Posts Tagged ‘my enemy’s enemy’

Ukip’s electoral success is not good news for Labour

04/09/2014, 07:33:53 AM

by Sam Fowles

Last week Nigel Farage announced his ambition, not just to be David Cameron’s “worst nightmare” but Ed Miliband’s as well. The general perception amongst the progressive media appears to be that Ukip’s increasing threat (aptly illustrated by the, suspiciously timely, resignation of Douglas Carswell) will be a net positive for Labour, making it more difficult for the Conservatives to win the next general election. This is a mistake.

All too often we see politics as being only about the next election. It’s not. Politics is about the sort of nation we want. Winning an election is a means to an end. That end is the principles we support becoming the principles that govern our nation. Elections themselves are not defining moments but the inevitable products of public debates. They are won and lost in the collective consciousness, not at the ballot box.

Margaret Thatcher she defined the public discourse. Although she herself lost office, every government since, including those comprised of her political opponents, have pursued policies based on the ideology she espoused. They view the world according to the paradigm which she established.

Here’s an example: Most good economists will argue that the financial crisis was caused by a failure of the (private) financial sector. Yet all economic arguments in our public debate are based on the premise that we must cut back on the state. We don’t discuss the logic behind this; it’s become an irrefutable “fact” of British politics. The “private: good/state: bad” paradigm is unsupported by history or economics but every political party conforms with it because it is the paradigm which defines our public debate.

To win elections but, more importantly, to see their principles realised, a political party needs to define the debate. Unless it can do so (as I have argued before) it will always be arguing according to it’s opponent’s terms and thus will always lose.


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