Friday, 8 May 2015

The move to the left that never happened

When Ed Miliband was selected as the new Labour Party leader, the cameras picked up his brother David mouthing to a colleague: 'He will crush and burn.' That's exactly what has happened. So where did it go so wrong?

Part of the problem was that Miliband's analysis of post-crisis Britain was fundamentally wrong. Miliband thought that the country has moved to the left. He took the chit chat about inequality in academia and the Westminster village as reflecting support for socialist principles. He was wrong and anybody who wanted to listen carefully two or three years ago, could have known this. The second miscalculation was that Labour believed their own rhetoric that the Conservatives had moved to a soulless ghoulish right of the political spectrum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite all the noise from the Polly Toynbees in the intellectual elite, the election has shown that policies of Tories resonate with people in the electoral centre ground.

The fascinating thing is to step back and look at the defeat of Labour in a wider (European) context. The party may lick its wounds for months to come, and may shift even more left as a consequence, yet if they afford themselves a good look across Europe they would see that any social democratic party that relinquishes the centre ground loses elections.

Today, it may look like a disaster has befallen Labour, but my feeling is that even more pain will be felt until they challenge the Conservatives in the centre ground.

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