Saturday, 7 June 2014

Next Year Is Likely To Be Memorable For The Wrong Reason....

Some elections are predictable (The Conservatives' triumph in 1983 and Labour's in 1997 are two cases in point), whereas others are unpredictable (The Conservatives' narrow victory in 1992, and the last election that produced the Con-Lib coalition are two cases in point). Next year's election in 2015 is more like the former than the latter - it seems likely that Labour will win the most seats (and I say that with a huge frown). The only thing in the balance is whether they obtain a majority or not.

The reason Labour will win is not much to do with any of their political qualities. In fact, I've argued before that this is perhaps the worst bunch of party politicians I've ever seen in this country - Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Tristam Hunt, Chuka Umunna, Caroline Flint, Sadiq Khan, Emily Thornberry and Margarat Curran, to name just some of the worst of the frontbenchers. Others like Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves, Vernon Coaker, Liz Kendall and Jon Cruddas aren't quite such insufferable characters, but by association they still carry around the same stench of counterfactual party politics.  
The only possible way the party could be worse right now is if Diane Abbott had won her leadership campaign in 2010. In fact, consigning Abbott to the backbenches is about the only credible thing this current bunch of leftist buffoons have done since their shadow cabinet inception.
Some may argue that the 1970s Labour party was worse than this bunch - but I don't tend to agree; they had more of an excuse back then in that the economic left was nowhere near as discredited as it is now.
If the worst bunch of party politicians I've ever seen can be succesful in obtaining enough seats for government, one ought to ask how on earth such a thing can happen. My perception of the political landscape is that the conditions that have led to Labour's imminent success are principally down to a three factors, and that's aside from the constituency border biases that favour Labour.  
Firstly, the Conservatives are far less popular than Labour with ethnic minority voters - and with the mass influx of immigration in the past 20 years, there are more Labour voters in that demographic (the cynic in me suggests that that's why Labour weren't too upset at underestimating the rate of immigration by a huge number). In 2001, one in ten voters were ethnic minority voters. By 2050, it is forecasted that ethnic minority voters will constitute one in five of the population. With many ethnic minority voters spreading into what used to be Tory safe seats, it is a change that the Conservatives are probably going to have trouble coping with.
Secondly, UKIP is attracting lots of Tories who are fed up with the way Cameron's party has leant so far to the left. For good or ill, issues such as immigration, the EU and same-sex marriage have divided the right, and UKIP's rhetoric is just the sort of music to which the far right Tories have pledged their allegiance. To put it bluntly, UKIP is the Conservative Party that many Tories used to vote for. Just as the slightly more right-leaning SDP handed Thatcher two substantive majorities in the eighties by splitting the left, the Tory defectors to UKIP look likely to hand victory to Ed Miliband's Labour Party in 2015.
Thirdly, and in the converse to the last observation, the Left are assembling a pretty unified body of opposition at the moment. Don't misunderstand, it's a ramshackle of half-truths and falsehoods, but it's a pretty unified ramshackle for those that have been duped by it. With the death of some of the hard left fringe groups, and with the disenchanted Liberal Democrats decamping to Labour, Ed Miliband's party has been reaping the benefits.
So not only will next year probably see in power the lowest standard of politicians in living memory - it will be yet another, but even more extreme example, of how you don't need to do well in politics, you only need to do less-bad than those in opposition to you, or in Labour's case, be a receptacle for other parties' disenchanted voters.
* Photo courtesy of the BBC