3 years on: Five years’ hard Labour?

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces we’ve been taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. In the last of the pieces, Rob Marchant looks back at this parliament, and forward to 2015

Obviously, we’re only halfway through the parliament, but what would be a celebration of our third birthday without a look back at the immediate past and a little look to the future.

2010: the year of purgatory. Uncut is born out of the ashes of Labour’s electoral disaster in May. The country still in economic crisis. It takes six months, however, for the party to get itself together and organise a leadership election, in which David Miliband, the seeming heir apparent, is effectively defenestrated. Most of the year is wasted, politically.

2011: the year of innocence. There is the sad departure of Alan Johnson, but a fresh-faced Fotherington-Miliband has skipped into public view. Hullo clouds, hullo sky, says he. We are going to do a new kind of politics. There are good people and bad people, for example in business there are producers (good) and predators (bad). Eh? says the public, a bit confused, and rather more concerned about their jobs and mortgages. Much work to be done.

2012: the Tories’ annus horribilis. A disastrous budget, coalition scandals and the travails of the Murdoch press mark the year. Miliband plays a blinder on the conference speech and the party discovers One Nation Labour. There is hope.

2013: the year of drift. One Nation Labour stays a slogan. The Tories start to recover. Disappointing election results. Trouble with the unions looms. The party organisation, unreformed, falters over controversial candidate selections.

And some thoughts about a possible future:

2014: the year of panic. Lacklustre Euro-elections. There is a brief peak of excitement as the Scottish referendum is won, largely thanks to Labour support, so the party’s future no longer hangs in the balance. But afterwards its polling slumps, as the gap narrows in the run-up to the election. UKIP starts to lose momentum and the economy, very, very gradually, starts to pick up.

2015: the year of reckoning. A nasty election campaign with the Tory press, especially post phone-hacking and Leveson, at our throats. Are we in power, sitting on a slender majority or even in coalition? Or still in opposition, wondering why the centre ground didn’t shift towards us quite enough?

This week’s speeches on the economy by the two Eds, and the fall out from the spending review over the rest of this year, will surely give us a pretty good clue.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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10 Responses to “3 years on: Five years’ hard Labour?”

  1. Terry Casey says:

    After three years the Labour Party is treading water, going nowhere, Ed Balls has just revealed he has decided to call an end to universalism, what next? we are gradually losing the Labour Party as we knew it, will it be the actual pension next? after all a rich pensioner doesn’t need it, despite the fact they have paid into it all there lives we can still deprive them of it. It depresses me that Balls is prepared to pander to the growing aggression towards pensioners and their so called benefits with the divide and rule attitude normally used by the Tories, a piddling £100m even less when supervised by the bureaucracy that will be needed to run the scheme.
    Labour will go backwards with ideas like this, it is not good enough that the people who have paid into NI all their lives are being targeted when the City and international companies are escaping any clamp down on from them stealing billions from this country , Balls is being wrong headed here and if he wants his core electorate to return to the fold he will need to change course because I for one will not vote just for a continuation of what is happening now. Labour is stepping into quicksand and they will not extricate themselves until they return to the people and guarantee that the average persons standard of living is at least maintained rather than the slow regression we have seen for over ten years.
    Labour are at the cross roads, they lost a lot of core support several years ago, they need to think how they will get them back, I have yet to hear anything.

  2. BenM says:

    It is worth noting that the economy gradually picking up in 2014 will not be good enough for the Tories (although they and a few Blairite writers think it will).

    1997 is a good example of this. The economy was in full throated recovery back then and that didn’t stop the Tories being annihilated.

    The damage to Tory economic credibility is being done now. If recovery picks up in latter half of this year (2013) – a big if – then all bets are off and the Tories will likely end up at least the biggest Party again.

  3. Rob Marchant says:

    @Terry: I am pretty sure no-one is thinking of means-testing the universal pension. Not even the Tories would dare do that.

    @BenM: I wish I had your certainty, Ben. My piece is just a possible future, caveated as such. However, you speak in language of “it will” “the Tories” will as if these are racing certainties – they’re not. We can only deal in probabilities.

    Personally I think it’s pretty complacent to think that only an immediate turnaround (in 2013) will help the Tories. More importantly, why? On what evidence?

  4. John says:

    Ben m, labour were 45% ahead in 1995′ same as labour was 25% ahead in 1962 and 1972′ and Thatcher was 25% ahead in 1976′ or Cameton was 22% ahead in 2008

  5. Terry Casey says:

    Rob I am not saying the plan is to take away the pension but it is being attacked now and I needed to make the point that the idea of taking away universal payments is the short end of the wedge.
    This government has already attacked pensions with the granny tax although it was put forward as a tax code conformity, they have also changed the pensions people will receive in future with a flat rate pension that will be fairer to everyone yet will cost a lot of pensioners a lot of money taking away what they have paid in in earnings related but hey its only pensioners.
    Take away universality in one area and it is then easy to attack other areas, I am a pensioner that will not lose my heating allowance as I earn half of what has been put forward but I disagree totally that the government would take away something for one set of people when they have put into the pot as much and probably more than the people who receive it

  6. Stephen Hildon says:

    John, Labour were not that far ahead in the polls in 1962 and 1972. Their largest leads in those parliaments were 20 in June/July 1963 and 21 in August 1971.

  7. Rob Marchant says:

    @Stephen: Oh yes, and our leads in *this* parliament that breached 20% have been…when, exactly?

  8. Stephen Hildon says:

    Largest poll leads are simply a maximum during a given parliament. A more in depth analysis considering all the available data is required to give a more measured assessment of how well Labour is doing.

    Of course the next general election is very likely to be the first since 1935 where there is a peacetime coalition in office. This means any attempt to draw compare the current situation with previous post war parliaments are not comparing like with like.

  9. uglyfatbloke says:

    How about….2014, Scots get scared by increasing likelihood of Cameron being re-elected and despair of Darling’s promise to try to deliver an unspecified amount of fruit preserved in sugar a an unspecified point in the future and the gnats win the referendum. Scottish labour go into a massive huff at being cheated of their birthright by the voters, but in England, relieved of the sheer dead weight of Darling, Curran, Davidson etc, Labour are re-invigorated and utterly rout the Tories in 2015.

  10. Alex Harvey says:

    We will win in 2015; any talk otherwise is just helping the Tories.

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