing of 27 years. The idea that Labour, the party besotted by 'rights issues', should imagine it has rights that transcend the democratic process are both risible and alarming. None of the aspirant leaders seem to want to deal with this madness either.
If Labour is always to be in turmoil then perhaps the party that brought 'peace' to Northern Ireland should consider a similar process for itself. In Ireland a substantial wall was built between opposing factions Labour could simply split up into progressive and traditional sectors.
Also you could pity the Liberal Democrats, they are equally perplexing. Here's a party that, one assumes, sought power. But now it has it they run away. Some polls suggest that 40% of their supporters would not vote for them again and there have been resignations from LibDem councillors. They have gone because they don't want to be in a coalition with the Tories. Perhaps they too, like some Labour people, don't understand democracy. For had the deserters and the run-aways not been part of the LibDems but voted directly for Labour even an idiot like Gordon Brown would have got enough votes to still be PM. But more on the LibDems, and eventually the Tories later.