How does Labour secure a majority in 2015? The centrists must keep the faith

In the run up to tonight’s Progress event , we have been publishing a series of pieces on what is required for Labour to secure a majority in 2015. Here, David Talbot sees the political pendulum swinging back to the centre of the Labour party.

Something strange happened in New York in November 1783. It was a fundamental change of order; the collapse of an established Empire. Mounted on a grey horse, George Washington marched down Manhattan at the head of his victorious army. At the same time, British redcoats headed frantically in the opposite direction. When they reached the southernmost tip of the island, they clambered into longboats and rowed out to the remaining Royal Navy ships waiting in the harbour.

For a while it looked as if this might be a blow from which the Empire would never recover. A similar, though mercifully less bloody, scenario befell Manchester in 2010. Mounting the aptly red-soaked stage, Ed Miliband had emerged victorious as the new leader of the Labour party. Looking across the massed banks of his newly-acquired army he pointedly declared the ushering in of a “new generation”. At a stroke the old order fell. The equivalent of the British redcoats, let’s call them Blairites, beat a hasty retreat.

Much like the British army, who didn’t actually formally leave the United States until 1815, a small redoubt of those clinging to the old order within the Labour party have remained resolute. Flying the flag for a forgotten creed this militia are tough on the deficit, restrained on public spending, open to union and party reform, and unremittingly wedded to a centrist, fiscally credible, Labour party. Much like the thousands of loyalists who were left as the last Royal Navy ship left the New York shore, they have been ostracised from and punished by the triumphant forces.

But with the polls forever narrowing and the general election emerging through the midst the Labour party can go one of two ways. It can have its marches and rail against the cuts; it can take fifty per cent of your income; it can promise to cut your energy bill, build your home, and keep your press pure. But without economic credibility it is nothing.

At the turn of the 19th century America may have been lost, but India had been secured, the West Indies were never left, and Australia had been tentatively probed – the latter largely on the basis of James Mario Matra, an American diplomat committed to the old order. Thus, when Britain opened a new chapter on Empire, those who had largely been forgotten proved to be part of its future rather than consigned to its past.

Thirty years on from the day Washington marched proudly down Manhattan the Union Jack fluttered triumphantly over the fields of Waterloo. The Empire had struck back.

David Talbot is a political consultant

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7 Responses to “How does Labour secure a majority in 2015? The centrists must keep the faith”

  1. uglyfatbloke says:

    Emmm ….you do understand that the Revolutionary War (essentially won by fortunate weather for the French as it happens) and the War of 1812 are separate conflicts?
    And that Washington was really a pretty average to poor commander?
    And that the majority of Wellington’s army were Dutch/Belgians and Germans and were not, therefore, waving Union flags?
    And that the arrival of the Prussians under Blucher forced the French to make a bad move, without which they might well have won?
    And that strictly speaking he ‘Empire’ meant those parts of India which came under direct British rule after the 1857 mutiny , so not -for example – the princely states and that iBritish colonies etc. were not yet called – or even really thought of – as an empire in 1815?
    On a different matter, surely the need would be to make the press pure, it can hardly be ‘kept’ pure since it is so woefully dishonest and partisan at the moment.

  2. Robert says:

    This article is a bit vacuous. Labour and Balls are saying that they will be fiscally prudent. The problem is that many people will not believe them because of Labour’s record in government, which ended with a massive deficit.

    I also fundamentally disagree that Labour should be a centrist party. Labour should be a moderate left of centre party that unites the left and centre of politics. If I wanted to be in a centrist party I would join the Lib Dems.

  3. kle4 says:

    Many in Labour are concerned about being complacent, but you really have nothing to worry about. The biggest factors contributing to a probable Labour majority are self inflicted problems for the Tories and Lib Dems, and so long as Labour does not handicap itself, which a few missteps aside it has proven cautious enough to avoid, the victory is in the bag as far as I can see.

    A move toward the centre, or that can be spun as doing so, will probably help a little, but it’s hardly necessary. Even economic credibility is not that important – for one, we the public are terrible judges of such things, and by 2015 if things are looking up in the economy people are likely to think they take the risk in favour of ditching those who have inflicted five years of pain. Even those who regard the cuts as inevitable and essential whoever was in power may well think that as the hard work has been done and growth is back, even a dodgy Labour would be ok.

  4. paul barker says:

    This post should get a prize for the most bizzarre simile used in a Left blog. Labour Centrists = The Empire ?
    On the central point, Labour moderates will watch their Party crash & burn in 2014/5 & then say “We told you so”. This will make you enormously popular & The Hard-Left controlled Unions will retreat in shame. Have I got that right ?

  5. BenM says:

    Polls narrowing?

    They’ve been stuck at Labour leads of between 5 and 7 points for ages.

    Plus there is no sign the Tories are going to poll above 33-34% – they squandered their political capital and credibility after the omnishambles budget, double-dip recession and a ‘recovery’ based on all the bad traits the Tories loudly denounced soon after they didn’t win in 2010.

    2015 could be the ‘plague on all your houses’ General election with both leading parties barely mustering mid thirties in poll share.

    That’s bad news for Tories given how the voting system they love so much happens to knee them in the gonads at such voting levels.

  6. Tafia says:

    The public will not accept ‘fiscally prudent’ and ‘Balls’ in the same line (well they would but only balls as a comment not as a person LOL). Ed Miliband is burying his head in the sand if he can’t see that Balls is a serious electoral liability.

    Asa for opinion polls, they are largely static. That said however, historically the opposition need to be further in front at this stage of a Parliament to go on and win than Labour are at the moment.

  7. John reid says:

    Benm ,yes the Tories look like they’re not gong to get more than34%’ bit there’s been several pols with labour only on35%

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