Why no-one is listening to Blair: Chris Riddell in The Observer
The battle for the Labour Party’s soul is raging. The man who led the party to victory in an unprecedented three general elections has issued apocalyptic warnings of the consequences of electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Tony Blair says that under Corbyn Labour would be routed, and possibly annihilated.
I’m no Corbyn supporter or Labour party member, but I find it breathtaking that Tony Blair or Gordon Brown have the cheek to lecture people on whom to vote for. While they created an election winning machine and made voting Labour fashionable – for which they deserve great praise – their deadly feud threw away the huge opportunity that Labour had to transform Britain after May 1997. Brown was the worst culprit, obsessed by a corrosive sense of betrayal at Blair’s election as Labour leader in 1994. He took every opportunity to undermine Blair, while Blair always shrank away from moving Brown from the Treasury, for fear of the consequences. Yet Labour and Britain paid a heavy price for this tragically dysfunctional government.
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The unionist Tories boost SNP’s Sturgeon. Reality will be different
You could never accuse the British establishment of being intelligent. Almost a century ago, its brutal response to Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising ensured the departure of the 26 counties from the United Kingdom. David Cameron is doing his very best to repeat the trick 100 years on with Scotland.
I don’t blame the Tories for having fun at Labour’s expense over the rise of the SNP. But talk of the SNP holding the country to ransom is very foolish. The Scottish nationalists are completely entitled to use its bargaining power in the new parliament. That’s how parliament and the constitution work. More fool the Tories and Labour for allowing the survival of our corrupt and undemocratic voting system. It’s unlikely the SNP would be in the same powerful position had justice prevailed with the introduction of a more proportional voting system.
As Jonathan Freedland says in today’s Guardian, the Conservatives have been totally calculating in talking up the SNP. Chancellor George Osborne praised Nicola Sturgeon’s performance in the leaders’ debates. Why? To embarrass Labour. Yet the ploy was cynical and stupid at the same time. If the Tories were so horrified by the SNP supporting a Labour government, why praise that party’s leader?
Ironically, the SNP is likely to have less influence by ruling out any kind of unholy alliance with the Tories. It’s unlikely to repeat its 1979 folly in bringing down a Labour government. Ed Miliband may have more room for manoeuvre as a result, despite the Tory scaremongering.
Here’s my verdict after last September’s Scottish independence referendum:
“Out of touch London politicians have had the fright of their lives. Cameron, Miliband and Clegg complacently assumed that the result was a foregone conclusion. But when a single poll claimed a yes lead, they panicked. They cobbled together a promise of ‘Devo Max’ – home rule within the UK. Dave, Ed and Nick rushed up to Scotland to declare undying love for the country and plead with Scots not to file for divorce. It was desperate and unconvincing.”
Judging by their actions over the last month, those out of touch London politicians have learned nothing.
This is the tweet that plunged the Labour party into crisis. Emily Thornberry was forced to resign after sending it as the Tories were losing the Rochester by-election to UKIP. The result? Labour, not the Tories, were seen to be the greatest losers from the fact sitting MP Mark Reckless retained the seat for UKIP after defecting from the Tories.
It’s a sorry tale that makes me despair even more about British politics. Here’s why:
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Labour was the clear winner in yesterday’s local elections in England and Wales – and shared the spoils with the SNP in Scotland. Voters punished the coalition, whose performance this year has been abject. (Economy back in recession; a budget that took money from pensioners and gave it to the rich; three hour queues at Heathrow; the list goes on…)
It’s easy to explain away Labour’s good showing as the classic opposition gain from a government’s mid-term blues. But the Conservatives and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats would be unwise to assume they’ll bounce back in the polls as the next general election nears. Spending cuts and state job costs have barely started.
The Liberal Democrats are in the bleakest position. As I wrote on the original Ertblog early in 2011, they have played their hand disastrously in government:
Above all, the Lib Dem leaders seem far too comfortable in their ministerial limos and offices, and far too little concerned about the catastrophic rush to slash and burn public services.
The happiest man in British politics tonight must be Ed Milliband (with Alex Salmond a close second). He’s faced constant criticism and sniping since beating his brother David in 2010’s leadership election. Praise for his stand against the Murdoch empire last year faded. But in recent months his fortunes are reviving. David Cameron is looking more like John Major at his most beleaguered than Tony Blair in his pomp. There’s no guarantee chat Milliband will be Britain’s next prime minister. But the idea no longer seems outlandish.